Thursday, March 31, 2016

Join me tonight on CNN

As a refreshing change, I will be on CNN tonight instead of Donald Trump.  This evening  CNN is premiering its 7-part documentary series THE EIGHTIES.  As with THE SEVENTIES I will be on talking about television.   For maybe 45 seconds.   However, last year's TV-themed episode was an hour.  This year it's two full hours.   So I hope to be on for 50 seconds.   But still, that's 50 less seconds of Donald Trump speculating on journalists' menstrual cycles.  

It airs at 9 PM Eastern & Pacific, and then probably nine times this weekend. 

Why people don't laugh

Continuing our theme this week of why things don't work:
When you do a show multi-camera in front of an audience you always run the risk that unforeseen circumstances will affect the crowd’s reactions.

There have been a number of times in my erstwhile career when shows that should have played through the roof played through the floor. Here’s why.

The most common enemy of all multi-cam shows: the air conditioning going out. I've have had this happen a number of times. And with all the blazing hot lights and no cross-ventilation a sound stage becomes Satan's rumpus room in ten minutes. Comedy evaporates at 80 degrees.

Power failures can also curtail things. I’ve found that audiences do not enjoy sitting in pitch-black darkness. Who knew???   Generally generators restore the electricity pretty quickly, but the audience is still unnerved. Anxiety is not the best warm up for promoting laughter.

And when the power goes out, so does the air conditioning. See paragraph three.

Rain is a problem. Usually an audience is asked to line up outside the stage before being let in. There are no retractable roofs over movie studios. Sometimes you can find shelter for the two hundred brave souls or let them in earlier, but more times than not they’re exposed to the elements. It’s hard to really yuck it up when your sweater smells like a dead raccoon and your socks are soaked.

There are companies that help fill audiences, especially for new shows. Once a show is a hit there’s a big demand for tickets. (FRIENDS used to have two audiences for every taping. They took forever to do that show. The first audience would come in at about 4:00. By 8:00 they were burned out and the show was only half done. So they were mercifully released and a new audience took their place. Fans were just so excited to be at a FRIENDS taping they didn’t care. Good luck pulling that on a new show that hasn’t even premiered.) These companies arrange for buses and in some cases even pay people to attend the tapings. (Considering some of the shows I’ve seen lately that’s a hard way to earn a buck.) They are not always conscientious when it comes to selecting groups for specific shows. Imagine a hundred 80 year-olds attending a WHITNEY taping.

One time we had a group of convicts. Who did they kill in the yard to warrant that punishment? Again, there’s that unnerving factor for the rest of the audience seeing armed prison guards. And then at 9:00 they were herded out – right in the middle of a scene. Then we were left with a half-empty house. 

I’ve told this story before but a script my partner David and I thought was very solid died on the stage. And only later did we learn that half the audience couldn’t speak English. 

But the worst audience I ever had was for an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore comeback show David and I created. And this was no one’s fault but ours. We had a terrific show. One of our funniest. We were very excited.

And then the morning of the filming the Challenger disaster occurred. Seven brave astronauts perished. Our first instinct was to cancel the filming, but the studio (protecting its investment) argued that we should film anyway. Their reasoning: after a full day of inescapable sorrow, people would gladly welcome the diversion. They would love the opportunity to just laugh for a few hours.

So we gave in. After all, we had a good episode. Sometimes the release of laughter is a Godsend in times of grief and this show was funny.

We filmed as planned. And the show absolutely died. Silence. Crickets. Tumbleweeds. DEATH. I don’t think there were three laughs the entire night. Even the audience that couldn’t speak English laughed at a few things. Not this group. If someone dropped a coin on the floor you could tell by the sound whether it was a quarter or dime – that’s how quiet it was.

As they were filing out I happened to glance at the set and suddenly it all made sense. This was a large newspaper bullpen set along the wall most prominent to the audience was photos of current events. Right in the middle, in plain view of everyone, was a photo of the Challenger.


Still, part of the fun of shooting in front of a live studio audience is the unpredictability. Each filming night is different. And the pros outweigh the cons. Plus, the cons leave at 9.

This is a re-post from four years ago but really fit into the theme. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When jokes don't work

This is kind of a theme week -- discussing why comedy misfires.  (Are theme weeks fun?  I dunno.  It's an experiment.) 

Part of a comedy writer’s job (a LARGE part) is fixing jokes that don’t work. It’s not enough to know that a joke fell flat. Anyone can tell you that. But repairing them takes skill. And investigative ability.

When a joke dies, the first thing you have to ascertain is why you were left with that horrible deafening silence.

That’s where I am now. I had a fantastic reading of my new play, GOING GOING GONE (see accompanying photos) recently and am now in the process of rewriting. Happily, the piece got lots and lots of big laughs. But there were also some jokes that clunked and need to be addressed.

The trouble is, it’s not always easy to determine why something didn’t work. And each case must be treated individually.

So let’s go through some of the usual suspects.

Does the audience have the proper information? Are you making a reference to someone or something they don’t know? Good luck getting a laugh with a Rita Pavone joke. If eight of you know who Rita Pavone is I’ll be shocked. (And for the record, no, I did not have a Rita Pavone in the play… or in anything I’ve ever written.)

If there’s a set-up to a particular joke, is that set-up wrong? Set-ups need to lead the audience in one specific direction. Are you going for a “he’s so cheap” joke or a “he’s on a diet” joke? And if the punchline involves him not ordering something, the audience doesn’t know which reason why.

The problem could also be the punchline. Is it worded correctly? Is it too long? Is it too convoluted? Does the audience have to follow four or five steps to get to the joke? Is it too general? Too specific?

Or is it just not funny? Have you not found the right joke yet?

You also have to take into account the sensibility of your audience. Andrew Dice Clay should not be booked into the Vatican.

A lot of current comics won’t play college campuses anymore because the kids are too PC. There’s an old expression – “Know your house.” If you know going in that your brand of comedy isn’t going to work with a certain crowd, avoid it. Same is true with jokes.

Is the joke in question too similar to other jokes you’ve already featured in the piece? Or is it a call-back but one call-back too many?

Or – and I know this sounds like a cop out – was this just an audience that didn’t get the joke? Playwrights and actors will tell you that when you do a comedy night after night there are certain jokes that get big laughs in one performance, then nothing in the next, then a bigger laugh in the third. And you just can’t accurately predict.

