Thursday, March 26, 2015

Short attention span blogging

Random stray thoughts.. in no particular order...

Which “Real Housewife” do you wish Robert Durst was married to?

When a ballplayer who has played for several teams goes into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown the big question is always which team’s hat will he wear? For comedy writers the question is which show jacket will he be buried in?

I still love JUSTIFIED but glad they’re wrapping it up. I think one more year and Boyd Crowder will be buying Acme explosives and setting a trap for Raylan Givens by offering “free food for U.S. Marshals.”

NBC scraped its Monica Potter pilot after a bad table reading and runthrough. They claim it “doesn’t live up to potential.” Don’t kid yourself. A network doesn’t pull the plug on a pilot two days into production unless it’s a fucking trainwreck. The pilot was produced by Ellen DeGeneres’ company. Guess it wasn’t as funny as MASH.

There have to be no less than six pilots where empty nest couples learn their kids or parents or grandkids or any combination of same move back in. Wasn’t that idea tired fifteen years ago? And networks wonder why audiences don't embrace their new comedies.

Always great to hear Verne Lunquist call March Madness. Old School is the Best School.

I don't see anyone beating Kentucky including the Lakers.  

The X-FILES is coming back to Fox. Could this mean the return of Alf?

Kathy Griffin has quit FASHION POLICE. Could this mean the return of Alf?

Will Ferrell is expected to make the Houston Astros’ 25 man roster.

HuffPost Headline: Vin Diesel Thinks 'Furious 7' Should Win Best Picture

On his premiere episode Monday night, James Corden and Tom Hanks re-enacted every one of his movies – except VOLUNTEERS.

Lots of ethnic casting this pilot season. Is it because the networks feel they have a moral obligation to promote diversity? Of course not. EMPIRE and BLACK-ISH are hits.

Frank Underwood’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s.

There’s a terrific movie about the studio musicians who backed all the hits in the ‘60s called THE WRECKING CREW. It’s playing in selected cities and available on iTunes. All those great rock songs were really done by 45-year-old former jazz and big band musicians. Check it out.

This year’s Oscarcast was the lowest rated since 2009. So the Board of Governors are in a panic. One solution discussed: going back to only five Best Picture nominees. Yeah, that’s the problem. I think they’re missing the real reason for viewership decline – the podium is a little low.

At what point does the media finally admit that nobody watches GIRLS? Its season four finale drew only 326,000 viewers in the key 18-49 demo. Seriously, for a nationally televised program in the United States that’s embarrassing. It’s not just Lena Dunham who has no clothes.

DANCING WITH THE MARGINAL CELEBRITIES rebounded in week two after its worst season debut. Could this mean the return of Alf?


MikeK.Pa. said...

"Which “Real Housewife” do you wish Robert Durst was married to?"

Saw an old LAW AND ORDER episode recently based on Durst incidents. He gets off for murdering his neighbor but gets convicted in the end for murdering his friend. Maybe a precursor of things to come.

"Always great to hear Verne Lunquist call March Madness. Old School is the Best School"

Love Lundquist. His enthusiasm sounds so genuine and his voice is still strong.

"I don't see anyone beating Kentucky including the Lakers."

I don't see the Lakers beating anyone, except maybe the Knicks - one tanking team playing another for the top lottery pick.

"Kathy Griffin has quit FASHION POLICE. Could this mean the return of Alf?"

I thought that WAS Alf on FASHION POLICE.

"Will Ferrell is expected to make the Houston Astros’ 25 man roster."

Saw the Astros on TV yesterday. They have some good young talent. Now Ferrell making the Phillies, that's another story.

"There’s a terrific movie about the studio musicians who backed all the hits in the ‘60s called THE WRECKING CREW."

Looking forward to seeing it. Also recommend STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN, about the great Motown session players, many of them now gone.

These random columns are always a treat to read.

Bud Wilkinson said...

