Friday Questions on Wednesday



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  • Friday Questions on Wednesday

    Since Friday is Christmas I’m doing Friday Questions on Wednesday this week. I hope this doesn’t throw off your calendar for the next year.

    Roger Owen Green is up first.

    In 2020 fiction, do you address COVID, pretend it didn't happen, or what?

    It depends on the show. If it’s set in present day and you’ve established yourself for several years I’d say you were almost obligated to address it. Some shows I’ve noticed have dealt with the economy going to **** and the struggles to stay afloat and keep their employees. Others have had characters contract the virus. But my heart goes out to those shows.

    Unless it was absolutely necessary to set my show or movie or play in the pandemic I would avoid it like, well… the plague.

    People don’t want to watch shows that remind them of COVID. NBC had that comedy about the pandemic and it died a quick and horrible death. I think there are numerous projects about “odd couples” forced to live together in lockdown. I’m super glad I don’t have one of them. It might’ve seemed like a good idea in April. Not now.

    I have several plays I’m working on that I began before the pandemic. I’ve adjusted them all to be set either before or after 2020.

    MellaBlue asks:

    I was watching an old episode of Cheers the other night, and I was kind of struck by the rather prominent placing of a Budweiser bottle and a Coors bottle. I'd never really noticed "branding" before and I've watched every episode multiple times. So my question is.... was Cheers approached for product placement by liquor companies and did they accept? Or were these bottles just good props with no sort of deal struck with the companies?

    Before we went into production, the Charles Brothers said to NBC that for the sake of authenticity we needed to mention specific brands of liquor. Otherwise, the whole atmosphere of the bar would ring false. They agreed to it so long as we didn’t overdo it.

    Along those lines, we occasionally got away with showing brand names on bottles. But we did it sparingly. And no one approached us for product placement, nor did we ever take money for product placement.

    I have to say, that the NBC Standards & Practices Department was very reasonable and we worked well with them throughout the run of the series. They understood that we were an adult show, but we were never looking to shock anyone or ruffle feathers simply to attract attention.

    From “Ray’s Profile:”

    On the cast list (for my Zoom reading of GUILTY PLEASURES) is Tony Pasquilini as "Etienne." Are credits like this (or, say, Jerry Mathers as The Beaver) negotiated or just added on a whim by the author?

    Those are negotiated. It’s another way to elevate an actor’s credit. Only one or two people can receive top billing. But “and by” is a way of separating the actor from other cast members.

    Credit and billing is a huge consideration. Where in the credits does your client appear? Is it a shared card? Is it the same size font as the star's? It’s often easier to negotiate the money than the credit.

    Chris Thomson wonders:

    Did you have private viewing parties for the final episodes of iconic shows you were on?

    Like Mash, Cheers and Frasier etc?

    For CHEERS we all went back to Boston and watched it at “Cheers.” That was very cool. It was private inside, but outside on Boston Common a giant Jumbotron board was set up and thousands more watched from there.

    There was a private party for the MASH finale. It was in a screening room. I was working on CHEERS that night and was unable to attend.

    But then MASH had a huge wrap party at a local restaurant and I got to hang out with former president Gerald Ford. That was only slightly surrealistic.

    And finally, from another Chris — Chris G:

    Was MASH exceptional in filming so quickly? Did the fact that the wardrobe was mostly uniforms and there were rarely new settings help keep production times that short?

    I don’t think so. We allotted three days to film a half-hour episode. At the time that seemed to be the rule. And we generally had no problem delivering on that schedule. And in my limited experience at the time, I knew of no alternative. That’s just the way it was.

    Happy holidays. Be safe. That’s more important than Christmas celebrations.