Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Questions

Friday Questions on the last night of previews. Hope you come see my play. It opens officially tomorrow night.

Mark gets us started with a question about GOING GOING GONE:

Can you tell us about the audition process? How did you find the actors and how did you select them? What were you looking for? I sort of have a limited sense of how it happens for tv and movies but not for theater.

We hired a terrific casting director, Michael Donovan. I met with him and discussed how I envisioned the characters. He then reached out to agents, managers, and I think listed the qualifications in breakdown services and selected a group of actors for each part he thought would be right.

We then had casting sessions at the theatre with me, the director, and producers. Michael did an amazing job. We cast the whole play in only two casting sessions.

One difference between casting theatre and television is that for TV the actor stands only a few feet from the people doing the casting. For theatre the casting people sit way back in one of the back rows. They want a better sense of how the actor will project. Projection isn’t important on film. Everyone is miked.

From -30-:

Why don't you direct your own play? It's not like you have no experience.

At some point I will, and I have directed one acts. But entire plays are a different animal and I find I’m learning a ton from Andy Barnicle.

In TV everything has to move quickly.  You block the show the first day and by mid-afternoon have to be ready for a runthrough.  Four days later you shoot the show.  For plays you generally have a month of rehearsals   So there are time management issues, dealing with all the tech demands – I’m sure I could do it, but would probably make mistakes that would hurt the play. Better to let someone who really knows what he’s doing direct it than myself.  Plus, it's nice to have an outside eye evaluating the material. 

My technical skill set is dealing with cameras. I’m sure if Andy had a multi-cam pilot that needed directing, he would ask me to step in.

Peter asks:

Is there any movie that you hated the first time you saw it but grew on you in subsequent viewings to the point it became a favorite? I hated Rosemary's Baby the first time I watched it. I thought it was slow and dull. But it's now one of my all time favorites?

THE CAINE MUTINY. Saw it as a kid and was bored out of my mind. Boring talk talk talk. Then I saw it again as an adult, and whoa! What a great picture and an absolutely riveting performance by Humphrey Bogart.  (He played this insane ship captain who has a meltdown on the witness stand. Very similar to Trump's debate performance.)

Same for THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY. It’s Paddy Chayefsky at his best, but I was too young to appreciate that when I first saw it as a kid.

And a third is THE TIME MACHINE. Meh at first; super cool thereafter.

More often however, movies that I originally loved don’t hold up upon later viewing. The Blake Edwards PINK PANTHER movies leap to mind.

What movies do you guys love that you originally didn’t care for?

Joe has a Vin Scully question on this, his final weekend of calling Dodger baseball.

Since you love sitcoms and Vin Scully, what did you think about Vin's sitcom narration career on the immortal "Occasional Wife"?

Since most people are not familiar with OCCASIONAL WIFE, it was a romantic comedy sitcom in the mid-‘60s. Michael Callan needed to have a wife to impress people in his office so worked out a financial deal with neighbor Patricia Harty to pose as his wife. Scully was the narrator.

I watched the show when it was on because of Vin Scully and remember enjoying it. Recently, I re-watched the pilot and was pleasantly surprised. It had sort of a faux Neil Simon feel to it. Here’s the pilot. See for yourself.

What is your Friday Question? Now it’s off to the theatre.


Daniel said...

Movies I didn't like at first but grew to love:

The World According to Garp
The Russia House
Broadcast News
The Fabulous Baker Boys
A Fish Called Wanda

I was a teenager in the mid and late 1980s so I was too young to appreciate a lot of the really great grown-up films that were produced in that era. I rediscovered a lot of them in my 30s and loved them.

slgc said...

I love All That Jazz, but I first saw it as a teenager and just couldn't appreciate it.

john not mccain said...

I have seen every David Lynch movie in a theater starting with Eraserhead and hated each one the first time I saw it. But the reason I keep going back is they all grow on me over time. I literally walked a mile throw six inches of snow to watch Lost Highway and wanted to kill myself for being so stupid to think "this time will be different." Watched it for the 10th or so time just last weekend.

