Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Questions

Friday Question Day, Veterans Day, and the second-to-the-last weekend for GOING GOING GONE at the Hudson Theatre. The show has been selling out every night. Come join the fun.

And now to your FQ’s:

Adam Chase gets us started.

I've been watching the new NBC show Timeless. The male lead is very attractive and I said to my wife, "they will come up with a reason to get him shirtless very soon." And in the second episode it happened. My question is how is the decision made to put actors in situations where they are shirtless or in a bra and panties? Is there pressure from the network, producers, writers who really want to see the female lead in a bra and panties?

I actually think there’s more pressure to dress provocatively on premium cable channels than broadcast networks. Shows like CALIFORNICATION and even GAME OF THRONES (at the beginning) almost had a mandate to flash a lot of skin.

Personally, I’ve never received a network request to have an actor take off a shirt or an actress dress more suggestively. But I work in comedy. My guess is it doesn’t happen very often (even on Fox).  In dramas however, investigations always seem to lead to strip bars.  Or maybe that's just a coincidence

Had I received such a network request I would have refused it. Sorry, but I’m not the guy to go down to the stage and tell an actress we need to see more of her boobs.

Ironically, the few times I’ve done shows where actors take off their shirts, it’s the actors themselves who suggested it.

Stephen Marks asks:

I'm to hung over to look this up but wasn't Joe Buck the name of the Jon Voight character in Midnight Cowboy, or am I wrong?

No, you are right. Joe Buck (the sportscaster) was born (and named) one month before MIDNIGHT COWBOY opened. Now if Anthony Rizzo’s parents had named him Ratzo….

From opimus:

MeTv is running promos with Jamie Farr.He said the episode" Movie Night" was adlibbed but, IMBD lists multiple writers. How much adlibbing went on?

None, with all due respect to Jamie, whom I love. Even on the famous episode, THE INTERVIEW there was no ad libbing. Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds “interviewed” the cast members and they ad libbed their answers. Then Larry went back, and shaped their responses, adding jokes, rephrasing, cutting, etc. and produced an actual script. When the episode was filmed, the cast performed the script to the letter.

Louis Burklow asks:

Ken, how did the partnership survive your time as a baseball announcer? I believe David and you were still a team during those years, right? If so, did you only write together during the offseason? If not, how did you work it when he was in L.A. and you were in Syracuse, Baltimore, Seattle, San Diego, etc.?

Most of the time, David and I would split up a script assignment. He would write one act in LA and I’d write the other on the road. Then we put them together, talked on the phone, and did a draft together. David would also come visit me at my various baseball homes and we generally would knock out a script.

But fortunately, the TV production season begins in late summer so I was able to be back for most of it.

When I was calling games for San Diego, things were really easy, which is why I took that job. Jerry Coleman, their Hall-of-Fame lead announcer was doing the CBS Radio game of the week and the Padres needed someone to work weekends. Larry Lucchino, the president of the Padres had been the president of the Orioles when I was calling their games. He remembered and liked me and out of the blue I got a call from San Diego.

So I would either drive down to San Diego for the weekend or hop a plane Friday night for wherever the Padres were on the road.

I did that for three years and would have done it forever, but CBS lost the radio rights to ESPN so Jerry was back full-time and my services were no longer needed.

Two of those years were the most productive and INSANE of my career. In addition to calling Padres games, my series, ALMOST PERFECT got picked up so I was showrunning, writing, and directing that. Plus, I had sold a spec screenplay and was doing rewrites during weekends in hotel rooms.

The most insane weekend was this: I was directing an episode of ALMOST PERFECT that week. Our production schedule was Wednesday-Tuesday. We shot in front of a studio audience on Tuesday night. So Friday I’m on the stage all day rehearsing with the actors, go back to the room and lead the rewrite until 9:00 when I have to race over to LAX. I take the redeye to Pittsburgh, all the while preparing for my weekend broadcasts. Catch a little sleep in Pittsburgh, work on the movie, go to the ballpark to announce the game on Saturday night.

Sunday morning I had the production office Fed Ex the latest version of the ALMOST PERFECT script to the hotel (today -- one click and it's there). I call the Sunday game, hop on the team charter, and head back to San Diego. During the flight I carefully work out my camera blocking for AP and rewrite another scene of my movie. Once we land, I race over to a commuter airline and take the first flight to Los Angeles. Monday morning I’m back on the stage with the camera crew assigning the shots.

Yes, I was crazy. 

HAPPY VETERANS’ DAY. We owe you all a great debt we can never repay.


Stoney said...

Did you ever see any episodes of the Comedy Central series "That's My Bush"? What did you think of it?

Peter said...

Talk about a shitty week. First the US elected a fucking moron as president, and then Leonard Cohen dies.

Damn you, 2016!!!

Metal Mickey said...

Re. "Adlibbed", I'd give Jamie Farr the benefit of the doubt and suggest he meant "improvised"... when (say) Ken Loach or Christopher Guest's films are described as "improvised", people seem to imagine the actors made up their lines on the spot, whereas they're the tightly-scripted results of extensive workshop sessions like the ones You describe for The Interview...

