Friday, July 06, 2012

Did Robin William really ad lib all those great Mork lines?

Thank God it’s Friday (Question Day). What’s yours?

Nick gets us started:

Is there much room for ad libbing on the set of sitcoms? I know in films it can work because you shoot multiple takes - but in a sitcom format (i'm thinking of Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy) do writers appreciate when actors ad lib or is it generally frowned upon?

Some shows like CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM are built around the actors improvising after being given a detailed outline. Most scripted sitcoms don’t allow for ad libbing except maybe early in the rehearsal process.

On multi-camera shows, cameras change shots based on line cues so it’s imperative the actors speak the lines as written or else you're going to have three cameras crashing into each other.  That's generally not good. 

Robin Williams didn’t “exactly” ad lib on MORK AND MINDY. I know this first-hand. He’d deliver a line on the first take. Then deliver another on the second. And still a different one on the third. The studio audience would be in awe of how quick and inventive he was. But here’s the thing. The “ad libs” were just the jokes that had been in the script and were replaced. Writers wrote them, not Robin.

Not to take anything away from Robin and his enormous talent, but he is notorious for stealing other people’s material.

From Ane:

I'm lucky enough to work as an assistant to the dramaturge in a theater and sometimes I get to watch rehearsals. I've noticed that the directors can get extremely specific about what they want from an actor. And the actors do their best to please. What's it like when working with "big stars"? Do they get lots of directions on what kind of emotions they should display and so on, or is it more like "Do whatever you want, we trust you"?

That depends on the director’s style. Some, like James L. Brooks (pictured: right) are incredibly precise. “On this line lift the cup up to here, cock your head just a bit to the left, and give him a look like ‘you know what he’s after but our history together should tell you that I’m wary but not to where I can’t be convinced.” It’s actually quite impressive to watch him do it.

Some actors love that. And several have won Oscars for their performances in Jim Brooks movies so you can’t knock it.

But other actors hate it. They like to find the moments themselves so they find this technique very stifling. I remember once watching Jim direct a scene with two actresses. One just relished the input while steam was coming out of the other’s ears.

Then there’s Woody Allen. He very rarely “directs” an actor’s performance.  He lets them just do their thing. And many actors have won Oscars performing in Woody Allen movies. So there’s a lot to be said for that method as well.

But here’s the thing with Woody Allen – he has the luxury of being able to get the very best actors in the world. Does Meryl Streep really need to be told how high to lift the cup?

And if an actor can’t give Woody the performance he really wants he merely replaces him.

For me as a director, I’m like the dad teaching his kids how to ride a bike. I let them ride on their own but I’m running alongside steadying the bicycle whenever needed, telling them to slow down occasionally and warning them that they’re headed straight for a fence. So far no one's ever won an Oscar on any of my movies.  But in fairness, I've never directed a movie. 

GMJ has a question about Nicholas Colasanto:

I noticed he directed over 29 different television series between the mid-1960s through the early 1980s. Have you ever had a chance to see any of his projects? I suspect his professional way expressing his concerns to writers extended to his work as a director before "Cheers".

I’ve seen a lot of his HAWAII FIVE-O’s (the original “good” version). Directing one-hour TV is quite a feat. Unlike features, you have to be fast. It has to be hard enough banging out an hour show in the crunch time allotted without having to stage elaborate action sequences. But Nick apparently had the knack.

He was also a highly respected acting teacher.

ScottyB has a question about one of the Bar Wars episodes that David and I wrote for CHEERS. It’s the one where the Cheers stunt apparently kills Gary.

At what point of a show's run do y'all sit there hashing out a script for the week, have someone go, "You know what would be really cool? Let's have Carla's disembodied head float around Gary's bar and pretend it gives him a heart attack!" and know whether it's even possible (in '80s technology, that is) for someone to be able to make Carla’s big head float around in an endless video loop?

This is why it’s great to have a partner. I didn’t remember how we arrived at that stunt, but my partner David Issacs did. Here’s his answer:

Can't remember all the details, but as we did in all the Bar Wars escalations we were looking for something that topped the last one. It really came out of the idea that because of Nick Tortelli, Carla would have TV repair and tech skills, so she could hook it up. We checked to see if it was possible that it could work in theory and it was something she could set up and run.


