Friday, March 01, 2019

Friday Questions

Let’s March into this week’s Friday Questions.

Unknown starts us off.

Here’s a Friday question: You won the TV lottery! NBC is giving you the go ahead on reviving an old popular show (since Will& Grace, Murphy Brown (?) and Roseanne was such a success). What show would you do (can't be your own, sorry)? WKRP? (the trials and tribulations when they go to streaming radio) Dick Van Dyke show? (Richie is now a TV writer) Hudson Brother's Razzle DAzzle show? Bob Newhart? He is now a radio psychologist?...oh wait...
What would you do?

I would respectfully refuse the offer. If I can’t reboot my own show, why would I want to reboot someone else’s?

First off, only the original creators should do the reboots. They’re the real voices of their shows.

And secondly, any show that predates the 90’s is probably now too old to reboot. You don’t want to see these characters 40 or 50 years older. Don’t believe me? Go to your high school reunion. Sometimes it’s better to remember people and shows when they were in their prime.

VP81955 asks:

(Last month) marked the 50th anniversary of KHJ's 48-hour "History of Rock & Roll.”  Here's an article about it.

Did you listen to much of the original version? What did you think of it? I understand KRLA, a Top 40 competitor, had just begun an hour-long weekly historical series that lasted over the course of a year -- did you hear parts of that one too?

I listened to practically ALL of the KHJ "History of Rock n' Roll."  I have a complete copy of it. That weekend it poured in Los Angeles and I just sat home glued to my radio.  I didn't even go out on a date and that was a rare time when I had a girlfriend. 

It was a monumental achievement (both the "rockumentary" and me having a girlfriend). Robert W. Morgan’s narration was perfect as was Bill Mouzis’ production. But the real creative genius who created it and put it together was KHJ program director/resident genius, Ron Jacobs.

There was a syndicated version later that year voiced by Humble Harve Miller (also excellent) and various updated versions. Originally in 1969 it was 48 hours. I think if they did it today it would have to be 269 hours.

Competing station KRLA had the "Pop Chronicles" but I believe they were hour-long programs – extremely well done but not nearly the magnitude of KHJ’s “History of Rock n’ Roll.”

To me the very best version was the original with Robert W. Morgan and that only aired one time only.  Like I said, I have a clean copy of the entire 48 hours.  It's one of my most cherished possessions.

From Jahn Ghalt:

"Why not mount your own ten-minute play festival?"

Pull out your rolodex and contact some like-minded play producers to put one on. Contact some sure-fire playwrights about this idea and get some of their stuff produced for a 2nd time (and use judgment to relax the "won something rule")

John, I have thought of that and there are discussions underway even as we speak. Stay tuned.

And finally, from Ted O'Hara:

I just saw your M*A*S*H season 5 episode "Post Op", which you and David did while you were still freelancers. Nice episode. Gene Reynolds and Jay Folb wrote the story, while you two did the teleplay. How did that happen? Often it's the other way around - a freelancer will write the story, and then a staff member will write the teleplay?

That was at the very end of the season. CBS ordered one additional episode at the last minute. Gene and Jay assembled some stories from Post Op they had found in the research (interviews with doctors, nurses, patients in Korea, etc.) but didn’t have time to write it. David and I had done two freelance episodes that were very well-received so they called to see if we wanted to write the teleplay. Needless to say we did.

Normally a freelance writer will come in with an idea, you’ll work out the story with the staff, write an outline, get notes on the outline, then write your first draft.

In this case we walked in and they handed us the outline. They walked us through it scene by scene and we went home and began writing the script. As I recall there was a time crunch and we had to turn it in in a week. It had taken two weeks to do drafts of the other MASH episodes we did so David and I put in marathon days to finish on time while not sacrificing quality.

They must’ve been quite happy with our draft because 90% of it on the screen and shortly after we turned it in we got the offer to go on MASH fulltime.

What’s your Friday Question?

21 comments :

Phil said...

Spielberg is fighting against 'Roma' like movies from winning the Oscar. Roma came close having spent $50M on marketing.

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/02/steven-spielberg-vs-netflix-oscar-academy-wars-1202047846/

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

The History of Rock and Roll version I remember was from 1977-1978.
I remember the year because it appeared on my radio the winter after he died.
Being still a kid, I loved listening to all the 50s and 60s songs.
And I loved the chart sweeps of hearing the songs of specific years.

I had a booklet to follow allow the song lists.

