Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Questions

Who’s ready for some Friday Questions?

Gazzoo gets us started.

I notice that beginning in season six of MASH, two chopper shots were changed in the opening credit sequence (the one under the main title, and the quick one before the chorus). The shots that were replaced had clearly shown bloody soldiers with their arms dangling...were those eliminated due to a complaint?

No, just for a little variety. I said to Burt Metcalfe, the producer, “You can change anything but the shot of the hot nurse running towards us.” No, I don’t know her name.

UPDATE:  Thanks to blog reader Curt Alliaume the mystery has been solved.  Her name is Kathy Denny Fradella.


Interestingly, the only day I was out at the ranch (where we filmed the exteriors) was the day they shot those new opening titles. I heard the whirring sound of the chopper blades, looked up, and it was just like Radar sees in the opening shot – there were the helicopters flying against the purple mountain range. Very cool but not as cool as being there the day they shot the original opening titles.

From AJ Thomas:

Ken, as a comedy writer and baseball announcer what are your thoughts on Bob Uecker in MAJOR LEAGUE? Do you ever wish you could just truly tell it like it s?

I think he steals the entire movie. And all of his dialogue was improvised. Bob is one of the funniest people I know in any field. He’s a national treasure and I still love listening to him call Milwaukee Brewer games on the radio.

As for wishing I could really “tell it like it is” when doing play-by-play, you bet. And believe me, that’s what’s going on between innings when the commercials are on and the mics are off.

Doug Thompson has a radio question:

What was the single best piece of advice you received while in radio that you continued to use in your television/movie writing/directing career?

It was advice by example, received by the late Gary Owens. Treat everyone with respect. We worked together at KMPC Los Angeles. He was the big afternoon jock and star of LAUGH IN (then the number one show in television). I was a lowly sports intern making minimum wage. And he treated me as if I was the station or network president.

It’s a practice I have always followed. Production assistants, background extras, cable pullers – they’re just as important as the stars. What it is really is just simple human decency. But being shown that much kindness from someone as big as Gary Owens made a huge impression on me.

The other thing I learned from radio was always be on time. If you know radio people you know we are really punctual. Being late is not an option when you’re on the air live.

And from Bert in Petaluma:

You've mentioned a few times the records that drove you crazy when DJing especially because you had to play them repeatedly. I'm curious if there were also records you played with the same frequency but yet still enjoyed.

One summer when I was in high school I worked at a record store. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out and we played it on a continual loop for twelve hours a day for the entire summer. I must’ve heard every cut at least 1,000 times. And I never got tired of it. I still could listen to that album over and over again.

Same with Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon & Garfunkel, the Phil Spector Christmas album, Both Sides Now by Judy Collins, the Highway 61 Revisited LP by Dylan, Layla by Derek & the Dominos, Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, almost anything by Queen, It’s Too Late by Carole King, Billie Jean by the King of Pop, anything (but Dock of the Bay) by Otis Redding, Year of the Cat by Al Stewart, American Pie by Don McLean, and anything by Roy Orbison.

And then my all-time favorite Beatles song – In My Life. That song kills me, as does Caroline No by the Beach Boys.

What’s yours? Song or question?

43 comments:

MikeK.Pa. said...

I could never get into Kiss or Queen. Tried, but just didn't connect with me. I remember the day after John Lennon was killed, I must have heard In My Life about two dozen times - if not more - on various radio stations throughout the day.

Hopefully someone who worked on the MASH crew will remember the name of the hot nurse and post it to give her her (over) due credit. Better yet, maybe she follows your blog.

Bill Jones said...

Ken--here's a question to which I've never seen the answer anywhere on the web. Can you let us in on the creation of Lilith Sternin and the casting of Bebe Neuwirth? I'm intrigued because Lilith's first appearance on CHEERS was only a few minutes long ("Second Time Around"), and one could imagine that it was intended to be just a one-off passing character. But then they brought her back for "Abnormal Psychological," and from then on she was a recurring and then regular character. Was Neuwirth such a hit the first time that the decision was made to make Lilith a recurring character? Or was it always the plan for Lilith to be a recurring character? And how did you find and cast Neuwirth, who plays what could be a unsympathetic part so perfectly?

ScottyB said...

"I must’ve heard every cut at least 1,000 times. And I never got tired of it. I still could listen to that album over and over again."

