Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Questions

Friday Questions anybody?

Michael leads off.

I enjoyed the new Vanity Fair article on Frasier and was glad to see you were interviewed. The article mentioned the "Three Valentines" episode from season 6 in which Niles starts a fire in Frasier's apartment. I re-watched it immediately and was astounded by David Hyde Pierce's performance. My question is this - Given the live fire was that scene filmed in front of a live audience and in real time? If so would fire staff have been located actually in the apartment but out of frame?

That was pre-shot without an audience. And filmed in pieces... with half the fire department of LA on the stage.  It’s still my favorite sequence in FRASIER. Step aside Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Lucy – make room for David Hyde Pierce.

Howard Matthews asks:

Ken, for those of us blessed/cursed with living on another continent, are any of your play scripts available online? I'd love to read some of your plays.

Stay tuned. I am in the process of putting together a website dedicated to licensing and selling my plays. It’s coming very soon. My goal is to get my work out there for more people to see (and hopefully enjoy).

From Frank Beans:

One thing I've been wondering: Do you ever reuse your rejected pilots/scripts later on down the road, with a different network or even the same one? Is this a common thing to do?

It’s not common but it does happen, and for David and me it’s happened three times. We had a family pilot at CBS. They ultimately passed and ABC picked it up. We had a political pilot for ABC that they felt was too controversial (at the time) and HBO had us redevelop it and make it even more controversial.

And finally, we had a pilot at FOX that they passed on saying it was more of an NBC show. A few years later one of the executives in that meeting went to NBC and sure enough she bought it for the peacock.

None of those projects ultimately got on the air, but we got paid twice for the same script so you won’t hear me complaining.

And finally, Andrew has a question about the great writer, Larry Gelbart.

When he wrote Oh God!, did he have George Burns and John Denver in mind? Or did the casting come later? It was certainly a perfect match between the script and the actors.

No. And this is going to sound crazy but Larry’s original conception was Woody Allen playing the John Denver part and Mel Brooks playing God.

Yes, Burns and Denver were great, but wouldn’t you have LOVED to see the Allen-Brooks version?

What’s your Friday Question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks.


Andrew said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken.

I have to admit, I would have loved to see that Brooks-Allen movie.

Nathan said...

My Friday question on your spec scripts:

You have previously said that you had sold spec movie scripts to studios. After that, do they inform you about any progress like anyone interested in the script or other studios expressing interest in buying from this studio.

Also a term they use like 'put it in turnaround' where anyone else can buy from the studio and make the movie.

Do you follow it up too?

I am curious as to the fact that a lot of spec scripts are bought but they don't make any movie off it. Isn't it a dead investment?

A post on spec scripts and what happens to them after selling and how you try to see to it that a movie is made rather than allow it to lie in some vault, would be great.

I got this doubt after reading a few books where after selling, the writers get offers from others and then these writers go back to the studio to get them to give it to those who will make the movie. And studio does give back but at a higher cost and a lot of complicated profit system.


The original WB said...

Hi, Ken. Friday Question for next week: You’re marooned “Survivor style” on a far away island with the only luxury accorded you being a solar-powered DVD player (multi region) and a single “mix DVD” of three sitcom episodes spanning the early 1950’s to the present day (comfort food in video form, if you will). What three episodes comprise your accompanying DVD? Also, what’s your favorite line/character exchange line from any sitcom (if you had to pick one or two)? Your only other restriction is that the episodes must have been written by writers other than Levine/Issacs.

Thank you for your excellent podcast series, particularly the excellent hour spent with Kevin Smith.

Anonymous said...

I can't be the only one that would LOVE to read Ken's controversial political script? I think that would be a great read!

tb said...

Mel Brooks and Woody, that would be great. I always loved his Moses in 'History of the World', remember? "I have fifteen...(crash) TEN! I have Ten Commandments!"

DougG. said...

I've always thought that if Frasier Crane's apartment/condo were real, they would make use of the balcony more often because of the view. But it's not real so I was wondering if it was hassle to shoot any scenes on the balcony and that's why it rarely happened.

Also, to give you an idea of how time flies, the series has turned 25.

The original WB said...

