Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday Questions

Let’s get some Friday Questions going, shall we?

Fed by the muse leads off:

Who in show business do you consider one-of-a-kind talents (be it actors, writers, musical artists, etc.), say your top five-to-ten (persons, more or less, of your time)? Thanks.

Hard to narrow it down to just ten. But here are some standouts, and I’m probably forgetting ten more (so please don’t write in angrily saying “why did you leave so-and-so off the list?”).

Larry Gelbart, Vin Scully, Cary Grant, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Oprah, Billy Wilder, Dan Ingram, Neil Simon, Paddy Chayefsky, George Gershwin, Meryl Streep, Jack Benny, Stanley Kubrick, Patsy Cline, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, and Billy Shakespeare.

From Erich617:

Is it possible that podcasting will replace radio as a training ground for performers? I am curious about your opinion in particular since you have done both.

Podcasts are an ideal training ground for talk radio but not music.

Podcasters have to pay license fees if they play music so very few do. All of my bumpers and jingles were done custom for me.

So if you want to be a radio DJ, podcasting won’t help you.

Of course, who wants to be a music DJ these days? So few stations employ live jocks so you’ll likely be recording voicetracks. And any personality is discouraged.

Sheila has two questions.

I wanted to know if the audience gets paid to watch the taping of the TV shows? Or at the least do they get some snacks?

It depends on the show, but there are services that do provide audiences. The show pays them. Especially if you have a new show that hasn’t aired yet, it’s difficult to get audiences off the street. So an audience service is employed.

Once the show becomes a hit and enough fans are requesting tickets then the services aren’t needed.

The services can provide specific types of audiences – like skewing older or skewing urban.

I should mention that tickets to TV tapings are always free. That is, when there are TV tapings again.

Depending on how long the shows keep their audiences they will often provide snacks, candy, and even sandwiches. You don’t want to be at a taping that offers sandwiches because it means you’ll be there forever. And trust me, after a couple of hours it gets old.

Which brings up another issue. The warm-up person will tell you you are forbidden to leave. Of course you can leave. Anytime you want.

However that doesn’t apply to people provided by audience services. They’re being paid to stay till the bitter end.

Are they allowed to ask the TV stars for autographs. Please share your experience on this, like if any of the stars are kind enough to walk and shake hands with the audience and sign a few autographs.

Some stars are gracious enough to volunteer to give autographs. But remember, they’re working. They’ve memorized a script, they’re about to perform, so they really have to concentrate on the task at hand.

A few will stay after and sign autographs, but a lot of times after the audience leaves they continue shooting pick ups. So their work is not done when everybody files out to go home. You wouldn’t hold it against an actor to not give an autograph in the middle of a play he’s performing in. So I ask everybody to please not hold it against them if they won’t sign an autograph or pose for a selfie. It's just a bad time. 

I don’t know if this is the case with all Disney Channel shows but the one time I was on the set of GOOD LUCK CHARLIE the audience was invited to come down to the stage after the filming and meet the cast. Selfies and autographs were permitted.  (See above photo) The cast was lovely with everybody and I really applaud them. This was coming after a very long and demanding day.

What’s your Friday Question… or Questions?


Troy McClure said...

I really don't get the adulation for Sinatra. Yes he was a great singer, but everything I've read about him reveals him to have been a horrible human being. He raped Marilyn Monroe. Natalie Wood was apparently "pimped out" to him aged 16. He was buddies with the Mafia, who had a brick thrown through David Letterman's window after he made a joke about Sinatra.

The guy was a scumbag.

Fed by the muse said...

Thanks for answering my question, Ken.

