View My Stats

Saturday, March 31, 2012

At A Loss.

So last night, I tune in to "Countdown With Keith Olbermann", only to find someone else
sitting in his chair.
Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
This doesn't shock me.
He's been in that seat before.
What does shock me is that the name of the show has been changed.
It is now called "Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer".
No reference to why the change.
To once again paraphrase Chico Marx, I unnerstan' "Why-a-no chicken, I unnerstan' "Why-a-no horse".
I no unnerstan' "Why a change?"
And they no tell-a you.
There is no reference in the entire hour as to why it's no longer called "Countdown"
I didn't need much explanation as to why Keith Olbermann wasn't there.
For much of it's run on Current TV, Olbermann was NEVER there.
More often than you would expect, there was usually some substitute host.
Particularly for a new network just starting out, trying to find it's sea legs, and counting on
Olbermann to serve as it's anchor.
I watched the show every night.
No one ever explained Olbermann's absences, including Olbermann on the nights he returned.
As a viewer, I felt entitled to more information than I was getting.
I heard rumors of ill-health, throat problems.....
But if that was the case, it would be easily explainable on the air.
No, this sounded much more like intrigue, and possibly sabotage.
You know, the kind of thing that Olbermann claimed was happening to him at MSNBC before he left.
Later that night, I found a press release on the Internet from Al Gore and his partner,
who both own Current TV, that they had canned Olbermann for breach of contract.
The statement sounded pretty rancorous.
What had Olbermann done to piss off a nice man like Al Gore?
Al Gore has a history of being nice.
Keith Olbermann has had a history of pissing people off.
Even the Supreme Court, when denying Gore the Presidency, didn't seem to piss him off.
But Olbermann did.
Olbermann retorted that promises were made to him, like his having control of who preceded
and succeeded him on the air, and that he wouldn't have a simple black background behind him like Charlie Rose.
These seem to be the kinds of problems that one creates for oneself when you only have a fraction
of the audience you used to have.
It certainly didn't matter to me as a viewer.
Whenever I've been asked why I don't write about politics more often, I've usually replied
"Whatever I have to say about politics, Keith Olbermann says it better"
But there is no question that the man is a hothead, and there are plenty of folks on MSNBC who also express my political thoughts better than I do.
I hope Olbermann lands somewhere.
Somewhere where they make him show up every night.
He's still quite entertaining when he does.
He's appearing on Letterman Tuesday night, and I'd love to hear his side of things.
Why is all this happening?
I am at a loss to explain it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.


******


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is It Just Me? Part Two.

