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March 22, 2006



//“Carla enters, says something hilarious to Cliff, he comes right back at her with a killer topper, they argue about Florida or the Red Sox or something, everyone else chimes in zingers until finally she konks him on the head with something funny.”//Hey, I think I saw that episode! It was the one that had a scene where Sam and Diane were arguing about some problem that came up in their relationship!

Tom Quigley

Ken, I was told once by someone close to FRASIER (hope I'm not stepping on your turf by saying this -- if I am, I apologize) that when the Charles brothers and JB were developing CHEERS, they drew up probably the most extensive character bios in the history of sitcoms for each of the main characters. I've talked with writers who had worked on shows where there were virtually no character bios to reference and draw upon, who ultimately, and inevitably saw their shows get canceled in 13 weeks or less -- not for lack of talent, but like you said, lack of vision on the part of the producers and writing staff. One of the things that I would imagine helped keep the writing on CHEERS at such a high calibre (besides the talent of the writing staff itself) is that you guys must have found it an enormous help in plotting out your stories based on the ideas you came up with, when you could draw on the character bios and and pretty much know how they would be expected to behave or react in a given situation.

Ken Levine

If there were character bios on CHEERS I never saw them. I'm not sure they ever existed. Remember the characters of Sam and Coach changed when Ted Danson was hired. As originally conceived, Sam was a former football player but Teddy seemed more a baseball player. Character bios are good to have however. The more you know about your characters the better.

MaryAn Batchellor

GPS system -- more visual than the road map analogy.


Hey KenWould you be able to post an actual outline that turned into a Cheers script? Or link to a pdf we can all download (if you don't want to print the whole thing on your blog).Love all the stories and thanks for the details, it's like a masters class class around here.Thanks,Laurie

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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