Was the audience tired? See yesterday’s post.

You generally can’t blame the air-conditioning, especially if the joke before and after worked.

And then there’s the other big factor – the actor delivering the line. Did he say the joke wrong? Did he slur some words making it hard to hear? Was his timing off? Did he not hold for a laugh so no one heard him because they were still laughing at the previous joke? Was his delivery too soft? Too jarring? Too angry? Too slow? It’s always a tough call because you feel lazy just saying, “give it another chance” but often times the actor will make an adjustment and suddenly it works.

That was one of the (many) great things about David Hyde Pierce on FRASIER. If he didn’t get a laugh at a runthrough we drew a line through the joke. It was OUR fault. Not only did he make good jokes work every time, he got laughs out of straight lines. The man is a comedy GOD.

Not to sound callous, but there have been times a part was playing flat and we recast the actor. The new Thesp came in and suddenly every joke was popping.

Fortunately, I didn’t have that problem. My cast was terrific so whatever problems I'm encountering are script-related. I find the process sort of fun actually. Puzzle-solving in a way. I’m not always right and sometimes I’m replacing the same joke after every runthrough. But it’s part of the process. And every so often I reward myself. I wrestle with what’s wrong with a sticky line and eventually say, “Fuck it. I’ll just cut it.” There are few better feelings then hitting the delete key.

Tomorrow I'll go into some of the external forces that keep mirth from happening.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

RIP Patty Duke

Boy, this has been a tough year for baby boomers. Lots of rock stars, radio giants, and celebrities from our youth have left us. I still haven’t recovered from Garry Shandling.

And now comes word that Patty Duke died early this morning. She was only 69. Not only were these icons cherished by baby boomers, they WERE baby boomers.

Patty Duke won an Oscar when she was 16 (for THE MIRACLE WORKER). She then went on to star in a popular sitcom, THE PATTY DUKE SHOW in the mid ‘60s. In that show she played two identical cousins – Patty (who was a kooky US teenager) and Cathy (who was a proper British girl). I used to watch it all the time. Looking back, it was not very funny. But then, how brilliant was the writing on SAVED BY THE BELL? Still, THE PATTY DUKE SHOW ran over 100 episodes.

I watched primarily because I had a big crush on Patty Duke. I remember an issue of TV GUIDE from that era that did a story on her and featured a smiling photo of her in a red dress that absolutely melted my teenage hormone-challenged heart.

Anyone from my generation can pretty much sing THE PATTY DUKE theme song by heart. That said, a couple of years ago my writing partner David Isaacs and I wrote a pilot for USA about two sisters. We named them Patty and Cathy and no one at the studio or network picked up on the reference.

Patty Duke also had a brief singing career. “Don’t Just Stand There” was a big hit and had she pursued it she could have been another Lesley Gore (as if she had the time).

I never met her. I did work with her ex-husband, John Astin, who was a sweetheart. I always admired her acting and her courage. She did not have an easy life. A sad childhood, forced into adulthood way too early (as are all childhood stars), and then bi-polar. She went public with her mental issues, which was very brave at the time. Helping others by example was more important than “managing her image.” She was also the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985-1988, again dedicating her time and efforts to elevating others.

From what I understand she was a lovely person. One story sticks in my mind. Back in the early ‘70s when I and a number of college buddies were trying to break into radio, one of them got a job doing weekends at the Top 40 station in Palm Springs. He was on the air one Sunday afternoon and got a call from Patty Duke. She was in town, listening, and bored. He invited her down to the station. (She must’ve been really bored). But she came down, (she was eight months pregnant so it’s not what you were thinking), and just hung out talking with him for a few hours. How cool is that?

I wish she had a happier life. I wish she won her Oscar in 2030. RIP Patty. And Cathy.

Tuesday vs. Friday

Multi-camera shows that film before live studio audiences generally shoot on Tuesday or Friday nights. That way two shows can share one camera crew. I’ve been asked which of those nights I prefer and why? My answer is Tuesday and it stems from my first foray into playwriting.

A hundred and ten years ago my writing partner, David Isaacs and I wrote an evening of one-act plays. It was more of an exercise really. We did four one acts in four different comic styles. The small theatre scene in LA was booming at that time. Melrose Ave. had ten or fifteen 99 seat theatres, one more charming than the next. To get to OUR theatre you continued east on Melrose until you heard gunfire then you turned right. Once you got to the first building that wasn’t on fire you turned into the lot and you were there. The 5th Street Studio Theatre on 5th and Western over a pizza parlor. We were practically on Broadway.

Our shows ran Friday and Saturday nights for a month. We wanted to close before the summer and any riots. Amazingly, we had good crowds.  On the first Friday night things were going great. Each act worked. Lots of laughs. The finale was an all out farce – people running in and out of doors, hellzapoppin’. It was 45 minutes long. For the first half hour the audience roared and then suddenly…they just stopped laughing. We couldn’t believe it. The last fifteen minutes (the big wild finale) was greeted with stone silence.

David and I were so thrown we didn’t know what to change. So we decided to just leave it, watch carefully the next night and see just where the play goes off the track.

On Saturday we had another good house.  The farce started, the laughs started, we braced ourselves…but this time they didn’t stop laughing. All the way through. In fact the laughs were bigger at the end.

Tremendously relieved, we concluded we just had a bad crowd the previous night (all of their cars had been broken into and they were bummed) and left the script alone.

But the next Friday night the same thing happened as the previous Friday. At the half hour mark the laughs stopped. But on Saturday night they were there wire to wire. And this pattern continued throughout the run.

What it taught us was that Friday night audiences are tired. It’s been a long week, they’ve just come from work and at a certain point they’re just pooped. Saturday crowds had a day to relax.

Since then we’ve always shot our shows on Tuesday nights. It’s the middle of the week, it gives people something to look forward to, and most importantly, they have more energy.

I’d feel bad for those four Friday night audiences but hey, they got home alive. You can’t ask much more from theatre in Los Angeles than that.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wanna see my play?

My play A OR B? gets its east coast premiere this Friday in Hatboro, Pa. (just outside Philadelphia).  I couldn't be more excited.   And the following weekend I'll be there for a Q&A.   For more information and tickets just go here.