So there I am, somewhere around the Indiana-Michigan border, entering a Subways sandwich shop.
For my usually sumptuous Tuna Fish Foot Long Hero.
For you connoisseurs, and I know you're out there, the only proper way to enjoy one of these
Tuna Fish heroes is to have the bread toasted, then have the tuna fish applied cold, then the
lettuce applied cold.
Cold onions are optional.
So I go in there.
There are three young black women working behind the counter.
I do not intend to cast any racial aspersions here.
I have certainly encountered quite a few young white women who were just as arrogant, and ignorant and clueless as this.
One of the young black women is dealing with the one customer who requires service, and is taking her order.
I go up to one of the other black women.
I attempt to place my order.
I get half a sentence out, only to be met with "There IS a line, sir".
I look around.
I see no line.
Only this one woman who is already being served.
I ask the magic question: "Where?"
She replies "Right there. Behind that woman.
To which I say: THAT WOMAN? That's the line?"
To which she replies: "That's right"
This prompts me to say: You mean it takes three of you to take care of this one woman's order?
Not one of you can be spared to take care of MY order?"
To which she replies: "That's how it works at Subway. (pointing) She takes the order, then she makes the sandwich, then I ring up the sale."
So that's how it works at Subway.
Funny, I've been at a whole lot of Subways in my life, and most of them didn't even have three
people working behind the counter.
Black, or women, or otherwise.
And I never encountered this sort of protocol.
But let's assume for a moment that I'd NEVER been inside a Subway before.
And that there was a universal protocol, and that I wasn't aware of it.
And I went to the woman who rings up the sale rather than the one who takes the order.
Is "There IS a line, sir" really the most ingratiating way to encourage further business?
Wouldn't "I'm sorry sir, but that woman takes the orders. You have to start with her first"
make the customer feel less rude and less like an idiot?
Speaking of idiocy, I place my order, and woman #2, the sandwich maker, the specialist, asks me
what kind of bread I'd like.
I tell her "Italian"
Then, in an unprecedented move, she opens the elongated Italian bread and begins dutifully plopping the appropriate number of hunks of tuna into it.
Not asking me if I want the bread toasted.
In all my previous Subway experiences, they have ALWAYS asked me if I wanted the bread toasted.
So I volunteer the information that I want the bread toasted.
She says "Fine" and continues to plop the hunks of tuna onto the untoasted bread.
I point out that at this juncture, she's supposed to ask me if I wanted the tuna toasted along with it.
I had to explain that I didn't, and that this applies to the lettuce as well, because among my
acquaintances, I knew of very few who appreciated hot lettuce.
I ended up with what I wanted, toasted bread, cold tuna, cold lettuce, all not without many moments of disbelief, and then attempted to proceed to the woman who started it all with "There IS a line, sir".
She asked, is there anything else, sir?
I was clearly holding up my unopened bottle of Diet Coke, which she did not look up to notice.
I could have easily said "No" and she wouldn't have been any the wiser.
But I chose to play it by the book, and say, "You might notice that I have a bottle of Diet Coke in
my hand"
She rang it up, along with my sandwich, and I was on my way back to Detroit.
With my opinion of humanity once again lowered.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.


******





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is It Just Me? Part One.

From the title of this article, one might get the impression that I am about to go off on some wild tangent about something that really annoys me about something that really bugs me about something going on in the world.
Or at least in these United States.
And one would be correct.
And that I am about to take a crap on someone or ones, and/or something.
And one would be correct about that as well.

I am not, and have never been, a fan of Fast Food.
I have never needed my food to be particularly fast.
For me, slow and steady has usually been enough to win the race.
There are, and have been exceptions.
When I began my drive from Detroit to Chicago early Saturday morning to appear at the
Hollywood Collectors Show, I of course stopped off at the McDonalds right off the Interstate for two Egg McMuffins. I brought my own Orange Juice.
Tropicana. Which I like better.
But the Egg McMuffins are the only things I can eat off the overall McDonalds menu.
And I really enjoy them.
I tried a Big Mac once in my life, and couldn't get the smell of the alleged "meat" off of my hands for about two weeks, using lots of Boraxo in my attempts to succeed.
And for some reason, McDonalds stops serving Breakfast at 10:30am.
Because, as we all know, nobody EVER wants to have breakfast at 10:32 in the morning.
So it's only the Early Bird that is capable of catching the Egg McMuffin.
I guess somebody on the McD's corporate level figured out that no matter how many latecomers wanted an Egg McMuffin (which for some reason that I don't remember, I've always referred to as an Ed McMahon) it was better for them to clear the decks of breakfast items and start gearing up for the lunch crowd.

Let me once again iterate that I will never simply leave my house in the AM for the express purpose of getting my hands on Egg McMuffins.
It has always involved either a long-distance driving or flying situation, when I'm leaving early in the morning.
The actress Mai Britt, who was once married to Sammy Davis Jr., and is a good friend of mine, used to live in the Lake Tahoe area in the 90's, as did I.
She didn't do hardly any traveling in those days.
But she was ritualistic in seeking out the local McDonalds in the morning.
She craved the Ed McMahons.
It didn't matter to her whether or not they were fast food or slow food.
She just craved them.
And she'd wait as long as necessary, if necessary, which usually wasn't necessary.
With me, it was purely something I indulged in in transit.
There is another chain of Fast Food places that I have always been particularly partial to:
Subways Sandwich Shops.
The home of the Foot Long Heroes.
I've liked just about everything about it:
The quality of the food.
Their very low prices.
Kind of the Bizarro World Starbucks.
Don't get me started on Starbucks.
Subway's service had always been excellent---efficient and courteous.
I stopped off at a Subways on the way back from Chicago, at around the Indiana-Michigan border, and attempted to get my usual: A tuna fish hero, and a bottle of Diet Coke.
I love the Subways tuna fish hero.
The bottle of Diet Coke was no better or worse than any other I have tried.
But what ensued at this particular Subways on this particular day was totally dismaying, and unfortunately an indication of the way the world is going.

