Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Episode of "Saving Grace"

A New Episode Containing 100% Certified Pre-Strike Writing!

“It’s better when I can see you.”
written by
Joseph Dougherty
&
Roger Wolfson

Monday, December 3 • 10:00 P.M. Eastern/Pacific
on TNT

Visit Saving Grace
at TNT.TV

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mel Tolkin


The group assembled in the above photo along with Lucille Kallen, Sam Denoff, Bill Persky, Danny Simon, Joseph Stein, Sylvester L. Weaver Jr. Tony Webster, Woody Allen and Carl Reiner represent the most influential collection of comedy writers to ever work in television. At a time when all of the entertainment industry is focused on writers, we lost a master of the craft. Mel Tolkin died at the age of 94. Mr. Tolkin was the head of Sid Caesar’s famous television writing team for Your Show of Shows from 1950 to 1954 and later went on to write for Danny Kaye, Danny Thomas, Bob Hope and also wrote for the TV sitcom All in the Family.

Mel Tolkin was interviewed for the Archive of American Television for four hours. This what he had to say about comedy,

"First I'd say that humor cannot be taught. Humor is an attitude towards life. It's a rather cynical approach. It's a negative approach. It's saying people misbehave. People put on shows. People wear masks. People are proud of what they shouldn't be. People compete unfairly. If you think life is wonderful, you don't belong in comedy. Of course, there's a lot that can be taught and at UCLA I taught very detailed things. Some of the things I mention here: how people recognize themselves on the screen and so on. What people are funny? And I quote the opening line of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy when she says, happy people are alike in their happiness. Only unhappy people are different from each other, and that's all there is. Because she proceeded to have one of the unhappiest marriages of all time, Karenina. But she left him. So that's an important lesson. Happy people are dull conversationalists -- no fun to be with and probably vote Republican."

To quote Mel Tolkin when his writer's pace slackened, . “Gentlemen, we’ve got to get something done!” Jews all over America will be watching Saturday night!”

Good Night Mr. Tolkin


In Solidarity



Tony Figueroa

Monday, November 26, 2007

An Evening with Holly Hunter and Saving Grace

If you're going to be in New York on Monday, December 3rd check out.


An Evening with Holly Hunter and Saving Grace
Monday, December 3; 6:00 pm

Join us for a conversation with Academy and Emmy Award–winning Holly Hunter as she discusses her acclaimed new TNT series Saving Grace. Hunter portrays fast-living Oklahoma City police detective Grace Hanadarko, who, tormented by demons both internal and external, nearly reaches her breaking point before redemption arrives in the form of an unconventional angel named Earl. A yet-to-be-aired episode of Saving Grace will be screened.

Tickets: SPECIAL DISCOUNT PRICE: $25 (use promotional code PALEY)Click here to buy tickets.

And speaking of Holly Hunter


On Thanksgiving Day (November 22), a group of Writers Guild Of America members began posting Public Service Announcements featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent as part of an independent WGA membership’s “Speechless” campaign conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff. They can be found on SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com with links on UnitedHollywood.com. Ms. Hunter was in the first episode




In Solidarity


Tony Figueroa


Friday, November 23, 2007

Comedy Callback - the Show (Nov. 2007) part 2

Comedy Callback - the Show (Nov. 2007) part 2

Every month or so I will pod cast an episode of Comedy Callback and during those weeks in between shows, I will be interviewing all sorts of people on the business of being funny. I’ll also be blogging and letting you know where you can find the funny.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions please drop me an ‘e’ at comedycallback@gmail.com.
And remember, life is short - so laugh hard!

Dan Farren

Part two of our show has a theme. I didn’t know it at the time, but I do now. Comedy and transportation.
Dylan Brody hits the road with a guy named “Doug”.
Beverly Mickins hits the road with Andre & Reggie.
And Tony Figueroa just hits the road thanks to a motorcycle accident.
Enjoy! Some mature language.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The 100 Greatest TV Icons



For those of you who will be spending Thanksgiving with your family. I'm sure you will be under strict orders not to discuss politics, religion or the writers strike (If you are in LA or NYC) at the dinner table. I wanted to provide you with a safe topic of conversation that should be good for at least two courses or until your drunk uncle asks, "When are you gonna get a real job".

