Here’s something to read as you stand in long lines today – this week’s (Black) Friday Questions. I need sweaters, by the way. But not Cosby sweaters.
Wendy M. Grossman begins:
A number of us have been seriously admiring Aya Cash's work on YOU'RE THE WORST (which you should all see, if you haven't). Someone opined that she has no chance at an Emmy nomination, however, because the network that broadcasts the show is the ultra-obscure FXX. Is this true, do you think? Does it hurt the chances of THE AMERICANS, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys that they're on FX? I know the main actors on JUSTIFIED never won anything - but Margo Martindale, guesting in season 2, did. I'd have thought that with shows on Amazon and Netflix winning awards we were entirely over that sort of snobbishness.
It’s not a matter of snobbishness; it’s a matter of too many choices. Getting Emmy voters to sample all these shows on all these networks and platforms is very difficult. Unfortunately, many worthy efforts fly under the radar.
Buzz and marketing are now more important than ever.
Most shows will now offer screeners to Academy voters and that helps a lot. There have been shows I had heard about but never seen, and then when the screeners came in I decided to give them a try. In some cases it affected my voting.
Ironically, I almost think that being on an obscure network is almost advantageous. There’s a cool factor. Broadcast network shows have a stigma these days, which is too bad because THE GOOD WIFE deserves way more recognition than it receives.
Ken: You've made your disdain for "Two Broke Girls" and your love of multi-camera sitcoms evident multiple times. If asked to write or direct and episode of "Two Broke Girls," one of a dwindling number of multi-cams on the air, would you?
Not that they’re ever going to ask me in a million years, but I would be happy to direct an episode. I love Kat Dennings and have worked with her before. I would not want to write an episode. I’m not the right guy for that assignment.
I've been to more than one taping where the star was well-known for his improv skills. After they had a satisfactory scripted take, they would then do a wild take with the star ad-libbing entirely new dialogue. I once went to a taping of the short-lived SHAKY GROUND, and Matt Frewer's new jokes were absolutely funnier than the written ones, but when the show aired, they used the less-funny scripted lines, which struck me as a case of the writers/producers' egos trumping a superior result (perhaps one reason the show didn't last very long). What do you think of their actions, and were you in this situation, what would you do?
I would say to the star either you trust my judgment and writing or get another writer. I don’t write lines to compete with actors’ ad libs.
Look, it’s not the actors’ job to save shows and elevate the writing. Their job is hard enough, requiring enormous skill and discipline. It’s my job to give them the best possible material so they really shine.
As for the specific lines in SHAKY GROUNDS, I can’t say why the writers ultimately stuck with their original ones. Maybe it was out of spite, or maybe the ad lib lines – although funny – didn’t move the story ahead. I have to say, I have not heard many bad things about Matt Frewer. And I loved him in ORPHAN BLACK.
And finally, from Mitchell Hundred:
What do you think of famous movie people coming in to direct the pilots of TV shows (e.g. Martin Scorsese directing the pilot of Boardwalk Empire)? How much of an effect does it have on the show as a whole?
Networks are star fuckers. There’s great prestige in getting top flight film directors to direct TV pilots. On one level I can see it. A pilot sets the template for the series and an A-lister can really establish the look and tone. An A-lister is also very promotable, which is a big plus in launching a new series.
On the other hand, there are a lot of terrific TV directors, who also know how to move quickly. Film directors are used to a much more leisurely production schedule.
And film directors are ridiculously expensive. How else are you going to get some of these guys? They come in, work a few weeks, make a pile of money, leave and never come back, and generally have part ownership of the show. Sweet deal.
What’s your Friday Question? Happy holiday weekend.