Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Questions

It’s the dog days of hot August Friday Questions.

Richard Anderson starts us off:

I'm thinking about writing a pilot based on an existing movie. Would this be a good idea, or is it better to just stick to writing an original pilot?

By all means, write something original. Why take a chance of writing something you don’t have the rights for? Plus, the reason for the exercise is so that producers and agents can see what you do with original material. Otherwise, just write a spec of an existing show.

But on the off-chance that you write a pilot that someone actually wants to buy, why risk the deal blowing up because the movie rights holder won’t cooperate?

Similarly, an anonymous reader (please include your name) asks:

What do you think about doing a spec script of an older show as a possible reboot? Two years ago it would have been unthinkable to spec "Will & Grace," and now it's coming back in the fall. Similarly, "Arrested Development" has two more seasons coming from Netflix. In this day and age, when a show is never truly dead, is anything ever really off the table?

Don’t do it. If you’re going to spec a show, pick one that is current, on the rise, somewhat well known, and you feel you could do the best job on.

Don’t get cute. Don’t do “stunts.” Even if the vintage show you’re specing comes back, they’ll now be going in a direction you’re not privy to.

Get noticed for your writing, not the novelty of the script.

From Ted O'Hara:

I was reading the original MASH novel, and Hawkeye and Duke Forrest arrive at the 4077th in the snow. We never saw snow on the series, probably due to the expense. It made me wonder - were there any story ideas you would have liked to have done that were too expensive to shoot?

I think we did do snow for a Christmas episode. Yes, having the capability of showing snow would have opened up a new avenue for stories, but the practicality and cost would have been insane. It was bad enough we sometimes made the actors do cold shows. They would go out to the Malibu ranch in 110 degree temperatures and have to don parkas and stand over fire barrels. I don’t think we could keep a snow-cone in tact for twelve seconds under those conditions.

Linda asks:

Was just going thru your Wiki page

It seems longer and detailed now. I remember a year or so ago, it was very short. I don’t know how this wiki page editing works, but did they ask you to send more details or just someone researched your profile and updated.

Is it complete and accurate now or is something still missing?

How do you feel when you first saw your own wiki page? Quite exhilarating I bet.

I’m not sure how Wikipedia works, but I believe people are not allowed to edit their own page. So for the most part I have no idea who is updating my page (or why).

No, it’s not complete, but at least it’s more accurate now than it has been in the past. They had my birthdate wrong, had me as location manager of JURASSIC PARK, and dialogue coach for FLIPPER (I kid you not).

Yes, it’s kind of cool to know the page is out there. But I hardly ever look at it. Cooler still is that I’m now in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA. That’s the kind of thing that would really get me laid if I were single.

What’s your Friday Question?


Curt Alliaume said...

I don't see why people aren't allowed to edit their own Wikipedia page. I remember specifically seeing that Jeremy Gelbwaks (the first Chris on The Partridge Family) had edited his own page (his departure from the show has been subject to much more conjecture than it deserves).

Mik said...

Being a dialogue coach for Flipper is very funny

J Lee said...

You'd think for the No. 1 rated show, CBS would have allowed a few extra $$$ for a day or two shoot up at Crestline or near Lake Arrowhead in December or January, if MASH really needed an snow scene with real snow. It's not all that far from L.A., though the pine trees around the 4077th would have been a little hard to explain....

Boomska316 said...

They way I've heard the cast tell it they always seemed to end up doing hot weather episodes on cold days and cold weather episodes on scorching hot days.

Darryl said...

Most of the time, it ONLY snows on television for the Christmas episode. It's one of the medium's most reliable cliches. Hell, THE GOLDEN GIRLS was set in Miami and even they couldn't resist having it snow on one of their Christmas episodes.

Rich Shealer said...

"But I hardly ever look at it. Cooler still is that I’m now in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA. That’s the kind of thing that would really get me laid if I were single"

So the wife's not impressed. I can relate.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Curt Alliaume: Because Wikipedia very specifically decided to rely on secondary, not primary sources - things that have been published. If you allow primary sources to edit their own pages, then you get huge amounts of PR and whitewashing and the usefulness of the thing plummets precipitously.

Ken is right: being in Who's Who in America is much cooler. Even *I* have a Wikipedia page.


Michael said...

Ken, after Flipper, didn't you dub Day of the Dolphin?

There's a MASH Christmas episode where a little bit of snow falls and Colonel Potter said it could almost make this place look pretty. I suspect that could have been a factor, too: they weren't trying to suggest everything was beautiful.

Milton the Momzer said...

If we're not going to war with North Korea, how come Alan Alda just got a draft notice?

Linda said...

Thanks Ken.