TV Land and Entertainment Weekly assembled a list of the 100 Greatest TV Icons. Most of the time I'd like to rip these lists apart like a turkey carcass and add my honorable mentions. I totally understand that someone in my age group would rearrange the numeric order, but that could be said of any TV generation. Let’s dig in.

I do think that certain actors received iconic status when in reality it should have been their most famous character receiving the honor.

Examples from list include:
100. Marcia Cross. The status should have been granted to Cross' Desperate Housewives character Bree Vandecamp. Bree has become the poster child for the modern day Stepford Wife. 91. Dennis Franz (Andy Sipowicz in NYPD BLUE)
86. Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver)
82. Ted Knight (Ted Baxter) Keith Olbermann pays homage to Ted Baxter when he impersonates Bill O'Reilly.
75. Peter Falk (Lt. Columbo)
70. Bob Denver (Gilligan)
69. Barbara Eden (Jeannie)
63. Ed Asner (Lou Grant) Lou Grant became an icon once he said, "You know what you got? You got spunk. I hate spunk!"
58. Don Knotts (Deputy Barney Fife)
49. Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal)
45. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Buffy was to girls in the 90s what Gidget (40. Sally Field) was to girls in the 60s.
42. James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano)
32. Henry Winkler (The Fonz)

Examples not from list include:
Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan). The Captain was to children's television what icon #1. Johnny Carson was to late night television.
Hoss Cartright (Dan Blocker)
Rader O'Reilly (Gary Burgoff)
Elvira mistress of the dark (Cassandra Peterson).
Ginger & Mary Ann (Tina Louise & Dawn Wells). Ginger & Mary Ann proved that there are the girl that you have fun with and the girl that you marry.
Lary "Bud" Melman (Calvert DeForest)

I also think that certain characters received iconic status when in reality it should have been the creator of that character receiving the honor.

Examples from list include:
21. Kermit the Frog should actually be Jim Henson.
57. Charlie Brown should actually be Charles Schulz

Examples not from list include:
Max Headroom (Matt Frewer).
Maxwell Smart (Don Adams)
Joe Friday (Jack Webb)
Iron Eyes Cody (Crying Native American in Keep America Beautiful PSA)
Mel Blanc (His list of characters is to long)

The Dictionary defines Icon as a person or thing that is uncritically adored, revered or admired, or is regarded as a symbol of a particular culture or sphere, etc; an idol.

I would define a TV icon as:
A) Someone who has set a standard of excellence in their field.

Examples from list include:
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
64. Phil Donahue
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
51. Bob Hope
41. Jon Stewart
28. Howard Cosell
23. Barbara Walters
22. Milton Berle
19. Andy Griffith
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
10. Dick Clark
8. Jerry Seinfeld
6. Carol Burnett
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Desi Arnaz
Danny Thomas
Jack Webb
Carl Reiner
Ernie Kovacks
Sheldon Lennard
Norman Lear
The Smothers Brothers
Lorne Michaels
Jack Benny

B) Someone who can be used as an example, role model, metaphor, analogy or punch line.

Examples from list include:
99. Delta Burke
96. Shannen Doherty
95. Richard Dawson
92. Judge Judy
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
80. Adam West
74. Joan Rivers
72. Cher
68. Don Cornelius
65. Pamela Anderson
64. Phil Donahue
63. Ed Asner
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon
51. Bob Hope49. Calista Flockhart
47. Simon Cowell
46. Lassie
44. Susan Lucci
40. Sally Field
39. Jennifer Aniston
36. Diahann Carroll
34. Bob Barker
33. Ellen DeGeneres
31. Sarah Jessica Parker
28. Howard Cosell
27. Regis Philbin
26. Farrah Fawcett
23. Barbara Walters
18. William Shatner
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
11. Roseanne
10. Dick Clark
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
7. Mary Tyler Moore
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Donna Reed
Charo
The Gabor sisters
Jack Benny

C) Someone whose TV character can be used as an example, role model, metaphor, analogy or punch line.

