Friday, April 09, 2021

Friday Questions

Friday Questions for your weekend pleasure.

Grumpy Gus starts us off:

Ken, how might actors/showrunners feel when a potentially big show is relegated to a network's streaming channel? I'm sure publicly they'll say all the right things ("And thanks to Paramount for making this all happen...") but I can't imagine they wouldn't rather be on a regular network. Will & Grace's reboot got that chance. So did Murphy Brown. Are they supposed to be flattered that they're the jewel offering of this new channel? Wouldn't they rather their show be exposed to a million more eyeballs?

Streaming is the future.  There’s also more freedom vis a vis content and language.  As long as the network doesn’t slice your budget, there are advantages to being on a streaming service.    

A good example is THE GOOD FIGHT on Paramount (formerly CBS All Access). It’s the spin-off of THE GOOD WIFE but with way more bite, way wilder subject matter, and top notch production values.    CBS decided to air some of it on the broadcast network and had to completely declaw it.  

I think it depends more of the show premise itself.  If you have a very mainstream idea, then yes, a broadcast network offers the advantage of potentially more viewers.  But if you want to do something a little edgy or off-beat, streaming should be your destination.  

Michael wonders.  

You have done so many podcasts that I don't recall - have you done any in which you interview a casting agent about their process and experiences?

I did a two-parter with casting director Sheila Guthrie back in July 2018. She was terrific.  You'll learn a lot. 

Here’s part one.    

Here’s part two.

From Marka:

I wonder how shows evaluate themselves after a season. Is it like football coaches going over film game by game at the end of the year and talking about what worked and what didn't? If so is it like we need less of the diner scenes and more in the bus station? Less of this character and more of that? We should stop asking this actor to do this because they're not very good at it? We need to change the apartment set because it isn't working?

If this happens, is it internal or at the instigation and direction of the studio?

Certainly we do it internally, both at the end of the season and constantly during the season.  As you suggested, we assess which shows worked, what our actors’ strengths and weaknesses are, what storylines worked, and what pitfalls to avoid in the future.   

And we tend to be very objective and critical.  

When studios and networks get involved it’s usually because the show is struggling.  Then everybody has an opinion.   It’s a pile-on.

Look, the truth is if you do 22 episodes a year, or even 13 — one will always be the worst.  You just have to hope it’s only one and not six.  

And finally, Daniel Kaufman:

How did Alan Alda become part of the creative team (writing and directing)?  Was he a welcome addition by the other writers or was he seen as an interloper?  I liked his work so I hope the former, but I could see it going either way. 

I can’t say enough good things about Alan Alda and his involvement with the process.  

His influence developed over time.  Even in the first few years when Larry Gelbart was in charge he was writing scripts.  He’s also a terrific director.  As the series evolved, Alan’s involvement grew.  

But I will say unequivocally, his participation was welcomed.  Alan was always a cheerleader.  He strove to make the show better.  He was extremely respectful, appreciative, and generous.  If someone pitched a joke in the writing room Alan was the one who laughed the loudest.

He contributed great ideas, terrific jokes, and always in the service of the integrity of the show.  It was never about “star turns.”   We always looked forward to having Alan in the room.  And often he’d take us out to dinner after a rewrite.  I love the guy!   

What’s your FQ? 


memocartoonist said...

I've been wondering this for years - never seen "Good Wife"... but I love Christine Baranski and have wanted to see "Good Fight".... do I need to see "Good Wife" to enjoy/understand "Good Fight"?

maxdebryn said...

I loved "The Good Wife," but I love "The Good Fight" a lot more. I really don't think that you need to see TGW to enjoy/comprehend TGF. That's just my opinion. "The Good Fight" doesn't focus on a single character, like "The Good Wife" did, and this gives the show the opportunity to give the other characters more attention.

Steve Bailey said...

Just came across this on Twitter, from one James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble):

"They told us we were supposed to mature as we got older, but when I was in my 20s I generally defaulted to soaking up the work of great directors... Fellini, Kurosawa, Ozu, etc. Now, I get far more excited when I see that MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE is streaming on

Unknown said...

Follow up FQ, since you mentioned the future is streaming, does that open up doing more shows for you? Or because there are 5,387 streaming services, you can get a show going, but the budget would be $322 a season.
Does streaming encourage you to do another show, or since you have such experience, you will only get into it if it is on a major streamer?

Breadbaker said...

@unknown: you'll find a lot of answers to this exact question in Ken's interview with Preston Beckman on this week's Hollywood & Levine podcast. They go into great depth about the economics of podcasting and its likely future.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

This is a Friday question that is somewhat related to your recent podcast on changes in the TV biz:

When did Standards and Practices become a common part of network television, and how much do they continue to affect the content of shows? Also, do the same network standards and FCC regulations apply to internet streaming?

Lemuel said...

Haven't seen TGF but but I remember two characters she was prominent in, the horn-dog on CYBYLL or the cold doctor on BIG BANG. I hope it's the latter.

ScarletNumber said...

I do think there is a stigma being on a streaming service rather than actual TV, but one advantage is that you have flexibility with the length of your episodes. Some of these episodes of Young Sheldon are clocking in at 18 minutes because CBS wants to sell 12 minutes of time.

Steve Bailey said...

You raved about working with Alan Alda on "M*A*S*H." An alternative take can be found in Jackie Cooper's autobiography "Please Don't Shoot My Dog." Cooper directed a few of "M*A*S*H's" early episodes, and to hear him tell it, he was constantly at loggerheads with Alda over one thing or another. Why do you suppose this was?

Verna said...

Friday Quesrion: David Hyde Pierce is usually photographed wearing glasses. Did he wear contacts on Frasier or did he “go blind” for the role of Niles?

Bill O said...

I'll give Jackie Cooper points. I remember one of his eps shot in Robert Altman's style. With a crowded busy background. Don't think network tv was fond of it tho.

Sammy B said...

^ Steve that's a good question. I don't doubt Ken's opinion at all, but those feelings from Jackie Cooper always throw me. It's interesting the opinions were so different. Not everybody gets along, so I appreciate it could just be personality conflicts. I'd love to one day hear Alda's side of why he and Cooper seemed to rub each other the wrong way.

Jason Gracey said...

I didn't like the Good Wife much. My wife was a fan so she watched the Good Fight as well. I liked it far more and didn't need to know much from the previous series.

Anonymous said...

Recently met Alan Alda out to dinner one night in the Hamptons, he was so very gracious when I stopped to say hello and tell him what a big fan I am !! A real class act !!!