Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Questions

Last FQ’s of the year. Over 250 answered this year alone.

Pam has a question regarding VOLUNTEERS:

Did you meet and talk to Tom Hanks? How was he? Or was it always Producers, studio executives and the director who were the go between?

I spoke to Tom numerous times and even went out to lunch with him. Most of the time we discussed baseball and radio. He used to listen to me on KYA when he was growing up.

And I’ve continued to bump into him and chat. One time in a restaurant, he and Rita came to the table and we all spitballed on a school paper my daughter was working on at the time.

Also, when Tom was filming SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE I was broadcasting for the Mariners and he would come out to the Kingdome. He even went on the air and provided color during a game. Damn, the man is multi-talented!

Douglas Trapasso asks:

How common is it for radio folks to socialize with each other after hours and even years after working at a particular station? Did you try to stay in touch with your fellow fire-ees whenever the ax fell?

You bet. I’m still friends with a lot of the jocks and program directors I worked with over the years. Sadly, some have passed. But of my closest friends, many are radio related. And I attend radio reunions whenever I can.   You can easily find me.  I'm the one not forcing my voice. 

Interestingly, in LA in radio’s heyday in the 60’s and 70’s there was a watering hole in Hollywood called Martoni’s and EVERYONE from every station would hang out there. You’d be drinking with your competition. People who were asked to play Osmond records had a bond, much like soldiers stuck in foxholes during World War I.

From Mike Bloodworth:

In a desperate attempt to find new source material, some producers have started turning to podcasts for ideas. DIRTY JOHN is one example. Here's my question. Have you ever considered making your podcast more like a scripted series? Sort of like a radio play?

No. That would be way too much work. I do, from time to time, play one-act plays of mine (and occasionally break them down as a teaching exercise), but my focus on the podcast is to be very conversational and talk one to one to my listener. So it’s a much looser and spontaneous presentation.

To script plays, cast them, record them, maybe get an audience – way too much effort for this lazy podcaster.

And finally, from Nathan:

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?

Generally they keep you in the loop – more as a courtesy, depending on your relationship with them.

And if there appears to be movement (either going forward or putting it turnaround), usually they will want your agent to get involved.

But there often comes a time when the phone just stops ringing. When studios put on other writers they frequently don’t tell you (although they’re contractually obligated to). So the project continues to be developed but for you there’s nothing but radio silence.

Remember this: Hollywood is only gracious when it suits them.


Pam said...

Thanks Ken. Nice to know Tom Hanks respects writers.

Nathan said...

Hollywood is only gracious when it suits them...yep, you nailed it.

Thanks for explaining how things work w.r.t. spec scripts.

Jen from Jersey said...

Comment and question..... I just finished watching alll 11 seasons of Frasier and restarted. I like watching one episode a day. For some reason I find the show very soothing. Jennifer Tilly as Candy was one of my favorite episodes of Cheers, so I was thrilled that she reappeared as Kim, on Frasier. Grammer and Tilly have great chemistry.

Question: did you make any changes to the set as the show progressed? I noticed that the lighting in the radio studio was much darker during season 1.

Boomska316 said...

If scripted podcasts become a thing It will almost be like coming full circle from the days of dramatic radio. Quick Friday Question: I was wondering if you were a fan of old fashioned radio and if so what some of your favorites were? I'm partial to the old Sherlock Holmes shows starring Rathbone and Bruce.

E. Yarber said...

It's very hard for spec scripters to get the leverage they need to see a project properly all the way through to completion, and I've seen this even applied to those who have solid TV credits but are strangers to big-screen players. A writer may think their way through a story from the inside, then find their work handed over to people who only approach it on a surface level, treating the text as a product, not an expression of life. The last thing these second-stage personnel want is to be accountable to the original creator, even if they clearly don't understand what brings the material to life. It's pretty common for a project to get a start thanks to the energy of a single writer, then continue long past the point where the initial spark has been smothered.

Of course, I've also been on the other side of the process, salvaging what I could from unfilmable junk someone had managed to push forward. Once again, though, the interior politics of the production invariably overrules the artistic development of the material. Unless you're on a team where everyone is honestly dedicated to a single strong vision, you have to expect too many cooks creating a mystery meat broth.

Peter said...

So apparently Holmes & Watson is so awful that people are walking out of screenings.

Is anyone really surprised? Will Ferrell has been doing the same thing for years. It worked in Anchorman but it's tiresome when he does it in every film. It's also written and directed by the guy who made the dreadful Get Hard.

