Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Questions

Love and Friday Questions are in the air.

Michael kicks it off.

Do you think the cast of FRASIER would have any interest in a limited-series revival like WILL AND GRACE and GILMORE GIRLS are doing?

Never say never, but no. The sense I get from Kelsey is that playing Frasier Crane for 22 years is enough. I know the cast is very proud of the show and my feeling is that going out on top was the perfect way to tie a ribbon on it.

And that’s only part of the equation. Series creators David Lee and Peter Casey would have to be on board because if the writing isn’t there than there’s absolutely no point in even considering it. And I can’t speak for them of course, but I don’t sense a burning desire from either of them to return to the past.

Now a WINGS reboot – I would be up for that! If for no other reason than to get David Schramm back on television.

Ryan from Canada weighs in from the great North:

I was recently told a funny joke that had a great payoff. Being a filmmaker I thought immediately after hearing it that it would make one helluva short film. Would the film, should I go through with writing/producing, be considered 'adapted' and if so, how do I provide information about the source material my film is based on (the joke)?

Unless the joke comes from some protected source, no I think you’re safe. If it was a joke your friend told then no, you don’t have to say: “Based on a joke told by Morris Pimscotch.” And who knows? Maybe Morris stole the joke from someone else.

Adapted material usually comes from books, articles, plays, documentaries, published poems, songs, etc. And there are cases where it’s a judgment call. But that’s what lawyers are for.

Good luck with your movie.

From Juli in St. Paul (not Minneapolis):

This morning, a couple local DJs were talking about not having seen a lot of the nominated movies. They thought it would be great if some of the independent theaters would host an "Oscar Weekend," where they could screen all the nominated movies. The DJs thought it would be a great way for the producers to build relationships with the independent theaters, for the theaters to get some more customers , for the films to get more viewers, for the Oscars to get more buzz, for people to get to see these movies on the big screen, - in short, win/win/win/win/win.

I can't believe that no one else ever thought of this, so there's a reason it isn't happening. Do you know what that reason is?

There are still live DJ’s?

But seriously, the problem is movie studios make deals with distributors who have arrangements with different theater groups. So it would be extremely hard to coordinate one theater chain showing all the nominees. Not to mention how this would piss off the other movie chains. Remember, they’re in competition with each other.

And if this were to happen, it would most likely be at a major chain like AMC. This would really piss off the independent theaters. They show a movie, it gets attention, and then it leaves for the big competing Cineplex. That often happens as it is. But to lose all of them would be a blow. It’s the Broadway Danny Rose version of film distribution.

By the way, I will be recapping the Oscar ceremony but only on my podcast this year. Subscribe and join the fun.

And finally, from littlejohn:

What do you think of the shows, which take a long "seasonal" break, especially those with multiple plot lines ? Is this a mistake ? (OK two questions...)

I think they do so at great risk.

I understand the thinking. Instead of drawing out a season and inserting reruns and going three weeks between new episodes they run the first half consecutively, take a break, and air the rest of the season.  As a result there is more continuity, especially for serialized series.  It’s a model premium and cable networks have employed for years.

But the problem is that unless you’re really hooked on a show, you often find you can easily live without it, and when it returns you don’t get back on the train.

There have been numerous cases of shows that start out strong, go on extended hiatuses and never regain their momentum.

So if it’s a popular show like BETTER CALL SAUL, its return in April is a greatly anticipated event. The first episode back should do well. (I know I’ll be there – watching in real time even.) But there are very few of these hits and so much product that series hiatuses generally don’t leave a void.

Plus, you can always catch up by binging. So there’s very little imperative to rejoin a series reappearing after a three-month (or year-and-half) vacation.

What’s your Friday Question?


Andrew said...

I agree about Better Call Saul. That's the only show I can think of that I'm looking forward to after a hiatus.

Justin Russo said...

Re: Oscar films, in NYC there are some small theaters (like Film Forum) and usually the Lincoln Center AMC that do host an Oscar marathon.

AMC also is joining with TCM and Fathom to screen classics twice a month across the country. Not the same request but a damn good investment! I saw "Siningin' in the Rain" last month and it was packed. This weekend is "An Affair to Remember."

Richard said...

While I agree that it would be great to see more of David Schramm, can we get more Farrah Forke as well?

Boomska316 said...

Friday question springing off of littlejohn's question:Have mid-season breaks always been a thing and I just never noticed it until I got older? Because I don't remember that being a thing before 2001 or so.

Mark said...

Friday question:

A few years ago, over the course of a couple of months, I listened to a few interviews from folks in the movie business. They all had different answers to the same question: Who is the most important person involved in making a film. One said the director, one say the writer and one (which surprised me the most) said the editor. I wondered what your answer to that would be.