ELS said...

When I was eight, I saw "West Side Story", and I thought it was boring and the music was dumb.

Age me some, and I watched it again - and I was rapt. Brilliant movie, fantastic characters. Young me was just a little too unsophisticated.

Heck, I loved it so much, I directed it in community theatre a couple of years back!

John Stevens said...

Hi Ken,
The same thing happened to me with The Caine Mutiny. When I was starting Gr. 8, I'd been reading about old movies and decided I should see all these great ones, but I wasn't ready for any of them when I first saw them. In addition to The Caine Mutiny, two I remember having a hard time sitting through are Citizen Kane and All About Eve. At least with All About Eve, I felt there was something I should watch again, but with Kane I had no idea what I was watching. And today I don't think there are better movies!
Thanks for the great blog,
John Stevens

Brian O. said...

Left Mars Attacks! on opening night feeling so disappointed my stomach was upset. Come to really appreciate it since. Trump could play Rod Steiger's role very well.

Unknown said...

Growing up in Chicago, I was unfamiliar with Vin Scully's baseball broadcasts.

However, one of our local channels used to run the old Pete Smith Specialties every afternoon, just before the 6 O'clock News.

To my kiddish ears, Vin Scully's Occasional Wife narration sounded quite a lot like Pete Smith.

I wonder if that was deliberate ...

Oh, BTW, the female lead on Occasional Wife was Patricia Harty, a major crush of mine at the time (and even unto the present day, comes to that).
I often wonder what became of her ...

As to The Caine Mutiny, when younger it threw me (and likely others my age) to see good ol' Fred MacMurray playing such a rat bastard as he did here (and never mind about Double Indemnity ...).
But that's why they call it acting, I guess.

Andrew said...

ELS, I had the opposite experience with West Side Story. Loved it as a kid, but now find it barely watchable. I still love the music, but the dialogue and the dancing make me laugh. "Sperm to worm"? "Bust cool, go crazy?" Gangs dancing at each other? Sorry, can't take it seriously.
There are great moments that do work - the rooftop "America" scene, for example. But most of it strikes me as pretentious and silly.

Andrew said...

On the subject of "didn't like as a kid, loved as an adult":
When I was a teenager, my father went on sabbatical and we all moved to London. We lived there for six months. During that time the series "Smiley's People" played on TV. (I realize the Friday question was about films, but this is close enough.) I watched it and just didn't get it at all. So long, convoluted and boring. Supposedly a spy story, but no action at all. Lots of close-ups of Alec Guinness's face. Too much dialogue.
Later as a young adult I began to read John le Carre, and fell in love with his books, including Smiley's People. Then, I accidentally discovered the DVD's of both Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's People at my local library. I devoured them. Finished them and re-watched them. Two of the best things that I have ever seen.
If anyone reading this has not seen either of these two miniseries, do yourself a favor. The recent movie version of Tinker Tailor was atrociously bad, but the series was spectacular. Great actors (Guinness, Ian Richardson, etc.), intricate plotting, compelling characters, mesmerizing dialogue.. I could go on and on. Same with Smiley's People. Definitely "adult" in the best sense of the world. Puts modern Hollywood blockbusters to shame.

DrBOP said...

Somewhat On-Topic Kid with a wonderful set of tributes from fellow broadcasters:

Peter said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken!

Another one I hated on first attempted viewing was Glengarry Glen Ross. I say attempted because I got bored after about 20 minutes watching it on TV and switched over. I'm glad I gave it another chance, because I loved it on a proper second viewing a few years later.

Gary said...

When I first saw "Tin Men" with Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, I was very underwhelmed. Then when it began to run endlessly on cable, I found myself enjoying it more and more. Now it's one of my all-time favorites.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Often when a movie is overhyped, and you see it, it's hard to appreciate it until distance is given.
Some that spring to mind for me.
ON THE WATERFRONT (Too young at first)

Mike Schryver said...