From the reviews I've read, it's just full of lazy jokes in which characters make references to aspects of contemporary culture and the audience is meant to find it hilarious that they're doing it in Victorian England. The trailer shows Watson excitedly taking a "self photo" with the Queen.

Not funny.

This is no different to all the lazy studio comedies filled with pop culture references. An entire generation has been raised on lazy comedies. I honestly think their heads would explode if they tried to watch Back to the Future or the original Ghostbusters or Trading Places. No characters referencing rap music and actual intelligent plots with three dimensional characters. People who think a character in Spy saying "I've read all the Hunger Games novels" is what passes for comedy would switch off.

Maybe Holmes & Watson tanking will be a wake-up call that this sort of shit has run its course, but who am I kidding?

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I wrote a spec for a currently-running series several years ago, and never heard anything again afterwards, which, obviously, I took as an indication that they weren't going to use it. But, oh well. I kind of had a feeling it probably wouldn't be used anyway (or, at the very least, not entirely; I was told by the show's producer/director that if they have stories or elements that sound promising, they reserve them in an ideas bag for the writers to fish around in for subplots or 'B' stories - but, even he was amazed I got as far as I did in submitting my spec).

Mike Bloodworth said...

Ken, thanks again for answering my question. As always I appreciate it.

When you're just a lowly intern one rarely gets to hang out with the on-air staff. But, I suppose that depends on the station and/or format. However, at one radio station where I was on-the-air we were quite friendly with each other. As a group we used to go see L.A. CLIPPERS' games at the Sports Arena. It was relatively easy to get tickets. Back then the Clippers were really bad. And the Lakers were still regularly in the playoffs. There were also a couple of weddings, etc. But, as time went on the core group began to break up. And eventually, we went our separate ways. As Ken said, people die, they leave radio, they move away, etc., etc. I admit I'm the world's worst at networking. I've lost contact with virtually all of the people I used to work with. Including the ones I actually liked. I no longer have any connection with anyone that could help me get a job if, by chance, I wanted to get back into radio.
That question made me think of M*A*S*H. Did Hawkeye ever see Trapper again? Did he and B.J. stay in touch? Did Radar or Klinger ever go to Maine? Best of friends one minute a distant memory the next.

DrBOP said...

Speaking of veteran DJ's, Rock-It Radio just announced they are "shutting their doors" as of the middle of January. Home to MANY airchecks, old programs, and new programs by many of the vet DJ's re-visiting the past. (Nope, I don't work for them....simply passing on a treasured resource.....and tryin' not to shed any "Manly" tears while I type ;>)
Enjoy while you can folks (Scroll down for selections):

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Mike Ovitz's autobiography and was curious about your take on it as a whole, particularly Ovitz's definitions of truth and lying in Hollywood negotiations. You and David must have been "agented" several times over your careers by people seeking to represent you.


Pat Reeder said...

There's a group of radio veterans here in the DFW area that gets together for lunch every month or so. They keep inviting me, but I've only been once. I need to try to join them more often. My friend George, who is a regular, pointed out something funny: you know you're in a restaurant full of radio people when the background music on the PA system gets to the beginning of the vocal and everyone stops talking.

keith brodkorb said...

ken, end of the year lists are mostly time wasters , but I would be interested in your DJ days top and bottom lists for your years on the radio. You know the songs you still love and the ones that make you dive for the tuning or volume button. thank you

Boswell said...

Hello Ken, longtime reader here and a big Cheers fan.
I wonder if you know the name of an extra who is in virtually every episode of the show. She is an older, attractive woman always in business attire. She never spoke a word but was sometimes part of a scene or gag. I've been wondering who this woman is for over twenty years and was hoping you could tell me. Thank you, big fan of the blog,

Jen from Jersey said...

Try watching it on Netflix and freezing the credits. I actually did that with one of the extras too.

Boswell said...

Hi Jen, I had nearly every episode on VHS back in the day and I own every season on DVD. Because the extra never spoke I believe she was never credited.

Jen from Jersey said...

Interesting. Funny how we obsess over these things. Lol. There was an extra who was part of the group of guys at the bar. Had to find out who he was and then went down the rabbit hole to learn that Rhea Perlman’s dad was an extra at the bar.

Lucy said...

Ok, I've got a Friday question that I just cannot find the answer to online: what happened to Martin Crane's chair post-Frasier? I mean, I know Archie Bunker's is in the Smithsonian, and I would hate to think Marty's was thrown in a trash heap, never to be seen again.