Let’s kick off the weekend with some Friday Questions:
Cathryn leads off:
How do you feel about the state of illegal downloading/streaming now? Do you think it'll inevitably get worse with younger generations doing it almost by instinct or do you see it being cracked down on harder than the war on drugs in the future?
Some people may argue facetiously that if it's 2 Broke Girls or an Adam Sandler movie, it's less of a crime than downloading Almost Perfect or Volunteers, but what do you think?
It’s a sticky issue, and here’s why: Yes, writers, directors, actors, et al. are getting cheated out of royalties when material is being downloaded illegally. It’s wrong and I applaud all attempts to stop it. Since studios are also losing money they’re understandably on the case. Will they be able to crack down on it? I highly doubt it.
On the other hand, what about movies and series that the studios have no intention of ever releasing again? They don’t feel there will be enough return for them to put out a series on DVD or allow a streaming service to offer it. An example of this is ALMOST PERFECT, our series from the ‘90s. I have been told that there are no plans to release it.
So either the series just disappears into the ether or someone releases it illegally. In that case, I would prefer it’s seen. I would prefer that the good work done by all involved is not forgotten. I myself am not going to market bootlegged copies. And generally the quality of bootlegged shows aren’t great. But I’ve seen ALMOST PERFECT offered online. And I’ve just looked the other way.
VOLUNTEERS, on the other hand, is out on DVD and does still show up on television. If I see someone selling bootleg copies I will blow the whistle.
I must say it still really frosts me that ALMOST PERFECT with 34 episodes, two successful syndication deals in the 90s, and bankable stars like Nancy Travis and Lisa Edelstein can’t find a home somewhere – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, WB, CBS, anywhere.
Ken, regarding a CHEERS reunion, you previously wrote, "Reunion shows are always sad. Much better to remember the characters for who they were… and what they weighed."
Do you ever feel that way about your former co-workers? In other words, was it depressing when you went to the CHEERS 30 years reunion and saw the cast and crew all fat and old?
No, I was more depressed by how many of them looked better than me after all these years. But seriously, no.
Most of us have all stayed in touch. We’ve all aged together. And it was lovely to reconnect with those I hadn’t seen in years.
But seeing “characters” that you’ve come to know a certain way suddenly be thirty years older is jarring. The relationships are also vastly different. Sam is not going to be a Lothario at 60. How sad would that be? How pathetic if Norm spent his entire adult life sitting on the same bar stool? And if everyone’s moved on, if they’ve all matured and changed, that’s fine, but it’s not CHEERS. Better that they stay frozen in time.
From Charles H. Bryan:
Hi, Ken. Friday Question: (although you may have answered this before) Can someone learn to be funny? I know there are aspects of craft -- how to structure a joke, etc., -- but is basic funny a "you got it/you ain't got it" quality?
I have answered this before it often comes up so it’s worth repeating. No. Unfortunately, you can’t teach someone to be funny. Your brain is either hotwired to see the absurdity in things or it isn’t. It’s a gift. If you have it you can be taught to be funnier. You can learn joke construction, dramatic structure, elements of timing. You can refine your craft. You can learn to access your gift more freely, but if you’re not funny to begin with then I’m afraid you’re out of luck.
But here’s the good news: There’s something worse than not being funny. It’s someone who’s not funny but thinks he IS funny. That's torture.
And finally, from Michael:
Besides Tony Gwynn, what other baseball players you covered were exceptional good guys?
Cal Ripken Jr., Kirby Puckett, Goose Gossage, Brad Ausmus, Will Ohlman, A.J. Ellis, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Dwight Evans, Felix Hernandez, Mike Blowers, Trevor Hoffman, Don Mattingly, David Wells, Torii Hunter, Mike Fetters, Robin Yount, Chad Billingsley, Dennis Eckersly, Will Clark, Kevin Tapani, Clayton Kershaw, Ray Fosse, Larry Dierker, Omar Vizquel, Paul Molitor, Chris Bosio, Greg Maddox, Joe Torre, Bruce Bochy, Lou Pinella, Mike Krukow, Dave Valle, and I’m sure I’m leaving out fifty others. By and large, ballplayers are good guys, and I honored that I got to meet them.
What’s your Friday Question?