Taking out the show runner from the question, and what would you answer for a television show?

Love the podcast!

Mike said...

I've genuinely enjoyed watching Designated Survivor. It's not the best show on TV, but it's fun, exciting and it goes without saying I'd much rather have Kiefer Sutherland's character as president than the one we've got now. But it had its "winter finale" back in December, and won't return to the air until March. For a show in its first season, that is a very long break.

Not to make this comment too Kiefer-centric, but I thought 24 took an interesting approach to this. With a show like that, reruns or winter breaks would totally kill momentum so, starting with I think season three, every season of the show started in January. It was a full, 22-episode season; it would just start in January every year so as to have no reruns.

Stop all the Complaining said...

Actually, some Regal Theaters are having an Oscar nominated week where you can buy a pass and then see any/all of the movies anytime during that week.

Ted said...

Friday question: Loved your podcast montage of radio jingles. Most of them seem to use a variation on the same four-note tune - and so does the theme song for your own podcast! Is there a story behind that? Is there research proving that ratings are higher when you sing those four notes?

Brother Herbert said...

Also on Sundays and Wednesdays through January and February at participating theatres there's something called Flashback Cinema, where past Oscar winners/nominees are shown on the big screen. This coming week is IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and the week after is THE GODFATHER.

Breaks during a season can indeed have a detrimental effect. There was a three-part WINGS episode in its later years where Parts 1 and 2 ran on consecutive weeks but Part 3 didn't air until a month or so later, due to pre-emptions or whatever. I thought maybe the show had gone on hiatus or I had missed it somehow. At any rate the momentum was completely gone for me when Part 3 finally aired.

Did David Schramm do any other TV work besides WINGS? From my perspective he came out of nowhere, was on a popular show for 8 years and then fell off the face of the earth. Did he ever do any interviews or turn up on talk shows during that time? And I second the notion for more Farrah Forke, who equally disappeared after being on MR. RHODES and in a few Hanes commercials. And Crystal Bernard tried her hand at country music after the show ended but she too seemingly vanished.

Dan Sachs said...

As mentioned earlier, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, and AMC all have Best Picture festivals.

Jeff said...

AMC does do a two-day Oscar marathon. I don't know how long they've been doing it, but I know they at least did it last year.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Sorry if this is a dup - the page "hiccupped":

Regarding "seasonal breaks", I suspect your comment on a year-and-a-half break calls to Matt Weiner's battle with AMC and Mad Man's 19-month hiatus between Seasons 4 and 5.

Weiner was tireless with his DVD-package commentaries as well as other long-form interviews and "forums" with cast and staff. So we die-hard fans got to hear a lot about his "process". A couple items got heavy-rotation:

1) He always tried to "wrap up" the story by the season finale - which is to say, most plotlines got resolved. This tended to be true, even after Seasons 5-7 were "in the bag".

2) That's "most plotlines". He also stated that, like life, "plotlines" need not get resolved.

I too, will pick up "Saul". For those still on the fence I'll bet AMC will roll out all the old episodes in sequence in the lead-up to the season premiere.

FWIW, I will likely try any future project by Weiner and Gilligan. Weiner is at his leisure - writing a novel, which must be a snap compared to the six months of 16-hour days he worked on Mad Men.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Who is the most important person involved in making a film

It is likely that my film-experience is sorely limited, but it seems to me that nothing can save bad writing. How many times have we seen great production, expert editing, (apparently) competent direction, but the writing just clanked?

Andy Rose said...

I think Breaking Bad was the first show to take such a liberal notion of a "mid-season break," when part 2 of the fifth season debuted 11 months after the end of part 1. My understanding is that these parts are effectively two separate seasons (written at different times, filmed at different times), but treating them as a single season greased the wheels a bit in contract negotiations. AMC is known for keeping a tight reign on costs, and it took a while for the network and Vince Gilligan to make an agreement for a fifth season. The fourth season finale, where (SPOILER ALERT) Walter kills Gus was written so that it could serve as a reasonable series finale if necessary.

estiv said...

Watching Oscar-nominated films: I don't know if they still do it, but for several years the Alamo Drafthouse would have all nominated short films, separated by category, showing as packages for one week. So if you wanted to see all the nominated short documentaries, you could spend a couple of hours watching them for one ticket price. And since the short films are the hardest to find in a theater in the first place, it was a real treat.

estiv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanford said...

Marcus theatres in wisconsin run the nominated films over 2 days. Dont know about this year though

Mike said...

I partly recall a TV programme that was "based on a liquid lunch with..." and I've definately seen several films that were "based on a shopping list written by" someone famous.

If you're concerned that you may have missed some of the Trump jokes on late night TV, The Guardian is helpfully running a daily late-night round-up.
Britain - standing by America in this time of need.