Graphics compliments of Jess Lewis.

Creating a sitcom the EASY way

To create a good sitcom, you need it to be about something. Ideally, you need a theme. Millennials trying to figure things out after the Millennium. The plight of a single parent. Workplace politics. Mid-life crises. It’s not just random zany people saying and doing goofy stuff.

Good sitcoms are about relationships. Who are the characters? How can we identify with them? Why do we care? Why are they funny? How are they different from every other sitcom character we’ve seen for the last 70 years? What unique relationships are among them?

Yeah, I know – that shit can be HARD.

Creating a good situation comedy can take months, even years to craft.  Besides the script, casting is crucial. You are dependent on great actors, with chemistry, expert timing, and massive mass appeal. Directors establish a tone and look that could be make-or-break for you.

In short, the planets have to just line up. Seventeen key elements must all fall perfectly into place. It is a Herculean task combined with winning-the-lottery grade good fortune.


Do it the easy way!

Ignore all that shit. Who has time to come up with themes? Layered relationships? What a pain! Relatability? Your head hurts just thinking about it!


Just come up with catchphrase.

“Bazinga!” Just like that – problem solved. “Aaaayy!” You know what I’m talking about. Catchphrases are “legendary.” They’re “dy-no-mite!” And if you don’t believe me you can “kiss my grits.”

One series, HAPPY ENDINGS resorted to catchphrases for almost all their dialogue. They were “uh-mazing.” I’d be “busted in la fa-ce.” They don’t even have to mean anything. “Roof stoof.” “Fosse fist, fosse fist, fosse fist.”

When I think of all those years I wasted learning to write actual jokes…

2 BROKE GIRLS has perfected the non sequitur catchphrase. No need to think up a genuinely funny line. Just throw in “vagina.”

There's only one catchphrase I've always hated.  "They've killed Kenny."  What's funny about that???

We’re at a time when sitcoms need to be instantly memorable. There are so many channels and delivery systems. How do you get your sitcom to stand out? Sure, you could go for quality, originality, and faith that in time a discerning audience will find your show. But that’s a trap. “Danger, Will Robinson.” Isn’t it smarter to just bypass all of that and come up with a silly phrase or word that viewers might adopt in their own daily speech?  And any actor can say? 

Am I looking out for you? “Who loves ya, baby?”

So anyway, last night, in a dream, I came up with what I think is the next truly great catchphrase. Don’t even think of stealing it. My team of high-priced attorneys are already working on getting it trademarked for me.

But here it is. Ready?


And not just pronounced any old way. Elongate the word and let your voice go up at the end.


I can hear some of you laughing already.

Just the word "what" can mean so many things. “I didn’t hear you.” “Could you clarify?” “Repeat that.” But my way says ALL of things along with “You’ve gotta be shitting me.” And my version has that all-important-maybe crucial comic windup, that hook. For a catchphrase to be effective an actor must be able to make a meal of it. The audience has to know this is their cue to laugh.

Take any straight line you hear on television. Respond with “Whaaaaaaaaaa-t?” You’d be surprised how often it works. And it always makes sense. (As opposed to say, “The wood has been chopped and stacked.” “Vagina!”)

Y’know, you reach a certain age where you start to worry whether your skills are starting to slip. It’s nice to know I still got it.

Now all I have to do is sit back, wait for the next development season to begin in mid-summer, and enjoy the bidding war.

You don’t believe me? Whaaaaaaa-t?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter: the celebration of bad candy

I don't quite get the correlation between Easter and sweets.   And I really don't get the correlation between Easter and really bad sweets. 

Those chocolate bunnies are uneatable.  They're made of wax.  And God knows the preservatives in those things.   My guess is the chocolate bunnies you buy today were made in 1967.   The warehouse is down to only ten more years worth. 

And why must everything have a marshmallow center?  Or be made of marshmallow?   If there's a religious connection I'm missing it.

How many yellow Peeps can you eat before getting sick?   For me it's two, although, if I'm being honest, I like the first one.   

Easter is not a holiday for people who can't tolerate sweets, are allergic to dye, like to sleep late on a Sunday, or hope to keep their teeth.

However you celebrate it, Happy Easter.  I'm going out for pizza. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Natalie Wood's most erotic scene

Natalie is back in the news. Her daughter has introduced a new perfume in her name. The fact that I don't plan to wear it confirms my obsession with Natalie Wood has not crossed over into unhealthy.  It remains safely borderline.

For those new readers to my blog, whenever I have a post and can't find an appropriate picture to go with it I just feature some Natalie Wood photos. 

But today I'm going to do something better.   (I have your attention now, don't it?)

So much of eroticism is in the mind.  Seeing what we're forbidden to see is what makes something stimulating.  And I'm going to show you Natalie Wood's most erotic scene.  But it's not sexy for the reason you expect.

It's the famous bathtub scene in SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. You're thinking -- oh sure, it's erotic because she's naked in a bathtub.  Other than her bare back you don't really see anything.  Still, you're saying -- just the suggestion that she's naked is exciting.   Nope.  That's not it.

When Natalie was 9 she fell into a river during a movie shoot and broke her arm.  It was not set properly and she was left with a permanently weakened left wrist and a slight bone protrusion.  She was self-conscious about it and for the rest of her life wore large bracelets on her left wrist.  You'll see this in every movie and every photograph of her.

So back to SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS.  There was this scene in the bathtub.  It would look unnatural for someone to be naked except for a bracelet and so somehow director Elia Kazan convinced her to remove it.

So that's what erotic!  Not to turn this blog into X-rated porn, but in the following scene you actually see Natalie Wood's left wrist.   Is that a giant turn-on or what?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Questions

Where did March go? That’s not a Friday Question, but still! Here ARE Friday Questions:

George Adelman leads off:

What do you think about the recent trend where new television shows seem to be pouring out of every orifice the Internet has to offer? There's a definite overpopulation of shows, which is kind of good, because it gives people more exposure, more freedom, and a greater shot at getting produced. Unfortunately every frumpadump actor and comedian is given their own show and nearly all of them strike me as bland and boring. Do you like the direction things are going?

