Friday, December 09, 2016

Friday Questions

Take a break from Christmas shopping to check out this week's Friday Questions.

Boomska316 starts us off:

Has there ever been a show, successful or not, about what goes on in a writer's room? Or about the making of a sitcom? It seems like an idea that would've been tried or at least thought of before.

There was the short-lived JACKIE THOMAS SHOW in late 1992 that ended in early 1993. Tom Arnold starred as an obnoxious TV star and the show centered on his writing staff.

At the time, Arnold was married to Roseanne and a lot of the stories were supposedly taken from real life occurrences from her writing staff. But knowing how Roseanne really treated her staff, I imagine the stories were more fiction than non.

By the way, some great people were on that show including Michael Boatman, Maryedith Burrell, and now-director Paul Feig.

Update:  And I guess it doesn't go without saying, but THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. 

From cadavra:

Do you think the reason the broadcast networks are almost completely overlooked by the Emmys and other awards is because the talent is trying to get some sort of revenge for the nets' micromanaging shows to the point that any life and originality have been sandblasted away?

By talent I’m assuming you mean actors and writer/producers?

I wouldn’t say revenge is the motivating factor. Creative people just gravitate to where they are most appreciated. For years networks still had a stranglehold because they offered a much larger potential audience. But even that isn’t the case any longer.

Actors tend to prefer non-network situations because they’re not obligated to crank out as many episodes.  It's less of a commitment.  You might make 13 episodes over an eighteen month period for Netflix whereas you’d have to produce 22 episodes over a seven month stretch for a hit network show.

But the real reason movie stars are now doing television?  They're getting stupid money for doing these series. That’s a way bigger incentive than revenge.

Liggie asks:

Is the Los Angeles economy *that* dependent on the entertainment industry? I've heard LA described as a "company town", but I know a number of financial services giabts are based there, as well as some major manufacturing and aerospace firms. I can't imagine the area going belly-up if the studios picked up stakes and moved to another state.

Oh no? See what happens to the local economy anytime there’s an industry strike. When there’s a major work stoppage, like when SAG went out, it had a major ripple effect on stores, markets, tourism, restaurants; even coffee houses.

Of course entertainment is not the only industry in Southern California, but it’s a pivotal one.

And finally, from David P:

So, a baseball related Friday question: If you had a ballot, who would you vote for in the HoF this year?

Edgar Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez, Trevor Hoffman, and Vladimir Guerrero.

I’d never vote for Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, or Barry Bonds.

What’s your Friday Question?


David P said...

Thanks for the answer on the HoF! But why no love for the second greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, and one of the most successful base-stealers of all time (Rickey would need to come out of retirement and steal about 150 more without ever getting caught to match his success rate).

I'm talking of course about Tim Raines...

Michael said...

Friday question: although it is expected that the THE BIG BANG THEORY actors will eventually sign contract extensions and the show will be renewed, there is a chance one or more will decide not to return. Couple of questions: 1) How many of the lead three would have to leave, before the network would consider ending the show? 2) How much lead time does the writing staff need to adjust the last episodes of this season in order to have proper series finale or set groundwork for writing off certain characters?

VP81955 said...

After seeing Pudge in his few years in Washington (a fine handler of pitchers and a good guy in the clubhouse), I'd love to see him in the Hall. As for Edgar Martinez, he'll have the same problem Harold Baines has -- too much identification as a DH. In contrast, David Ortiz probably will get in because of the exposure he got with the New England Evil Empire (why did they have to get Chris Sale from the Chisox when the Nats were on the verge of trading for him?).

Mike Barer said...

Yes, I would agree. Edgar Martinez was the consummate professional and deserves induction into Baseball's Hall Of Fame.

Honest Ed said...

Wasn't a lot of Larry Sanders set in the writers room, dealing with the writers?

Craig said...

I don't follow baseball, so I don't know Manny Rodriguez. Do you mean Ramirez?

Philip said...

I've heard rumours that Pudge was juicing, but who knows. He is incredible.

Edgar Martinez was also so good and as a Canadian you know I love Vladdy

Canadian Train Geek said...

Darn you, Ken, I went to IMDB to look up the JACKIE THOMAS SHOW and went down a rabbit hole to visit the JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW (great first season) and discovered THE LIBRARIANS. More TV to watch! ;)

Wally said...

Here Lies 'This Is Us', Sep 2016 - Dec 2016. Network Noted to Death.

