Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Questions

Yes, it’s that time of the week again.

Ted O'Hara with the first Friday Question:

Have you ever found that you've boxed yourself in on future stories due to some plot detail in a past show that seem innocuous at the time? And if so, how did you get out of it?

Yes, it's happened.  You generally try to let time pass and hope no one notices. And yes, that's the chicken shit solution.  In only the second episode of CHEERS we introduced Sam’s ex-wife, primarily for one joke. Later we all thought, why did we do that? We don’t want the added complication of Sam being married before.

So we just ignored that beat as if it never happened. Great storytelling? No. But functional. We've convinced ourselves that it is. 

Sometimes you just ignore the complication and other times you try to explain it away. An example of each:

In an early episode of MASH Harry Morgan appeared as a crazy general (“The General Flipped at Dawn”). Later, of course, he re-appeared as Colonel Potter. Nothing was ever said.

On CHEERS we once established that Frasier’s father was dead. Oops. Tell that to John Mahoney. Later, on the FRASIER episode where Sam Malone visited (written by me and David Isaacs) we explained that Frasier had just said that out of anger.

The truth is there are inconsistencies on most long-running series. It’s understandable. New writers come aboard and don’t know the intricate details of all that went before. Especially before the internet. 

From Andrew:

Have you consciously altered your comedy style over the years? Do you mainly think in single-cam joke form now instead of multi-cam?

We never alter our style to appeal to a certain age group. We write what we think is funny for an intelligent audience. We don’t buy into the thinking that Millennials only want sex jokes or pop culture references.

As for single vs. multi-cam, last year David and I had a pilot at USA (before they shut down their comedy department completely – not our fault, by the way). It was pitched as a single-camera show. They asked if we could change it to multi-cam. I facetiously said, “Sure. In First Draft you can easily just change the template from single to multi-camera. One click and it’s done.”

But seriously, the styles are somewhat different as are the tones. We adjust our approach accordingly.

Since multi-camera shows are filmed before a live studio audience they are constructed more like plays. Dialogue is key and there are more set-up/jokes. The single camera format is more realistic. Laughs come from visual situations as well as witty banter.

Each format has its pluses and minuses. I’ve worked extensively in both. Which one I prefer depends entirely on the premise of the series. Which format lends itself the best to telling the story? MASH in front of an audience would be ridiculous. CHEERS on an empty soundstage would be a waste.  So it varies from project to project.

Anthony asks:

Yesterday's 'Now I Know' email newsletter talked about Jay Winsten bringing the "designated driver" concept to the US and how he worked with tv executives and "convinced many prominent TV shows of the era -- Cheers, the Cosby Show, L.A. Law, and Roseanne are mentioned in various press reports -- to make a positive, story-relevant reference to the designated driver program in various episodes."

How did you feel having to write certain things in? Were there other times you were told to deal with particular issues and how does it change the writing process?

I was never forced to write anything in. But my shows were always on major broadcast networks. In addition to being a writer and producer I consider myself a responsible broadcaster.

I have been privileged to be given an audience of millions of people. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

So along the way, if I can champion causes such as “designated drivers” or the danger of smoking and do it organically within the fabric of my show, I am happy to do so.

I come from an era where broadcast stations were obligated to program in the public’s best interest.  Otherwise they could lose their license. Those laws are relaxed today to where they’re utterly meaningless, and there are so many other delivery systems that I think the public’s best interest is now a total non-factor.

But television is the greatest form of mass communication the world has ever known. Why not use it for good?

And finally, from Bill Avena:

OK nobody's around so here's my question: did you ever meet the "Richard Hooker" who wrote the original novel?

No. Richard Hooker, whose real name was Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, had sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox for only a few thousand dollars. So needless to say, he was bitter that the franchise went on to earn billions and he got nothing. You could certainly understand why he had no desire to cooperate with us. Also, Dr. Hornberger was a staunch conservative and disapproved of Alan Alda’s very liberal take on the Hawkeye character. According to Dr. Hornberger’s son, he rarely even watched the series. Again, I can’t blame him.

