Friday, January 02, 2015

Friday Questions

Well, tonight’s the night. I debut on TCM this evening hosting the Neil Simon film festival. 8 PM in the east, 5 PM in the west. THE ODD COUPLE, THE OUT OF TOWNERS, and COME BLOW YOUR HORN tonight. I haven’t seen any of my intros so I can only hope I don’t come off like Ralph Kramden selling “Chef of the Future” kitchen widgets on TV.

In the meantime, how about some Friday Questions?

Becky has a pair – a twofer on the 2nd.

I've heard that acting drunk is a difficult skill to master. Some of the best I've seen are Jenna Fischer on The Office and Dick Van Dyke. Who are your fave boozers a la screen?

It is hard because most actors make the mistake of playing fall down drunk – staggering around, slurring their words, etc. There used to be a comedian named Foster Brooks whose entire act was doing this. He was very funny but it was the ‘60s when there was much less sensitivity to those who had alcohol-related issues.

The key to playing funny drunk is having the character play against it. They’re trying to appear that they’re not intoxicated and telltale signs only leak out.

The actors you mentioned would be high on my list too along with Shelley Long. David Isaacs and I wrote a first season episode of CHEERS called “Truce or Consequences” where Carla gets Diane sloshed. Shelley played it so Diane never lost her dignity despite being in an unfamiliar inebriated state. It’s one of my favorite episodes and it’s all because of Shelley.
I just started a writing job (in a very different field than TV/ Movies) and am terrified every day that I'm a fraud. Did you ever feel this way and if so, how did you fake (and ultimately develop) your writing confidence? My sponsor says vodka is not an option.

Becky, here’s the dirty little secret – ALL writers are terrified that they’re frauds. And worse, they’ll be exposed for the frauds they are. So you’re in good company. You just have to suppress it.

Experience helps a lot. Knowing how to deal with certain writing problems because you’ve encountered them before instills a confidence that you can overcome hurdles.

Positive feedback is also very helpful. It’s comforting to know you’re on the right track.

But at the end of the day it’s the struggle between believing in yourself vs. your insecurity. And you just have to fight through it.

The good news is that most of us are not frauds.

Scott asks:

Is it okay for a writer to recycle his own ideas, even if they were already used on another series or film? Is there an ethical problem with it? For example, a friend has a 16mm print of a 1960s series titled HEY LANDLORD. The episode in question, written by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, was recycled over a decade later on LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, even to the point of carrying over a lot of the dialogue. If it's your script (and in this case I believe it was Marshall and Belson's series), is there a problem with reusing parts of it elsewhere, even if you're just reusing a few of the jokes?

As long as the writer is recycling his OWN material I see no problem with it. Especially if the material was first used in a project that is now no longer distributed. I’ve heard Broadway composers talk about reusing songs they wrote for shows that died quick deaths. But again, the key is that you are the author.

You mentioned Jerry Belson. He was one of the funniest people I have ever met in my life. He and partner Garry also created the TV version of THE ODD COUPLE. On CHEERS, Jerry came in once a week to help us punch up scripts. He’d usually contribute one or two of the best jokes of the show.

A couple of times though, he pitched a joke, and when the Charles Brothers didn’t put it in Jerry would say, “Hey, it got a big laugh on THE ODD COUPLE.” We all would say, “Jerry, why would you pitch a joke from another show?” to which he would answer with a twinkle, “What’s gone before is good too.”

Also on CHEERS – there were times when good jokes were cut for time and we’d put them in later scripts. The cast would say, “Hey, didn’t we do this joke?” We had to remind them that it never aired.

I have to admit, I’m currently writing a play and I included a joke I first wrote for an episode of THE TONY RANDALL SHOW in 1976. If MeTV ever starts airing THE TONY RANDALL SHOW I’m fucked.

And finally, from Tim Rifenburg:

In an episode of Cheers they had Robert Urich as a guest star when Woody was trying to be an actor. Since they kept mentioning Spenser For Hire and Urich's role in it, I was wondering if there was any push back from the Network. I know they aired it but I was wondering if there was any concern about promoting another network's show. It made sense from a story point since Spenser did some filming and pick ups in and around the Boston area.

There was a time when you were never allowed to mention a show from another network. Same with products. You could never identify a competitive product. It always had to be “Brand X.”

