Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday Questions

Friday Questions – come and get ‘em.

Peter gets us started.

What’s your opinion on the news that Cate Blanchett will play Lucille Ball in a biopic written by Aaron Sorkin?

Aaron, you have some ‘splainin’ to do. Actually, I think Cate Blanchett is inspired casting and Aaron Sorkin is a tremendous writer. It’ll be interesting to see how he does writing Cubans, but if anyone can pull it off he's the man.

Shawn K. asks:

Have you ever seen a joke, or gag, on another show that made you say, "How in the world, have I never thought of that?"

Yes, but I sheepishly confess I forget the show. It might’ve been THE DREW CAREY SHOW. If not, I apologize to whatever show it was.

A character said, “The penis -- mightier than the sword.” I thought, “I’ve seen the expression written out a million times – The pen is mightier than the sword – but never made that connection." Well done… whomever.

From Brian Phillips:

I've seen your entries about the men that warmed up the audiences, yourself included. Who are some of the warm up women?

There are not a lot. The only one I know is the one we used on ALMOST PERFECT – Wendy Hammers. She was terrific!

There are probably others but I just don’t know who they are. There needs to be more.

Mark has…

An odd question, but are sound stages air conditioned? In several MASH episodes that were clearly shot on the stage, the actors seem to be dripping in sweat. And I'm talking about episodes that were not set during a heat wave. Overall, what are sound stage conditions like? In the 20th Anniversary special Alan Alda talked about a rat problem on Stage 9.

They are air conditioned but some better than others. And hot bright lights are required for shooting so depending on the stage and scene it can get toasty.

Newer stages have better air conditioning and the lighting has been improved as well.

Those old sound stages on 20th go back to the ‘30s and ‘40s.

As for rats – all sound stages have that problem. Lots of corners and crawl spaces. And if there is a lot of prop food sitting around, especially overnight, it is not uncommon to have visitors.

A show I wrote for in the ‘80s, OPEN ALL NIGHT, was set in a 24 hour convenience store so there were lots of food items on the shelves. Ratatouille and his buck tooth pals had a field day.

Getting back to Stage 9, one day someone on the lot was giving away kittens and one of the writers took one. The kitten got loose and scampered way up into a crawl space. And the poor thing was meowing so we couldn’t shoot. It took several hours of coaxing to get the cat down. She was fine by the way. No animals were harmed in the filming of MASH.  God knows how much the three-hour shutdown cost the studio. 

And finally, from Magnanimous:

Ken - If you know someone is a jerk, treats their staff miserably, treats their own family pretty miserably, does that make you unable to enjoy a show that they work on?

For example, years ago I had a terrible professional experience with someone who is now a high level producer on Empire and because of it I can't be unbiased about the show. You seem like such a professional, but I wonder if you have this issue too.

Of course.   I’m human. There are certain actors I just can’t enjoy because of their off camera tyranny or general scumbagidness. I hesitate to mention a certain comedian turned sitcom star because I don’t want another fifty comments on the subject. But you know who I mean.

And there are producers whose shows I just won’t watch because of their bad behavior.  Don't care how celebrated their shows are. 

Being talented does not give you the right to treat people like shit. And I have little respect for those industry people who wield their power or success to steamroll over others. Especially when they’re two-faced and have this sweet public persona on camera and off camera are holy terrors.

The irony of course, is that more often than not the horrible behaving person is NOT that talented.  So it's easy to skip their show.  

ON ANOTHER NOTE;

Last week I wrote a rant on how many sitcoms today don't even try to be funny.   My friend & colleague & fellow blogger Earl Pomerantz today offers a thoughtful rebuttal.   Here's my original article.  And here's Earl's response.   I think next week I'll respond to his response.  But check out Earl's.  He's been out for awhile with Legionnaire's Disease (yikes!) so I'm thrilled he's recovered and back.  Bookmark his site.  It's terrific.

37 comments:

ninja3000 said...

