Friday, January 03, 2020

Friday Questions

Wow, where has this year gone? Here’s some FQ’s.

First up is Lisa who has two questions:

Ken, I was looking for the list of all the awards which you have won. Wiki list is short and here on the blog too no list is given. Could you please post a blog with the list of all the awards that you have won?

Not to toot my own horn, but…

One Primetime Emmy
Two WGA Awards for Best Comedy Script
One People’s Choice Award
One GLAAD Award
Peabody Recognition
Humanitas Recognition
Two Southern California Sportscaster Awards – Best sportstalk host
One Virginia Sportscaster of the Year Award

And numerous nominations.

Also can you please share your experience of some of them. I am sure they are interesting. So far, apart from the Emmy, you have not written about the rest of the awards.

Okay, Lisa, here’s one of my favorites:

My writing partner, David Isaacs, and I had been nominated a few times for WGA Awards and lost. They were presented at dinners that were black tie optional. We each would spend a hundred dollars and rent tuxedos and never go on stage.

Finally, we decided to just dress in dark suits. Why waste the money?

We won. David got up to the microphone and said, “Sorry. We dressed for nomination only.” It brought down the house.

1955david wonders:

My wife and I are binge watching FRASIER. We are loving them. My question, how were the guest callers lined up? And how were they recorded? We always watch to the end to see who they were. Thank you.

They were lined up by casting director, Jeff Greenberg. And then recorded after the episode in question had been filmed.   I don't know who in the sound department handled the actual recording, but since they were phone calls, the celebs were able to just call in and record it over the phone.  They'd be sent the script and a time was arranged.

In front of the audience we just had an actor off-stage pinch-hitting for the celebrity actors. And the actually recording was done later at the actor’s convenience.

As a writer, I had no idea who was going to be the caller when writing episodes.

A few of the celebs who voiced our call-ins were Kevin Bacon, Art Garfunkel, Linda Hamilton, and Dr. Timothy Leary. Not many people can say they wrote comedy for Timothy Leary.

And finally, another Lisa. LisaDins asks:

Been re-watching the first Season of Cheers this week and man, does it still hold up. Shelley Long and Ted Danson have such great chemistry. Did they screen test together or was it just a miracle of casting?

There were three candidates for Sam and three for Diane. They were paired up and the plan was to mix and match. Ted & Shelley happened to be paired together in the first round. Once they did it it was clear they were the ones.

What’s your Friday Question?


Stuart Best said...

Hi Ken. Friday Question for you (with a bit of a preamble).

When I watch old episodes of Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier, I realize how many of the stories wouldn’t work today, because the plots revolved around miscommunication and people not being in the right place at the right time. Today, someone would just use a smartphone to text or call that person. I’ve seen the phone used as a cheat on The Good Wife and Homeland – so many times a character was entrapped, they’d just get the “bad guy” to admit to everything and then pull a phone out of their pocket and say “Ha, I recorded the whole thing.” The lack of devices in old shows makes the stories so refreshing in retrospect. I see that your last writing credit is Frasier in 2004. Do you feel glad you don’t have to write stories in the age of gadgets, or would that not be a problem for you?

Lisa said...


First Friday questions of this year and both my questions answered.

Thanks a lot Ken :)

Rich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

Friday Question: Have you seen this screenrant article listing off all the ways Cheers is "offensive" nowadays? I'm particularly curious about your reaction to this person's opinion of "Boys in the Bar", which I think completely misses the point of the episode.

Boomska316 said...

My favorite celebrity caller was John Lithgow as the used car salesman trying to sneak in a free plug on the air.

The times we live in said...

Hey Repuglicans. When World War III soon kicks off thanks to the fat fuck who wants a distraction from impeachment, please don't say Obama was worse. Soon you're gonna have the blood of millions on your hands.

P.S. Is there a handbook given to every Republican president that says they must start a war?

Todd Everett said...

Some years ago, I attended so many awards shows as press, paying for my rented mandatory tux out of my own pocket, I finally decided to buy one.

And so I did, from Zachary All. While his son did the greeting and wrote up the sale, Eddie* himself did the fitting. It was an honor worth the price, which wasn't much, in its own right.

* familiar to Angelenos from countless late-night commercials and a short-lived local talk show with Oscar Levant, and to Frank Zappa fans the world over.

Andrew said...

@The times we live in,
I'm curious how many people you know from Iran.

Charles Bryan said...

@Todd Everett "Billy the Mountain" is my favorite Zappa recording (and one of my favorites by anyone). It's been a couple of years since I listened to it; time to do so again.

Ken, while all of the awards are well-deserved, the SoCal award reminds me of when I'd download Dodger Talk from iTunes. A pure pleasure, and great fun.

Pete Starkey said...


