I never stand down from answering Friday Questions, even on holidays. Today is Constitution Day in Mexico. Still, I’m here for you.
In the later seasons of M*A*S*H* it seems that Klinger just suddenly stopped wearing dresses in an attempt to get out of the Army. Was this because of a pushback by certain segments of society or did they just decide they had gone as far as they could with the joke? Or was Jamie Farr getting tired of this plot device?
This started season eight, the year David Isaacs and I left the show. By that time we had gone through every dress in the 20th Century Fox wardrobe department.
The feeling was that that bit had been done to death. I wasn’t part of that decision but I whole-hardheartedly supported it.
In season seven we were struggling with it and looked for alternate schemes to get Klinger out of the army. We had him dress as a businessman selling aluminum siding one week. We had him in furs during a heat wave another week. Clearly, we were reaching. How long can you keep whipping the same horse (meaning the bit, not Jamie)?
Under the new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences rules regarding eligibility to vote - does this mean you are no longer eligible to vote Ken? I notice that according to IMDB you have two film credits from the 1980's and one from the 1990's. I don't mean this as a criticism - it just occurred to me that you might be one of the members caught by the change in the rules?
I was never “in” the Motion Picture Academy. You needed more credits than I had, you needed to be sponsored by a member. It was a very closed organization – and that was BEFORE they offered movie screeners.
It sounds like they’re changing the eligibility requirements to allow for more diversity. I don’t get involved. I just watch the Oscars and offer a snarky review.
Jeff :) wonders:
I've read on your blog several times that writers looking to break in to television writing need to submit two spec scripts, one of an existing show and one original. My question is about the original script. Are there any rules against adapting an existing piece of work? Is this frowned upon? Do you need the authors permission given that your script is more so a showcase of your writing talent as opposed to a legitimate script to be sold?
You absolutely need permission to adapt existing literary material. I believe there are some shows that allow for fan fiction, but play it safe. You’re playing with fire if you tinker with existing work without permission – not just from the author but whoever owns that literary property. It could be a studio, or a production company that’s optioned it. Tread very carefully, my friend.
Better that your original material be original from you.
From Frank Beans:
How much does single vs. multi-camera production affect casting choices, if at all? I mean, are there different skill sets actors need to have to work in one format or the other more effectively, and do writers and producers take that into explicit consideration?
Theater-trained actors are obviously more comfortable doing multi-camera shows. And there are some actors who just don’t like performing in front of live audiences.
It depends on the actor and the role. Some actors are very interior. They talk softly; they emote through subtle expression changes. They tend not to thrive in multi-camera.
The only time I get nervous is if I have an actor who has never done multi-camera before. Some adjust better than others. But for the most part, there hasn’t been problems.
The truth is multi-camera sitcoms are the greatest gigs EVER for actors. They’re never on location. After every three weeks they get a week off. They never have 17 hour days. They never have to shoot all night. They hear their laughter and get applause. They’re off half the year, and they make a boatload of money. How sweet a deal is that?
Curb Your Enthusiasm is, to my knowledge, the only series I know of which challenges another show's universe so explicitly. We watch Seinfeld, we assume it's a real universe, then Larry David comes along saying "that was actually a fictitious show, which I wrote, here's the reality, here's me and the real Jerry Seinfeld, not the character with the same name."
Have you ever seen THE BURNS & ALLEN SHOW? It hails from the very early days of television. That show not only had two universes, but they both existed within the same show. The characters went about their business as if they were in the real world. Series star, George Burns would go up to his office on occasion, break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, then – and this was the mind blower – turn on a television and watch everyone else as if they were in a sitcom that was airing but they didn’t know that. George would then go downstairs and interact with them. Freaky, no?
Everyone talks about trying to do sitcoms “out of the box” but the most original groundbreaking idea ever was done in 1950.
Here's an example. Just go to the 8:15 mark. Not only can George watch his show, he can watch other shows and interact with them. Check this out.