Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Questions

And Friday has come along once more. Here are this week’s FQ’s.

David gets us started:

If you where an up and coming writer today what existing show would you choose to spec?

First know this changes every eleven minutes, but for this moment of time I would maybe spec a BROAD CITY, KIMMY SCHMIDT, VEEP, BROOKLYN NINE NINE, and if you want to do a multi-cam I would probably pick MOM.

I think today you have a short shelf life with BIG BANG THEORY, MODERN FAMILY, NEW GIRL, GIRLS, or CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.

I’d also stay away from LOUIE because it has such a personal voice.

And then there’s the question of the shows that are sort of comedies like ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, TRANSPARENT. If those fit your sensibility more, do one of them.

Above all, spec the show YOU like the best and feel would best show off your talents. Good luck to all.

Gregg B wonders:

Have you seen the new Louis CK show "Horace and Pete"? It's a throwback to the Playhouse 90 days. And your old pal Alan Alda is excellent in it. Your thoughts on the show and the distribution method?

I have not seen it. I am curious but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m too busy with VINYL, THE PEOPLE VS. O.J., and catching up on BETTER CALL SAUL. Oh, and I’m behind on SUPERGIRL.

Yes, it’s a fairly new model of delivery. He put up his own money to produce this show. He’s taking all the risk. And I can see where it could be successful. He's charging a reasonable price. BUT, you have to have a big following going in and a lot of money to invest.  Not a lot of creative people can do this. 

So kudos to Louis CK, who I love. I wonder however, how the FX executives feel. They give Louis all this freedom to turn out a show for them and he puts it on hold to just do something else. There’s part of me that thinks he has an obligation to FX first before he goes off and writes, stars, and produces another series. But that may just be old school thinking.

MikeK.Pa. has two FQ’s.

Would you write for an awards show, given your criticism of them?

I would write the Oscars one time to see what that experience was like. I almost did once. It was in the mid ‘90s and Quincy Jones was the producer. He called and asked if my partner, David Isaacs and I would be interested in writing on the show, and we would have jumped at it, but we were running ALMOST PERFECT at the time and there was no way to get away.

Like I said, it would be fun to do…once.

Again this year, I will be reviewing the Oscars.

Are you planning any trips to Pa. for A or B (and if so, when)?

Yes. I will be there April 8th and 9th. It’s at the Village Theatre of Hatboro, Pa. The show is in rehearsals now. I can’t wait. It will be fascinating to see a different take on the play. If you’re going to be in the Philadelphia area, it runs the first three weekends of April. Come see it.

And finally, Tammy wants to know:

Ken, could you talk about what happens after the first draft - is it just a back-and-forth between the writer and the showrunner, or do the other writers, the network etc. give further input? Thanks!

It depends on how the show is run. Usually, either the showrunner will give second draft notes, or collect the thoughts of the other staff members and then give notes.

I imagine there are some shows where the writer gets notes from everyone on staff, but that would seem counter-productive to me. He’d be bombarded with notes, some conflicting.

I understand that in some cases today, networks actually receive first drafts. To me that’s INSANE. As a showrunner, I want the opportunity to work on the script before it’s distributed. I want the ability to change the story, improve the product, and protect the writer. Scripts can change wildly from first to second drafts. At the end of the day, the network and studio should only see a draft once I feel it’s ready. I know – that’s crazy talk.

What’s your Friday Question?


Carol said...

Just to add to the A or B? question - I can tell you the rehearsals are going very well. Our two leads are fantastic, and have great chemistry together. They really make the characters come alive.

We have a photographer coming in on Sunday to take photos, and we're going to do a brief video of the rehearsals as well, so check the Village Player's website in a few weeks!

MellaBlue said...

Friday question: Television history is littered with shows that feature prominent/important yet totally unseen characters -- Vera Peterson, Maris Crane, Stanley Walker. These characters often influence plot yet are off screen. What goes into the decision to create such a character? When is that decision made? Does having an "invisible character" create more freedom in plotting? Was there ever a discussion about casting a Vera or Maris? I just find the phenomenon so interesting....

Glenn said...

Ken, is "A or B" available on sites Like Samuel French? If not, do you know when it might be?

Mike said...

@Charles H. Bryan: I posted a couple of answers of sorts to your question on early British television here on Thursday 11th February.

By Ken Levine said...

Not yet, Glenn, but I'm trying. It takes awhile. Stay tuned. And if any theater group is interested just get in touch with me.

cd1515 said...

is it possible Louie offered this new show to FX and they didn't want it?

Tammy said...

Thanks for answering my question! And I got "and finally"- I know the order is probably random, but I feel like those actors who get honorary last billing ;)

Patrick said...

Since you're watching The People vs OJ...

Im sure you noticed that Sarah Paulson said "motherfucker" at the end of last weeks episode. I was pretty surprised to hear that on FX. I believe it is the first time they have ever used the F word on their network. It happened with virtually no fan fair but it was certainly surprising. Given their penchant for nudity on their other shows - they've been saying "shit" for years - do you think this is just the last step in them evolving into HBO?

Charles H. Bryan said...

Thanks, Mike! I've been watching the post-2005 DOCTOR WHO series and I like how the writer's name appears in the opening credits with the episode's title. Fine acknowledgement.

Mike said...

Why is there a picture of two women holding tobacco & a bong? Is this what happens after the first draft?

cadavra said...

Patrick, I think occasional exceptions can be made when actual quotes are involved. This was first invoked in ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, where they successfully appealed the R rating on the grounds that the transcripts were historical and thus should not be censored, while the film itself was too important to keep out of the reach of children.

Graham UK said...

Friday Question - following the recent Dad's Army movie, are there any other sitcoms that could work in a movie format?

D. McEwan said...

Actually, Marcia uttered the MF-word. As it was the episode punchline, it was like a test: "We just wanted to make sure you were listening."

But, Cadav, how would they know it was an actual quote from her? In the scene she was alone. No one heard her but the viewers. It's not like it's a documented-on-tape historical Nixon racist obscenity that the White House tapes are stuffed full of.

Steve McLean said...

Ken, Attended the Sitcom Room a few years back and had a blast. Looking forward to see A or B when it comes here to PA and hope I get a chance to see you there. On an entirely separate note, here's a link to something that is the kind of random stuff you occasionally like to post. Great fun Bond mix.

Liggie said...

A baseball FQ. Which spring training locale do you prefer, Florida or Arizona? Either as a professional broadcaster, or a fan?

Jeff baldwin said...

This is a great question and has my vote to get answered next friday!