Friday, July 08, 2016

Friday Questions

Who’s ready for some Friday Questions?

Matt starts us off.

John Charles Walters - What's the story behind "Good Night Mr. Walters" at the end of "Taxi." Is JCW a real person?

Well, it’s a real human being in the shot. It’s the back of Ed. Weinberger, one of the producers.

After Jim Brooks, Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels, and Dave Davis left MTM to hang their own shingle at Paramount, they wanted “a venerable Protestant name” for their production company . Originally it was “Charles Walters” but they discovered there was a director by that name so they added the John.

Tom Michael asks:

The WGA has a service where you can register scripts, treatments, outlines, etc. before you submit them. While they say up front that this isn't absolute protection, there is an implied benefit and basically a date-stamp proof for your product. This is also a service that you have once or twice referred to using. My questions are: what are the actual benefits and protections that you get? And, in this Colbert submission situation in particular, does this give a writer a practical and effective recourse if the show did not hire the writer but later used the writer's bits?

Should you get in a lawsuit with a studio or producer over stealing your material, it’s good to have some tangible proof. Another way is to put the document in a letter, address it to yourself, and send it. Date stamping offers protection too. But I’m not a lawyer and can’t say whether these are slam dunk pieces of evidence.  But do it to be safe.  And it's a nice service the WGA provides.

Now you can send stuff electronically.  In the "old days" you had to submit a hard copy of your script or outline.   God knows how many warehouses were filled with that crap. 

As for Colbert’s submission packet, I don’t know whether there is a release form you must sign before they’ll read it. I would imagine all of these late night shows include that for their protection.

From MikeN:

If Adam Sandler said he wanted you to work with him for a script of a movie, would you do it?

Sure. Why not? He can be terrific in the right thing. I think he sells himself short by doing all those really silly movies.

And finally, from David:

This is a baseball announcer question. I watch and listen to a lot of baseball games and I wondered how the announcers, way up in the booth, can effortlessly call a pitch a slider or a two-seam or a changeup? Unless it's a monumental curve ball I cannot tell the difference. How do you tell the difference?

Well, first off there is a certain amount of guesswork involved. We’re not always correct.

Second, you really need to be right behind the plate (or in that general vicinity) to accurately see the flight of the ball.

And third, if you have a scouting report you’ll know what pitches a particular chucker throws. So you can better anticipate.

There are a couple clues that help us identify pitches. The trajectory. Does the ball dip, fade down to the right, curl back in towards the plate, etc.? Sometimes if you glance at the monitor and they’re showing the centerfield camera you can see where the catcher is setting up and that gives you some idea of what might be coming.

And then of course, there is the speed of the ball. Nowadays every big league park has radar guns. If a hurler throws a 98 mile-an-hour pitch you can safely assume it’s a fast ball. But even then, you need to do your homework. Felix Hernandez throws a change-up (slow pitch) at 90 mph. Other pitchers throw their best fastball at 89.

Finally, you develop this skill through experience. I’m sure Vin Scully can accurately identify pitches in thick fog.

What’s your Friday Question?


Roseann said...

Adam Sandler and his team are the nicest group of people you could ever hope to work with. I've had the opportunity twice and have loved being with them on two of their movies. DON'T pass up the chance to work with him/them.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Many of these Broadcasters are watching their monitors. Especially in some of the newer ball parks where the broadcast booths are super high up (over the luxury boxes).

Covarr said...

It's such a shame Adam Sandler is wasting his talent on the sorts of movies he usually does. On the rare occasion he steps away from his usual junk to do something like Spanglish, he's really, really good. I mean, the movie itself was only okay, but his performance really shined.

BA said...

I never enjoyed Sandler but he must be pure gold to Charter Cable. On any random day I can find a dozen or so Sandler movies and that's not mentioning the weekend marathons of the stuff. With cable the faucet only opens to FULL.

VP81955 said...

And it was Sandler who produced "The House Bunny," the closest thing Anna Faris has had to a breakout movie hit.

VP81955 said...

