Wednesday, February 13, 2019

EP110: TV in the age of Ageism


Ken discusses the realities of the television industry and how he has faced and learned to cope with ageism. It’s a candid personal look into longevity in Hollywood. 


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14 comments :

Frank Beans said...

Telling television networks today not to pitch television that appeals to the lowest-common-denominator 18-34 consumer demographic is about as futile as talking sense to a Trump supporter; they want bullshit, and they'll shout down anyone who doesn't share their Devolutionary perspective.

Also, I don't see any way out of it, except to construct alternative forms of media-- maybe an internet, say.

Roger Owen Green said...

That may have been your best episode. Certainly your best non-interview ep.

richfigel said...

The other irony is so many TV series and movies these days are set in the 70s and 80s, which us "older" writers actually lived through, instead of merely "experiencing" what those times were like by watching stuff made back then. When they talk about diversity in Hollywood, they should expand that from hiring women and minorities to writers who are over 50.

Aloha,
Rich Figel

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Great podcast on an important subject.

More than only a commentary on ageism in TV, I read this morning's blog and found it to be an affirmation of the human spirit. Hell, things change. Always. Bet on it. The real story is how each of us adapts to the changes. You find tremendous satisfaction crafting a play, hearing audience laughter and knowing that you've still 'got it.' That's terrific.

In my world of voiceover, technology has multiplied the number of competitors tremendously, so two years ago I created a character for advertisers. I wanted total control. I registered the character. Now I sell the client on the idea, write the copy, record audio or video and buy the ad time. I'm a one-man band, a small effort, but for me it's exciting to do it all...and to hear my creation on radio stations in cities in three states.

More cities to come...because it's FUN!

Danny said...

Hugh Wilson, of WKRP IN CINCINNATI fame, thought there was a certain amount of karma involved in TV comedy's tendency to disregard older writers. He wrote about how, when he was working on THE BOB NEWHART SHOW and WKRP, they would have writers of the I LOVE LUCY/DICK VAN DYKE SHOW-era try to submit scripts. They would politely blow them off with a condescending, "Well, those scripts you wrote back then were great in their day, but . . . ." So it was ironic, Wilson thought, that later in his life, as an older writer, he found himself encountering the same attitude and the same resistance from younger writers: "Those WKRP scripts were great back then, but . . . ."

Mike Bloodworth said...

This is also applicable to your previous extras podcast. Back when I was doing extra work they were producing one of the remakes of "The Lone Ranger." I don't remember which one. The call went out for Native Americans: NO ONE OVER 25!. Of course, that excluded most of us. Some TV shows would call for the "eighteen-to-look-younger" crowd. That was mostly for shows such as "...90210." They would also regularly call for "Hip and trendy." Not necessarily young, but they usually only hired people in their 20's or 30's. Regardless, that was never me. And even when they did want "adults," e.g. parents or business people, etc., they would pick from the younger end of the spectrum. Age was just one of the factors that made it difficult for many of us to get work. And that's NOT "sour grapes."
M.B.

Myles Warden said...

Happy Birthday!

Cap'n Bob said...

Happy birthday, you old scudder.

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Happy birthday Ken, and happy Valentine's everyone. :-)

This year I'm spending Valentine's Day with my one true love... pizza.

Judy Hughes said...

Happy 39th Ken! Hope it's fantastic. Thanks for giving us presents on our birthday year 'round.

Andy Rose said...

@Danny: I remembering hearing of similar disdain for older writers from the original cast and writers of SNL, particularly Michael O'Donoghue. Lorne held somewhat similar views, but still had the foresight to hire Herb Sargent, whose late night credits predated Steve Allen. And to his credit, Herb Sargent had the good sense to take a job working with a bunch of kids on a show with a completely new style instead of deciding he was too good for it. To the contrary, Herb was one of the show's biggest cheerleaders.

I'm reminded of a point Ken's friend Mark Evanier makes from time to time about adjusting to changes in the industry. To paraphrase a little... there were people who had great success writing Gunsmoke. But by the late 70s, if they wanted to keep working, they had to accept that people weren't making Gunsmoke anymore. You could complain that Mannix or Magnum weren't as good as Gunsmoke -- and you have have been right -- but that observation wasn't going to get you a job.

Anonymous said...

I thought of your KMEN story as I was driving to dinner tonight, listening to the Sirius '60s channel, hearing a man in his late '60s saying, "groovy, baby." Ouch. What if you're 20 and pledge to never grow up. You never do, but then you're 70 and you look around and there's nobody for Peter Pan to play with. Is that sad or poignant?

-30-

Anonymous said...

1) Somebody else beat me to the Jack Benny allusion.
2) In " A Big Hand for a Little Lady" Jason Robards characters name was Henry Drummond. This is the same name of the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit the Wind" played by Spenser Tracy.
Coincidence? Studio keeps a list of "approved" and legally cleared names so repetition is inevitable? Actors call?

Anonymous said...

I half-expected this podcast to conclude with you borrowing Buster Keaton’s gun in order to go hunting.