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.
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.
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?