Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Questions

Let’s dive into some Friday Questions.

The Bumble Bee Pendant has a question about the recent cancellation of LAST MAN STANDING:

Ken, so Tim Allen went on Twitter today (Tuesday) and said, "Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years. "

We all know it's business, and its about money, but why would ABC burn a bridge, especially of an A List Star like Tim Allen? Why not be upfront, etc, and at least giving him some bullshit, rather than blindside him?

The Next time he or someone else has a product to share, ABC won't be their first choice.

Two truths: 1) Tim Allen is not an A-list star. Not anymore. Tina Fey is an A-list star. 2) Networks don’t care that they treat people poorly. Not anymore. Once they’re done with you they move on. I would not be surprised if some of the LAST MAN STANDING cast and writing staff found out about the cancellation on social media sites, not from phone calls from the network. You work on a show for six years and learn you’ve been dumped on Twitter.

And trust me, ABC is not alone. When a network wants to be in business with you you’re their best friend. They can’t do enough for you. HAMILTON tickets? You’ve got it. Room on the corporate jet? What time do you wanna leave?

Then they cancel your show and you have to walk home from New York.

Melissa Agar wonders:

I read today that Fox is bring New Girl back for an abbreviated season and that it will involve a time jump. Several shows in recent years have utilized this device -- Parks and Recreation, Jane the Virgin. I'm wondering what you think of the device. What challenges does it pose to a cast and staff?

I think it’s an interesting idea because it shakes up the show a little, and hopefully opens the door to new stories. It’s sure better than the reverse. On MASH we were stuck in this cosmic limbo where we couldn’t really do any time jumps. And trust me, by season seven it was very difficult to keep coming up with fresh stories that hadn’t been done.

Another advantage to the time jump:  If you want to make some cast changes they're easy to explain away. A line or two to cover the character’s exit and that’s it. You don’t have to do an episode showing his departure.

From suek2001:

I listened to your podcast through my ROKU device on my TV..through the TUNE IN app...works great! I did have a random question...how much did you have to pay to make your own theme song for the Podcast?

You mean my jingles? It helps to have a close friend who owns the largest and best jingle company in the world, Jam Creative Productions. We worked out a deal. A big thanks to Jon and Mary Lyn Wolfert.  The singers were amazing and here I am with them:
John E. Williams has a CHEERS FQ:

Was there ever an episode where Norm entered the bar and the writers forgot to add the "NORM" greeting?

There have been episodes where Norm entered with other people and on those occasions we didn’t do an official “Norm entrance.”  Usually they sang the theme from "the Magnificent Seven."

There may have also been a time or two when the bar was empty when he entered – so no, no “Norm entrance” on those.

Brad Apling wants to know:

It seems that bringing a TV show to the tube is complicated and getting more so in respect to, say, 30 years ago (which really isn't that long ago). So, it begs the question: Is there any encouragement for new writers to pursue the TV industry or is it a matter of numbers [some live, some die so might as well keep writing and trying]?

It is way easier to get a show picked up now than when I broke in. Back then there were three networks. If your pilot didn’t get on you were toast.

Now there are many networks, and streaming platforms, and premium cable channels. Shows can now be niche. So I would think for a writer this is a way more exciting time. Lot more buyers and opportunities. 

What’s your Friday Question?

28 comments :

Mitchell Hundred said...

As someone who'll be turning 29 in about a month, I actually do think that 30 years is a long time ago. But it's all relative, I guess.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, thank you for answering my question. It makes a lot of sense.

You said, Tim Allen isn't an A-lister. I'm sure that's true.
You also added that Tina Fey IS an A-lister. Maybe that's the perception in the business. But it doesn't seem that way in the accounting dept.
And I Like Tina.

30 Rock may have critical acclaim but it was a bust in the Ratings. Last Man Standing which aired on Fridays had much better ratings than 30 Rock ever did.
Almost all of Tina's starring movie vehicles has lost money. The last one (which she also produced) WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot lost a lot of money at the boxoffice as compared to production (and marketing).
The 2 movies she's done with Amy Poehler did well. And as a combination team, I agree they are A-Listers.

Again, the perception in Show Business may be different than Statistics of the Business.

Thanks again!

Michael said...

