Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Questions

Last Friday Questions of the month. Is one of them yours???

Bryan leads off.

Friday (Baseball) Question: did you keep your scorebooks from your baseball days? Could you show what a page looks like? Any funny story associated with one (especially if while working with Dave Niehaus)?

Yes. I’ve kept all of my scorebooks, even from my minor league days. I keep waiting for Cooperstown to ask for them but so far I haven’t received that call. Maybe they have the number wrong.

Here’s a typical scorecard. Good luck deciphering it. But I can go back and instantly recap every inning and all the scoring. I can give you pitch counts, where every ball was hit, how every player moved from base to base, when there were pitching changes and pinch hitters. And that’s in addition to stats and notes at my fingertips along with the defensive alignment.
As for funny stories, Dave Niehaus and I were doing a game from Texas. It was the end of the season, 100 degrees at 8 at night, both teams were eliminated, and it was a TV game for us. So I did the first 4 ½ innings on TV and the rest alone on the radio. The game went 17 innings. And each team had 40 players on their roster and we set a major league record for the number of players used in a game. Needless to say, my scorecard was an utter mess. Trying to recap for the postgame show I said "I have no idea what I wrote.  Check tomorrow's paper." 

Jim S has left a question after listening to Episode 79 of my podcast about the realities of the writers room.

You said some interesting things about having to write when you're angry or distracted.

You obviously want to avoid asshole actors. When thinking of hiring someone, and you know the people he or she has worked with before, do you do a quiet check to see if they are Harry Morgan or Kathryn Heigel?

Oh you bet. We check with other writers who’ve worked with them. If possible, we check with crews as well. I want to know how they treat crew members.

There is a real “life’s too short” factor.

Not only will I do my due diligence, if I hear another producer is considering an actor who I know personally is a monster I will make a point of calling the producer and warning him. There are too many deserving actors who I would rather see get breaks then established “stars” who show no respect to anyone but themselves.

UPDATE:  Harry Morgan was GREAT, by the way.

Tom Galloway queries:

What if instead of Shelley Long/Diane leaving when she did, Ted Danson/Sam left (and she stayed)? Any thoughts on how y'all would've handled that?

If Ted left the show I think the Charles Brothers would have ended the series. It was Sam’s bar. Diane entered the world, but it was Sam’s world.

When Teddy finally did decide to leave after the eleventh season there was some talk about continuing without him but the decision was made to close up shop. Sam Malone was the heart and soul of CHEERS. I believe it was the right decision. 

And finally, here’s another baseball question, from opimus:

If you had it your way, who would be in booth with you and what teams besides the Dodgers?

Happy to broadcast for any big league team. And there are many current baseball announcers I would be thrilled to partner with.

But if I were hired and allowed to choose my partner, it would be Dan Hoard. Dan is the voice of the Cincinnati Bengals and U of Cincy, but he’s a great baseball announcer and we were partners in Syracuse. We have a great chemistry and together I think we would produce a top flight broadcast.

What's your Friday Question?


Steve Bailey said...

A Friday Question writer asked if you check beforehand to see if one of your upcoming actors has a bad reputation such as "Harry Morgan or Kathryn Heigel." I never heard of Harry Morgan being a troublemaker on any set. Did he give you or anyone else grief on M*A*S*H?

Seth said...

When the other top billed actors left MASH, why did Loretta Swit never move up in the billing? Just the sexist 70s?

Brian said...

There are many such asshole actors.

You should make a list of actors who you wont work with anymore, Ken.

Lot of lists on YouTube. Here are a few -

Unkystan said...

Stay away from John Sterling in the booth. It’s all about “him”. I think he’s the only one who calls every inning of every game. And he has those awful home run calls with his “clever” nicknames for every player, sometimes he forgets what inning it is (really). His color commentator (Suzan Walkman) is relegated to injury reports and dropping in commercial plugs. It might be great to call Yankee games but you’d never get the opportunity.

Craig Russell said...

"When Teddy finally did decide to leave after the eleventh season there was some talk about continuing without him but the decision was made to close up shop. Sam Malone was the heart and soul of CHEERS. I believe it was the right decision."

Guessing the same was true for Alan Alda. If Hawkeye would have gone home with Trapper, shows over.

Jeff M. said...

Steve--happily, Ken has posted a number of reminiscences about Harry Morgan, whom he described as a terrific guy who was a joy to work with. (Do a search and read them; they're great.) I assume the OP was presenting Mr. Morgan as a contrast to Ms. Heigl.