"location manager of JURASSIC PARK" - working in your "favorite" director's movie !!!??? That's a big botch up all right :D :D :D

Andy Rose said...

It's a sticky wicket, but the Wikipedia rule against primary source editing doesn't make a lot of sense. If Alan Alda sees the wrong birthday listed on his Wikipedia page and he fixes it, somebody will complain because Alda is not supposed to change his own page. But if Alda mentions in a magazine interview that the Wikipedia birthday is wrong, and I then fix the article with that interview as my source, it's okay. What's the difference? Alan Alda is still the ultimate source of the information.

Brian said...

Hi Ken,

Waiting for the review of Dunkirk.

And also the related Friday question I asked on July 25th:

In the meantime, I have gone through your previous blogs on Nolan.... Some are appreciating him, some ripping him apart.

You have reviewed almost all his movies till date.

Please review this one too, especially the way Hans Zimmer score cons us big time into tense mindset and keeps us that way through the movie using an effect called "Shepard Tone". Only when we come out of the theater and analyse do we realize what a disappointing crap the movie is......

By Ken Levine said...

I have not seen DUNKIRK yet. I'll get around to it, but lots going on in my life. Eventually I'll catch up to it.

Brian said...

In a way, that will be fortuitous Ken.

Because due to the over-hype, everyone praised it sky high when it was released. But now with realization after a month, one by one is calling it a dud. So your review will be without any influence of that hype (not that you get influenced :)).

Ho, by the way, here is something to interest you... Nolan released it in July similar to guess who and which film....???? ... Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" !!!

Yep, the same Spielberg and his movie, which you often recollect in many of your blogs. The fact that Spielberg was pissed that he didn't win the Best Picture, not being happy with the Best Director Oscar. Ha Ha Haa....

Nolan's plan: Earn as much as he can now - 20 million + 20% of the profits during this Summer and also win Best Director like Spielberg.

He had previously released "Interstellar" during Awards season. But that movie got thrashed by "Big Hero 6" and he got no awards as well. Hence this "genius" plan to earn millions and get the Oscar too.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Andy Rose: Because that way the source is documented, even if it's wrong. It means there's an audit trail for the claims that are made. It is an imperfect way to curate knowledge, and Wikipedians would be the first to acknowledge that, but every page has a talk page where such details are discussed and agreed.

That said, it can be a nuisance. A friend spent years trying to fix an error on her page and because the original error was published in the Guardian had no luck (maybe it's fixed now, I don't know).


Albert Giesbrecht said...

At one time Wikipedia was a serious encyclopedia. Every fact had to be sourced at least twice, and links to webpages didnt count.

Then Stephen Colbert told his audience to alter a few wiki pages as gag, and they did, and Wikipedia was shut dowm for a few days. Since then, it lost credibility.

MikeN said...

Anyone can edit their own Wikipedia page. Anonymous editing is allowed on most pages.
There will still be the issue of do you have a proper source, but usually it just ends up with a label of hey we don't have a source here.

I once tried to make up a biography of a relative with all sorts of fake accomplishments. It didn't stay up very long.

Anonymous said...

Friday question: I know this was before your time at MASH, but I thought you might know something about it. The second season episode George was about a gay soldier who is beaten by others in his unit. I grew up watching MASH when it originally aired and reruns since then and I don't remember seeing this episode until about 2 years ago when I was binging the show on Netflix. (I've since seen it on MeTV in their regular rotation). When I realized what the plot was, I did a double-take. How did this become the plot of a mainstream show in 1974, when being gay, if it was mentioned at all, was something to be made fun of? Was there a lot of publicity around it? Protests? Boycotting? Did the network have a problem with it or were they supportive?

Isaac Lin said...

Actually sourcing requirements for Wikipedia were more lax originally, and over time have become increasing more rigourous. Not sure what is meant by "shut down for a few days"; English Wikipedia wasn't taken offline due to any vandalism.

In addition to issues of objectivity, Wikipedia relies on secondary sources because no one's identity is confirmed, and so there's no way to judge the accuracy of any claims. The following page has guidance for the subjects of articles who may wish to make changes:

Cap'n Bob said...

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember patches of snow on the ground in some episodes.

Kosmo13 said...

>>How did this become the plot of a mainstream show in 1974, when being gay, if it was mentioned at all, was something to be made fun of

In 1971, "All in the Family" had already presented an episode about gay guest characters and the "That Certain Summer" TV movie had aired in 1972. "George" in 1974 wasn't as unprecedented as the question indicates.

PJ said...

Hmm, my name didn't attach to my question! I didn't mean to be anonymous!

Derrick said...

I think you're right, Cap'n Bob. Seems like there are a fair number of MASH episodes in which patches of snow can be seen on the ground here and there.

