Friday Questions – a holiday tradition.
Kyle Burress starts us off:
I stumbled across this blog looking for information on some of the minor characters on 'Cheers' ie Tim, Alan, Steve, Hugh just to name a few.
I was curious as to how and why some characters such as Paul Vaughn from seasons 1-2 or others such as Hugh Maguire, Larry Harpel, Mark Arnott, or Jack Knight only appeared in a season or two but had several appearances throughout those seasons suddenly just disappeared. Was it a case of local talent just getting their shot? Then you have others like Alan Koss, Tim Cunningham, Steve Giannelli and Pete Schreiner that appear in multiple seasons and a couple throughout the entire course of the series. I know they were all minor characters but why were some featured for a majority of the series and some for only a season or two?
Ironically, several of them wrote spec episodes of CHEERS and invariably their character would be the star of the episode.
A few of the extras caught on and started receiving more and more lines – like Al Rosen (“Man Who Said Sinatra”), Tom Babson (Cliff was always giving him shit about going to law school), and Phil Perlman (Rhea and Heide’s dad). In later years we used Paul Willson as a recurring character, but that was different. Paul was hired as an actor, not a background player.
MW makes his FQ debut:
I hadn't seen the first year of Cheers since the first year of Cheers, but recently Netflixed through it. What was amazing beyond the fact that the characters and humor were perfect with the very first episode, is that the show hasn't aged. Aside from hair styles, the size of the bar phone and a few baseball references, it's as absolutely fresh today as it was then. The jokes and characters still land today as they did then. So many shows, even truly great comedies, show their age, but Cheers doesn't. Since you were involved with the show pretty much from the beginning, how did you work to make it timeless. Was that a concern of the creators or was that just an outcome of the way you all worked?
You can see why I used his question – so many compliments. Thank you, MW. The short answer is we made the problems universal. The issues that the characters are wrestling with are relatable and the same as today’s issues. Relationship problems, addiction problems, finding your place in the world, the need to be accepted – these are timeless.
The Charles Brothers didn’t set out to do a show that would stand the test of time, but they did want to do a show that concentrated on the characters – their emotions and humanity. It was not enough that the audience found them funny, they had to care about them. To me, that’s what makes a lasting sitcom.
From John G:
You and I are both huge fans of Dan Ingram, quite possibly the greatest top 40 radio DJ of all time(you won't find anyone saying that in LA though). I would love to hear anything and everything you have about him, especially for the benefit of those who do not know him.
Watching him do his show was wild. For every hilarious thing he said on the air there were usually five he said off the air that he COULDN’T say on the air.
Okay, so you want a story. Dan also had an amazing voice over career. For about thirty years you heard his voice on hundreds, maybe thousands of commercials. I was in the studio with him one day during a New York visit and mentioned that I recognize his voice on lots of commercials but no one in LA knows him. This is what he said:
“When I walk out of a building I don’t want people saying, ‘Hey, there goes Dan Ingram.’ I want them saying, ‘Hey, who is that guy getting into a Rolls?”
Dan is retired now, living mostly in Florida now. For the millions of people who grew up listening to him, he’s a national treasure.
And finally, DrBOP asks a question about gambling on sports.
What were/are the guidelines for broadcasters vis-a-vis laying down the occasional bet? How about broadcasters being sources of "inside info" for fantasy, or other, gambling interests? Ever see it? Ever happen?
This is hazy, but I think as a broadcaster I had to sign some document saying I wouldn’t gamble. I never bet on sports anyway so it was always a non-issue.
I know announcers that do gamble on sports, and even with all their “inside information” they usually lose.
I did have a Rotisserie team when I was broadcasting for the Orioles. Conflicts arose when one of the players for the opposing team was on my Rotisserie team and hit a home run. My call had to be muted, but inside I was going “YES!!!!”
By the way, with all my “inside information,” my team finished second to last. George Bell of the Blue Jays killed me in the second half.
What’s your Friday Question, and happy holiday shopping this weekend.