Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lord and Master of the Sit-Com

The last seven weeks have been unusually busy here in my little corner of sit-com land. The four episode pick up – and subsequent company move from one sound stage to another – torpedoed the normal three-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule that makes the multi-camera world so appealing to me.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if I wanted a real job to clamp my nose firmly to the grindstone 50 weeks a year, I’d never have come to Hollywood in the first place. I don’t live to work, I work to live – and I do like my time off.

Lately though, these oases of off-time have been limited to the much-too-short weekends, most of which are consumed by the usual litany of laundry/shopping/banking chores, thus leaving me little chance to plow through each week’s stack of the LA Times. That stack had gotten rather large as of this weekend, so I finally sat down to sift through the chaff and ferret out what kernels of wheat lay within.

And that’s why it took me two full weeks to finally come across this interesting and illuminating article on the Lord and Master of the multi-camera world, Jim Burrows.

I have a couple of minor quibbles with the piece – I’m not so sure Burrows “played a key role in developing a four-camera setup,” and he certainly didn’t pioneer “brightly lighted (sic) sound stages”* -- but overall, Scott Collins paints an accurate picture of the sit-com world’s King Midas. As one of the regular day-players on set over the last two seasons of “Will and Grace,” I had ample opportunity to watch the man work, and saw just how good he really is.
Such a well-deserved reputation can be a double-edged sword, of course (as I learned the hard way a couple of years ago), but having Burrows at the helm is a huge plus for any producer of a new sit-com. Put it this way: if anybody can make “Mike and Molly” a success (and more than a few people in the biz are convinced it will flop), it’s Burrows. His presence alone will induce the network to allow the show enough time to find its legs and a hopefully a sizable audience. If the show works, it will be all because of Burrows – if not, people will chalk the failure up to a fatally flawed concept: building a weekly show around a cast of fat people. The viewing public may or may not be ready to embrace such a show, but if anybody can pull this off, it’s Jim Burrows.

* If you want to see some brightly lit sets, take a look at “I Love Lucy” – the original multi-camera show (albeit with only three cameras) that ruled the airwaves long before Burrows ever started directing. And please, use the term “lit” instead of “lighted” -- it’s much less awkward and more accurate. “Lighted” may have been good enough for Hemingway, but he’s been dead for a long time now...

1 comment:

D said...

Also look at "Happy Days." This writer heard this somewhere and just repeated it without checking his facts.