Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Questions

Closing out January with Friday Questions.

Steve Weed starts us off.

Dragnet has always been one of my all-time favorite shows. I love the stylized acting, the distinct dialogue, and the blatant proselytizing. In all your time working with Harry Morgan on M*A*S*H and After M*A*S*H, did you ever have an opportunity to talk with him about his experience on that show and working with Jack Webb?

I did. He spoke fondly of the experience but did say Jack Webb was incredibly cheap. (It was Webb’s production company that produced the show.) For example, he noted that they wore same suits every episode because they went out and filmed exterior shots of them getting in and out of cars and going in and out of the Parker Center and this way everything would always match. And they could use the same exterior shots every week instead of filming new ones.

Jack also liked to wrap shooting every afternoon around 4:30, and Harry sure enjoyed that.

But often I would see him and say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” He would come back with a typical cryptic DRAGNET line he had uttered on the show.

God, I miss Harry. He was such a great guy – in addition to being an incomparable actor.

Anthony Hoffman is next.

I was watching a YouTube video from a Supernatural convention panel where actress Jewel Staite talked about how you can tell if the main actor(s) are assholes based on how the crew acts. She mentioned how happy the crew on Supernatural is after years on the air but said she’s been on sets where the crew couldn’t wait to go home. Is their truth to this?

She’s absolutely right. The star sets the tone. If the star is a team player and a mensch you can expect a happy set even if the production is a difficult one.

But if the star is a monster it creates a toxic atmosphere that affects everyone down to the craft services guy.

slgc wonders:

Aside from baseball, which you obviously love, which sports do you follow on a regular basis?

Football and basketball primarily. College and pro, although as a UCLA alum I have not had much to cheer about in the last two or three decades when it comes to football (and lately, basketball).

In addition to baseball, I also have done basketball play-by-play. Even got to do part of a game for the Golden State Warriors once.

I love going to hockey games, but I don’t really understand the fine points of the sport. I was at a Kings game once. I went to the restroom between periods and they had the radio broadcast piped in. They were analyzing the previous period, and at one point said “everyone in the arena could see (this strategy playing out)” and I thought to myself, “I didn’t see it. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But I love all sports. When I was in New Zealand a few years ago I went to a rugby tournament. I didn’t really understand it, but after about a half hour I sort of got it. And enjoyed myself very much.

And finally, from MikeKPa.:

Regarding dating writing partners, I assume that wasn't the case with you and David. However, did either of you ever set up a blind date for the other, or date a former ex of the other? And did any of those dates or situations wind up in a script?

David set me up with a couple of dates. He had a girlfriend at that time. No, neither one of us ever dated the other’s ex. Nothing could break up a partnership faster than that.

None of these dates have made it into a script – YET. There’s one that will at some point, but I’m not saying anything beyond that because I don’t want to give anything away.

Hey LA peeps, the reading of my full-length comedy, AMERICA’S SEXIEST COUPLE is tonight at the Atwater Theatre at 8 pm. A few seats still remain. Come join the fun. I want to see a full house. Here’s where you go for tickets. Thanks.


Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The sixties, color version of "Dragnet" has been mocked--unfairly, I think--for its heavy-handed approach to the drug scene.

But I think some of those episodes were on the mark and intelligently presented.

One story that had a baby drown in a bathtub while the infant's parents sat stoned out of their minds was horrifying--doubly so if the episode was based on a real case.

Joe Kobiela said...

Ken, glad you enjoyed rugby, as someone who played the sport for 20 yrs it means a lot. With the rash of concussions in football I would love to see rugby become the new national pastime. You don’t see the concussions in rugby because we wear no padding and your tackles are a different style, more wrapping up hardly ever see anyone straight up blasted.
Enjoy the blog
Joe Kobiela

Michael said...

I will always remember reading these things about Harry Morgan. One, that he said "Dragnet" was incredibly hard to do because you couldn't put any emotion into the dialogue--the straight faces and level tones were really tough.

