Many years ago, I worked with producer/writer Leonard B. Stern on the Diana Rigg Show for NBC and for those of you who know him, you may also be aware that he also publishes humorous books as a partner in Price Stern Sloan.
Recently, I came across a page I had saved from a 1991 issue of AFTRA magazine headlined "Memos TV executives wish they hadnít written -- authentic messages compiled by Leonard B. Stern and Diane L. Robison," from their book "A Martian Wouldnít Say That." I donít know if itís still in print, but judging from these sample, Iíd love to see a copy in my Xmas stocking next to the lumps of coal. Here are some samples:
To Pearl Buck, From: VP Development, Re: Script about the Bible: Thereís nothing of interest here. . . Re: The Fred Astaire Special. Too much dancing. . . Is it possible to improve the caliber of writing without doing a disservice to the showís popularity and demographics. . . How committed are you to this Oscar Wilde fellow? If you want him to do the first draft, itís all right with me. . . Regarding your inquiry to my reaction to the script. I donít know. Iím the only one who has read it. . . Do we have to show the dailies every day?
Please consider changing Nortonís occupation. You canít expect people to watch a sewer worker while theyíre having dinner. . . On page 39 we can hear, but do not want to see, pigeon droppings . . . The celery may be construed as phallic. Use brocolli. . . The license fee for the use of Happy Birthday is prohibitively expensive. Could Ralph celebrate Aliceís birthday by singing "For Heís a Jolly Good Woman?"
Can we make the Rabbi less Jewish? . . I think youíre making a mistake having so many French involved in the production of Les Miserables. . . Re: a documentary about the American Indian Family. Iíd love to do such a picture but, as we both know, not enough Indians have TV sets. . . To all concerned: From now on, eliminate Roman numerals on any cue cards. Undoubtedly, this is why the line was read "And now a few nostalgic songs from World War Eleven."
We must de-emphasize violence this season. Make the room red so the blood wonít show. . . Please avoid anything morbid, inappropriate or detrimental to his image in the display of the dead, gay midget lying under the toilet. . . We do not practice age discrimination. Many of our writers are in their late thirties . . .
Our friend Charles Moed, who has dedicated much of his time to causes like World Hunger and is ever active as a fund-raiser for Operation USA, providing medical supplies, expertise and training to address various crises for the last 16 years-- really outdid himself last week.
He designed and hosted a recreation of the amazing dinner featured in Stanley Tucciís wonderful film "Big Night" at the Amici Miei Restaurant in SoHo last Tuesday, November 19th, promoted in the NY Times Metro section by Lawrence Van Gelder, who wrote, "Youíve seen the movie, now eat the dinner."
Chef Abdul Sebti, originally from Morocco (via France, Belgium, Italy, and then 19 years in New York at Barbetta, "21," and Tavern on the Green) was responsible for the meal, assisted by chef Deborah DiSabatino, Food Stylist on the film, which consisted of an antipasto buffet, a soup course, three risottos and then -- the timpano, a drumlike baked pasta mold that was prepared in a meat and vegetarian version.
This was followed by a banquet buffet of roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary, roasted salmon with fresh herbs and a choice of sauces, and a medley of roasted vegetables and salad. Dessert and dancing topped the evening, just like the movie, although there was no fighting on the beach.
Charles writes: "Sue Raney, who was the Set Decorator on ĎBig Nightí was pressed into service at the end to help dress the restaurant. Joseph Tropiano, who co-wrote the screen play with Stanley Tucci, and novelized same, was a guest. And of course I was given credit on the program as ĎProducerí.
"The idea was absolutely on the mark. It resonated like fine crystal, shimmered like a percussionistís cymbal. When the NY Times carried the word on the 18th, people called from New Jersey and Connecticut to say that they knew from the headline of the column just what was to follow and they had to be part of it."
"And now, the envelope for best dinner based on a movie menu."
Look out! Charlieís planning on bringing his moveable feast here to L.A. in February!!
In my travels to Norway, Iíve run across the names of popular American TV shows and cartoon strips which in translation, may give you a clue as to their U.S. counterparts. Wanna try to figure Ďem out:
Uncle Screw . . .Long Bone . . ."The Bully and The Blonde" . . ."Home, Sweet Home.". . . Snipp and Snapp. . .Oolie, Doolie and Doffin . . .and, Heland and Hallard (The whole one and the half one).
The answers: Uncle Scrooge, Goofy, Mutt and Jeff, "Moonlighting," "All In The Family," Huey, Dewy and Louie, and Laurel and Hardy.
Anybody out there got any other "foreign translations"?
According to Richard "Hook Me" Fish and others, this is an actual alert to IBM Field Engineers about Mouse Balls Available as Field Replacement Units:
"Mouse balls are now available as FRU. Therefore, if a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel.
"Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately.
"It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction, and that any customer missing his balls should suspect local personnel of removing these necessary items.
"To re-order, specify one of the following:
P/N 33F8462 - Domestic Mouse Balls
P/N 33F8461 - Foreign Mouse Ball"
(If this isnít real, itís still funny, so would that make it phonny?)
Harry Shearer pointed out on his last "Le Show" that a quarter-page add for roundtrips to Paris from Air France in the weekend edition of the L.A. Times ran with the header, "Not doing anything?"
I saved a copy. It features a black-and-white foto of a smiling Bob Dole, hand raised, in the left-hand corner. Next week, who will it be -- Bob "B-1" Dornan?
In an article called "Believing Las Vegas" by William Newcott in the latest issue of National Geographics, we learn that "las vegas" means "the meadows," and when the early settlers first came upon the place it was already "paved," being a valley formed on a bed of "a concrete-like crust of caliche -- the sun-dried lake bed of an earlier, wetter era."
In 1857, a U.S. Army Lieutenant wrote "Ours was the first and will doubtless be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locale." I guess that was before prostitution was legalized 90 miles away in Pahrump! (Anagrams, anyone?)
Newcott also notes that "The mob wasnít run out of Las Vegas; Howard Hughes bought it out" in 1967, when he purchased the Desert Inn for 13.2 million and was rolled in on a gurney, never to be seen again.
The Innís former vp, Harry Williams, revealed that after Hughs left nine years (to the day) later, "I entered his suite, went to open the drapes and they came crashing down on me. They were all dry-rotted. In nine years theyíd never been opened."
Howís that, for non-openers!
On todayís Michael Jackson radio show, a listener phoned in to relate a memorable moment on an old Joe Pine TV show. Frank Zappa was sitting in the hot seat when Pine commented in his typically rude manner, "I guess your long hair means youíre a girl."
Frank shot back, "I guess your wooden leg means youíre a table."
I wanted my name to be a household word, so I changed it to "end table.". . . My mom says when she gave birth to me, she was drinking so many Martinis she thought Iíd be born with an olive in my mouth. . . Iím bought a copy of The Recycler, but I canít read it because itís printed over another magazine. . . A record "High Minimum" was set this month -- being the highest LOW ever recorded. . . Weíre serving Rodney King Wine this Thanksgiving: "Canít we all just drink together?". . .The major problem in the world today is over-copulation. Thatís the reason people are getting stupider. Weíre all part of the Universal Mind and since there are so many of us, we each get a smaller piece. . . Why donít Pro-Lifers carry signs that read: "STOP MAKING BABIES"?
Full stop . . .til next time,
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor