Friday, April 29, 2011

Does working in radio help you in TV?

Hello from Boston where I never stand down from my Friday Question Watch.  Also, tonight the M's begin a three game series against the Red Sox.  Air time on 710 ESPN Seattle and MLB.COM is 7 PM EDT.  Yes, I'm plugging my broadcasts but have you noticed I haven't bugged you about buying my book?  Although you should.

Here are this week's questions.  What's yours?

Starting us off with an a & b question is WillieB:

When you moved into TV writing full-time, did your DJ background help or hinder you -- or ever even come up in conversation?

Trying to be funny on the radio every three minutes helped sharpen my comedic skills, which certainly aided me in my scriptwriting career. Beyond that, no. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to those program directors early in my career who kept saying, “Shut up! You’re not funny! Just play the fucking hits!”

Ever have a studio guy/producer/director/actor say: "I used to listen to you all the time?"

Once we signed Tom Hanks to star in VOLUNTEERS, my partner David Isaacs and I went out to lunch with him. He mentioned that he grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco in the mid ‘70s. I told him I used to be a disc jockey in SF in 1974 and at the time went by the name Beaver Cleaver. His eyes lit up. “Beaver Cleaver! KYA -- Boss of the Bay!” He used to listen every night. He was a big fan. Even remembered which station I was on.  Needless to say, that made my day. And he was pretty good in the movie too.

cl asks:

Have you any The Doors/Jim Morrison related anecdotes? Have you met them?

I never met them but did see them in concert fairly early on. It was at the Birmingham High School football stadium in Encino, California. The Doors and the Jefferson Airplane.

Gracie Slick and the Airplane were amazing. The Doors, if I’m being honest, were disappointing. And I was (and still am) a huge Doors fan. But Jim was on auto-pilot (and probably on a lot of other things as well).

Plus, the girl I went with that night would not shut the fuck up. Chattering all night about God knows what – getting mono in the 4th grade. I dunno. I desperately tried to tune her out. And for good measure, she was chiding the people around us for lighting up joints. So I was real popular.

My other memory of that night. After the concert we were going to meet up with another couple who were also there but in a different section. I suggested we just meet after the show at the Chevron gas station across the street. Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea. We get to the Chevron station and there are already 2,000 people there. It took us a half hour to find our other couple, although it would not have surprised me if they were just avoiding us because of my chatterbox date. 

I wish I had known Jim Morrison that night. Maybe he could have slipped my date something to shut her up.

From Kris Mandt of Des Moines, IA – a lovely place to raise your children:

When That 70’s Show struck their set for the last time certain bits and pieces of that set went to the long term cast members. Did they do the same thing for the cast of Cheers, Frasier, Wings, etc?

I imagine so. I wasn’t at MASH at the end but know one of the producers could start a museum with all the set souvenirs he  uh, "collected". I personally don’t have anything from those sets.I'm probably an idiot.   But I do have scripts and residuals.

I remember walking down to Stage 25 at Paramount the day they were striking the CHEERS set for the last time. Watching them dismantle this bar that had been such a huge part of my life for a quarter of my life was so devastating I had to just walk out.

When BIG WAVE DAVE’S was cancelled I did take a surfboard and the big BIG WAVE DAVE’S sign, which now proudly hangs in my house.

50 is the new 35 has a question. It’s really long so I’m paraphrasing:

With all the internet fan forums and comment boards there are now, if you had a show on today would you be monitoring them? And would you make creative decisions based on this cyber input?

I would absolutely monitor them. I’d be combing through Twitter, Facebook, websites, newsgroups, searching out any reaction I could find. I would have to take into account that the folks who write about my show are very passionate about it, either for or against, and that the general viewer is not as thrilled or outraged.

But I would consider this feedback very seriously. Often a showrunner can get too close to his product, and hearing from the audience can be a great reality check, even if it smarts sometimes.

Here’s what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t go on these forums and respond to the comments. That would lead me down the rabbit hole where I would never be found again. But read everything? You bet.

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