Hope you enjoyed my DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. Discussion will continue on Monday. But nothing pre-empts Friday Questions (unless I decide something does). Here are today’s.
Klee gets us started.
Do you know if they ever used Nicholas Colasanto's TV directorial expertise in Cheers? I recently watched a Logan's Run episode directed by him.
No. Nick primarily directed one hour dramas. His directing resume is impressive and extensive. BONANZA, HAWAII FIVE-O (the good version), IRONSIDE, COLUMBO, and even THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO.
I’m sure he also felt he was in good hands with Jimmy Burrows directing all of the CHEERS episodes.
I live in New Jersey and I go to a Video Production School in Maine. My ultimate goal is to write comedy. Does it make more sense to find a crew job on the East Coast while I continue to work on my writing and submit spec scripts?
Absolutely. Take a crew job (or any job) and write at night. The beauty of writing is that all it requires is your time. It’s not like directing where you have to shell out a lot of money to mount a production to direct, or acting where you either have to be hired to practice your craft or attend that classes that cost you money.
J. D. Salinger was one of the soldiers who stormed the beach on D-Day. In his backpack was a few chapters of the book he was writing in his spare time – CATCHER IN THE RYE. A crew job has got to be better that than gig.
Richard is next.
Hey Ken, I loved your book on growing up in the 60s. I found it very relatable even though I grew up in the 80s and 90s.
Would you ever do one on your experiences in the 70s? You've shared a ton of great stories from being in radio and I'm sure you have a ton more.
Maybe at some point. Perhaps if more people bought the ‘60s book I’d be more motivated to write the sequel. Hint hint. You can find it here.
Steve Mc wonders:
When writing a pilot, which has many regular characters (whether a 1 hr drama like Mad Men or a sitcom like The Office), do you submit a separate sheet introducing each character? If so, how much do you write about each?
Do you mean, do we submit them to the network during a pitch? No. We may write a separate profile page on each character for our own use as a way of better defining the character (and it’s a practice I highly recommend), but we don’t submit that… for several reasons.
It’s way more info than the network needs, wants, or can digest. They have sixty pilot projects they’re juggling with. (Each one has a character named Sam -- half are men and half are women.) They want a quick concise definition of the characters, period. The other thing is that if a network does read an entire page they will invariably have notes. “Did she have to attend Stanford?” “Could one of the parents not be Jewish?” etc.
When writing the actual pilot, a lot of writers like to add an introductory page listing all the characters and a brief description of each. We don’t do that. We’ll quickly define each character as he’s introduced in the script. We feel it’s annoying for the reader to have to keep flipping back to the intro page every time someone new is introduced.
For us it’s all about helping the reader visualize and quickly grasp who the character is. We often give prototypes even though we know we’ll never get them. We’ll say “For Sam picture: George Clooney” “For Sam picture: Emma Watson.”
And finally, from Michael:
When actors on hit shows renegotiate their contracts, is it common for them to request some say in their character's story lines? I'm wondering if this could explain how on BIG BANG THEORY, Penny went from unsuccessful actress/incompetent waitress to successful pharmaceutical sales rep practically overnight.
Actors ask for all kinds of things, from creative say to trailers with windows. Whether it’s in their contract or not, actors want a say in where their character is going. Trust me, you do not want to send a character down a path the actor hates. That actor will make your life miserable. Personally, I don’t believe in forcing actors to do things they’re not comfortable with. There may be long discussions where I try to convince an actor to do something, and sometimes they'll come around. But if they vehemently oppose doing something I’m not going to make them regardless of whether I can contractually.
What’s your Friday Question?