• Lots of famous movie directors have directed television programs, although doing so can be different from directing a movie. For example, Patty Jenkins, director of Monster, directed the pilot episode of the TV series The Killingand ordered many more takes than a television director, who often must work quickly, would order. David Madden, president of Fox Television Studios, said, “I’d watch her [Ms. Jenkins] go 12, 13, 14 takes. For a line producer, that’s justifiable cause for a heart attack.” In addition, when Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day, directed a television pilot, he says, “I took the exact same approach as I would with a movie,” meaning that he used many wide shots and crowd scenes rather than television-friendly close-ups. However, he had to learn to keep in mind that television has commercials: “They’d remind me about act breaks for commercials, and I’d go, ‘What’s an act break?’” When Martin Scorsese directed the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire, his reputation as a big-time movie director was so intimidating that people stayed out of his way. Terence Winter, executive producer of Boardwalk Empire, said, “We were laughing because normally you’re on the set and it’s your show. [Instead, we] hung out at craft services.” Mr. Winter did once want to make a suggestion. A 1920s gangster kept his hat on when he entered a room that was filled with women, and Mr. Winter felt that the gangster should take off his hat. He asked the first cameraman how he could give a note to Mr. Scorsese, and the first cameraman said, “I don’t know. No one’s ever given him a note before.”
• The Simpsons live in Springfield, but in what state? Springfield, Ohio? Springfield, Oregon? Springfield, Massachusetts? Springfield, Wherever? In one episode, Marge is talking on the telephone and saying where she lives when Homer walks in: “Springfield, Oh hi ya, Homer.” In the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, Simpsonscreators Matt Groening talked about the Simpsons’ Springfield: “Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show Father Knows Besttook place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do.” Over the years, he has been kind to people who want to believe that Springfield is in their state. He said, “I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’”
• Slydini was a great magician who had been born Quintino Marucci in Italy and whom his friends called Tony. He was a master of close-up magic. For much of his life, he operated a tobacco/newspaper shop, and his customers did not know that he was a gifted magician, but he gained renewed fame when he appeared twice on one of Dick Cavett’s TV interview series, to the delight of many other magicians, including Johnny Carson. Near the end of Slydini’s life, he lived in a nursing home, and he was sad because no one there had ever heard of Slydini. Mr. Cavett visited Slydini occasionally, and he did the great good deed of sending to the nursing home videocassettes of Slydini’s two appearances on his show. The nursing home employees played the videocassettes for the residents, and when Mr. Cavett visited Slydini for what turned out to be the last time, Slydini told him, “Dick, you did it again. I was-a nobody here. Now I’m-a the star.”
• The Big Bang Theory is a popular television show in the United States, and audiences in Belarus started viewing their own knock-off version of the showin 2010. Unfortunately, the knock-off version was unlicensed. Also unfortunately, the TV production company of the unlicensed knockoff was owned by Belarus, and therefore Big Bang Theory
• The Big Bang Theoryis a popular television show in the United States, and audiences in Belarus started viewing their own knock-off version of the showin 2010. Unfortunately, the knock-off version was unlicensed. Also unfortunately, the TV production company of the unlicensed knockoff was owned by Belarus, and therefore Big Bang Theoryco-creator Chuck Lorre could not sue the production company. He did put a title card in the show; the card stated that he hoped that Belarus would “send us some felt hats” as payment for stealing the program. Actually, the actors of the knock-off had believed that they were participating in a legal, licensed television show. When they found out that the show was unlicensed, they quit and the production company was forced to suspend the illegal program.
• In season seven of its nine seasons, Roseanne Barr’s hit TV series Roseannedropped out of the top 10, and suddenly she could no longer get reservations at fancy restaurants. She had her assistant call the Palm restaurant for a reservation that night, but she was told that they were full. Roseanne then had her assistant disguise her voice and call back to ask for a reservation that night for Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman, and — no surprise — the Palm was not full. The assistant made the reservation for 8 p.m., but as ordered by Roseanne she called back at 7:55 p.m. to say that Tom and Nicole would not be dining at the Palm because they had accepted an invitation from Roseanne to dine at a Denny’s.
• Lucille Ball was clearly the star of I Love Lucy, and everybody knew it, including her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz and including Jess Oppenheimer, who came up with the concept of the show. Occasionally, creative differences came up between these three people, and Desi proposed that the differences be decided by majority rule: if Lucy and Desi disagreed with Jess, then Lucy and Desi would get their way, and if Lucy and Jess disagreed with Desi, then Lucy and Jess would get their way. Jess asked what would happen when Desi and Jess agreed. Desi replied, “Like I told you, majority rules. In that case, then Lucy decides.”
• “So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.” — Roald Dahl
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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