Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Questions

What’s the old expression about March? “In like a lion, out like Friday Questions?” Well, here they are:

Phil has one based on an earlier post about Jessica Harper:

Funny story Ken. Now how about the reverse? Have you anytime turned down anyone not famous, only for them to recount the story later?

Not to where they ever mentioned it on a talk show. But we’ve turned down terrific actors who just weren’t right for the roles. William H. Macy, Christine Baranski, Jane Lynch, Martin Short – any number of them. Only one still bugs me because we should have gone with him and that’s Jerry Orbach.

There are also a number of great writers we stupidly rejected like Alexa Junge. Sometimes you miss one. But on the other hand, your takeaway should be that just because you’re rejected doesn’t mean they’re right.

From Cat:

I'm listening to a podcast detailing each episode of Cheers and it's just dreadful. The two podcasters just seem to feel "eh" about the show. They did Any Friend of Diane's today and thought it was just okay. Why would you do a podcast dedicated to the show and then not really enjoy the show?

I know. That makes no sense. And based on what you say, why would I possibly want to listen to it?

Also, and this is an issue with podcasts, anyone can just gas off about anything. As a listener it's better to do due diligence and find podcasters who have some authority over the subjects they’re discussing. (Get ready for a shameless plug) In terms of CHEERS – like me for example.

A few years ago a couple of young critics from a media website analyzed the first season of CHEERS. In most cases they were way off base because they had no idea what was going through the writers’ heads, what their objectives were, what productions problems affected the final product, etc. So again, why should I bother reading a long essay expressing the opinions of uninformed sources?

I will not be doing a second weekly podcast where I give stock tips.  

Bill in Toronto asks:

I've stocked up on protein shakes and Gatorade and now am 2/3 through Powerhouse (the CAA book). Did you post a review?

I did. You can find it here.

From Peter:

With the recent trend for doing TV shows based on movies (Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, Bates Motel, Rush Hour etc), do you think Volunteers could work as a comedic drama series?

Sure. It might be expensive, but it’s certainly doable. A big issue might be that it’s a period piece (1962) and I don’t know if there’s any appetite for that among desired Millennials. But a good way to test the waters is do a crossover with TIMELESS. Let them go back to Thailand in 1962 and meet the lovable Peace Corps gang from VOLUNTEERS. Or perhaps Mr. Peabody and Sherman could get in the Way-back Machine and take us there. I’m open to anything.

And finally, from another Pete -- Pete Grossman:

It used to be the Best Picture winner greatly increased millions in revenue - making people and the distributor of the movie a lot more money. In this age of digital deluge where we tell ourselves, Ah, I'll wait until I can get it on cable, online or while I'm slingshotting around the moon in Elon Musk's latest hobby, in your opinion, does the Best Picture win mean as much financially as it used to?

Believe me, studios wouldn’t spend so much money campaigning for Oscars if there weren’t financial rewards at the end of the rainbow.

But I don’t think a Best Picture win is the bonanza it used to be. For one thing, today’s Best Pictures are generally small art films that most people haven’t seen. The Oscar win certainly results in a spike but no longer lines around the block. How many people who didn’t see “the Picture of the Year” when it was released because they didn’t spark to the subject matter still have no interest? I’m guessing a large percentage. And how many others just wait for it to come to cable?   They can survive six months without seeing MOONLIGHT or THE KING'S SPEECH. 

What’s your Friday Question?

26 comments :

Bg Porter said...

This season of 'Scandal' is making heavy re-use of scenes from earlier episode (because we need to see the president-elect getting shot at least twice a week). I'm guessing that this is close enough to a clip show that you'd know: if an actor appears in Ep. 1 and their scenes keep getting re-used, do they get paid for those later episodes as if they'd shown up once a week and re-delivered them?

Anonymous said...

