Friday Questions



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  • Friday Questions

    Wrapping up June with Friday Questions. What's yours?

    Cris43130 gets us started.

    Shows have producers and directors. When did the term "showrunner" come into being and why is it necessary? Wasn't that always a producer's responsibility?

    To answer your last question first - yes. It's just a matter of semantics. There's always been that one guy or one team that, uh... ran the show.

    Showrunner is just a less-than-fancy way of saying person actually in charge. It used to be the Executive Producer was essentially the showrunner, but as staffs swelled and non-writing producers attached themselves there would be multiple Executive Producers. Showrunner distinguishes the real creative force. Interestingly, it's a credit that has never been on the screen.

    Guess it's not impressive enough. I would opt for Grand Poobah myself.

    Brian Phillips has a baseball question (it's supposed to start up again -- we'll see):

    Have you ever commentated on a no-hitter?

    Yes. Every time. I think the superstition is bullshit.

    I've called two no-hitters on the air and mentioned it both times. Like Vin Scully, I told listeners to call their friends and tell them.

    If I was a listener I would want to know. I'd hate to listen or watch a game for half an inning, turn it off, and find out later it was the eighth inning of a no-hitter.

    My mentioning it is not going to affect the outcome. I should have such power.

    From cd1515:

    Actors love to talk about lines, jokes or scenes that they ad-libbed (only the ones that worked, of course).

    How does that play with writers who spent hours/days opening up a vein at the keyboard, knowing that many actors apparently think they can just cruise in and wing something that will be better?

    Oh we just LOVVVVE it.

    Seriously, though, it does piss us off. I mean, it's bad enough people think the actors make up their lines anyway, without actors unfairly taking credit for them.

    Or worse, actors thinking they can do better.

    I've had actors pitch a bad joke they'd like to use and I would always say, 200 strangers are going to be sitting up in those bleachers. Do you really think 200 strangers are going to laugh at that joke? Invariably they back off.

    Happily, I've worked almost exclusively with actors who had great respect for us and our contribution. And so the respect is mutual.

    And finally, from Gary:

    If you and your writing partner were just starting out and desperate to break into the business, would you accept a writing assignment from a show you thought was terrible? (I'm thinking of something like GILLIGAN'S ISLAND or MY MOTHER THE CAR.)

    And if so, would you try to dumb your writing down to match the tone and audience of such a show, or would you try to "write up" and create a more clever and quality episode?

    First off, if we were starting out, we would KILL to get an assignment on either of those two shows. To get paid to write a network show - we would be beyond thrilled. Trust me, we would not just hold out for THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

    As for the actual writing, we would work hard to give them a script in the style and tone of their show. To do anything else would be to get rewritten. We would work our asses off to the give the showrunner the best possible version of HIS show in his style.