I think the lines got blurred because of late night talk shows. Johnny Carson would talk about NBC and eventually their competition. Guests who were in series on one network would go on competing networks to plug their movies.

And when networks wanted to show sports highlights they had to credit the network that aired the event originally.  So you heard "CBS" on NBC and vice versa. 

Eventually all networks relaxed the restriction. Yes, we sort of plugged an ABC show but somewhere down the line an ABC show plugged an NBC series.

Audiences also got more savvy. It’s like, who are they kidding with Brand X? Or that a show is on “another” network. We all know what that network is. Why not just say it?

What’s your question? Hope you’ll join me tonight on… that certain cable network that shows movies uncut and commercial free.

55 comments:

Mitchell Hundred said...

Simon's film adaptations tended to be hit-and-miss (in my opinion), but The Out of Towners is definitely a hit. One of my all-time favourite movies.

Stoney said...

Let's not forget Lucy getting sloshed on Vitameatavegamin or Red Skelton's "Guzzler's Gin" bit. (Hiccup!)

Stoney said...

Ken, Did you ever get to meet Mario Cuomo? Aside from politics he was also a baseball nut; even contributing segments to the Ken Burns film "Baseball".

Nick Alexander said...

The best drunk on camera--no question--was Fred Astaire in _Holiday Inn_. That's because in that scene he really was drunk. And yet he still hit his marks.

Dan Ball said...

Friday Question!

When I watch CHEERS, I always wonder how music was handled? I know Craig Safan scored the whole series (along with some great scores for THE LAST STARFIGHTER and REMO WILLIAMS), but would he actually score each episode or record a bunch of cues at one recording session per season that the director/editor could whip out in the editing room? Was it actually the director and editor who chose those cues? You've probably had to sit in this music chair plenty times in the past, so what's your strategy for picking the best ear candy for us, the audience? Are you more/less demanding in your scoring tastes because of your background in radio?

I know with latter STAR TREK, every episode was scored individually and, with the exception of the original series, they rarely recycled music. On THE SIMPSONS, Alf Clausen has both recycled a lot and even re-recorded a lot of old cues in addition to mostly writing new material all the time. I'm pretty sure I've heard CHEERS recycle some transition cues in the past, but I could tell the music evolved through the seasons.

Mark said...

My Friday question. (Does it help if I plead?) Please answer this question!

I see actors leave successful shows for miserable failure (MacLean Stevenson, Katherine Heigel to name a couple) and I wonder what the problem is.

Is is that they can't read scripts and see how they would end up? Do they have bad agents steering them to bad projects? Do they have so few offers they take what they can get? Do they not have an idea of how they want their career to develop? Do they just work with the wrong people all the time? Did they have minimal talent that only looked good in certain situations but couldn't hit a curve ball if their life depended on it?

Pathetically, I've wondered about this for years and hope you could shed some light on it.

Ryan Eibling said...

There's a name for the feeling Becky describes in her second question: Imposter Syndrome. I've definitely felt it as a software developer. Sometimes it's because I feel like what I'm doing is too easy to be so lucrative, other times it's when it feels difficult and I realize how much more difficult stuff has been done by people much better at it than I am. I think it helps to reflect on your accomplishments and how you got to where you are, and to realize that many people feel the same way - even the ones you might think are full of unshakable confidence.

dwgsp said...

Hi Ken, I have been reading your blog for what seems like forever but I have never posted a Friday question... until now.

I can imagine that you have been in situations where a script simply ran too long and you needed to cut something out, but the task seemed impossible because every line was integral to the story. Do you have any suggestions for how to identify what to remove? Would the same advice apply to other forms of writing, such as a short story or an essay?

Many thanks!

Jeannie said...

Re: recycling material. I am reading Michael Feinstein's excellent book about George and Ira Gershwin...apparently, the Gershwins frequently re-used tunes and/or songs outright from shows that flopped, so there's no shame in it at all, if (as you say, Ken) you're swiping from yourself.

mmryan314 said...

Seeing the pictures in this post reminds me of the great on-screen chemistry between Long and Perlman.Wonderful episode. Becky-I am a fairly accomplished older woman and still feel like I`m fooling everyone. Maybe it`s human nature or humility. No, it`s human nature.

Ron Rettig said...

And I hope you're not like Ralph on the "$99,000 Answer" episode.

