How perfect that the month when we get our new (God help us) president, we also get a Friday the 13th. Here are this week’s FQ’s:
Julian Brown leads off:
Have you ever encountered a professional situation where the jockeying for position backfired in a big, unintentionally schadenfreude inducing way?
[i was thinking about Edwin Encarnación signing with Cleveland, who eliminated Toronto in the playoffs last season, which begs for some karmic comeuppance. For instance : NHL player Marion Hossa 'chased the cup' with consecutive 1 year deals in Detroit and Pittsburgh, who met in the finals both seasons, and whichever team he was on lost that year.]
In television and movies that happens more on the executive level. I think of Fred Silverman, who built CBS in the early ‘70s, ABC in the mid ‘70s, and was a complete bust programming NBC in the late ‘70s.
But I’ve found that “revenge” is not a great motivator in show business. Yes, CBS might have canceled my show and it would be great to do the next one on NBC and kick their ass. But realistically I would like the option of going back to CBS with that next one. The truth is the same people just move around, it’s Hollywood musical chairs. It makes very little sense to hold grudges and try to get back at people or networks. At least that’s how I feel.
Rolling Stone ranked 100 TV shows of all time..MASH came in at #15(should have been higher)..Cheers made the list but Frasier did not..and that's a crime.
Do writers use those kinda of lists to boost their profile or payday?
No, because they’re ridiculous. No one in the industry takes these ranking lists seriously for a second. They’re so subjective and idiotic.
I’m not sure winning an Emmy would even boost your asking price these days.
I remember several years ago the Oscars did a feature where they brought back as many winners in the acting category as they could get. I was struck by how many of them were out of work. And these were Oscar winners.
Seriously: Is there some reason why studio executives are usually the last to understand what the public might like?
Well, start with William Goldman’s great quote that no one in Hollywood knows anything.
And then factor in that studio heads have to project several years into the future. Unlike TV where you can eat it while it’s hot, there is a long process in films between development, production, and editing so years go by before the product finally reaches the marketplace.
So which hot trend will endure and which will flame out? All studio executives can do is guess. And generally they guess wrong.
That’s another reason why sequels are so popular with execs – they’ve already been accepted by filmgoers with wallets. They’re much safer bets.
And finally, from 404:
Esoteric Friday question, Ken: based on that, how many different sitcom ideas do you think are really out there? And how many sitcoms are just rehashings of the same things over and over again in just slightly different situations?
I believe it’s less about the situation and more about the execution. You can take an arena like, say, a bar and do numerous series. ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE, SULLIVAN & SONS, some Stiller & Meara thing, and probably seven or eight more. But CHEERS rose above them all due to the execution.
Yes, there are standard tropes – workplace comedies, family comedies, romantic comedies, but people do stretch the rules a lot. How do you fit MASH into any one category?
New things always seem to come along, you just don’t know when or whether they’ll be accepted.
What’s your Friday Question?