Happened to stumble across a rerun of Barney Miller last night. It provides an example of how not to be sitcom where "empty nest couples learn their kids or parents or grandkids or any combination of same move back in." Here are a few:

1) Has a setting where there's continual action and where interesting visitors come and go.
2) Has interesting, well-defined characters and is well cast.
3) Is intelligent. Doesn't reply cheapness or profanity to get laughs.
4) Isn't frenetic. Let's the action play out in real time. Sometimes silence punctuated by a look can be hilarious.
5) Characters feels like people we might know.
The list goes on...
I once worked briefly as a police dispatcher handling 9-1-1 calls. The funniest was when an old woman called:
"There's a beaver on McDermott Avenue."
"Yes, ma'am."
"There's a beaver on McDermott Avenue."
"Yes, 'ma'am."
"There's a beaver on McDermott Avenue."
"Ma'am, we live in a rural area. Leave it alone and it'll probably wander off."
The double meaning of "beaver" didn't even pop to my mind. The caller's earnestness and concern almost had me spitting my coffee. Another reason why Barney Miller worked - believability.

Dan Ball said...

Oh, Alf.

I'm just a sucker for sitcoms that center around ridiculous non-human characters. In the mornings as we get ready for work, we've been watching MR. ED. Of course, I still love ALF. Another classic from my childhood (albeit they were reruns back then) that's on Hulu is LANCELOT LINK: SECRET CHIMP.

As snooty as I've become about my art and entertainment consumption, I love the hell outta these shows. It beats being grossed/bummed out by THE WALKING DEAD.

As one of the handful of Kentuckians here, thanks for the shout out, Ken! I hope our fan base and/or team hasn't annoyed you all too much.

I don't get people griping about our team. I griped about them when they won in 2012 because it felt like we bought that trophy. We'd just hired Calipari and we'd just become an NBA factory. Then we had a couple of rough seasons and REALLY struggled during the regular season last year until tournament time. The guys really pulled it together and worked hard to get to the championship game. When they lost, they felt there was some unfinished business left to attend to, so they stuck around another year instead of heading to the NBA. While we do have a big scholarship-payroll, I'm satisfied to have seen that it doesn't automatically guarantee championships or a revolving door of proto-NBA players. If we win this year, it's not because we bought it, but because the guys earned it. Say what you will about Calipari, but the guy puts up with A LOT from the fan base and handles it way better than any other coach I've seen.

I, too, enjoyed listening to Verne Lundquist last weekend calling the games here in Louisville--especially the major upset games like UAB, UCLA, and Georgia State. That was a helluva day and they all happened at "The Bucket" (The KFC Yum! Center, that is).

The only way the Cats can lose is if Alf returns...because he eats cats.

C. Warren Dale said...

"Could this mean the return of Alf?" is my new favorite running gag.

Igor said...

Ken wrote: "Frank Underwood’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s."

Maybe it's because of the cufflinks. I mean, which sends a better "Leader of the World" message?

Cufflinks that read "B.O.", or

Cufflinks that read "F.U."?

Mike Barer said...

Robert Durst? That is so last week!

Hamid said...

I've been waiting for ALF to return since I was a kid. It sucks when the only ALF related news in the last two decades has been that Max Wright, who played the dad, was filmed smoking crack and having sex with two homeless guys.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning THE WRECKING CREW. As the former 4th chair clarinet in a 3-clarinet band, I've always been envious of people who can pick up a piece of music, play it immediately and add something to it. Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Carol Kaye--people we've all heard but never heard of.

The Wrecking Crew is also featured prominently in a great new book called TURN UP THE RADIO. It's about the LA recording and radio scene from 1956-1972. Great vignettes about who recorded what where, working for Phil Spector and how to get Ron Jacobs and Dave Hull to play your record. It touches on everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jim Ladd with stops at Martoni's and Ben Franks.


Doug Thompson said...

Only we Warner Brothers cartoon lovers will get your Acme reference, but it's funny Ken.

Also "The Wrecking Crew" is an incredible documentary. Anything that takes 19 years to complete (which it did) has to be a labor of love. Director Denny Tedesco (son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco) has done an amazing job. I hope you see it if you haven't already Ken. You played those hits on the radio anyway. And no, I'm not associated with the film in any way, just a huge fan (although I only weight 175 lbs).

Curt Alliaume said...

One of the empty nest comedies is to star Chevy Chase. What's the over/under before either he or the showrunner quits?

Mike Barer said...

Speaking of Vern Lindquist, he was interviewed yesterday on KJR Sportsradio 950 and said he does not engage in social media. He said the most dangerous 4 letter word does not begin with F. It begins with S and ends with "end".

Wendy M. Grossman said...

As MikeK PA says, THE WRECKING CREW sounds like part II of STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN, which was a fabulous documentary about the black musicians who arranged and accompanied all those 1960s Motown hits - and were summarily out of work one day when the recording industry moved to LA.

Agree about JUSTIFIED: it's time.

As for GIRLS, I think it's possible HBO may know something about the ratings (it has already been renewed for a fifth season) that isn't reflected in simple TV numbers, which is that the younger demographic the show is presumably aimed at mostly does not watch TV in the traditionally measured fashion. The numbers via streaming (and torrenting) may look much different.


Igor said...

Ken wrote: "Kathy Griffin has quit FASHION POLICE. Could this mean the return of Alf?"

That would be a miracle of science.

Look at Kathy Griffin's coloring and Alf's coloring. Then consider now how taught KG's skin is, versus Alf's skin.

See, I always thought Kathy Griffin was Alf, just post- and pre-op plastic-surgery.

Alf simply is, and can be, no more. Unless maybe KG has kids with Carrot Top.

Kenny said...

I love Justified, but I too think it is time for it to end, this season is just starting to creak a little bit around the edges. I just want to see who's left standing in the final scene.

'Wrecking Crew' is a real treat; I grew up listening to all those guys and didn't even know it!

Tom Quigley said...

THE WRECKING CREW film played once here in Rochester, and I was unfortunately not able to attend the screening. Hoping it returns again. One of the great success stories that the Wrecking Crew helped launch was the recording career of The Byrds. As any good Byrds' fan knows, the single "Mr. Tambourine Man" was recorded in January, 1965, four months before the rest of the album, and it was decided at the time that only Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn would play an instrument on the track since he already had studio experience, with Wrecking Crew musicians filling in the other instrumental parts. Of course, the single went on to become a number one hit and The Byrds went on to carve out a niche in '60s rock history.

On another thought: I can readily imagine ALF becoming part of the panel on FASHION POLICE: "Yo, Giuliana! Is that a cat you're wearing?"...

Mark Solomon said...

I recently saw "The Wrecking Crew", and I agree that it is a must-see for music fans. I'm wondering, Ken, if during your DJ career, it was commonly known to you and your peers in Radio that non-credited studio musicians were the real creative force behind so many of the hit songs and popular groups of that era.

Alan C said...

I certainly hope this means the return of Alf!

The story about the beaver reminds me of several years ago when residents of Cougar Mountain in the suburbs of Seattle were complaining about cougars in their backyards. WHY THE HELL DO YOU THINK IT'S CALLED COUGAR MOUNTAIN?

By Ken Levine said...


I was aware that great studio musicians played on most hits. But I grew up in LA where everyone knew someone who was a studio musician or singer.

I didn't know that only one member of the Byrds played on their songs though.

WRECKING CREW is an awesome movie. I've seen it twice already.

Anonymous said...

I love Alf. I heard the writer of Alf was a crazy dude.

Are writers crazy? I love crazy writers.

Another reason we should not listen to Readers and enter money grab script contests.

Hamid said...

You know, for a second there, I thought we were gonna make it to the end of the day without that bitter troll who hates script readers pitching in with another of his repetitive posts.

Hey, Ken, I'm all for free speech but are you able to ban this troll's IP address or something? Besides, he should focus on writing his "visceral thriller" that will "knock the baseball ball into the next stadium".

Anonymous said...

This is a free country. Why are you not tolerant. This is why we have hatred in this world. Hate me, but why?