Growing up on the east coast, the only things I knew Vin Scully for were things like OCCASIONAL WIFE and the odd game show. When he started doing national games I became a huge fan. I'm a Mets fan and his call of Mookie Wilson's at bat in the tenth inning of game 6 of the 86 WS is burned into my memory.

Anonymous said...

The overhyping of movies tends to turn me off and I go in with my expectations too high...unreachable really. When Forest Gump released, I just didn't get it. It was ok, but not THAT great.

Watching it so many times on cable made me appreciate the subtleties and now I love it.

Pam, St. Louis

Anonymous said...

Movie I didn't like at first but grew to love: "The Rising of the Moon." It used to be shown on TV all the time, and at first I hated it--thought it was boring. Later I grew to appreciate its charm. It's a collection of 3 vignettes that take place in Ireland, and the last one gives the movie its title. Recently I found it on DVD, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

Another film often shown on TV back in the day was "All at Sea" with Alec Guinness. I hated it at first but grew to love it after several times seeing it. I was delighted to find it--finally--on DVD, and watched it again fairly recently. Still love it. I had begged Criterion to make a DVD of it since they have so many other Alec Guinness films, but I'll take what I can get. Very droll, very British, and I recommend it very highly.

Jan, Rockford

Thomas Mossman said...

For one thing, Patricia Harty fell in with Herbie, the Love Bug:

Dixon Steele said...

The first two PANTHER movies really were the best.

The three made during the 70s got worse as they went along. The last two are hard to sit through, not to mention the ones with Ted Wass and Roberto Benigni. Yikes...

Anonymous said...

Often, the movies we love as kids (11-20 or so) just won't hold up. They really aren't sophisticated enough. And visa-versa. Just a quick example - I loved all the Burt Reynolds movies that came out when I was a kid, S&B, Hooper, Stroker Ace, Cannoball, (not Whorehouse), but pretty much all those movies that came out when he was the King of the box office. Tried to watch Deliverance when movie rentals were getting big and hated it. Now Deliverance is pretty much the only one I would watch except for nostalgia.

Face it, we are different people as we age, like it or not. Fast Times and Porkys are good nostalgia, but I feel a little dirty for lusting after people that when they are on screen are younger than my kids. But not enough to turn Phoebe Cates off. Or not pause it, rewind it, and watch it in slo-mo.

Unknown said...

When I saw it as a 10 year old.....hated it. BORRRING!
When my wife made me re-watch it as a 60 year old.....LOVED it.
Love Sgt O'Rourke!

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Pam, yes...Forest Gump was one that I couldn't stand...but it's grown on me.

I saw it after it won the academy award and I thought "This is the BEST PICTURE"?? But then it grew on me.
The year it won it beat out some other terrific films too like 4 Weddings/Funeral, Pulp Fiction and Shawshank. (Quiz Show was other. Definitely an overhyped movie).

Hanks won of course for Gump. So did Zemekis.

without the hype, Gump is an enjoyable flick.

sanford said...

Regarding Patricia Hardy, the last name is Harty. Here is an article I found about her.

Aaron Sheckley said...

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but the first time I saw 'No Country for Old Men', my feeling at the end was "meh". And I was already a fan of the Coens, so it wasn't like their particular tone or style was a turn off. I left the theater with that feeling of "well, I guess that was OK". Something made me watch it a second time, and then a third, and now it ranks up there with one of my favorite films.

Kosmo13 said...

A few weeks ago I saw A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT for the 2nd time. It's a much better movie now than it was when I first saw it 25 years ago.

MikeK.Pa. said...

