Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Lost CHEERS

My now Superbowl tradition. The “Lost scene of CHEERS”. My partner, David Isaacs and I wrote it, it was seen by EIGHTY MILLION people, (almost double the audience of the final episode of CHEERS)… then never shown again.. I’m not even sure if a copy of the film still exists. For the first time in 23 years, here’s the lost script of that scene. Backstory: People forget but Cheers wasn’t always an enormous hit. The first season’s ratings (1982-83) were terrible…as in “dead last”. In today’s world both the CW and Univision would kick our ass. In an effort to get better exposure NBC asked if we’d do a special scene to be aired sometime during the Superbowl pre game show. Pete Axthelm, the distinguished sports columnist for Newsweek and gambling tout for the Peacock agreed to appear. David and I banged out the scene. NBC aired it…right before kick-off. Talk about a good time slot. Enjoy, trivia buffs:

FADE IN:

INT. BAR – EARLY AFTERNOON

CARLA, CLIFF AND NORM ARE AT THE TABLE WATCHING TELEVISION. SAM IS AT THE BAR. DIANE ENTERS.

DIANE
Morning everyone.

EVERYONE AD LIBS HELLO’S.

DIANE
You boys are here early today.

NORM
Superbowl Sunday, Diane. The only reason for living…not found in a mug.

CLIFF
We’re early because we gotta catch all twelve hours of the Superbowl pre-game show.

CARLA
Started off this morning with the Superbowl Mass. Moved right into NFL ’82.

SAM
The next hour they’re going to trace the family tree of every player on both sides.

DIANE
Ah, the big game. An American tradition. These athletes will test themselves for all they’re worth. They’ll spit farther than they’ve ever spat before. They’ll scratch in places no man has ever dared to scratch. That is entertainment.

CLIFF
Yeah. Superbowl Seventeen. Or as the French would say it, (IN JOHN’S UNIQUE FRENCH ACCENT) “Superbowl Seventeen”.

PETE AXTHELM ENTERS AND APPROACHES THE BAR.

PETE
(TO SAM) Excuse me. Do you have a phone here? I’ve got the only bookmaker on the planet that I can’t get in touch with on Superbowl Sunday.

SAM
Yeah, it’s down the hall.

CARLA
Hey, you’re Pete Axthelm.

PETE
That depends on whether you want to thank me or hit me for my selections this year.

SAM
Welcome to Cheers.

EVERYONE EXCEPT DIANE ACKNOWLEDGES HIM.

CLIFF
Hey, how come you’re not out there in Pasadena?

PETE
I should be. It’s the last time I book a flight through Jimmy the Greek’s travel agency.

DIANE
Excuse me my ignorance, but I don’t know this gentleman. Will you introduce us?

SAM
This is Pete Axthelm. Pete’s the NBC house tout. Picks all the big games. He’s even right every now and then.

PETE
Actually I’m always right. It’s the players and referees that screw it up.

DIANE
Oh, I see. You predict football games.

PETE
That’s right.

DIANE
Oh what a worthy profession. I hope they pay you more than scientists and judges.

EVERYONE REACTS TO DIANE: “HEY, THAT ISN’T FAIR”, “LIGHTEN UP”, “COME ON, DIANE”, ETC.

DIANE
Pardon me, but it just seems ridiculous how you people place so much importance on the outcome of one silly little football game.

THEY CHIDE HER AGAIN: “AW, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND”, etc.

NORM
So Pete, forget about her, tell us who you like.

PETE
Well, I’m still feeding it all into my delicate computer – it’s a tough one, but I gotta start with that great Miami defense…

DIANE
Miami?! Are you crazy?! That Thiesman person will pick them apart. You call him a prophet?

EVERYONE STARTS TAKING SIDES. A GIANT ARGUMENT ENSUES ON WHO’S GOING TO WIN.

PETE
What’s going on?

NO REACTION.

PETE
Hey, what’s the name of this place?

EVERYONE
Cheers.

THEY ALL GO BACK TO THEIR ARGUMENT.

PETE
(INTO CAMERA) Lots of abuse. I love it. My kind of place. You only find true peace at racetracks and saloons.

FADE OUT.

15 comments :

VP19 said...