What’s your Friday Question?

55 comments:

Ray Barrington said...

I wouldn't worry about Dr. Hornberger. A chunk of MASH/the novel wasn't written by him at all, but by the noted sportswriter W.C. Heinz, especially the football game chapter. It's reprinted in "What A Time It Was: The Best of W. C. Heinz on Sports"

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I guess the answer to one question leads to another question: do you find it easier to track character and plot details and remain consistent over a long period of time now that we have computer databases and easier means of updating documents like the show's bible?

I'm reminded that Agatha Christie's alter ego, Ariadne Oliver, the detective story writer character that appears in some of Christie's books, mused often that there seemed to be people in the world who existed solely to write her letters complaining about inconsistencies and errors in her books.

wg

Curt Alliaume said...

I vividly remember the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Fish Story," where one of the side stories has Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap drinking on the air, and having their reaction time tested as they go along by an Ohio state trooper. The gag is the more Johnny drinks, the better his reaction time gets. I have my doubts that would get by Standards & Practices today - the fear would be too many viewers would say, "Hey, if he can do it..."

Mel Agar said...

I've spent the past weeks working my way through Cheers on Netflix. Watching all 11 seasons in maybe 6 weeks has been a pretty incredible experience (I'm about halfway through season 11 right now -- the end is in sight!), and I've gained such an appreciation for what that show was and accomplished and the depth of talent that created the show. I have also laughed many times at all the comments that the writers of Frasier must have cursed -- there are several references to a dead father, stories of Frasier's upbringing that don't really sound like the Hester and Martin we grew to know on Frasier, and of course, no mention at all of poor Niles. Perhaps I'll tackle Frasier next and see how that plays out over weeks instead of years. :)

Jake said...

Don't forget Frasier and Lillith divorcing the season after we saw future-Lillith at the reading of Frasier's will, which turned out to be Sam's fertility report (that damn bar!).

Ted said...

I've been re-watching THAT 70s SHOW and Donna has a little sister for the first few episodes and she's never heard of again. I never even noticed in the first run-through, but binge-watching changes the game!

Joseph Scarbrough said...

And didn't Dr. Hornberger dislike the series so much that he had a bunch of odd and strange sequel novels ghost-written to try and bring down the franchise's overall credibility? Like M*A*S*H GOES TO MAINE? M*A*S*H GOES TO FLORIDA? M*A*S*H GOES TO VEGAS? M*A*S*H GOES NEXT DOOR? M*A*S*H GOES ACROSS THE STREET? M*A*S*H GOES UPSTAIRS? M*A*S*H GOES TO THE STORE? M*A*S*H GOES TO HELL? M*A*S*H GOES TO CANADA?

tavm said...

I remember reading the book "The Honeymooners Lost Episodes" by Donna McCrowan and Peter Cresente (don't know if I got the names right) and they pointed out the various contradictions of the series and previous sketches on "The Jackie Gleason Show" over the years. Like Trixie's past as a stripper was rumor in the "Classic 39" and being fact in the sketches! I guess no one thought this show would ever be rerun in perpetuity then!

Stephen Robinson said...

MEL -- I also watched the entire runs of CHEERS and FRASIER on Netflix a couple years ago (avergaging two episodes a day, so roughly less than a year). What I think is brilliant about FRASIER's pilot is that it really could have worked if that was the first time we'd met Frasier Crane. All we need to know is established in the first scene (psychiatrist turned radio host who has moved to Seattle after a divorce). The style of humor is also unique to the show, especially considering how CHEERS had developed in a different direction after Shelley Long left.

Michael said...

MASH certainly suffered from its inconsistencies. Colonel Potter had, as I recall, three different wedding anniversaries. He arrived on September 17, 1952, but was there for an episode dedicated to encapsulating 1951.

