Since it’s such a popular feature I thought I’d add a bonus day of Friday Questions. See? I DO read the comments.
Tore W. gets us started.
In an earlier post you listed all the people you enjoyed working with which -- amongst others -- included the entire main cast of Frasier except John Mahoney. I hope it was a slip of memory, but I'm starting to fear that he might not be as nice and kind as he is in my imagination. So the question is: How was it to work with John Mahoney?
Just an oversight I ASSURE you. John was fantastic to work with. He’s one of those actors who just seemed to elevate every line you gave him. And made it appear effortless. I spent a lot of time talking football with John. He is a huge football fan.
Happy to say that John was in a CHEERS episode we wrote, and from that appearance Casey, Lee, and Angell thought he’d be great to play Frasier’s father.
I also worked with John on BECKER and THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW. To say I’m a fan is putting it mildly.
I've written a 15 page short with three characters. When I write I find it difficult to hear three different voices in my head. Is that bad? Is there a method or way, as a writer, to write with a different voice as you write? I guess that's the genius of a great writer.
Write very detailed profiles of your characters. Where are they from? How do they dress? What are their attitudes about things? How old are they? Does one talk slowly? Or with an accent? Fill up pages with little traits and background info.
Sometimes if you model characters after people you know you can hear those people in your head.
A great way to distinguish your characters is to make them all very different from each other.
And the best advice is to just LISTEN to people. Sit in a food court and just eavesdrop on conversations. What slang expressions are they using? How halting is their speech? How articulate are they? Do they cut each other off? Do they leave out pronouns? Do they babble? Or practically whisper? Do they say “like” six times in every sentence?
You can even jot down certain expressions or traits you’ve observed.
The more you can delineate the characters in your head, the better.
Barefoot Billy Aloha asks:
So, I'm watching and laughing along with Cheers and one of the bar wars episodes you guys wrote (S11-EP19, Bar Wars VII, The Naked Prey)when I see a familiar face sitting at the bar.
What in the Wide Wide World of Sports was golfer John Daly doing as an extra?
We were also not above throwing relatives in there too. Rhea’s dad Phil became a regular and even a recurring character. My dad can be seen from time to time at the juke box hustling young women.
I, meanwhile, made only one appearance for one scene during the last Bar Wars episode. I was pretty great, if I do say so. At least as good as John Daly.
Why is your name before David's on the title card? Did you flip a coin to decide?
Sssssssh. Don’t tell David.
Actually, my name came first originally because I called him and said I’m going to try writing a script, would he like to write it with me?
But once we started actually selling I made an offer some other teams employ – we could rotate the names from year to year. At that point David said leave it. Our credit flashes on and off so quickly and his relatives knew where to look so we just kept things status quo.
However, when David and I wrote ALMOST PERFECT scripts with Robin Schiff we did shuffle the names.
Douglas Trapasso has a question that is timely considering the technical snafu during game one of the World Series.
Have -you- ever worked play by play when there was a major technical flareup like in Game One? How did you ad lib through it?
One time calling a Mariner TV game in Detroit the monitor went out as did the audio channel allowing the director to talk into my ear. I didn’t know if I was still on the air or if I was but the picture wasn’t. I just said on the air that we’re having technical issues and began calling the game as if on radio in case the audience wasn’t receiving video. Turns out it was just my monitor, the audience was receiving the picture just fine. So some of the viewers were probably thinking, “why doesn’t this idiot shut up? He’s telling us all this stuff we can see.” It would not be the first time a viewer thought I should shut up.
Five minutes after the game began the lights went out. It was still light enough to play but they decided to take a delay until the problem could be corrected.
Our format required that once a game began we would not send it back to stations during delays. So I had to ad lib.
Now usually with a rain delay there are satellite images and they can guestimate how long the delay will be. But with this, no one had any idea.
And since it was the very start of the game, I had nothing to recap. I could give the pitching match up and keys to the game, etc. but I had just done all of that.
I don’t recall much of what I said but I reprised all the pre-game nuggets, and I know I did a whole bit about how hard it was to get an electrician to make house calls after business hours. I said the PA announcer should ask if there was anyone in the house who could solder. I think I then created this electrician character who I said they found in a bar. Everyone was holding their breath that he wouldn’t have to climb up one of the light towers. Then I said he’d only take cash and a hat was passed around in the Indians’ dugout. Goofy stuff like that.
The delay lasted forty-five minutes. And this was the night after I had call a double-header by myself in Kansas City where both games went into extra innings.
And still, I loved every minute of it.
More Friday Questions coming on Friday. Leave yours in the comments section. Thanks.