Getting you ready for the Presidents Day weekend, here are some FQ’s.
Greg starts us off.
What's the practice for referencing famous people living or dead, specifically in comedy writing, whether it's on screen or in book form? Do you have to get some kind of clearance beforehand, especially when they're used in a joke that might not be entirely flattering? Maybe drawing on a commonly held stereotype for that person (i.e. alcoholic, adulterer).
If they’re a public figure they're fair game. You can use their name. If you show their likeness you need clearance.
If you mention them in a derogatory manner you always run the risk of a libel suit. But that’s certainly a gray area. Look at SNL.
From Mike Lonergan, Tacoma:
Starting a new radio job, did you ever find yourself saying the wrong call letters? I swear the "red phone" call I got from the program director my first night was friendly and casual, but it went like this..."Just a couple things--I'd like you to keep the music a little more up-tempo. Oh, and do you have a pencil? Write this down, K-B-R-O. That's the name of the station, not what you've been saying."
Speaking of Dave, next month Sports Illustrated is doing a salute to the Seattle Mariners and included is a tribute to Dave that I wrote especially for the magazine. I’ll let you know when it hits the newsstands.
Keith Bodayla queries:
In looking for scripts online of shows I want to write a spec for, I've come across several people who have posted their own spec scripts online. What are your thoughts on this practice? Seems like a bad idea to me, or at least not one that would land you a job. But I could be wrong.
That’s a very bad idea. You have zero protection. And once that content is out on the web anything can happen. Someone could steal your script, put their name on it, submit it to a show, get hired, and you are completely unaware.
Do whatever you can to protect your material. Register every script with the WGA. Go here for details.
There’s enough stealing when properties are protected. Don’t make it easy for someone to rip you off.
How much do you think being a comedy writer helped you get into baseball?
Could a guy stocking shelves at Walmart who was practicing in the bleachers on the side gotten the same shot you did?
Being a comedy writer was a double-edged sword. On one hand there were teams that were intrigued, but on the other there were teams that didn’t take my commitment seriously because of my background.
And remember, the tapes I made in the bleachers had to be good enough to warrant serious consideration. Plus, once I got my first job, the tapes had to be good enough to advance.
I’m sure there are some who think I only got these jobs because of my TV resume, but the truth is I spent years dedicated to sharpening my sportscasting skills. I didn’t ride all those buses and call games in sub freezing weather to improve my comedy writing ability.
And finally, from Liggie:
Here's a radio question. Local DJs/hosts will give commercials for a local business (usually a car dealership) and mention the great car and customer service they got from them. Do those commercials originate because the host bought the car on his own, liked it, and approached three dealer, or because the dealer offered to give a car to the station in exchange for sponsorships?
Usually the host is approached and offered the use of a car if he’ll be the dealer’s spokesperson. The key here is “use.” When the deal is up the car generally goes bye-bye.
When I was hired to announce Syracuse Chiefs baseball my one stipulation was that the team provided a car for me. They did. But it had big ads for the car dealer on both sides. I looked like an idiot driving around town in that thing.
What's your Friday Question? I also answer them on my podcast. Have you subscribed????