Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Setting the Way-Back Machine for 2012

Here's my monthly look back at Friday Questions from ten years ago.  Lots of good questions and answers are buried in these musty archives.  Once a month I like to dredge some up. 

Long Paul starts us off:

What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said on the air?

Wow. There’s such a long list it’s hard to narrow it down. I once interviewed the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig and asked him about MLB’s pet charity, Stand up FOR cancer. (Should be Stand up TO cancer).

When I was broadcasting for Baltimore I interviewed Angel phenom, Wally Joyner. He was the poster boy for clean living. I wanted to end the interview by wishing him much success and instead I said, “Thanks for the visit, Wally, and I wish you much sex.”

And of course, my botched home run call. Again – Baltimore. I had just entered the big leagues and figured I needed a signature home run call. So I came up with “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis has left the building!” This worked fine for about two weeks until I jumped the gun and my call was, “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis is… off the top of the wall!”

That’s the last time I’ve had a signature home run call. And by the way, you don’t need one.

Alan Duke has a question about my post where the top 5 all-time shows were named.

Other than you and David, is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group. Congrats Ken.

Thanks. It’s something I’m very proud of. We’re in a select group but not exclusive. Glen & Les Charles wrote an episode of MASH so they qualify. Tom Reeder also wrote for both shows. Same with Larry Balmagia and David Pollock & Elias Davis. Bob Schiller & Bob Weiskopf wrote for both I LOVE LUCY and ALL IN THE FAMILY.

And of course several actors qualify as well. George Wendt and Shelley Long both did guest stints on MASH. And I’m sure there are character actors who did LUCY and FAMILY. Or CHEERS and SEINFELD. It would take me forever to cross-check but I wouldn’t be shocked if there was an old-time actor who did I LOVE LUCY, ALL IN THE FAMILY, and MASH. You guys, of course, are welcome to track that down and get back to me.

Steve B. asks:

When getting script notes from execs, are there any specific types of notes that you know are always just meaningless BS?

Yes. “Could you make him/her more likeable?” Networks invariably don’t want to even remotely offend anyone. But as Larry Gelbart once said about comedy writing, “If you haven’t offended someone then you haven’t done your job.”

Rhonda Crutcher wonders:

Hey, Ken! I have a question that occurred to me yesterday while watching the wonderful campaign ad for Michigan supreme court that featured most of the cast of the West Wing.

Who owns the rights to characters, like those on the West Wing, which are completely creations of one particular writer (in this case Aaron Sorkin)? I was wondering because Sorkin apparently didn't write that campaign ad, yet characters he created are in it. Would he have to have signed off on them being used? For that matter, Sorkin left the show after 4 seasons and other writers took over. Did he have to give the rights to use those characters over to the show? Does he ever have the rights to use them again?

Usually, the studio owns the copyright on characters. But it depends on the creator and what kind of deal he was able to negotiate.

As for the actors, the studio may own the “character” but not the likeness. Remember that case a number of years ago where several “Cheers” bars began appearing in airports? Paramount sanctioned them, but life-size figures of Norm & Cliff were featured sitting on bar stools. George Wendt and John Ratzenberger sued and won to get those ornaments removed. I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) so I don’t know what the line is between when a studio can show photos of the actor in character and when they’re required to get their permission and pay them. Maybe that’s what held up production of those AfterMASH action figures.

What’s your question? Please leave it in the comments section. Thanks.


Laurent said...

In my brief tour of duty in the TV Bizness, there were a couple of scripts that had a moment where we'd see a character in a photo. Once in a frame on the wall and once in the mock-up newspaper the art department made.

You'd think the request was for a kidney donation. The fuss and redtape to take a snapshot of the actor in costume-character boggled this naive little mind. I always wondered if our cast were extra-special prima donnas, because of all the shows since I see with character photos (ie: mugshots).

Mike Chimeri said...

I wonder what money John Ratzenberger gets for ornaments/toys of all the Pixar characters he's voiced. Incidentally, I passed through John's hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, while traveling to and from Milford for an annual smooth jazz benefit concert series I attend and photograph. (Photo recaps of both nights will be published on my blog Friday.)

gottacook said...

As long as you brought up AfterMASH, I have a question: When I watched the premiere in 1983, the last group of end credits included the phrase "A continuation of MASH". Why on earth would that have been deemed necessary? I presume some lawyers added it, but wasn't it self-evident in any case? Certainly Frasier never had an analogous credit.

Mike Chimeri said...

I believe the Frasier credit was:
"Based on the Character Created by Glen and Les Charles"

I should know that, but it's been five years since I binge-watched the series (after binge-watching Cheers).

VincentP said...

The lovely Sheree North is the only actor to guest on both "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (as Lou Grant's old flame) and "Seinfeld" (as Kramer's mom; in fact, it was her who disclosed his first name was Cosmo).

maxdebryn said...
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maxdebryn said...
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Derek said...