Nora said...

William Powell was also a spectacular fake drunk in the Thin Man movies. The best I've ever seen, actually.

Paul Duca said...

"Can Neil Simon core a apple?"

Milton the Momzer said...

One cross-network crossover involved The Practice, on ABC, and Ally McBeal, on Fox. For a time, Ally and Bobby were BF & GF

Martha C. said...

Friday Question!

I've been watching a whole bunch of shows written by the same writer lately, and I've noticed that he tends to recycle some plotlines. Most of his shows are courtroom dramas, so he sometimes recycles the cases. I was wondering, when do you think it's okay to recycle your own work a bit? Does a certain amount of time have to elapse?

Eric J said...

"But again, the key is that you are the author."

Wouldn't the key be who owns the copyright to the material? I don't think individual authors typically own the material they contribute to a script. A spec script, yes, they probably do, but output in a writers room is probably owned by whoever employed them.

chuckcd said...

Already set my DVR!

vic ernie said...

I recall (not from personal experience) that Charlie Chaplin was a big hit in the London music halls playing a falling down drunk and that he brought that success with him to America.

Victor Velasco said...

Re: writers recycling. A great example is the team of Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher. They used some of the same material in Amos & Andy, Leave It To Beaver and The Munsters

orwell said...

Loved the mention of Foster Brooks in Ken's blog. I remember him on just about every variety and talk show in the 60s and 70s. Sure, his act was repetitive, but he had the drunk act down pat.

jbryant said...

According to a Vulture article, the greatest drunk actor of our time is NEW GIRL's Jake Johnson. "Johnson is extraordinary at playing men who can only be themselves when they drink. Who that self actually is varies wildly, especially in his film roles, where he brings remarkable nuance to each character's drunken state." I can't form an opinion because the only one of these films I've seen is DRINKING BUDDIES, in which the actors are imbibing real alcohol, therefore blurring the line between acting drunk and acting while drunk. The article's pretty convincing though: http://www.vulture.com/2014/08/jake-johnson-is-the-best-drunk-actor-of-our-time.html

Anonymous said...

I think John Fogerty would have something to say about the rules of borrowing from oneself. Man is that one crazy story.

Mike Schryver said...

I recently saw the COLUMBO episode where Dick Van Dyke plays the photographer who murders his wife. Vito Scotti had a role in that one as a wino, and he's wonderful in a scene the next day when he's sobered up (or mostly).

Scotti had a falling-over drunk role in THE ODD COUPLE in the episode where they vacation in Hocaloma, and he was hilarious. No subtlety at all in that one, though. The actor Jack Perkins, who seemed to make a career out of playing drunk, also plays a loud drunk in that episode, and another actress has a non-speaking role as a drunk. Lots of drunks on THE ODD COUPLE.

Rob Larkin said...

Many years ago (decades, in fact) my local television critic made note of the fact that Aaron Spelling and Gary Marshall would recycle whole scripts from one series to another. In Spelling's case I remember a script from "The Rookies" was revamped for "Charlie's Angels". It made for a surreal experience for this viewer watching Kate Jackson (who was in both shows) playing a different character but saying the same lines. I also remember an Odd Couple script (the one about bowling) used for "Laverne and Shirley".

In regards to composers recycling material, this seems to have been a widely accepted practice. Re-orchestrating a composition being a very clever way for a composer to reuse a piece of music.

One of my favorite examples (especially in light of "Vertigo" supplanting "Citizen Kane" on Sight and Sounds number one movie spot) is Bernard Herrmann using the beginning music from Kane for Vertigo:

Kane:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIjMj2HsnqU

Vertigo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA8rCs8haJo

Also, in honor of your hosting tonight on TCM I leave you with Neal Hefti's "Mother Gotham" (from his Batman album) whose opening he would later reuse for his most famous theme music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4nRTuhXL2Y

Johnny Walker said...

Nobody mentioned Dudley Moore in Arthur? An example of a very broad, fall down drunk that somehow worked. Shelley Long was brilliant in the episode Ken mentioned though. I'd forgotten about that. So subtle.

Chester said...

Having viewed "It's a Wonderful Life" (again) this holiday season, it's impossible to talk about wonderful "drunk" performances without mentioning H. B. Warner's (as Old Man Gower)turn as a drunk in the scene where he has learned of his son's death...and he hit's the bottle hard.

