It’s the St. Patrick’s Day edition of Friday Questions.
ScottyB starts us off.
I was watching an episode of 'Becker', written by you, in which Becker's office is vandalized. During the scene where Becker and the rather large police inspector are at the diner counter for lunch, I swear to god those must've been the hugest burgers I've ever seen served on TV. So here's the question: Where does the food come from?
Sometimes from Craft-services but often the studio commissary provides the grub. We used them a lot on MASH anytime we had a mess tent scene. And by the way, the mess tent food was actually delicious.
When I was directing LATELINE in New York we had a scene where the backstory was a character got roped into a horrible date. So she ordered a seven-pound lobster. The scene is the next day at the office and she’s eating the leftovers.
So the studio went out and got a seven-pound lobster. But they had to get two more just in case there were a lot of retakes. As luck would have it, we got the eating scene in take one.
After the show wrapped the prop guy gave me the other two seven-pound lobsters. So I invited the entire crew to my office where we all had a lovely midnight clambake. These guys work really hard and rarely get any recognition so it was nice to thank them (on someone else’s dime).
I loved the Good Wife but had a hard time with The Good Fight because I kept wondering when Alicia was going to show up. Do you think The Good Fight has some parallels with After M*A*S*H? Were people wondering when Hawkeye was going to make an appearance?
Well, AfterMASH had the advantage that it was on CBS, not a pay channel. I suspect Diane is a strong enough character and Christine Baranski is a strong enough actor that she’ll be able to carry the new series – at least at the start. One of the stars of THE GOOD WIFE was the writing and from what I saw from THE GOOD FIGHT pilot, that sharp writing is still in evidence.
If it were still on CBS I’d watch every episode. Do I love it enough to subscribe? Sorry. No. I’m waiting for CBS All-Access to add ALMOST PERFECT and BIG WAVE DAVE’S. They have them in their library and could easily do that.
As for Alicia returning, Julianne has said she wouldn’t. But honestly, I’m kinda over Alicia stories. Robert & Michelle King have a great knack of creating characters so let’s see how the new series grows. I wish them the best.
As for AfterMASH, hey I was asking when Hawkeye could show up?
ScottyB sneaks in with another question -- this one regarding St. Pat's Day.
The 'Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey' episode of 'Cheers' written by you and David is by far and away my all-time favorite episode of the entire 11-season run. Everything about it was perfect, IMO. Here's the question: Wherever did the 'Limey Scum' song come from? The whole setup to the morose Irish band singing that song *still* makes me laugh like hell every time no matter how many times I see it. That band was an absolute stroke of genius, you two. Thank you so much for that!!
Thanks for the kind words. As I recall, one of the other writers on staff, Rob Long, suggested that when we were breaking the story. So credit where credit is due.
Doug G. asks:
Are an actor's royalties (in terms of more or less $$$) affected by how he is credited on a TV show? The one I'm thinking of is Bob "Bulldog" Briscoe. Depending on the episode of "Frasier," Dan Butler's name either appears in the opening titles or at the end with the credit "Special Appearance by." I can't remember if he ever had the generic credit "Guest Star" or not.
There’s no set answer to this. Fees and credits are negotiated.
If an actor’s name had been in the end credits but got moved to the top of the show it usually means he’s become a series regular (or at least semi-regular) and a price hike is generally attached.
But for a guest appearance, just because an actor’s credit is not in the front doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll make less money than if it were. Some shows have a policy of only featuring series regulars at the front.
And like I said, the credit itself is often negotiated. Does the actor get an “and” before his name at the end of the guest actor credits (thus allowing him to stand out more)? Or “special appearance by?” Does he have to share his credit with one or more other guest stars? Sometimes a studio can trade an “and” credit or the placement or size of the credit for a little less money. Needless to say those are wacky negotiations.
Brian rounds it out.
What is it like when you film in an empty studio? Have you ever filmed before a half-empty studio audience?
I suspect you mean for a multi-camera show where is there is normally an audience.
Without the audience it’s just like shooting a single-camera show but with four cameras. The timing will be a little bit off because the actors won’t know when (and if) to hold for laughs. Normally a show will have a laugh spread that can last up to three or four minutes. (For the pilot of BIG WAVE DAVE’S we had a ridiculous laugh spread of ten minutes.) That extra time allowed us to trim things that didn’t work. Without an audience those clankers get through.
Generally, if you do have an audience you fill the place. There are companies that shows can hire that will provide studio audiences (even going so far as to pay them). So usually you have a full house (200 to 250 people) to start. But some shows take forever to film and exhausted audience members slip out. In those cases it’s quite common to have half-filled houses by the last few scenes. When I direct or showrun I always try to move things along to keep the audience involved and happy.
Filming before a half-filled audience is usually tedious. I've experienced it (I've experienced pretty much everything) but like I said, I try desperately to avoid it.
And then there’s FRIENDS. It would take so long to film an episode of FRIENDS that they had two audiences. One came in about 4:00, the other came in about 9:00. You could do that with a show as popular as FRIENDS. Good luck trying that with DR. KEN.
What’s your Friday Question? Drink safely tonight.