Sunday, February 22, 2015

A horrible way to lose an award

Helping you to get in the mood for yet another awards show, here’s another of my old war stories.

My partner David and I were head writers of MASH. We had a very small staff so quite a few scripts were assigned to freelance writers. Some, like Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell and Tom Reeder did terrific work and most of their first drafts are what you see on the screen. But others didn’t pan out as well. In those cases, David and I would rewrite their scripts (often 100%). Since the plotting of MASH was somewhat intricate, it was always easier for me and David to break the story and write the outline ourselves. The freelancer would come in, we would hand him the story and talk him through it.

Never did we try to share credit. We figured that was part of our staff responsibilities. Most shows operate that way, or at least they did.

Anyway, we get a very disappointing draft and do a page-one rewrite. It’s now award season. We get nominated for writing (not the Emmys). And this freelancer gets nominated for that script.

And we lose.

To him.

Essentially we lost to ourselves. Ouch!!

So good luck to all the Oscar nominees. I hope you win, and if not, I hope you at least lose to someone else.

Check in tomorrow for my review of the Academy Awards -- that I wrote last week. 

13 comments:

Hamid said...

If Michael Keaton doesn't win, I'll be very disappointed. He's the man!

VincentS said...

I sympathize, Ken. When I was a kid my family and I were at a community picnic. When the time came for the father/son three-legged race I was automatically supposed to race with my father since I was the elder son. I decided to take the high road and let my younger brother race with our dad - and guess who won the race! Boy, did I cry!

Michael said...

Did the writer who got the credit ever thank you or acknowledge you and David's "help"?

Johnny Walker said...

I hope he thanked you, otherwise from your point of view, it would have been very cold.

Anonymous said...

I bet is was that darned Alan Alda!

James Prichard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Bailey said...

Ken: I look forward to your post-Awards wrap-up than I do the actual ceremony. Knock 'em dead!

Tweeter said...

Just post them now...and we can read them during the broadcast.

chalmers said...

Ah VincentS. How many thousands have you spent on therapy in an attempt to get over that life-changing event? You were entitled to that victory, but something tells me your father probably didn't want to race with you, were you pudgy or uncoordinated? You wouldn't have won anyhow, so what are you crying for? Did you ever stop to think there was a reason they didn't stop when they had you?

Roger said...

Can Doctor White bring back my ex-boyfriend that left me because I didn't tell him I had AIDS and then gave him AIDS? Can he also cure both of our AIDS? I see he works on the embassy and customs, but how about citizenship?

Pat Reeder said...

I can understand why you wrote your review of the Oscarcast last week because by the time that show was over, it felt as if it had started last week.

VincentS said...

No, chalmers, I wasn't pudgy - in fact, although I was never fast I could always outrun my brother by exactly one step which always drove him crazy. And, no, I haven't gone to therapy for this but I may have to now after reading your comment! Thanks loads!

Greg Thompson said...

Evidence points to Gary David Goldberg.

Whomever it was, it's always POSSIBLE that he submitted his draft for the award. He would have been entitled to submit any version of the script that he was the credited writer for. Bill Idelson wrote of submitting the writer's draft for a GET SMART episode he wrote he preferred it to the version that aired. And he won. Just a possibility. Though breaking and outlining the show is huge help it itself.