John in Toledo said...

Bud Selig looked the other way when McGwire and Sosa, who were obviously juicing, reinvigorated the game after a work stoppage by bashing HRs at record paces. Common sense would indicate that Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, and many others were users, too. Many, many others. I think a HOF without Clemens and Bonds (and Pudge and Piazza, and yes, Selig) ignores a huge part of baseball history. Just my opinion. Some will agree, most will probably not. There is no easy, just solution.

Pete Rose is a much different story. His actions could have affected the very integrity of the game...the idea that everyone is always doing their best to always win. Since the days of the Black Sox Scandal (1919)the dangers of associating with gambling is preached every year to every player at every level. Warnings are posted in every clubhouse. Pete, a huge jackass, chose to thumb his nose at the game which gave him fame and fortune. There was no tacit approval of his actions by the commissioners, as there was by Selig in regard to the juicers. Then, he lied about it for decades, all the while treating other people like shit. I have no sympathy for Pete Rose.

kent said...

Wasn't the Dick van Dyke show largely about the inside of a writers room?

AAllen said...


30 Rock? Almost Perfect? Okay, the last one was not about a sitcom, but the show itself was funny.

Mark Evanier said...

"Has there ever been a show, successful or not, about what goes on in a writer's room?"

Hey, Ken. Next time we have lunch, I'll tell you about this one about Rob Petrie, Sally Rogers and Buddy Sorrell...

Michael said...

Ken - I assume you mean Manny Ramirez, not Manny Rodriguez. Also I know it is not fair, but I think a lot of folks believe Ivan Rodriguez also used PEDs so won't be voting for him either.

johnachziger said...

How about Pete Rose? Would you let him in the HoF?

Donald said...

A nice moment in the pilot episode is when new head writer Dennis Boutsikaris places a picture of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) on his desk.

Lark Hawk said...

As a Mariners fan, I love Edgar Martinez, and Pudge always seemed like a class act to me. But both of them most likely used PED's during baseball's "steroid era." Why would they get yes votes from you, while the other guys get no's? Is it because they were never definitely caught? Or is your hall of fame criteria that you should not have used steroids, but if you did, at least you weren't a total dick? Actually, that sounds like pretty good reasoning.

Unknown said...

With Bud Selig going into the Hall of Fame this year, many writers are changing their minds on Bonds and Clemens. Their logic: If Selig is elected nearly unanimously while turning a blind eye to PEDs, how can we keep out the ones that never were suspended? Does that change your thinking on those two?

Phil said...

With the sad passing of John Glenn, I wondered how on earth FRASIER managed to get the astronaut senator to not only perform, but perform that terrific, crazy UFO monologue.

I can imagine what Buzz Aldrin's response might have been if he'd been asked to do it.

Steve Bailey said...

Nice to see you acknowledge the little-mentioned JACKIE THOMAS SHOW. I seem to be one of the few people in America who thoroughly enjoyed that show. People seemed to hate the lead character/actor's obnoxiousness, but that was what the show was all ABOUT.

cd1515 said...

I'm with Ken, no on Bonds/Clemens.
and no I don't buy the "they were hall of famers before they started using" argument.

a) no one knows exactly when they started
b) if you're playing golf with a guy and he starts cheating on the 13th hole, he's a cheater, right?
or would you say "well he didn't cheat for the first 12 holes so he's OK"?

Brian Phillips said...

Steve Bailey: You can count my wife and I as two more fans of the show. According to the book "My Lives" by Roseanne, another fan of the show was...Roseanne! Before she started badmouthing Tom Arnold, she spoke quite highly of JTS.

Wayne said...

Speaking of writer's rooms, did Larry Gelbart ever share stories or quips about his years with Bob Hope?

Victor Velasco said...

Re: "The Jackie Thomas Show"; isn't that show infamous for initiating what has been called either the 'hot switch' or 'cold open' i.e., a show beginning immediately following the closing credits of the preceding show? Seem to remember thinking this was done so people wouldn't turn away upon hearing something to effect of "...Coming up next, Tom Arnold in..."

Unknown said...

Friday Comment: a deputy friend of mine posted this on his wall a few days ago.

"Ok hang on!! At about 0430. Bro n law calls saying there is someone in his garage. I roll out of bed, get dressed and go! I encountered a female inside his garage. Ok here we go!!! She was sitting on a stool in the corner, drinking his Beer, smoking one of his cigarettes, eating an apple, wearing some of his wife's old clothes(bagged up for goodwill), and last but not least watching Cheers on his laptop. Truth!"

