Friday, March 06, 2020

Friday Questions

Here are FQ’s for your weekend pleasure.

Houston has a problem has a question.

Where do you stand on the concept of holograms of dead singers in concert with live bands? There's going to be a concert tour in which a hologram of Whitney Houston will appear on stage while playback of her vocals are backed up by a live band. I think the whole thing is grotesque and tasteless, and I question the intelligence of anyone paying to watch such a travesty.

Well, it certainly would be weird – especially if Whitney takes requests.

Any chance they could put something together like that for Caruso?

I’ve never been to one of those. I think they have them for Sinatra, Elvis, and Roy Orbison. I love their music and enjoy watching footage of them, but if I’m going out for the evening I think I’d prefer a live performance from someone who is alive. Call me picky.

Is a Whitney Houston hologram really more preferable than a Whitney Houston impersonator?

Terry Harvey asks:

About "you OK?". Practically every show I watch has a moment where one character asks another, "are you OK?" or simply "you OK?" Rarely does a TV episode or movie not have this moment, and sometimes multiple times. Is there any way around this writing device that is used so often? Or is it simply a necessary means for quickly advancing the story by green lighting a character to have their moment and letting the emotions flow? Have you used this dialogue in your stories? Everyone else does and it is easy to see why but do you feel this is a lazy device or a needed one that can't be avoided?

Truthfully, I’ve never thought about it, nor has it bothered me. My rule is simply this: In that given situation, is that what a person would really say?

In real life, if you see someone hit with some shattering news and wrestling with how to deal with it, “Are you okay?” seems an appropriate question. You need to hear how wrecked they are before you can deal with them properly.

But the question needs to be earned. If you’re asking “Are you okay?” because your friend can’t get good cell service in a bus, then I’d say it’s either unnecessary or get less brittle friends.

From J Lee:

Baseball question -- Any feelings, plus or minus on MLB's floating the idea of expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams and letting the No. 2-3 seeds in each league pick their opening round opponent, in some sort of reality show setting?

I hate it. It’s just another example of baseball sacrificing the integrity of the game for a stunt and a way to make more undeserving teams competitive. And it just dilutes the product. It's a money grab, pure and simple.

Pennant races used to really mean something. You could win 100 games and if the other team won 101 you went home. The last two weeks of the season were delicious. Now good teams are assured playoff spots in mid-September and the only real races are which mediocre teams eek into the playoffs?

And mark my words, after 2021, the National League will be using the DH.

And finally, from Mark:

Could you write about how budgets are set for shows? Is it a negotiation? You'll say what sets you need and they'll give you some of them to start? Is hiring actors like getting an NFL team under the salary cap, so maybe you can't hire as many regulars as you'd like because the cost is too high? Do they put new shows on the small soundstage in the bad part of town until they make good and then move them to a better location? Would, say, the number of trips to Hawaii for Big Wave Dave's be something also negotiated?

Studios will negotiate “license fees” with networks. Let’s say in round numbers CBS gives you a million dollars for each episode of your sitcom. If you go over that number the studio has to pay the overage. In the old days, before networks owned studios, that was a risk often worth taking because the studios owned the shows and if FRIENDS became a big hit, Warner Brothers, not NBC would reap the billions.

Now networks are often negotiating against themselves. But they own the show.  They might now even keep lower rated shows on the air to get enough episodes to use for their other platforms.  

The studio has to determine whether the license fee is sufficient to produce the show. Salaries, production costs, stage rental, shooting on location – all must fit within that overall budget. To save money some shows shoot in Canada, or in converted warehouses in Sylmar, or on tighter shooting schedules.

If the show becomes a big hit then license fees go up as actors salaries rise and producers salaries rise. Let’s say an actor is signed for five years initially (with raises built in). After five years the network and/or studio has to roll up a Brinks truck.

There have been times when studios feel they can’t produce the show for the license fee they’re offered and they turn down a coveted series order. It just makes no sense financially.

And it’s becoming harder and harder to negotiate because networks want to save money but audiences are now accustomed to high production values.  Today, we'd NEED to go to Hawaii on BIG WAVE DAVE'S.

What’s your FQ?


Houston has a problem said...

Thanks for answering my question.

One of the saddest things about how Whitney ended up is that her voice was completely shot. YouTube videos of her last performances are painful to watch. Even if she was still alive, a Whitney impersonator would be better than the real thing.

Peter J. said...

"Any chance they could put something together like that for Caruso?" Not Caruso yet, but there's a Maria Callas hologram tour that's been going since 2018.

Stephen Marks said...

Re: Terry Harvey's question. Ken said, "...but the question needs to be earned." Here's a good example of that from M*A*S*H no less, the episode is called "The Life You Save."

B.J. confronts Charles after he finds him asking one of B.J.'s patients about what it's like to almost die.

B.J.: Are you alright?

Charles: Perfectly

B.J.: Nothings bothering you?

Charles: Absolutely nothing

B.J.: Then what the hell is the matter with you?

Fact-checking Ken is no fucking fun, he always nails it.

Anonymous said...

There have been some pretty good pennant races/last days of the season since wild card teams have started. Here's one:

Curt Alliaume said...

There have been some pretty good pennant races/last days of the season since wild card teams have started. Here's one:

Mike Barer said...

Holograms are wrong in every sense of the word.

Earl Boebert said...

Years ago I went to a writer's conference where Richard Matheson and his son Richard Christian were on the speaking agenda (which was really cool). Richard Christian was then writing for the A-Team, which he described as the only show on TV where you could fly a helicopter into the side of a cliff and the next line in the script was "Are you OK?"

Earl Boebert said...

Years ago I went to a writer's conference where Richard Matheson and his son Richard Christian were on the speaking agenda (which was really cool). Richard Christian was then writing for the A-Team, which he described as the only show on TV where you could fly a helicopter into the side of a cliff and the next line in the script was "Are you OK?"

Houston has a problem said...

Peter, I just looked up the Callas link to see what they're charging. The top seats at the Japanese "concerts", if you can call them that, are 12,000 yen, which is about $113.

$113 to see a hologram.

What a time to be alive.

Paul Gottlieb said...

Re: Baseball. I think expanded playoffs became a necessity when baseball expanded the number of teams. If there are thirty teams, you really don't want a situation where in twenty-six cities, they quit watching baseball on August 1, while only the top two teams in each league fight it out. That can't be healthy for the game. As a (very) old baseball fan, I was originally appalled when they expanded the playoffs, but I think it has worked out OK. As for the suggested new gimmicks, they are simply stupid

LinGin said...

Yep, pennant races were the most fun and exciting. Unless you were a Philadelphia Phillies fan in 1964 that is. (I still haven't got over it).

cd1515 said...

Friday question: why does seemingly every movie have the “no way in hell“ moment in the first 5 to 10 minutes, where the main character insists there is no way in hell he’ll do whatever the plot of the movie has him doing (climbing Mount Everest, teaching third grade, meeting his ex for lunch, etc)?
We know he’s going to do it.
There’s no movie if he doesn’t do it.
Couldn’t we skip this part and just get to the story?

Jeff Boice said...

I like the current MLB playoff format- winning the division is still important, but adding that second wild card spot allows a team to overcome a slow start (like uh-ahem- the 2019 Washington Nationals) and charge into the playoffs. And I hate the idea of teams choosing their playoff opponent- I close my eyes and envision an Playoff Selection Show where the Dodger GM introduces Kim Kardashian, who then announces the Dodgers selection.

The NFL is planning to expand their playoffs as well, which is also a bad idea. If it had been in place this last season we would have been denied that wonderful moment when Kevin Harlan called two games at the same time.

John in NE Ohio said...

The best option I've seen for DH.
Every pitcher upon entering the game either is designated to hit for himself or use a designated hitter. If using a DH, the two will be treated as a single player. Therefore if you change pitchers your DH is out, and the new pitcher either hits for himself or has a hitter designated. Add a few roster spots to cover the extra bench needed.
Once a player enters the game they cannot go from DH to position/pitcher or visa versa
Players get more jobs, managers still have to strategize pitchers ala NL. Fans still have offense ala AL.

blinky said...

I really enjoyed your podcast about how you got into baseball announcing. It was fascinating really. I may have missed how you did 3 years of 144 minor league games AND wrote for Cheers or whatever. How did that work?

Also about how you went to actual games and did pretend announcing was amazing.

At the end you rushed to end it but I wanted more. Remember it is a podcast and if it is too long the listener can pause it and come back. Joe Rogan does hours long podcasts and he is an asshole. You should let the story unfold.

I love listening to Jon Miller do Giants games up here in NorCal. You should get him to do a podcast with you. That would be great. Do 2 hours.

Also the one you did with the executive Pike was great. His stuff was golden. You could have gone on for hours with him. His side of the story is never told.

Unknown said...

As for holograms, yearsss ago, SCTV had a great skit about the touring of "Elvis's Coat". Listen to his music as you watch his coat, LIVE!

Clara said...

Random FQ : Are you scared of Coronavirus?

Or better, a funny post on the virus....

Mike Bloodworth said...

"He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed."
Rev. 13:15 NKJV
I'm not proselytizing, but between holograms and the advancements in virtual reality is this really that much of a strech? It's moving from the realm of fantasy to a very possible future.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

Cap'n Bob said...

I really hope the NL installs the DH during my lifetime. Having the pitcher hit is like having the quarterback kick field goals. It's time for a sensible change.

Max Clarke said...


The Writers Guild Foundation has a five-minute Youtube introduction to their library and community programs. Its pretty good. They put it up in January.

At 2:46, you make a quick appearance.

What were you doing for the Writers Guild when they filmed you?