More about the ensuing next time.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.


******



































The McDonalds are at virtually every exit at every interstate highway in the country.
I like to be able to drive through and quickly get my hands on the McMahons.
One of the few times that speed comes in handy.
As is the case when I am attempting to catch a flight in the early AM.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko. Part Six.

Okay.
I'm at Newark Airport in 1982, waiting to board my flight back to the hellhole that is Ohio.
There is a huge rainstorm, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
I am in the process of shitting in my pants.
Then, I hear the magic words from the podium:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are in an oversold situation.
Anyone who is willing to give up his or her seat will receive $200 to be applied to a future flight, free lodging at an airport hotel, a meal voucher, and we will guarantee you a seat on the first flight going out in the morning".
They had me at "oversold".
My hand immediately went up.
I raced up to the podium, willing to trample anyone who got there ahead of me.
Fortunately, it didn't come to that.
I got there first.
The transaction was completed, and with a major sigh of relief, I got taken by the shuttle to a nearby airport hotel, courtesy of the airline.
I called the hellion with whom I shared the domicile in the hellhole that is Ohio, to let her know that I wasn't coming home that night.
As if she gave a shit.
Then, I settled in, picked up a newspaper which contained the TV listings.
Let me point out at this point that this was before cable.
There were seven local stations that could be found in the New York metropolitan area.
That's it.
Seven.
Three network stations, one PBS station, and three independents.
I noticed that at 11pm, Channel 9, one of the independents, was showing a Sergeant Bilko rerun.
Bilko reruns were very rare. Even in New York.
They just didn't air them very often.
By now, they have almost completely vanished from the airwaves.
But even in 1982, they were pretty rare.
So life got even better.
I was going to get to see an episode of "Bilko".
I probably hadn't seen one in about five years.

Eleven o'clock rolls around.
The Bilko episode starts.
What do you know?
It's the "$64,000 Question episode.
Bilko in the bandages.
The one I ripped off, er, paid homage to.
I was delighted.

Now, what I'm about to tell you is the absolute truth.
I've mentioned before that Jack Paar, when he was about to tell some outlandish story, would preface it by saying "If we don't have trust, we have nothing".
Then, he would go on and completely bullshit the audience.
But I'm counting on your trust, and I am not bullshitting you.

"The Odd Couple was a huge hit in syndication, and Channel 11 would run two episodes back to back from 11pm to midnight.
It's the way almost an entire younger generation of fans discovered it.
I had no interest in watching the "Odd Couple" episode, having seen all the ones I'd worked on, and not being impressed with the ones I hadn't.
But during Bilko's first commercial, just out of idle curiosity, I switched to
Channel 11, just to see which episode of "The Odd Couple" was being run.
As God is my judge, it was the Theatre Critic episode.
Oscar in the bandages.
They were going head to head.
The original, and the show that borrowed heavily from it.
And I knew that at approximately twenty after eleven, if you flipped back and forth from Channel 9 to Channel 11, and you had to do it by hand because this was even before there were remotes, you would see Bilko in the bandages, and Oscar in the bandages.
Bilko in the bandages, and Oscar in the bandages.
And I realized that I was the only person in the entire New York metropolitan area who would be doing that, because I was the only person in the New York metropolitan area who knew what was going on.
What are the odds?
They made 238 episodes of Bilko, and 165 episodes of The Odd Couple.
That alone makes it nearly impossible for this coincidence to take place.
Add to that the fact that they easily could have shown the Theatre Critic episode in the 11:30 slot, which would mean they weren't going head to head.
Add to that the fact that I hadn't been to New York for about three years and did not expect to stay overnight to see this.
And I wasn't going to be in New York any other night in the near future.
You could call it all a coincidence if you want to, but that night in Newark convinced me to this day that the universe is not random.
What are the odds?
My most optimistic view of it all is that Nat Hiken, always my main comedy God, actually WAS God.
And he was trying to tell me that I did good.
That there was actually room in the comedy universe for two versions of sitcoms that featured a leading character in bandages, and that it was, in fact, homage.
But that's just me being optimistic.
Who knows what the truth really is?
I can only cling to my optimism, and a new-found faith that turned me from an agnostic to a near-Hassidic.
I say near, because I haven't changed my wardrobe or grown a beard.
I've even considered becoming a Baptist.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
I'll be at the Hollywood Collectors Show in Chicago this weekend, hawking the paperback.
If you're in the area, and would like to say hello, I'd love to meet and talk with you.
I'll probably be resurfacing here on Tuesday.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if you're interested.

