This is the Opening Night of my play A OR B? at the Falcon Theatre. And yet, I still have time to answer Friday Questions. We run until November 16. Wanna come see it? Sure you do. Here's where you go.
Do the actors who aren't part of the regular cast but play recurring characters (such as Gil Chesterton or Kenny Daly on Frasier) know at the beginning of a season how often and when they will be appearing? Or do they basically have to keep their schedules open from week to week?
No. Rotating characters are usually worked in depending on the story. And things can shift quickly. Stories change from draft to draft. Gil Chesterton may be in the first draft but not in the second if the story veers in a different direction.
We try to prepare the scripts enough in advance that we can check on the actor’s availability. But if we call last minute for an actor and he’s committed to something else we’re either just out of luck or have to juggle the production schedule to accommodate him. It’s certainly not fair to ask hem to just sit by the phone waiting for us to call.
Sometimes however, actors will know that they’re in a six or seven episode story arc and in that case we lock in their dates. And other times studios will make deals for supporting actors who are really recurring. They’ll sign for six or eight out of thirteen. And in those cases the actors will usually keep their dates relatively free.
For many character actors, it is their DREAM to be a recurring character on a successful sitcom.
And along those lines, Lou H. wonders:
Ken, since you have a foot in both the TV and theatre camps, can you talk about how much a 6-days-a-week play consumes its actors and whether they have time for anything else? A few years ago, Chris Noth was on Broadway and could only appear in a few episodes of The Good Wife. This year, both Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing are in It's Only A Play, and Lane has said he probably won't have any time to appear on The Good Wife.
If you don’t sign the actors to series deals you always run the risk of losing them. If the actor decides a Broadway play takes priority over appearing in your show that’s the way it goes.
However, I’ve seen actors do both simultaneously. I remember Judd Hirsch was starring in TAXI and appearing at the Taper Forum in Los Angeles starring in TALLEY’S FOLLEY. It obviously takes some juggling and accommodating on both ends but it can be done.
Considering his schedule, I would assume Ryan Seacrest could do two plays and star in three TV shows at the same time, and still have four hours a day to host an early morning radio program.
I've been seeing a lot of Will and Grace in re-runs and that show holds up well with a joke a page minimum (granted about half are gay jokes, but still funny). Max Kohan and Mitch Mutchnick, the creators of the show, have had three bites at another series and none lasted more than 9 episodes. Bite Four is coming soon on TBS in a comedy called "Buzzy." My question is how can creators of such a funny show fail miserably in re-creating another one? Did everything just come together between writing and casting for W&G? Were K&M just one-hit wonders (TV version)?
First of all, the planets have to line up for anybody to have a hit show. The most successful writer/producers can have multiple bombs. No one is immune from Normal Lear to James L. Brooks to Aaron Sorkin to Dick Wolf to Chuck Lorre.
But in the case of WILL & GRACE, I think that series benefited greatly by having James Burrows directing every episode and Jeff Greenstein guiding the writing. Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally also didn’t hurt.
Since Alan Alda was brought up: As a director yourself who apparently still enjoys directing, why do you suppose Alda gave up feature film directing? (Or do you actually know why?)
How do you get out of “Director’s Jail?” Do an Indie film that hits, or now just move into television. There are a number of former feature directors making quite comfortable livings directing series or MOW’s.
In Alan’s case, he’s such a gifted actor that he has always enjoyed a great career in front of the camera. So he’s gravitated back towards that with much success.
And finally, Marianne has a question about one of the stars of my play:
Hey Ken! Friday question: Is Jason Dechert single?
Come see him on stage.
What’s the Burbank equivalent of Sardi’s? Oh hell, I’m just going to want any place that serves alcohol. Wish me luck tonight.