I am saying this - Readers are destroying all the aspiring writers lives. They write very ruthlessly and they are unhappy graduates. Why are they the God of screenwriting when they are clearly NOT? They don't create.

And contests are operated by dead beats.

Do you agree, it's time to stand up and start a revolution and tell these Readers to make a movie instead of typing crap coverages.

Anonymous said...

That's it. I will do it my way.
I will make movies. I will never waste my time with Readers.

I will continue reading Ken's blog.
Ken got one of the best blog ever.

I am off to make movies.

H Johnson said...

I'm glad you mentioned the terrific "Wrecking Crew" film. Although to anyone reading this not knowing who they were, the Crew core musicians weren't really 45 years old in the mid/late sixties. Ken was kidding.


norm said...

As to the Wrecking Crew, "Do mean all the good, music from the 1960's, with the DJ payola etc.
We listeners were scammed?

Who would have thought it?

Tim said...

Stop teasing about the return of Alf. You are getting my hopes up!

DBenson said...

The empty nester thing might still be made to work if it was sufficiently tuned in with reality, rather than "Of course you and your designer-label kids can move into our eight-bedroom suburban home. We're usually out being robustly perky anyway."

At the outset "Frasier" was based in identifiable realities: It looked as though Martin Crane couldn't live alone any more; moving in with married son Niles was not an option; so he and Frasier became unwilling roomies. As time went on the idea of Martin's senior dependence faded away -- he got a job, had a busy love life and finally married. And like all TV apartments, the Crane flat was huge. But the original setup wasn't "wacky" or fantasy-based.

The killer line from the "origin" episode was Niles pretending to read a care home brochure: "We care. So you don't have to." With aging boomers everywhere, it may be the moment for a sticom that embraces the senior question and runs with it.

William Rabkin said...

I'm sorry to see a TV professional following Deadline's lead in fretting (or cheering) over Girls' rating in the 18-49 demographic. Girls is on HBO, which as you know is not advertiser supported. Which means it doesn't matter how old a show's viewers are -- just that they pay their monthly subscription fee.

Obviously you're welcome to hate this show -- but internalizing the idea that only a 22 year old is worthy as an audience smacks of Stockholm Syndrome...

Unknown said...

I enjoyed The Wrecking Crew and Standing In the Shadows of Motown. I find the stories of people who excel at what they do and are so passionate about it to be inspiring. I also appreciate how their respect for each other and camaraderie fueled the quality of the arrangements and the music. It's sad that in today's world too many gifted, passionate musicians don't have places to play anymore.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone know if ALF had a girlfriend or a romantic episode?

Which season, episode , please????

I love ALF, the TV show. It was pure GENIUS. I heard the writer was a pot head. Is this true?

VP81955 said...

With the two evil empires (Kentucky men, Connecticut women) apparently both on their way to national titles, this has been the most depressing March Madness in years. I'm still crossing my fingers that somehow, Maryland coach Brenda Frese can find some of that 2006 NCAA championship magic if they advance to face UConn, but hey, let's get there first.

Todd Everett said...

Just read (seriously) that NBC is reviving ""Coach," with Craig T. Nelson. "Alf" is looking even more likely -- not to mention funnier.

Speaking of "funny": a comedy with Monica Potter? How could that have failed?

Wayne said...

Ellen's Monica Potter pilot wasn’t as funny as AfterMASH.

Phillip B said...


Johnny Walker said...

I have no idea what this means, but according to one article I read: The "Girls season finale scored a 0.26 adults 18-49 rating with 687,000 viewers. It was the least-watched “Girls” episode in three weeks."

I don't know what good ratings are anymore. It seems hard to tell in this day and age.

Mike said...

Alf has already come back, in pog form.

I read about the new Coach series - it's the revival nobody wanted!

As soon as I heard the news about a Monica Potter comedy, I knew it would fail. Why would the least funny, least charismatic actress on TV succeed in a comedy? And who would be dumb enough to give her one?

YEKIMI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YEKIMI said...

