Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Questions

Some FRASIER related Friday questions lumped together this week. Ask your question in the comments section. I'll try to get to as many as I can. Thanks.
From te:

Some -- well, many -- of the references on Frasier are pretty arcane. Was the writing staff really all that familiar with the hoity-toity world; did you just grab from The New Yorker, or was one of the grips on call for the more obscure wine & cheese jokes?

Some on the staff were more cultured than others. They knew wine, art, and I think two of them were so sophisticated they even spoke French. I knew that wine sold in bottles rather than cans was better. So when faced with hoity-toity references I would consult with upscale magazines or liquor stores. On the other hand, my degree from UCLA is in Psychology. So I was able to compose most of the psycho-babble without any consultation, which is why it’s probably all wrong.

Duffy asks:

Who was the funniest actor you worked with?

David Hyde Pierce. The man is a comic God.

Daws wants to know:

Do you think there's a chance that there will ever be a "Frasier" reunion show?


I'm sure a lot of fans would like to see "where" the characters are five, six, ten years down the line.

No they wouldn’t. Not really. Those things are always so depressing. All you see is how much older everyone has gotten. Or how much weight they’ve gained. Better they should live on in reruns, young and vital, and with hair.

And finally, from Bitter Animator:

Moose (the original Eddie) was clearly a top-notch actor but I couldn't help noticing on reruns that, when Moose retired and his replacement stepped in, Eddie's role diminished greatly. I was really surprised he played such a little part (if he was even in it) in the finale. This had me wondering - was it because Moose's replacement didn't have the range? Or simply that the Eddie character had run his course?

I love the notion that fetching on command could be considered “range”. All of the dogs on FRASIER had a fabulous and loving trainer, Mathilde DeCagny. We tried not to do anything too ambitious, and we always checked with Mathilde first to see if the stunt we had in mind was something Moose could easily learn. And perform in front of a live audience. Moose was pretty remarkable.

And again, Mithilde used nothing but treats and positive reinforcement to train her animals.

Were you guys writing for specific dogs?

Yes, but not on FRASIER.


ScottH said...

Ken, you answered that question about Moose's successor like a politician--you talked around it, but never addressed what was actually asked. Now _that's_ writing talent.

OrangeTom said...

My Friday question: When a show is on air as long as Frasier do the network executives start paying less attention; i.e., is there more the writers can get away with which might be considered too offensive or "out there" in the first couple years of a show's run? "Tonight on Frasier Daphne's true identity as a KGB operative is revealed after she's caught trying to blow up the Space Needle"

John said...

Dan Patrick was telling a story on his radio show Thursday about flying cross-country in a plane in the 1990s and one of the seats near him was occupied by Eddie from 'Frasier'. Such are the perks of stardom that celebrity dogs get their own first class accommodations. But it sounds like he never went the diva route.

David Drakeford said...

You must have written quite a few great concluding lines to some well-loved sitcom episodes.

What makes the perfect final line? Does it sum up the whole theme of the episode? Provide an unexpected twist? Just be the best joke saved for last?

Carol said...

Regarding the 'no reunion' thing - Stephen Moffat went on record as to what he thought his characters from Coupling did after the show stopped airing. (Steve and Susan went on to work on some children's sci-fi show they brought out of mothballs, for example)

As a writer, have you ever put any thought into what your characters are doing now, just for fun?

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

"Tonight on Frasier Daphne's true identity as a KGB operative is revealed after she's caught trying to blow up the Space Needle"
Is that more or less "out there" than the last season (or was it the last two?) of Roseanne, like when ninja-Roseanne saved a runaway train from terrorists? That's gotta be the worst ever, not counting shows that started with one foot in fantasy/absurd (Mork and Mindy, Soap).

I like to think Carla Tortelli is running a small family business/criminal empire in Boston, including teaching Serafina's grandchildren to pick pockets in the tourists districts, and bilking some money out of the Gaines-Boyd Foundation.

James said...

Hey Ken - Question for Friday: How would someone with experience writing for national radio and touring stand-up comedians get into TV writing? I'm fine starting as a PA in a writers room and working my way up. I just honestly don't know where to start because I got into comedy writing a few years after college. I'm not a 22 yr old graduate that can join an intern program, so it is hard to get into the loop. I have been cold calling and emailing random ppl but most writers' contact info is an agent that doesn't care about some PA. HELP!

Donald said...

A Friday question: I saw 22 Jump Street and laughed, as far as that goes. But a preponderance of the jokes were all pop-culture based; specific references to other movies, TV shows, actors, etc. What's your take on this? Is it lazy? Isn't there a concern that these will date the film?

Mike Schryver said...

"you answered that question about Moose's successor like a politician"

Presuming that's true (though it's hard for me to imagine why someone would be afraid to offend a dog in print) contrast it with Ken's frank response about the funniest actor he's worked with. I see that as a further comment on how amazing DHP is - Ken isn't even worried about upsetting someone else.

cathy said...

Wait a minute, want the greatest opera singer in the Out With Dad episode named Mathilda DeCagney? Was Renata Tibaldi also a staff member?

