Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Questions

Heating up the summer with Friday Questions:

Arthur Mee starts us off:

So you write a blog post. Two days later, a paid newspaper columnist takes EXACTLY the same idea, rewrites it somewhat (but not that much), and puts it up as her own column.

Is this something that vexes you? Or do you shrug it off and say "that's life"? And did/does anything similar happen in the world of TV?

Considering my article was posted July 11th and hers was July 15th it seems pretty clear she “borrowed” my idea.

It would have been nice had the author acknowledged she got the idea for her article from my blog, gave me credit, and linked to my post – that’s what I try to do when I base a post on something I’ve read, but generally I shrug it off. Had she used chunks of my post and called it her own that would be a different story.  But this happens from time to time. 

Pat from Salem asks:

What are your thoughts about actors receiving royalties for having their character mentioned in an episode even if they don't actually appear? For instance, if Frasier refers to Lilith doing something in an episode, and even though Bebe Nuewirth doesn't appear in that episode, I still get to enjoy her "performance" because I can't really imagine any other actor in that role. Its almost like she did perform in that episode.

Huh? Actors don’t get royalties if their characters are just mentioned.

From Peter:

I sometimes wonder what sort of TV/home entertainment set-up people who work in the industry have at home. For example, I would assume Spielberg and Cameron have the most expensive and state of the art equipment for watching TV and movies.

What do you have? An HD TV or have you already upgraded to a 4K TV? A DVD player or a Blu-Ray player or 4K Blu-Ray player?

Without giving an inventory to would-be burglars, let’s just say I have a television, it’s in color, and I can watch recorded things. I’m usually one K or D behind.

Guys like Steven Spielberg have their own screening rooms. His comes complete with a candy counter. I always thought that was the height of extravagance until I learned that Barbra Streisand has her own shopping mall in her house.

Dave wonders:

After watching early vs later seasons of MASH, I seem to notice much more inventive ways to film opening establishing shots of the episodes in the early years vs late years. For example, there were many long shots through tent windows or doors, versus a quick set up 3 shot in the mess there a budget or time consideration that goes into that sort of thing? Or something else?

It had to do more with what directors were hired. Also, in the early years there was more attention paid to orienting the audience to the world they were seeing. After a few years the audience knew the MASH compound as well or better than we did. And the time taken to do those pretty establishing shots is time taken away from the script.

Alan Alda is very visual and the episodes he directed all had lovely establishing shots. But his first-edits were always long and those beauty shots were the first to go.

Of all the directors MASH used, Gene Reynolds is most responsible for the look and tone of the show.

And finally, from Bob Zirunkel:

Ken, a Friday question with a preamble:

The best advice I received but did not heed was from a seventh-grade guidance counselor who told our class that now was the time to start developing disciplined study habits, skills that would serve us well in school and beyond.

How did you develop the discipline needed to succeed in so many areas - writing/directing/producing/sports announcing/DJ'ing/parenting?

If it’s something important to me I have no problem focusing. But in school if there was a subject I hated I had a bitch of time forcing myself to do the homework.

I guess I’m also a little anal. I don’t like the pressure of having to complete something at the last moment. So it’s worth it to me to manage my time and get a jump on whatever task I’m facing. Especially in television where you’re behind even before you begin.

What’s your Friday Question? Thanks in advance. Now get outdoors and enjoy the summer.


Mark said...

I wonder about your blog.

How many posts do you you have in waiting? Do you use them to take a week of now and again? I assume they build up when a current event pops up and then you can bump a waiting post to the end of the line? Or do you really try to write the posts a day or two out.

I ask becuase I'm amazed you are able to keep this up and never miss a day. Ever. And still they all are interesting and fun to read. Maybe you're not human?

Brian Phillips said...

Outdoors! You got it.

AAAAGH! 95 degrees! I'm...melting!


Bill O said...

No offense, but The Hollywood Reporter ran a long interview with Moranis months before, and reprinted it on the eve of the new Ghostbusters' release. A much more visible platform, and it doesn't take much to extend that theme to other actors.

Jason said...

The "Lilith" question I believe is trying to get support FOR the idea that Bebe should get a royalty for that. Which, I'm pretty sure most people would agree, makes no sense. Actors get paid for acting, not for people hearing things that remind them of that actor.