Any new platform that allows creative people a showcase for their talents is okay by me. Especially in an era when mega corporations control the mass media and try to control the artists who make the product. Sure there is a lot of crap out there, but I assume the cream will rise to the top.

My big concern is that with so many niche platforms and narrowcasting I’m wondering how writers/actors/directors/crew members are going to make a substantial living in the new media? But I’m sure someone will find a way. Probably an agent.

From Rashad Khan:

What is the WORST sitcom idea you've ever heard of? (You don't have to have names, and it doesn't have to be for a show that actually made it to air.)

Hitler as a ghost. I forget who he was haunting. No, it wasn’t Trump. I read this years ago. And the premise was funnier than the writing. This was a spec that amazingly did not get on the air.

There was, however, a British series that was made about Hitler’s home life called HEIL HONEY, I’M HOME. I would love to have seen the testing on that one.

GS in SF asks:

This is an improv question but perhaps also a directing question: Are there any tricks as an improviser/actor (or as a director when you see it developing) when another cast member is sucking up all the air in a scene.

If I’m a scene with someone who does that (and happily it happens very rarely) I never compete. I just let him dominate the scene. Often his upstaging is clear to the audience and they wind up not liking him and feeling sympathy for me.

What happens is improv performers don’t want to work with this person. And in some cases they’re asked to leave the company.

I’ve never directed improv, but in most cases the director will call out the actor for upstaging.

The only actor I ever worked with who got away with that on a regular basis was Robin Williams. He would use you like a post. I’ve told the story how I did a scene with him once, and he launched into his mad ramblings, leaving me only a second when he stopped to catch his breath. I used those opportunities to just say “fuck you.” Each one got a bigger laugh so I kept doing it. When the scene was over I thought he’d be pissed, but he put his arm around me and said, “That was fucking great.” There was only one Robin Williams.

Matt wraps it up for the week.

You have stated that actors have a proprietary interest in how their character is portrayed. However, it is very clear that the writer of an episode and even more so the creator of the character would have a proprietary interest in the character. How is that balanced? If an actor simply refuses to do something does it simply come down to who has a bigger fan base? Is this when characters get killed off?

Steven Bochco had a great line. He said: “The first year the actors work for you, the second year you work together, and the third year you work for them.”

Actors grow more and more into their characters over time. I don’t mind that at all as long as the actor is collaborative.

But yes, when there are big disputes, whoever holds the most power wins. And in most cases in television that’s the actor. People tune in to see the actors, not hear the writers.

However, in some (isolated) cases, the writer is king. No one messes with David E. Kelley scripts, nor Aaron Sorkin scripts. David Chase and Matthew Weiner have earned that distinction too.

But even superstar showrunners run into actors butt heads. Marsha Mason locked horns with James L. Brooks (and she was 1000% wrong), and who can forget Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre?

One leverage the writer does have is being able to kill off characters.  This happens more in dramas.  I often wondered what the deal was with 24 because everyone other than Jack and Chloe got whacked.  

What’s your Friday Question?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

RIP Garry Shandling

I think like everybody, I'm in shock upon hearing of Garry Shandling's sudden death today.  He was 66.  I can't really write a long tribute because I didn't really know him.   We met on a few occasions.  I was with a group of people at a restaurant once and he joined us.  We stayed at the same hotel in Hawaii one year, and he worked out at my gym (although that was years ago). 

He was always friendly, a little shy.   I never worked with him so I can't really say how he was as a collaborator. 

But I always found him very funny and appreciated his willingness to stretch.  THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW remains one of my all-time favorite series.  Hilarious but so smart and real. 

He was taken from us way too soon. 

What do JFK, Jerry West, Elmer Bernstein, and Canned Heat have in common?

Answer:  the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

I mentioned this in passing on Monday – "the Dump that Jumps" (as Springsteen calls it)  is being demolished very soon. As someone who grew up in LA, I’m sorry to see it go. Lots of personal memories.

The 1960 Democratic National Convention was held there. That’s the one where Kennedy got the nomination after some wild back room caucuses. No, I did not attend. I was just a little kid. But I got to stay up late and watch.

I did go to Laker games though. Thanks to the Sports Arena, LA finally got an NBA team. I never understood why they didn’t change their name. The franchise was originally in Minnesota where it made more sense. The only lakes I had ever seen in Los Angeles were trout farms.

Those were the Elgin Baylor/Jerry West years, and when they got good enough to get into the playoffs a radio station decided there might be enough interest to broadcast their games. Chick Hearn got the assignment and a national treasure (even though he was local) was born.

I could never go to games on school nights, but fortunately, they would play on Sunday afternoons back then (to paltry crowds). My dad would take me to see Oscar Robertson, Bob Petit (from the St. Louis Hawks), Wilt Chamberlain, and my favorite opposing player, Dolph Schayes (he was Jewish).

UCLA and USC also shared the arena for their basketball programs. John Wooden’s first NCAA championship team was under that roof.

My father worked for a radio station (not the one that carried the Lakers) so got free tickets to other events. Sports Arena family outings were common. We saw indoor track meets, the Ice Capades (even as a kid I thought: “What the fuck is the point of this?”), indoor rodeos (“how did they get all that dirt?” I wondered), circuses, LA Blades minor league hockey, and the Harlem Globetrotters.

One weekend there was a boat show and Dad's station, KRKD, was doing a live remote. So we went. The station played middle-of-road music and had as their guest Elmer Bernstein. I spent a little time talking to him. Seemed like a nice man. No big deal. It was only later when I grew up that I realized, “Holy fuck! That was Elmer Bernstein! He composed some of the greatest scores in film history!” We talked about boats.

Once I got old enough to drive I would go to rock concerts there. I saw Three Dog Night and once went to a Canned Heat concert. Why would I possibly drive all the way downtown to see Canned Heat? I have no idea. Canned Heat? That’s like driving thirty miles in traffic to go to Taco Bell.

In the ‘80s the Clippers arrived and called the Sports Arena their home (the Lakers, Kings, and Elvis had left the building for the newer snazzier Inglewood Forum). I got season tickets and saw many horrible losses.

Come to think of it, the Sports Arena was rarely crowded when I went. The Clippers, Canned Heat, and indoor rodeos were not hot tickets.

