Happy Canada Day! Wow. The year is half over already. Where did the time go… (and other Friday Questions)?
Jahn Ghalt has a question based on my post about the need for outlines.
Ken: given that "THE ME GENERATION…BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE ‘60s) is a memoir about your favorite (or at least best known) subject - and not a script or any other fictional form...... Did you first write an OUTLINE for it??
Absolutely. A very detailed one. I spent over six months doing research, getting school transcripts, interviewing classmates, assembling anecdotes, and compiling a timeline.
I actually had two outlines. Once I started writing I didn’t want to keep going back when things I had forgotten suddenly occurred to me. So I jotted those things down to be incorporated in a second draft and assembled them in a new outline.
Storytelling is good dramatic structure. I can’t stress this enough – outlines are your friends. They may be a pain in the ass to do but they are worth it.
Oh, and buy my damn book.
I’m currently working on a spec script for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Should I include Act breaks as the earliest scripts in the series did before it was bought by Netflix or should I leave them out, as the show has no natural commercial breaks. On one hand I can show that I know how to effectively use act breaks. On the other hand it may look off. What do you think?
Leave them out. Follow the format of the show you’re writing. It’s not just a matter of being faithful to their template; the way you structure stories is different if act breaks are required. So do it the way they do it.
If you want to show you can adhere to act breaks, do a spec of a network show to go along with your KIMMY SCHMIDT.
Gary has a DICK VAN DYKE SHOW question.
Ken, how do you think the writing credits for the Alan Brady Show were shown? Some possibilities:
- Written by Robert Petrie & Sally Rogers & Buddy Sorrell
- Written by Robert Petrie and Sally Rogers & Buddy Sorrell
- Written by Robert Petrie, Sally Rogers & Buddy Sorrell
- Written by Robert Petrie. Co-written by Sally Rogers & Buddy Sorrell
Written by Alan Brady
Sometimes the questions are longer than the answers. Here’s one from Katie G.:
I don't recall your opinion on Orange is the New Black, but with the new season debuting this month, I've seen several people complaining about the theme song being too long. I know that many of the shows you've worked on have had theme songs, with some being a little longer than others (specifically Cheers). My question for you is do think that a long theme song can cause people to lose interest, or in a network show (unlike Orange is the New Black), take away precious time that could be devoted to the story? Do you think they're outmoded? Honestly , I don't know why anyone is complaining about the OITNB theme song when 1. they can fast forward and 2. the shows can be as long as the producers want them to be, and I'm a fan of the song and think it adds something.
I think on Netflix series you have the option of skipping the opening titles, don’t you? I like opening titles so have never sought out that feature.
As for ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, that theme has grown on me. Didn’t like it at first.
Another benefit of an opening title theme is that on rare occasions it can become a hit record. What spectacular publicity when HAWAII FIVE-O, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, and WELCOME BACK (Kotter) were blasting out of radios every five minutes. And who can’t whistle the TWIN PEAKS theme?
And finally, from Stuart Best (Yes, we saved the “best” for last – groan):
I always wondered what the writers on MASH thought of the original movie. Was there ever much thought to staying true to the spirit of the film? I know that Richard Hooker (the author) and Robert Altman (the director) disliked the TV show, and I wonder how that feeling went over among the show's staff. Personally, I love many of Altman's films, but MASH fell flat on me. The TV series had more purpose -- a rarity for the movie-to-TV transition.
Richard Hooker didn’t like the series because he sold the rights to 20th for peanuts and resented that everyone was making a fortune on the show except him. I can't blame the man. He also had a problem with the political leaning of the show. We were liberal; he was conservative.
Can’t speak for Robert Altman. Don’t know if he liked the series or not. His son sure did. He got a nice royalty off the song (although we NEVER, not even once, featured the lyrics. The song was always played instrumentally. No exceptions.)
But we always had great respect for the movie, although Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds created a new tone and altered the character of Hawkeye. Donald Sutherland’s “Hawkeye” and Alan Alda’s are two very different interpretations.
The movie followed the book rather faithfully both in terms of stories and attitude. It was a little weird reading it because I was trying to picture Alan Alda instead of Donald Sutherland, but Sutherland was much truer to the character Hooker created. Ultimately, it was more confusing than helpful, but the fact that Gene gave it to us spoke of his admiration for the source material.
What’s your Friday Question? Leave it the comments section. Thanks much. Have a great and safe holiday weekend.