At times, it seemed Vin had as many lines as Michael Callan. I always liked Callan, a hometown boy, and thought he'd have a bigger career than he did. He generally played the lovable rascal (i.e. in CAT BALLOU). In real life Patricia Harty became his occasional wife, for all of two years when they married after the series went off the air.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Of all movies, CITIZEN KANE. However, I first saw it on late night tv - PBS, so no ads - and fell asleep. I think I tried it again on VHS, watching on a 25 inch screen. Blech.

But I gave it one more chance when it was rereleased theatrically for its anniversary. 40th maybe. Saw it on a big damn screen at Detroit's renovated Fox Theatre. THEN I got it. Not just the cinematography, but the story and thematic structure.

I also saw CASABLANCA there on one of its anniversaries and thought, "It's just fine on tv. Nothing added here." Still love it, though.

VincentS said...

Movies that impressed me with subsequent viewings: AMADEUS and GRAND ILLUSION,

VincentS said...


Johnny Walker said...

For me, a few leap to mind:

Unforgiven - Too young
This Is Spinal Tap - Just didn't get the subtlety
The Big Lebowski - Seemed like angry people yelling at each other on first viewing
Seinfeld - Was such an acquired taste, it's never had a huge following here, not sure why
The Larry Sanders Show - Too subtle for my young brain

How wrong I was! And how happy to be wrong.

Louis Burklow said...

On the movies that grew on me question, I also saw Citizen Kane before I could really get it. Network was too subtle for me to understand as a 14-year-old but not as an adult. I didn't see Dr. Strangelove until I was in college; it took four years and two more viewings before I came to appreciate it and to decide it's ok to laugh at a nuclear holocaust.

For me, the ultimate "grow to love it" example is a TV show: M*A*S*H. When it came on I was clueless 10-year-old who found no humor in it at all. I couldn't believe it wasn't cancelled after that first season. By the third season I watched it weekly; by the time Ken took it over the series was one of my favorites. Still is 40 years later. As I matured it got better and better to me.

Prairie Perspective said...

"The Caine Mutiny" is a tremendous movie, with Van Johnson giving one of his best performances. He allowed himself to be shown with the extensive facial scars he suffered in a car crash a decade earlier.
Van is the main man in this naval tale, and he is brave and honest, although not the sharpest harpoon in the fleet. This is a movie about real, flawed people.
Fred MacMurray, best-known now for Disney movies and "My Three Sons," was a real movie star for three decades and was, surprisingly, best as a heel, as he was in "Double Indemnity," "The Apartment" and in this flick. Damn he was good.
But he was also a complex character in "The Caine Mutiny," neither all good nor all bad. He was right at times, but cowardly and weak at other times.
Bogie also provided depth to his character. He was Nixonian and pathetic at times, jaunty and clever at others, as when he stops to say hello to his huddled officers before entering the court martial, but crazed and diminished at the end.
Great, great movie that holds up more than 60 years later.

Cap'n Bob said...

Thanks for the pilot, if only for the chance to see Chris Noel. She had a radio show that we heard in Nam and everyone loved her. In fact, her greeting at the start of each show was, Hi, Love."

Andy Ihnatko said...

Friday Question!

As the author of the play AND an experienced booth announcer, which is harder: watching an actor make a choice with your character that you didn't originally imagine and don't immediately agree with, or watching an actor choose to do things that look perfectly normal to anyone in the audience, but make you want to scream "WE NEVER BLOW ON OUR COFFEE CUPS THE COFFEEMAKERS ARE ALWAYS SO ANCIENT THAT THEY BARELY CAN MAKE ANYTHING WARM!!! SO FAKE!!!!"?

Anonymous said...

Chasing Amy comes to mind. Janice B.

Justin H. said...

Question: we've now seen a couple of sitcom reunions for political purposes (I.e. this Will & Grace bit What would it take for you to stage a stunt reunion from one of your shows?

Paul Shafer said...

Thanks for sharing "occasional wife" wonder why Vin wasnt listed in the credits at the end of the show. Interesting to see the names Paul Junger Witt and Don Kirshner in the credits.