Andy Ihnatko said...

My Friday Question: what happens behind the scenes when an actor from an old sitcom does an advertisement "in character"? Kirstie Alley's Jenny Craig ad last year aped a scene from "Cheers" so closely that I have to assume that the ad agency got permission, but I also remember Jamie Farr in Army greens, doing a print ad for a kind of Post-It note called "Clingers," if you can believe it. And does it cheese off the original creators/writers when they see "their" characters cracking jokes that would never have made it into one of their scripts?

Big3Fan William said...

Lets get the Wings revival going. Start the petition where do I sign. Wings is one of my Big 3 Cheers, Frasier, Wings. I read in article once that Tim Daly didn't realize how much people enjoyed the show until long after it was over. It would be great to see them all reprise those roles.

DBenson said...

Speaking of long breaks, caught the fourth and possibly final season of Sherlock. Not without problems -- reasonable people can certainly argue about the final episode -- but it did fulfill the creators' mission to end by showing Sherlock and John becoming THE Holmes and Watson, modern dress notwithstanding.

Anyway, its arrival felt like less of an event that the previous two seasons. Was Sherlockmania a fad that naturally cooled off, or did the long break -- partly the result of its two stars being in much greater demand -- hasten the fade?

MikeN said...

Breaking Bad is listed on Comcast OnDemand right now as having 6 seasons. Wonder if the stars and writers are getting paid accordingly, or is the number of episodes all that matters?

MikeN said...

One thing about Designated Survivor. It is in violation of federal law, the same law that made Kiefer Sutherland President. Under the law, once a Speaker of the House is selected, this person becomes President. This has been argued as unconstitutional, since the House or Senate cannot have the power to remove the acting President by just voting for someone else. The overall law is also argued unconstitutional because the Speaker of the House and Pres Pro Tem of the Senate are not executive officers and cannot be in line for the presidency.

:) said...

For Juli - AMC actually does a two day "Oscar Showcase" of all the films nominated for best picture

And Riverview Theater in Minneapolis (yes, you have to cross the river) has days where it will show the nominated shorts and nominated documentaries.

DBenson said...

There was an IBM ad that reunited most of the cast of "MASH" in a modern corporate office setting; they were all being happy and funny about their PCs and not referencing the series.

A burger chain did a very precise "Mr. Rogers" parody which spurred Fred Rogers to legal action. He drew a line between Eddie Murphy's obviously satiric "Mr. Robinson" and the commercial, which he felt could easily be construed as Rogers himself endorsing the burgers.

Robert Young raised some hackles when he did drug ads during the run of "Marcus Welby, MD". He didn't explicitly reference the show or claim to be a medical professional, but both associations were so strong they eventually had to add the much-parodied "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" line.

ScarletNumber said...

Considering that Kelsey played Frasier for 20 years, that means that he still as 2 years left in him ;)

@Brother Herbert

Schramm has literally never been on television since the end of Wings. Maybe he was typecast.

Andy Rose said...

Lots of interest around here in David Schramm! He seems pretty happy doing stage work, but that could be a great podcast interview if you can get a hold of him.

Speaking of the podcast and your discussion of jingles... I don't know what your budget is for this project, but you can buy individual jingles from Jam Creative at a discount as long as you don't use them on commercial radio. It includes cuts from the old PAMS library.

PAMS Personal Cuts

Stockbridge80 said...

My family and I are huge Frasier fans, but I completely agree the writing has to be of equal quality to what they had with the original run. It would be horribly unfair to the amazing cast and a huge let down for the fans who will tell you in a heartbeat that show is the gold standard of a comedy sitcom. With that being said, it would make my decade if they just did something like what they did for Gilmore Girls, because I think it satisfied the nolstalgic fans who adored the show. I think people in my age bracket, just want comedy to return to television in the way we all remember, which was having shows where you could relate to the characters and sort of have an invested interest in how those characters will end up. I really hate to be so specific by naming a show that should be an example of how lazy and slapstick comedy has become, but I will..."Cougar Town". It makes my skin crawl to just hear it while I'm scrambling to change the channel. It is one snyde line after another and so ridiculously unrealistic that people who supposedly care about each other would be that underhanded to each other that you just can't help but be disgusted. Anyway, back to Frasier, yes, there would be a massive fanbase who would l-o-v-e to see that, but it needs to have at least some of the original writers involved somehow. I've tried starting the twitter campaign my other fellow Frasier fans help me out!

Joey Bear said...

No joke, a Wings revisit would be awesome, especially if Valerie Mahaffey was involved.

pumpkinhead said...

I've kind of come to feel like it would make more sense for the tv season to just follow the calendar year, at this point. Start after new years and run straight through until all the new eps were exhausted.