It's also a reminder that these shows are fictional. Who would have thought it?

Curt Alliaume said...

M*A*S*H Goes to Maine (1972) and M*A*S*H Mania (1977) were the only ones actually written by Hooker/Hornberger himself. The former takes up where the first novel (the basis for the movie) left off, with Hawkeye taking residence in Crabapple Cover, Maine, and gradually reuniting all four members of The Swamp (Duke, Trapper John, Spearchucker) at a hospital there. The latter novel updates the story to the 1970s, with all four doctors now middle aged. It takes a few potshots at the TV series (Hawkeye has a crewcut and is a conservative Republican), but it's not as if the whole book is a diatribe. Neither book is Pulitzer-worthy, but they're decent reads, and you can hardly blame Hornberger for wanting to get on the gravy train he originated.

The other twelve (!) books (M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans, M*A*S*H Goes to Miami, etc.) were "co-written" (which probably means entirely written) by "William E. Butterworth," which is a pen name for W.E.B. Griffin (actually, if Wikipedia is correct, it might actually be his real name), who's written probably 75 to 100 books in all. I went through most of one of them years ago, and it has nothing to do with anything.

VP81955 said...

I vividly remember the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Fish Story," where one of the side stories has Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap drinking on the air, and having their reaction time tested as they go along by an Ohio state trooper. The gag is the more Johnny drinks, the better his reaction time gets. I have my doubts that would get by Standards & Practices today - the fear would be too many viewers would say, "Hey, if he can do it..."

That was based on an actual promotion at WHEN radio in Syracuse earlier in the '70s as part of a campaign against drunk driving. The studio wall on "WKRP" featured all sorts of bumper stickers from actual radio stations (who most likely sent them to the show as a tribute to its portrayal of the radio biz), and one of them, in the style of a blue-on-gold New York state license plate, reads "62-WHEN."

Michael said...

Friday question: On TV shows, I assume the showrunner has the final say on the script. I was wondering who has final say for movies - does one of the producers have "de facto" showrunner powers?

Harold Lemarr said...

I was watching my young cousin for a few nights a week as a favor. Recently, she's been interested in watching Cheers with me, which surprised me. She was introduced to Cheers through a popular cartoon called Adventure Time.

In an episode of the show, there is a flashback that reveals a connection between a villain and a hero on the show. The villain used to be a good man who took care of the hero(a young vampire girl) in the aftermath of some kind of apocalypse. The man is cursed with a crown that gives him long life and powers but makes him insane.

In the episode, he recreates a Cheers episode to cheer the young girl up. Later, he is forced to wear the cursed crown to protect her from monsters and to remind himself of his humanity, he sings the Cheers song.

Here's the scenes which I thought were pretty cool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udWQDqK_gLM

I've found that a lot of younger kids aren't as familiar with older shows as my peer group because they don't watch re-runs of older shows on tv. They tend to watch newer stuff on places like youtube. I was just curious about your views on that.

Also, have you ever written anything aimed towards a young audience. Is that something you ever wanted to do, especially considering that shows and movies for kids can be written smartly(Ex. Pixar)?

Andy Ihnatko said...

How are network sitcoms affected by the potential for an enormous payday if the show beats the odds and becomes a hit? And does the lack of that potential put direct-to-streaming (or even lower-tier cable) shows at a disadvantage when they're trying to hire actors, showrunners, and directors?

This could be just a version of the question "Why do people want to work on a certain sitcom, apart from just wanting to work?"

John said...

Harry Morgan becoming a regular after a guest starring role was fairly common for sitcoms in the 60s and 70s -- Bewitched was rife with that over the years, and both Steve Landesburg and Ron Carey had guest roles on "Barney Miller" before they became regulars just after Harry took on the full-time role as Col. Potter. Morgan's is just more memorable because of how successful M*A*S*H was over the years and the fact his Season 3 guest spot could be the funniest episode of the entire series.