Examples from list include:
100. Marcia Cross.
99. Delta Burke
96. Shannen Doherty
93. Neil Patrick Harris
91. Dennis Franz
89. Robert Guillaume
86. Jerry Mathers
85. Rod Serling
82. Ted Knight
78. Art Carney
75. Peter Falk
74. Joan Rivers
70. Bob Denver
61. Pee Wee Herman
58. Don Knotts
52. Ron Howard
50. Larry Hagman
49. Calista Flockhart
42. James Gandolfini
39. Jennifer Aniston
37. George Clooney
32. Henry Winkler
30. Alan Alda
29. John Ritter
24. Michael Landon
20. Carroll O'Connor
19. Andy Griffith
18. William Shatner
13. Jackie Gleason
12. Dick Van Dyke
11. Roseanne
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
4. Bill Cosby
2. Lucille Ball

Examples not from list include:
Donna Stone The Donna Reed Show. With out her there would be no Bree Vandecamp.
Mr. Spock
Dr. Johnny Feaver
Fred Flintstone
Ned Flanders
Jack Benny

D) Someone who has created of redefined a TV genre.

Examples from list include:
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
71. Rosie O'Donnell
68. Don Cornelius
64. Phil Donahue
61. Pee Wee Herman
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
41. Jon Stewart
36. Diahann Carroll
28. Howard Cosell
27. Regis Philbin
23. Barbara Walters
22. Milton Berle
20. Carroll O'Connor
19. Andy Griffith
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
12. Dick Van Dyke
10. Dick Clark
6. Carol Burnett
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Desi Arnaz
Danny Thomas
Jack Webb
Carl Reiner
Sheldon Lennard
Ernie Kovacks
Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera
The Smothers Brothers
Norman Lear
Jack Benny

And not forgetting that this is still a business.
E) Someone whose image sells T-shirts, lunch boxes and Pez dispensers.

Examples from list include
86. Jerry Mathers
85. Rod Serling
80. Adam West
72. Cher
71. Rosie O'Donnell
70. Bob Denver
69. Barbara Eden
65. Pamela Anderson
61. Pee Wee Herman
58. Don Knotts
57. Charlie Brown
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon
46. Lassie
45. Sarah Michelle Gellar
44. Susan Lucci
43. Flip Wilson
41. Jon Stewart
39. Jennifer Aniston (The Rachel hairstyle also makes her a style icon)
36. Diahann Carroll
32. Henry Winkler
27. Regis Philbin
26. Farrah Fawcett
25. Heather Locklear
24. Michael Landon
22. Milton Berle
21. Kermit
19. Andy Griffith
18. William Shatner
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
13. Jackie Gleason
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
4. Bill Cosby

Examples not from list would be incredibly long. I noticed that I added Jack Benny four times and Jack Webb three times. Perhaps the people who put together the list don’t know Jack.
If Jack Benny was alive to see him self not make the list, he might respond with, "Well!" and then probably feel better when he learns that there is no cash value to the honor.

Happy Thanksgiving


Tony Figueroa


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writer's Strike: Day 16 - Coast to Coast

In Hollywood something very big happened but didn't seem to get a lot of media coverage.

"On Hollywood Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon, striking writers were joined by members of such unions as the Screen Actors Guild, Teamsters and Service Employees International Union. The solidarity march drew 4,000 people, according to the Writers Guild of America."

Los Angeles Times November 21, 2007


To Quote Writers Guild negotiation committee Chairman John F. Bowman, "Pay us and we'll shut up and go back to work, Show some soul, we'll show some flexibility."

In New York SNL's Will Forte and Kristen Wiig demonstrate an easy, fun way that fans can take action to support all the WGA writers on strike.


