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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Carl Reiner on casting Mary Tyler Moore for The Dick Van Dyke Show:

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“I will never forget one day [Lucille Ball] sort of walked out of the studio and then came back, and came up to me and said, ‘you’re very good,’ and then walked on. That was the greatest gift I ever received in this business. I don’t think I have another moment that compares with the impact of those words.”
Mary Tyler Moore
Archive of American Television interview in 1997

P.S. In that interview Moore mentioned that Lucille Ball would sometimes drop in on rehearsals of The Dick Van Dyke Show because her company Desilu Productions owned the studio where they taped episodes before a live audience of 300 people. Also in that interview Moore said that her favorite episode from that show was My Blonde-Haired Brunette.

Bonus quote for the day:

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Mary Tyler Moore

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After the TV Sun Exploded

“Right now what the internet is capable of providing is growing, what TV is capable of holding on to is shrinking, but they haven’t met in the middle in any significant way. At some point I think they’ll have to. “
Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator)

Earlier this year I promised to write more posts that were TV/digital centered. Now that we’re in the second six months of the year I’ll try to do better than I did the first six months.

One of the problems is there is such a well-documented film history which to pull from in movies; all the film books, magazines, documentaries, commentaries, interviews, and scholarly writing just make it easier to write about.

But there is a doc on Netflix right now called Showrunner: The Art of Running a TV Show, written and directed by Des Doyle that is a great exploration into the modern world of television, and the changes that it’s going through. So for at least the next few posts I’ll be able to pull some quotes from it and hope that it sets the tone for the rest of the year to include more from the non-feature film world.

“The profusion of platforms, of channels of distribution, it’s all kind of exploding. It used to be that you could understand the television universe as a solar system. The sun was broadcast television, the three or four networks, and everything else was a satellite that traveled around the sun. and that clearly is no longer the model. The sun has exploded. And there are a lot of little solar systems being  set up. And the idea that we’ll ever have a coherent whole like that again.—I’m not sure we will.”
Emmy-winning producer Jeff Melvin (Northern Exposure)
Founder, WGA Showrunner Training Program

“I feel like what I do is secure in that I’m a writer first and foremost.  I’m going to want to write something for somebody and someone is going to want to make it. You know if I’m writing for something that’s just on the internet, that we’re just performing on something.com if I’m happy doing it and I can feed my family I’m happy doing that, too.”
Emmy-winning producer Ronald D. Moore
Developer/Showerrunner Battlestar Galactica

P.S. Man, Northern Exposure is one of my all time favorite TV shows. If you work in TV or just love the medium and know of some good resources online I welcome your suggestions.

Scott W. Smith

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How a TV Show Gets Made

I promised more TV related posts this year, so here’s an excellent video by Estelle Casewell and Caroline Framke just put online less than 24 hours ago that I think you’ll find useful. It’s connected to the Vox article “We’re creating a world that feels true”: How to make great TV explained by FX spy drama The Americans by Framke.

Related post: Film vs. Tv Writing (10 Differences) 

Scott W. Smith

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#LongLiveLongmire

“In terms of its wide-open, rural Wyoming setting and characters, Longmire marks a rare and welcome departure from the tired New York, DC, and LA locales where far too many such series are both set and filmed. It’s a big country out there with interesting people in it. It’s nice to see their lives portrayed once in a while, and that’s something else Longmire accomplishes.”
Terry Ponick
Communities Digital News

Part of this blog is about a sense of place. For the past three season the Wyoming-centered (New Mexico shot) TV program  Longmire has posted solid numbers from its loyal fan base. But despite it being called “A&E Network’s most-watched original dramaseries of all time,” the show was cancelled last month.

One of the actors on the show, Lou Diamond Phillips (yes, the Lou Diamond Phillips of La Bamaba, Courage Under Fire, Stand and Deliver) is part of a push called #LongLiveLongmire to help Longmire find life via another outlet. Another cable station or perhaps Twitter or Amazon.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how the Wyoming-based writer of the novels (Craig Johnson) for which the show is based ended up seeing his characters on a Sunset Blvd. billboard in LA.

Scott W. Smith

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“We now live in a time of endless possibility. More has been learned about the treatment of the human body in the last five years than was learned in the previous five hundred.”
Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) referencing the year 1900
The Knick, The Eulogy from episode 1

“I think it’s not so much about the format of the stories that we’re going to tell, as filmmakers — it’s about the way it’s going to be consumed. That’s what’s going to be changed.”
Michael Sugar of Anonymous Content and Steven Soderbergh’s manager
IndieWire interview by Anne Thompson

The Knick

When Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement a while back it was just from making feature films that were theatrically released—and maybe paint a little bit. Last month Cinemax began airing The Knick directed by Soderbergh who is also one of the executive producers.

Set in New York City in 1900, The Knick stars Clive Owen and is a look at the early (dramatic and bloody) days of modern medicine. Soderbergh was going for anti-nostagic in tone. (Keep in mind that human life expectancy back then was 47 years.)

“At no point do you look at this and go, ‘Wow, it must have been really great to live in 1900.'”
Steven Soderbergh
Wall Street Journal interview by John Jurgensen

Jack Amiel and Michael Begler wrote the wrote the initial episode (and are the show’s main writers) that pulled Soderbergh away from his painting to jump back in the directing chair.

Related post:
‘State of Cinema’ (Soderbergh)

Scott W. Smith

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