Here are some Friday Questions for your weekend pleasure.
Ike Iszany asks:
When you do a show do you plan for the shorter syndication edit? Do you pad in two minutes you can lose?
First off, you have to be on a big hit to even be thinking about syndication. So in the first few seasons syndication is just a glimmer in your eye.
We never pad. You are allowed to come in a minute or so short. The network is happy to fill that time with promos. We try to come in short if possible because it makes the show tighter and should we be lucky enough to go into syndication less has to be edited out.
In addition to editing, some shows in syndication today are sped up – just a tiny bit but sometimes it’s enough to really throw the rhythm off.
This is a trick often used in Top 40 radio. Stations would speed up records. If you take a 45 rpm record and play it at 47 it sounds just a little bit brighter and faster. But competing stations would then up the ante and increase their speed to 48 or 49 rpm, and all of a sudden the damn records change keys and start sounding ridiculous.
Syndicators have some process where they can drop frames and in theory the change is imperceptible but it’s not. Just as a Carly Simon record sped up sounds like the Chipmunks.
Lenny Parker wonders:
There is this common belief that query letters are a waste of time because nobody pays any attention to them.
From your experience, do you believe this is true?
I assume you mean to agents and managers. I think there’s still some value in them if you (a) keep them very short, and (b) have something in them that will catch the reader's eye. Examples: You’ve won a screenwriting contest, you’ve had a play produced by a prestigious theatre group, you’re from Krypton.
But long letters detailing your desire or sharing your life story will probably not be read and the agent may decide to not read your script either. So again, brevity is the key.
From Dave Bittner:
How often does a specific character trait get dropped during the run of a series? Specifically, in the first season of Frasier, Daphne possessed psychic powers, but this seemed to have been dropped over time. Did it simply play out?
Yes, sometimes character traits either play themselves out, get to be too one-note, or prove not to be as popular as you had hoped. And the good showrunners are the ones who are willing to make mid-course corrections.
The FRASIER writers were always looking to give their characters more dimension and Daphne proved to be a much richer character than was originally conceived so the psychic trait was really not needed.
But characters need to evolve. They lose traits along the way but gain traits as well.
And finally, jake wants to know:
Will we continue to have baseball announcers with the kind of civic and team identities that Vin Scully, Dave Niehaus, Harry Caray, Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell (and many others) have/had? Or will things go the ESPN way, deep sixing the Jon Millers in favor of anodyne announcers but prominent ex-player analysts.
Unfortunately yes. The play-by-play trend is clearly towards young, generic, inexpensive, safe announcers. Storytelling and showmanship seems to be a lost art. As one listener put it, "It's like they all sound like they went to the same 'Baseball Broadcaster School.'"
It’s easier to just call play-by-play and fill the down time with statistics, and since that’s what teams are hiring, it’s understandable that young broadcasters coming up don’t feel the need to develop a unique style.
So will the new generation of announcers continue the tradition of identifiable voices for each city? No. They’ll all sound pretty much interchangeable. And that will be a shame.
But if you’re a young announcer, I will just say this: you can go down this path and you might even achieve a certain level of success. But if you hope to someday be GREAT you have to somehow distinguish yourself. Because if there are ten other guys who can do your job just as well and they’re younger or cheaper, what do you think is going to happen?
Of course that’s my philosophy in general: Strive to be the BEST in whatever you do. In today’s marketplace EVERY field is a competitive field.
What’s your question? Please leave it in the comments section.