Side note:  The only good thing about the Ice Capades for me was that on CHEERS when we were looking for something for Eddie Lebec to do after his NHL career was over, I remembered that ice shows employed lots of former hockey players.  So we put him in the ice show dressed as a penguin.  

UCLA vacated in the mid ‘60s for Pauley Pavilion on campus, but USC remained there into this century before the Galen Center was erected.

In the mid ‘80s I began trying to launch my sportscasting career so would go to Clipper games to practice announcing basketball. It was great. I had entire sections to myself. No one around for sixty rows. I sat high above the action at center court calling games into my tape recorder. I wonder if the players heard me. Eventually the Clippers were nice enough to give my a press credential so I could enter early and get stat sheets, etc. Walking through the arena when it was empty, I was struck by how neglected it was. Nothing’s changed, and that was thirty years ago.

One year the Clippers needed a new public address announcer and as a lark I applied. I became a finalist. For the final audition, five or six of us were asked to show up one afternoon at the arena. The floor was completely bare. Just white concrete from end to end. And one little card table with a microphone. One-by-one we were asked to sit down, read line-ups, promotional material, etc. Clipper officials and their announcer Ralph Lawler then sat way up in the rafters and listened.

When it was my turn, I said, “Testing one two three.” It was weird hearing my voice swirl around this cavernous space. I decided to have some fun. I said, “This is God Almighty, and you people are starting to piss me off!” Then I did the line-ups, etc.

Astoundingly, I was offered the job. I was unable to take it because there were a number of Thursday night games and that was my CHEERS rewrite night so there were too many conflicts. Dave Williams got the job, who was a better choice than me anyway.

I attended a few more concerts over the years.  I saw Springsteen for the first time there. The commute got longer. I was broadcasting baseball for the Syracuse Chiefs and flew home for a day just to see him.

Once the Staples Center opened the Sports Arena was effectively put out to pasture. The Boss always liked the venue so played there frequently. But for the most part it lay dormant. Now it’s being razed for a new soccer stadium.

I will miss the crumbling old gal. What if Canned Heat decides to have a reunion?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Attention binge watchers

I’m sure it must’ve been strange for anyone who directed a big Hollywood movie in the ‘30s and ‘40s to see it on television in the ‘50s. In composing his shots, the ‘30s director always imagined people would be watching his final product in a huge theater not on some 12” screen.

Times change, technology improves, new delivery systems are invented, and new habits of behavior are formed for how we consume entertainment.

I sort of know how those old time directors felt.  Like I recently mentioned, when I directed sitcoms for standard TV, some of the framing looks weird on HD. But who knew at the time? (Okay, everyone but me, but STILL…)

Same is true for writing. Practically all the sitcom scripts I wrote were designed to be shown for a half-hour once a week. There was no such thing as “binge-watching.” Even when VHS players were the rage, tapes were expensive (and took up room) and you watched a show as soon as you could so you could tape something else over it.

As a result, we writers did a lot of recapping. We felt we had to reorient people because a week (or two or six) had gone by since their last visit. We made sure each episode was pretty much self-contained since viewers tended to miss episodes along the way. (Those were the days when “life” came first.) And act breaks were really crucial because we always ran the risk that a sizable chunk of our audience was not willing to sit through commercial breaks.

And then there was the matter of tone. When I was on MASH, every season CBS would want to start with an hour episode. And those shows never really worked for me. MASH was clearly designed for the half hour format. We packed as much as we could into those half hours. The pace was always high speed and the dialogue was relentlessly jammed packed. Lots to digest.

We felt that expanding that to an hour would get exhausting for the viewer. That’s why I was particularly pleased when CBS decided to run the hour-long “Goodbye Radar” episode (that David Isaacs and I wrote) as a two-parter over two weeks.

But like I said, times change. Once MASH went into syndication (and had so many episodes), stations started playing them back-to-back. For a large segment of MASH fans, that’s what they were used to. They’re not old enough to have seen the series in first run. So they’re conditioned to consume an hour (or more) of MASH a day.

And just in general, the pace of sitcoms has accelerated over the years. What seemed like fast-forward in the ‘70s is normal speed now.

Still, I can’t imagine binge-watching MASH. Six episodes in a row would cause my brain to explode (especially ones we wrote). So I ask you dear readers who have binge-watched the 4077– what was it like? Did you feel sensory overload? Or was it a nice even pace? Did you need a break after two episodes? Or nine? Do you feel you missed stuff because the show was so dense? Did you rewind to pick up on jokes you had missed? Had you seen the shows before so it was more like catching up with an old friend? Did binging really immerse you in the series in a way you had never experienced? Did you power through all eleven seasons or just a few? If you did binge the entire run of the show, how long did it take you? Can you still walk?

And these are all questions I never thought I’d be asking at the time we were writing the episodes. Just as I’m sure the writers of MODERN FAMILY don’t know yet that in thirty years people will be watching their show from a chip implanted in their brain (that will also offer bonus features and a Spanish SAP option).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In appreciation

This is a post to thank actors. (I hope I don't get drummed out of the Writers Guild for this.)

They do a lot of work, give their time and talent for free. (A few later make $30,000,000 a picture but that’s a small number.)

Actors, by and large, are extremely generous with their gift. They do readings, student films, web series, videos, and narration for minimal payment or no payment.

You could argue that unless someone hires an actor he can’t really practice his craft. And that’s true. There are classes and showcases, but actors primarily have to take advantage of the roles that are out there and available. They then have to lucky enough to get those roles.  Writers at least don’t need to audition to further their craft. They just need a computer and nearby Starbucks (and maybe an idea).

And writers do their share of pro bono work as well – writing specs. But that screenplay you write on speculation could sell for six figures. Actors doing a screenplay reading rarely find themselves in a bidding war.

I’ve been concentrating on stage plays and theater pieces lately. No one does that for the moolah. You’d stand a much better chance of getting rich by manufacturing phonograph needles. The truth is, other than big productions, theater work is largely a labor of love. No one makes money in small theaters. We do it because we love it.

For me, I get to hear actors performing my work and audiences responding to it. That’s reward enough (although I’d gladly take a nice windfall).

