Now that the summer is nearly at an end we can concentrate more on Friday Questions. Here are some:
Michael starts us off:
In a recent blog post about yelling at Rob Reiner, Earl Pomerantz mentioned in the 70's there was a competition between MTM shows which were strictly character-driven and Norman Lear shows which, while also very funny, tried to teach lessons.
Cheers and Frasier clearly fell into the MTM camp while MASH sometimes veered more into the Norman Lear style. Question for you is did you prefer writing for one style or the other?
I clearly preferred the MTM character style. Even MASH was more character based than issue based. We’d refer to issues but not debate them. Lear shows generally were plotted from argument to argument. I much prefer writing shows that are based on universal relatable behavior.
The MTM style really began with Jim Brooks and Allan Burns. From Mary came TAXI and from TAXI came CHEERS and from CHEERS came FRASIER. I was thrilled to be on that train. Too bad it's no longer running and is now in moth balls.
You already described how much you liked the Cheers set in an older post. Do you know what happened to the set when the Hollywood Entertainment Museum closed in 2007? I sat in the set back in 2003 and enjoyed it a lot - I hope they have not destroyed it ...
I hate to burst your bubble, Marco, but that was not the original set used on the show. It was at best a copy, and it always bothered me that they were passing it off as the real deal.
I don’t know where the real one is. The Smithsonian might have it.
I walked onto the stage the day they were dismantling it and found it so disturbing I left after maybe one minute.
Chicago Pinot has a question regarding my post on Elmore Leonard and his TEN TIPS FOR WRITING:
Thanks for sharing these tips! The only one I am curious about is #7. When you were writing Cheers, was there ever the thought that a particular line or performer's delivery would be "Too Boston" for the mass audience?
Yes. There were times when actors spoke in thick authentic Boston accents and the jokes didn’t work. If the audience has to work hard to decipher they’re less apt to laugh. We gladly would trade authenticity for laughs.
I’ve told the story before, but we had a similar issue with David Ogden Stiers on MASH. When he came in to play Charles Winchester he originally wanted to give him a thick Boston accent. We worried that it would be too distracting. So he backed off on it and that’s the accent he used for his entire run on the series.
I've heard that the "callers" to Frasier's radio show were real celebrities, sometimes talking about their real problems. David Duchovny was one, talking about what would later be revealed to be his sex addiction. Did anyone involved with the show realize he was making a confession of sorts?
Purely coincidental. He must’ve recognized the irony of course, but none of us did. I wonder if Tea Leoni finds that episode amusing?
And finally, from Breadbaker:
Baseball, as you know, is considering a challenge system to allow replays. On television, it's fairly simple to cover the time while they're being considered by showing the station's own replays. But what does a radio announcer do?
What we always do – read commercials, promote the next homestand, give the disclaimer, and read more commercials. Often times the game itself is just an imposition.
What’s your question? Please leave it in the comments section. Thanks!