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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I Hate Chris Matthews More Than Ever.

Last December, I posted two articles---"Why I Can't Stand Chris Matthews Anymore", and Why I Can't Stand Chris Matthews Anymore, Part Two"
These articles are still on the blog, and can be easily Googled.
You might want to read those articles before you read this one.
His transgressions in my eyes at the time can't hold a candle to what he pulled last week.
Chris Matthews seems to have become a desperate man.
At least, that's how he's carrying himself on TV.
He recently had his weekend shows on MSNBC taken away from him.
He has claimed that he voluntarily given them up.
I don't believe him.
Until last week, he had a live show airing at 5pm, rerunning at 7pm.
They took away the 5pm show, giving it to someone else, leaving him to do his 7pm show live.
About a week prior to this, he went on the air, pleading with his probably dwindling audience to stick with him.
He seems to be in survival mode.
Okay.
So he's a ratings whore, much like everyone else on television.
Nothing that strange there.
A week ago, he booked Aaron Sorkin, the great writer/creator/producer of "The News Room" on HBO.
With much fanfare.
Aaron Sorkin is a "get".
And Matthews promotes the hell out of Sorkin's upcoming appearance.
I am a huge fan of Sorkin's, and of "The News Room"
It is a regular on my Tivo.
He is a fascinating interview.
After the social amenities are out of the way, during which Matthews is constantly bragging about his son having one of the leading roles on "The News Room", Matthews starts going into explicit detail about the last episode that aired on "The News Room"
A episode that I had on Tivo, but hadn't seen yet.
An episode upon which the entire arc of the season hinged upon.
An episode that I didn't want to hear anything about until I see it.
Hasn't Chris Matthews ever heard of the word "Tivo"?
Hasn't Chris Matthews ever heard the expression "Spoiler Alert"?
Does anyone think it would have made any difference to this ratings whore if he had?
Aaron Sorkin just sat there and let Matthews do this, but Sorkin seemed to be more interested in discussing the substance of the episode.
And there was much substance to discuss.
And to my knowledge, Aaron Sorkin is not a ratings whore clinging to survival.
Nor was he that interested in talking about Matthews' actor-son.

This all begs the question "So, Rothman, if you feel this way about Chris Matthews, why do you keep watching him?"
Well, he can be compelling.
Much in the way a train-wreck can be compelling.
You just can't take your eyes off of it, or him.
But you can in no way like what you see.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls. 3.

The advent of the cell phone has given us new insight into the depths of the human soul.
And I do mean depths.
It has given people rare opportunities to be far more insensitive and boorish than ever before.
We now have entire theaters full of people who have to be told to turn off their cell phones before the play, or movie, begins.
This is because people are too thoughtless to do it themselves.
Whenever new technology comes along, new etiquette has to be created to accommodate those slobs who can't figure out what proper behavior is in the first place.

Here's something I experienced recently: The Grand Slam, if you will.
Just weeks ago, I attempted to get one of my plays to a nearby regional theater, for them to consider it for production.
I much prefer to send DVDs of staged readings, rather than the script itself.
This is because when I write scripts, a lot of it is in the cracks.
I don't write jokes that leap off the page at you, like Neil Simon does.
I think my plays are at least as funny.
But they're funny because of the storytelling, the character quirks, the pauses, the accents on the right syllables, and the musical rhythm of the piece.
I should be writing in musical notation.
But I can't read or write music.
And the people reading my scripts can't either.
The result, then, when someone reads my scripts, is that instead of souffl├ęs, they read like cakes that fell.
And go try to convince an Artistic Director of a theater that he or she doesn't know how to read a script.
So I try to hold out for them watching one of my DVDs.
In this instance, that attempt failed.
I had already forecasted doom here.
But, whore that I am for my plays, I took the Artistic Director up on his invitation to hand deliver a hard copy of the play to him.
An e-mailed copy was, of course, out of the question.
I was met with "Look, you're only a few miles away from the theater. Come over, bring a hard copy of the play, we'll meet and we'll talk"
I suppose that took the curse off things.
At least momentarily.
So I got to this multi-functional facility, with its huge lobby, and was announced by the lady at the front desk.
The Artistic Director emerged from his office, did not invite me to HIS office, but instead decided to conduct this interview in the lobby, where many tables and chairs were set up.
I asked "Don't you have an office where we can do this?
I was told that it is much too small.
So there we were, in the middle of the lobby.
I told you it was multi-functional.
One of its multi-functions was to allow children to run around like, as my mother used to say, ""Wild Indians"
We were deluged.
I was noticeably put off.
He moved us to a corner of the room, out of Wild Indian earshot.
Now, if I was he, and I had a cell phone, preparing to meet me, would I have brought it with me?
Probably.
You don't generally like to leave your cell phone unattended.
Would I have turned it off, or at least put on vibrator?
Absolutely. Just out of consideration.
If I hadn't done that, would I have taken a call?
Perhaps only if it involved something potentially life-threatening.
If I had taken the call, and it didn't involve something life-threatening, this would of course have been inexcusably rude.
If I had taken this non-life-threatening call, and told the caller that I'd be with them in only a couple of minutes, would that make me a swine?
I called him on this one.
"You mean you brought me all the way over here, to deliver a hard copy of my script, which I didn't want to do in the first place, and only planned to give me two minutes?
Once again, I realized just how much I wasn't Frank Sinatra.
At least in his eyes.
He tried to backtrack and say "Well, two minutes is only a figure of speech".
But I know, as I am sitting here, that if I didn't make a fuss, two minutes would have been the most I'd have gotten.
So I let my dander get up in front of him, accusing him of atrocious behavior. I discovered that there was a limit to my whoredom.
I'm sure he went back to his associates and complained about what an asshole I was.
As in "Yeah. I'M the asshole."
Of course, I never heard from the Artistic Director again.
But then, it didn't seem too promising to begin with.
Did it.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls. 2.

Here are some more ways that Alex Bell has diminished our quality of life by inventing the telephone:

1-- The concept of saying you're going to call someone back, and then not doing it.
This has become a lifestyle for many contemptuous people.
I myself would never indulge in such a practice.
If I say I'm going to call someone back, no matter how busy I am, I make time to return that call as expeditiously as possible.
If it's someone I don't want to call back, I never say that I will.
There is virtually no one who has my phone number that I don't want to have it.
So this rarely comes up.
If I can't return a call at length right away, I will at least quickly send an email explaining why I haven't called back yet.
Does this make me better than other people?
At least in this regard.
I have dealt with people whom I have known for only a matter of days, who had expressed interest in one or more of my projects, told me that they would call me back, who simply dropped off of the face of the earth within a matter of less than a week.

2---Setting an established pattern of only accepting calls.
Never making them yourself.
I'm talking about someone who is ostensibly a good friend.
This establishes a mind game.
You're telling the caller "I don't need you to be my friend. Perhaps you need me to be your friend, but I don't need you to be mine".
When at his house, any time the phone rang, and this was before Caller ID, he would virtually throw a tantrum.
That's how put off he was about having to answer the phone.
I once called him on it.
Not on the phone. In person.
I said "You know, there are lots of times that I have to call you on the phone. Is this how you prepare to talk to me? Considering that you never want to call anyone yourself?"
Another example of a mind game and a power play.

3---Establishing ground rules for the phone call, and having them come back to bite you in the ass.
I met a well-known female writer at a party.
We were contemporaries.
She asked me if I would phone her, because, in her words, "I want to know all about you".
I, never having trouble talking about myself, accepted her marching orders, and we agreed on a time to chat on the phone.
I did about an hour and a half on myself, without even breathing hard.
And I don't mind saying that I was fascinating.
And I got my laughs in all the right places.
At that point, rather perturbed, she asked "Aren't you even the least bit interested in me?"
Indeed I was.
And I did ask her a few questions about her along the way.
But apparently they weren't enough.
And I said "Hey, you set the ground rules, lady.
I was just following orders. I'd be perfectly willing to spend the next hour and a half listening to you talk about yourself."
But by this point, her enthusiasm had already waned.
She said she'd call another time.
She hasn't.

4---Not wanting to pick up the phone until the other party is on the line.
This is predominant in office situations when someone who perceives himself to be more powerful than you calls your office.
What invariably had happened was that my secretary would tell me "Mr. Big Shot" (I'm using a euphemism) is on the line.
I would pick up the phone, only to have his secretary say please hold for "Mr. Big Shot"
And I'm sitting there holding on a call that I didn't initiate.
This is another form of power play.
It's as if he has a badge in his desk drawer that he occasionally wears that reads "I'm Important"
After about a dozen times that he pulled this one on me, I instructed my secretary that the next time he called, and his secretary put me on hold, she was to stay on the line, and when he got on the phone to talk to me, to tell him "Please hold for Mark"
Then I'd wait about thirty seconds while he was fuming, and then pick up.
It served as only minor revenge.

5---Calling someone you know well and being told "Look, I really don't have time to talk now", and offering some excuse why they are too busy for you.
At this point, I'd feel the need to impose "The Sinatra Rule"
The Sinatra Rule was much more prevalent when Frank Sinatra was alive.
But let's use our imaginations and hypothetically assume that he is still with us, as formidable and imposing as ever.
Can you imagine anyone, if Sinatra came calling on the phone for whatever reason, saying "Gee, I'm sorry Frank. I really don't have time to talk now. My wife just got home and we have dinner reservations, and we're half-way out the door"
I can't imagine anyone doing this.
I can't imagine saying this to anyone who I want to have my phone number.
You're in essence telling someone how much less important they are than Frank Sinatra.
Or perhaps anyone.
I would go out of my way to not make the caller feel that he or she was imposing on my time.
Perhaps that's just me.
But let's suppose that you are really swamped, and your wife just came home, and you do have dinner reservations, and you're half way out the door, and it's not Sinatra on the phone.
Then don't pick up the friggin' phone!
There is a saving grace that can be used if you do.
You can immediately make note of the time, and say "Look, I really don't hve time to talk now, but when can I get back to you?" and work out a time to return the call promptly.
And you follow through with it.
That takes the curse off of everything.
Without that extra step, you are simply telling the caller precisely how much less important he or she is than Frank Sinatra.
Or anyone.
Feel free to disagree with me on any of this.
But I doubt that you'll make a dent.
I feel that it is all a matter of courtesy and respect.

We haven't even touched on the cell phone.
Improved technology has only brought about new ways for otherwise civilized human beings to act inexcusably rudely.

We'll deal with it next time.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls.

I'm referring here to ole Alex Bell.
Ole Alex Graham Bell.
A lot has gone down since he said "Mr. Watson, come here! I need you!"
And most of it is negative.
We've come a long way from Jan Clayton ringing Jenny three times to reach the sheriff when Jeff or Lassie were missing.
When I am in a good mood, embracing life, and my mind turns to the subject of death, I usually think that tomorrow is one less day that I have, to get up.
When I am depressed, and occasionally embracing death, which is unfortunately too much of the time, I think that tomorrow is one less day, that I HAVE to get up.
Just a moved comma, and four capital letters, and it changes everything.
One of the ways that my mind shifts to the latter is the prospect of someone calling me between 8:30am and 9am.
This could only be a stranger.
A stranger that I don't want to talk to.
Why should 8:30 to 9am be considered the half Witching-Hour?
Because anyone who calls then is either interrupting someone on their way to work, or more likely, in my case, rousting someone who isn't on their way to work out of a deep sleep.
It would have to be a dire emergency call from someone I know to justify it.
Usually it's just a Telemarketer.
Or worse yet, a RoboCall.
With a RoboCall, it's pointless to yell back.
Ya think Ole Alex had this in mind when he beckoned Mr. Watson?
I have been on Senator Al Franken's e-mailing list for quite a while.
He's always been asking me for money.
I like Al Franken.
I've always liked his politics.
But he lives and represents Minnesota.
I live in Michigan.
So I've never been moved to send him money.
Then I received a RoboCall from his campaign.
At 8:45am.
If I voted in Minnesota, that's when he would have lost my vote.
Later on, I received a live Telemarketing call soliciting funds for Al Franken.
I explained to the fellow on the other end of the phone how Al had lost whatever support I had for him.
I've got a lot more to bellyache about this, but my belly is really starting to ache.
So I'll pick up where I left off next time.


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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Game Show Day On The OTN.

I've been looking at some DVDs of some old game shows, and found two of them that are worthy of OTN status.
One of them is timeless, and the other is very much of its time.
The first is "Masquerade Party"
I remember going to an airing of an episode of "Masquerade Party" when it was in its heyday.
The late fifties.
I remember afterwards asking for and getting Johnny Olsen's autograph.
He was "Masquerade Party's announcer.
He was everybody's announcer.
He was very nice.
"Masquerade Party" had all the earmarks of a Goodson-Todman production.
It had four celebrity panelists.
It had a game that was almost clever.
It had Johnny Olsen.
But it was not a Goodson-Todman production.
A celebrity was made up in a rubber mask and a costume, and the panel, with the help of rather subtle clues, had to guess who the Mystery Celebrity was.
It gave the celebrity a chance to stretch, and put on accents.
It was always very entertaining.
They revived it in the 1970's with Richard Dawson as host.
Again, it was not a Goodson-Todman production.
It was out of the same stable that gave us "Let's Make A Deal", Heatter-Quigley.
This time around, it was in color.
And the game was exactly the same, and exactly as good.
There is no reason why it can't be done today.
Just as entertainingly, and just as successfully.

The other OTN entry is "The Movie Game"
It was on in the late 60's.
Larry Blyden was the host.
Another Johnny, in this instance Johnny Gilbert, better known as the announcer on "Jeopardy", and for pronouncing the word "dollars" as "dolluz", was the announcer here.
Although there were far fewer dolluz at stake.
They had real movie stars as panelists.
They usually asked rather esoteric questions about old movies.
And I always knew the answers.
This is all why they can't do this show today.
Either they'd do it the same way, and I'd know all the answers, or they'd contemporize it and a younger audience would know all the answers, and I wouldn't know anything.
My movie mind turned off somewhere in the early nineties.
And now, there are certainly a lot more of them.
To this day, I can't tell Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Brad Pitt apart from one another.
And there would be no legitimate movie stars who would be willing to be panelists.
Certainly none of the above-mentioned.
But the original version was very entertaining, and made me feel like a genius.
Particularly when I knew more than the movie stars themselves.
They once had Shirley Jones on as a panelist.
The gimmick was that they showed miniature versions of sets from famous movies.
They showed an exterior western street.
They even had a miniature Wells Fargo Wagon.
Larry Blyden even referred to it, with other clues.
With all of this help, Shirley Jones could not identify it as the set from "The Music Man"
You know.
The movie she starred in?

I live for such moments.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yes, We Have Two More Sitcoms.....

......two sitcoms for the OTN.
Both more than OTN worthy.
Both from the sixties.
Both hilarious.
Both with superior writing.
The first was from around 1967-68.
It was called "Hey, Landlord!"
It marked the Show Running debut of Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson.
The next show they commandeered was "The Odd Couple"
The two leads, Will Hutchins and Sandy Baron, were probably the weakest things about it.
The writing was easily the strongest thing about it.
That, and Michael Constantine in a major supporting role as Jack Ellenhorn, one of the tenants.
If your major memory of Michael Constantine is as the rather subdued principal on "Room 222", it's quite unfortunate.
Because if you saw him on "Hey, Landlord!", aside from not being subdued, he was side-splittingly funny.
Obviously, when I watched "Hey, Landlord!" originally, I had not yet met Garry Marshall.
After meeting Garry, I was astounded by how much he sounded like Jack Ellenhorn.
Once, during my tenure on "The Odd Couple", I met Michael Constantine in Las Vegas at the Blackjack tables.
I pointed out to him the similarity between Garry's voice and his as Jack Ellenhorn.
Constantine confessed that he was doing a blatant imitation of Garry.
Figured.
"Hey, Landlord!" also marked Sally Field's transition from Gidget to The Flying Nun.
I preferred seeing her on "Hey Landlord!"
Watching more than a handful of episodes lately, I was struck by how many supporting actors were used there who also often showed up on "The Odd Couple"
And such is how stock companies are born.

The other series offered up today is from the very early sixties.
It was called "Angel"
The writing muscle was Jess Oppenheimer, primarily known as being responsible for "I Love Lucy"
This show was right in his wheelhouse.
It was an attempt to do "I Love Lucy" with a French accent.
It succeeded admirably.
Primarily because he found the right French accent.
In the form of French actress Annie Farge.
Annie Farge was the top.
She was the Colosseum.
And of course, she was the Louvre Museum.
It may be sacrilege to say, but I think she was better at being Lucy than Lucy was.
She was way younger, much prettier, had timing at least as good, and fractured the language at least as well as Desi did.
The totally astonishing thing is how, after "Angel", she seems to have completely fallen off the face of the earth.
Or at least any form of Radar or Sonar that I can get my hands on.
She did four guest shots on 60's American TV shows, none of them comedies.
Then she drifted back to France, where she worked, doing God-knows-what.
I just checked her IMDB page, and much to my distress, learned that she died two years ago at age 76.
For me not to have ever seen an obituary until now indicates the level of obscurity she had descended to.
And that's what the OTN is about: the rescue from obscurity.
So there's no chance for a comeback for Annie Farge..
At 76, Lucy was already working on her fourth.
But "Angel" still exists.
And "Hey, Landlord!" still exists.
And I would create a separate wing for them on the OTN.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two Interchangeable Actors On The OTN.

There were very few comedic actors that were in the same league as James Coco.
He looked funny.
He was relatively short.
With his paunch, his balding head, and his impeccable sense of timing, he was one of God's gifts to comedy.
He had a short-lived series in the early 70's called "Calucci's Department" on CBS.
He played a man who ran a Department of Welfare office in New York.
Everything about this series reeked of New York.
It was shot in New York.
All New York actors.
The Show Runners were Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna.
Who were more New York than them?
It was a smart, hilarious show, made even more hilarious by the presence of James Coco.
It would be to imagine anyone else but Coco playing Calucci.
Difficult, but not impossible.
James Coco had a virtual twin brother when it came to comedy brilliance.
And when it came to looks.
Dom DeLuise could have played Calucci.
Probably exactly as well.
They were exactly as good as each other.
But logistically, Dom DeLuise couldn't have played Calucci.
Because simultaneously, he had his own sitcom, "Lotsa Luck", on NBC.
He looked funny.
He was relatively short.
With his paunch, his balding head, and his impeccable sense of timing, he was one of God's gifts to comedy.
Where have I heard those words before?
"Lotsa Luck" also took place in New York, but I'm pretty sure it was shot in L.A.
DeLuise played a the manager of the Lost and Found Department of a New York Bus Company, but you virtually never saw people losing or finding things.
The action primarily took place at home, where he lived with his mother, played by the great Kathleen Freeman, and his sister and his sponging brother-in law.
It was very well written, and dominated by Dom.
How fitting.
It would be very difficult to imagine anyone else playing Dom's part in "Lotsa Luck"
Difficult, but not impossible.
It could have been James Coco.
It's really sad that neither are around any more.
But the shows are.
And they both belong on the OTN.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Saturday, August 10, 2013

George Burns Day On The OTN.

George Burns was born to become a genius, and a major creative force in television.
This was after many, many years of being a non-major creative force in vaudeville, movies, and radio.
Television was where George Burns really shined.
And I'm not talking about his work with Gracie on the "Burns and Allen Show".
That began in radio, where it was not at all innovative.
But on TV, it really was.
It was where he regularly broke the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience.
It was where he broke the fifth wall by watching his own show in his den, without the other characters' knowledge.
It was where he broke the sixth wall by replacing Fred Clark, as Bea Benaderet's husband, on his knees, pleading for his wife's forgiveness, with Larry Keating, placing him on HIS knees, in mid-scene, in mid-sentence.
Brilliant.
But "Burns and Allen" doesn't qualify for the OTN.
It has been rerun endlessly.
It's also a show that doesn't hold up very well upon close, continuous scrutiny.
If you watch too many episodes too frequently, you'll essentially notice that it is the same show every time.
It must have been a very difficult show for the writers.
They had to constantly come up with double-meaning straightlines for the other characters to say so that Gracie could misinterpret them.
But Gracie was a great character, and completely George's invention.
It's no surprise that Gracie was nothing like that in real life.
But George Burns had two other shows with far briefer lives that belong on the OTN.
One was "The George Burns Show", which at least creatively showed that he could commandeer a show that was at least as funny as the one he did with Gracie.
It had all of the same supporting cast: Larry Keating. Bea Benaderet, his son Ronnie, and Harry Von Zell.
All doing the same parts that they did when they had Gracie.
Harry Von Zell had been kicking around for years on radio, mostly as a straight announcer, and as Eddie Cantor's straightman on Cantor's radio show.
He wasn't even Burns's announcer or straightman on the "Burns and Allen" radio show.
Yet somehow, Burns knew that Von Zell could be a major comedic foil for him on TV.
"The George Burns Show was a pleasure to watch, and far less contrived, and far easier to write than "Burns and Allen"
It was mostly a sitcom, although he dabbled a few weeks with it becoming a variety show.
Then, he returned to it being a sitcom.
He always seemed to throw caution to the winds.
On another of his sitcoms, he was able to prove that he could turn someone else into Gracie Allen.
On "Wendy and Me", he chose Connie Stevens for the task.
She handled it with aplomb, and the result was a charming, first-rate pleasure.
He basically used the same writers on all of these shows.
He was a total auteur of TV sitcoms.
And "The George Burns Show" and "Wendy and Me" should both be on the OTN.
You probably shouldn't watch "Wendy and Me" too frequently either.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Thing Actors Should Never Ask When They're Auditioning For Me.

This question has come up twice in my casting life.
Both within a period of about a year and a half.
It's the kind of question that comes up when an actor has a chip on his or her shoulder, and generally hates the audition process.
I have acted many times in my life, and have always relished the audition process.
I always regarded it as a good chance to show off.
Not so for the people who have asked this question.
The question has come up:
A- When I've expressed admiration for the actor's previous work, and or
B- When I've worked with the actor before.
The question is: "You know what I do. So why do you need me to read?"

This question first came up when I was casting the pilot for the series "Makin' It"
"Makin' It" was conceived, not by me, but by one of the most successful TV and movie moguls in Hollywood history.
He designed it to be a rip-off of both "Saturday Night Fever" and "Happy Days"
So he made deals with both the powers behind "Saturday Night Fever" and "Happy Days"
So I suppose you can say that this was strictly on the up and up.
Sure you can.
Instead of Travolta or Ron Howard, we had an actor named David Naughton to play the lead.
David Naughton was probably best remembered a the "Doctor Pepper guy"
You know.
"I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper, He's a Pepper, She's a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too....."
That guy.
He had been signed.
We needed an actor to be a regular in the cast to play Naughton's father.
Somewhere along the line, it was decided (again, not by me) to bring in the actor who played Travolta's father in "Saturday Night Fever"
Hey, if you're going to rip off, you might as well rip off.
I was very familiar with his work.
I had remembered seeing him in a play on Broadway in the sixties in which he was quite good.
I told him this when he came in.
And he asked the magic question:
So you know my work. So why do you need me to read?"
And here is how I responded, which is why actors should never ask me this question:
"Do you mean to tell me that I have seen every acting choice that you are ever going to make?
Yeah. I saw you on Broadway, where you had weeks and weeks of rehearsal.
I saw you in "Saturday Night Fever", a full length movie where they can do wonders with scissors.
We have a five day rehearsal and shoot week.
New pages can be constantly thrown at you.
I've got to see what happens when you pick up a script for the first time and read from it."
He was humbled, and resentful, and he read.
And he was really bad.
Sometimes it's the only way an actor can prove himself.

It happened again when one of the regular cast members of "Makin' It" auditioned for another pilot I did.
This time an actress.
An actress whose work I wasn't too thrilled with to begin with.
An actress who was essentially foisted on me the first time around.
But I brought her in as a courtesy.
She was not so courteous.
Again, the magic question:
"You know my work. Why do you need me to read?"
This time, I only needed to get as far as "Do you mean to tell me that I have seen every acting choice that you are ever going to make?"
After giving me the visual equivalent of "Harrumph!", she read badly and left. hardly ever to be seen again.

Actors must realize what business they're in, and where they fit in the food chain.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Monday, August 5, 2013

Two Cop Shows For The OTN.

The shows in question are "87th Precinct" and "The Lineup"
I never saw "87th Precinct" when it was on originally, in the early 60s.
It was on opposite something I watched regularly.
I think it was "Make Room For Daddy", which I never missed.
I was recently sent an episode of "87th Precinct" to watch.
It was an hour-long, much better than average cop show..
Sort of a cross between "Dragnet" and Naked City"
Like Dragnet, in that it was out and out Detective work.
And it had a bit of a sense of humor, embodied by an early career Norman Fell as a Detective named Meyer Meyer.
Like "Naked City" in that shootouts were a regular element.
I don't recall Joe Friday ever even picking up a gun.
Good dialogue and storytelling, and a very good cast, including Robert Lansing and Ron Harper.

"The Lineup" was the San Francisco version of "Dragnet"
It ran concurrently with it in the mid-fifties.
Straight police work.

Wonderful location shooting, and old cars.
And like "Dragnet", it had a great narrator.
Of course he wasn't as great as Jack Webb.
Nobody was.
But he was pretty great.
His name was Art Gilmore.
Art Gilmore was perhaps best known as the voice of almost every movie trailer in the 1950's.
Particularly comedies.
I think he did all the Martin and Lewis movies, and all the Doris Day light-hearted virgin and non-virgin movies.
He was a major asset on "The Lineup"
He performed a very similar role on "Highway Patrol", which starred Broderick Crawford.
Same asset.
If you can't imagine his voice from this information, you might recall his work as the announcer on "The Red Skelton Show"
And "The Lineup" had a lot going for it besides Art Gilmore.
The two lead cops were played by the extremely straight Warner Anderson, and the extremely wry Tom Tully.
Tom Tully was wonderful.
His rap sheet on the IMDB is a mile long.
He played Dick Van Dyke's father on the Van Dyke Show when J. Pat O' Malley didn't.
Tully was much funnier than J. Pat.
Unlike Jack Webb and whoever he was partnered with on "Dragnet", Anderson and Tully were equal partners.
And they were two relatively old guys.
And there were plenty o' shootouts, and rolling around on the ground.
And they both handled themselves with aplomb.
Apparently without stunt doubles.
And there was usually a scene that took place at a Lineup.
The show was always interesting.

These two shows should both be seen again on a regular basis.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

Friday, August 2, 2013

No, I'm Not Done With The OTN.

Actually, I don't know if I'll EVER be done with the OTN.
The Obscure Television Network, for you newbies.
A fantasy network of my own making to provide opportunities to see TV shows that I think are worth your time, and for whatever reason have never been rerun.
New entries constantly cross my path and my mind.
Recently, my friend Bob, who is rapidly becoming my better and better friend Bob, sent me a couple of episodes of "The Practice"
No, not the ABC series about lawyers that evolved into "Boston Legal"
This one is from the mid-1970's, and was a sitcom starring Danny Thomas as a doctor who had his own office and still made housecalls.
Kind of like what Paul Muni was in "The Last Angry Man"
I remember watching it when it was first on, and really enjoying it.
What I didn't recall was how absolutely brilliant it was.
And it was.
The first episode of the ones he sent me was incredibly good.
It did something I had never seen before or since.
Danien shows up at the home of an old neighborhood friend just as Last Rites are being administered by the priest.
And then Danien spends the entire half-hour doing a monologue about death to the corpse.
He was brilliant.
The writing was brilliant.
They completely stretched the sitcom form.
The writer was the great Steve Gordon, who was best known for writing the movie "Arthur"
And Steve Gordon died only five years after this episode of "The Practice", at the age of 43.
This only adds to the irony of that monologue.

"The Practice" was also quite substantive.
The other episode dealt with the dilemma a Doctor faces when he is faced with attempting to save a life that really isn't worth saving.
In this case, a thug who sells drugs to kids.
The actor playing the thug was an actor named Carmine Caridi, whom I'm sure you'd recognize.
I know I did.
Perhaps that's because I had once cast him myself, and he was really good.
I thought that his work in this episode was a little sub-standard for him.
Then, watching the credits, I realized why.
It wasn't Carmine Caridi.
It was Vic Tayback.
You know.
The guy who played Mel from Mel's diner on "Alice"
A guy whose work I never liked.
An actor far worse than Carmine Caridi.
I had never been that badly fooled.
And I never realized how much Tayback and Caridi looked and sounded like each other.
Maybe they were the same guy.
No. They couldn't be.
Maybe they could have been twins.
Maybe they were.
Except one of them got all the talent.

"The Practice" belongs on the OTN.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.

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

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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 paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are 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'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

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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."