Monday, June 03, 2013

A Show about Show Business

Last night I attended a discussion at the Writers Guild Theater.  They announced the 101 best written television shows of all time.  SOAP was on the list.  Certainly not as high on the appreciation list as I thought it should be.  However, there were a lot of wonderful shows from the beginning of television to consider.  And it was all about writing, not popularity although most of the shows on the list were very popular. 
James L Brooks, Steven Bochco, Carl Reiner, Norman Lear and
Moderator Merrill Markoe at the Writers Guild Theatre.
A list is a list but the highlight of the evening was a panel discussion with some of the legends who created some of the shows on the list.  In some cases several shows on the list. 
Consider the first four on the panel. From left to right... James L. Brooks, Steven Bochco, Carl Reiner and Norman Lear.  Merrill Markoe on the far right, a multiple Emmy winner in her own right, was the moderator. There were 7 other writer/creators that joined the group later but as would be expected from just these panelist, the repartee was hysterical. 
Of these four Steven Bochco is the only writer known for his more dramatic series (he has won 93 Emmy's the most of anyone there that evening). At one point Bochco said, "I don't know what I'm doing up here with three comedy geniuses?"  
Carl Reiner didn't miss a beat and said, "What do you mean you don't know what you're doing.... you're sitting on a panel with three comedy geniuses...that's what you are doing"
James L. Brooks (Simpsons, Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore Show) was asked about the pitch he made to the network for Mary's Show. 
He said at the time they thought Mary might be a divorcee seeking a new career.  The networks execs said she couldn't be divorced.  Brooks said, "The Executive had a rule, No divorce, no shows about show business, and no guys with moustaches. " Mary's show was an easy fix to accommodate. 
Carl Reiner said after a year of success for the "Dick Van Dyke Show" a new network executive requested a meeting.  He came to Carl's office on the second floor of the studio, put his feet up on the coffee table and said, "This show is funny... but I think I know how to make it funnier."  He proceeded to take a hand written note from his jacket pocket to read  some "funny" things for Carl and Sheldon Leonard.  At the end of the list no one had even cracked a smile. The Exec. looked at them and said, "Don't you think that's funny?"  Reiner walked up to the executive and grabbed his foot. Carl said, "I'll tell you what is funny..."  He removed the guys expensive shoe and threw it out the second floor window, "Now THAT's funny". Sheldon Leonard burst out laughing. 
Now that IS funny.
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

It IS funny! I'm still laughing. Hope Mr. Reiner found an opportunity to grab the OTHER shoe and toss it out the opposite window.

Cheryl said...

Perfect. Indeed - that is funny! Executives should never get involved in the creative side of things -that's for sure!