Thanks, David. And thank you guys for all your questions.


Birdie said...

Let me guess on those two actresses -Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger? I know that set wasn't pretty...

Ane said...

Thanks for your answer:-) This is my favourite blog.

Johnny Walker said...

I feel bound to leap to Robin Williams's defense. I understand this is just his word over everyone else's, but I believed his version of events when I heard it.

In his interview with Marc Maron (on the WTF Podcast) he was asked point blank about the stealing of material. He sounded very genuine when he described what happened:

When he started, being a fan of comedy, he'd always watch all the comedians on the circuit. His own stand-up was so frenetic and chaotic that he'd often come off stage only to have someone tell him that he'd just done a bit from another comedian's material.

He'd feel terrible, track down the comedian, apologise and offer to pay for the jokes he'd used.

This kept happening so eventually he just had to stop watching other comedians altogether.

The only way to ensure that he wouldn't inadvertently blurt out another comedian's joke in the heat of the moment was not to hear it in the first place.

As I say, he sounded very genuine and very guilty about the damage he may have done.

Another reason it sounds genuine to me is that Williams is known for two things: Having an encyclopaedic memory for jokes, and having a brain that moves faster than light (and it probably moved even faster during the 'coke years').

He may have been lying, but at this point in his career nobody really cares that he stole some jokes in the early days. He could have just lied and said, "That was made up by my bitter contemporaries", or (if his actions HAD been malicious) said, "Yeah, I was a real asshole in my youth".

So yeah, call me naive, but I believe him.

WTF with Marc Maron

Johnny Walker said...

And, of course, Woody Allen has been known to replace entire casts and reshoot an entire movie if he didn't like the performances.

His method of shooting a version, but leaving enough budget for extensive reshoots seems like a good one!

Johnny Walker said...

Speaking of Cheers, I posted a comment about the change in Kirstie Alley's character a few days ago, but having gotten roughly halfway through Season 6, I don't feel her character changed all THAT much.

In her first episode she's shown to neurotically fawn over her boss (he doesn't appear in the episode -- only on the phone). This opens the door for her more neurotic side coming out later.

Even her strict "martinet" ways fit in perfectly as being nothing more than an attempt to act tough and keep control. As she slowly lets her guard down and becomes more friendly with the gang, she drops her pretenses.

I was expecting a drastic change, but really it feels almost as though it was planned.

One thing is for sure, either way, Kirstie Alley was fantastic at being neurotic. She looked a bit lost inbetween her lines, or when James Burrows put her in the background, when she was playing the strict boss.

She seems much more comfortable and natural when she's emotional.

(Hmm. Feeling quite chatty today, aren't I? :)

Jerry Wilson said...

Williams' excuse sounds easy enough to verify. As often as he's been accused of stealing material, there must be more than one or two comedians out there that he stole from. There are a lot of people with entertainment connections that read this blog; are any of you familiar with a comedian to whom Willams not only admitted that he stole their material, but then paid them for it?

Still, at least he admits to stealing, even if accidentally. Denis Leary built a career on being a lesser version of Bill Hicks, and I'm pretty sure he's never acknowledged it...

Eric said...

Friday question - if someone offered you the "Louie" deal; low budget but near-absolute creative freedom to do 12 half-hour episodes of whatever you wanted, would you take it? And what do you think your show would look like?

Johnny Walker said...

Jerry, worse than that, Denis Leary completely denies he stole ANYTHING from Hicks (let alone his entire persona).

As a British comedian I saw once quipped: "After 9/11 New York fireman became very popular. NY Firemen would go to nightclubs and wear their uniforms. Sometime later Leary appears on TV in Rescue Me, where he plays a NY Fireman.

Denis Leary is a man who travels by bandwagon."

One final thing (I've no idea why I'm posting so much today): The talk of the Nicholas Colasanto made me think of this Norm entrance (hopefully it's not subconsciously stolen).

NORM enters.


COACH: What'll it be, Normie?