The ballparks in Washington and Pittsburgh are notoriously high above the action, a far cry from Tiger Stadium.

Unknown said...

"they wanted “a venerable Protestant name” for their production company "

Your ultra-dry-toned answer actually necessitates a follow-up question: These four hugely-talented Jewish writer-producers wanted to have a WASP-y name as a winking *joke*, right? I have to assume that they were all very well known quantities within the industry by then, and their shingle was at Paramount, so they were dealing with executives who knew there was no actual "JCW". On the other hand, it wouldn't be the first time that Jewish comic minds took on a stage name that would be more "comforting" to general American audiences. So - the name was more of a 'self-aware joke' - correct?

Johnny Walker said...

I've been told the "mail stamping" trick doesn't do anything in a real life situation. Apparently it's far too easy to fake (cut open the envelope, slip your script in, re-seal it). I wouldn't rely on it if I were you!

I do know a writer who was saved by her emails, though. The timestamp from the server is pretty bulletproof apparently, and she won her case.

Thanks for sharing the "Mr Walters" story! I remember that from my childhood! (Sorry.)

Jerod Butt said...

Friday Question:

Tragedy + Time = Comedy

How much time?

MikeN said...

One guy won a patent lawsuit against GE because Tom Clancy had written about his work in The Cardinal of the Kremlin before the patent was filed.

R Baugh said...

Guess you didn't watch any of the Felix starts this year before he was injured. Barely got his fastball up to 90 on good days. Tough to watch such a great pitcher no longer have his stuff, but maybe he will find a way to Jamie Moyer it for a couple of years.

As for knowing what pitch it was, just wait for gameday now, pitch/fx or statcast does a great job of helping with that.

Allan V said...

For radio broadcasters who have to work without access to real-time video, I think they often use the general term "breaking ball" on-air rather than try to figure out whether the pitcher threw a curve, slider, slurve, etc --- for what my experience is worth, anyway. If the pitcher is known beforehand to throw only one type of breaking pitch, they'll specify more often than not.

Liggie said...

Broadcasting FQ. Legendary hockey announcer Mike Emrick called a few innings of a Pittsburgh Pirates game on the MLB Network recently. What other announcers from another sport would you like to see try to call a baseball game?

Roger Owen Green said...

Friday question (perhaps a followup to Tragedy + Time = Comedy; How much time?)

Have you ever been involved with an episode that was postponed because of a tragedy (accident such as a plane crash, murder of police) where the episode had to be postponed? If so, how long was it shelved? Were any shelved permanently?
And whether this ever happened with you, what should be the criteria for deciding?

Igor said...

Registering your work at the Copyright Office costs a few bucks more that doing it with WGA - but, in case of a dispute, it puts the writer in a much better position.

From the Copyright Office (

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.

I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I was an unpaid extra in Happy Gilmore and Adam Sandler bid us good night after each day's shooting. Not all Stars do that.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Mariners' color man is an ex-catcher, so he knows his pitches pretty well.

Cap'n Bob said...

Some color commentators were catchers and have a good eye for the type of pitch thrown.

Nikki said...

I worked as an extra on "Just Go With It," Adam Sandler's movie with Jennifer Aniston, in the scene where they are at the Chuck E. Cheese-alike place. The set was crawling with kids, and to them, Adam was a ROCK STAR. They rushed to him whenever he came out to shoot a scene. (None of them cared about Jennifer Aniston.) To Adam's credit, he interacted with the kids and gave them high-fives and handshakes. In general, I don't think Adam gets enough credit - as either a good person or as a good actor. He seems judged primarily on the highbrow-ness (or lack thereof) of his films, whereas I've always found him to be a strong anchor for his films and a fantastic romantic comedy lead (in an era where there are few studio romcoms and even fewer romcom leading men).

Mel Agar said...

This may be a tough one and one you've answered before, but bear with me....

Here's the scenario. A network comes to you and asks you to assemble your dream cast. They must be still living (so no Phil Silvers and Elizabeth Montgomery). Who would be in your dream cast? It can be people you've worked with or people you've always wanted or a combination of both.