Friday Questions



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  • Friday Questions

    Glad that so many of you like Friday Questions. Here are a few more.

    Brian Phillips is first.

    I just watched a Cheers episode in which the running gag was that Sam's Plymouth Volarè was keeping Sam from scoring with women.

    Since the episode made the airwaves, it seems that the Chrysler Corporation was OK with this. What have been some surprising corporate responses to script references?

    One in particular. David Isaacs and I wrote the CHEERS episode killing off Eddie LeBec. Our idea was that he’d get run over by a Zamboni Machine while skating in an ice show.

    Our legal department said we couldn't use the name Zamboni since the episode shows them in a less than glowing light. We took a shot and contacted Zamboni ourselves. Not only did they okay our use, their president flew out to watch the filming and brought t-shirts.

    The episode is called DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY ON ICE if you’re interested in seeing it.

    Another instance, our use of Coca Cola in VOLUNTEERS but I’ve told that story many times. Easy to look up if you’re curious.

    McTom asks:

    Barney Miller told great stories while being 99% anchored to the primary squad room set, Barney's office included. The Honeymooners is the prime example, but what other great sitcoms made do with such limited settings?


    Feel free to chime in with others I missed.

    slgc has a FQ regarding my podcast interview with Joe Buck.

    Buck was discussing the concept of in-game interviews, and he seemed to like them. Personally, I cannot stand them - they distract from the game to the extent that the action isn't even shown, or if it is then it's relegated to a tiny box in the corner. If I'm tuning in to watch a game, I want to watch the game! It's one thing to have a special guest in the booth, but not when the focus on the guest prevents fans from actually seeing what's happening on the field.

    What are your thoughts about them?

    If it’s an exhibition game like an All-Star Game, I don’t mind it all. The game means nothing anyway and it’s fun to hear players interact with Joe.

    But now we’re in the playoffs. During any game that counts I say no interviews or anything to distract the players. That includes the in-game managers chats that they do now. I’d eliminate those. The managers are just spouting bullshit anyway. They’re not going to divulge their strategy or rip the other team. They just put a positive spin on their players no matter how good or badly they’re playing. Lose it.

    Exhibition games are “television shows.” Playoffs are competition. TV should stand back and let the boys play.

    And finally, from Bob Waldman:

    What causes you, if ever, to give up or put aside a script or story idea that you originally thought was good?

    First off, it has happened.

    For me, it’s usually in the outline stage. I realize the story has some major flaw I don’t feel is worth wrestling. Or I finish the outline, look it over, and decide it just isn’t interesting enough.

    Sometimes I’ll just set the project aside and sometime later an idea will occur to me or I’ll come across some other idea and think, “Hey, I can use this to solve that.”

    Research can also point out flaws. Early in our career we had a pilot idea about the White House Press Corps. We thought there was a fascinating dynamic — these people were all in completion with each other but also all colleagues.

    We were lucky enough to get temporary WH press passes and spent several days with them. Our assumption was they could roam the White House, hang out with the staff, etc. No. They’re only allowed out of the press room as a group. On THE WEST WING when you saw reporters go to the Press Secretary’s office — that doesn’t happen. Not without prior permission and a pass.

    So for our purposes, that took the legs right out of the series. No one could sneak around. No one could have secret sources. No one could bump into the president in the Rose Garden.

    We did the pilot anyway, but we were thrilled when it didn’t get picked up.

    What’s your Friday Question?