Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday Questions

Hello from New York. As you can imagine, the whole town is in mourning over Joan Rivers.  Funny, fearless, and actually a very sweet person.  There was a documentary about her that came out a year or so ago.  If you get a chance, see it.  You'll appreciate her even more.  Here are this week’s Friday Questions. 

Dave asks:

When an actor announces he wants to leave a show, be it David Caruso wanting to do movies, Rob Lowe miffed he wasn't the star, or Josh Charles apparently just getting bored, it seems like they're accommodated. Does it ever happen where an actor says he wants out of his contract and is told no, because his character is too vital? Or do the writers just shrug and, as with The Good Wife, simply have another attorney show up and start flirting with Julianna Margulies?

Usually actors leave after their contracts are up.  In Josh Charles case, his deal was up the end of last season and he graciously agreed to stay on for most of this year.  He was a total mensch.
 
But if an actor is going to be so miserable and make everyone around him miserable (David Caruso from what I understand) generally a settlement can be made.

But not always.

Bob Newhart wanted out of the BOB NEWHART SHOW with one year remaining on his contract. MTM, the production company, held him to that final year. So he had to tough it out. Of course, it didn’t hurt that MTM provided him with Glen & Les Charles as the showrunners. They went on to create CHEERS and are arguably the best comedy writing team on the planet. And to his credit, Bob was gracious and lovely that final season. (Bob is always gracious and lovely).

From Chris:

If you have a scene that plays out in two adjacent sets, can you shoot it continuously if you block it well enough?

Yes. I once had a case where I shot a scene that was set in three places at once. This was on LATELINE, the sitcom starring Senator Al Franken. The premise of the series was a behind-the-scenes look at a news show like ABC’s NIGHTLINE.

The series was shot on film but I also had three tape cameras. When the “show” was on air live I had to cover it with the tape cameras so that when we went into master control there were the requisite variety of shots on monitors. So that’s two sets.

In this one scene a guest hadn’t shown up so a staff member calls him. We cut to him in a disco. I had a camera on him (at the complete other end of the stage). So that makes three locations, seven cameras rolling simultaneously.   I can’t believe I didn’t win an Emmy for that. Or get elected to Congress.

And finally, from Mark:

Were there ever any plans for an expanded role for Harry Anderson on Cheers before he got Night Court? I thought he was great as Harry The Hat.

When CHEERS began we were all still experimenting with the format. One idea was to populate the bar with colorful oddball characters like Harry. Eventually it became apparent that the show should focus on the core group. Harry was great but the thinking was that the character and scams would get old if we went to that well too often. It’s like the Bebe character on FRASIER. When used sparingly they really score and the audience is thrilled to see them.

We were all delighted that Harry got NIGHT COURT. He more than deserved his own show.

I’m also thankful he agreed to come back to CHEERS for the last Bar Wars episode (which David Isaacs and I wrote).  I believe Harry now lives up in Washington state and is quite happy. I’d visit but I’m afraid my watch would disappear.

What’s your Friday Question? You can leave it in the comments section. Thanks. And do check out that Joan Rivers documentary.   Some cable channel must be playing it, and I imagine it's available on Netflix, Hulu, or one of them.

34 comments:

Stoney said...

That last thing you wrote about Harry Anderson gives me a chuckle because I recall a radio PSA he did for the Arthritis Foundation in which he suggests to people who have pain issues with handshakes to grasp the other person by the wrist. Hmmm!

Marc said...

Night Court? Night Court. OH! You mean The John Larroquette Show!

Donald said...

And isn't that the reason that Tom Selleck was not Indiana Jones; because he was locked in to "Magnum P.I.?"

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

@Donald, I'm also sure that Pierce Brosnan was stuck in 'Remington Steele' and thus couldn't do James Bond for several more years.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Hi Donald,

From what I understand that Magnum had not started shooting yet when he was offered Indiana Jones. He probably could have broke his contract for a nominal fee. He spoke with his father who said basically that men don't break contracts and Selleck chose to do Magnum.

The funny think is that because of a writer's strike he could have done both as Indiana Jones ended shooting before Magnum began.

I think it worked out well for both Selleck and Harrison Ford.

The most famous instance of holding an actor to his contract I can think of is Pierce Brosnan. He was offered James Bond but he was held to his contract for Remington Steele. I believe it was coming up on enough episodes for syndication so the money to buy him out of the contract was too much and so we got Timothy Dalton.

Matt said...

Hi Marc,

There actually was a John Laroquette Show, I believe it took place in a bus station.

John said...

