Charles H. Bryan starts:
This morning, I had a song stuck in my head that was used in the recent finale episode of a well-known and well-respected one hour cable drama (there's some spoiler avoidance) and it made me think: Is using a song a bit of a dramatic cheat? As a writer, do you ever see that choice and think "What? They couldn't come up with dialogue?"
That’s always been a pet peeve of mine. It just seems a cheat and lazy that you can play a song over a scene and elicit the desired emotion. I know she’s revered but Nora Ephron used to do that a lot.
To make a comedy scene work you can’t just play a Weird Al Yankovic record. But in dramas, your lead can sit in his room in the dark and stare into space while Carly Simon sings “In the Wee Small Hours of the Evening.”
Tennessee Williams didn’t resort to playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” to convey Blanche Dubois’ mental state. I'm just sayin'.
From Cassandra Bryce:
I was just curious to know your thoughts on "talent" and if you think such a thing exists.
Talent refers to this innate ability to do something. However, there are renowned writers like David Mamet who say, "There's no such thing as talent, you just have to work hard enough."
When you watch a show that's unfunny that's on-air, it makes you think that success in show business will depend on two things: 1) Hard work (writing a lot, passion for the material, a thick skin, persistence) and 2) Luck (networking, getting people to actually read your material, knowing somebody in the business). Would you agree or disagree?
I do believe in talent. I could practice 24 hours a day for ten years and never hit a curveball or sing Pagliacci. My ability to be funny is a gift.
That said, I think a lot of hard work and practice is needed to maximize your talent and a whole huge truckload of luck is needed to ensure success. You gotta have those breaks, but you gotta be able to deliver the goods when you get them.
I have what I call THE FUCKIN’ LUCKY CLUB – people who are more lucky than good. Examples would be: any Kardashian, Sean Hannity, Psy, Brent Musberger, Jenny McCarthy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Randy Jackson, Tim McCarver, Britney Spears, Paula Abdul, Pauley Shore, Bret Butler, Ren (not Stimpy), Whitney Cummings, and of course -- Katherine Heigl.
Jason Matthews wonders:
From reading your blog, I get a sense that you still have some great comedic chops.
Just curious, if the right project arose, would you ever consider leaping out of retirement and returning to a writer's room as a consulting producer?
My writing partner, David Isaacs and I have a couple of pilot ideas we’re working on. I’m not excited about jumping back in full-time, but I would be happy to consult for a night a week depending on the show and staff. Unfortunately, very few of those jobs still exist.
Meanwhile, my new book is finally out (available for the absurdly low price of $2.99) and I'm developing a new play. So I’m staying out of trouble. Thanks for asking.
And finally, from Daniel Solzman
What do you make of all these reboots being pitched and picked up by the networks?
Outside of Hawaii 5-0, none have even lasted beyond a season at best. I don't count Dallas since that was more of a sequel than remake.
Billy Wilder once said, "I'm against remakes in general because if a picture is good, you shouldn't remake it, and if it's lousy, why remake it?"
There are not enough original ideas that networks have to chase after MURDER, SHE WROTE?
The thinking of course is that the show will have a recognizable name and thus a head start. But IRONSIDE? How many people even remember the original IRONSIDE? What’s next? TUCKER’S WITCH?
As you know, I have so many problems with the new HAWAII FIVE-O, including the fact that they don’t take advantage of the one distinguishing thing they have that is great and the audience loves – the theme song. Yes, they play a version over the opening titles for fifteen seconds, but I would be playing it throughout every episode. I mean, that’s just a no-brainer. But then again, look at the show I’m talking about.
What would you like to know? I’d answer more questions today, but I’ve got to chase these damn kids off my lawn.