Friday question:
This week's Episode of Better Call Saul was directed by Rhea Seehorn, who is a main cast member of the show. It was her first time directing that show, or any TV show. How does her payment for her directing work if she is already a cast member and gets paid as an actor? Does she get a normal flat fee negotiated by the DGA in addition to her normal fee as an actor? Since it was her first time directing, perhaps she got a lot of assistance from the showrunner (or someone) – would that affect her director payment? Does any of this change if she had got her first writing credit instead of directing? Thanks.

Jahn Ghalt said...

This is a great feature - to "reprint" select blog posts.


That's a pretty select top-five:


If not for that brassy "fire-cracker" girlfriend, you might have had a shot at ALL IN THE FAMILY and gotten a third-notch in your belt.

I suspect the reason all five were comedies is that it was determined democratically - not always the best way to "make decisions" - just look at the last POTUS.

(and, according to Plato, a democracy killed Socrates)


I regret that I've never heard your baseball announcing. I DO like those 1/2-innings on the podcast. Rick Rizzs kept right up on one of them.

As for "needing" a signature home run call, I just found out today that Rizzs likes to use Niehaus' rye-bread/mustard/salami call (on Wikipedia).

And although the "No School in Borneo" is very "in" requiring a month-long set-up for an guy who never got out of A-Ball, that one is GREAT - thanks for sharing it.

Big Ray said...

I was watching an Angels game earlier this season when Matt Vasgersian botched a home run call. Not as memorable as your "Elvis" call but a botch nonetheless.

Kosmo13 said...

Lois Nettleton also appeared on both "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Seinfeld."

maxdebryn said...

Lois Nettleton was married to Jean Shepherd, the humourist, for a good many years.

Saburo said...

Speaking of home run calls... John Sterling has had one helluva season with the long flies, dating back to last season's Wild Card game.

Charles H Bryan said...

Your misfire on the home run call reminds me of some recent oopsies by John Sterling for the Yankees. I have to imagine that, given whatever viewing angle is available from the press box, it has to be easy to think that a ball is heading out.

Bradley said...

Shelley Long is a genius. I had no idea she did a MASH episode. I will seek this out on Disney+!

Earl Boebert said...

Friday Question

We were watching Frasier Season 9 Episode 21 ("Cheerful Goodbyes") on Peacock recently. The episode features many of the Cheers cast members who are attending Cliff's retirement party. Oddly, twice there was a short interruption of black screen. Was somebody cut out of the rerum for some reason?

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Ms. Long's "M*A*S*H" episode was "Bottle Fatigue." It originally aired Jan. 7, 1980.

Craig Gustafson said...

"It would take me forever to cross-check but I wouldn’t be shocked if there was an old-time actor who did I LOVE LUCY, ALL IN THE FAMILY, and MASH. You guys, of course, are welcome to track that down and get back to me."

HA! I did it! I took it as an insane late night challenge, and I DID it.

Elliott Reid (1920–2013)

"The Ricardos are Interviewed," a 1955 episode of "I Love Lucy."

"New Year's Wedding," a 1976 episode of "All in the Family."

"Sunday, Cruddy Sunday," a 1983 episode of.. "AfterMASH."

... son of a bitch!!!

TimWarp said...

Good job, @Craig Gustafson! I didn't recognize the name so I Googled him, and OF COURSE I recognized his face immediately! (Mostly from his roles in Doris Day movies.)

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Sheree North did a frenetic jitterbug with Jerry Lewis in Living It Up, which was based on Ben Hecht's show Hazel Flagg. Hecht's work is adapted from a short story that was also the source for the 30s screwball comedy Nothing Sacred with Carole Lombard and Frederick March.

ScarletNumber said...

@Craig Gustafson

I wonder if the Scrubs character was named after the actor.


When the Seinfeld reunion was held as part of the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, it helped that HBO and Castle Rock were both Time Warner brands. Four years later, there was a Seinfeld reunion for a Super Bowl commercial to promote Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. At the time it aired on Crackle, which was owned by Sony. Sony also handles the distribution for Seinfeld, which made things easier. As far as I can tell, NBC had no say in the matter either time.

Mark said...

I remember Doris Singleton, who played Lucy Ricardo’s frenemy Carolyn Appleby, guest starred on an early All in the Family, playing Edith’s roommate when she was sequestered on a jury.

It’s funny to think that only 11 years passed between the last “Lucy/Desi” special featuring the Ricardos, and the first season of “All in the Family”. They seem worlds apart.

Anonymous said...

And The Twilight Zone!

Tom said...

Re: cell phones. I recall reading somewhere that the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just decided that cell phones didn't exist in the show's universe since so many plots would have been rendered pointless if characters had been able to call each other and say "There's a demon heading for your house," or whatever.