Thanks for posting the link to that Screenrant article. I hope Ken responds to your question, especially what it says about "Boys in the Bar." This is a case of intentionally misrepresenting circumstances to further a particular viewpoint.

I was a gay teenager when that aired, about 14 or 15. I knew I was gay but it was not safe to be out, so I lived as a bit of an outcast. Classmates in high school knew I was different because I couldn't even pretend to talk about girls in a natural way. I was lonely and occasionally bullied.

I loved watching Cheers with my family back then. The Boys in the Bar episode was meaningful. It me gave hope that acceptance was possible, and showed that society was changing. I needed to see that, and I was glad that the show was telling my family something that I could not say myself. To have Sam and Diane's message of acceptance be heard by millions and to have the viewpoint win out in the end was very comforting. It did not inspire me to come out -- as it shouldn't have, the times were too dangerous for teenagers then. But it did show me that some grown ups were on my side, and I was not alone. I was also aware on some level that straight studio execs and advertisers were supportive too. The fact that it aired was very telling.

The Screenrant article does a huge disservice in its depiction of that episode. It says that the homophobic stuff said by some characters was supposed to make them sympathetic. Far from it. Those were the things I heard in high school. It was realistic. Sam and Diane talked back and put forth arguments that other people didn't feel safe to give in real life. They said what needed to be heard. And when Sam was torn between losing his long-time customers and standing up for what he believes in, well that was a realistic business dilemma in that time. It was handled well.

When looking back at old TV shows and movies, it's a bad idea to hold them up against today's standards. How do we know that we're not offending the social standards of 2050 right now? IF we can't look forward 30 years to figure out what horrible things we'll be judged by in the future, how could we have expected writers from the 1980s to get everything right? Even if the Boys in the Bar episode got some things horribly wrong, it DID advance gay rights a notch forward, and helped give us the privilege to be where we are today. It's terribly unfair to go back and slap Levine and Isaacs for taking a risk and pushing the line forward for us.

kent said...

Historically, more wars have begun under democrats. WWI, WWII, KOREA, VIET NAM. Republicans habe mostly gotten us into debt.

JerseyJen said...

They attacked the embassy! Holy crap. I can’t believe you.

kent said...

If you'll pardon the expression, Damn Straight. You can't accurately view yesteryear through today's lens.

Brian said...

@Pete Starkey,

What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. I, too, was a closeted gay teenager when I first saw that episode, around 2004 or so. It made a similar impact on me. Living in a small, rural town that wasn't exactly open minded, I had many mixed feelings, and seeing such a well-written show focusing on the issue was a joy - not to mention the joy of discovering "Cheers" after years of only knowing "Frasier"!

I never for a moment believed that viewers were supposed to side with Norm, Cliff and the other misguided barflies. The story was about Diane guiding Sam to a point of understanding and acceptance, and then Sam attempting to do the same with the barflies. Norm and the others weren't bad people, they just didn't understand, and were taught an important lesson in a humorous way. And let's face it, that mindset was (and is) a reality. Is art not supposed to imitate life anymore out of risk of offending people? Anybody who can't see that is clearly just looking to be miserable about something. The points you and Kent made about not viewing the past through today's lens are spot on.

Thank you again for sharing your story. It's truly wonderful how television moments like this can bring people together from so many walks of life, and I feel sorry for those who can't enjoy this episode for the hilarious yet enlightening story it is.

(Oh, and Norm's line about "gays for the metric system" is still one of my all-time favorites, along with "Ferns, Sammy! FERNS!" Thank you Ken and David for such great quotes!)

James said...

A Friday question. I was watching the Steve Gordon version of The Practice with Danny Thomas. In-between seasons, one of the tweaks they made was to completely change the set of the son's house, but with no explanation that he'd moved. But other than the entrances and exits being rotated, it didn't do anything other than redecorate with new furniture and fixtures. They also changed the theme song, and not for the better.

As a show runner, do you ever see set changes or theme-song changes as ever being for the better? Do they ever help? On a long-running show I can see it breaking the monotony, but on year 2?

Jahn Ghaly said...

I regarded the homophobic statements in "Boys" as being Archie Bunkerish - intentionally so by the writers. IWO, those statements made the characters look ignorant and foolish - not "sympathetic". The seemingly "woke" author of that article gets it right that those characters are likable, but not that a likable character can hold moronic ideas.

Brian and Pete Starkey might be pleased to know that my son (Class of 2013), "out" at age 16 and my foster child, "out" somewhat earlier, both attended an alternative 7-12 school where bullying is not tolerated. Generally, bullying does not require adult attention - the students suppress it.

Apparently this is a long tradition - I know of a 7th Grader (class of 1984) who tried to bully another at that same school - this was squelched immediately by some older boys.

Jahn Ghalt said...

I showed Boys in the Bar to my son , "out" at age 16 and now 23. He thought it was funny and did not take offense to any it.