Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Questions

'Fess up -- when you think of "Friday" now you think of Friday Questions, right? 

Unknown starts us off. Again, PLEASE, leave your name.

For young aspiring writers how does it look to submit materials that may not be rated "PG". Are they judged differently in a story's "marketability", in festivals or, when looking for representation? I am assuming all networks have different needs, Broadcast, Cable, Premium & Streaming.

Should we write our pilots clean and mature them later or is it easier to remove language/nudity/violence from the script if a cleaner network/studio wanted to pick it up?

I'm playing around with a sitcom idea and want to know if this is something to consider before I start working.

Thank you in advance!

I wouldn’t worry about language or content these days with pilots. Agents and studios and producers are much more lenient.  They're more concerned with finding "fresh voices." 

If your pilot is expressly for a broadcast network, yes, keep it clean. Or if you write a spec for a current broadcast network show like MOM, or YOUNG SHELDON – adhere to network standards & practices.

But since young writers are encouraged to be more edgy and out-there with their spec pilots, feel free to drop a few F-bombs, show a breast, or blow someone’s head off.

Best of luck to you. 

Matt wonders:

Why do script slug-lines today indicate “day 1”, “day 2” and so forth? I don’t see them in older scripts (MTM, Bob Newhart, MASH) When (and why) did this become a thing?

I don’t know when it started but the production team finds it very helpful. Wardrobe departments in particular. They can see at a glance when wardrobe changes will be necessary.

Before those slug lines were added, I can’t tell you how many times when I was directing, a wardrobe person would ask, “Is this the same day? Is this the next night?” etc.

Brian Phillips asks:

If you and David Isaacs got a writing assignment and it HAD to be a drama, which show would you submit a script to?

I can’t speak for David, but I can tell you mine. BETTER CALL SAUL and THE GOOD FIGHT would be my top two choices of shows currently on the air.

Are they still making GUNSMOKE? I wouldn’t mind writing one of those.

And finally, from Dave:

Apart from Natalie (Wood), was there any other celebrity who you wanted to meet?

I always wanted to meet Cary Grant. I used to see him at Dodger Stadium but never actually met him. Otherwise, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Phil Silvers, Elizabeth Montgomery, Nat Hiken (writer of the PHIL SILVERS SHOW), Grace Kelly, Karen Carpenter, Walt Disney, Bill Cullen, Noel Coward, Preston Sturges, Monet, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra. Yes, those are all now dearly departed (and you probably haven't heard of most of them) but you asked in the past tense.

There’s still a chance I could meet Angie Dickinson.

What’s your Friday Question?


Dave said...

Thanks for answering my question Ken.

I do recognize most of the names. One name I thought you would mention but didn't, was Marlon Brando. Also surprised that there is no mention of Ann Margret who I consider as one of the most beautiful actress of the time.

TimWarp said...

Angie Dickinson did autograph signing and picture taking at a comicon here in Pittsburgh recently. So, yup, for $50 or so you too can meet her!

Peter said...

What, you don't want to meet Scott Baio?!

Theo said...

Looks like many are incensed that Mel Gibson has got a chance to direct and have taken to twitter to react

Do you think the studios will stick with him after this reaction or drop him?

Roseann said...

Thanks for your consideration of Wardrobe Departments everywhere. You are so right that Day 1, Day 2 really helps. It is a great jumping off point and between Directors, Producers, Script Supervisors and Wardrobe Departments it can all change but it is a great start.

Roseann said...

I've met Angie Dickenson and she's worth the wait. I was so pleased that she was so down to earth.
I wanted to meet Joan Hackett and I did working 10 week Summer Stock. We immediately clicked. It was just a few years before she died.
The other person I never had the chance to meet was Kitty Carlisle. Unfortunately I never did meet her.

Anonymous said...

Elvis dead?

JazMac Gilroy said...

'Fess up -- when you think of "Friday" now you think of Friday Questions, right?'

Actually, yes. Yes, I do. :0)

VP81955 said...

Met Angie at a memorabilia show in 2015 (along with Joan Collins). Both were smart and gracious, and I must've talked to Angie for at least 10 minutes. Really engaging.

Peter said...


Elvis is alive and working at one of the few remaining Blockbuster video stores on the planet. That's why no one has seen him.

cd1515 said...

I read where the Murphy Brown reboot debut apparently had so much great stuff (sarcasm) that CBS extended it 5 minutes, taking the time away from local news.
I can only imagine that every other show must now be thinking “What? We can DO that?”
Ken did you ever work on a show where you thought “There’s no way this can be 22 minutes, it’s so great, we gotta go longer! Alert the affiliates!”

E. Yarber said...

The Santa Monica apartment building where Stan Laurel spent his final years has been converted to a hotel, and for a few hundred bucks it's possible to spend the night there. I doubt you'd find a script for SONS OF THE DESERT II under the cushions of the couch, however.

It's actually rather small, a living room and bedroom with a kitchen to one side, a balcony along the bedroom window, and a bathroom in the bedroom supplemented by a small guest bath by the kitchen. Having spent most of his youth living in hotels and boarding houses as a music hall/vaudeville performer, Laurel loved the permanent/transient atmosphere of the place, appreciating its simplicity after moving from a larger place in Malibu and having to maintain larger ones in Beverly Hills during his prime. One guest who apparently didn't agree was Peter Sellers, who reportedly blew his chance for an audience with Stan by stalking out of the apartment as soon as he saw the relatively tiny digs his idol occupied. It may be that he was afraid he might wind up in similarly modest circumstances when his own career ended.

Ted said...

Walt Disney seems an interesting choice.

You might still have a chance, when he comes back alive after they unfreeze him :)

Kosmo13 said...