As I recall the chronology - Remington Steele was all but officially cancelled. Unofficially it was already dead and buried. Ratings were falling fast. PB got the part, or was rumored to have gotten it, or whatever that spring, and the last few episodes of RS got a fairly huge ratings bump. RS was resurrected. PB got dropped because "James Bond is not Remington Steele" or something to that effect. RS ratings resumed tanking after the initial bump, and the rest is history.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Harry Anderson lives in North Carolina. He and his wife lived in New Orleans for years but left after Hurricane Katrina.

Lee said...

Lot of people left after Katrina. A few of us stuck around. :)

Dancing Tommy said...

Harry used to live in the San Juans, as did Cliff Claven. Harry moved, probably due to Cliff's presence!

Netflix does have the aforementioned documentary on Ms. Rivers, called A Piece of Work.

James Van Hise said...

Earlier this year BBC America did a special on James Bond in which they interviewed most of the Bond actors. Pierce Brosnan revealed that there was an option to do one more season of Remington Steele but it didn't appear that this would happen. He was actually in a hotel preparing to go to a press conference announcing that he would be the next Bond, and since there was only one hour left for the option on his contract to be exercised, he felt pretty safe. And then the phone rang. His option had been exercised and so for him Bond was put on hold. To the producers' credit, they did come back to him when he was finished with Remington Steele. Brosnan was grateful for the opportunity as he believed he'd had his shot and lost it.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

@jamesvanhise:

I'm sure the producers for Bond came back to Brosnan because Dalton's Bond did not click with the audience. In fact, Brosnan's first Bond pic did more box office than Dalton's 2 combined.

Rob Rogers said...

What a nice thing to post on Bob Newhart's 85th birthday!

Ron Rettig said...

Yes, NBC held Pierce Brosnan to his contract for Remington Steele and he lost his offered part to play James Bond in 1987. Seven years later he was
finally signed to play Bond. Maybe NBC's recent programming and ratings are penance for screwing Brosnan.

John said...

Hi Ken, just wondering how you feel about the 10/90 deals that are being made for shows? I noticed Kelsey was doing it with Partners and it seems to be working for Anger Management.

Do you think it's good for showrunners to know that their show will run for a set amount of episodes, or is it just a comedy sweatshop?

D. McEwan said...

When Chris Eccleston found that shooting Doctor Who was a lot more work than he'd expected (coupled with his being a bitch to direct), he decided he wanted out after one season. Rather than try to shoot a season with an unhappy, already-difficult, star, they let him go despite years still to go on his contract. Fortunately, the show has survived for half a century because replacing its stars is built into its premise. Eccleston was allowed to leave and go annoy and argue with directors of other shows, and David Tennant, their original first choice anyway, who hadn't been available earlier, got the job they wanted him to have in the first place, and he made a gigantic success of it.

Sometimes an unhappy star who wants to leave is a blessing in disguise.

I wonder if Steven Moffett isn't wishing Sherlock Holmes could regenerate. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have become such huge movie stars since Sherlock began that it's all they can manage to clear their schedules enough to shoot one of their 3-episode seasons. (Yes, those episodes are 90 minutes long, and thus actual movies, but it's still only 4 and a half hours of TV time a season, which is short even for English TV.)

And, of course, it sometimes works out well. Reagan's unavailability saved us from Casablanca with Ronald Reagan, and Tom Selleck's obligations saved us from Raiders of the Lost Ark with Tom Selleck. (And we'd have been saved from all Indiana Jones sequels.)

Speaking only for myself, judging from the grosses, I'll still take Tim Dalton's tough, Fleming-like James Bond over Brosnan's somewhat-tougher-Roger-Moore-ish James Bond anytime. Brosnan's four indistinguishable Bond movies (Even he admits he can't keep track of which title goes with which of his lousy Bond movies, though I can keep Die Another Day in mind as the worst Bond movie ever, worse even than the Peter Sellers Casino Royale) can not hold a candle to Dalton's two Bond films, the second of which, License to Kill is a damn good movie, and actually takes some of its story and events from Fleming's novel Live and Let Die, which is more than you can say for the rotten movie of Live and Let Die with the wretched Roger Moore. (Moore must hold some kind of record. Along with being a crappy James Bond, he was also a really dreadful Sherlock Holmes.)

Mike Schryver said...

Bob Newhart (who I admire greatly) did do the final season, but for most of it his character literally phoned it in.

Mike said...

The last Bar Wars is one of my favorites. "And now, for a sad song ..."

404 said...

D. McEwan . . . I guess this is definitely a case of "to each his/her own." I find License to Kill to be an absolutely horrible film--I can rewatch just about any Bond film about that one. The Living Daylights was, imo, much better, and a very good Bond film in its own right.

