Would it be Friday without Friday Questions?
Brian starts us off:
I believe you wrote the Cheers episode "The Last Angry Mailman" in which Cliff handcuffs himself in the house because he doesn't want to sell it. When Norm cuts a post with a chainsaw to free him, the house comes crashing down. Can you describe how the crash was orchestrated? Was it in front of a live audience? Was it done in one take? It looked huge, loud and messy!
It was done in one take and it was done in front of the live studio audience. It helps to have Jim Burrows as your director. All the debris was above the stage and a trap door released it. Numerous tests were made the night before, and I believe a dry run was filmed just for protection. But what you saw on the air was what the audience saw. It was huge and messy. And funny.
The key to doing a stunt in front of a live audience is to make it the last thing you shoot that night.
From Name encoded in binary somewhere in the infinite progression of Pi:
This brings up a question I've always had about your continued participation in sho bidness. You are rather candid in this blog about your feelings on a variety of topics and people (e.g., the suits and their counterproductive interference). Do you suffer much fallout from that?
Well, it helps that I’m not out trying to pitch pilots to NBC I guess, but in all of my rants or commentaries I try to be fair and objective. Yes, I criticize, but I also praise. And I also try to explain my reasoning.
Additionally, I try to be honest about my own work and shortcomings. I’ve shared many of my stupid mistakes. Hopefully you can avoid them.
My objective is to see better television shows and movies. I’m not looking to create controversy or make enemies.
But I have to have credibility. When I like something or recommend something, it means nothing if I've never disliked anything. Otherwise, I'm just Jeffrey Lyons.
If I’m biased at all, it’s in favor of writers and giving them more creative freedom. But I’ve made no secret about that.
Otherwise, I have no personal vendetta or agenda. There are a number of "suits" who are close friends of mine, even after my rants.
As for any backlash, I don’t know. Maybe. I suspect the writing staffs of 2 BROKE GIRLS and HAWAII 5-0 hate me. But again, I'm just giving my opinion. And you know what they say – opinions are like a-holes…
The Bumble Bee Pendant wants to know:
Technology has changed things and now you can get a sense or a pulse of the show's audience expectations and tone. When you or your daughter, Annie are involved in a show (even for just one episode), do you read the TV blog reviews and critiques in order to gauge what the audiences likes or dislikes? Realistically, wouldn't these be better notes than from the folks in Production?
In the same way that I always check out readers’ comments on this blog, I would certainly scan the net to see how people responded to a show I was involved in.
But I am always mindful that this input represents just a very small portion of the audience. And included in that sliver of vocal viewers are idiot trolls. (They usually go by the name Anonymous.)
Still, you can get an overall sense of whether the audience appreciated what they saw or were turned off by it. I know some producers claim they never read internet feedback. I think they do so at their own peril. I don’t make shows just for “me.” I make them hoping to affect an audience. If I’m falling short I want to know about it so I can do something to correct it.
And finally: from Michael:
Did you have a Plan B if you and David were not successful breaking into the writing business? Do you think you would continued working as a DJ indefinitely?
I probably would have pursued baseball announcing earlier. I can’t imagine being a lifelong disc jockey. I was 24 and already disillusioned. Of course, getting fired every couple of months, moving all over the country, and playing the same nine records every night for pennies also had something to do with my disenchantment. I think I'm still paying off apartment deposits.
The only way I envisioned a long term disc jockey career was if I could have become a top rated morning man in a major market. There was a period when those guys made ballplayer money. Who knows? I could have been the King of all Media in Cleveland.
My other radio aspiration was to program stations. That’s something still on my bucket list, but alas, the kind of fun radio I would want to do is no longer in favor in today’s corporate landscape. So I'm guessing that will never happen.
I could have also seen myself as a cartoonist. The only catch there is that I’d probably starve.
Thanks for all your questions. Keep ‘em coming in the comments section.