If I got stranded on a deserted island with only two songs to listen to forever, they would be 'Show & Tell' by Al Wilson and the live-album version of 'Maybe I'm Amazed'. There's probably deep-down psychological reasons why those two songs have been bulletproof for like 40 years, but they are. I just go with it without too many questions.

Joe said...

Ken, ever have someone in the booth with you like Monty in Major League? The guy who never said anything and didn't offer much in a back and forth?

ScottyB said...

"You can change anything but the shot of the hot nurse running towards us.” No, I don’t know her name."

Funny this got a mention, because I kinda feel the same way about the woman extra in the big glasses getting out of the elevator during the intro of one of the later seasons of Mary Tyler Moore. She's not exactly hot, but she always fascinated me nonetheless -- like the woman in the babushka in the background when Mary tosses her hat into the air (a commenter provided extra info on that woman a few days ago; thanks for that).

Still, I was not happy when the MTM Show dropped the scene of Mary washing her Mustang. That was pretty hot when you're a young teenage kid.

Oat Willie said...

I already loved Uecker's radio beer commercials when Major League came out.
"...and leads the league in nostril hair. Guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor."

Anonymous said...

Ken, when you say "anything but" at the end of your final sentence, do you mean "anything from"? It reads like you can't stand Otis Redding and Don McLean, which surprises me.

Anonymous said...

I still think Bob Uecker in MAJOR LEAGUE was the best. I agree, he was super!!!!!!

It's Friday, hope to finish reading these scripts on my desk
and then this weekend - to clean up the last few pages of one of my script.

Remember,
Keep re-writing
and make friends in Tinseltown !!!!
Be kind and stay cool.

Kosmo13 said...

My recollection is that Larry Gelbart identified the opening titles nurse in a post on the Usenet MASH Newsgroup.

He mentioned running into her again somewhere later on, by which time she was pregnant and totally focused on her family. She displayed no interest in continuing acting, nursing nor running.

Perhaps some MASH-fan with prodigious Internet research skills and free time could locate that post from uh.,.. the 1990's? early 2000's?

My recollection is he used the name "elsig" for his posts.

ScottyB said...

Friday Question for Ken, and perhaps even your writing partner, Mr. Isaacs:

Your kids are growing up to be script writers, in your footsteps (especially comedy). Was there anything you specifically did when they were small children or even growing-up teenagers to expose them to comedy records (as opposed to watching TV episodes of 'The Honeymooners' or 'I Love Lucy')? Remember those days, sitting around listening to comedy albums, by people like Bob Newhart, The Bickersons, Nichols & May, '70s subversives like Cheech & Chong, and even "party records" by guys like Redd Foxx and others on the Chitlin Circuit? I bring that up because last night, me and my kids shut off the TV and the internet and spent hours listening to stuff like that, just sitting there and listening, kinda like back in the '40s and '50s before TV and you just laid there on the floor and stared at the glowing radio console piece of furniture, listening.

Curt Alliaume said...

Ah, internet: you have the answers to everything.

http://www.mash4077tv.com/features/nurses_opening/

ScottyB said...

@Kosmo13: "She displayed no interest in continuing acting, nursing nor running." Now *that* was a great, subtle-ass funny comment. I enjoyed it. Thanks for the grin.

I wouldn't be surprised if her name was Inga. Women named Inga (or close to it) always seem to be accidentally hot like this somehow.

BobinVT said...

Ken, I saw your solo interview on the Archive of American Television site. Loved the part about your feud with Roseanne. Also, how about posting some of your cartoons on your blog?

ScottyB said...

Damn you and your internet, @Curt Alliaume. Now I have to find another mystery, like whose voice that was on the car radio in the opening sequence of the first season or two of 'WKRP in Cincinnati'. Sigh.

Clarence Odbody said...

Kathy Denny was the running nurse, an here's her very nice photo:

http://www.mash4077tv.com/images/features/nurses_kathy01.jpg

Rockgolf said...

And here's more on that running nurse:
http://www.mash4077tv.com/2009/09/11/kathy-denny-fradella-confirms-shes-the-brunette-in-the-opening-credits/

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I know the new footage for the main titles were shot and added in Season Six, but for some reason, syndication replaces them in the main titles of Season Five as well.

Frank Kuchno said...

Summer of '71 I worked days at the drive-in theater in Fayette County PA. Yep.....days. Doing painting and maintenance. The drive-in had a tape of top 40 songs that played before the movies. So.....we played that tape over and over again.
Embedded in my mind. Carole King (Its too late Baby) James Taylor (You've got a Friend) Bill Withers (Ain't no Sunshine).
Great music. Nice suntan. And $1.60 an hour. IN CASH. Great summer job!!