NORM: Take a wild guess, Coach. On second thoughts, just give me a beer.

Ah, Colasanto was amazing as Coach.

scottmc said...

Nicholas Colasanto directed one of my favorite episodes of COLUMBO. It was the one with Johnny Cash and Ida Lupino.

scottmc said...

Nicholas Colasanto directed one of my favorite episodes of COLUMBO. It was the one with Johnny Cash and Ida Lupino.

Ben Scripps said...

Nick also directed the "Man Out of Time" episode of the "Logan's Run" TV series. The series came out on DVD a few weeks ago, and I tried it, familiar with only the film it was based on. The rest of the series is fairly forgettable, standard 70's sci-fi, but this episode (written by David Gerrold of "The Trouble with Tribbles" fame) is one of the best hours of sci-fi I've ever seen.

By Ken Levine said...

One of my Facebook friends who wrote for M&M just wrote:

"On behalf of those who wrote those lines... thanks for the clarification and kudos, Ken! xo"

Lawrence Fechtenberger said...

Johnny Walker: The Woody Allen film to which you refer is SEPTEMBER, and while he did re-shoot the whole thing, he did not replace the whole cast. Mia Farrow and Dianne Wiest had the same roles in both versions; Denholm Elliott was also in both versions, but in different roles.

Either NEWSWEEK or TIME published a review of this in which the reviewer wrote that, though he had not seen the original version, he was certain it was better than the one released. His logic was that of course Maureen O'Sullivan and Farrow must have been more convincing as mother and daughter than Elaine Stritch and Farrow, and Sam Shepard must have been more convincing as a writer than Sam Waterston. One can see what he meant, but that still seems to me the most irresponsible movie review I have ever read.

Brian Phillips said...

To paraphrase Ken Levine, I have nothing but respect for Robin Williams and his talent, and I do tend to believe what Walker says is true, but I think that his great memory still tended to hold and repeat lines that he had overheard even after he was famous.

One incident was a quip that was made about VP Dan Quayle's stance on "Roe vs. Wade" was "I prefer to float", which I know I heard earlier from another comic as "...two ways to cross the Potomac".

In a world where more and more information is becoming more and more accessible, originality is getting harder. This is nothing new; hands up, anyone who had seen one of their fave sitcoms do a plot centered around the male rituals outlined in Robert Bly's book, "Iron John". Keep those hands up for recalling shows that parodied or referenced Dr. Laura ("Frasier" and "West Wing" both took a shot at that).

Radio used to be the great "freezer" of material. Vaudevillians used to tour for years using the same material, but once it was heard on the radio, that was it! The material was "frozen" in time, save for the classic bits (i.e. "Who's on First?") that people wanted to hear or see over and over.

Friday question: Warming up an audience takes a special talent. Johnny Olson, of "The Price is Right", from what I have read, was great at it. Who warmed up the audience on the shows you worked on? If it is not someone associated with the show, who determines who gets the gig?

Worse Horse said...

Johnny Walker: fair point about Leary and Hicks, but the firefighter accusation seems off-base to me. Leary founded his firefighter charity in 2000. The events of September 11th may have created a market where a firefighter-based show could be broadcast (Tom Fontana had been pitching a firehouse show since the days of HOMICIDE, at least), but I don't think Leary suddenly discovered an interest in the topic because of the WTC attacks.

Lawrence Fechtenberger said...

I note also that the legend of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope improvising their way through the "Road" films is also exaggerated. What happened is that each man turned the script over to his team of writers, and had them prepare a batch of one-liners that he could add at appropriate moments. Crosby and Hope then had a sort of contest to see who could get his addition in first. That may have kept filming unpredictable, but it was not ad libbing.

By Ken Levine said...

Again, from one of my Facebook friends:

Penny Lee Hallin commented on your link.

Penny wrote: "As the dialogue coach the first season of M&M, I will vouch that Robin did indeed try many different written versions of the jokes. As I scribbled each different take/version in the margin of the script, I will say that (gauging audience reaction) he also added tweaks of his own. However, it began on the page before it could be on the stage : )"

Donald said...