Scott said...

A smaller number of AMC Theater venues do a 24-hour Best Picture Showcase marathon, but most of the BPS venues do a two-day showcase (the last two Saturdays before the Oscars). We have a family tradition of trying to see the two-day Showcase most years.

VP81955 said...

Speaking of "M*A*S*H," Loretta Swit is slated to appear at the Santa Monica Public Library at 6 p.m. Monday. In addition to her acting work, she's a renowned watercolor artist and animal rights activist. Any good, relatively unknown anecdotes about her we can use Monday, Ken?

Johnny Walker said...

The mid-season break thing seemed popular for a while. Aside from Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galáctica was the first I noticed, and even The Venture Bros did it one season. I'm sure I remember hearing it was purely a financial decision -- two smaller seasons for the price of one bigger one, kind of a thing. Would love to know the pros and cons, because it sounds quasi-legal: "We're paying you for one season, but that season will take two years to complete."

MikeKPa. said...

"Now a WINGS reboot – I would be up for that! If for no other reason than to get David Schramm back on television."
I second that emotion. One of my all-time favorite sitcoms. Nobody played smarmy better than Schramm.

Unknown said...

Getting old - getting older, I should say - is no fun at all.

I'm a Fifties Kid, born in 1950.
What I remember is:
- 30 or more new episodes a season.
- Each episode was independent of all the others (what would nowadays be called standalones). It didn't matter in what order the episodes ran.
- Around Christmastime, there might be a rerun, possibly from a previous season (if the show had been on more than a few seasons).
(Nobody knew about "Nielsen dark weeks" back then, for which we have the incompetent newspaper "TV critics" of that era to thank.)
- Even the lowest-rated shows got at least 13 weeks to try and catch up with the pack.
Quick yanks and pinball scheduling started taking hold circa 1970, give or take a year or two.
- One of the givens was that if you missed an episode along the line, your only chance to "catch up" was during summer reruns - and if your show was dropped after 13 weeks, that meant no chance at all.

If you had told the Fifties Kid that was me that I'd live to see VCRs, DVDs, DVRs, retro cable channels, binge/marathons, and all the other stuff that many of you younger posters take for granted -
- sorry about all the "old man talk"; once you get past 60, it happens - and I guarantee that it will happen to you.

Edward said...


Is your IMDb profile and/or production credits accurate? Do you care? Do you check? Have you made corrections ?

I'll hang up and listen.

Edward said...


I am fairly new to this blog and love the podcast.

I understand you were a radio DJ then somehow became the head writer on MASH....

How did the transition from radio to television writer happen? How long did it take to go from presumably an entry-level writing position to head writer at MASH?

...Asking for me

Gary Bainbridge said...

Ken, this Vulture article about the writers' room on Girls talks about the quiet and intimidating writers' room on Frasier. How did the Frasier room compare with others with which you've been involved.

Ben said...

AMC has been doing the 2-day Oscar marathon for at least 5 years. Regal recently began it.

Jahn Ghalt said...


History vs. Hollywood has a nice Q and A about a number of questions bearing on how "true-ish" Hidden figures is:

They address some of the implausibilities that occurred to me while I watched this weekend.

An early scene that was not implausable to me portrayed a young Katherine Johnson (trajectory calculator) demonstrating a math problem on the board to all the older kids. After this scene I whispered to my partner:

"You give her the math book, tell to work through it, and when she's done give her the next one."

I had a chance to do this in the sixth grade in a brand new "open concept" school. They gave us the books and I had a fun competition with another kid that year. I don't think this hurt us a bit.

(I'm quite sure we weren't in Ms. Johnson's league)

Some favorite scenes (obliquely called out to not spoil):

1) Solving the "bathroom problem"
2) John Glenn showing his decent, yet political, side
3) March to the computer room (It's a killer combination to teach programming to the bunch familiar with the problems)

One and one-half anachronisms"

(ONE-HALF) I did some checking on mechanical calculators. They showed one with about a hundred buttons in one scene - probably a Marchant Figurematic, which could perform division. This gets 1/2-anachronism, since there should have been far more than a single such machine in several of the office spaces.

(FULL) Mad Men fans were fond of calling out Matt Weiner for dressing sets with IBM Selectric Typewriters in Season One (1960). Selectric Typewriters were first sold in July 1961, so one should not have appeared before Gagarin got his Soviet parade in April 1961.

As it stands, I now must go get the book for more on the space race and the women who nurtured it.

Carson said...

Antenna TV is currently showing a Valentine's Day Marathon of WINGS. I have noticed that multiple episodes have two people listed as directors. The episode I'm watching now was "Directed by David Lee and Andy Ackerman." Why would an episode that's not even a two parter, be directed by two people?