Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Questions

Wrapping up May with Friday Questions.  What’s yours?

Matt gets us started.

How long do you think the networks will continue to air award shows in their current state? Could you see them moving it to on-line productions or simply slimmed-down, 1 hour quick recaps of all the awards? Or do you think it will always be this big production, regardless of how few people are actually watching?

The big problem is that the Academies are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Networks are paying big bucks for these shows and would like them slimmed down and jazzed up.  But the unions, rightfully so, won’t allow clips or participation if their members do not receive their awards and are allowed to speak on the actual ceremony.  

As more people are moving to streaming, I think networks will pay much less for the rights to air these ceremonies, and may not air them over all of their platforms.  

Like everything else, if a show doesn’t bring in a big audience, networks aren’t going to pay big money for it.  The NFL delivers.  Award shows no longer do.  

From Stan Garelik:

Thanks to your podcast I have been binging on Wings (so underrated) and loving it. My question is about the addition of Tony Shalhoub. He and his character Antonio gave the show a major shot in the arm   How did it come about to add him?

The producers had seen him as a waiter on an episode of CHEERS where he just killed.   What often happens is you’ll bring on a character for an episode or two and it’s clear they really click and offer the series a shot of adrenaline.  They then evolve into series regulars.   

Other examples I can think of are Bebe Neuwirth on CHEERS, Jamie Farr on MASH, and Christopher Lloyd on TAXI.  

In the case of Tony Shalhoub, he’s great in everything he’s in no matter what character he plays.  

Another Matt, Matt in Westwood, CA asks:

I believe you’ve mentioned having attended RHODA on more than one occasion. Can you share some details on that experience as well and perhaps how it compared to attending MARY TYLER MOORE?

They were both very similar, but with different warm up guys.  David Lloyd did the warm-up on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and was very high-energy.  Lorenzo Music, who played Carlton the Doorman, did the warm-up on RHODA and had a very gentle style.  Both men were extremely funny and quick-witted.  Each show also had a band to play during those ten minute stretches where the cast would change wardrobe.  

In both shows, the actors were well rehearsed and there were very few flubs.  If the filming began at 7:00, the audience was out before 9:00.  They were well-oiled machines.

The thing I remember the most about RHODA was that Vivian Vance guested in one of the episodes.  I was in awe getting to watch Vivian Vance perform.  And of course she hit every line right out of the park.  

I only attended one MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW filming.  As luck would have it,, it was the “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode.  So if you can only go to one

And finally, from James:

As a showrunner, how did you determine which episodes of your show (say Almost Perfect) would be submitted for Emmy awards in each category? Is there a limit? Did you have to try and include multiple directors' and writers' episodes so that more people got a shot at a nomination and a win?

I don’t know how many they’re allowed to submit now, but we were allowed to submit one for “best show.”  Quite simply, we put up what we thought was our best, funniest show.   

Writers, directors, and actors choose their own submissions.   I believe actors can let the show submit for them, but that’s a bad idea.  There have been cases where a show forgot to submit or submitted the wrong episode.  

Now that shows are more serialized I wonder if the submission policy for “best show” has changed.   The thing is, it’s one thing to ask a judge to sit through nominated five half hours; it’s another to ask them to sit through fifty half-hours.


Tommy Raiko said...

"As more people are moving to streaming, I think networks...may not air [awards ceremonies] over all of their platforms."

This is seems a safe bet. It was recently announced that the actual awards part of the next Tony Awards ceremony will stream on Paramount+ for the actual awards part, followed by a CBS broadcast of a special concert about Broadway's post-pandemic reopening.

The unique circumstances of the Tony Awards notwithstanding, it's easy to see the idea of moving an awards ceremony to streaming platforms becoming more common.

Jeff said...

Friday question: Ken, when you watch episodes of sitcoms you were involved with, do you sometimes recognize certain laughs coming from the audience?

Powerhouse Salter said...

Reading the expression "between a rock and a hard place" in today's blog entry reminds me of the Ron Howard movie GUNG HO, where one of the auto execs from Japan innocently mis-translates it to "between a rock and a hard on."

kent said...

Another great show addition was Steve Landesberg on Barney Miller.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I know Lorenzo Music's schtick was to not be seen as much as possible (hence why there's so few public photos of him known in existence) - it makes me wonder if he pulled a similar stunt while doing warm-ups for RHODA . . . a "man behind the curtain" thing, if you will.

maxdebryn said...

My Friday question: why are there so many producers listed on many of the latest streaming shows ? The Netflix "Daredevil" series lists more than twenty producers, co-producers, and executive producers, and the CBS "Picard" series has almost as many. Is it a vanity thing, or do these producers actually serve a function ?

DBA said...

I thought I'd read a couple years ago that 2-3 (I forget which, but it was more than one) episodes got submitted for "best show", but since I no longer recall the source, take it with a grain of salt.

RobW said...