Ken: You've tarnished a cherished memory of attending a "Mork and Mindy" taping. I did marvel at how Robin would come up with new jokes take after take. One I remember: Regarding a record player, Mork looks at the spinning record and said, "Look Mindy, the French revolution." Come to think of it; I don't get it.

A Non-Emus said...

Thanks for calling out Robin Williams, Ken. I'm a comic and he is notorious in our world. There's a few comics he stole from so much they're broke. And no, Johnny Walker, the checks didn't help. If he was really sorry, he'd put them in his movies or bring on tour with him. You notice that every comedian has a "crew". (Sandler/James/Rock/Schneider crew, Judd Apatow crew, Seinfeld's crew etc.) Funny people love being together. Robin Williams doesn't. Now, you know why.

Tom said...

Whether or not Robin Williams was ad libbing on the fly or using alt written lines, "Mork and Mindy" must have been a technical nightmare for the sound department. I mastered the audio for the DVD collection, and although I'm sure it was fine for '70s analog broadcast delivery, the audio editorial between production dialogue and ADR was painfully bad when listening to the master tapes.

jbryant said...

"Swan Song" is probably my favorite COLUMBO, too. I also liked "Etude in Black," which guest-starred John Cassavetes, but apparently some of it was directed by Cassavetes when NBC wanted to stretch it from a 90-minute time slot to two hours. Imdb says Falk did some uncredited directing on it, too. Maybe Colasanto wasn't available for the re-shoots?

Anonymous said...

"Johnny Walker said...
I feel bound to leap to Robin Williams's defense. I understand this is just his word over everyone else's, but I believed his version of events when I heard it."

I think taking up so much time to recite an interview by someone who has his best interests at stake, while taking his side, despite having zero personal experience with the man, or the people who claim his "comedy genius" act is a fraud, says more about you and your bizarre wannabe ego, than it does about Williams.

That is all.

Craig L. said...

I have a "Robin Williams memory" from the early '80s. He had completely quit performing after John Belushi's death (which different accounts had him in in close or very close proximity to), and when he had adequately sobered up/straightened out and finally decided to get back up on the performing bicycle he did 'secret appearances' at smaller clubs to make sure he could do his schtick straight and still get the same reaction. I had the good fortune to get into one of his 'secret shows' (at a West Side LA club called Igby's that was run by a former Ice House partner) and I and my group got a table right in front of the stage.

As he performed, I noted the 'bits' I'd heard him do before, on TV or his record albums, and they did represent 90% of what he was doing. He still did it all with the energy and most of the goofiness he was remembered for (at my close vantage point I could tell he was working at it, but didn't have other performances I'd seen close range to compare it to) and the 100-seat-capacity audience loved it.

At a couple points, he would visibly change gears to try to do something more spontaneous and looked over the audience for things he could play off of. He saw me, wearing an XL cable-knit white sweater that could be called a tennis sweater if I ever played tennis, and just blurted out "Hey, it's Bill Tilden!" It didn't get his biggest reaction of the night, probably because much of the audience didn't know or remember who Bill Tilden was (including me). Of course, I laughed, then whispered to my smart date "Bill Tilden?" to which she whispered back "famous old tennis player". Oh!

I looked up Bill Tilden in an encyclopedia the next day and learned how he dominated tennis in the 1920s, was nicknamed "Big Bill" and how he was later scandalously 'outed' and arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

So whenever friends are comparing their "brushes with fame", I can proudly say that Robin Williams once mistook me for a famous, dead, gay tennis player.

Dana Gabbard said...

Brian Phillips, here is what Mark Evanier had to say about Johnny Olson as a warm up master:

Picking the best warmer-upper is no contest: The late Johnny Olson was the undisputed heavyweight champ of thawing-out an audience. By the time Johnny was through with you, you'd give a standing ovation to a potato race.

Johnny was an announcer on most of the shows he warmed-up. He is probably best remembered for shouting, "Come on down" on the Bob Barker version of The Price is Right for the first thirteen years of its existence. But he announced and warmed-up many shows in his day, including comedies and variety programs, along with every game show he could cram into his schedule. Jackie Gleason, a man of ego unbounded, would not go before the TV cameras without a Johnny Olson warm-up preceding him. When Gleason moved his CBS show from New York to Miami, he arranged (at great expense) for Johnny to be flown to Florida each week, just for the day, just to do the warm-up.