In Solidarity


Tony Figueroa


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dick Wilson, aka Mr. Whipple

Dick Wilson, aka Mr. Whipple died at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. He was 91. Mr. Wilson's career spanned eight decades and included parts on radio, TV, film and theater, but he was best known for playing a grocer obsessed with keeping housewives from squeezing the Charmin from 1964 to 1981.


We all know Mr. Whipple's famous quote. So lets quote Mr. Wilson from the San Francisco Examiner in 1985, "Everybody says, 'Where did they find you?' I say I was never lost. I've been an actor for 55 years".

Good Night Mr. Wilson

In Solidarity

Tony Figueroa

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writer's Strike Day 12.



On Friday (November 16) I got to see presidential hopeful John Edwards who joined a writers' rally at NBC in Burbank. Also in attendance at the rally were three of the original Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. How often to you see members of the Writers Guild picket with members of the Lollypop Guild?


Later that evening I attended Story Salon's "Atomic Lounge". Half way through the show I got a message that Writers Guild and the studios will resume talks on Nov. 26. Five minutes later I got a message from SAG with the Hollywood Guild Members: WGA Strike Locations for Monday, Nov. 19 plus Rally & March Location for Tuesday, Nov. 20 . I’m cautiously optimistic.


My quote is in the form of a video from The Screenwriter's Companion's own Joseph Dougherty



In solidarity



Tony Figueroa


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Writer's Strike Day 10.

I am so sorry, but due to a conflict, I could not attend "Picketing with the Stars" yesterday. Please know that I was with you in spirit and I was thinking of you often... Especially when I kept seeing the CSI fan plane fly over the valley.

Please read Marisa Guthrie's article STRIKE COVERAGE: Soap Writers Say They Won't Cross Picket Line for Broadcasting & Cable, 11/14/2007. The article talks about a memo sent out yesterday by the Writers Guild of America West contradicting a report printed in Variety that multiple writers on the CBS soap The Young and the Restless had told the guild that they intended to cross the picket lines and go back to work on the Los Angeles-based series. The truth always comes out.

Now here it is, your moment of Zen.



In solidarity


Tony Figueroa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TV Blogs Go Dark in Solidarity with the Writers Guild of America

On November 13th, this blog and the blogs listed below will be on strike for the day in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America. As fellow writers and as TV fans, we are coming together to express our strong support for the writers and their goals. We believe that when a writer's work makes money for a company, that writer deserves to be paid.

Many writers depend on residuals for a stable income, and that income shouldn't be based on an outdated formula which ignores the existence of new media and all but a tiny percentage of DVD sales. The talented writers responsible for so much of what we love about television should and must be paid fairly and equitably, and we will stand with them until they reach that goal. For everyone's sake, and for the sake of television, we hope both sides can come to an agreement quickly.

To further that goal, we are calling on our readers to sign this petition and to contact the following television networks, voicing support for the writers and for a return to the negotiating table:

ABC
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
(818) 460-7777

FOX
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 369-1000

CBS
7800 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 575-2345

NBC / Universal
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 777-1000

After the blackout, we intend to continue our campaign to support the WGA until the dispute has been resolved fairly. Since we will not be posting any new content on the 13th, we encourage our readers to visit United Hollywood instead for frequent updates about the strike.

In solidarity-

The CineManiac
Daemon’s TV
Ducky Does TV
Gabby Babble
Give Me My Remote
Glowy Box
I am a TV Junkie
The Media Pundit
Mikey Likes TV
Pass the Remote
The Pie Maker
Ramblings of a TV Whore
Seriously? OMG! WTF?
Silly Pipe Dreams
Tapeworthy
Televisionary
TiFaux
Tube Talk
The TV Addict
TV Series Finale
Watch with Intelligence

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Writer’s Strike Day 5.

