willieb leads off:
On a recent road trip I saw a Frasier from the last season that was "Written By David Issacs" -- no Ken Levine! Was there a definite point where you went your separate ways as writers, or did you just drift apart? Did you write any scripts solo or did you concentrate on baseball and directing?
First off, we’re still partners and have written a number of things together after FRASIER went off the air. The most fun I have writing is when I'm doing a script with David.
But we have always been a partnership out of choice not dependence. During that FRASIER period I was doing a lot of directing and we each wrote a couple of episodes on our own.
His FRASIER episodes are terrific, by the way. He wrote a two-parter called "Shutdown in Seattle." Check 'em out.
Joseph M. asks:
Would you please explain the difference between Christopher Lloyd the actor and Christopher Lloyd, the writer?
Christopher Lloyd the actor played Reverend Jim on TAXI and Dr. Emmett Brown in BACK TO THE FUTURE.
They’re not related. I'm sure they get each others mail.
From Damien Galeone:
Mr Levine, prolific comedy writer William Froug said that "If you can write hard comedy, you'll need a skiploader to haul your millions away, and soft comedy and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee."
I was wondering if you might answer what the difference is between 'soft' and 'hard' comedy?
Hard comedy evokes outright laughter. Soft comedy evokes warm smiles of recognition.
Hard comedy tends to be jokes and physical bits; soft comedy is often observational or small bits of relatable behavior.
Looking at most of today’s comedies that are single-camera and rely more of irony and behavior I’d say the soft comedy writer can treat everybody at Starbucks these days.
But the bottom line is this: fewer people can write hard comedy than soft.
When you worked on Cheers and Dharma & Greg, did Kirstie Alley or Jenna Elfman try to recruit you or any of the cast and crew into their creepy brainwashing cult? You know what I'm referring to. The cult of ... watching reality TV. I hear they're big fans of the genre.
Yes, I know what you are referring to and the answer is no.
Neither Jenna nor Kirstie nor any actor has ever tried to convert me to anything. I had a ballplayer try to convert me in a big way and I might've listened if the fucking guy could hit.
But I have worked with a number of thespians who I don’t see eye to eye with on religion or politics or anything, and I’ve never had a problem. Putting our differences aside, they’re lovely people and wonderful actors. What they do on their own time is their business.
Ia there ever animosity between members of a writing staff or other people that work "behind the scenes" as to the pay of actors on successful shows? Without the writers they would have nothing to say, without the directors they would have no place to stand, without the camera people they would not be able to be seen, without lighting they couldn't be seen, etc.
I can't speak for everybody but being realistic -- yeah, sure. It's human nature.
Honestly, I’m only resentful if they’re not good actors. If they’re wildly successful simply due to luck or their looks than yes, that pisses me off.
But here’s the thing – the hoops actors have to go through to reach that pinnacle is staggering. The odds of winning a state lottery are better. The amount of rejection they endure, the uncertainty and lack of security they face is practically paralyzing. God bless the very few who beat the odds.
Also, when I see the skill and craft and technique that goes into giving a good performance I know I could never do that. So it’s not like these actors are taking money away from me.
Let’s be real – networks and studios don’t pay actors big money unless they bring in bigger money. Either they can open a movie or attract a big television audience. And the minute they can’t, their salaries plummet. That’s a lot of pressure, especially when times change and the audience is always looking for the next big thing.
So I save my resentment for other people.
What’s your question?