******


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko. Part Five.

We're at the top of the stretch with this story now.
One more post after this, and it will be wrapped up.

We shot and aired the Odd Couple Theatre Critic Show, with a wonderful assist
from Sergeant Bilko, and it's great Show Runner, Nat Hiken, in 1974.

Eight years later, it suddenly became 1982.
I was living in Ohio, for the sole purpose of trying to keep a marriage together.
It was a marriage that wasn't worth keeping together.
I knew it then, I know it now.
Chalk it up to "Idiocy"

When you don't live on either coast, your career becomes a disappearing act.
People quickly forget you're alive.
I had a relationship with the great comedian Alan King, who was also a producer, and
had a sitcom development deal with CBS.
Alan King did this great routine called "Survived By Widow", which was written by my friend, the late, great Harry Crane.
It was all about how women invariably outlive their husbands.
He would continually read from actual Obituaries of men, the last line of which would always be "Survived by widow"
Alan was no exception. He died at 76, survived by his widow, Jeanette.
Several years earlier I had a sitcom development deal with CBS.
And Alan didn't.
Now, he did, and I didn't.
I saw him as a way to shoehorn my way back into CBS.
I had a pilot that I wanted to pitch to him.
A pilot, by the way, that bore no resemblance to anything done on either "The Odd Couple" or "Sergeant Bilko".
Alan King's offices were in New York City.
It was always good for me to find a reason to leave that hellhole I had in Ohio, at least for a day.
I think I would have made up a reason to get on a plane to leave that hellhole I had in Ohio, at least for a day.
But Alan King was quite receptive to meeting me to hear my pilot, so I didn't have to make up a reason to get on a plane to leave that hellhole I had in Ohio, at least for a day.
The meeting was set up for 3pm on an afternoon in August.
My flight got in at noon.
This was fine with me.
More time away from home, for one thing.
And I knew that 3pm meant that no food would be brought in.
Too late for lunch, and too early for dinner.
So I went to the Carnegie Deli, the best of many fine New York Delis, certainly better than anything you could find in that hellhole that is Ohio.
And it was rush hour for lunch, and there were lines to get in, and there were panhandlers working the street right outside, and I endeared myself to them by saying things like "No accosting!!"
This was in the pre-Giuliani days, when the city was quite slovenly.
Then you got in, and were jammed next to total strangers, and hustled in and out by the rudest waiters imaginable.
And it was all worth it, because that's how good the food was.
I had the best Pastrami Sandwich in the world, with it's perfect accompaniment,
Dr. Brown's Diet Black Cherry Soda (like that's going to help.)

So I show up at Alan's office at 3pm, and pitch my pilot.
Alan is very receptive.
We make plans to schedule a meeting with the Brass at CBS.
And I'm thinking "Oh, goody! At least another day away from that hellhole that is
Ohio.
So around 4:30, rush hour, I head back to Newark Airport.
Not at all caring whether I miss my flight.
If I do, it just might keep me away longer.