Dana Gabbard said...

And speaking of Jackie Gleason, someone in a comment on the Cosby post remarked that however badly Bill Cosby treated his writers it didn't compare to how Gleason did his. I remember over 10 years ago one of Gleason's writers during the 60s wrote a piece for (I believe) Esquire that pretty well laid out what a lout Gleason was to his writers.

D. McEwan said...

I was at a Murphy Brown taping when Tom Poston guest starred. Tom definitely did some ad-libbing. You knew it was an ad-lib because Candice and the crew fell on the floor laughing. The director would have a quick chat with Tom, then reshoot the scene with Tom's new line in, only now the rest were expecting it and didn't fall over laughing. He did this through the entire episode.

I was at two tapings of Will & Grace and all of the leads except Debra Messing did multple takes with multiple lines, especially Sean Hayes, whose best ad-libs were unairable. Debra was, it seemed, unable to ad-lib, at least she made no attempts to.

I worked with Robin Williams, emceeing shows with him in them for a year and a half. I never heard a bit I knew to be stolen, and I spent hundreds, literally hundreds, of hours around him onstage, usually in improv. Off stage I found Robin quiet (yes, quiet. Really strong listener), friendly, and very, very kind. He never stole a line of mine. Should I be insulted by this?

Ken, you know Cheri Steinkeller, she was in the Comedy Store Players with Robin for a couple years doing improv with him at length. Why not ask her if she felt he was a material thief. She probably has an informed opinion on it. I have certainly heard plenty of comics accuse Robin of this.

Johnny Walker said...

@anonymous, I freely admit that I have no insider knowledge, I just shared that bit of information because I found it interesting. I guess I treat this comments section, rightly or wrongly, as a community of regular readers, and so just speak my mind, as I would in any online community.

I find the comments, and resulting discussions, often as interesting and insightful as Ken's posts.

I'll be honest, your comments hurt. I'm currently on my way home after a crummy evening, and your comments are the icing on the cake. If this gives you some satisfaction, or puts a smile on your face, maybe you should look in the mirror.

Cali Writer said...

To D. McEwen - As someone who worked on Will & Grace, I can tell you that very little (if any) of what you saw at those tapings was ad-libbed. That show was particularly laborious, with tapings that lasted far longer than any other show I've worked on, mostly because there were endless variations on every joke that the show runner wanted to test out. Personally, I didn't understand this logic because it wears an audience out and ours would start leaving if the shoot went too long (as W&G often did). They could never decide on 1 or 2 options in the writers room, so they insisted on trying 5 or 6 on the stage. Hayes would often throw an expletive into a line that he knew wouldn't work and Messing would simply mumble the ones she didn't like. That may explain the impression you got from the tapings you attended. (Side note: Eric McCormack always, always gave a line 100% and is one of the nicest, most professional actors I've ever had the pleasure of being around.) I chuckled to myself when I read Ken's post last week about actors giving notes. Actors do all of those things and then some. Whether or not Robin Williams ad-libbed or not, I can't say, but my guess is very little was his original material.

D. McEwan said...


Thanks for the info. I can say that, as a audience member, I did not get tired out, and thoroughly enjoyed both times I went to the show. Now at The Nanny I got more than I wanted. No matter how many times they did it,Fran would still be more irritating than funny. The Nanny did distribute sugary snacks midway through the taping to re-energise the house.

I did notice that W&G was not like Tom Posten's ad-libs, where the surprised other players laughed as much as the audience and they always required a reshoot. No one on set at W&G acted like they weren't expecting them to say "that," nor did they break and laugh and then reshoot the same lines.

When I said Sean's best ad-libs were unairable, I was not referring to bad language, I was referring to lines like: "I'm in love with Love. In fact, I love Love so much, sometimes I just want to bend Love over a sofa and have at it." No dirty words, but NBC wouldn't have aired that verbal image in 1999

Brian Smith said...