I can't say for sure which episode she was watching, but picking Cheers may have been her only good choice of the night!

Pat Reeder said...

This isn't exactly a show about the writers of a sitcom, but it's close: in 1984, MTM created a show called "The Duck Factory," starring a young Jim Carrey as a budding cartoonist who went to work for an animation studio that produced a popular series called "The Dippy Duck Show." It had some great people involved, including Jack Gilford, Don Messick and Jay Tarses in an acting role. But it only lasted 13 episodes.

MikeN said...

Tim Raines and Curt Schilling should be in.
Raines reached base more times than Tony Gwynn, and was a great base stealer whose bad luck was playing at the same time as Rickey Henderson.

Shane said...

Ken, when you answered the first question (about sitcoms built around a writers' room), I just figured that THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was presumed, and that you were trying to come up with a sitcom or sitcoms other than that one. I didn't think you forgot it.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Great Hall of Fame picks.

Off the top I would add:

Pete Rose (I know, I know..... these are MY picks)
Clemens, Bonds-the-Younger (both HoF-worthy BEFORE the juice - and never mind innuendo/speculation about when THAT started)
McGwire ("andro" was "legal" as was the stuff Can-choko outed him on)

In four years - A-Rod
In five years - Big Papi

Jahn Ghalt said...

movie stars (now getting stupid money to do television)

This arouses a Friday Question.

How much do certain non-A-List actors get to act in film and TV? Speculation is fine

In particular, Elizabeth Moss. How much was she likely paid for:

Season 7 of Mad Men
Heavy Lifting (lead actor) in Top of The Lake (which she killed, BTW - and I hear she will do Part 2)
The supporting role in Get Him to the Greek

Saburo said...

FWIW Tim Raines is also worthy of the HOF, his last year on the BBWAA ballot...

Wally said...

@Jahn Galt
It's all over the place

Dorfmann said...

Had a suggestion, for no particular reason, just because you like to occasionally shake things up. How about a Friday (or pick a day) Questions session where you answer, like, the first 50 (or pick a number) questions that people ask where their question and your answer total no more than 15 (or pick a number) words.

Kit said...

Wasn't a lot of Larry Sanders set in the writers room, dealing with the writers?

30 ROCK spends a lot more time in the writers' room than SANDERS does, and has a lot more writers. I don't think SANDERS often splashed out on more than three actors to play the entire writers' room, and frequently appeared to be entirely written by Phil.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Bagwell for HOF. No Bonds.

Mike Moody said...

Ken, have you seen "Speechless?" I'd love your take on it since it's one of the very few network comedies -- perhaps since "The Middle" and "Modern Family" premiered -- that can make me laugh.

Fusillijohnny said...


I think Boatman actually had a picture of DvD on his desk that he gave a ritual look to on every episode. In terms of genre-within-a-genre you have to include the episodes in Seinfeld where Jerry and George create and, in that telling, fail to get an order for a "show about nothing."

Saw Going Going Gone and enjoyed it immensely.

Anonymous said...

Were you working on Cheers when Ted Danson was in Three Men and a Baby? Just wondering what his reaction was to the whole ghost child standing in the window conspiracy theory. I know it was allegedly a cardboard cutout of Danson, but it's way more exciting to think that movie did what countless seasons of Ghost Hunters shows never could.

Skeptic said...

Thanks to Wally for links to articles on A-Listers. I tried a search of my own.

I found a blog post that looks like a reprint of an article by Stephen Battaglio and Michael Schneider, TV GUIDE MAGAZINE:

Here are some selected actors and figures:

COMEDY - per episode

Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory $325,000 each

Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith - The Simpsons $300,000 each

Ed O'Neill, Modern Family $200,000 + points

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation $200,000

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara - Modern Family $175,000 each

DRAMA - per episode

Jon Hamm, Mad Men $275,000
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men $100,000

(I'd guess these deals bracket Elizabeth Moss's deal)

Claire Danes, Damian Lewis - Homeland $250,000 each

Keri Russell, The Americans $100,000
Matthew Rhys, The Americans $75,000

Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black $35,000

Unknown said...

Re shows about TV writers, there's also "Hiller and Diller" with Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon (1997-98).