Roseann said...

Interesting how everyone is commenting on the music or the hot brunette. I'm much more interested in Gary Owens and his lesson. I have been one of the 'little people' on Episodic TV and Films and it is really lovely to be treated as an equal by all on the production.
It is a great lesson to have learned.....

Hamid said...

Ken, I just read the very sad news that Everybody Loves Raymond actor Sawyer Sweeten has committed suicide. I've never really watched the show but I know you've mentioned having directed a few episodes, so I imagine you must be shocked at this news.

It's always tragic when someone of any age takes their own life, but it's always especially heartbreaking when it's someone as young as he was. RIP

Pete Grossman said...

Ken - Amy Schumer zero's in on your oft commented "But would you want to fuck her?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XPpsI8mWKmg

Jim said...

"The guy who never said anything and didn't offer much in a back and forth?"

Irish cycling commentator Sean Kelly is well known for that sort of thing. Well at least among people who follow cycling. More than one of his co-commentators have noted his occasional tendency to reply with just a nod of the head.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, I'm extremely sorry to hear about Sawyer Sweeten's death. As someone who identifies with the Barone family it has hit me hard.

But I'm sure to you and anyone that knew this dear boy it is much harder.

sorry for the loss.

Hamid said...

We obviously don't know the reasons for this tragedy yet but looking at his IMDB profile, he hadn't acted since ELR,which was 10 years ago,and we've heard many times before about the devastating effects of not only having been a child celebrity but the shock of going from a "showbiz" life to a "normal" one.

We've been here many times before. Some child stars are lucky and make it through unscathed, like Jodie Foster. But the list of those who couldn't make the transition into adult actor or to a life outside of entertainment is so much longer. Whatever demons Sawyer Sweeten was battling, it's heartbreaking that he felt no other way out. I remember my shock when Jonathan Brandis took his own life. He was apparently despondent over the state of his career, having gone from being a teen star getting fanmail every day to relative obscurity. That is the toxic nature of child stardom and it's just sad to see history repeat itself so often.

Hamid said...

Damn, this is a crumby day for tragic news. I just read that Richard Corliss, one of the best film critics ever, has passed away, and I usually don't have time for critics (UK film critics are the worst snobs) but Corliss was a class act.

YEKIMI said...

My song that I just can't get enough of? Gotta go back to 1974 when I first heard "Georgia Porcupine" by George Fischoff. One station played it for a couple of weeks and then dropped it. It only spent 5 weeks on the Billboard charts and only got as high as #93. Even going to record stores [remember them?] and looking through their gigantic book that they had of almost every record ever made that you could order it from if they didn't have it in stock.....didn't have it listed. Wasn't until 15 years later when I was doing a cable show that I mentioned it to the director and he popped off and said "Oh, I have a copy of that, do you want it?" That's like asking a guy who just wandered in after spending 15 days in the desert if he'd like a glass of water. I got it and it wasn't until 1995 when stumbling around the internet I found a few more copies that I promptly ordered. Anyways for what it's worth and if you've never heard it before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTLghloU55w

Roger Owen Green said...

Apropos of nothing, Patricia Heaton's shoes

LA Nuts book (Joe Dungan) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LA Nuts book (Joe Dungan) said...

I remember an early episode of "Cheers" that centered around Coach's daughter marrying a man whom nobody liked because she didn't think she was attractive enough to get another marriage proposal. (She was, according to the summary of the episode on imdb.com, "an insecure spinster.") And a few years later, there was an episode where Diane imagined the owner of a forgotten coat as a dashing world traveler, but when he arrived to claim it, he was, well, less than dashing.

Obviously, for stories like that to be plausible, the actors who play such roles need to have a "certain look," shall we say. But how do you go about casting such roles without stepping on actors' toes? Have you witnessed or heard about insulting treatment or descriptions of actors in such situations?

Fred V said...

The Long & Winding Road
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Anonymous said...

Ken, Friday Question:

Did you have "toilet" records? For example, if I needed some time away from the board for business, my reliably long enough cuts were Cocaine (Clapton) and, of course, Alice's Restaurant. Yours?
Thanks, Keith

Pat Reeder said...