...And that's not all he hits.

His violent interaction with young George is incredibly moving. And Warner manages to pull it off without coming across as a bad guy. He's convincing, empathetic and restrained. I can't help but be touched by his performance.

Sean R. in NoCal said...

Ken,

I am the proud parent of 3 great kids. Which means we see a lot of Disney Channel kid coms. With your daughter writing them, and you directing them, I just have to ask, do they purposely make the parents on those shows stupid? Is that a directive from the top? I can hardly get through an episode because of it. It was probably the same on shows I watched as a kid, but I don't really remember it that bad.

Birdie said...

Im not the biggest Neil Simon fan (I think the Odd Couple TV show is moles ahead of the movie), but I'll be tuning in for your commentary.

One of the few I love, however, is The Prisoner of Second Avenue. Will that be on?

Speaking of the Odd Couple (TV), I don't know if this counts as a Fri question or if you would even want to answer it, but how could Garry Marshall go from THAT (imo the greatest sitcom of the 70s) to, well, so much crap (both on TV and movies). Clearly the talent is there (he has also made some of my favorite film cameos ever) - so...what happened? Why would he choose to go down such a schock path?

Birdie said...

Excuse me "MILES ahead" and "schlock." And thanks for making that verification so much easier. Half the times I couldn't even read the letters - it drove me nuts!

Rich D said...

I think your first host segment went great, Ken.

And congratulations for probably being the first person to say "crap" in one of those.

:)

VP81955 said...

Kudos to your first intro, Ken (and no, I'm not going to review them all).

Birdie, "The Prisoner Of Second Avenue" will air, but you'll have to wait until Jan. 30. The complete schedule can be seen at http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/753259.html.

Astaire did another terrific drunk scene in the little-seen 1943 film "The Sky's The Limit," in the routine where he introduced a song rarely associated with him -- "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)."

Dan said...

Back in the 1940s, comedian Harold Lloyd sued Universal and comedy writer Clyde Bruckman, who had written for Lloyd, over Bruckman reusing material from Lloyd scripts in the Universal features "She Gets Her Man" and "So's Your Uncle." The material in question was lifted wholesale from the Lloyd scripts and inserted into the later scripts with minimal reworking. Lloyd won the case, and Bruckman's career never recovered.

There's a "Bewitched" episode that reworks the famous chocolate factory/conveyor belt scene from "I Love Lucy." William Asher would later insist that what "Bewitched" did was intended as an "homage" to the "Lucy" episode, but considering that the sequence in "Bewitched" takes dialogue straight out of the "Lucy" script...well, one can't help but wonder when that kind of borrowing stops being an "homage" and becomes plain old stealing. It wasn't the first time the series had done it, either. Another episode had a sequence that had Samantha interviewing maids, and it too lifted material straight from a similar "Lucy" script. For the record, Asher had directed both those "Lucy" episodes, and perhaps he felt that entitled him to the use of the scripts.

Tim Rifenburg said...

Ken, Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I suspected that "rules" about cross promotion were flexible. I always get a kick out of it when it happens.

DBenson said...

I had sort of formula:
If you get caught and nailed, it's theft.
If you're reasonably persuasive or connected, it's a homage or tribute.
If you make a hash of it, it's an affectionate parody.
If you really screw it up, it's a devastating but misunderstood satiric deconstruction.

DBenson said...

As for permission to recycle yourself, there may be a gentlemen's agreement among actual writers and showrunners but the suits are less obliging.

When Suzanne Somers left "Three's Company", ABC threatened lawsuits if she tried to play a similar airhead anywhere else. The argument was that every aspect of the character belonged to ABC. Even if you accept the very broad claim that she brought nothing at all to the part, the idea that playing a dumb blonde anywhere else was theft was pretty bizarre.

When Dave Letterman left NBC, that network claimed ownership of "The World's Most Dangerous Band", "Top Ten List" and "Bud Melman". Letterman and company -- presumably the same writers who created those in the first place -- renamed the features and had the "Bud Melman" actor appear as himself.

This will probably become a growing issue. Entertainment moguls see themselves in the business of acquiring content as cheap and unconditionally as possible; then seeing how they can sell and resell it over and over. As more content achieves digital immortality and potential profitability (especially on older stuff where creators' claims have expired or are minimal), look for corporations to pick up a few extra bucks by sending lawyers after later shows and works that were evidently recycled. Someday soon Gerry Marshall may get a letter from whichever entity owns "Hey, Landlord."