Friday question, with way too much setup: Lately I've been thinking a lot about the scene in the "Bad Neighbor Sam" episode of "Cheers" where Sam completely breaks down in front of John Hill, who has the deed to Cheers' pool room and bathrooms from when they were Melville's basement. (Mostly, when I get exasperated, I think of Sam saying, "Oh, God, you're evil! I can't do it! I can't fight the evil!")

Anyway, in my mind, it seems like a LOT of episodes after this one would introduce John Hill with some variation on "As you know, I own legal title to your pool room and both bathrooms." As a writer, when do you know when the time is right to stop bringing up that kind of long-term plot arc exposition? Or do you *have* to keep bringing up but just figure out ways to be subtle about it?

Ben Kubelsky said...

So Will & Grace uses 5 or 6 variations of jokes, and they still weren't funny?!

Nat Birnbaum said...

The two points may be related, Ben. If there are six jokes that work equally well for your scene and character, then your scene and character are probably not that well-conceived. Ditto for the 38 sketch comedy seasons of Will and Grace.

John said...

Hi Ken, love the blog!

My friday question: when developing a script/show with a producer AND network and doing more and more drafts of the same script, do you recommend changing jokes/specifics for change sake to keep it fresh? Or do you recommend not changing jokes that work perfectly fine, especially you've received no notes regarding them.


Paul Duca said...

Johnny Walker and Worse Horse...true, 9/11 had nothing to do with Dennis Leary's work with firefighters. He grew up in Worcester, MA and was moved to help after six of the city's firefighters were killed in a 1999 blaze.

Johnny Walker said...

That's fair enough, it was just a joke I heard.

In defense of the comedian who made it, Chas Early, I probably completely ruined it. Also, it's worth pointing out that Leary played a Fire Fighter tormented by 9/11, so it's not completely unrelated. Whether he had anything to do with that creative decision, of course, is another matter entirely.

Muzza said...

Harsh call on J. Walker by hidden poster 'anonymous'. This comments section should allow for all and any opinions. Johnny seems to research his comments, and I for one appreciate the insight.

Mike said...

Hey Brian -- As a Cheers watcher and not writer, I have no real insight here, but I never took those Hill comments to be exposition/reminders to the audience. Rather, I found it perfectly within Hill's character; he'd never miss a chance to tweak Sam by reminding him that he owned the deed to his pool room and both bathrooms. Hill had utter disdain for Sam, and loved getting his goat like that.

D. McEwan said...

"Ben Kubelsky said...
So Will & Grace uses 5 or 6 variations of jokes, and they still weren't funny?!"

"Nat Birnbaum said...
The two points may be related, Ben. If there are six jokes that work equally well for your scene and character, then your scene and character are probably not that well-conceived. Ditto for the 38 sketch comedy seasons of Will and Grace."

Hmmm. Jack Benny's real name followed by George Burns's real name, both bitching that the highly-successful Will & Grace was not funny. Why, I wonder, do I find myself believing that these two comments are both by the same person trying to make it look like there are multiple people out there who hated Will & Grace, when it's really the same psuedonymous person afraid to attach his own real name to his repeated knocks of the show.

You know "Ben" & "Nat", you're allowed not to like Will & Grace. There's really no need to hide behind the names of dead comics to do it. As it happens, I and millions of other people DID like it. It was not cancelled. It chose to end itself when it felt it had run its course, but it left with millions of we fans still watching. But you still get not to like it, but how about showing the balls to sign YOUR name to your insults, and not hide behind the names of men whom, for all we know, might well have liked it had they lived long enough to see it?

But, if you are just incapable of manning up and signing your real name, then here's a hint, don't next use "Julius Henry Marx" or "William Claude Dukenfield" as your next "new" persona, because it's become a giveway that all these "different people" are the same coward. (And people who talk to themselves are often considered less than sane, and their opinions thusly downgraded to "worthless".)

Jonathan (formerly Nat) said...

Sorry if you were offended, Miss Morehead. It's a good thing the Don Knotts fans didn't come after you with the same vitriol. I am not the same person as the Kubelsky guy. I had a response I felt was relevant to his comment and I picked the name to be a little less monotonous. I definitely did not intend to suggest any projection of my opinions onto George Burns. Thank you for the opportunity to clear up the confusion.