Years ago, when I was doing morning radio, the midday guy was always running late. I felt like a real schmuck bidding the listeners so long, then having to come back on the air, say, "Well, I'm still here!" and continue for another 15 minutes until he showed up.

He used a very recognizable "radio voice," very deep and gruff, sort of like Wolfman Jack, and I just spoke in my normal voice, but I did a lot of impressions. So one day after I said goodbye and again discovered he wasn't there yet, I just went back on the air and started doing his show in his voice, as him. I rumbled, "Hi, this is XXXX, with the midday show!!" I kept this up for about 20 minutes until he showed up and gave me a classic stink-eye through the glass. Fortunately, he thought it was funny, and we turned it into a bit. I came out of the record as him, then he interrupted me and accused me of being an imposter. We argued back and forth in the same voice about which one was the real one, until I finally admitted it wasn't me and shifted into my regular voice. I don't think he was ever late again after that.

BTW, there are lots of albums I could listen to over and over, especially early Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw. But I'm going to say "Necessary Evil" by Laura Ainsworth, because it's an incredible album that I've heard at least 500 times and never grow tired of; because the vocals, songs and jazz musicians on it are amazing; and honestly, not at all because the singer is my wife.

Anonymous said...

The Cheers episode in question was the first time I heard the term "pond scum" when describing the daughter's fiance.

Loved Caroline No on the Live Double album. Loved Carl Wilson. You can hear him singing background on Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me by Elton John. Amazing harmonies. Surf's Up was a great album too.
Janice B.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Wrong post I know, but a while back we were discussing extras in the background and how sometimes they actually draw attention to themselves. I was watching THE ODD COUPLE episode "Speak for Yourself", and whenever Felix and Oscar were at the restaurant, every other patron in the background were sitting there watching everything thing Felix and Oscar were doing. Talk about breaking reality.

Storm said...

I blurted out a happy little "Oh?!" of surprise when I read that songlist; from the first time I heard it as a little girl back in '77, "Year of the Cat" has always been my favourite song (especially the longer album version). People see me with my lifelong Goth look and assume my favourite song would be some dreary dirge, but no! Never judge a book by its spookyass cover.

A very close second place would go to "Life On Mars?" by Bowie.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Anonymous said...

In My Life is my all-time favorite song. Thanks for that!

Jeff Maxwell said...

More nurse fun...

The hot brunette trailing behind the first hot brunette is Gwen Farrell. Now known as Gwen Adair. She became a boxing referee, then a ringside judge. Shot a documentary about her. The hot blond next to Gwen is Sheila Lauretson (I think that's how she spelled it) who also appeared in a number of scenes as Trapper's date. I believe she married a country western singer/actor whose name escapes me. A lot of people wanted to marry her. Behind Sheila is Marcia...somebody, and then somebody else.

Thank you Ginko Biloba.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Jeff Maxwell, mingling with the fans again! It's wonderful how you are always enlightening us M*A*S*Hers with your behind-the-scenes experiences and anecdotes; I thank you for that!

Jeff Maxwell said...

Joseph: Appreciate your words, but all our thanks belong with Mr. Levine for providing us with this enriching, wonderfully entertaining and educational blog.

Ed Dempsey said...

Love this blog. The advice and the stories. Keep 'em coming. Just curious if you'd seen this short film from a few years ago. Its called "Script Cops".

https://indieflix.com/indie-films/script-cops-32440/

VP81955 said...

BTW, there are lots of albums I could listen to over and over, especially early Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw.

Add the Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe Rockpile-era albums to the mix, as well as the first few from Joe Jackson -- "Fools In Love" is a particular fave. (He toured with Crenshaw in the early '80s, and some of his band members later wound up backing Marshall.)

Anonymous said...

Friday Question: It was a stroke of genius casting David Ogden Stiers for the role of the pseudo-father to Niles and Frasier ("Fathers and Sons"). It was a perfect fit, a kinder-and-gentler Winchester (but just as sophisticated and cultured). Whose idea was that? Was Stiers hand-picked for the role? Or was he one of several actors considered? - Isabel

James said...

Do you feel like current shows are paying for the sins of the past generations? I see quite a few shows that, even if they're still raved about, are held up as cautionary tales of things not to do. Shows like Moonlighting (be wary of advancing will-they-won't-they relationships,) Twin Peaks (don't give too much away,) and Murphy Brown (don't be so topical the reruns fall flat,) among others. Do you feel like executives might pass on shows out of fear of repeating the past or are they willing to give them a chance?