Cat said...

Sam mentions in later episodes that he has been married before, so it's not like it was such a hindrance that it was ditched. We just never happened to see Debra (the ex wife) again. I think it's a minor continuity violation.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

"I've found that a lot of younger kids aren't as familiar with older shows as my peer group because they don't watch re-runs of older shows on tv."

That's because older shows are "uncool" for kids to watch, simply because of that of that very reason: they're old, and apparently as far as kids are concerned, old = bad. Trust me, when I was in grade school, I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle (and still do) for its satirical humor, sharp wit, and clever wordplay . . . but all my friends and schoolmates automatically hated it simply because it was old, and that's just the mindset for many youngsters. If they didn't grow up with it, it's not worth their time.

Not all kids are like that, though. When I was growing up, my parents kept introducing me to shows that they grew up with: THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (being in Tennessee, this show is almost religious on our airwaves), I LOVE LUCY, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, and BEWITCHED are shows they hooked me on, and from there, because I watched TV Land a lot (back when it was good), I ended up introducing myself to other shows like MISTER ED, SANFORD AND SON, GREEN ACRES, H.R. PUFNSTUF (and other Sid & Marty Krofft shows), M*A*S*H, and HOGAN'S HEROES. More recently, MeTV introduced me to THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW (kind of ahead of its time), and THE ODD COUPLE. As I've said many times before on this blog, I find these shows to be much better than most of today's garbage in many ways, from the writing and directing, to the casting and acting, and all points in between. Give me reruns and DVDs of these shows over THE OFFICE, MODERN FAMILY, THE BIG DANG THEORY, or TWO AND A HALF MEN any day.

But again, most kids are going to dismiss anything before their time altogether. Notice how each year when CBS colorizes an I LOVE LUCY episode, they also promote it on DVD with the disclaimer, "Now colorized for kids of all ages!" Kids aren't going to want to watch black-and-white . . . and God forbid we try to expose them to it.

Cap'n Bob said...

Not only old shows, most of the young people today refuse to watch anything in black and white. What fools.

Peter said...

Mel

Don't forget Nancy Marchand played Frasier's mother in an episode and her persona was nothing like the sweet natured lady Martin, Frasier and Niles spoke of. She was hilariously vicious and unpleasant. A complete contrast to the version played by Rita Wilson in a Frasier episode.

Al said...

Not to disagree, but I think the "this generation won't watch black and white" thing is a bit specious. I remember people saying the same thing when I was a kid in the 80's which confused me because I watched all the old Black and White Shows religiously and would spend Saturday's watching "Saturday at the Bijou" (a show that recreated an old movie going experience by showing a few shorts, some cartoons, a movie serial and a feature).

There's always going to be a good portion of kids that won't watch something new, but there's also always going to be a smaller group of kids who decide they want to really dig into something older that has more depth. Most kids didn't watch older television when I was a kid, but there was always a group of us that loved that stuff.

My nephew for example found my "I Love Lucy" DVD's and just binge watched the crap out of it. I always remember being a part of a group of kids who really dug into old stuff, and I'm pretty sure those kids are still out there!

Joseph Scarbrough said...

As I said, there are obvious exceptions, such as the likes of us, who do give older forms of entertainment a chance before we dismiss them altogether, but it's not exactly an exaggeration either to say that the majority of younger generations have this mindset that anything before their time isn't worth checking, whether or not it's in b&w, simply because it's "old" and "old" = "uncool." Even back in the 70s, Mel Brooks had a hard time getting YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN to be shot in b&w (intentionally since it was a send-up of the old FRANKENSTEIN movies) because studio execs feared nobody would want to see it if it was in b&w. Likewise, the episode of M*A*S*H "The Interview" had Burt Metcalfe's v/o disclaimer, "The following is in black-and-white," because the network feared viewers would be freaking out that something was wrong with their television sets.

