Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Sitcom Room & other stuff

First off, the IDOL results show.

From this point on, (a) watching Sanjaya is painful, and (b) it's an insult to any finalist who gets voted off before him.

Ashley Ferl is the little girl who cried her way to fifteen minutes of stardom on AMERICAN IDOL. It must be very exciting today but I bet in ten years she's going to look back at a tape of the show and be so humiliated she'll cry for another six hours. And by then, Sanjaya, the love of her life, will be a hairdresser on Fire Island.

Lulu's lulus were practically falling out of that dress.

Not a good year for either Stephanie Edwards -- one's booted off AMERICAN IDOL, the other off the Rose Parade.

So Time-Warner Cable fires their top guy in LA because the service is so atrocious that an astounding 10,000 subscribers have fled to Direct TV in one month. How do they make amends to customers? I got a call from them Tuesday informing me that my monthly bill would be five dollars higher and several channels were being removed. And then, for fun, they “accidentally” unplugged my internet modem. It took nine hours to get back on line. What does it say when Adelphia did a better job and they were bankrupt?

Only in LA -- There was paparazzi hiding in the bushes outside my gym today. I screamed at them to leave me alone, allow me my privacy!! I would have smashed a camera but I couldn’t lift my arms after working out.

Only in LA part 2 -- In this week's LA WEEKLY there's an ad for Allison Margolin, billed as L.A.'s "Dopest Attorney". Harvard Law & affordable. She lists her phone number and says it's "ok to call from custody".

Top fashion designer Anand Jon was arrested on 15 felony counts and five misdemeanors for alleged sexual assaults of his models. He was supposed to star in a reality show for VH-1 about the fashion world. It’s up to you America. If you think he committed a felony, here’s the number to vote: 1-800-JAIL01, or you can text message the word “PERV”. If he's smart he'll call Allison.

On a related subject – the Phil Spector murder trial (Number One with a Bullet) is gearing up. They’re currently selecting jurors. One was excused for saying he should get the death penalty just for “To Know Him is to Love Him”.

CBS Sports replaced one of their best basketball announcers for clearly their worst. Gus Johnson was booted for studio host, James Brown who – judging by this past weekend – has never seen a college basketball game. He was always two plays behind and if all good sportscasters have a catchphrase his must be “What just happened? Did they give him a foul?” Meanwhile, Gus Johnson – who does this for a living – will be sitting with the rest of us fast forwarding through the annoying Sprint commercials.

That GREASE reality show on NBC is really cringeworthy. Not surprising when you consider host Billy Bush is related to “that” Bush family. Last week the four finalists got to make personal pleas to the country. The prom queens who wouldn’t piss on your head if your hair were on fire pleading to vote for them because it’s their dream and they’ve worked sooo hard for this. Same with the guys. If I were a finalist I’d let the other dork talk about how much playing Danny would complete him as a person, let him choke back tears, and I’d say, “If you vote for me I’ll give half my salary to Children’s Hospital”. Who do you think would win in a landslide (which, for this competition, is 200 votes)?

Where was Jean Smart on last Monday’s 24? Did the WHOLE episode have to be about starting a full global nuclear war? I mean, come on guys, give us something we care about.

And now a word from our sponsor: Me.


After researching various writing classes and books it seems to me there’s one thing none of them teach – what it’s actually like being in a sitcom writing room. And the truth is, practically all sitcoms are room written these days (even single camera shows like ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT). So I’m exploring the idea of holding a weekend seminar that essentially gives you the hands-on experience you could only get in a professional writing room. Complete with bad Chinese food and a script in trouble. It’ll be a cross between a seminar and comedy writing fantasy camp.

I’m working with a professional who does these seminar things for a living. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it right.

One question as I prepare this grand experiment is: Will anybody even be remotely interested?

I’m thinking a weekend in July, here in Los Angeles. For the first session a maximum of twenty students/campers. I’m still researching the cost.

Want More Details?

I’ve created a special email address for anyone interested. Drop me a line.

You could tell me your name and background, if you like. But you don't have to.

I won't share your information with any third party, under any circumstances, ever, period.

The idea is to get some idea of interest and have a list of people to send the details to first once they’re finalized.

Sound like fun? You’ll learn a helluva lot, have some laughs, get great practical experience, and I promise we’ll never analyze Casablanca.


Anonymous said...

So they announced today that last year's Hollywood Christmas Parade, the 75th, was the last. It's gone. One can park in Hollywood on the Thanksgiving weekend again.

And just when Sanjaya had agreed to be the next Grand Marshallette.

Anonymous said...

Can I come to the seminar even if I have no interest in being a professional writer? I just want to see what it's like.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of writer's rooms... Having a background such as your own, you're in a unique position to comment on the difference between writing for single-camera vs. multi-camera shows. Though I'd assault you with this question at writer's room boot camp, I don't live in the Los Angeles area. But perhaps, if you're ever short on blog material (or hell freezes over), you'd think about committing a column to it; what are the differences? Pros? Cons? Do you prefer one over the other?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to go! That sounds like something worth flying to LA for, as long as it's not the same weekend as Comic-Con.

Stop laughing.

Anonymous said...

OK, here's the deal. We sell The Sitcom Room as a new reality show, which will eventually culminate in the airing of an actual sitcom. We get Danson to star.
Over the weeks, America votes off the worst writers. Think about it -- plenty of crying and lots of 900 number revenue too.
If we move fast, Simon might just jump on this.
It looks like you've got another hit on your hands Ken!

Anonymous said...

Your blog material is practically a seminar itself, but camp sounds like fun. I'm stitching my name in my underwear right now.

Anonymous said...

Bad Chinese food? Scripts in trouble? Long all-night sleep-deprived sessions after the coffee has run out? Ken, you know what you're going to get signing up for this, don't you? A bunch of masochists... Where do I send the check?

RE: Last night's AI, I found out why Lulu was late getting on stage -- She had borrowed her "lulus" from Kellie Pickler and was still fitting them on when the music began... Kellie was renting them to her by the minute...

(BTW, thanks to Ian and mom askew for the props yesterday... I appreciated them, and appreciate Ken for allowing me to post some of my silliness on his blog... For the record, I emailed yesterday's column to my mother -- and she still doesn't think I'm funny...)

Anonymous said...

Hello, Muddah,
Hello Fadduh...
Here I am at...
Camp Levine-uh

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Tape it! Release it on YouTube!

Ian said...

American Idol is making less and less sense, with the dismissal of Stephanie Edwards over Sanjaya (for reasons well known) or Gina Glockson (who strikes me as a bad Joan Jett clone). Even Sam Ruben, KTLA's cherubic sycophant, sees it this way. I'm also not crazy about that "beat-box" guy, but at least he's capable of carrying a tune. I think someone wisely suggested that he tone down the beat-box stuff, lest he be mistaken for someone having a seizure.

Lulu - still hot. I wasn't crazy about her redition of "To Sir With Love" because I so like the original, but can she belt a song or what? Unlike Diana Ross, her hair does not compete for hangar space with the new Airbus.

The crying kid - enough already.

To Tom - when your parents find your comedy funny, it's a time to worry.

Lakisha - an amazing voice. Very little charisma, and that will sink her.

The Sitcom Room - Brilliant.

Graham Powell said...

Thought you might like to check out this link, in which ESPN columnist Bill Simmons gushes about Gus (Johnson, that is):

He also has a column up right now trashing Billy Packer, who has - no lie - called every Final Four game since 1975.

Anonymous said...

Sitcom Room....

Wish I could afford to fly out to LA.

Anonymous said...

Trapped in a room with 15 people who think they're funny and their Chinese food flatulence for a weekend?

Sign me up!

Mike Barer said...

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Jean Smart has been in her hometown Seattle doing fundraising work for Alzheimer's Disease.

memphish said...

Funny stuff about Time Warner. Here in Memphis we just went from Time Warner to Comcast and apparently the word Comcastic means sh**ty. A plan to alienate an entire city could not have been more perfectly perpetrated had it been planned by FEMA under Michael Brown. People here actually wanted TW back. Guess we didn't after all.

Anonymous said...

Q: How old is too old to initiate a writing career in TV?

I've heard that TV execs tend to range in age between 30-35, and they prefer to work with writers who are slightly younger (say, 25-30ish)

I've also heard that it's more difficult for an older writer to get work if they fall outside of the lucrative 18-34 demographic.

I ask because I'd love to write for TV, but I'm afraid I'm a few years to old.

I'm 92.

Anyone have any advice? Thoughts? Admmonishments? Spelling help?

I'll get you started: "If you have to ask about age restrictions, you don't have the drive to make it in this business."

Take it from there.

Anonymous said...

ken: Brilliant! Throw a studio audiance on top and call it Studio 60 done right!

Aaron: I love your version, but can I add my audience for all of us Levine fans who can't write?

Tom: Thanks for the thanks.

Anonymous said...

As someone who's been in the writer's room (including ones with Ken and partner David), not even if the bad Chinese food was actually in China would I do that again!

Mary Stella said...

In the Idol pool, I've stopped picking Sanjaya as the person I think will get the boot. Clearly the Howard Stern fanatics and votefortheworst people are having too much fun voting for him every week.

Grubber said...

Ken, I cannot attend due to distance(little thing called the Pacific in the way) but if I had the opportunity, I would jump at it, no questions asked. I would be surprised if you received less than 100 apps for the first one.

Anonymous said...

Screen credits we will see one day in the future --

"...also starring Sanjaya Malakar as Jennifer Beals."

Anonymous said...

What does Billy Bush being related to the Bush family have to do with Grease being terrible? Honest to God, try to be a little less hateful. The only thing that's cringeworthy is your lameass attempts to take a shot at the Bushes.

Anonymous said...

…and these days it's a good idea to remain anonymous when supporting the Bush administration.
C'mon reveal yourself so we can all bask in your glory.

Billy does do a nice job hosting though

Bill Nesbitt

By Ken Levine said...

For the record, Aaron,

My partner David and a producer at Paramount television have developed a reality show based around a sitcom. Not your version (although I love the idea of voting off writers) but still involving the sitcom arena. We've pitched it to a few places already and interest has been expressed. We've got our fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Much as I hate our president, I must grant this to Anonymous, Billy Bush would be a lousy excuse for a TV personality even if he were a Kennedy.

His being a Bush is merely gravy.

Unknown said...

Your note on cable reminded me of a couple of things...

Up here in Bakersfield (or North North Hollywood as I like to call it because so many people who live here now commute to LA for work everyday) we have two cable companies. That would be one more than when you worked up here, Ken. I like to watch the KTLA morning news. Both cable companies carry it on the same channel as the California Channel(gov'ment tv).
Normally the reception looks like the cable company is picking it up on a set of rabbit ears out in the parking lot. Apparently they actually pick it up for broadcast here via a repeater on top of a mountain near Frazier Park. They also only carry KTLA until 9:00 am.

When I called to complain, the nice lady at the cable co. told me, "Nobody up here cares what's going on in LA."

The best experience I've had with cable companies was when I did mornings on a station in Palm Springs. The manager was a fan of the show and gave me an unrestricted box for free. Oh crap! I hope that doesn't get him in trouble.

Scribe LA said...

Absolutely a great idea.

Unknown said...

I love this idea too, but in the back of my head I hear this KNX radio commercial that goes like, "Ever wonder what it would be like to be a comedy writer? Well, this weekend you can have that chance... The Sitcom Room has just a limited number of slots available where you too can crack jokes, insult people and eat Chinese Take-Out.. Call Now! Operators are standing by..." And just like the commercials for "kids who want to be a star and appear on "You're Not Raven" etc., it'll be aired EVERY WEEK!!