Bruckman was a tragic case; double so because everybody borrowed and reworked in the old days (Abbott and Costello unashamedly used ancient burlesque routines; the value added being their performances). Walter Kerr in "The Silent Clowns" note how settings, setups and actual gags bounced between various first-string comics without much fallout (although Chaplin spent years litigating against explicit imitators like "Charlie Aplin").

Rae in Woodland Hills said...

While almost cursing my cable channel when I could not find TCM...I took the high road and looked up the channel, and at the end of Out of Towners, I see you, Ken Levine, hosting the Simon series, much to my surprise! I'm looking forward to more commentary, but when do you get a chair to sit down? Stay a while, I'd like to see/hear more.

David said...

Your intros on TCM are very informative. Also informative are the chyrons TCM is using to inform us that you wrote for "FRAZIER..."

Ken Levine said...

Yes, oops. I noticed that too. Hopefully they can fix it for future weeks.

David said...

Or maybe it's part of their plan to run a short grift against Baskin Robbins...

Tim said...

Sean R in NoCal: I've noticed that tendency, too, watching with my own children. I had figured the guilty parties assume that kids want to see shows where adults are nitwits, easily outwitted and outmaneuvered by sharp kids who are always one step ahead of them.

Hey, it worked for John Hughes.

ODJennings said...

You done good with the intros. Not feeling much love for the plain blue background though.

I had forgotten what a wonderful time capsule The Out of Towners is. The interiors of the train stations, especially Grand Central made me want to freeze frame and study every detail, and let's not even talk about the size of the airplane seats or those gigantic trays full of fried chicken dinners they were serving.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

For anyone watching Ken's intros, make sure to watch the outros as well.
Otherwise you'll miss some nice analysis. The Odd Couple one was particularly amusing.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Sean R....
Disneys sitcoms are horrific. The kids are dumb and the parents and teachers are either buffoons or blithering idiots.
Dan Schneider created shows on NICK are usually worthwhile. The adults are similarly buffoonish but not all the time. And his shows can be very funny.

John Hughes' adults tended to be more clueless about their kids and their kids' viewpoints. The age old version of "my parents don't understand what I'm going thru"

emily said...

Bravo Ken! All very nicely done. (eLoved the "Come Blow Your Horn" snark.)

James Prichard said...

The two most recycled plots that I recall both involve "Cheers" and Frasier." In an episode of "Cheers," Sam loans Diane $500 to buy a book, and she appears to start throwing money around like crazy; in "Frasier," Frasier loans Roz $1,500 when she's low on cash, and she appears to start throwing money around like crazy. In another episode of "Cheers," Frasier gets set up with a ditzy girl played by Jennifer Tilly, whom he is immediately smitten with despite her being his opposite in every way; in "Frasier," Jennifer Tilly again plays a ditzy girl whom he is immediately smitten with despite her being his opposite in every way. Loved all four episodes of these two shows, but it always struck me as a little lazy.

VP81955 said...

The remake of "The Out-Of-Towners" starring Goldie Hawn (a Neil Simon alumna from "Seems Like Old Times") and Steve Martin is generally panned. What was its inherent problem? Did the film, and its portrayal of late '90s New York, simply not mesh with its time?

Diane D. said...

I have no problem with similar plots when, like the "loaned money being thrown around" one, they occur so often in real life.

With some, that is a favorite episode of Cheers because it also contains one of the best kissing scenes between Sam and Diane. Hard to watch that scene and not believe that the much touted chemistry between Long and Danson was based on genuine affection and physical attraction, regardless of rumors to the contrary.

Metal Mickey said...

Hi Ken, love the blog, here's my first Friday question...

When first developing FRASIER, were there any arguments about "resurrecting" Frasier's dad, who was supposedly dead within the CHEERS canon, or was it more "What the hell, it's our show, we can do what we like..."

And similarly, Frasier's role in CHEERS was to be the cleverest, most pretentious person in the bar... whose genius idea was it to have someone (arguably) even cleverer and more pretentious (i.e. Niles) within FRASIER? That was very counter-intuitive, but it worked brilliantly, especially with David Hyde-Pierce in the role... thanks!

