It’s Friday! And you know what that means?
sophomorecritic gets us started.
I sometimes notice A-list actors appear on TV shows. Jack Black was on Community, Megan Fox was recently on New Girl, and Ed Norton was on Modern Family and pretty much everyone in show business has been on 30 Rock. Are there any correlating factors between a TV show and the caliber of guest stars they can afford?
Could a show like say "Fresh off the Boat" also get Ed Norton, Megan Fox, or Jack Black if they were willing to pay more money?
It's not the money. Usually these stars work for top-of-the-show or the network kicks in a few extra bucks.
Stars go on shows that are currently very cool; that are riding the zeitgeist. Madonna on WILL & GRACE, Admiral William J. Crowe on CHEERS. They do it for the status and as a lark.
Or, there is some personal connection between someone in the cast or on the staff that can call in a personal favor.
But you can’t rely on that. During one off-season from TAXI Judd Hirsch had a big part in the movie ORDINARY PEOPLE directed by Robert Redford. Judd told the TAXI producers he could get Redford to guest and the skeptical producer said, “You start out asking Robert Redford and you end up on your knees to Ronny Howard.”
Greg T. has a question about the MARY show for Mary Tyler Moore that my partner, David Isaacs and I did for CBS in 1985. I had mentioned that the show premiered in December, leading Greg T. to ask:
Why did the show premiere in DECEMBER? Isn't that a terrible month for TV viewing?
Two reasons. First, networks like to have a show or two in the bullpen ready to go when the first few casualties of the Fall fall.
Secondly, we were always going to be a mid-season show, from day one. We had an order of thirteen episodes. But on the night we filmed the pilot, the president of CBS, who was in the audience, took us aside and said “You have five more.” Now we had an order of eighteen shows instead of thirteen so to ensure they all aired during the season our premier was moved up from January to December.
A. L. Crivaro wonders:
When either writing or creating a sitcom, how much compromise would you consider to be too much? At what point do the powers-that-be's hands go from stifling your creativity to killing it?
That varies with the project and the network. But you must know what your series is “about.” You must know the theme, the point you’re trying to make. If the notes obliterate that then I think you have to stand up to them. Because trust me, if you’re not clear on what you’re writing you will be in hell, night after night, month after month.
The biggest compromises however, come in casting. Creators have no real say in the cast. The best they can do is offer choices to the network. And they can argue (to a point), but at the end of the day the network ultimately makes the casting decisions and you have to live with them. And a mis-cast actor can kill any project. Imagine CHEERS with John Stamos & Whitney Cumming.
Comic stories and novels used to be big, before radio & tv drew off all the comedy writers. A surprising number of British tv comedy writers (Ben Elton, Simon Nye, David Nobbs all come to mind) wrote humor novels. Have you considered doing that yourself?
Uh… I HAVE done that. It’s called MUST KILL TV. What happens when a network president, in order to keep his biggest star happy, is asked to kill the star’s girlfriend? 96 rave reviews (even from people I don't know). You can get a copy here.