Friday, July 22, 2011

Can Emmys cause tension on the set? Does Raggedy Ann have cloth tits?

More Friday questions for your mid-summer pleasure. What’s yours???

Wendy M. Grossman gets us started with an Emmy question:

I note that one of my favorite shows, The Good Wife, has multiple nominees in a couple of categories. Do the actors manage to be genuinely happy for each other and regard it as a joint reward for a team effort, or does it cause strain when this happens? I imagine a lot depends on the general atmosphere on the set - and TGW is full of experienced stage actors who are (I would think) more geared to thinking of themselves as a team. But it has to be tricky on the night.

Can’t speak for THE GOOD WIFE but on some shows Emmy competition can cause tremendous tension. When Christine Baranski won an Emmy for CYBILL and Ms. Shepherd didn’t that merely set off World War III on the set.

From what I hear, on MODERN FAMILY no such friction exists.  I have a feeling it's that way on THE GOOD WIFE too.  There was never a problem I observed on CHEERS or FRASIER.

I was directing an episode of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND that began production the day after that year’s Emmys. Both Ray Romano and Patty Heaton were nominated. Ray lost and Patty won. This was my first directing assignment for that show. I didn’t know what to expect but I was holding my breath. Ray could not have been more gracious. He gathered the entire cast and crew to congratulate Patty and celebrate her win. No wonder everybody loves that guy.

Steven asks:

I recently started watching episodes of Cheers again and one thing that struck me as peculiar was the camera angles and how on many episodes there will be scenes where you can clearly see the edge of the set and background of the studio (i.e. one being the episode where 'John Hill' has a heart attack and in the scene where 'Carla Tortelli' visits him in the hospital room you can clearly see about a foot off the set to the left). Is there any reason for this or was it just an error in production?

I’m guessing you’re now watching the episodes on HD. Those shows were filmed before HD. They’re framed for the traditional TV set. The HD borders are larger and that’s why from time to time you may see off the set.

By the time I was directing BECKER in the ‘90s I had to frame shots for both and at times that was very difficult. The HD picture would look fine but horribly composed for the traditional frame. Heads were cut off, little things like that. But if I set the shot for the traditional frame I’d encounter that same problem of shooting off the set. And if I compromised, neither shot looked good. At the time I cheated more towards the traditional frame. Today I would do just the opposite.

Back when we had a multi-camera pilot in the late ‘70s, one of our cameramen was maybe the worst ever. He pulled back for a master so far that you could literally see the guy on the catwalk perched over the set. And we didn’t know this until we screened the dailies. There was no video assist back then. We had to rely on the camera operators to tell us if they had missed a shot. I guess seeing a guy in the catwalk did not qualify as an unusable shot to this moron.

From bettyd:

You have called baseball for both the National League and the American League. You also said you didn't like interleague play (although I assume the World Series is OK with you!). Which league do you prefer to call, or doesn't it matter?

It doesn’t matter. It’s the particular game itself rather than which league it’s in.

There’s more strategy in the National League, which is fun. But there tends to be more scoring in American League games due to the Designated Hitter so I get more highlights on postgame show, and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? I’ll be back on the air with the Mariners starting August 1st for nine games, by the way.

And finally, from Steve J.:

As a Cheers viewer, it always bugged me when there'd be an episode where Sam and Woody would be off having adventures, as I pictured poor Carla tending bar and waiting tables all by herself. Then, of course, there were also episodes where all three of them would be away from the bar at the same time, presumably leaving it either closed or unmanned.

Was there ever a temptation to explain on the show how Cheers stayed in business when the staff was constantly skipping out? A throwaway line about other employees at the bar we just never saw or something? Or were you fine with not overthinking it?

Oh, this is a topic came up almost weekly. We decided to not try to cover this inconsistency since there really was no plausible explanation.

But trust me, someone in the writers room was always saying, “So who’s running the bar? Is Cheers on the honor system?”

Billy Wilder used to call it "Movie Magic".  I prefer to go with that.

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