Bill Kelliher said...

Hmm... With "Will and Grace" coming back could we possibly see Frasier return?

After all this time you have to wonder how things have turned out for Frasier, Niles, Daphne, Martin and Eddie.

thirteen said...

I've written a few books, and some misguided soul did a Wikipedia page for me. It says there that the article is a "stub" and that I can add to it if I like. I'd be just as happy if they took down the page.

Jon said...

An FQ for you: I've been re-watching seasons 2 and 3 of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and am always amazed at how the humor comes from all parts of the show -- script, sets, props, music, editing, acting. I'm wondering how that all comes together so perfectly? Is it a strong vision from above? Harnessed chaos? How do all contribute without any single part over- or under-doing it?

Edward said...

If you want to edit a Wikipedia entry, as I did, first create an account with a user name. If you don't, then your IP address will be listed if you edit. (voice of experience). It's easy to figure out edits made from certain accounts by the uninformed (e.g., IP address from the city/state for a politicians page)

Also, if Ken created an account, no one will know if he edits a page unless he blabs about it on Twitter or Facebook or at the barbershop.

Garry said...

What always strikes me about Wikipedia is how disproportionate their entries can be. I was looking up some information on a number of movies for a friend of mine, and some movies, movies which I think most people would agree were important ones, had little more than token entries. On the other hand, there are obscure, grade-C horror movies that maybe twenty-five people in the world have heard of that have these enormous, extremely detailed pages, covering even the most trivial aspects of these little known films in minute detail.

Don't know if it's still true, but at one point, Spock, from STAR TREK, had a much longer, more detailed entry than Abraham Lincoln.

Chuck said...

Wikipedia was never shut down, but there was an incident some years back in which Stephen Colbert urged his viewers to go to Wikipedia and alter the information that appeared there on elephant populations. Wikipedia locked elephant-related pages against editing for awhile and banned Colbert from Wiki.

The argument people are always making against Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it and change an entry to contain any information they want. Actually, Wiki is very good at catching bogus edits. Someone on an old-time radio list I used to be on made some alterations to Wiki's page on THE LONE RANGER to try to prove that very point. Actually, within a few hours Wiki had caught and eliminated all the made-up "facts" and changes he'd made, sort of proving the opposite of his point.

cadavra said...

Don't get me started on Wikipedia. They once deleted a film title I'd added to an actor's page with the explanation, "That you have the film on DVD is not proof that the film exists."

Storm said...

Even though Wiki is usually pretty on it these days, I recently came across a goofy comment on, of all things, the list of Lake Monsters throughout the world;

"Sunset Lake Pennsylvania USA North America "Sunny"

A disgusting yellow creature living in the bottom of Sunset Lake in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It has urine diseases. It likes the taste of kids that go to Camp Towanda. Especially kids named Jake and Ethan."

Extra funny because there's no such place, much less creature.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


Matt Tauber said...

Friday Question

CBS is replacing Erinn Hayes on "Kevin Can Wait" with Leah Remini. They are killing off Erinn's character (the wife), hoping to get higher ratings with Remini in "King of Queens" nostalgia.

I can't think of any other example of this in the annals of TV history. Has another TV show ever killed off a character hoping to get higher ratings with that character's replacement in the cast?

Johnny W said...

I think more people need to understand how Wikipedia works: There is NO editorial control. NONE WHATSOEVER.

Go visit a page, any page. At the top you'll see the word EDIT. Just click on that and change whatever the hell you want, and then click SAVE. It's done, for the world to see. No checks. No editors. No need to even login (unless it's a controversial page that's had a lot of vandalism).

Ken, want everyone to believe you once dated Natalie Wood? No problem.

Anyone can edit any page, even their own. The only rule is that what you enter fits the tone of an encyclopedia.

The next person to read the article is also the one who checks it. If there's statements on there that don't have any citations, they're liable for deletion, but on less frequently visited pages, errors will stay there for years.

It's important to understand this the next time you decide to check Wikipedia for any facts. Trust me, I've made thousands of edits over the years (always in an attempt to improve things, of course). Take everything you read with a pinch of salt.

Johnny W said...

Also, everything Albert Giesbrecht is completely false.

Bryan Thomas said...

You are not allowed to edit your own. I have 25 books out from major publishers and I still don’t have one, because of that fact. Someone has to curate it, and they have to provide sufficient third party links to back it up that are not interviews. It is actually not that easy to get one. So congrats. As for Who’s Who, I have been offered a slot in a few of those...if I pay. Not sure how prestigious it is or if they are all related, but some seem to be a bit of scam. Still, if it means a lot to you, kudos.