As for Tim Allen's "treatment" by ABC, networks and studios and non-stars have treated stars and mini-stars that way since time immemorial. Or to put it another way, if the Yankees could fire Mel Allen and, under CBS ownership, Red Barber, it isn't exactly beyond the realm of possibility that a network could find another warm body.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, thank you for answering my question. It makes a lot of sense.

You said, Tim Allen isn't an A-lister. I'm sure that's true.
You also added that Tina Fey IS an A-lister. Maybe that's the perception in the business. But it doesn't seem that way in the accounting dept.
And I Like Tina.

30 Rock may have critical acclaim but it was a bust in the Ratings. Last Man Standing which aired on Fridays had much better ratings than 30 Rock ever did.
Almost all of Tina's starring movie vehicles has lost money. The last one (which she also produced) WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot lost a lot of money at the boxoffice as compared to production (and marketing).
The 2 movies she's done with Amy Poehler did well. And as a combination team, I agree they are A-Listers.

Again, the perception in Show Business may be different than Statistics of the Business.

Thanks again!

Paul Duca said...

The petitions to save LAST MAN STANDING are up and running...and as I previously mentioned, the right wingers are saying it got canned because Tim Allen's a conservative.

Glenn said...

Are you wokring on any new plays, Ken?

Ken Levine said...

As a producer, Tina Fey is currently getting just about anything she produces on the air. Even shows that don't do great in the ratings like GREAT NEWS get renewed. Just a fact of life that at this particular moment being in business with Tina Fey is of more value to networks than Tim Allen. By next Tuesday Tina could be a B-lister.

Mike Doran said...

Nostalgia (?) Time:

Anybody remember a few years back, when Lou Grant was cancelled, and everybody thought it was because Ed Asner was a dreaded Liberal?

There was no "blogosphere" back then; what columnists there were tended toward one extreme or the other. Oddly enough, they seemed to agree about the Grant cancellation: the leftward ones thought it was "censorship" of a justified man, and the rightward ones chortled about how Asner's "radicalism" caused his deserved downfall (I say it's all spinach, but that was me, then and now).

As to Tim Allen, I never saw Last Man Standing; was that a political show, even slightly?
And by any chance is Tim Allen one of the increasing number of "conservatives" who's starting to get "Voter's Remorse" about our first-ever non-English-speaking US President?

Erin K said...

Thanks for your insights! I have a question for next Friday, if that's okay. Rewatching cheers and always curious about the Sam and Rebecca dynamic. It seems the writers spent three season (6,7,8) ramping up their chemistry. Then any potential created for a relationship was quickly dropped in season 9. Was this because the writers decided not to Go There after already taking the relationship route with Sam and Diane? I've always wondered about that and would love to hear your thoughts!

John said...

Great question Erin.

Cat said...

From what we see onscreen, it would seem that whoever was in charge at the time discovered Sam and Rebecca seemed more like brother and sister at the time, and then settled into a good friendship vibe. So glad we never got a true Sam and Rebecca romance.

Jeffrey Graebner said...

The question about Tim Allen brings to mind my curiosity about how many celebrity Twitter accounts like that really are the actual celebrity as opposed to a publicist. I wonder if Tim Allen was really that surprised by the cancellation or if there is just an idea that working to rile up some outrage might get the show picked up by Netflix, Hulu, or some other alternative.

Obviously, there are celebrities like Wil Wheaton who is so obviously engaged on Twitter that it clearly really is him, but I have doubts about a lot of them.

Ted said...

"Last Man Standing" wasn't a bad show. The writers actually did a great job of leavening the Tim Allen character's political rants with humor. But at heart, it was supposed to be a family show about a man surrounded by women (his wife and three daughters). Then the daughters grew up, and so half the time it was just Allen grousing about stuff at work with Hector Elizondo, Jonathan Adams and Jay Leno. At that point, they might as well have changed the title to "Grumpy Old Men." There's a natural time for TV series to leave the air, and this was it for that one.

Andy Rose said...

You went to Dallas just to watch Jam make your jingles?

VP81955 said...