VP81955 said...

"Tonight on 'Frasier,' Daphne's true identity as a KGB operative is revealed after she's caught trying to blow up the Space Needle."

I'm guessing you just saw the "Hot In Cleveland" episode where in order to assist a sting operation, Jane Leeves' character Joy pretends to be a Russian mail-order bride (a concept her partner, whom she's sleeping with, originated -- not something of her own). It was funny, of course, watching Joy pull off a comic Russian accent, complete with "moose and squirrel" references.

Dodgerdog said...

Regarding the veracity of the "hoity-toity" references, some of us in Los Angeles take pride in discovering obscure talents before anyone else. It has nothing to do with wealth. Years ago, I actually attended a concert of the Tuvian Throat-Singers, in the back room of McCabe's Guitar Shop. Later I took great delight in that Frasier episode where they are scrambling to get tickets to hear the throat-singsers at the fancy concert hall downtown. Perhaps your Key Grip was also at that show at McCabe's.

OrangeTom said...

Actually had not seen that Hot In Cleveland episode. Watch very little on t.v. these days except for soccer, cooking reality shows, and, of course, Frasier reruns.

Jeffro said...

Moose's replacement, Enzo, couldn't have been all that bad. Enzo was Moose's very own son. Enzo went on to play the titular role in My Dog Skip, but Moose also got to portray the elderly Skip in the film's final scenes.

There were other siblings in Enzo's litter but he was picked mainly because he looked the most like his father (some of the cast and crew from the show wound-up adopting some of Moose's other progeny). I'll agree with Ken that it was a testament to Mathilde DeCagny's training that it's hard to tell whether it was Moose or Enzo playing Eddie (except that after a particular season it was all Enzo).

On the other hand, JRTs being extremely owner-centric, I heard that Mathilde DeCagny did have to resort to particular trickery to get the dogs to show attention to the actors. Even going as far to smearing a dab of sardine oil or some other bit of attractive food onto the actors in order to get the dogs to lick them.


Tallulah Morehead said...

"I knew that wine sold in bottles rather than cans was better."

Very funny, and more than Little Dougie knows about wine. Wine that comes in boxes is the best. It makes my packing for a move so much easier.

I always regretted that I never got to see Moose's Hamlet. "To woof or not to woof; that is the ---SQUIRREL!"

Charles H. Bryan said...

I wondered if Moose was on imdb.


BrettJ said...

My "friendly acquaintance" (I call him that because I've sent him several letters over the years and he has, on occasion, written back) Mark Evanier highly recommended your site - and he's write (pun intended!) As an author myself (different genre) and a longtime TV fan / buff, I'm now going to be a daily follower. Like my other hobby (comics) I love learning things that I didn't know. Thank you so very much for your wonderful writing - both here and on TV.

PS - I, like yourself, am also a former DJ.

Paul Duca said...

Tallulah...I understood wine in boxes was not to be sniffed at, as it had the best possible protection from wine's worst enemies--light and air.

John Jackson Miller said...

A more general question, although it's Frasier-connected through Kelsey Grammer: I read that his new series on FX is called "Partners" -- which would make it the third show in 20 years by that name. (The first one was actually pretty good, but neither of them lasted more than a year.)

So do the powers that be even look at how often the names have been used, or worry when a series by the same name has recently flopped? I suppose if Saturday Night Live could survive the Howard Cosell version, it may not be much of a worry...

Steve said...

A couple days ago, you mentioned that you gave overuse of names a pass in the case of pilots, where the writer needs to establish who everyone is. It occurred to me that most of your viewers aren't going to start with the pilot; they'll get into the show after it been on the air for weeks or years, or even in syndication. How much do sitcom writers think about the fact that every episode is someone's first? Is any attempt made to make sure each episode works without prior knowledge?

DBenson said...

In an interview -- The Onion AV Club, I think -- they asked David Hyde Pierce about a "Frasier" reunion. He said something to the effect he'd love one with no script, camera or audience. He'd just want to hang with the cast.

gottacook said...

John Jackson Miller: "I suppose if Saturday Night Live could survive the Howard Cosell version, it may not be much of a worry..." The Cosell show with that title was an unrelated prime-time show on a competing network, which is why the NBC show was originally known as "NBC's Saturday Night."

John Jackson Miller said...

Oh, I know they were unrelated -- was just expressing that ABC's show didn't taint the name to a degree that NBC avoided adding the "Live" later on.

On the other hand, I'm not guessing anyone's rushing to reuse the "Cop Rock" name, even if it somehow fit their show!

Bob B. said...

Friday question -- I've noticed on the MASH box set that when clip shows are shown, the clips look muddy while the wrap arounds are clean. Is this the way they were originally broadcast or is there some technical reason why clips don't transfer as clear as other footage?

Gina said...

Another Frasier Friday question: Was there a special reason that Daphne was from Manchester? Was a tribute to John Mahoney's place of origin, or a place someone really liked, or some other reason? Or no reason, other than you have to come up with some place more specific than "England?"