Gotta tell ya Ken, “The penis -- mightier than the sword” has been around way longer than Drew Carey. I'd say the '60s, at least...

Mike said...

Perhaps I hasten to mention should be hesitate to mention? Would Frasier call this Freudian?

Rock Golf said...

SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy had a category "THE PEN IS MIGHTIER" and "Sean Connery" read it as "the penis mightier". You can guess what he did with "AN ALBUM COVER".

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

the Jeopardy spots in SNL were almost always funny. One of the few recurring skits that always had a laugh-out-loud moment.

Ray Barrington said...

Our local paper once covered some state budget vetoes with the front page headline GOVERNOR'S PEN IS A SWORD. The inevitable missing space was there.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Thank you for linking Earl's site. It's terrific!

David said...

Hi Ken

A Friday question.

I'm a Canadian writer who's currently looking for an agent and would like to maybe come to work in the US one day. Would a Canadian agent be able to submit material to an American show? Or would I need an American agent? Also, would an American agent even consider foreign talent? I know there are a lot of working Canadian writers working in American television, but I don't know how they got there.

Thanks In advance.

Jim S said...

Baseball questions Ken. (I know how your readers love those). What the what?!?!?!?!

I watched the first game between Kansas City and Houston. While a fine game, it WAS FOUR HOURS LONG!!! It started, my time at about 7:34 p.m. and ended at 11:41 p.m.

How is a game that long helping anyone? I know networks, in this case a Fox cable operation, need to sell ads, but come on.

What's the solution?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a writing utensils shop somewhere called "The Pen Island"...?

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, thanks for the kind words about Wendy Hammers. We've been good friends for over 20 years and she was one of the best warm-ups I've had the good fortune to work on many shows with. As many of you in the biz may be aware, she's facing some health issues right now, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

blinky said...

SO who is the Comedian turned sitcom star that I should know is a dick? That doesn't narrow it down enough...

Andrew said...

That's not fair Ken. How can we possibly know who you mean, regarding the comedian turned sit-com star? Was it Redd Foxx or Jerry Seinfeld? Please, at least give another hint?

Joseph Scarbrough said...

What episode(s) of M*A*S*H are we talking about that had the actors sweating while filming on Stage 9? Because the only time I've ever seen the actors sweating was on the Ranch: the episode "Cowboy," for example, Henry's sweating bullets when Trapper's reading the letter from Cowboy's wife over the radio.

But Ken's right, those lights are hot. I've worked in sound stages before, and I don't understand people who complain that they're cold. Seriously - the case and crew of WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? have always complained the studio was cold, and there's a behind-the-scenes pic of the performers bundled up in jackets before taping began; likewise, people have complained the studio where they tape AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS is always too cold, though Tom Bergeron takes responsibility for that, as he requested to be able to see three things when they tape: his breath and nipples. I always wonder how that's possible, as I've never been on a sound stage that was oh-so-cold; quite the opposite, they're like incubators!

Tim Tjarks said...

This is in reply to Jim S. -- the Royals/Astros game included a 49 minute rain delay, so game time was 3 hours 15 minutes. Not exceptionally long.

thevidiot said...

As to "The penis mightier than the sword", I read a book called "Scrawl of the Wild" by Norton Mockridge (of CBS Radio fame) in the 1960's. This book was a "study" of graffitti found all over the U.S. This phrase was one of the most popular and was in the book 50+ years ago.

Great book by the way if you can find one!

http://www.amazon.com/scrawl-wild-people-write-walls/dp/B00005WRMO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444405647&sr=8-1&keywords=Scrawl+of+the+Wild

Rock Golf said...

Blinky: Think pistachios farm.

Ken Keltner said...

Recently saw the Penis episode on The Drew Carey Show, on the Laff Channel. Terrific series except for that one horrible character!

Mighty Dyckerson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pizzagod said...

Gee Ken, now I can't get Darrell Hammond out of my head saying "Penis Mightier"

But I think the gag predated that by a lotta years.

Brian said...