Jabroniville said...

Lizzie McGuire was actually pretty good about this- the dad could be a bit clueless (but not really dumb), but the mom was savvy enough to outsmart her kids, though naturally she couldn't understand some teen issues.

Matt in Los Angeles said...

Friday question:

I attended the CHEERS filming of "Dinner at Eight-ish," and when they finished they announced that audience members were welcome to stay while they filmed scenes from an episode they started the prior week. We were shown a rough cut of the first half of "One Last Fling," and then they filmed the remaining scenes. Was this a common practice? I figured they were trying to shorten the production schedule and saw the logic in it as those scenes were all bar/office with no costume changes and went pretty quickly.

RCP said...

Very well done, and those were fine choices to kick off the Neil Simon tribute. I can never watch "The Odd Couple" without coveting that apartment (which would probably rent for $7,500/month now). Laughed all the way through "The Out of Towners" - Jack Lemmon can do it all.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

BEWITCHED used the iconic chocolate factory conveyor belt scene from I LOVE LUCY with Serena and Uncle Arthur working at an ice cream parlor where they were making frozen chocolate covered bananas. Of course, Bill Asher directed both of those episodes.

Greg Ehrbar said...

I love the BEWITCHED frozen banana conveyor belt scene, because clearly Montgomery and Lynde are having a great time, along with Ron Masak. It's funny, so what? But on the other hand, if it takes away from someone's livelihood, and it's proved, that's different.

Perhaps they did conveyor belt sketches in vaudeville too.

As to songs, Rodgers and Hammerstein not only wrote songs for one show that were moved to another show, they also repeated signature melody lines and bridges. It could be argued that these things made it their "own".

The Sherman Brothers and other Disney songwriters did the same
thing. "I'm a Happy Go-Lucky Fellow" was dropped from PINOCCHIO and used in FUN AND FANCY FREE. "Beyond the Laughing Sky" dropped from ALICE IN WONDERLAND became "Second Star to the Right" in PETER PAN. "The Land of Sand" written for MARY POPPINS became "Trust in Me" in THE JUNGLE BOOK. Even "The Beautiful Briny" in BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS was written for POPPINS.

Sometimes a song can be "given a tribute" by "writing it sideways" which Cole Porter did with "Be a Clown," inspired by "Make 'Em Laugh."

And score composers are often given scratch tracks used in preliminary edits of existing music, which they also "write sideways." John Williams' scores have elements of Holst's "The Planets," Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" and so on. Menken's opening for THE LITTLE MERMAID suggests "Fish" from "Carnival of the Animals." Of course, these are all classical, so they're public domain and fair game.

Visual artists look through endless books of design and layouts and, while they don't copy them, they do emulate them. Splitting hairs as that might be, look at how many graphics you see that might remind you of Disney artist Mary Blair's mid-century modern/folk art style. It's been in films, children's books, and in "it's a small world."

roger said...

Benny Hill recycled jokes and routines constantly throughout his entire TV career, although considering he (supposedly) wrote most of the scripts and original songs himself, I'm willing to cut him some slack. But it's interesting to note that a sketch or song he did during his Thames TV years may have been a restaging of material he performed literally decades earlier for the BBC or other early British TV networks.

Composer Leroy Shield, who wrote most of the stock background music cues heard in Hal Roach's Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang and Charley Chase short comedies of the early 30s, rearranged and adapted a number of these cues as themes and transitional pieces for his own and others' radio programs in the 40s.

Speaking of Hal Roach, Arthur Houseman, who started out as a serious actor in the silent days, had become a day player who specialized in comic drunks in comedies for Roach and other studios throughout the 30s. Sadly he was rumored to be a drunk in real life, which may have contributed to his typecasting and/or his death at age 52.

Craig Gustafson said...

Have you ever lost a joke because the typist didn't get it and "fixed" it for you?

I was in a production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way the Forum" and noticed that when the script had been reformatted, somebody "fixed" one of the jokes. I e-mailed Larry Gelbart, saying, "I know it's just a tiny joke, but they screwed it up."

He wrote back to say that I would have been driven crazy by the NBC Radio typists in the forties, who would correct the deliberate malapropisms on "Duffy's Tavern."

Postscript - I saw a new edition of "Forum". The correction was corrected.