Agee with the thoughts regarding podcasts. Why would you bother if you don't like the material. Best podcast regarding a tv show I have found is West Wing Weekly. Joshua Malina was an actor in the later seasons and Rishi is a genuine fan of the show who is decent at interviews so it results in a great combination. Not sure if there are better out there in this format of show reviews but if there are they would be worth listening too I imagine.
cheers
Dave

Daniel said...

Regarding the "Cheers" podcast, have you heard Kevin Smith's "Frasier" podcast? He does it with a friend of his (a TV writer). I'm not normally a fan of Smith's but it's not bad. They're both genuine fans of the show (surprised me: when I think of Kevin Smith, I don't immediately associate him with Frasier). They tend to go off on long (long) tangents, but they're actually pretty funny (albeit extremely crude at times).

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

You can continue to wait to see "Moonlight". it has an interesting subject matter and even equally good performances, but because of the nature of the film (3 different stories of the main character played by different actors), it never reaches an emotional pull.

Tom said...

The Goldbergs seems to have a habit of using friends from the real Goldberg's youth as guest actors. They don't otherwise seem to be in the industry. How much process do you think probably has to go into that? Are executives making these people read for them, is there some sort of SAG-AFTRA clause for that sort of thing?

Andrew said...

1) If Jerry Orbach had been chosen by you, would he have been prevented from being cast in Law & Order? That would have been a crime against humanity. If that's the case, you made the right decision prophetically.

2) I grew up in the 80's, and I remember when the Best Picture Oscar was a very big deal. My family would actually watch the whole ceremony in anticipation for the big announcement (and the other major awards as well). It was actually a fun evening that we looked forward to. We argued over the various decisions, and advocated for our favorite movies.

Quite frankly, the movies seemed bigger back then. The Oscars ceremony I remember the most was in 1985. Here were the movies: Amadeus (the winner), The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart, and A Soldier's Story. Each one was a masterpiece in its own way, and each one had been seen by a large number of people.

Now, I don't know a single person who actually watches the Oscars. When the recent Best Picture fiasco happened, everyone was talking about it after the fact. No one I know had actually seen it live. And no one had seen Moonlight either. I strongly doubt anyone I know is going to seek out Moonlight just because it won the Oscar. Now it appears to be "much ado about nothing."

Pete Grossman said...

Thanks for your take on Oscar cash today Ken. Appreciate it!

Unkystan said...

Not so much a question but just interested in your opinion of all the media hoopla about Ellen Pompeo directing last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. You'd think they resurrected David Lean! I know it's for publicity and/or star stroking, but it really gets my goat when this happens. What difference does it make to the viewer? Could you imagine CBS's ad for MASH: Tonight's episode directed by HARRY MORGAN!!!!!!

Daniel said...

"You can continue to wait to see "Moonlight". it has an interesting subject matter and even equally good performances, but because of the nature of the film (3 different stories of the main character played by different actors), it never reaches an emotional pull."

I have to agree with that. I thought it was a good film but too episodic in structure. And, as good as the performances were in isolation, I never believed that any of the actors were playing the same character. So I kept getting pulled out of the story as each new segment began.

Todd Everett said...

A few years ago a couple of young critics from a media website analyzed the first season of CHEERS. In most cases they were way off base because they had no idea what was going through the writers’ heads, what their objectives were, what productions problems affected the final product, etc. So again, why should I bother reading a long essay expressing the opinions of uninformed sources?

So you aren't qualified to tell people why you like a steak (or why not) unless you've worked in the slaughterhouse?

Peter said...

Daniel said...
Regarding the "Cheers" podcast, have you heard Kevin Smith's "Frasier" podcast?


Daniel, not only has Ken heard of it, he's been on it!
http://kenlevine.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/join-me-and-kevin-smith-on-podcast.html
https://www.mixcloud.com/talksaladandscrambledeggsfrasi/009-ken-levine-talks-salad/

And thanks for answering my question, Ken!

Ken Levine said...

