KEN LEVINE, FOURTH PART - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

 

Monday, February 06, 2006

CTVW: Do you write timing into the script? How do you gauge timing without an audience?

KL: Sometimes we'll give indicators ... particularly in the movie we wrote, since we wouldn't be around to see it play. When you're writing for Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde-Pierce, you don't write any of that stuff. Just get out of the way.

CTVW: Some writers say they need to underwrite, that is, if you write the way the star sounds, you don't leave them room for their performance.

KL: It depends on the actor. Some actors will bring surprising things to a part. Like Kelsey or David Hyde-Pierce or Ted Danson or Alan Alda. Shelley Long. These are very special people. We wouldn't underwrite, but we we might give David a line that you wouldn't give someone else because they couldn't pull it off. It might not look like a joke at all, but when David's done with it, it's funny.

CTVW: One thing I've run across is actors who like to paraphrase part of their lines. About half of them do. And the ones who say exactly the dialog as it's written on the page, and make it their own, always sound twice as good as the ones who paraphrase. But the ones who paraphrase somehow seem to think they'll sound more "natural" if they rework their own dialog so it sounds like themselves.

KL: By the time a show is filmed, the actors are saying exactly what's on the page. Camera crews are taking cues from the words. Some are word perfect. A few of them will say, "can I put a "handle" on this," a "look," a "listen" -- that'll go into a script. Most of them are pretty good. Ted Danson will throw in little handles.

One of my toughest jobs as a director is to make actors with different styles mesh together. They have different backgrounds, different processes. Some of them will just memorize the script and lock into it. If they do a line a certain way and it works, they will do it that way every single time. Others need to surround it a little bit. They get better every day. They play with it a little bit until they settle down. Kind of a balancing act.



Ted Danson, for example. He's so good and so effortless. Like Joe DiMaggio. If you watch Teddy on an early run through, it looks like he's going half speed. Mumbling his way through it. "Uh oh, he's got no energy, he keeps having to refer to the book..." But by the time you're shooting, he's word perfect and there's stuff there that you would never have thought of.


On the other hand, take Wendie Malick. When she does a line a certain way and it works, she'll lock into it. You can do 20 takes, Wendy will be perfect every single take. There's no right or wrong way.

CTVW: What are the biggest mistakes comedy staff writers can make on the job (aside from things that would be mistakes in any office, i.e. pissing off the boss, pissing off co-workers, failing to bathe)?

KL: Not being funny. Too arrogant. Not being funny. Tending to think they know it all. Not being funny. Not bothering to learn structure. Not learning from their elders. Not being funny.

CTVW: Do many comedy writers come up out of standup?

KL: No. It depends on the personality. I can't imagine Neil Simon ever going on stage. For him it was the typewriter.

Another common problem on staff is young writers are toofunny--

CTVW: -- meaning being funny in the room, not on the page--

KL -- always on. You just want to kill'em. Just be a real person when you're not writing. If that's possible.

CTVW: How important is a hook for creating a comedy show? Or is it all about the star and the experience of the writing staff? For example, Third Rock has a high concept premise, but Friends didn't have a hook.

KL: Friends did have a hook. They were a show about twentysomethings with no authority figure to explain it all for them. That was their hook. But it's all in the writing. You take a show like Cheers. What's special about a show set in a bar?

On the other hand, you have to be pitching whatever it is the networks are looking for. Two years ago it was finding stars. They wanted the next Roseanne, the next Tim Allen. If you pitched an ensemble comedy they wouldn't buy it.

1 Comments:

Great interview! Jam packed with good info

By Blogger Kody Chamberlain, at 4:08 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.