Wednesday, December 12, 2018

EP102: Short Attention Span Podcast


Ken tackles a variety of unrelated, but hopefully humorous, topics. You’ll learn the amazing thing Mary Tyler Moore said in his living room, a discussion of actors not saying their lines, and Ken’s handy tips for how to create a hit procedural. Laughs and riches can be
yours!

Listen to the Hollywood & Levine podcast!

11 comments :

Mike Doran said...

I recall that particular MTM series because it was set in Chicago, at a fictional newspaper called the Chicago Post
… except somebody in town had trademarked that name for his own eventual use (which he never did use, but that's another story), and you guys had to change it, which probably ran into some time and/or expense.
I did watch this show while it was on; in an early episode, a friend asks Mary why she wouldn't want to go to a ball game, and Mary, who's trying to cover that she knows nothing about baseball, says something along the lines of "They never play on any night that I'm free …"
The joke being, of course, that the Cubs hadn't yet installed lights at Wrigley.
… and I, sitting there on the South Side Of Chicaga, wondered if you Hollywood Guys were aware that there was another MLB team in town, namely the White Sox, who played at night at Comiskey Park at least half the time …
I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only South Sider who noticed that …
In fairness, I did think that the Chicago Eagle (the name the paper eventually got) had some possibilities - like somebody calling it "The Big Bald Bird" or some such.
And I always liked John Astin …
Oh well, what happens, happens; on to the next thing, and like that there.

Ken Levine said...

Mike,

That joke was from the pilot, which is available on YouTube. You'll notice she makes specific reference to the CUBS and her love of the Cubs.

As for the White Sox, they now have the best young announcer in baseball -- Jason Benetti.

Jeff Boice said...

The someone who had the trademark on the Chicago Post was an alderman, Richard Mell. It was I think a tiny little neighborhood paper he put out in his ward. Mell's other claim to fame was his son-in-law Rod Blagojevich.

Janet Ybarra said...

Just finished watching the MARY pilot on YouTube as you suggested. The version I saw even left in some of the old commercials, which was kind of fun.

It ran a bit frenetic in spots but overall it was pretty good. Too bad she bailed on the project. It had real potential.

That was a funny story you told on the podcast but personally, once I saw the credits on the pilot you left out a great potential story. Danny DeVito directed.

What was that like? How was his interaction with MTM? How did it work him translating yours and David's vision from the page?

That's what inquiring minds want to know.

Janet Ybarra said...

Oh, and one other MARY question. A while back you addressed smoking in scripts and whatnot. Here, you had Katey Sagal's character smoking in the newsroom. Why? Back in 1985 was there any blowback, so to speak?

Jay said...

I'm old enough to remember this MTM show and looking forward to the premiere, especially after the horrible variety shows she had starred in. But I also remember being immediately disappointed. All of the charm and warmth and humor that everyone loved about Mary had been completely taken away from her, leaving a character that was as enjoyable to watch as her character Beth from Ordinary People. She was just sort of "there". She was barely the star of her own show. I remember wondering why anybody would want to watch it more than once. Which I didn't. Sorry, just one man's opinion.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Friday question (not this Friday perhaps): Can you comment on the dispute between Aaron Sorkin and the Harper Lee estate over his Broadway adaptation of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? Have you ever adapted someone else's work and run into a problem like this?

Mitchell Hundred said...

Your remark about actors adapting to writers' interpretations reminded me of a story I heard on another podcast about a division among the writing staff of Star Trek: Voyager. Apparently the writers couldn't decide whether the ship's captain should have an Iron Lady-type personality or a more nurturing one, and because they never resolved that dispute her characterization would be wildly inconsistent from episode to episode (because sometimes the character would be written by people who viewed her one way and sometimes she'd be written by people who viewed her the other way). The actress who played the role, Kate Mulgrew, later said that she got around it by interpreting the character as having PTSD from being flung to the other side of the galaxy, which supposedly accounted for her mood swings.

Anyway, the guy on the podcast I was listening to said that he and his wife will sometimes give a Janeway Award (named for that character) to an actor who does a great job at selling a ridiculous and implausible line of dialogue.

Tom Lawrence said...

Now I really want to be Rob Petrie.

Janet Ybarra said...

Granted VOYAGER is not the greatest iteration of STAR TREK and Janeway not the best of captains. Sisko still comes in tops in my book.

That said, why does Janeway showing strength on one hand and nurturing compassion on the other indicate some flaw?

To the contrary, it indicates a complex and layered character.

Mitchell Hundred said...

I've never seen Voyager myself, but my impression was that this dispute was based on a fundamentally different perception of who the character was, rather than a desire to show different aspects of her personality. I think there's something to be said for having a consistent approach to a character, particularly in long-form projects like TV shows. Captain Picard, for instance, was pretty much always portrayed as a hard-ass who gradually became more emotionally open and attached to his crew as that series progressed (except when he was encountering friendly aliens, of course: then he'd try to be more diplomatic).