The other is that David Ogden Stiers worshiped the ground he walked on. And I think Stiers is one of the underrated greats.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I read an article about Harry Morgan on DRAGNET a while back, and Alan Alda had described Harry as having this impish side to him that he loved to let loose on the set of M*A*S*H, because Jack Webb was as straight-laced and uptight off-camera as he was on-camera . . . for example, Alan explained that Harry would say if he cracked a joke on the set of DRAGNET at 9:00 in the morning, and then maybe crack one other joke later at 3:00 in the afternoon, Webb would say something to the extent of, "So, are we just going to goof around all day?"

marka said...

I understand how a star can make or ruin a set, that makes sense. But has a guest star in a show ever been so delightful and just such a good person that they lifted the spirits of the show for that week? Even so much as everyone wanted them back just becuase they were such a joy to be around?

J Lee said...

Morgan got one final chance to reprise his Bill Gannon role on "Dragnet" three years after the show ended, when he and Jack Webb were used in a comedy bit on Jack Benny's final TV special prior to his death (Harry's old-timey look here was because he was still co-starring on Hec Ramsey at the time -- his turn as General Steele on M*A*S*H would come a few months later, and then his role as Col. Potter a year after that):

VP81955 said...

I work alongside a woman who's a "Supernatural" fanatic, and this sitcom buff has become a fan of the show, too (I've now seen nearly every one of the 300+ episodes). It's easy to tell it's a relaxed set. I credit Jensen and Jared for the success of "Supernatural," just as Anna Faris and Allison Janney make "Mom" a smooth ship.

Jahn Ghalt said...

I recently found MASH on a streaming service and have sampled some of the Harry Morgan Era episodes. I really like his underplayed, slightly-gruff, dry wit.

To my surprise Loretta Swit as Hot Lips is more attractive than I remember - but then I have much better taste now than as a teenager.

Being a UCLA alumnus from the Wooden Era undoubtedly spoiled you - just as Magic and Kobe-Era Lakers likely did.

Cool to call a basketball game, As one who has dabbled in scoring baseball, I can hardly imagine one guy scoring a basketball game- so fast-moving - especially when you see a "shot-chart". The first one I saw was at halftime of a high-school game as a teen - by a lady assigned the task by the head coach. I suppose she was adjunct to the offical scorer.

Jahn Ghalt said...


Letting your baby drown while sober is likely far more common than such neglect drunk or otherwise intoxicated. If not, the "crime" is not drug use - but gross neglect (whatever the official charge is called)

We could all handle "heavy-handed approach(es) to the drug scene" if it weren't based on the reality of War on Drugs perversions against peaceful and ethical users and merchants.

Sorry to say that art follows reality in this case.

Janet said...

Hi Ken,

Given your long history with commercial radio, I was curious what you thought about this story....


Mike Bloodworth said...

I've got my ticket. I'll be there. In the past I've said, "Break a leg." But, then I thought that's only for the actor's and not the writer(s), director or crew. So, instead I'll say, "Dislocate a shoulder."

Unknown said...

Just read on one of those facebook click bait links, that Alan Alda was in the army, and served in Korea. Of course, not as a doctor.

UnWoke said...

May I recommend people go and see Richard Jewell. It's a terrific film directed by Clint Eastwood that tells the story of the enormous injustice done to Jewell, who was wrongly accused of being the Atlanta bomber in 1996. The acting is fantastic, and there's a very sweet MASH reference that occurs throughout.

It's a great pity that it didn't find its audience and has underperformed, but if there's a cinema near you still showing it, check it out. It's frightening to see the way unscrupulous FBI agents almost destroyed an innocent man's life.

sanford said...