Wish I still had it

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Found a list of the 1978 version:
THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL - 1978
HOST: BILL DRAKE

1: THE BIRTH OF ROCK & ROLL: REVERSE TIME SWEEP - DISCO TO PRE-ROCK PRE-ROCK & ROLL & ROLL: RHYTHM & BLUES - MOONGLOWS, BO DIDDLEY, CHUCK BERRY, LLOYD PRICE, FATS DOMINO, LITTLE RICHARD AND BILL HALEY
2: EARLY ROCK & ROLL: BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS, CARL PERKINS, SUN RECORDS, JOHNNY CASH, JERRY LEE LEWIS, EARLY ELVIS PRESLEY
3: ELVIS PRESLEY: PART #1 - 1955-1961
4: ELVIS PRESLEY: PART #2 - 1962-1969 AND ELVIS RECORDED LIVE
5: 1950'S R&B: COASTERS, DRIFTERS, BEN E. KING AND RAY CHARLES
6: COUNTRY ROCK: GENE VINCENT, BUDDY KNOX, BUDDY HOLLY & THE CRICKETS, EDDIE COCHRAN, EVERLY BROTHERS, ROY ORBISON
7: IDOLS: PAT BOONE, PAUL ANKA, NEIL SEDAKA, RICKY NELSON AND BOBBY DARIN
8: SAM COOKE, JACKIE WILSON, DION & THE BELMONTS, CHUBBY CHECKER
9: CHART SWEEP OF THE TOP SONGS OF THE 50'S - PART #1 - 1956-1957
10: CHART SWEEP OF THE TOP SONGS OF THE 50'S - PART #2 - 1958-1959
11: CHART SWEEP OF THE TOP SONGS OF THE EARLY 60'S - 1960-1961
12: CHART SWEEP OF THE TOP SONGS OF THE EARLY 60'S - 1962-1963
13: CHART SWEEP OF THE TOP SONGS OF THE EARLY 60'S - 1964-1965
14: GIRL GROUPS OF THE 60'S & PHIL SPECTOR PRODUCTIONS
15: THE CREATION OF MOTOWN RECORDS
16: THE FOUR SEASONS, THE BEACH BOYS
17: THE BIRTH OF BEATLEMANIA
18: THE BRITISH INVASION
19: THE BEATLES - 1965-1967
20: MID 60'S SOUND OF MOTOWN
21: FOLK ROCK OF THE MID 60'S - SIMON & GARFUNKEL
22: THE ROLLING STONES
23: THE BEATLES: 1968-1970
24: POST BEATLES SOLO SONGS FROM JOHN, GEORGE AND RINGO
25: BOB DYLAN
26: PSYCHEDELIC ROCK; THE SAN FRANCISCO SOUND
27: BRITISH ROCK OF THE LATE 60'S - HOLLIES, BEE GEES AND MOODY BLUES
28: HARD ROCK 60'S: CREAM, STEPPENWOLF, THE DOORS AND THE GUESS WHO
29: BRITISH HARD ROCK 60'S: THE WHO, IRON BUTTERFLY, DEEP PURPLE AND LED ZEPPELIN
30: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1966-1967
31: ROCK GROUPS OF THE MID 60'S
32: THE SOULFUL SOUNDS OF THE 60'S
33: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1968-1969
34: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1970-1971
35: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1972-1973
36: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1974-1975
37: CHART SWEEP: THE SOUNDS OF 1976-1977
38: SINGER-SONGWRITERS: JIM CROCE, CARLY SIMON, JAMES TAYLOR AND CAROLE KING
39: STARS OF THE 70'S: GLEN CAMPBELL, NEIL DIAMOND, CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG GENTLE SOUNDS OF THE 70'S: BREAD AND THE CARPENTERS
40: MELLOW ROCK OF THE 70'S
41: R&B AND THE SOUL OF THE 70'S THE BIRTH OF DISCO - 1975
42: DISCO - 1975 & 1976 BIG BAND & JAZZ ROCK: BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS AND CHICAGO
43: ROCK BANDS OF THE 70'S
44: MORE ROCK BANDS OF THE 70'S
45: THE ROLLING STONES - 1970'S
46: PAUL McCARTNEY'S SOLO CAREER
47: STEVIE WONDER
48: ELTON JOHN - PART #1
49: ELTON JOHN - PART #2
50: FLEETWOOD MAC AND LINDA RONSTADT
51: THE EAGLES
52: 25 YEAR MONTAGE AND TIME SWEEP OF THE #1 SONGS FROM JANUARY 1956 - DECEMBER 1977, CLOSING CREDITS

DwWashburn said...

In the early seventies, a Memphis radio station played a syndicated program that was either called "The History of Rock and Roll" or "Retro Rock". The program took a year from 1955 to 1969 and made a two hour program of it. The announcer was over-the-top in his presentation reminding me a lot of the intensity that the reporter who witnessed the Hindenburg disaster emoted. I recorded the 1964 program onto cassette (as this was the best year ever for music) and played the tape until it broke ten years later.

YEKIMI said...

I also have a complete version of the "History of Rock & Roll". But now that I am older and in listening to it, I've noticed that there are some errors in it about some songs or artists. Genuine errors or just Ron Jacobs saying "Just go with it, who's going to know?"
Now with the internet being available, everyone can play "Mr. Detective" and find out what the "real deal" about a song/artist was. Heck, I've even fired off an email to a former pop star or two asking a question about a song [the ones from that era that are still alive] and sometimes I've gotten a response and sometimes silence. Boy, it would have been nice to have the internet available in the days that I was in radio. Instead we had to rely on what the record companies told us or, if we were lucky, the artist would drop by the station if they were on tour and talk with the morning guy. Never me, I was always too low on the totem pole and mostly did overnights and was in bed by the time the interview took place.

