The Friday Questions are starting to pile up so I thought I’d sneak in an extra day. Hope this doesn’t throw you and you take off from work early to get a jump on that ski weekend.
The sitcom ads that I see now seem to promote beautiful people trying to be funny. I guess they're trying to copy the Friends model, but in your experience are beautiful people any less or more funny than average looking people?
Certainly there are beautiful people who are funny. But not as many as producers and networks would like – which is why you see the same faces appearing in pilots year after year.
The trouble comes when networks demand you ONLY cast attractive people. As a writer/producer, my priority is to cast people who are naturally FUNNY – either in appearance, voice, height, attitude, or body language.
Danny Devito was not who the producers of TAXI imagined for the role of Louie, but when he came in the room they saw the possibilities.
Nat Hiken, one of my idols, and the creator of SGT. BILKO used to say that if an actor came in to audition and he wanted to write a page of dialogue for him, that’s the actor he wanted. And just look who he chose (see above photo).
Same with his other series, CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? Check out those mugs. Can you imagine any of them testing for FRIENDS?
Given Hollywood's penchant for remakes, why *haven't* we seen any attempts at rebooting M*A*S*H, given how successful it was?
Is it a case of Hollywood not asking, or is there a rights-holder refusing?
Usually when you remake a show you update it. How can you update MASH? It’s specific to a time and place. Plus, the original series is so iconic and still has so many viewers that it seems crazy to do another one. Imagine the poor actors who would be compared to Alan Alda, et al? Just like if they tried to remake I LOVE LUCY. Good luck to Kristen Wiig or whoever.
Billy Wilder always wondered why they remade hit movies. His feeling was you remake movies that didn’t work and fix them. There’s really no reason to remake MASH. But AfterMASH…
Terrence Moss wonders:
I just watched an episode of "The Jeffersons" written by Laura Levine.
Nope. No relation to writers Emily Levine or Deborah Joy Levine either. Just writer Annie Levine.
And finally, from Belle:
I recently saw an old interview with Glen and Les Charles where they talked about a spec script they wrote for MASH, which the writers liked, but featured too many outdoor shots for them to use at the time. I was just wondering if you have any similar stories of good ideas or scripts for the show that had to be thrown away for practical reasons?
No. There were a couple of spec MASH scripts that got our attention because of the writing, but we never used a story from any MASH spec. And trust me, we would have been happy to. At the very least we would have given the writer a story credit.
I remember we hired a freelance writer once based on a spec MAUDE he did. At the time you didn’t have to write a spec MASH to be considered.
What’s your Friday Question or Whatever-Day-It-Is Question?