I love hockey and have been watching for years. However I am not so sure about strategy either. With the puck going all over the place it almost seems impossible for there to be any strategy. Some times the same lines don't even play together so how is there strategy when that happens I am not sure why people think the rules are so hard to understand though. So for those of you who lie hockey but don't always get the strategy you might want to read the book Take Your Eye off the Puck

Cap'n Bob said...

Joe Friday never said, "Just the facts, Ma'am."

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@J Lee You forget he also reprised the role in Dan Akyroyd's 1987 movie remake; in that, Gannon had been promoted to Captain and was in charge of Friday's namesake nephew played by Akyroyd.

Jim said...

There are top shelf play venues in San Diego, Ken. A couple are down nearer to the bottom as well.

Any plans to stage something there? Time something to also see Mookie Betts play for the Pads.

Loosehead said...

UnWoke, its just a film. Its not real life, and its not "proof" that FBI agents were unscrupulous. A line of enquiry led them to investigate one of the people involved.

UnWoke said...

Loosehead, there's a scene in which the FBI agents tell Jewell they'd like him to take part in a training video in which they want him to "pretend" to confess to the bombing. That actually did happen. They lied so as not to read him his Miranda rights. Thankfully they didn't succeed.

I'm not sure why you refer to Jewell as "One of the people involved." Eric Rudolph was the bomber and he went on to carry out several more bombings.

If you believe law enforcement are all honest, ethical and trustworthy, I'd like some of what you're smoking.

-3- said...

As Michael noted above, David Ogden Stiers is always great. Even when terribly miscast physically as The Martian Manhunter, he made me want to hear him voice an animated version of the character.

And that brings me to a Friday Question:

In one episode of MASH, his character was discovered to be secretly pursuing a private charity agenda. When asked why, he explained that if it wasn't anonymous, it wasn't true charity because people often did it for the perception it creates of them. For the 'glory,' as it were. It was a concept that struck home to me, and informed many actions over the years.

Do you know whose idea that was? The need to soften the character of Charles Emerson Winchester III was obvious and simple enough, but who thought to go that route and make that point?

Mike Doran said...

What follows is not really a Friday Question.
I'm putting it up here because -
- I dunno …
… just an uneasy feeling I have:

Something really bad is going to happen at the State Of The Union address.

Exactly what, I can only guess - and all my guesses are awful.

Here is as close as I can come to a "best case scenario":

All of us know about the elaborate ceremony that accompanies the President's entry into the Chamber.
We also all know about the traditional flowery introduction given by the Speaker of the House.
I just have this feeling that, given the high level of hostility between the current Speaker and the current President, as well as the equally high animosity within both Houses of Congress, and the outright contempt that the current President holds for most of those that he'll be speaking to that evening …
Does the term "train wreck" occur to anyone?
Or how about "demolition derby"?

As you know, both the President and Congressional leaders can invite special guests for call-outs during the address.
I wonder (uneasily) how that's going to go, especially from Mr. Trump's end of things.

Further: You all remember the guy who shouted "You lie!" at Mr. Obama a few years back.
Given the far stronger feelings about Mr. Trump that exist within the Houses (in some cases within both parties) …
… and given Mr. Trump's known proclivity for going off-script at exactly the worst times …

… I'm already far over the line in this, and Ken, if you decide to spike this one, no offense taken.
I just have a bad feeling that this SOTU address will get possibly the highest tune-in figures in the recorded history of broadcasting - for the wrongest possible reasons.
And in certain other parts of the world … Certain People are going to have a great big laugh at our expense …

Mike said...

Many MASH fans prefer the first three years of the show because they are the most comedic. I recognize that but I sat I’ll prefer the BJ/Potter years. Partly because these are the episodes I grew up with. But mostly because of Harry Morgan. I love his character: wise and salt-of-the-earth, but with a sense of humor.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The 11-year run of "M*A*S*H" is like a symphonic piece with distinct movements, to use an analogy that Winchester/Stiers might appreciate.

It all adds up to something wonderful--one of the finest television programs ever.