And you're right, Al, it's not uncommon to see episodes of older shows, or even clips from older movies on YouTube, and see comments from younger folks, such as GenY'ers, and even some Millennials saying that they prefer this over most of what's out there today.

Music's even worse. Again, if it's before the kids' time, they won't listen to it (the ARTHUR episode "My Music Rules" practically spells it out that most kids automatically think classical music is boring, and believe me, I went to school with kids like that too); and kids today settle with the likes of Taylor "I'm Totally Not a Narcissist" Swift and Miley Cyrus, and have no actual concept of what real music is.

Geoff with a G said...

Ken,

Todd VanDerWerff, a clever and interesting writer, wrote up this piece for Vox that basically champions "good" network notes (e.g., adding a female character to Seinfeld). I'd be curious to hear your take.
http://www.vox.com/2015/8/28/9221493/good-network-notes

Cheers!

Geoff

AndrewJ said...

I think in the MASH novels written after the MASH TV series (ostensibly by "Richard Hooker"), Henry Blake is still very much alive.

Rashad Khan said...

Friday Question: This might have been covered in a previous post, but how do you (and Mr. Isaacs) find the "perfect" writers to join your writing staff? Is there an initial interview -- and if so, what sort of questions do you ask to determine whether he or she would be a good fit for you and your show?

D. McEwan said...

In the first season of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Dobie had an older brother played by Darryl Hickman. After only a couple episodes he was gone and never mentioned again, and Dobie became an only child.

Snoskred said...

Ken - an Emmy related question.

What is the cutoff for nominations and seasons? EG a show that premiered in Summer this year?

I did some googling but did not find much that answered this question.

The reason I ask is - I've been watching Mr Robot, which has been an incredible ride thus far. Rami Malek is *amazing* in this role. I actually found out about the show from seeing his name on the Emmy ballot which someone had posted a link to earlier this year.

So if he has already been nominated for that role but the show did not premiere on cable until June 24th, how does that work? The pilot was available via video on demand on May 27 and had been seen at some film festivals.. Is May 31 the cut off date, and anything aired after that is eligible for 2016?

BTW I highly recommend Mr Robot, it is brilliant.

ScottyB said...

Speaking of public-service threads in sitcom scriptwriting and as far as 'Cheers' goes, I always thought the tip of the hat to not letting beered-up people drive home was handled quite subtly and well, because you don't always need to make it a "very special" episode to make a tip of the hat.

OTOH, there was the episode where Rebecca burned down Sam's bar with a ciggy butt. But the one episode I always remember more than that was the one where a very tall, dark woman who sounded like Kathleen Turner in her 'Body Heat' days (except like 10 times more) who smoked like a carton of cigarettes in that episode was coming on to Norm for some reason.

Not exactly a PSA for the evils of smoking cigarettes, but there ya go.

Cap'n Bob said...

I worked for the USAF for 32 years and most of my co-workers were under 25. Virtually none of them would watch B&W movies or TV shows. I tried to change their minds but they were adamant. They just assumed that B&W meant poor quality.

Allan V said...

What are your thoughts on typecasting? When an actor complains that he/she has been typecast, is it usually the case that they really are hopelessly associated with a role, and can't escape it no matter what they do? Or is it more often the case that they're trapped because they either:

a) aren't that skilled an actor to begin with, or
b) aren't aggressive enough about seeking out those roles that may help them break out of type?

Barry Traylor said...

I am one of those people that is old enough to have watched MASH from the beginning and at first I did not warm up to Harry Morgan as Col. Potter (even though I loved his work going back to DRAGNET) as I missed McLean Stevenson so much. But I quickly came to like the character of Sherman Potter as much (or more).