I get there, with just a little time to spare.
On what was a spectacular day weather-wise, storm clouds were starting to develop.
It immediately became ominous.
Thunder and lightning ensued.
I'm not good with flying in general, even if it does mean leaving that hellhole that is Ohio.
But I was heading back to Ohio.
So I was even worse with flying in general.
Then the hand of God took over.
Deus ex Machina.
And it led to an event so astounding, so unbelievable, that it shook me to my very foundation.
This will be reported next time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if you're interested.

******

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko. Part Four.

So, with the image of Phil Silvers as Bilko, his head wrapped in bandages, appearing on the $64,000 Question, I took the Great Circle Route of "What if, after Felix has found out that Oscar has used him, in effect, betrayed his trust, to write his theater reviews for him, and instead of staying mad at him, starts reveling in his power, enjoying becoming a taste-maker, has the ultimate curve thrown at him, and (by the way) Oscar.
Oscar is invited to go on television on a panel discussion to discuss the state of theatre with other critics.
He knows he'd be an embarrassment, and exposed as a fraud.
Felix comes to the rescue: "What if tell you that I have the craziest idea I've ever had, but it just might work?
Oscar, desperate at this point, is willing to try anything.
Cut to: The TV panel discussion.
Real theatre critics are there.
John Simon, Dan Sullivan, and others.
Along with them are Felix and Oscar.
Oscar has his face wrapped in bandages, just like Bilko.
They go on the air, and Felix is introduced as Oscar's dentist, and announces that Oscar has just had four wisdom teeth pulled, so the best he can do is mumble his answers to Felix, and Felix will "translate" for him, actually giving his own erudite opinions.
Only they're not so erudite.
Every time he pulls Oscar to him to "mumble" his answers for Felix to "translate",
Felix says something abusive to his fellow critics.
Even something misogynistic to a female critic.
And of course, the critics all blame Oscar, thinking that these are his thoughts.
The other critics, totally offended at Oscar, walk off the show. leaving Oscar humiliated in bandages.
It was hilarious.
One of our best shows.
It got a great reaction from the studio audience.
Jay Sandrich, a great director, who directed this episode, came up to me afterwards, and said, "All right. Fess up. You did this whole show just to get Jack in the bandages".
I had to swear up and down that we had the first half of this show worked out for over a year, and couldn't beat it.
Until now, I never revealed that we paid Homage, or stole, from Bilko.
To this day, he doesn't believe me.

Now, I promised you from the beginning that this would be one of the greatest stories, if not THE greatest, that I have ever told you.
So far, it's been a pretty good story, but not one of the greatest I have ever told you.
But we're not done.
Something happened eight years later that puts it over the top.
And I'll get to it.
Just stay tuned.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if you're interested.

******

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko. Part Three.


So I was digging for gold and found it in the Bilko goldmine.
I harkened back to an episode of Bilko where it was established that one of the platoon members, played by Fred Gwynne, was an expert on birds.
He had been trapped in an igloo in Alaska for over a year, with only the Audobon book of birds to keep him company.
So he knew every page in it from cover to cover.
Every word, every sentence, every picture, every comma, every stain, every smudge.
Bilko successfully gets him on the $64,000 Question.
This was obviously before America learned that the major quiz shows, and this one in particular, were rigged.
Fred Gwynne makes it all the way to winning $32,000.
The last plateau before going for the $64,000 Question.
Does he quit, or risk it all and go for the whole enchilada?
A no brainer.
There's nothing he doesn't know about birds.
Except------during the ensuing week, he gets bumped on the head.
A bump that knocks all the birds out of his head.
Bilko, undaunted, attempts to take advantage of the rules.
For the last question, you're allowed to bring a guest expert into the isolation booth with you.
Yes Virginia, they had an isolation booth.
Bilko books a hotel room directly across the street from the TV studio.
The platoon is there en masse, armed with every book on birds.
And, for no particular reason, the occasional stuffed owl and eagle.
They have a radio transmitter.
Bilko is to go on with Fred Gwynne as the guest expert, with the receiver from the transmitter in his ear.
In order to hide the receiver from view, he wraps the entire sides of his face, inluding his ears, in bandages.
When asked about it, he claims that it's the result of an old war wound.
During the questioning, the platoon feeds Bilko the answers.
Bilko whispers the correct answers to Gwynne.
Then, the transmitter and receiver short-circuit, causing a minor explosion.
This causes Bilko to faint, and drop out of sight.
And it brings Gwynne out of his amnesia, causing him to naturally rattle off the correct answers.
It was a memorable and hilarious episode.
And it was the image of Bilko in the bandages that gave me the way to beat the Odd Couple Theatre Critic story.
Next time, how this was accomplished.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if you're interested.

******

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko. Part Two.


So we had half a story sitting on the shelf for over a year and weren't able to beat it.
Oscar has to fill in for the Theatre Critic at the paper, feels underqualified, sends Felix to the theater instead, picks his brain about the play when he gets home, then phones in what Felix says about it as his review, Felix then finds out and confronts Oscar about it.
That's what we had. So then what?
"So then what" encompasses the entire second half of the story and the show.
And we didn't have "So then what?" for over a year.
And we knew that if we could figure out "So then what?", it would probably be great.

Billy Wilder occasionally wrote movies for Ernst Lubitsch to direct.
Billy Wilder idolized Ernst Lubitsch.
Billy Wilder had a framed sign on the wall of his office that read "What would Lubitsch do?"
When Billy Wilder was on the set, directing one of his movies, and couldn't see the framed sign on the wall of his office, and found himself with a problem he couldn't solve, he would come right out and ask himself "What would Lubitsch do?"

The way Billy Wilder felt about Lubitsch is the way I felt about Nat Hiken, the great Show Runner and Creator of "Sergeant Bilko" and "Car 54, Where Are You?"
And after a fruitless year of trying to beat the Theatre Critic story, I finally decided to emulate Billy Wilder and ask the magic question :
What would Nat Hiken do?
Now, you could call it Homage, or less charitably, you could call it Stealing.
I tend to be more charitable and call it Homage.
I wracked my encyclopedic brain, recalling every episode of "Bilko" and "Car 54" until I finally came up with a major element from an episode of "Bilko" that more than did the trick.
And we had an entire story.
Next time, I'll divulge what we stole, er, paid homage to.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if your interested.

******

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Odd Couple Unexpectedly Meets Bilko.

I've been writing about Phil Silvers lately, and I have long been aware that I've been holding back on telling easily my best Phil Silvers story ever.
Perhaps my best story ever.
Depending on how much rambling I do, it will take at least two segments to tell it.

It takes three steps to create a "Story " for a sitcom episode.
First, there is such a thing as a "Springboard ", or a "Notion ".
It usually takes the form of "What if?"
Once, on "The Odd Couple ", it took the form of "What if Oscar has
to fill for the Theatre Critic at his newspaper? "
That's a springboard.
It's one I came up with.

If you extend it to "What if Oscar has to fill in for the Theatre Critic at his newspaper, and he feels underqualified, so he sends Felix to the theater in his place, without telling him why, because he's embarrassed, and picks Felix's brain about it when he comes home, so Oscar can write his review?"
This is still a springboard, but it begins to approach an "Idea".
If you add to all of this that Felix finds out about the ruse and confronts Oscar about it, this is a full-fledged idea.

But it's not yet a story.
A story demands a beginning, a middle, and an end.
What I described above is a beginning, and some of the middle.
It's enough to get you the midway point of an episode.
It needed the rest of the middle, and an ending.
Then, you've got a story.
We had what we had for over a year, without being able to figure out the rest of the middle and the ending.
So half an outline sat on the shelf, into the next season, without anyone coming up with the solution.
Finally, by exploring the history of TV sitcoms, I found the way to complete the entire story.
Next time, among other things, I'll tell you how I got there.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen and Beyond if your interested.

******

Followers

Blog Archive

About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."