Ben K. said...

Per the writer's suggestion, I would bring back "The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show." Only this time it would be a dark comedy about a member of a once-successful family rock band, now barely remembered for a Saturday-morning kids' show. And he'd be divorced from a movie star, who went on to marry an even bigger star -- and everyone thinks of that guy as your equally famous kids' dad. Now he's trying to re-start his career as a solo act, but the only people who come to his shows are people who enjoyed his "Love Boat" episodes on MeTV. It's pretty bleak, so I'd pitch it to FX -- maybe with Ray Romano attached.

VP81955 said...

The Los Angeles Daily News article about the original "History" notes there were numerous mistakes, but it was a rush job because of the competing series from KRLA. Considering the paucity of available rock historical research in 1968-69, KHJ did fabulous work in retrospect.

BTW, does anyone know what happened to K-SURF (1260 AM), the closest thing LA had to an over-the-air oldies station? Its signal disappeared a few months back.

Ted said...

Wanted to share this - Golden Eye the last movie to have the such big miniature sets. Then began CGI.

Check out the pic:

https://twitter.com/HistoryToLearn/status/1101435746630590465

And the jump from top of the dam is considered one of the best stunts.

Pat Reeder said...

I don't have a copy of that special, but I used to work for major radio syndication companies like TM, where I was the record librarian and production coordinator on a number of those massive weekend-long music history specials, as well as music libraries for various formats, like TM's "Gold Picks," a collection of the best quality versions of the top 1000 (I think) hits you could get in the pre-digital remastering era. Some of them came from my personal record collection because those were the cleanest copies I could find anywhere.

As for which sitcom should be brought back next, I say reboot "M*A*S*H." I'd just love to see the first shot of the first episode. Fade up on the surviving elderly residents of the 4077th, looking around at the camp in disbelief. Finally, Hawkeye shouts:

"What the hell are we still doing in Korea?!"

Anonymous said...

Re the history of Rock and Roll.
I immediately thought of Jon Hendrix's album "the Evolution of the Blues".
Traces the evolution of the blues as he travels up the Mississippi basin.
Great musician. Great album

ScarletNumber said...

@Ben K.

You left out the part where he ruined his second wife's career by being an asshole during negotiations.

Also, Kurt and Goldie aren't married.

Peter said...

Just saw the sad news that Katherine Helmond from Soap has died. Rest in Peace.

Ken, did you ever work with her?

Cowboy Surfer said...

I'll say it again, I would re-boot BJ and the Bear as an Uber driver.

Passenger:(startled) Whoa! hey man did you know you got a monkey in your truck?

BJ: Come on dude he's a chimpanzee. Show some respect.

Bear: Eeeeeeeek! (peels banana)

bruce said...

"Go to your high school reunion. Sometimes it’s better to remember people and shows when they were in their prime. "

This weekend is my 50th reunion and I'm not going, mainly because it would require two cross-country plane trips on consecutive days, with changeovers in O'Hare. (I'm still professoring, and I have to teach on Friday and Monday.) I've really not been in touch with most of those who will be there. Based on the pictures, most people except me are too old, and I still am in my 20s.

Andrew Krigel said...

Ksurf is on channel 105.1-2 fm. Reception is poor where I live and it cuts in and out, but it is still golden oldies

Andy Rose said...

Transtar/Unistar made a whole lot of really good radio music documentaries in the 80s and early 90s that were distributed to stations on vinyl (and later on compact disc). Stations were supposed to destroy them after airing, but you can find quite a few floating around on Ebay.

Mitchell Hundred said...

I was watching the Laurel and Hardy video that you posted a couple of weeks back, and although I really enjoyed it I noticed that neither of them seems to be playing the straight man. So my friday question would be: what is the function of a straight man in comedy, and why does Laurel and Hardy seem to work so well without one?

Unknown said...

I would think "My mother the flying car" would be a big hit

Unknown said...

Hi Ken. I'm not sure this is truly a Friday question but I'll try and twist it into that format because I'm become sort of stymied by my own search.

I'm a high school English teacher and for a long time I've been teaching a unit on drama using Rod Serling's script for The Monsters are Due on Maple Street. Students always connect with the dramatic conventions of that lesson and lately I've been interested in perhaps taking a crack at teaching this unit using some other genres. MASH strikes me as being a good fit for my students with the unique blend of comedy and drama.

Do you know of any place I can find good copies of scripts for MASH I might be able to use for teaching purposes?

Ken Levine said...

Unknown,

Email me at HollywoodLevine@outlook.com and I can send you a couple.

West Side Writer said...

Here's a Friday question for you. How do you get your agent to work for you? I'm not asking how to get an agent, but rather how to manage your agent. Let's assume you have some experience and proven samples, but need your agent to push for you. So, with staffing and network pitching around the corner, what do you suggest for checking in, following up on, and otherwise pushing your agent to get you jobs? Or in this day and age, is it more on the writer to network and generate their own opportunities?

Thanks!

West Side Writer