Where did March go? That’s not a Friday Question, but still! Here ARE Friday Questions:
George Adelman leads off:
What do you think about the recent trend where new television shows seem to be pouring out of every orifice the Internet has to offer? There's a definite overpopulation of shows, which is kind of good, because it gives people more exposure, more freedom, and a greater shot at getting produced. Unfortunately every frumpadump actor and comedian is given their own show and nearly all of them strike me as bland and boring. Do you like the direction things are going?
Any new platform that allows creative people a showcase for their talents is okay by me. Especially in an era when mega corporations control the mass media and try to control the artists who make the product. Sure there is a lot of crap out there, but I assume the cream will rise to the top.
My big concern is that with so many niche platforms and narrowcasting I’m wondering how writers/actors/directors/crew members are going to make a substantial living in the new media? But I’m sure someone will find a way. Probably an agent.
From Rashad Khan:
What is the WORST sitcom idea you've ever heard of? (You don't have to have names, and it doesn't have to be for a show that actually made it to air.)
There was, however, a British series that was made about Hitler’s home life called HEIL HONEY, I’M HOME. I would love to have seen the testing on that one.
GS in SF asks:
This is an improv question but perhaps also a directing question: Are there any tricks as an improviser/actor (or as a director when you see it developing) when another cast member is sucking up all the air in a scene.
If I’m a scene with someone who does that (and happily it happens very rarely) I never compete. I just let him dominate the scene. Often his upstaging is clear to the audience and they wind up not liking him and feeling sympathy for me.
What happens is improv performers don’t want to work with this person. And in some cases they’re asked to leave the company.
I’ve never directed improv, but in most cases the director will call out the actor for upstaging.
The only actor I ever worked with who got away with that on a regular basis was Robin Williams. He would use you like a post. I’ve told the story how I did a scene with him once, and he launched into his mad ramblings, leaving me only a second when he stopped to catch his breath. I used those opportunities to just say “fuck you.” Each one got a bigger laugh so I kept doing it. When the scene was over I thought he’d be pissed, but he put his arm around me and said, “That was fucking great.” There was only one Robin Williams.
Matt wraps it up for the week.
You have stated that actors have a proprietary interest in how their character is portrayed. However, it is very clear that the writer of an episode and even more so the creator of the character would have a proprietary interest in the character. How is that balanced? If an actor simply refuses to do something does it simply come down to who has a bigger fan base? Is this when characters get killed off?
Actors grow more and more into their characters over time. I don’t mind that at all as long as the actor is collaborative.
But yes, when there are big disputes, whoever holds the most power wins. And in most cases in television that’s the actor. People tune in to see the actors, not hear the writers.
However, in some (isolated) cases, the writer is king. No one messes with David E. Kelley scripts, nor Aaron Sorkin scripts. David Chase and Matthew Weiner have earned that distinction too.
But even superstar showrunners run into actors butt heads. Marsha Mason locked horns with James L. Brooks (and she was 1000% wrong), and who can forget Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre?
One leverage the writer does have is being able to kill off characters. This happens more in dramas. I often wondered what the deal was with 24 because everyone other than Jack and Chloe got whacked.
What’s your Friday Question?