The purpose of my blog was not to be a TV critic, although at times I can be very critical of the medium and it’s viewers. I hoped that through this blog I could illustrate how real life influences TV and how TV influences real life, and while doing so incorporating some observations and personal stories. I love writing about the television medium. I love encouraging people to watch shows that I think are good. I love having a venue where I can criticize TV watchdog groups who blame television for corrupting their children when in reality they should be admonishing parents for using the TV sets as baby sitters. I love telling stories about TV icons that I have met or who have made a difference in my life. I love that I can use my blog to pay tribute to someone that I admire in the industry when the entertainment news shows only gave their passing a five second sound byte and sometimes not even that. I love finding just the right quote to end my articles with. Most of what I love about television came from WGA writers and SAG actors. Now I feel that is important that I and all TV bloggers pay back the favor. We need to use our talents and resources to get the word out that this strike is important. The big issue has been DVD and new-media residuals.

We are also talking about working middle class families. Often people who need to push their political or religious agenda do so by attacking what they call the "Cultural Elite" in Hollywood. They paint us as morally bankrupt millionaires. The truth is that most people in the entertainment industry are no different than anyone else in America. People here work hard just to keep a roof over their head and feed their families. Like union members across this country Writer's Guild members want fair payment for their work, health care and pensions. Creative people also deserve residual payments when their creative work is being reused for profit. The same agenda motivated people use the term "Liberal Media". If that were really true then most of the "Liberal Media" outlets would give the strike a lot more than thirty seconds of airtime (Half of that airtime is dedicated to star sightings on the picket line). The truth of the matter is that the media is not liberal but corporate owned. The same conglomerates that make up the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) own the media. Bloggers, especially the ones living in New York and Los Angeles, can present the facts about the strike and communicate personal stories about the creative people (especially the non-celebrities) who are currently out of work. Here is one of those stories.






On day five of the writer's strike this Child of Television was in front of the Fox Plaza building (AKA the Diehard building) along with four thousand creative and talented people rallied against Fox and the media conglomerates that make up the AMPTP. This was the greatest gathering of fellowship and solidarity that I have ever experienced. I have spent more than a hundred hours on different picket lines. The speakers at the event included WGA West President Patric M. Verrone, Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg, Family Guy writer-producer-actor Seth MacFarlane, Rev. Jesse Jackson and one of my personal heroes Norman Lear. I did get to meet many people, like Mr. Lear, whose work I have admired over the years. More importantly I also ran into many friends that I currently work with or have worked with in the past. As we marched down Avenue of the Stars and Pico Boulevard to the Fox Studio gate, old friendships were rekindled and as a whole we became a larger galvanized group presenting a united front and letting the AMPTP know we in are all on the same page. Bloggers need to let the world know what the media is not telling them and show the faces that belong to those names that scroll by so fast at the end of your favorite TV show. I hope to see you on the picket line. Those bloggers, who can walk the picket line, I encourage you to do so. If you are not in New York or LA, United Hollywood has artwork that you can post on your blog to help get the message out there and you can also walk a Virtual Picket Line on Myspace.

To quote Seth MacFarlane at the rally, "There are a lot of decent people at every studio who want a quick end to this thing just like we do. I look forward to working with them again when this is all over and we're all awkwardly pretending like it didn't happen."

Stay Tuned or should I say, "In solidarity"


Tony Figueroa

Monday, November 05, 2007

Writer's Strike.

Today is the first day of the Writer's Strike. The big issue has been DVD and new-media residuals. These will be the same issues that are going to be brought up when Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) contracts are up later next year. Even though I am not a Writers Guild of America (WGA) member, I am a member of SAG, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE). I strongly support my brothers and sisters in the WGA.

I was at a Starbucks this morning. A studio executive comes in and recognizes the barista. She says, " Don’t you work for me?" The barista has a studio job but needs to supplement his income by pulling a couple of shifts at Starbucks. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Hollywood is a millionaire. Most people in this town are no different than anyone else in America. We work hard to keep a roof over our head and feed our families. Like union members across this country we want fair payment for our work, health care and pensions. We also deserve Residual payment when others are reusing our creative work for profit. Lets face it, nothing happens in Hollywood until a writer types the words FADE IN.

To quote Tonight Show host Jay Leno at the picket line in front of NBC Burbank, "I've been working with these people for 20 years. Without them I'm not funny. I'm a dead man without them."

Stay Tuned