Michael said...

Your story about the 16-inning game and the scorecard brings to mind By Saam, who did Phillies and A's games for nearly 40 years. By had a gift for malaprops, and one night he was doing an extra-inning game in San Francisco, so it was on in Philadelphia in the middle of the night, and there was a rundown play where there must have been 10 different throws. He called it and wanted to explain it for those who were marking it down and so he said, "And now for all of you guys scoring in bed ...."

Breadbaker said...

Today, of course, the idea of reading the box score in a newspaper when it's published a day late feels rather quaint.

VP81955 said...

A similar story concerns Phils legend Rich Ashburn, who moved to the booth after his fine playing career ended (with the infamous '62 Mets). It was in the early '70s, after Harry Kalas had come over from Houston at the urging of Bill Giles. Rich and Harry were discussing baseball bats, and Ashburn noted that he was so superstitious that he took any bat he was successful with to bed with him. "I slept with a lot of old bats in my day," he told Harry -- and that puckish camaraderie between them lasted for decades.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Friday Question: I don't think any one has asked this before. Have you heard of or seen MASTERCLASS? Its a series of online classes taught by some really big names. They run the gamut from Comedy with Steve Martin, Cooking with Gordon Ramsay and Photography with Annie Leibovitz. But how its applicable to this blog is they also have writing classes. Including Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes and David Mamet. The reviews I've read have been mostly positive, but not all. And of course its not free. What's your opinion of this kind of instruction for T.V./screen/theater? If they asked you and David to do one, would you? I know you've done your e-mail lessons. Not quite the same. Just curious.

Rays profile said...

I'm guessing Ken wanted opposite ends of the scale. Harry on the good end, Kathryn on the PITA end.

E. Yarber said...

The "Monster" problem works on both sides of the fence. Anyone seeking a creative job needs to carefully check out the Producers and companies they work for. I've gone through a couple of terminal disasters that need never have taken place if I had done an online search and read the experiences of other writers who'd worked for the same dopes I mistakenly trusted.

Mike said...

Kelsey is hearing ideas for the re-boot from writers. Would you be pitching too?

Marty Fufkin said...

If the proposed Frasier reboot does a Lou Grant and become a drama (which I think is a great idea) would you still be interested?

gottacook said...

With regard to the possibility of a Lou Grant-type transformation, Gene Reynolds (who achieved that remarkable feat, immediately following his years on MASH) is still with us, but I don't know whether he's got the energy to do it again, even if he wanted to; not everyone his age is a Norman Lear.

brian t said...

The funny thing about Katherine Heigl (note spelling) is: getting called "difficult" by certain people is not necessarily a bad thing. If you look in to what she was being difficult *about*, she doesn't actually come off that badly. Show me someone who never gets annoyed, and I'll show you someone who doesn't care. We'll see what happens on Suits.

J Lee said...

Most of the scorebooks you can buy nowadays don't have the 'clean' blank boxes -- they'll have small boxes at the bottom to record balls and strikes, and spots on top to mark off a walk, single, double, triple or home run. Still leaves the scorekeeper with a lot or work to do on notations of outs, direction of his, stolen bases, etc., but it does make the books more quickly decipherable to someone else.

Shows that try to continue without one of their key actors simply have a hollowed-out feeling to them, even if they do manage to last another year or two (which is even worse in a comedy when the loss of the actor/actress is due to death and the series tries to continue. You've not only lost the key person to the show, but you're trying to make people laugh at the same time they know in real life the show's changed because the star's no longer alive).

Chris said...

Friday Question:

Watched an episode recently with Colonel Flagg (Edward Winter-"Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys'"-Feb 14, 1979) with the new ensemble/tone.

Was the style of writing/timing/anything different bringing a character from the more "zany" early few years of the the show?

What were your impressions of the final outcome compared to the character's early days of the show?

Corey L. Jackson said...

Friday question:

What is your overall take on the James Gunn/Disney situation?

Fat Basterd Inc. said...

Friday question:

What is your overall impression of the James Gunn/Disney situation?

Mike said...

Loretta Swift didn’t move up in the M*A*S*H credits when Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson left because she was not considered a lead. Alda/Rogers/Stevenson were the original three leads, and then it was Alda/Farrell/Morgan. It’s similar to Cheers. When Shelley Long left, Kirstie Alley became the second billed actor on the show, rather than moving everyone else up and putting Alley at the end. She was the show’s co-lead.