Recently, my new play, GOING GOING GONE, received a staged reading at the Atwater Theatre in Los Angeles as part of EST’s Winterfest staged reading festival. (The photos for today’s post are from that reading.) It went great and provided terrific feedback for future drafts. (What was I thinking with that fucking R2D2 joke?) But what really made the evening a success was the awesome cast I had – a cast that provided their services for free.

So a special thanks to George Wendt, Annie Abrams, Kareem Ferguson, Kevin Comartin, and Tony Pasquilni. And thanks for putting up with me as a director.

From time to time I’ve had other readings (my own or for the UCLA class I teach) or one act plays and wonderful actors have answered the call. Since I’m not going to win any awards and will have no chance to thank them in an acceptance speech, I can at least do it in this space. So a public thank you to Andy Goldberg, Jules Willcox, Harry Murphy, Sara Lukasiewicz, Ryan O’Neal, Chip Zien, Andrew Rannells, Ed Asner, Wendy Cutler, Mandy Kaplan, Suzanne Mayes, Liz Bliss, Paul Pape, Jason Alexander, Matthew Letscher, Kurtwood Smith, Eric Pierpoint, Howard Hoffman, Keith Szarabajka, Wendie Mallick, Joanna Gleason, Jennifer Tilly, Bill Ragsdale, Paul Dooley, Malcolm Gets, Alan Simpson, David Rasche, Paul Lauden, Paul Culos, Julie Meyer, Carolyn Hennessey, Patrick Breen, Michael McManus, Bob Rosenfarb, David Schramm, Evan Arnold, Bess Meyer, Mehera Blum, Sterling Sulieman, Jack Zullo, Kimberly Wallis, Jeremy Licht, Mark Chaet, Ken Jenkins, Nell Teare, John Content, Mark Blum, Dan Ingram, and I’m sure there are others I have regrettably left out.

I know – the playoff music started around “Ryan O’Neal” but I wanted to get in as many as I could. That’s about $1,000,000,000 worth of talent there. And I bought them lunch… well, some of them.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bruce Springsteen Concert

If you have never been to a Bruce Springsteen concert go to your bucket list and put that at the very top -- above Tantric sex, seeing the Taj Mahal, or meeting me. A Springsteen concert is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
I saw him again last week at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. Most people who go to a Springsteen concert are repeaters. There must’ve been 30,000 people jammed in an arena that probably holds 15,000 (the concert was last Tuesday and I suspect there are still some folks trying to get out of the parking lots), and of that 30K I would guess 28K had seen him at least once (or a hundred times) before. This wasn't a concert; it was a pilgrimage.

In LA he prefers the old Sports Arena to the newer glossier Staples Center, which is dominated by luxury boxes. The Boss doesn’t consider CEO’s and CAA to be his target fanbase. He plays for us tramps. The Sports Arena has no luxury boxes. Doors on the bathroom stalls are a luxury at the Sports Arena. But Springsteen calls it “the dump that jumps.”
I was fortunate enough to get good seats. (Aside: Why do we always use the plural of “seat” in reference to concerts or theater events? It should be “I was fortunate enough to get a good seat” not “good seats.” I expect Jerry Seinfeld to do ten minutes on this at his next concert.) The photos that I’m sharing were taken from there.  The big joke is that it says on the ticket:  No cameras/recorders.  EVERYONE was taking pictures.  I'm the only one who didn't take a Selfie. 

I saw no one famous in my section. The biggest celeb, to my knowledge, was my concert-mate, Eric Nadel, the radio voice of the Texas Rangers, and he was not mobbed.   Oh wait, I did see the woman who owns the Italian restaurant I like in Century City. 
So what’s so amazing about a Springsteen concert? Well, the music first of all. This is rock n’ roll heaven. His body of work over the years is staggering. And if you care to stop clapping or playing the air guitar while he performs them you’ll find there are a lot of complex themes and deeply emotional messages within some of them.  And car references.  Lots and lots of car references. 

But it’s his energy that is so extraordinary. He played for well over three hours. The man has a Medicare card!
During the uptempo numbers the entire crowd stood and they sat during the ballads. By the third hour they were sitting through a lot of the fast tunes too. Of course, half the audience has Medicare cards as well.  

Clearly, Springsteen still has the passion. His joy is so infectious, even after God knows how many concerts around the world. By this point, it can’t be for the money. He could piss on Alex Rodriguez.
For this tour, he performed the entire “ River” album. “The River” has always been one of my favorite Springsteen LP’s. He calls it his “coming of age” album and since I still am coming of age, it has always resonated with me. “The River” is a combination of good-time youthful rock n’ roll and tender ballads that are always about some blue-collar guy who is confused about life and love so he steals a car.

For the record: “Hungry Heart” is my favorite Springsteen song. What's yours?
After singing all twenty tracks of “The River” he launched into another hour and a half of greatest hits including “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” “Thunder Road,” and “Rosalita.” And still you wish he had sung four or five of your other favorites.

You may say some rock stars raise the roof or tear down the building. Springsteen literally does. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena will be demolished now that his tour dates are over.  It's good to be the Boss.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Writing at Starbucks

An interesting discussion arose from Sunday’s post – whether or not to write at Starbucks. It brings up the question: where do you write and why? For you non-writers, it brings up the question: why do you go to Starbucks at all when Dunkin Donuts has better coffee?

Usually I write with a partner and most of the time we dictate scripts to our assistant while I pace back and forth with a yoyo so a public coffee house is generally not the ideal workplace. It’s bad enough when the assistant says, “No, really? You really want me to put that in?” without total strangers chiming in the same thing. But when we’re just working through a story we’ll often meet at a Coffee Bean. Yes, there’s always that danger people will think we’re just posturing pretentious writers so we counter that by wearing priest collars.

But I’m less self-conscious than most writers. That stems from two years of going to Dodger Stadium and doing play-by-play into a tape recorder in the upper deck surrounded by drunk crazed mouth breathers. After you’ve heard “Hey, look at this idiot!”, “Keep your day job, moron.”, and “Whattaya think you are, fuckin’ Vin Scully?” seven thousand times you tend to develop thick skin.

I’ve seen partners huddled over a laptop at Starbucks and don’t really mind it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have a big ugly fight. Those are always amusing. Plus, I always hope to one day eavesdrop on two porno writers. “So when the black guy takes her from behind I think we need a line…”
One time I saw two partners writing at Jerry’s Deli in Westwood (mercifully now defunct). But they didn’t have a laptop. They had a big desktop iMac. And a printer! When they were finished they got out two huge boxes and spent ten minutes packing it all back up. I’m surprised they didn’t also have their own fax machine and microwave.

When I’m writing by myself I usually work at home but I don’t mind getting out in the world. As long it’s a fairly quiet environment. There used to be a spot in Santa Monica called “The Office” that provided workstations and the internet and charged at least a hundred dollars a month. What a surprise that that place is defunct as well?  I go to the UCLA research library and get the same thing for free.

I also love writing on planes. It makes those 13 hour delays at O'Hare really fly.

But you do find definite types writing in these java joints. There’s always Mr. Smug -- the guy who looks off into space, as if he’s contemplating deep concepts far too complex for you to understand. From time to time he will arch an eyebrow and type in four words. Then there’s Mr. P.O.C. (Piece Of Cake) – he can’t get down his brilliance fast enough. Furiously clacking away, he can bang out ten pages an hour. It’s a pretty safe bet his script will be a P.O.C. (piece of crap). And finally, Mr. Tortured. A good day is five pages or five people feeling sorry for him.

My guess is if you write in a Starbucks that is not in LA or near NYU you will be the only one working on a script. And if you write in a Winchell’s Donuts in LA you’ll be competition free too.

The only factor important in how and where you write is what makes YOU most comfortable and allows you to do your best work – whether it’s in a Starbucks, locked in your attic, in an intensive care ward, Bob’s Big Boy, the D train, or a diving bell. One of the beauties of being a writer is that you can do it anywhere. Take advantage of that.

But leave the pipe, sweater you wear around your neck, tweed jacket with patches, and iMac & printer home. Thank you.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March Madness: Vegas style

March Madness is here again. A Chicago research firm calculated that the people who watch the NCAA tourney on their computer at work wil cost the nation's employers $1.2 billion in productivity. Using that formula, my blog (widely read in the workplace) will cost this country $.0000000001. Sure I feel guilty.  For several years I went to Vegas for the first weekend. Here's my travelogue from one of those past trips.
March Madness has arrived again -- the NCAA basketball tournament. Thus the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for me and three of my middle aged sports nerd television executive buddies. Slater, the Banger, and Mr. Syracuse. Slater brought his girlfriend (who goes by either Karen or Valerie -- long story) thus increasing his chances of "getting lucky" by maybe 1%. Mr. Syracuse brought his wife thus decreasing his chances. My son, Matt flew in from Boston. He's now 21 so what better way to see Las Vegas for the first time than with his dad and three guys who look like the Pep Boys?

We stayed this year at the Paris Hotel. The theme is French hospitality (an oxymoron). I'm sure I would have been given a nicer room if I registered as Himmler. The casino features a low ceiling that is painted to look like the sky, a la the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. It's an odd shade of blue however, one that suggests nuclear winter. There are cobblestone streets and carpeting. A replica LePont Alendre III bridge overlooks the nickel slot machines, and there is an Eiffel Tower that is fifty stories high. Tours are offered. There is a sign at the entrance that reads "No food, beverages, smoking, weddings" (true story).

I don't know why these hotels opt for these elaborate themes. The truth is: NO ONE CARES. People schlepp around in t-shirts and shorts and flip flops. If I ever put up a hotel in Las Vegas I would use as my theme the HOME DEPOT.

Matt and I went to Le Cafe for breakfast. They said "inside or outside?" What??? Outside of course meant under the sky painted ceiling. We chanced that it wouldn't rain and took the outside.

The in-house cable had a channel that spelled out emergency exit procedures. Leave it to the French to provide a surrender strategy.

Remember when Frank Sinatra used to play Vegas? This weekend it was Carrot Top and (at the Riviera) "America's Tribute to Neil Diamond". Not even the real Neil Diamond, an impersonator. In two weeks the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (true) will be appearing. I'd love to see Shecky Green open for them.

Of course you could always pay a gazillion dollars to see Celine Dion screech out five songs a night. Or is that just a Barbra Streisand impersonator??

The Paris had "Arabian Nights Spectacular", something else to make the Jews feel comfortable.

This stunned me: The Mirage features "Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat". The ad says: "come face to face with Royal White Tigers". How drunk do you have to be or how much money do you have to lose to want to do THAT?? And we all know the end result.

One thing you can say about Vegas, it has the most amazingly beautiful women in the world. And so where did we spend 90% of our time? At the Sportsbook, the one place that none of them would ever be caught dead in. There were 48 games in four days. At times four were going on simultaneously. I'm betting on teams I've never heard of. The place was packed with rowdy men and good old boys chugging long neck beers. We ordered White Russians, Tequila Sunrises, and Rusty Nails. No one messed with US.

One hazard: you see the same commercial seventeen thousand times. Especially the one for "Cialis", designed to keep a man ready for 36 hours. Too bad I'm not single. One of those magic pills would be perfect for me. 35 1/2 hours to find a woman then a half hour to perform.

The Banger bet on exhibition baseball. Even Pete Rose never did that.

Matt was carded at the Sportsbook for ordering a Sprite. If you bet $500 a day on horses by the way, you get a coupon for a free drink. Again, French hospitality.

In keeping with the French theme, accordion music came out of the urinals. Finally, the correct venue for that music.

Elegant dining = no Keno boards.

I rode down the elevator with a beautiful girl who was wearing a white top with two Chinese letters on it. I said, "Do you know what that means?" She said, "No, I bought this because it looks good with the pants." "So you have no idea what that says?" I repeated. "What does it say" she asked. "Kill me!" I said and stepped out of the elevator leaving her aghast.

Slater's girlfriend Valerie/Karen is vegan, which means there are only six things she can eat and she's allergic to four of them. She and Slater are the two nicest people on the planet but I have dubbed them "America's Waiter Killer Couple". Slater switches every table and sends back every order while Valerie/Karen has the kitchen prepare items not on the menu every meal. I would give anything to see these two on SURVIVOR.

Valerie/Karen's back was bothering her so she toted around a pillow to make sitting more comfortable. But a hot girl walking through the casino with a pillow -- she looked like a hooker who advertised.