My (15) "one of a kinds" (keeping to people who are living/were alive sometime during my lifetime):

Rod Serling
Fred Rogers
Jonathan Winters
Dick Van Dyke
Peter Sellers
Elizabeth Montgomery (like Lucy, but in a different way, someone who truly "had the magic")
Phil Silvers
Woody Allen
Art Carney
Steve Allen
Earle Hagen - composer, known for his iconic TV themes: The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bill Dana Show, That Girl, Gomer Pyle, USMC, I Spy, Mod Squad, The Guns of Will Sonnett (with Hugo Friedhoffer).
Robert and Richard Sherman (treated as single entity) - from 'It's A Small World to "Gratifaction" they've provided, for decades, memorable, ear-catching songs.
Woody Allen
Paul Lynde

Andy Rose said...

The daytime courtroom shows like Judge Judy all use 100% paid audiences because they have very long taping sessions. It's easier to pay professionals who know how to continue to look interested in exchange for a paycheck than to try to keep a free audience warmed up the whole day. Although Judy has been known to kick some people out of the audience anyway.

Having a paid audience generally doesn't cost the show a ton more than a "free" audience. Even when you're not paying the spectators themselves, you still have to pay people to process ticket requests, escort the audience, do security screenings, and warm up. Wrangling a professional audience rarely requires more than a couple of extra PAs.

Fed by the muse said...

Sorry. Moved Woody Allen higher up the list, forgetting to delete his name from the end of it.

Sheila said...

Ken, thank you very much for answering both the questions :)

Ed said...

I see you didn't add Woody Allen.

One of the readers has done so in his list.

Another reader spoke about Sinatra being a scumbag.

I am confused.....

Do talented people who are accused of various nasty things lose their "aura" or are we afraid to name them on any lists in today's politically correct world?

In my case, I would have added Meryl Streep to this list but I lost respect for her after seeing her call Harvey Weinstein "God" and giving standing ovation to Polanski at the Oscars.

I guess talent and personal conduct both count in today's world......

benson said...

Billy Shakespeare, the infielder for the Athletics? LOL

RyderDA said...

Friday Question: On your advice, I've been listening to Rick Bro Radio and Great Big Radio; they're both awesome, so thanks for the recommendation! But a question regarding them: they are advertising free, and free to listen to. I don't understand the business model. If they are paying licence fees for the music they play, that's gotta be funded somehow. So how does it work?

McAlvie said...

Good list. I could think of some additions, but I agree that each of yours is a unique talent, the one and only, and instantly identifiable. Even for those I'm not a fan of, I can't deny that they are distinctive.

tavm said...

Among "SNL" cast members, I'd definitely place Eddie Murphy in the one-of-a-kind category. Oh, and Bill Murray, too!

Joseph said...

When I first moved to Los Angeles I got a job as a paid audience member. They paid us minimum wage for a set number of hours and then we were able to leave even though the show wasn’t done filming. I don’t think anyone who was being paid stayed after theY stopped paying us since most of the time we were just watching writers re-write jokes that hadn’t landed. The other half of the audience was made up of people from a halfway house who seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot more than us that were actually getting paid.

CarolMR said...

Sinatra raped Marilyn? Never heard that one before. They were on again/off again lovers for years.

Lemuel said...

Mary Tyler Moore

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Carol Burnett. Happy to jettison Sinatra to make room for her.


Jeff Maxwell said...

Great list, Ken.

I’d add Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Ingrid Bergman, John F. Kennedy, Judy Garland and Igor Straminsky.

But that’s just me.

Cap'n Bob said...

I recently read that the audience members of the Judge Judy show paid to be there in hopes of being spotted by an agent or producer. Anyone else hear that?

71dude said...

I'll add some names of my own:
Karen Carpenter
Dolly Parton
Alfre Woodard
Gene Hackman
Sam Cooke
Otis Redding
Bob Newhart
Paul Westerberg
Harry Morgan
Betty White
Frances Sternhagen
Kenny Rogers
Linda Ronstadt
Keith Whitley
The Ramones

Troy McClure said...

My ten one-of-a-kinds

Stanley Kubrick
David Lynch
Robert De Niro
Clint Eastwood
Bob Dylan
Jodie Foster
Steven Spielberg
Phil Collins
Bette Davis

Steve D said...

