Hello from somewhere in the Far East. Here are some Friday Questions although where I am it's Saturday.
truth in those "everybody has a screenplay" stories ("My
hairdresser/valet/dry cleaner gave me a screenplay to read")? Have you
been bombarded with sample scripts? If so, what's the weirdest situation
you've had to deal with?
I’ve received scripts at my high
school reunion, I’ve told the story about getting pitched a movie while
making funeral arrangements for my grandmother, and a couple of years
ago one of the host helpers during my mother’s condolence wanted to
pitch me a pilot idea. When I announced minor league baseball people
would come up to the press box all the time with scripts. It's not like
there was great security in ballparks in Rochester and Toledo. If
someone had the lung capacity to climb those stairs they could get in.
director I know was attending High Holiday services one year at his
temple and a fellow congregate pulled a script out from under his prayer
I’m sure a few of the working writers who read this blog could weigh in with their own appalling stories.
Cap'n Bob Napier wonders:
just saw a M*A*S*H episode written by MacLean Stevenson. When actors do
this are massive rewrites usually required or are they pretty good to
I don’t know about that particular episode but
yes, massive rewrites usually are required. One reason: they often
give 90% of the good lines to themselves. But in fairness, they’re not
writers. If I were to suddenly have a big guest role in a MASH or
CHEERS episode I’m sure I’d suck. I’m not an actor.
I will say this though, Alan Alda’s scripts were terrific and we changed very little.
a show like Cheers, do the showrunners or writers know where they want
their main characters to wind up by the end of the series (e.g., Sam
& Diane will finally get and stay together), or is that unusual and
more typically the story arcs are just thought of season by season, or
even every few weeks?
First off, it’s unusual that shows are so successful that producers can determine when the series will end. Usually it’s America.
the case of CHEERS, we always thought it would be great to bring Diane
back for the finale but Shelley Long had to be available and agreeable
to doing it. If she were in Norway making a movie we were shit out of
If producers know where the finish line is they’ll usually
work towards it in the final season. Graham Yost, showrunner of JUSTIFIED has said recently he doesn't know how the series is going to end. Hopefully he does by now. We're halfway through the final season.
shows have built in endings. the war ends on MASH. And of course, the final scene of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER? was filmed only a couple of years into the series, and since kids were involved and they have the audacity to grow, the producers were pretty locked into that ending.
A bigger question than what to do for the finale is how long
the finale will be? Networks try to make huge events out of these
and stretch them from a half hour to (if they had their choice) nine
hours plus an intermission. This greatly affects the storytelling.
MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, FRIENDS, and SEINFELD were waaay longer than they
needed to be but the networks got one last massive payday out of them.
In my opinion, as good as all of them may have been, they would have
been far better if they were only an hour.
Kudos to THE MARY
TYLER MOORE SHOW, NEWHART, and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND for ending their
series with half hour episodes. For my money they’re three of the best
finales ever. And that's one reason why.
My partner and I have had three series and none of them had a planned final episode. Once the network says, "You're canceled! Now get out!"
that pretty much puts the kibosh on your glittering two hour finale.
If we knew we were doing a last episode of ALMOST PERFECT the plan was
to bring back all the characters from our other two series and end all
three at once. Well, maybe when our next series is canceled.
Ask your question in the comments section. Thanks. Have a great weekend wherever you are.