Hello from Phoenix where I’ve prepared some answers to Friday Questions and enlisted a special guest to help out on one.
Ben Koch leads off:
I know you hate 2 Broke Girls, but it brings up a question I've always wanted to know. Whenever Jennifer Coolidge comes on screen the first time, the studio audience goes wild with Ooohs. I remember this happening with Christina Applegate on Married With Children. I'm sure it happens with other shows too. Why do audiences do this? Is it only reserved for the sexy/slutty character? Does the stage manager encourage it? It drives me batty.
Usually they applaud because they like the character and are encouraged to cheer. Some warm up guys are instructed to ask the audience to cheer entrances. And usually, the guest stars are hidden from the audience until their entrances so there’s that surprise factor.
Personally, I hate the convention. It takes the viewer out of the show, slows down the pace, and is very self-congratulatory. On my shows, if we have a guest star or recurring character we introduce him to the audience before the show and specifically ask the audience not to cheer when they enter the scene.
But it’s just a stylistic choice. There are producers who love the theatricality of it. I don’t.
From Shawn K:
TRIO Network used to have a series called, "Brilliant but Cancelled". It was made up of shows that were well written, yet short lived.
What shows would be on your version of "Brilliant but Cancelled"?
Besides my own of course? THE PRACTICE starring Danny Thomas from the mid 70’s and GOOD TIME HARRY from the late 70’s. Both were created and written by Steve Gordon, who wrote and directed the film ARTHUR and was one of the best comedy writers I ever met. You can read more about him here.
Another terrific writer is Richard Rosenstock. He created two hilarious Jewish-themed comedies – THE MARSHALL CHRONICLES for ABC and FLYING BLIND for Fox. Both deserved better fates.
Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses created a brilliant show for NBC in the 80’s called BUFFALO BILL starring Dabney Coleman. He played the funniest asshole in sitcom history. The series is available on DVD. Tom & Jay also created OPEN ALL NIGHT in the early 80’s about a 24 hour convenience store that was brilliant, cancelled, and weird.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS for NBC was another good one… and leads to my next question:
Dave Hackel's failed 1995 show, The Pursuit of Happiness, has an interesting piece of trivia attached to it on imdb:
"The episode that aired on October 10, 1995 featured a wedding. The other sitcoms aired that night - NewsRadio, Frasier and Wings, all featured a funeral. This was an NBC promotion capitalizing on the popularity of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, but switching the ratio between weddings and funerals with one alteration (the "four" became "three")."
Were you there on Frasier/Wings for this? Do you have any info on how that happened/how much the writers hated doing funeral episodes just because the network said so?
I was around but just on the sidelines. To better answer that question, I turned to Dave Hackel himself.
To be honest -- all I remember about that NBC promotion was the name -- "Three Funerals & A Wedding." It's been almost twenty years ago so I didn't even remember that until I got your e-mail. I don't recall if we had planned a wedding show and the others were asked to come up with funerals or if it was the other way around. NBC was always trying to find a way to promote an evening at a time. I'm sure you remember that they'd do it around holidays, too. Everyone asked to do a Halloween show, or St. Paddy's Day, etc. But two things were always true -- we worked for them and every show is always desperate for promotion -- so we did what they asked.
And finally, an Anonymous person has a baseball question, which is timely this time of year:
When you're doing baseball game on TV, do you watch the action live or on the monitor? I've watched baseball and football games this week where the announcers seemed clueless about what just happened.
I generally watch the field. When a ball is hit deep to the outfield or an outfielder is attempting a tough catch I quickly check to see where the umpire is. His eyes are the only ones that count really. So I’ll glance to him to see if a ball is a home run or the outfielder trapped it, etc.
Sometimes, of course, my view is obscured by the stands or an outfielder tries to make a leaping catch 400 feet away and I will sneak a peek at the monitor.
And then I use the monitor a lot to watch replays.
When I’m calling a game on TV (as opposed to radio) I watch the monitor between each pitch. My job is primarily to add captions to the pictures. If the director is showing the manager in the dugout and I start talking about the flags in centerfield I look like an idiot. So I follow the screen. On radio, to quote the great Ernie Harwell – nothing happens until I say it does.
What’s your question? Leave it in the comment section. Thanks!