During the years I worked at Paramount Pictures I worked hundreds of show tapeings. I had the joy of many of those being of Fraiser. It was the only show where many in the audience dressed up to come see the show. They treated it as a night at the theater. To watch David Hyde Pearce do his one man Valentine's segment was one of my best nights. I thought the applause would never stop.

A producer on one of the talk show I worked on had worked on Jerry Springer. He told me all the audience members on the show were paid union actors, as were the guests. He said Jerry would have never turned his back on an off the street audience.

Lorimartian said...

I'd include Sammy Davis Jr. (especially), James Cagney, and Olivia de Havilland.

VP81955 said...

At least one, if not both, of the filmings of "Mom" I attended, the audience received slices of pizza. Since Chuck Lorre productions tend to attract top-tier talent -- actors, writers, crew -- the episodes each went smoothly.

The same held true for "Hot In Cleveland" at CBS Radford (the former Republic lot), but we received cookies with Wendie Malick's picture baked in, as it was her 64th birthday.

Attended a "Frasier" filming on a Tuesday in March 2000 (the other three occurred on Fridays), but don't recall what they fed us.

Kendall Rivers said...

Friday Question: Speaking of live tapings have you ever attended ones for The Odd Couple? I heard that back then it was as hard to get into an Odd Couple taping as it was for All In The Family at that time.

DanB said...

The closest I got to being a paid audience was attending a comedian's second attempt at doing a talk show. There was a raffle for door prizes after taping. I won priority tickets to attend the next night's show. Ehh, no.

Unknown said...

Howdy, Ken. I have a FQ which isn’t actually a question, but more of something else. The enduring thread in your blog is sitcoms. Which is why we and me love it. But here’s my FQ:

Is there any room within sitcoms to address major social issues — I’m talking about beyond the bullshit 1970s “Tonight ... on a very special Blossom/Family Ties/Diff’rent Strokes”?

And even more, does social messaging and TV/sitcoms even belong/go together? I am including a link to a clip from one of the most-awesome short-lived sitcoms ever: ‘Freaks And Geeks.’ To me, this scene (even better if you saw the whole episode for context) carried the weight, and within the framework of a sitcom.

What say you?

Mibbitmaker said...

My list of not-yet-mentioned (unless I missed one) one-of-a-kinds:

Robin Williams
David Letterman
Norm MacDonald
Dan Aykroyd
Joel Hodgson
Don Martin
Al Hirschfeld
Mitch Hurwitz
Dan Harmon

scottmc said...

Today Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams performed Samuel Beckett's 'Happy Days' live for the Benefit of the Actor's Fund. They received permission from the Beckett Estate to do it and leave it up on You Tube for four days. (Plays in the House 5/16 2pm Happy Days.) It is the same series that arranged the Frasier reunion.

Unknown said...

I had the same thought as 'Ed'. Did off-screen issues come into consideration? Would Woody Allen and Louis CK have been on the list a few years ago?
And are you going to read Woody Allen's autobiography?

Janet said...

Don't forget Andy Griffith!

ODJennings said...

Jimmy Cagney needs to be on any list of the greats.

Orson Welles called him the greatest actor he had ever seen, and his reasons were interesting. He said that Cagney's performance was completely artificial--no one talked like that, walked like that, or behaved like that, everything he did was unreal and stylized, but if you take his entire career, every second he's on screen is truth, he never had a second that wasn't true. Unreal but true.

Gareth Wilson said...

My Friday Question: The CW series Batwoman is recasting the main character because the actress has quit, after a whole season. Recasting seems rare these days, it's much more common to just invent a replacement character. Have you had any experience with recasting a character the audience has already seen, and how did they react?

WB Jax said...

Future Friday Question for you, Ken: Gone seems to be the days when the same actors would play several roles on a series, sometimes within a single season (e.g., Herbie Faye, Ned Glass, Phil Leeds, Stanley Adams, Bill Quinn, etc.), many of these actors becoming familiar faces (though not necessarily names) to viewing audiences. Whatever happened to character actor parts in series television?

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