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Same here - Mac Stevenson as Henry Blake was such a funny character who could really be one of the boys that I found Potter almost out of place on the show, and not to mention that the death of Henry was such a shock that the transition to the by-the-book, Regular Army Colonel Potter was a difficult one. Likewise, I too eventually got used to him to the point that I almost forgot about Henry (and Trapper too, for that matter), both characters were unique in their own way, and while Potter may not have been laugh-out-loud funny like Henry was, Potter's little euphemisms ("Horse hockey!") and his occasional dry yet witty sarcasm made him funny as well . . . plus, he really does feel like the grandfather you wish you had.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Allan V: sometimes the actor is just indelibly wedded to a particular character. Margaret Hamilton wound up playing a witch at children's parties, I believe, despite having a perfectly good career before THE WIZARD OF OZ. Basil Rathbone got utterly sick of playing Sherlock Holmes - and before Holmes he was known for playing villains!

I'm not convinced it's the public that does this; I think it's more likely to be unimaginative producers, etc., who judge whether someone's right for something new by whether they've done something similar in the past. Then someone like Jennifer Aniston does the indie movie THE GOOD GIRL at the height of her FRIENDS fame and people are surprised. (Or check out David Schwimmer in IT'S THE RAGE, Ted Danson in season 1 of DAMAGES.)

Which reminds me of a story I read in an interview with Anne Bancroft. Just off doing the Mel Brooks remake of TO BE OR NOT TO BE, she heard about GARBO TALKS and *really* wanted to play the mother. She got in touch with the director. Who said, "I saw your last movie. You're too young, you're too tall, and you're too sexy for this part." She convinced him to meet with her with this: "Yes, but in my last movie I was sleeping with the writer, the director, and the star." (She got the part when they met. The director said, "You're not so young, you're not so tall, you're not so sexy...")

wg

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

One thing I liked about Potter was that he was, as they said I think in the book, "Regular Army" and didn't take any crap from Frank and Margaret, not even Colonel Flagg, and I was a big Harry Morgan fan because of his natural authority and that dry wit that Joe Scarborough mentions. I especially liked the unflappable way he handled Klinger in the first couple seasons.

**Margaret Hamilton wound up playing a witch at children's parties, I believe**
Oy, that's sad. Your Anne Bancroft story reminds of how Audrey Meadows got the part of Alice Kramden. Gleason saw her head shot and said she was too young and pretty, so she had herself re-shot with no make up or lighting and, as she told it, Gleason saw the picture and said "Now that's Alice!"

Dixon Steele said...

Why not mention the gorgeous Donna McKechnie as today's model?

Natalie wouldn't mind...

Alan C said...

Programming in the public interest! But if they did that now we wouldn't have the Kardashians to entertain us!

D. McEwan said...

When I met Margaret Hamilton in 1974, she was starring in the road company of Sondheim's A Little Night Music. She was a classy, gracious, smart, happy lady. She worked on TV, onstage and in commercials to the end of her life, very happy. That bilge about her being reduced to playing witches at kids' parties is just an insulting urban legend without a word of truth to it.

D. McEwan said...

And any director whoever told Anne Bancroft that she was "Not so sexy" was blind.

Dixon Steele said...

Not to mention all those Maxwell House commercials Margaret H. made in the 70s...

Joseph Scarbrough said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Scarbrough said...

On the subject of Anne Bancroft, has anybody seen the Dom DeLuise movie FATSO, that she not only co-starred in but wrote and directed as well? It is absolutely brilliant, and she was wonder as Dom's older sister (and even when she was middle-aged she still looked great).

Wendy M. Grossman said...

D, McEwan: I'm very glad to be corrected.

wg

cadavra said...

Yes, the "kids" today don't wanna watch anything old (with an occasional exception like The Three Stooges or THE WIZARD OF OZ). This was Ted Turner's big mistake: They didn't want to watch CASABLANCA because it was in B&W; they didn't want to watch it because they didn't give a shit about old people in WW2. If you tried showing them THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD or SINGIN' IN THE RAIN or NORTH BY NORTHWEST or any other classic film that actually is in color, they'd still hate it. Because it's old. And we have indulged this behavior to the point where it is now probably unfixable.