What are your thoughts on RHODA, Ken ? Rhoda was easily one of the most beloved supporting characters to ever grace a sitcom (MTM) yet her stand-alone show never really gelled despite managing to run for 5 seasons. I've heard the usual excuses ( Rhoda was funnier as an underdog, etc)
yet the show constantly changed settings and characters, indicating the show runners knew something wasn't working. To me, almost every supporting character they introduced were essentially losers ( but not the lovable or identifiable kind). Was it just writing, concept or pure bad luck ?

Cedricstudio said...

I had no idea Tony Shalhoub played a waiter on CHEERS. I would love to see it. I tried to locate the episode but CHEERS is not listed as a credit on Shaloub's IMDB page nor on his Wikipedia page. Google also doesn't seem to know about it. Does anyone know what episode he was in? Or is Ken mistaken?

Call Me Mike said...

If they want to really boost viewership, the awards shows should ditch the stage production and go full Publishers Clearing House. I mean, who wouldn't want to see these people surprised in their bathrobes or with their mistresses when they get the golden statue?

Brother Herbert said...

Tony Shalhoub actually guested as a waiter on WINGS. His character name was Antonio, though I understand there is some debate whether waiter Antonio and cabbie Antonio are the same character.

I *do* recall seeing Thomas Haden Church on the CHEERS ep where Eddie LeBec dies and remember thinking how much he stood out, and I was not surprised when he turned up as a regular shortly afterward on WINGS.

David Riche said...

Related to Jeff's question about recognizable laughs... As a kid in the 1970s, I would watch all the classic sitcoms with my family. We'd always hear one guy who seemed to attend tapings for all the shows throughout the decade and laughed like an exotic animal doing a mating call. "Herrr, herrr, herrr“ three times vibrating from deep in the lungs, overpowering the rest of the audience. It was distracting because it was so noticeable, and we would laugh not at the joke we just heard, but at the weird honking that became so common throughout the years. We would make fun of the guy, trying to guess if he was intentionally trying to upstage the show or if he was just some lonely weirdo who had nothing better to do than go to TV tapings all day. Did you ever notice that same guy? If you were a director back then, would you have tried to handle the situation or just let him be?

Bob backwards said...

Cedricstudio, on his Wikipedia page it says he played a waiter on Wings in season 2 and that led to his being hired as a regular. Who knows. On another note, here is what's going to play out in baseball this year. My Toronto Blue Jays will win the World Series while playing all their home games in Buffalo. Before the Bills, before the Sabres, a city that has been waiting 100 years to celebrate something will see a team win a championship that has the name Toronto on their jerseys. What do you do when this happens Buffalo, do you claim it as your own or pretend it never happened?

Tudor Queen said...

I can't argue with you about Tony Shalhoub's range and talent. I adored him on "Monk," thought he was one of the best of the many good things about "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", did lovely work in the uneven film "The Siege" and I was lucky enough to see him on Broadway years ago in "Conversations With My Father" with Judd Hirsch.

And I envy you getting to see Vivian Vance from the live audience at "Rhoda".

Ere I Saw Elba said...

Re: Tony Shalhoub

Most people know him as a comic actor, but man, he has great dramatic range as well, as in one of my favorite films of all time BIG NIGHT. And he was funny in that as well.

"Make the pasta! Make it, make it make it, come on let's go"

"No, she is a criminal"

David P said...

Tony Shalhoub is now and ever shall be Tech Sergeant Chen, from the greatest Star Trek movie of all time, Galaxy Quest.

An incredible talent.

thomas tucker said...

Friday Question: since you mentioned MTM and Rhoda, those shows are mentioned prominently in a new book about how movies, TV, and rock music in LA in the 1970's really led the way for cultural change in America. It's called Rock Me On The Water by Ronald Brownstein. Have you read it, and what did you think of it? btw, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

Mike Bloodworth said...

It seem to me that you answered this question or a version of it not too long ago, but I can't be sure. This is probably more applicable to "M*A*S*H" than to your other series.

FRIDAY QUESTION: Have you ever been dissuaded from writing anything because of budgetary or logistical reasons?

I ask because the other day I watched the episode of "M*A*S*H" where the 4077th has to bug-out and leaves Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Radar behind to tend to a wounded soldier. (Not one of Ken and David's BTW) That made me wonder if you have ever been told "We've blown our helicopter budget for the season, so the wounded should only arrive by ambulance." Or "No bug-outs because it would require too much equipment." Or the less likely, "Keep Frasier at home or the radio station because we can't afford any new sets." Etc., Etc.

As always, if you have answered this previously I'll accept an archived answer.


gottacook said...

Rhoda ran 4 seasons, 1974-78.

Mike Schryver said...

RHODA ran for five seasons. 74-75, 75-76, 76-77, 77-78, and a truncated 78-79 season.

Gary said...