Hi Ken, seen "The Martian" yet? How about a review? Us techies liked it because it was described as made for "people who want to the whole movie to be like when they solve the CO2 problem in Apollo 13". I also liked it beause I'm a fan of Any Weir, the author of the book.

gottacook said...

blinky and Andrew: Substitute "comedienne" and you may get it. Much discussed in various (not recent) entries on this blog.

Anth said...

So since Cybill Shepherd wasn't a comedian, does that make it Brett Butler?

Anonymous said...

Would it rhyme with Snowsann Carr and would she own a macadamia farm? Loved Open all NIght back in the day. Janice B

Cap'n Bob said...

Not to brag, but I made the pen is/penis connection a good 55 years ago,and even then I assumed many others had done so before me.

Peter said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken!

I must confess I've never actually seen I Love Lucy. I know, I should hang my head in shame, but I'm looking forward to the biopic. Cate Blanchett is a remarkable actress who can morph into any character.

Buttermilk Sky said...

First Katharine Hepburn, now Lucille Ball. I can't wait for Blanchett in "The Whoopi Goldberg Story."

Paul Dushkind said...

I think he means Bill Cosby.

Wayne said...

Comedy changes.
Difference between Dick Van Dyke show and Girls.
Dick Van Dyke Show: Laura gets her big toe stuck in bathtub faucet.
Girls: Guy gets his nose stuck in Allison Williams' butt crack.

Dick Van Dyke Show: Mary Tyler Moore is someone you'd love to see naked and never do.
Girls: Lena Dunham.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I still don't see how GIRLS is a comedy; it's more or less Lena Dunham's homemade porn.

mmryan314 said...

@ Joseph Scarbrough- Amen to that statement.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

*Cough Tim Allen*cough

Dixon said...

Cate Blanchett to play statue of Lucille Ball...

James Van Hise said...

Regarding the headline with the missing space, I think sometimes this is done by someone who knows they won't get blamed but someone else will. Some years ago a major newspaper did an article on clowns and out of the hundreds of clown pictures they must have had in their files, the one they ran was of John Wayne Gacy in his notorious clown makeup, and even though there was no caption identifying him, the photo was too notorious to be overlooked by the readers. Lots of apologies followed.

thirteen said...

There was a newspaper in Pennsylvania that headlined the outgoing governor's final night of bill-signing and -vetoing with the headline GOVERNOR'S PENIS BUSY.

Andy Rose said...

Another thing about air conditioning in soundstages: For single-camera productions, the sound men insist that the A/C be turned off during takes so that dialogue recording is as pristine as possible. Once they've got the shot in the can, they turn the A/C back on while the crew sets up the next shot. The more takes the director demands on a particular setup, the longer everyone goes without A/C.

Anthony said...

Friday question: I know that there are some rules to how to construct a pilot, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are regarding expanding some of that criteria into the second episode. Introducing a key character, adding a twist, completing the initial arc...I'm creating a new project with someone and just based on how we want to set things up at the start and the flow of one plot point to the next, we're sort of treating episode 2 as the second half of the pilot (not a linear continuation, but seeing how things are altered shortly after the events of episode 1). It's by no means an overly complicated premise, but to establish the relationships AND get everyone in the place they need to be for the sake of continuing the story, it feels like squeezing it all in to ~25 pages would be rushing it. The concern we have is that it might feel like a bait-and-switch, and that someone who saw episode 1 and then skipped to episode 3 would miss critical information.

(Since this is, at the moment, just a personal project we're collaborating on, the easiest solution would just be do a double-length pilot, but we're trying to be consistent!)

Another quick pilot question--I've noticed some shows in recent years (though, naturally, I'm hard-pressed to name one off the top of my head) that featured the lead character's narration in the first few minutes of the pilot, to establish the characters and premise...and then it goes away for the rest of the episode (if not series). Do you think this is a lazy way to handle exposition or is it helpful to the audience--maybe even necessary given the shortened run time of shows these days?

Anonymous said...

Wait, you couldn't get along with Ray Romano?