I worked as a 911 dispatcher for a while. One night some guy called up and said "Can you help me, send the fire department or someone? There's a big ugly bat in my bedroom" First thing out of my mouth was "Well, put a bag over her head and go to sleep!' I immediately thought "Shit, I just got myself fired" I heard a sharp intake of breath and then the guy just busted a gut laughing. Never heard a word out of the higher ups. [I did send the FD and they got the bat out of the house]

Hamid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hamid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hamid said...

I'm flattered someone felt it necessary to post under my name but if you're gonna do that at least try and make it funny or original. "I'm a stupid fucker" as an opener is kinda on the nose that the person posting is a bitter little soul. Besides, there's so many synonyms you could have chosen to make it an amusing venting of whatever it is that is troubling you. Something like "I'm an obtuse mo'fo", "I'm a person whose intellect has been found wanting", or "My favorite show is Sean Hannity".

Max said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hamid said...

I register now you can no longer take my name!

Hamid said...

Good grief, the lunatics have been allowed out of the asylum. "Camel jockey" - nice. I'm actually an atheist.

Hey, you're never going to get your scripts produced if you spend all your time throwing a tantrum about me or script readers.

The fact you've gone to the lengths of registering an account with my name suggests you need urgent psychiatric help. Good luck to you on your writing. If it's anything like your posts, I think you've got an Oscar in the bag!

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to have to do this but since there's a loon here, I've registered a Wordpress account. Sorry for provoking this troll. Lesson learned: don't feed the troll.

michaleen said...

A few years ago, some people in my small, set-in-its-ways hometown wanted to revitalize the downtown area that ran a few blocks. It wasn't run down, but people wanted more traffic and to attract shoppers from neighboring towns.

A relative newcomer to the town won the mayoral election on the promise that he would deliver a plan to revive downtown.

A few months later, he delivered the plan to great fanfare. It included the usual stuff, demo-friendly chains like Chipotle and Starbucks, a theater, etc.

The townspeople, including many who voted for him, were outraged wanted to run him out of town on a rail. As a relatively new resident, he was baffled and asked one supporter-turned-attacker why he was being pilloried for fulfilling his promise.

She explained, "Well, when you talked about revitalizing downtown, most of us were thinking along the lines of adding new planters and things like that."

That's the Oscars, wondering why they can't get the same audience in completely different entertainment marketplace, but unwilling to make any but the most trivial change.

VP81955 said...

To Hamid (real and otherwise), that's the value of having an avatar. Anyone who tries to post as me without my trusty Carole is instantly exposed as a fake.

And to KNX's Vicky Moore: Would you please stop sounding like a giggling shopgirl during your entertainment reports?

Liggie said...

Speaking of Oscars and DWTS, I wonder if Tom Bergeron would be a good host? He's clearly comfortable on live TV, can unleash a zinger without being mean-spirited, and as he's a presenter on TV (read: non-actor) doesn't have to worry about offending potential casting directors.

After all, Carson was a non-actor, and he had a pretty good run as host.

Ron Rettig said...

Is Ken starting Return Max Wright to TV movement?

Unknown said...

Ken, I was watching the interview that you and David Isaacs did for the TV Academy when you were discussing how the relationship of Niles and Daphne developed. It got me to thinking about how in the days of I Love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke seasons were written in advance and characters didn't develop beyond the pilot and relationships weren't explored. Seems it was true with dramas as well. Was there one TV show that changed that? And was it MASH or was there another show before that started approaching TV comedies differently?

SharoneRosen said...

I also noticed no VOLUNTEERS in the Hanks-Cordon extravaganza (but it was pretty damn funny).

I have always referred to that jiggle competition as "Dancing with the D-List." Who are these people?

Mark said...

Ken, were Hanks & Cordon trying to avoid paying you royalties or something?

And I agree with MikeK, the Farrell/Astros thing is a year or two behind. For real '62-Mets-level ineptitude, you've got to go to the City of Brotherly Shove.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aloha said...

Robert Durst? That is so last week!