Comparing "Last Man Standing" to "30 Rock" using ratings is absurd, for the simple reason that networks now "hide" series on Friday and Saturday nights. (Viewership is lower than on Sunday through Thursday prime-time, and ad rates thus are substantially less.) Believe me, if CBS today had a murderers' row of comedies such as "All in the Family," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" et al, they probably would air on Thursdays or possibly Mondays.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

VP81955 said Comparing "Last Man Standing" to "30 Rock" using ratings is absurd, for the simple reason that networks now "hide" series on Friday and Saturday nights

Ratings are the most basic arbiter used in TV. I used it to show eyeballs. Not comparing quality of show.
by that measure, 30 Rock was a flop. I know lots of people love it, but the vast majority didn't or never found it. It was consistently in the bottom (Ranked #102, 111, 69, 86, 106, 130, and 99 for the years it was on). The Sixth season's finale saw just 2.8 million people).
Last Man Standings (though this year's is still unknown) has always been between #50 and #60. Not great, I know but well above 30 Rock.

Not sure it matters anymore what time or day something is on, since no one (generally not specifically) watches shows "LIVE" anymore. It's all DVR and Netflix etc. No one needs to choose 1 show over another.

If a show if on a bad night, then there's the possiblity it won't be found. But Once a show hits syndication, I'd expect more people to 'find' the show and start watching the new episodes.

Thanks for letting me explain.

McAlvie said...

Wait, people really think LMS got axed because Allen is conservative? I tend to lean left myself, and I like the show. And have they ever watched the show? His character's conservative leanings are usually part of a joke set up, one in which Allen delivers the punch line himself. It's not a political show, it's a show about a family.

You know, some people just can't get through the day without inventing a new conspiracy.

McAlvie said...

Blogger Mike Doran said...

" ... our first-ever non-English-speaking US President?"

Good one.

I think Ted said it best - with the girls growing up and leaving the nest, there wasn't much material left for the original premise. Even the youngest was college age, right?

Donald Benson said...

The show is produced and owned by Fox, so if there's any financial upside at all you'd think they'd grab it for one of their own networks, scoring points with the Fox News base as a free bonus. The fact that they haven't done so says something about the cold hard bookkeeping.

Anonymous said...

Ran into Tim Allen at a car dealership, didn't recognize him, but had a nice conversation anyway. He looked familiar and I asked him if he was in the broadcasting business. He said yes. I told him I was with CBS. He said, "ABC". Having never watched LMS, I connected him to some other "do it yourself" show. Had a nice, friendly chat about cars anyway.....He's a collector.

Mike Doran said...

McAlvie:

Thanks.

Before he declared candidacy, Donald Trump should have been given a Miranda warning.

Anything you say will be taken down and used against you.

(Not that he would have listened ...)

VP81955 said...

For those music fans: At 3 p.m. Saturday, Eunice David, widow of Hal David (best known for his collaborations with Burt Bacharach), will speak about his life at the Santa Monica Public Library. She's written a book, "Hal David: His Magic Moments."

DyHrdMET said...

When Norm entered the bar, and the place was empty (as you referenced above), wouldn't it have been funnier to find a way for the floor to creek or the door to creek or some other unnatural noise to say "Norm" and kind of stop him in his tracks with a puzzled expression on his face?

And if I was running CHEERS, I'd try to prank George Wendt by asking the studio audience to all say "Norm" when he enters the bar instead of all of the actors and extras on set. I'm just thinking out loud. That's also an advantage of having a live studio audience (if it were to work).

Donald Benson said...

Mr. Levine has written about the joke with the Cranes' baby, but almost as good was the throwaway in Woody's video documentary for his parents. Norm and Woody are outside a steakhouse. They walk inside and we hear a resounding "Norm", revealing he spends as much time with meat as with beer.

Johnny Walker said...

The closet there was to Norm not getting a Norm entrance was when everyone was annoyed with him (I think because he'd made money out of the Tan & Wash, and they'd pulled out their investment). So instead he gave himself one, along with the requisite funny comeback.

Johnny Walker said...

Speaking of zany ideas, the craziest thing I can remember CHEERS ever doing was ending an episode where everyone had shaved their heads. Of course the next week there was no mention of it, and everyone had their hair back. Was there any discussion about going too far with a gag like that? I don't know if a show could get away with that now -- I feel the audience would reject it if Modern Family did it, for example.

JoeyH said...

Are those the Dallas JAM singers?

Ken Levine said...

Yes they are, JoeyH.