By the way, you owe Bebe a check for mentioning her in your question.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

used to have such a crush on Bridget Fonda (especially after Singles). so twice in one week with her photo is great.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Bob Z:

I mentioned this many months ago but it is worth repeating. When Ken kindly hosted me and two teenagers for a brief visit to the Becker set and rehearsal a few years ago, it was part of a day-long field trip to introduce the kids to careers in Hollywood. I had arranged some short visits to radio, TV and other media where I knew friends in the business. Ken's was the last stop of the day and we had a fine time.

During the course of each visit, I asked each host a question or two about their academic records in high school, so the kids could get a picture of what it takes to succeed. Grade point averages and the like.

After hearing about the "B's and C's" from the other hosts all day long, the kids paid attention when the last host responded with "A's"


Chris said...

Friday question: Any thoughts on Ted Danson in Fargo? Is it just me or does his laid back "cautious" type of vibe is amazing for a drama, maybe even better than it works for comedy?

Jean said...

"it's in color," made me laugh very loudly....

Johnny Walker said...

Re: M*A*S*H. It's also worth remembering that the early M*A*S*H had the Robert Altman movie as a rough template. It kept many things from the film to begin with ("My Blue Heaven" being played a lot, for example) and I guess that would have included a bit more of Altman's anarchic cinema verite style from the film... but as the show found its own feet, I think it realised it didn't need that stuff, and focussed on what was important for the show instead.

Just my 2c, which may well be wrong!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Bill O: In my experience in publishing generally, it's extremely common for numerous different people to get the same idea around the same time. For one thing, because lots of media folks read the same sources, which spark the same reactions. Sometimes, because they read and cue each other. Unless whole sentences or paragraphs are copied, or the later article hits every point of the earlier one in the same order, it's just not safe to assume there's any copying involved.


Earl Boebert said...

re: Wendy M. Grossman's comment:

Patent lawyers refer to this as a specific idea being "in the air" at a particular time. Different people seeing the same news, etc. and having similar "aha" moments.

Loosehead said...

Ken, regarding Rick Moranis and the article about MIA actors, what prompted you to write that particular post? Maybe the lady from Toronto and you were triggered by the same thing, perhaps an interview with Mr Moranis, or saw some Ghostbusters hype and riffed on the same subject. Isn't that called zeitgeist?

I also don't see how you could write an entertaining blog every day. Every day. Amazing, and great stuff.

John Jackson Miller said...

Friday question: Ken, do you see in series writing a reluctance to establish facts about characters' histories that might close off future stories? Obviously the lines about Frasier being an only child whose parents were dead on CHEERS had to be dealt with later on (and were, deftly!) -- but I think there was also something about Martin Crane not having a brother, which later on got undone. Do people look that far ahead, or is it more about what serves the story at hand?

(This was something I ran into writing for the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where my first editor's advice was "When you define, you confine." Today's one-off casual reference can become tomorrow's continuity conflict.)

Anonymous said...

Marni Nixon died.
Some negative Natalie Wood vibe from her.

cd1515 said...

Ken, your thoughts on Roger Ailes and the mess at Fox News?
I don't expect you to name names but are there a lot of guys like him in scripted TV, preying on women?
what happens to young actresses who don't go along with it?
any nameless stories you can share?

Lorimartian said...

I recently attended a local stage production of the musical "Avenue Q". It was very entertaining, however, I wondered about the need for puppets except in the hilarious scene where they simulated a myriad of sexual acts with the puppets that they could not have done with actors. Also, I found myself, for the most part, watching the actors, not the puppets, except in that scene. So unless I'm missing something profound about the use of puppets throughout (quite possible), I wondered if they originally wrote for actors until they had the idea for that scene and decided to include puppets from the beginning to make that scene work. Did you see it? If so, I'd be interested in your opinion.

Liggie said...

Question: What is the purpose of upfronts, other than providing a red carpet opportunity for the actors?

Peter said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken!

I'd love to have my own screening room to watch the latest releases. Every time I go to the cinema, there's either people talking or checking their phones or both. Going to an afternoon screening is just about the only time you'll get peace.

Dixon Steele said...


AVENUE Q is a send-up of SESAME STREET. Thus the puppets...

MikeK.Pa. said...

" I always thought that was the height of extravagance until I learned that Barbra Streisand has her own shopping mall in her house."

It reminds me of a comment Bob Newhart supposedly made to Johnny Carson after taking a tour of his house: "Where's the gift shop?"

Brian said...

Some good questions today. Thanks to those who proposed the questions and to Ken for writing the responses.

DukeBerryman said...

After all the hub-bub, I wanted to pubilicly share this: