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Monday, May 22, 2017

The Week Tony Randall Completely Lost It, And Then Completely Regained It.

Generally, Tony Randall was a very well-behaved person.
Except when it came to day-players, (supporting actors hired for the week.)
He was usually barely civil to them.  Usually worse than that.
But he knew what side his bread was buttered on, and thus was always nice to Garry Marshall, and all the other writers, of which I was one.
But, there was one script that we had sitting on our shelf, having once been read at the table, that Tony so hated, that nobody wanted to give it another airing.
This all took place before I started working there.
So I saw no reason to even look at it.
It was called "The Frog Show".
And it only became an issue because Garry was convinced that it could be salvaged.
This led to our taking it down off the shelf, and reading it.
It was your typical poorly written first drafts, that needed a lot of work, but had a basically appealing storyline.
Felix's son had a pet frog that he wanted to enter in a Frog Jumping contest.
We thought that all it needed was better dialogue.
We had at it.  And turned it into what we thought was a typically appealing "Odd Couple'" episode.
Garry kind of blindsided us, leaving us unaware of Tony's initial negative reaction to this story.
I always liked the idea of showing Felix as somebody's father.
We did it so infrequently, and I thought it humanized and grounded him.
Tony couldn't give a shit about that.
He was just looking for ways for Tony to be funny.
So "The Frog Story" hit the table, having been extensively re-written, certainly to our satisfaction.
Tony didn't even want to acknowledge its re-existence.
After much arm twisting, Tony at least agreed to read it out loud, in front of everyone.
He still hated it.
Garry made the pronouncement that we'd be shooting it next week.
He believed in it and appreciated the rewriting we had done.
He was not to be talked out of it.
This led to two full weeks of pissing and moaning by Tony.
Cut to:  The Friday dress-rehearsal before the filming.
We finished it and we all thought it went pretty well.
Except for Tony.
He went on an unprecedented rant, to the tune of "Why are we even bothering to give notes?  This
thing is hopeless"
He then singled out every writer for abuse.
He had never done anything like this before, and never did it since.
Then, over dinner, he went around to every single writer he had wretchedly insulted, and delivered the sweetest apology one could ever imagine.
And you couldn't help but love him for it.
He still hated the script, but, pro that he was, he realized that he took it as far as he could, and it was up to him to carry the burden.
So he went out and performed the hell out of it.
Maybe his best performance ever.
I think it was one of our best shows ever.
Maybe it wouldn't have been if Tony didn't hate it so much.

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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".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and 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 not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@comcast.net
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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2 comments:

  1. One of the funniest scenes was Tony putting the frog's legs in the blender. Just hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
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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."