Anonymous said...

it's been proven that getting actors shirtless/half naked makes a show test well. it "spikes" with test audiences while they watch. cute animals do the same thing. that's why you see it in tons of pilots. the highest tested moment of any pilot this year was when they had a bear cub on "The Great Indoors". it's also done in other, earlier episodes because those tend to get tested as well...

Victor Velasco said...

Re: Jon Voight/Joe Buck, here's the link: When the broadcaster gets new a new set of plugs, first thing he does is to find the nearest mirror so he can say "There you are, you handsome devil"

Stephen Marks said...

Very clever Ken re: Rizzo. Damn, how did I miss that? You can't beat Levine, you just can't beat this guy.

Danny said...

Re: coming up with an excuse to get the male lead shirtless... Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on Gilligan's Island, said that one of the oddest experiences he had as an actor was during his audition for Gilligan, when the network people insisted he remove his shirt so they could see how he looked without it. Johnson said he never did figure that one out, given that the potential for steamy content on Gilligan was just about nil, and that the Professor was a character who would never notice a pretty girl if there was a test tube in the room.

ADmin said...

Friday Question: What do the Blue Jays need to do to get another championship? :)

Louisville said...

I always found it odd how often Charlie McDermott from The Middle is clad in nothing but boxers, since it is a primetime network family comedy and McDermott has been in his 20s and trying to pass as jailbait for most of the show.

Jeff :) said...

How come when I Google search your name, sometimes your blog is listed as the top result and sometimes video game developer Ken Levine is on top? Are you and video game Ken Levine locked in an eternal battle for Ken Levine Google search supremacy?

Andy Rose said...

I used to work for the Florida State football radio network, and their announcer Gene Deckerhoff also does play-by-play for the Buccaneers. It's been a few years, but my memory is that Gene would put together his scene setter piece for the game (which he researched by himself and was edited by his son) on Wednesdays, do his radio call-in show with Bobby Bowden on Thursdays, travel and do final prep on Fridays, call the Seminoles game on Saturdays, record the coach's TV show with Bowden the moment they got back to Tallahassee (which sometimes wasn't until 4:00 or 5:00 Sunday morning), then head out to the Bucs game, call that, do his prep and attend some Bucs meetings on Mondays, do the Bucs coach's call-in show on Tuesdays, and finally drive from Tampa back to his home in Tallahassee just in time to start all over again. When the Noles and Bucs were both on the road, he sometimes would not arrive for the NFL game until minutes before kickoff. And this time of year, he also does as many FSU basketball games as he can squeeze into that schedule.

I'm not sure if that's as busy as you were during Almost Perfect, but Gene's been adhering to this schedule for decades.

Ron Rettig said...

Happy Veterans Day to you Specialist Ken Levine.

DBA said...

Ken, I know you mentioned the show is selling out, but it looks like it might already be completely sold out? I went to the website last night (from the link in this post) and there were zero available dates in the dropdown.

Liggie said...

The website TV TROPES has a term for this, "fanservice". If your show has a physically attractive performer, put him or her in scanty clothing (or less) as a thank you to the fans. See: Steven Abell on the salmon ladder in "Arrow" or Stand Katic in "Castle", when Beckett wore a strapless gown or bathing suit for an undercover operation (no pun intended).

It does happen in comedy, like Christina Applegate in "Married... With Children", appropriate there because her character was a bimbo.

That leads to a FQ about filming sex scenes in movies. What's the protocol about how many crew members are on set, coverings for certain body parts, etc.?

Justin Russo said...

Ken, not a question, but this post from NY's governor was inspiring:

Andrew Cuomo
November 12 at 10:20am ·
The state of New York has a proud legacy as the progressive capital of the nation, and that is more important today than ever before.
As New Yorkers, we have fundamentally different philosophies than what Donald Trump laid out in his campaign.
So let me be absolutely clear: If anyone feels that they are under attack, I want them to know that the state of New York – the state that has the Statue of Liberty in its harbor – is their refuge.
Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people in the state of New York.
It's the very core of what we believe and who we are. But it's not just what we say, we passed laws that reflect it, and we will continue to do so, no matter what happens nationally. We won’t allow a federal government that attacks immigrants to do so in our state.
We are a state of immigrants.
We are the state that raised the minimum wage to $15.
We are the state that passed Paid Family Leave.
We are the state that passed marriage equality.
We are New York, and we will stand up for you. And on that, I will never compromise.
Count on it.

Unknown said...

This question is about what I think is the biggest cliché in Holywood. Why is it that in almost every movie the characters are professional people and even if they have menial jobs they want to be an artist or chef or something else? Why can't they have movies about people who have menial jobs, who are happy with what they do for a change?

Unknown said...

I see your election as being like when you have a friend that has a partner who is completely wrong for them and everybody can see it except for your friend but eventually they wake up and realise it. The rest of the world can see what a complete drop kick Donald Trump is, hopefully a lot more Americans will wake up to this fact now. Maybe this will teach more Americans that they should get off their arse's and vote now.