This had to have been a bit of a rush job, because there are references to Super Bowl participants Washington and Miami. Moreover, because of the players' strike that year which limited the schedule to nine games, the regular playoff system was scrapped in favor of a 16-team tournament, and there was no off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

(On the other hand, in 1975 there was a Super Bowl-related episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" that was filmed several weeks before the game as part of the normal shooting schedule, and it showed Mary and the gang watching, cheering on for "Pittsburgh." The joker in the deck was that while the Steelers actually reached the game that year, who was their opponent? None other than the Minnesota Vikings -- and, of course, "MTM" was set in the Twin Cities. Oopsie.)

Willy B. Good said...

Cheers for that lost scene Ken as must be the only scene I haven't seen from that great show

Ger Apeldoorn said...

This reminds me that the Mad parody of Chers (which came in the first year) complained that they were using guest star appearances to make the show more popular. Did you see it at the time?

My first memory of Cheers is, that it took a bit of time for me to like. What surprised me afterward was, how quickly the Sam-Diana romance was started. I always thought it built through the season, but it started full tilt. The episode that did it for me was the one where they hold each others noses and wouldn't let go.

Cheers added more than clever characters and clever lines... they added clever slapstick as well.

Joe Siegler said...

Speaking of barely remembered bits..

I seem to recall there was an onstage sketch with the cast of Frasier where they did a Star Trek parody. I remember seeing it, but I cannot recall from where.

Anyone else remember this? What's the situation behind what I'm trying to remember? Thanks.

Wally said...

Wow! Wonderful stuff.

D. McEwan said...

I do remember that CHEERS was a ratings disaster at first, because I watched it from the night it debuted on, and was very scared at first that it would get the axe.

Thanks for posting the scene script. I saw every episode, but I never saw this scene, because I have never watched a Superbowl, and never will. I'm glad someone had to explain to Diane who this Axehelm person was, because, like her, I'd never heard of him. In fact, except for her sudden punch-line-attack of knowledge, she otherwise WAS me in that situation, except I scrupulously avoid being anywhere the game is playing on that dreaded day each year.

I think what bugs me about Superbowl weekend is that everyone on TV is always saying "Everyone in america will be watching the Superbowl" and "All eyes will be on the game this weekend" etc., etc., like I, and most of my friends, and a LOT of other people, simply don't exist, or aren't people.

Watch it. Enjoy it (Somehow), but remember, NOT "Everyone" watches it, and we who don't are not "No one".

I'm going to enjoy going to a movie with no lines to wait in.

Anonymous said...

Very funny! I don't remember this scene.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

And shockingly, it's not on YouTube.

doggans said...

//I seem to recall there was an onstage sketch with the cast of Frasier where they did a Star Trek parody. I remember seeing it, but I cannot recall from where.//

As I recall, it was at some Star Trek anniversary event hosted by Ted Danson. The premise of the sketch was that they were a group of actors who didn't make the audition for "Voyager", and this was their tryout tape. I believe the sketch is on YouTube somewhere. Search "frasier voyager" or something like that.

VP19 said...

To d. mcewan: You're somewhat not alone. I'm a mild pro football fan; years ago I used to be more avid, but it's now become too much a quarterback's game for my liking. I preferred the old days, when there was more of a balance between running and passing, but rules changes have distorted the game way too much. The TV cameras focus on the quarterback to a ridiculous degree, even when they're not involved in the play. And until quarterbacks play defense a la Sammy Baugh (who, let us remember, was also a fine punter and is thankfully still with us), listing their won-loss record is ridiculous.

Anyway, what I plan to do tomorrow is to follow the Super Bowl -- on radio. To me, it's the last great act of cultural defiance.

Dan Fiorella said...

I thought DVDs existed for just this kind of stuff.

hollywood blond said...

VP and d., good dialogue.

Ken - excellent lesson in promo writing. Very smooth, completely natural and enjoyable. Also true to the core with each character keeping their integrity and personality.

Promos and shows today could use this for inspiration.

Lee said...

With the line

"Excuse me. Do you have a phone here? I’ve got the only bookmaker on the planet that I can’t get in touch with on Superbowl Sunday."


I remembered watching this.

Dhppy said...

"you call him a prophet?"
That's so Diane. One of the things I really like about Cheers is how specific the dialouge is to the characters. You can't really just think up a funny line and give to just any character. That's one of the things that separates this show from say.. Friends.

cousin eddie said...

thanks for the script, loved reading it. One thing that I wondered is how much approval did the NFL have over the dialog? I'm surprised such a blatant gambling reference was allowed. While the NFL tacitly acknowledges the importance of gambling to it's popularity, you rarely see it public like that.