I'm not qualified to analyze how the chef made the steak, disagree with the order in which he applied the spices. Yes, I can say I liked or didn't like the steak, and I can say why I did or didn't like it, but I can't say to the chef "This is what you should have done and this is why the steak was served five minutes later than I thought it should be." I've never been in a kitchen. I don't know what else the chef was asked to make. I don't know the recipe. I don't know if he was having problems with the grill. I don't know the grade of meat that was selected and who selected it. I don't know whether that chef even made the steak. I don't know if the steak was perfectly done but the server let it sit for five minutes. That's all I'm saying.

Cat said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken! (though it was more of a gripe!)

Five years ago AV Club ran reviews of each episode from the first two seasons of Cheers, I hope you weren't referring to that one, because, frankly, the reviews were beautifully written and quite incisive. They all seemed to be fans, so, it helped.

gottacook said...

Unrelated to any of these Friday questions: I used to watch Wiseguy during its original run, and during its third season (the last full season) in 1989-90, star Ken Wahl was listed in the opening titles as one of two supervising producers. This can be seen on YouTube, for example at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDcQ-FHm4r4. But in the syndication package now airing weekdays on Me TV, the third-season episodes have opening credits resembling those of the second season, with no producing credit for Wahl. This seems not to have happened accidentally.

How is it that such credits could be retroactively removed? If this is legitimate, who gets the right to decide?

brian t said...

Quick question - are you looking forward to seeing Hank Azaria as "Brockmire", a baseball announcer? Based on this interview, he sounds like he's been using your podcast for inspiration ..!

Anonymous said...

A Friday question for you about radio.

How were the syndicated weekly Top 40 radio shows--Watermark, Casey Kasem, Dick Clark--produced? Were they completely scripted in advance? Was there any improv or spontaneity? Were they recorded in real time or were the voiceovers done separately and then put together with the records by an editor? I can't imagine Dick Clark hitting talkovers perfectly for 3 hours or, for that matter, taking half a day to record a show every week.

-30-

Buttermilk Sky said...

I still haven't seen THE ARTIST. I never seem to be in the mood for a silent black-and-white film with mostly French stars. Maybe some day.

Cat said...

Now I've spent two hours listening to Talk Salad and Scrambled Eggs, and it really is a great podcast, very funny, but the guys know what they are talking about. What a relief!

Myles Warden said...

Great question!!! In case he doesn't watch it's good to note the appearances are super brief and dialogue is minimal.

Andy Rose said...

Re: the countdown shows... The narration was scripted and recorded all at one time, although Kasem sometimes asked his engineer to play the end of a record for him to make sure his segue matched the tone of the song.

In the pre-computer days, the reel with the host's lines had to be mixed with the music, jingles, and commercials in real time on a multitrack. Then the master was put on vinyl, and the show was mailed to each station on 33 1/3 records. Later on, they started shipping CDs instead. Now, they are distributed as computer files via FTP.

darms said...

"In like a lion, out like a light!"

Thad said...

There was a blog that did a season-by-season critique/analysis of CHEERS. It was such a shame, I thought, that the guy doing the blog wasn't around and on the staff of CHEERS at the time, since the writers' mistakes, miscalculations and moments of bad judgment are so screamingly obvious to him. It's a tragedy that guys like him, who possess such keen insight into other peoples' mistakes and who know so well how those mistakes should have been handled properly, are never around at the time these things are actually happening. Funny how they never seem to show up until later -- sometimes much later -- to point out what was done wrong and what he would have done to have handled it all correctly.

Ron Rettig said...

Ken,
How about a TV version on Volunteers for the much larger audience segment the undesirable Millenials?

Eric J said...

Re: Andy Rose. You probably won't see it, but thanks for the explanation about the countdown shows. I always wondered how all that happened.

Edward said...

Question:

What's your thought on series endings?

Can't the producer just end the series without doing something really stupid (e.g, the show was just a dream or cast members sleep with each other..etc.

Phil said...

Thanks Ken.