Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can PUBLIC MORALS kill your career?

While you continue to vote here, it’s time for some of your Friday questions.
Longtime Reader, First Time Poster wants to know:

What were the main differences between writing comedy for live action vs cartoons? Did you prefer one to the other?

You certainly have more freedom in animation. You can let your imagination run wild. And you don’t have to worry about budgets. It’s just as easy to have Homer at the Million Man March as it is his kitchen. But there’s nothing like watching great actors bringing your words to life. And hearing the laughter. For a comedy writer that’s the crack of choice. So I’d have to say live action for me. Ask Seth MacFarlane. I bet you get a different answer.

From Eric Curtis:

How forgiving is Hollywood toward second chances? Say your first big break was on a show that absolutely tanked, would that be held against a writer even if they wrote a great spec for another show looking for a job?

Especially if you were just on staff of a stiff it won’t be held against you. Matt Tarses (currently the creator of the US version of THE WORST WEEK and longtime contributor to SCRUBS) started out on a show so bad it was canceled after one airing – PUBLIC MORALS (the above photo is maybe the only record of that show even existing) .

If the first show you create turns into a turd you probably will be able to walk away from the wreckage. You had to have a good track record to get the chance in the first place. But if, during production of that show, you managed to piss off everyone within a five mile radius that could hurt you.

Follow up question from Eric:

Is it worth taking a first time job as a writer if you know the show won't get picked up the next season?

Absolutely. Work is work. You could establish relationships with people who will ultimately hire you in the future. Plus, there’s the “you never know” factor. How many years did YES, DEAR run?

And finally, Andy Ihnatko asks:

Everybody leaves the house in the morning thinking they look pretty good. Even the 70 year old actor who has worn the same deep brown rayon wig since 1981, or the actress who's always seen in heavy, cakey makeup.

Does this affect those actors' ability to get work? You can always take off the toupee or wash off the makeup, but even if he doesn't angrily reply "WHAT wig?" the actor is still associated with that look.

I've wondered the same thing about actors with tattoos. You can cover them up, but would a producer think "If I cast this other person, we'll have one fewer makeup hassle per episode"?

If an individual has such a distinctive look it would take the audience out of the show, then yes, it would probably cost him jobs. I wouldn’t have the loan officer at a bank be played by Don King.

As for tattoos, that’s certainly not a problem if I’m casting Popeye. But seriously, if you don’t hire people with tattoos today you eliminate half the applicants. I always hire the best actor. If they require more make-up so be it. Unless of course the tattoo is a swastika or “Bush/Cheney in 2004”.


Anonymous said...

"...or “Bush/Cheney in 2004”"

I'm surprised you say that. Doesn't Kelsey Grammer that?

Anonymous said...

or Obama 2008

Anonymous said...

Lorenzo Lamas has been heavily tattooed since well before FALCON CREST.

Everytime he had a shirtless scene - which was what? Every episode? - he had to spend hours getting almost his whole body made up. Which must have been most tedious for him.

It took them until the final season to have the bright idea of having his character, Lance Cumson (Surely that name was a deliberate dirty joke?) get Lorenzo's tattoos, so they could stop making him up.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd TOTALLY have a loan officer at a bank be played by Don King.

And I mean TOTALLY.

MrCarlson said...

On Lost they incorporated Matthew Fox's tattoos into the plot. Seriously, they even made a whole long and boring hour of television explaining how he got them.
I bet that toupée question was directed at Ted Danson, but let me tell you, he's probably one of the few classy guys that lets his writers build a whole episode of cheers (the penultime I think) about his character exposing his baldness. BTW, he was robbed on Damages, he should have one that too, he so deserves to be known as an "actor" rather than just a "comedy actor".

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to add, save that my WVW is "fableve"
which is what Aesop takes for a headache or his monthly cramps.

Anonymous said...

To D. McEwan: Gee, I wonder. Maybe because he was genuinely surprised at the gratuitous political cheap shot in the post and its inconsistency with Mr. Levine's well-known professional and personal relationship with Kelsey Grammer, but didn't want to expose himself to your ridicule and nastiness. Calling 60-some million people bitter losers is hardly the path to open and constructive exchanges.

Eric Curtis said...

Thanks for the answers!

Word Verification: "ingroc" People who have read Robert Heinlein's books way too much.

Sam Thornton said...

Wait a second. Don King as a bank loan officer? It's a winner. The script writes itself.

Dana King said...

And notice, Anonymous not only remains anonymous, but proves himself to be bitter, as well.

Sometimes it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Kirk said...

A debate I had in yesterday's comments proved valuable because it made me think of a question for today.

Did you prefer writing in the 3 network era, or do you prefer writing now? Which one was easier, and why?

Grant said...

Where did McEwan say all republicans were bitter losers?

59.9 million republicans probably know a joke when they see one. They don't write angry letters every time Jay or Dave or SNL makes a joke at the expense of G.W. Bush, either. Gosh, some of them may even laugh.

Anonymous said...

Dear Still Anonymous,
If there's anything I know Ken doesn't fear, it's exposing himself to my "ridicule and nastiness." and Ken is well aware that I am less forgiving of Grammar's Repblicaness than he is.

And I didn't call "60-some million people bitter losers". I called YOU a bitter loser, although Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh can be included. Certainly John McCain has proved himself to be anything but bitter about losing. In fact, on talk shows since, he's seemed quite relieved.

I did not "say all republicans were bitter losers". The word "All" appeared no where in my comment. I asked "Why are the bitter Republican loser posters always anonymous". Why did you extrapolate my comment outwards? Read more carefully, and don't attribute remarks to me I did not make.

I stand by my assesment of "Anonymous."

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Finally, a not too subtle plug in your post for the most deserving contest entry. Which I'm sorry to say, based on the current tally, is probably still a lost cause.

Come on, people. "Veyhoo" and "prock" are automatically funny sounding, and the definitions practically write themselves (plus, one has the advantage of being "blue").

On the other hand, there's nothing inherently funny about "meway," yet some tormented genius has spun it into comedy gold. And the best part is it makes absolutely no sense! (If Popeye had a variety show, it would obviously be in Branson, not Vegas.)

Don't get me wrong, all the entries are much funnier than anything I came up with or could come up with. And I have nothing to gain by any of them winning. I'm only debasing myself this way out of a commitment to honoring artistic excellence. To me it's a civic duty like contributing to public broadcasting or rooting against Manny Ramirez.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Damn! I just noticed you said something about this being a "civic duty" in yesterday's post. I'm such a derivative hack I can do it without even seeing the original.

Kimosabe said...

CASH IS KING: starring Don King as a loan officer at a small family owned credit union "King Credit."

Home life and work life are one and the same as he, his wife, in-laws and his adult kids all work in the same office.

Don needs bailing out almost every week since he's quick to buy in to the ridiculous 'get rich quick' schemes of folks in the neighborhood.

It does write itself.

Grant said...

Uh, I was asking anonymous how he performed the same obviously incorrect extrapolation you accused me of. I thought I was basically agreeing with you. Sorry, man.

Anonymous said...

All this unseemly political wrangling is preventing the more sober-minded among us from crafting a starring vehicle for Don King.

I mean, c'mon, Don @#$%ing King. Working at a @#$%ing BANK.

Hell, you could just wire the place with hidden cameras and let civilians walk in and ask for loans and it'd be a hit. You might need to construct a bunker to keep the Emmys from raining down upon you; to say nothing of the hailstorm of shekels.

Episode One: Don King testifies before Congress to get his share of the Eleventy Gazillion Dollar Bailout. By the time the Chairman has struck the gavel twice, Don is halfway through a paragraph.

Discussing his testimony on CNBC afterwards, Don's spiel is so fast and unintelligible that he takes up all of the bandwidth GE ("the parent company of CNBC") had allotted. This interrupts almost 3% of the pornography downloaded on the eastern seaboard.

This thing writes itself. Hell, it practically TYPES itself.

P.S. My WVW is "covenes" which are, of course, assistant venes.

Anonymous said...

"Public Morals", may not have run long here, but it seems to have run a whole season in the UK.