Brian Smith said...

—Mike: That's a good point; I looked up the transcript of the scene I was recalling, and maybe I was just remembering all of its reiterations. John Hill reminds Sam he owns legal title, then reminds him again just to irritate him, and when Sam says he had to go to a therapist to deal with his fury about it, John says, "Be sure to tell your therapist that I own legal title..."

Johnny Walker said...

Thanks, Steve!

roger said...

Re: Johnny Olsen warmups -- to hear a small sample of what it was like, check out the Television Production Music Museum at (unfortunately you may have to sign up for a free or paid membership nowadays, but it's worth it). There's a section of 'Johnny Olsen Warmups' with audio from a few TPIRs and MATCH GAMEs, plus a TPIR Showcase drop or two.

Lots of wonderful, priceless stuff there, such as a raw take from a BULLWINKLE recording session where you get to hear what a sailor Bill Conrad was!

D. McEwan said...

"Jonathan (formerly Nat) said...
Sorry if you were offended, Miss Morehead. It's a good thing the Don Knotts fans didn't come after you with the same vitriol."

A. You must not confuse me with my friend and alter-ego, Miss Morehead. ("Tallulah - what's the expression? - isn't herself tonight." Well, my father's name was, in fact, Norman McEwan.) She insists we are two different people. And she liked Don. (She was drunk at the time.) She always calls Don Knotts: "The hottest dead carp I ever had sex with!"

B. Go back and look at the Andy Griffith Obit comments thread. Several Don Knotts fans did come after me with the same vitriol. That's okay. I can defend myself.

The big difference between my comments about Don Knotts and your comments about Will and Grace was that I stated, repeatedly in the defenses, but right from the start, not that Don Knotts was not funny, but that I did not care for him, that I found him irritating. I omitted "physically repulsive," but frankly, that too. I always expressed it as my opinion, my reaction to him. You stated flat out, as an empirical fact, that Will & Grace was flat-out "38 seasons of sketch comedy", which I'm afraid I took as your agreeing with Not-Jack-Benny's statements that the show was not funny. Neither of you couched it as just your opinions but as fact. Here's an empirical fact: I found all 8 seasons of Will & Grace very funny, even with Debra Messing on it.

But congratulations on manning up enough to come halfway out of the closet, Jonathon X. One of the things that Will & Grace was all about was the need to come all the way out of the closet, so you've made progress, which is more than I can say for Not-Jack-Benny.

Tallulah Morehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallulah Morehead said...

Jonathon, you think I am Little Dougie? Why, I've never been so insulted in all of this week! (Okay, so it's Monday.)

I thougt Donnie Knotts was the hottest dead carp I ever had sex with, as long as he kept that bag I placed over his head firmly in place, and didn't speak, and the lights remained off! Nor did I remove the bag he placed over my head. (Though he said that was for the fumes.

RCP said...

Tallulah Morehead said...

" long as he kept that bag I placed over his head firmly in place, and didn't speak, and the lights remained off!"

Whew, it's getting hot in here. Thanks for the hearty laugh, Tallulah.

Shaun Cherner said...

Hey Ken - love your blog. Long time / first time.

Here's a question for you - I'm a writer with some experience, been on a few shows, done a few things, etc.

When looking at the next job, is it worth taking a job on a show you're not all that proud of? For example, "Cavemen" a few years back? Would it work against you later on to have a poorly-reviewed and poorly-thought of show on your resume? Or is it worse to have a potential gap in employment? Or does it not matter at all in the mind of the next showrunner?



David Baruffi said...

On my blog, I'm making out a list of the Ten Best TV Shows of all-time. (Not favorites, Bests) I got the idea from "Sight and Sound"'s once a decade poll on films, and how other such lists for TV are usually longer, and include shows that are just incomparable to each other. (How would you compare "The Ed Sullivan Show," to "Seinfeld," or to "60 Minutes," or to...)and I was curious as to you, what would be on your Top Ten list?