Of course, Ken, you would also have some kind of monitor with which to watch the aforementioned “mix DVD” (perhaps a solar-powered laptop or combined DVD player-viewer). BTW: The Peri Gilpin and Phoef Sutton podcasts were also “appointment listening.” Keep ‘em coming, especially more shows with veteran sitcom writers (any from the Steve Allen/Nat Hiken camp still with us?) How about Allan Burns, who, in addition to creating The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked on Bulwinkle, Get Smart, Room 222, and FM? That would be a fascinating podcast interview with someone whose comedy “changed with the times.”

gottacook said...

Allen and Brooks could still play the roles in a remake, couldn't they?

Kosmo13 said...

>>I always loved his Moses in 'History of the World', remember? "I have fifteen...(crash) TEN! I have Ten Commandments!">>

I also remember Jack Carter doing that same joke on the Ed Sullivan Show years earlier.

Peter said...

Ken, as you're a director, I thought you'd be amused by the story I recently read about the hilarious troubles in the making of an extreme anti abortion film by some fundamentalist Christians.

The makers of Roe vs Wade have been accused of withholding details of the script from potential cast and crew after a huge number quit in disgust when they discovered the true nature of the movie.

The director quit on the first day, so the writer/producer duo stepped in. The problem is that they've never directed before and sources on set say the pair don't have a clue what they're doing. The funniest anecdote is that one of the pair, Cathy Allyn, literally told actor Joey Lawrence "Now make a face like this".

"There was a moment where Joey Lawrence was trying to do a scene and Cathy said to him, ‘Now make a face like this,’ and he called her out and said, ‘That’s not what a director does. You tell me what I’m feeling and where I’m coming from, you don’t just say to make a face.’ A lot of actors are fed up with it because it’s amateur hour."

As a side note, Kelsey Grammer's daughter is in the cast.

Pete Grossman said...

Oh yes! Would have loved to see the Allen and Brooks version of Oh God! Is it too late?

Brian MacIntyre said...

>Allen and Brooks could still play the roles in a remake, couldn't they?<

Given that Brooks is 92, Allen 82, they'd better rename it "God's Almost Dead".

DBA said...

Brooks, yes. Allen, no.

Unknown said...

This might be an an awkward question to answer but I have noticed certain actors seem to get a good program, found, and seem to get more great shows continuously.

The main star ones are obvious. Your Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, David Boreanaz, Johnny Galecki

And a ton of bit parters like our own kiwi Alan Dale (The person of authority in a zillion shows)

There seems to be a correlation of stories of them being good people in real life as well.

Just always wondered how much just being a cool person to work with beats pain in the arse to work with, but brings in the audience, when chosing actors?

Unknown said...

Asked that question badly

Basically. How much emphasis is there on, this is just a good bloke who is cool to work with?

DrBOP said...

Would much rather see Brooks and Reiner sequel:

"2000-Year Old Man: The Missing Years"

VincentS said...

Yes, Ken, I would have loved to have seen an Allen/Brooks version of OH, GOD and something tells me Mel might have thought it typecasting! PS - It could still happen!

scottmc said...

I,too, can't get the thought of Brooks/Allen out of my mind. It would have been twice as funny and half as successful. I am reading Norman Lear's autobiography and he tells the story of how his company almost produced the film versions of Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. His production company had already produced the film adaptation of Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn, and had the option for his next two. Instead,he got interested in another story and let the options lapse. It is intriguing to imagine how the films might have differed- especially The Odd Couple.Would there have been a television version.

slgc said...

There have been a lot of superlative commercial documentaries this year (RBG, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers and Love, Gilda immediately come to mind). To what do you attribute this apparent trend?

slgc said...

Friday Question - Do you ever listen to the current broadcasters of baseball teams whose games you used to call? If so, does it frustrate you when they do it differently than you did (i.e., WRONG!)?

Jeff :) said...

Hi Ken, I know you have worked almost exclusively in comedy but hoping you could provide an opinion in regards to drama spec scripts. All of my ideas for specs and almost all of the television shows that I follow closely enough to spec, fall under the category of serialized dramas. Any advice for choosing a show to spec? Would it be better to chose a serialized drama that I'm familiar with and take an educated guess at where the story is heading or would it be better to select a more procedural drama? For instance I feel I could write a stronger Game of Thrones script than one for Law and Order, however I wonder if my Game of Thrones script has Jon Snow sitting on the iron throne and he gets killed off in the first episode the script could end up sounding extremely dated. I use Game of Thrones and Law and Order for example purposes only as I realize neither show would be recommended for spec.