In response to Bob backwards: as a long-suffering (over 60 years) Buffalo sports fan, I can assure you there is no sports horror we can't endure and survive. After losing the Super Bowl four times and the Stanley Cup twice, watching Wide Right, the Music City Miracle and No Goal, whatever the sports gods are planning next does not scare us. If a Toronto team did indeed win a championship in our city, we will wince, shrug, and then move on with unwavering optimism.

Wally said...

Tony Shaloub as a waiter on Wings

Phil said...

Shalhoub’s waiter role was retconned into being Antonio the cabbie, as he makes a few references to having previously worked in a restaurant. This was made explicitly clear in the wedding video “clip show” episode, which includes scenes from his first appearance.

gottacook said...

I wasn't aware they made a partial fifth season of Rhoda. Did the (late) Kenneth McMillan's 1977-78 character continue?

N. Zakharenko said...

Mike Bloodworth

Do a search on this website for "bottle show" and I think you'll get your answer

Steve said...

The 1982 "Newhart" series was a Thurber cartoon with a piece cut out until Peter Scolari joined the series in Season 3. His instant chemistry with Julia Duffy -- and his total "fit" with the world of the show -- were so total that he replaced veteran Steven Kampmann beginning with the first episode of Season 3.

Matt, Westwood CA said...

Thanks so much for answering my FQ on the RHODA filming...and wow, the Vivian Vance episode? The audience must have been thrilled to see such an iconic guest star. One of the best episodes.

Regarding hitting the jackpot with Bebe Neuwirth on CHEERS, could not agree more. The first CHEERS filming I attended was DINNER AT EIGHTISH, her third appearance. The stars were aligned on that one. The night it was filmed, all the talk in the audience and questions to the warm up guy was about Shelley Long leaving the show. The plot of the episode, Lilith moving in with Frasier, was a nice signal she would be around more, which was exciting as she was a knockout, literally and comedically.

A new FQ: You often mention CHEERS teasers were written primarily by lower level writers, not necessarily the episode writer. What do you think is the most memorable teaser written by one of these writers and do you recall who wrote it? David Davis wrote the MTM episode with one of the all time funniest RHODA lines, but when pointed out to him, he always graciously acknowledges it was Treva Silverman who wrote the line during rewrites (do you know the line?) Back to CHEERS, on your NEVER DATE A GOALIE two parter, I always thought the answering machine device on part 2 was very shrewd (and hilarious) to address the part 1 recap. So...did you guys write that one? :-)

JessyS said...

Just a few tidbits about RHODA.

1. On the subject of crossovers, it was the perfect landing place for Mary Richards, Lou Grant, Phillis, and others. In fact, Sue Ann Nevins and Ted Baxter didn't attend the wedding.

2. Julie Kavner is in the main cast as Rhoda's sister Brenda.

3. The 1974 pilot beat Monday Night Football in the ratings.

4. The reason for the show's swift fall is because Joe and Rhoda broke up to begin the third season.

Xmastime said...

thanks Stan Garelik for the Wings love, as I consider it my life's service to get the word out about how underrated/overlooked it is!!! :)

Klee said...

RHODA could've been NBC's MAD ABOUT YOU...too bad they screwed up when they separated Joe from her. Julie was wonderful as Brenda!!! So was Nancy Walker as Ida Morgenstern!

Daniel said...

In response to David Riche:

The guy with the distinctive laugh was James L. Brooks, who produced a lot of the shows he was laughing at.

IIRC (and as noted in that comment thread) the laugh drew enough attention that Frank Lovece wrote about it in his book on the show Taxi.

Douglas Trapasso said...

I'll argue that Rhoda had the earliest shark jump for a show people are at least familiar with.

She (Rhoda, not Valerie Harper) arguably could have carried her own show. But we got to know Rhoda as a carefree single. Marrying her off in Season One (!) to a man we had very little invested in just set the show up for a quick fall.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Hi Ken,

Potential Friday question(s): I was just looking at the new Moonlighting: An Oral History by Scott Ryan and, in the introductory pages, he mentions that EP Jay Daniel had kept very detailed production notes, calling them "Information and answers that sat unread for years." I was wondering if such note-keeping was a typical practice? If so, why? (I have no idea how 'detailed' the notes were; just taking the author's word for it.)Did you do it (particularly for directing)? Do you know of any others who kept such notes that you'd love to see?

Thanks so much!

LAprGuy said...

Following up on the awards show question, maybe for another Friday:

By not breaking out between streaming, cable and network programming for its awards, do you think the Television Academy did the industry a disservice overall by putting Netflix, HBO, et. al., on even footing with Networks? Or did this actually make it better: Quicker subscriber growth, more shows, more jobs? It certainly has made Awards Shows nearly unwatchable because more/most nominees are unfamiliar to even an avid TV viewer, like me.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I know who you mean, I assumed it was the director trying to coax the audience, but your explanation is funny.

Steve C. said...

I thought I heard somewhere that that was Sheldon Leonard's distinctive laugh in the audience