Friday, June 02, 2006

Our first assignment

Today marks the 31st anniversary (yikes!) of the first assignment my partner, David Isaacs and I ever did. It was an episode of the JEFFERSONS. (Who better than a couple of Jews, one from the San Fernando Valley?) The staff was very happy with our script. We got our first MASH assignment based on that draft. And yet we never did another JEFFERSONS. And almost never did another episode of any show. Here’s why.

The JEFFERSONS taped each show twice. First at 5:30 for one studio audience and then again at 8:00 for a second audience. The best performances of the two shows were melded together.

We showed up for the 5:30 taping and couldn’t be more excited. One of the executive producers, an older gentleman with a hearing aid, did the warm-up. Throughout the taping he was introducing everybody on the staff and crew to the audience. Everybody but us. By the end of the show he was asking the crowd to give a nice round of applause to the cable pullers. Still no acknowledgement of the writers. (Back then I was surprised.)

The show ended and we figured it must’ve just been an oversight. We saw him between shows. He said it had gone great, he was very pleased. We didn’t want to be schmucks and bring up the oversight so we just let it slide. But he knew we were there. Maybe he didn’t know we were at the first taping.

For the 8:00 show we had invited everyone we knew. Parents, relatives, close friends, agents. Again, this exec producer began introducing everyone and his brother but us. The craft services guy got a big intro. Finally, my agent raised her hand and asked, “Who wrote tonight’s show?” The exec producer hemmed and hawed.

I was sitting in the front row. And my date for the evening was a hot looking Carla Tortelli type from New York. When the exec producer stalled she yelled out, loud enough for him and the entire audience to hear:


I’d like to think the longevity of my career can be traced directly to never bringing her again to a taping.


Bonnie said...

Bless that agent and your date! Man, I so know that feeling (being the casting director at the premiere screening, having every other member of the crew asked to stand up--called out by name and introduced--for due applause, yet never being acknowledged except by everyone AFTER the screening, ala, "Oh, what a wonderful cast! THANK you for bringing us so-and-so.") and love that your agent had such balls. Awesome.

Great story.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying finding inspiration for writing for the Carla Tortelli character wasn't really all that difficult.

Great story. Thanks for the big laugh.

Anonymous said...

Too funny. That has offically made my day go from shit to keeper.

Anonymous said...

Ken...just for the record, what base did you get to with the feisty young woman that evening?

Dave said...

Thank God somebody said it.

I get a dose of that at my day job, too. It sucks. At least there I am a cog in the mechanism.

The writer of an original script is the reason the mechanism exists. At the very least, they're part of the project team that does the work.

I'll never understand why they're overlooked so often. Let alone paid so little compared to the rest of the cheese.

I'd like to think that exec felt like an ass, but you know, if he didn't feel the need to mention you, I doubt he felt like an ass for being called out.


I got the same once, but my date yelled: