Make a hole. Friday Questions coming through.
Andrew is up first with a question sparked but something I said recently in a post.
" (Robert) DeNiro was in for five minutes but he bailed (probably to take DIRTY GRANDPA or some other truly terrible role)."
Friday question: Why do great actors do this? Why does DeNiro keep appearing in one movie after another that's far beneath him? It's like he's trying to sabotage his reputation. He could star in any movie he wants to. Why choose such dreck at the end of his career? Why not rather retire on a high note?
Several reasons. Actors sometimes want to be in big commercial movies, or get a big payday.
There are some actors who are a bad judge of material.
And there are actors who get bad advice from agents and managers and girlfriends.
Robert DeNiro is one of our greatest living screen actors. But comedy is not his strong suit. And unless he’s got a really good script and really fine director who can keep him in check he is awful at comedy. See him in the Rocky & Bullwinkle movie. He is staggeringly bad. And worse, he thinks he’s killing.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle movie was so bad I’m surprised even the cartoon characters agreed to be in it.
If you could do a two-hour radio show as a special guest (say, on any Sirius channel), what would the format be? Would you play music, or have the equivalent of a podcast? If you played music, what would you choose and what would be your bumps in/out? If you had more of a podcast, what would you talk about?
I would mostly do a comedy show. I would ideally have a guest or two I could interview, maybe a few prepared sketches, and I would definitely play music (primarily from the ‘60s) and I would talk right up to the vocals.
It would essentially be a fun “morning show” with a lot of goofiness.
Siriux/XM, if you’re reading this – a two-hour show a week sounds super cool. Feel free to ask me to do one.
With all this talk about Garry Marshall being such a nice person in addition to being a talent and a visionary, it got me thinking...
Who would you rather work with (or for): a person who has the reputation for being an unbelievably nice person but whose talent is questionable, or someone who is openly an asshole/bitch but is enormously talented?
In a perfect world, you'd want to work with another Garry Marshall, with him being nice and talented. But I guess he was one in a billion. And that's kind of sad.
Early in your career it might (I say “might”) be worth it to work for a tyrant who can really teach you and turn you into a better writer. And if he's running a hot show that looks good for your resume.
But there reaches a point where “life is too short.” (For me that’s like an hour.) I’d rather work for the mensch. What good are Emmys and lots of money if you’re in ICU?
And finally, from Andy Rose:
As a showrunner, how important is it to you to allow your staffers to have a home life? Modern Family has a reputation for having one of the most predictable production schedules in LA. Writers aren't expected to put in all-nighters at the office. There are no shoots going to 3am because of demanding directors or last-minute rewrites that keep everybody waiting on set for pages. Megan Ganz wrote two episodes of Community that mercilessly made fun of the sitcom-umentary style, but ironically she left that show to join Modern Family. She admitted her move was mostly because she wanted to live a normal life and not spend 18 hours a day on the lot.
This depends on two primary factors. The biggest is the showrunner. If he likes to work at night, if he’s very slow at making decisions, or changes his mind a lot, if he’s very unorganized so everything is done last minute, or he’s recently divorced and lonely you can expect to work all hours and weekends.
If the showrunner has a life, if he has a family he wants to see then you stand a much better shot at leading a normal life.
The other factor is the show itself. Are there creative issues? Is the network throwing out stories and scripts and forcing you to go back to the drawing board every week? Is there a star who hates everything and has the power to make the writers rewrite endlessly night after night? Is the staff burning out so things are taking longer? Usually shows like this don’t last long and you’re put out of your misery. But shows with slow showrunners or insane showrunners can make your life a living hell for many seasons to come.
If you’re interviewing for a job, check to see if there are family photos on the showrunner’s desk. If there are just the kids you’re in trouble.