I agree that Die Another Day is not that good, but the worst Brosnan Bond film for me is The World is Not Enough by far.

Tomorrow Never Knows, however, is absolutely fantastic. One of the best.

404 said...

Ha ha. I meant Tomorrow Never Dies.

Jeff Baldwin said...

The magnum PI writers gave Selleck an episode titled, "legend of the lost art" to make up for it. It's one of those just good fun episodes replete with leather jacket, hat, whip, caves, etc.

Mike said...

Die Another Day is mediocre, but The World is Not Enough is much worse. And frankly, so is Quantum of Solace. Goldeneye was quite good - the best Brosnan Bond picture.

Remington Steele was picked up in 1986 after the Brosnan Bond movies for only six more episodes. NBC essentially burned them off as two-hour specials in the spring of 1987. That's what really sucked for Brosnan - they kept him from being bond for three low-rated specials.

Kelsey Grammer's 10/90 sitcom likely won't get picked up, because the ratings were terrible. Same for George Lopez's. I think that fad is over.

ignoramus said...

What is a "10/90 sitcom"?

My apologies if it's a common television industry term. I've never heard of it before this comments' thread.

DJ said...

Eccleston was allowed to leave and go annoy and argue with directors of other shows, and David Tennant, their original first choice anyway, who hadn't been available earlier, got the job they wanted him to have in the first place

Tennant was not the first choice on the revival. After approaching Hugh Grant and Rowan Atkinson, the list came down to Eccleston, Alan Davies, and Bill Nighy. By the time Eccleston decided to leave, Tennant was more well known because of Russell Davies's Casanova and was the first choice.

bj said...

A 10/90 sitcom is one where they do a limited 10 episode run, and if the ratings are good, the are contracted to do 90 more episodes. Charlie Sheen is doing one now, it is called "Anger Management"... the idea is to get to 100 episodes so it will run in syndication forever. The downside, from what I understand, is that the 90 shows are done 2 a week, almost non-stop - no real "seasons", just bang, bang, bang...

Anonymous said...

Well, the other downside is that, after ten episodes with good ratings, a channel can find itself committed to ninety more which do not do as well--which is what is happening with "Anger Management."

Ken said...

A friday Question. Or Monday or any day ending in Y

Is there a database of what songs are used in what movies?

Every once in a while I will hear a song in a movie and in the back of my mind think it doesn't belong ther it belongs elsewhere.

Case in point last night watched a movie that used "Look on the Bright side of life" ( Art Garfunckle version) and it bugged me until I remembered that in belongs in Monty Python movie ( Life of Brian?) now I can't remember what the movie was last night.

so to avoid these sort of memory lapses and discordant mempory clashes in the audience is there a database, like IMDB, that lists songs used with in movies?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: I'm not aware of one. You can find the listings for movies that have released soundtracks on CD on Amazon and other sites that sell CDs. For TV shows that pay especial attention to their music (for example, GOSSIP GIRL in its first few years) fans will sometimes track these things on show-specific sites). And then there's NASHVILLE, which to the producers' credit not only promotes the soundtrack and cast recordings but the original songwriters.

wg

D. McEwan said...

"404 said...
D. McEwan . . . I guess this is definitely a case of 'to each his/her own.'
Tomorrow Never Knows, however, is absolutely fantastic. One of the best."

Tomorrow Never Knows
is probably better than any of the Brosnan Bonds films that actually exist, but Tommorow Never Dies deeply, deeply sucks. A truely bad movie. All the Brosnan Bond films are terrible, though the Roger Moore films are worse.

Ken said...

To Wendy Grossman and others .
I am not the Ken of this blog just a transient Ken wandering in and out of the ken of your awareness.
The Ken of this blog, besides his many other obvious talents, edits his comments for spellin and grammar far better then I.

Just did not want to mislead anyone who thought that the namesake of this site had gotten sloppy.

Darn couldn't work another ken word play in oh well it is obviously beyond my ...

Mike said...

While you're on Bond, let me come back to an old discussion. Recently saw On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and there is no explicit breaking of the 4th wall in the intro.

jbryant said...

"Transient Ken": The Garfunkel version of the Life of Brian song plays over the end credits of As Good As It Gets, James L. Brooks' Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt Oscar darling.

I don't know of a database strictly for film/TV songs, but coincidentally enough, you mentioned imdb, which does have soundtrack listings. Unfortunately, you can't search it by song title. But if you had gone to the page for As Good As It Gets (of course you have to know the name of the film), the info is there.

Barry said...

Also on occasion, if the song is popular enough, it wlll have a Wikipedia entry. And often there will be a listing of when that song was used in films and other media.