>>when you think of "Friday" now you think of Friday Questions, right?<<

'Friday' will always make me think of Jack Webb.

Stephen Marks said...

Great choices by Ken regarding the people he would have loved to meet. And you know what, Ken would never say this but I bet a bunch of them would have liked to meet Ken Levine, so it works both ways. However one threw me, "Elvis." Why in the fuck Ken would like to meet Elvis Grbac I'll never know. Chiefs fan? Doubt it. Ken's an LA guy who's never even been to Kansas City. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps Ken is referring to "Elvis" Costello, the new wave singer turned crooner. Maybe Ken spun some old "My Aim Is True" songs when he was a DJ on WJM in Bakersfield. Problem though, neither Grbac nor Costello are dead. Then it hit me, what an idiot I am, Ken was referring to Elvis Stojko, the great Canadian figure skater that Earl Pomerantz always talks about. Earl and Stojko met at a figure skating event in Regina and then again on the set of Hee Haw just before Stojko died attempting a triple lutz AND a salchow at the same time. Nothing wrong with being a fan of figure skating or curling Ken, wish you would write about them more. Fucking baseball!

Mike said...

Theo, Sarah Silverman's reaction is always way over the top.

I agree Mel Gibson should not be given a chance, but her reaction to Louis C.K was just too much and unwarranted. She was trying to score some brownie points from the PC mob. There was no need for her to hyperventilate like that on and on and on...... about him.

Anyone reading just her interviews and tweets will think that Louis was the biggest criminal in human history.

It's like she loves to bludgeon anyone who she believes will give her maximum press and support from the PC crowd.

Kevin from VA said...

Ken, if there is one person I'd like to meet and just listen to (other than you of course) it is your former occasional boss (?), Gene Reynolds. What a career and life he has had. To think he started as a child actor in "Our Gang", worked with legends like Spencer Tracy and Errol Flynn before going on to producing "Mash" for television. I hope you've had the opportunity to hear many of Mr. Reynold's stories going back to Hollywood's golden era. If so, perhaps in a future blog posting you might share a few with us!

sanford said...

speaking of Laurel and Hardy there is a bio pic coming out. Great casting. I hope this movie is good.

JazMacGilroy said...

Would love to have met Stan Laurel! Any industry buzz on the Coogan / O'Reily movie about Laurel and Hardy? I am very much looking forward to that.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Friday Question: I'm fairly sure that you don't write on a typewriter. But, I'm curious as to whether you use some of the other modern conveniences. For example, do you use "Final Draft" or similar script writing software? Do you have "Grammarly" on your computer? Etc. Are they essentially requirements these days? As someone who still composes in longhand on a legal pad I'd like to know.

P.S. I just saw a sitcom that had one of those wardrobe inconsistencies. I can't remember what it was; it may have been GOOD TIMES. It was supposed to be the next day, yet one character was clearly wearing the same pants. (They were bright orange. Kind of hard to miss.) In fact, they had only changed her blouse. Just the minimum to make it appear to be a different outfit. My guess is that it would have taken too much time for a full wardrobe change.

Anonymous said...

On the MASH epsidodes that Alan Alda wrote and directed, why were they sometimes credited as “written & directed by” and sometimes, they were separate credits?


Peter said...

Mike, I think you've mistaken Sarah Silverman for someone else. She hasn't condemned Louis CK at all. They're personal friends and the most she's said was that it's difficult to learn that a friend has done bad things. That's the extent of her reaction.

I wish she HAD condemned him.

Bob Paris said...

Ken: Nat Hiken was my mom's cousin and he was very quiet and reserved. You would never know that such a comedy mind lurked beneath the surface. Assuming you wanted to meet him in order to "pick his brain" I imagine he would have been generous to share insights with you.

k said...

A Friday question
Just watched the new Murphy Brown.
( i did enjoy it)
But with your explanation as to why shows that revolve around current news/ reality fail to play well in reruns or licenseing what do you think of the, obvious, choice to continue the "franchise" with another show that could show its age?
Courage, stupidity, big up front pay offs, what...?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: I thought this article about the decreasing importance of ratings (and the impact thereof) would interest you:

I'd be interested to read your thoughts.

Ted: The Disney rumor continues to be widely circulated, but there is no evidence Disney knew about cryonics, and the first known attempt at cryonically preserving a human occurred a month after his death. See Snopes:
If you're interested in knowing more about cryonics, I did a piece (ten years ago!) for the Guardian that includes the basics:


Dave H said...

Ken if you are interested there is a video on youtube of a Elvis afterparty in Vegas in August 1970. celebs drop by to tell Elvis how much they loved his show and guess who drops by.... Cary Grant. just thought I would let you know. you can watch and imagine yourself there hanging out with the two of them.:)

Raphael Gelfinbein said...

Thank you for answering my question! Apologies, I was that dreadful Unknown. I didn't properly link the comment with my gmail account.

Now I will go off and write that sitcom! It's not racy material but, I think it's easier to turn jokes down rather than punch them up later.

Thank you again,

Raphael Gelfinbein said...

Thank you for answering my question! Apologies, I was that dreadful Unknown. I didn't properly link the comment with my gmail account.

Now I will go off and write that sitcom! It's not racy material but, I think it's easier to turn jokes down rather than punch them up later.

Thank you again,

George Toledo said...

Jazzed to read your feelings about BCS!

MellaBlue said...

Okay, maybe a silly question or something you've addressed before, but ...

I was watching first season episodes of Cheers, and I was struck by the depth of the writing staff in terms of talent and previous experience. That got me wondering ... how does a first season writers' room get assembled?

Mike in Maine said...

I came across a book called "M*A*S*H Goes to Maine" in a used bookstore. I'd never heard of it, but was this sequel well-received when it came out? Was there ever talk of making it into a movie/tv show?