Tomorrow night I plan to be in Santa Barbara where CHEERS creators Glen & Les Charles and James Burrows will speak at UCSB. Should be fun. I've always wanted to meet them. Meanwhile, keep those Friday Questions coming. Here are this week’s:
Ron P. starts us off:
There's obviously been a lot of spinoffs... some successful... others not so much. But has there even been a prequel ?
Okay, readers, help me out here. Yes, first of all, although some of these might be prequels to movies, not other series. Still, off the top of my head there’s MUPPET BABIES, SMALLVILLE, FLINTSTONE KIDS, THE CARRIE DIARIES, BATES MOTEL, and HANNIBAL.
I’m sure there are more. Suggestions?
From Steve B.:
Ken, it seems that TV writing used to be more of a freelancer business, with less writers on staff and more freelance scripts handed out. If this is true, which do you think was the better system, both for the writers and for the shows?
Well, it’s certainly better for the writers to be on staff. More security and you’re getting paid by the episode in addition to any script assignments you get.
But it’s more advantageous for the showrunner to be able to give a writer a script first to see if he has a good feel for the show. That way he can staff his show only with writers he knows can contribute. The only downside is that a writer he may be considering gets a firm offer of staff work at another show and he loses him. And when you’re in the middle of staffing season (which we currently are) it’s like an insane game of musical chairs. So showrunners often don’t have the luxury of being able to audition potential staff members. Still, if I could, that’s a risk I’d be willing to take.
Best of luck to everybody either trying to staff or get on staff.
YEKIMI has a question related to my recent post on the “Boys in the Bar” episode of CHEERS.
Say you have the script for the two guys (extras, or for that matter anybody who may have a part, speaking or not, that interacts with the main cast) that kiss Norm....are they there for the table read, or does someone sit in for them and they're cast later?
In a case like this we would give the actors a few lines during the body of the show so they don’t come out of leftfield. But chances are they’d be hired for three of the five days so no, they wouldn’t be at the table read.
In each episode you look at the guest cast and decide how many days you’ll need each person. And crew people generally fill in for them in runthroughs if they’re not on set for the first day or two. For table readings, writers usually get to pinch-hit. I can say I've done scenes with Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, and David Hyde Pierce. And I was so awesome the parts weren't cut as a result of my reading!
therapydoc is next:
Any idea if the MASH theme song was ever associated with a real suicide? It always creeped me out, the thought that people might sing it and then pop a cyanide.
In the movie there is a suicide sequence played for comic purposes. I suspect the lyrics were designed to complement that. But I can’t say for sure.
Please leave your questions in the comments section. Thanks!