On Saturday night Mr. Syracuse and his wife hosted a dinner for sixteen of us. They got a private room in the Paris restaurant. I was sure Slater was going to walk in and ask if there was ANOTHER private room for sixteen?

Spotted at the Paris pool -- a guy in a ball and chain. I'm guessing (hoping) it was a bachelor party but there he was with a bowling ball attached to a chain handcuffed to his arm. Either that or the hotel was presenting "Les Miserables" poolside.

What is Pai Gow poker???

My sincere thanks to the Banger for getting down to the Sportsbook every morning at 5 to reserve us some seats. Personally, I think he was "In-Seine".

Never, NEVER take America West (America WORST) airlines if you can avoid it. Truly the most inept "shitbirds" in the sky. ALWAYS late, sardine cans for planes. And when you finally do arrive to Totie Fields Field (or whatever the Las Vegas airport is called) it takes a good hour to get a cab.

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas primarily because you can't count on an America Worst flight to ever get off the ground.

Featured at the Paris Hotel: drinks in plastic Eiffel Tower glasses. $12.50 (true). There was a line. I wonder how many of those people thought they were buying the "actual" Eiffel Tower?

At the end of the weekend all of us either made a little money or broke even, Stanford and Kentucky got eliminated, and the waiters at the Paris hotel got together and paid for Slater's cab to the airport. It was great great fun. Go Bruins!!!

For more travelogues, I invite you to get my book, WHERE THE HELL AM I? (TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED).   Just go here.   It costs less than one blackjack bet. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Questions

The best way to cure a St. Patrick’s Day hangover is to read Friday Questions. So as a public service, here they are:

Gazzoo gets us started.

Why wasn't Larry Linville given a proper farewell appearance on MASH? I assume he announced his intention to leave after season five wrapped, but did he not want to come back to do goodbye episode like Gary Burghoff did?

Oh trust me, we wanted to. We were even going to do a special one-hour episode. But Larry didn’t want to do it. He was going through a bitter divorce at the time that took up all of his time and effort. We tried for months to get him to reconsider (appearing in our show, not reconciling with his wife).

I don’t recall what we had planned exactly, but it was a great way to transition Frank out and Charles in. You MASH fans would have liked it.  I'm just glad we didn't write the script.

From Edem K:

Say you're a new writer fortunate enough to get a job on a new TV show. What are your chances for future success if the show you're on is critically panned and commercially a dud? (Examples from last season include the Don Johnson vehicle Blood & Oil, and a sitcom called the McCarthy's.)

I'm hoping the industry forces-that-be wouldn't hold being on a bad show against new writers, but that hope is small.

Baby writers are never blamed. If anything, the fact that they got hired on a network show might help them in securing their next gig. Worry not.

In most cases, it is the showrunner who gets blamed, even though he followed all of the notes given by the network.

marka asks:

Since comedies get shut out of the Oscars, well mostly, I wondered what comedies over the past few years you feel should have won. Including actors and directors. Rewrite history, Ken!

Well VOLUNTEERS to start, but that’s just a given.

John Candy for TRAINS, PLANES, AND AUTOMOBILES, Reese Witherspoon for ELECTION, Kevin Smith for writing and direction CHASING AMY, Matthew Broderick for FERRIS BUELLER, Eddie Murphy for 48 HOURS, Bill Murray for GROUNDHOG DAY, Steve Carrell for 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, Charles Grodin for HEARTBREAK KID, Melissa McCarthy for SPY, Fred Willard for WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, Peter Sellers for SHOT IN THE DARK, Michael Keaton for NIGHT SHIFT, the Real Don Steele for DEATH RACE 2000 (yes, it was a comedy),

Not sure these should have won, but they should have been nominated for Best Picture (at least in the modern age): SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, SWINGERS, ROMY & MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, DINER, BEST IN SHOW, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, MOVIE MOVIE, LIFE OF BRIAN.

But wait!  There's more!


But wait!  There's STILL more!


And John Hughes should have nominated ten times for writing and directing.

I’m sure there are way more.  What am I missing?   I have to say, I went through the internet looking up comedies from the last five years – Jesus, there were terrible comedies. One stinkburger after another. This is not a golden age of movie comedies.

What’s your question?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day at CHEERS

This is a scene from a CHEERS David Isaacs and I wrote. One of the many Bar Wars episodes. In this one, it’s St. Patrick's Day. Woody had been guarding the bar all night in anticipation that Gary might try to pull something.


Oh my God. Gary.

He topped it.

Walled off from the keg. I want him dead. His family… dead. His friends… dead. His pets…DEAD.

That rat! I’ll kill him!

I thought you were going to have Woody stand guard so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

I’m sorry, Sam. I fell asleep.

They bricked Woody up inside the bar.

First he marries a rich girl and now this. I tell you, that guy was born lucky.


Boy, Sam. This thing is sealed up tight.

How you doing in there, Woody? You okay?

I’m feeling a little light headed.

Thank God, he’s okay.


Hey, Norm, where’d you get that beer?

I’ve got a couple cans squirreled around the bar for emergencies. I always thought it would be a nuclear thing, but this qualifies.


Where do you want us to set up, Mr. Malone?

How about right there? (POINTS UPSTAGE; THEN, TO THE GANG) See, guys? We can still win this thing. The band’s here, we’ve got the green beer… all we need to do is take down this wall and hustle like there’s no tomorrow. Okay? Now I want to see a winning attitude here. A little positivity.


(singing) “They broke into our Dublin home, the dirty English dogs. They took away my sister and they beat my dad with logs.”


(singing) “Along the ring of Kerry you can hear the bleat of gulls, I’ll sip the blood of the English from their bleached and hollowed skulls.” (TO THE BAR) Everybody!!

Boy, if they look as good as they sound, Gary’s doesn’t stand a chance.




(finishing a dirge) “…And everywhere I looked was death, death, death.”


And now for a sad song. (STRUMS A CHORD, SINGS) “Twas a baby’s crib…”

(interrupting) That’s it! You’re finished. Here’s your money. Get out.

Go to hell.


Well, it’s over. I guess we should add up the receipts and see how we did.

What’s the total, Woody?

(figuring on a calculator) One million five hundred thousand dollars.

Decimal point, Woody.

Hold everything. A hundred and fifty even.