MikeN said...

The networks were making money by putting messages into show plots. It allowed them to sell ads instead of running PSAs.

Stuart Best said...

Related to last week's question about Richard Hooker (the author of the MASH novel), what did you think of the Robert Altman movie? Or the book for that matter.

McAlvie said...

I find it ironic that Dr. Hornberger found Alda's tv version of Hawkeye more offensive than the movie version. I like both, but they are really two different animals, with the movie version being a lot more rough. Having read the book, I certainly would not have expected him to take offense at much of anything, so that's interesting. As for selling away rights ... I guess I could understand chagrin. Nobody likes thinking about the one that got away, or even worse was thrown away for peanuts.

But really I wanted to comment on the character history thing. Whenever I hear about inconsistencies, I always think of MASH, and how Hawkeye started out with a father, mother, and sister; later in the show, his father is a widower. Harry Morgan was so great in both roles that his showing up later as Potter didn't bother me at all.

That was such a great show, Ken, and I can only imagine the pride at knowing you were part of something that will outlive all of us. It's also one of the few shows - well, the only that springs to mind at the moment - which got even better over the years. As much as I enjoyed the early episodes and the laughs from characters like Burns and Blake, I believe bringing in Charles, Potter, and BJ probably did a lot for the show's longevity, giving you guys a much richer well from which to draw stories.

Jon H said...

On the subject of Richard Hornberger & M*A*S*H, I read somewhere that he did get something around $300 per new episode, or as he was quoted as saying "[the price of] a gall bladder operation" weekly, so if that's true he wasn't shut out of the money that came from the sitcom.

bj said...

About typecasting... one of the things that always pissed me off was when an actor got lucky enough to get a role that gets them known to millions (if not billions) of people, and remembered long after they left that role, and even after they shuffled off this mortal coil, and then just endless curse it as typecasting. Do you know how many out-of-work actors would have killed for a shot like that? To get paid to do what you loved, and gain immortality for it as well?

Craig Gustafson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Gustafson said...

Do you know how many out-of-work actors would have killed for a shot like that? To get paid to do what you loved, and gain immortality for it as well?

And then get little or no work for the rest of their lives? Absolutely. Who wouldn't want that?

When Don Knotts did "Return to Mayberry," he refused to do any interviews. The press ignored him for years because he wasn't playing Barney Fife. So when he played Barney again, he ignored them. Good for him.

Stephen Robinson said...

Do you know how many out-of-work actors would have killed for a shot like that? To get paid to do what you loved, and gain immortality for it as well?

****

SER: This might be generational, but I'm 41 and recall typecasting as being far more devastating than it arguably is now. For one, when I was a kid, a typecast actor was no longer paid to do what he or she loved, and there was no real "immortality." Some former stars had no recourse but to appear at supermarkets.

Nowadays, stars can appear at Comic-Con or variations thereof, and the "Celebrity (INSERT REALITY TV SHOW HERE)" series might pay better than "Hollywood Squares" (you're also on primetime). And shows seem more inclined to cast former stars in voiceover appearances and guest starring roles.

Robby Brown said...
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Robby Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bj said...

@Craig Gustafson: The mere fact your mentioned Don Knotts proves his immortality. And I think he is a bad example - he left the The Andy Griffith Show after 5 seasons to take a 5 picture movie deal. He had many guest shots, often returning to Mayberry, and then did 6 years on Three's Company. (All of this via Wikipedia)... I think a lot of out of work actors who never got their break would have loved to have the career of Don Knotts.

bj said...

@Stephen Robinson: Yeah, it may have been worse in the past (I'm over 50 and remember it), but those actors who had skills (and some who just had luck), always found ways to shake it off.

But those without real acting ability who lucked into a role where they got typecast... what were they doing before it? They could probably go back to that no problem. Many of those who were typecast were not great actors to begin with...