First off, Happy Birthday to my father, who is a young 89 today! Love you, Dad.
Now to some Friday Questions.
Mark starts us off.
What happens to the actors who play regular characters (like Norm or Cliff or Roz or Klinger) who aren't in an episode? Do they get paid even though they're not on that week?
Like all things in Hollywood, it all depends on their deal.
Each deal encompasses one season. Most cast regulars are signed for “all episodes produced.” So yes, if they’re not in an episode they do get paid. But the key is all episodes PRODUCED. If the studio has an order for 13 but the network cancels the show after only 6 were produced, the actor gets paid for the 6 and that’s it.
But if the actor’s deal says “all episodes ORDERED” then he would be paid for all 13 even if they only produced 6. The big stars get that deal.
All of this is negotiable. There are some actors who are signed for say “10 of 13.” Producers have the option of not using them for those three episodes… although they can.
Usually you make those reduced episodes deals if you have very large casts, or say a character is a bartender at a bar the regulars usually frequent but the producers don’t want to go there every week. Or a new character is starting to catch on and producers would like to increase his use but not be committed to a full season. Over time they work their way up. That was the case with Lilith on CHEERS.
It looks like David Hyde Pierce has largely avoided TV since FRASIER ended, except for a short stint on THE GOOD WIFE. I would assume an actor of his talents would be in high demand - any insights as to whether he is no longer interested in TV or is it a case he hasn't been offered the right part? If Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc can come back, there has to be a place for Pierce.
Meanwhile, he has a wonderful theater career, both as an actor and director. He’s done many Broadway shows and soon will be seen in the revival of HELLO DOLLY. So he’s okay for now.
With your radio background I'm interested to know if there was ever any behind the scenes discussion on Frasier about his lifestyle not matching up to his probable salary. Yes he worked in a major market but a hosting gig on a am station most likely wouldn't support his apartment ,car and clothes as well as his social life with wine clubs, fancy restaurant, etc. I love the show and know most people wouldn't even notice but curious if there were talks about it.
But that’s simply creative license. It’s the same reason that Mary Richards, working as a lowly assistant on a second-rate local newscast in Minneapolis, never wore the same outfit twice. And each of her outfits probably cost double her salary.
Unless it’s too absurd, the audience is willing to buy the added affluence.
And for the record, if anyone knows you can't make a fortune in radio it's me.
And finally, from Covarr:
I have a question about purely visual gags. In the 30 ROCK episode "Winter Madness", Tracy can be seen wearing a shirt that says "Impeach George W. Ashington". It's never referenced or acknowledged in dialogue and certainly not plot-necessary, but it's definitely plot-relevant. My question is, would this sort of joke or others of a similar nature typically be written by a show's writing staff and in the script, or is would this be something done by someone else such as costume designers (or set designers, or actors, depending on the type of joke)?
Either way. Sometimes directors add bits of business. James Burrows is famous for that. And yes, wardrobe and prop people can get into the act.
And other times these little nuggets are written into the script. For the “Dancin’ Homer” episode of THE SIMPSONS that David Isaacs and I wrote, we put in all kinds of signage jokes for the outfield walls. What you see on the screen (if you look carefully and hit pause) was all in our script.
What’s your Friday Question?