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July 27, 2006

Comments

Anonymous

What's special about page 8?

Peter Martin

OK. That Potter line got me giggling. That's exactly the sort of thing that I say after a couple of beers.

Ken Levine

Writer Earl Pommerantz has a theory that every script could lose page 8. It's eerie how many times he's right.

Anonymous

Is it possible to get copies of Cheers scripts to study? That to me is still the gold standard.

Robert Hogan

I have the opposite problem. I tend to underwrite my scripts. I’ll have a feature script that ends at 90 pages. On one hand I hear people say that you shouldn’t worry about page count so much, as long as it’s between 90-120 pages you are okay. On the other hand I hear people say that if a producer or reader looks at your script and it comes up short (for instance I have a comedy that ends on page 85) they will think you are missing something. Is this worth worrying about?

Joshua James

Best advice on rewriting came from King's book ON WRITING, where he stated that the 2nd draft was the first draft minus ten percent.

Callaghan

That Potter line is exactly what turns me off the last couple of seasons of MASH. Don't get me wrong....along with Faulty Towers, MASH is my favourite half hour show ever. But right near the end, every line of dialogue seemed so overwritten.

Danny Bayer

What if one was writing a spec Entourage? The show runs about 27 minutes, but ALL of their produced scripts are in the 35-38 page range of standard script format (and they usually don't cut anything, they just use fast-paced dialogue). Should I cut my episode down to 27 pages, since that is what most people would probably guess it should be, or do I leave it as a 34 or 35 pager to show that I know the show?p.s. I've never commented or asked a question, but I have been following your blog religiously from the beginning. I heard you speak at Ed Scharlach's UCLA panel a while back and since then I have told a lot of my friends about you. I always said that Ken Levine should have a blog, and then you did. Thanks.

Jay

I don't see a problem with Potter saying that line.This, coming from a man who used phrases like "Mule feathers" and "Horse Hockey." It feels colloquially appropriate.Is it over-written? Sure. Can the viewer believe that he would say something like that? I think so.

Coren

I agree. When I read scripts the writers who use the page sparingly seem to get their point across much more easily than those who use full pages of text. A writer who spends the time to not only be concise in their story but in also how it is presented appears much more professional. When it comes time for me to write my comments if I don't have to critique simple format (length being one of them) and writing problems I can focus more on the important things; character, tone, and story.To you Mr. Levine, thank you. This site has been a wonderful insight into the world of a working writer. I only get to sit in a room and give my two cents as a reader, so it is valuable to get the other side's perspective.

Jenius

I booked an acting gig on "Surface" last summer. Script was 60 pages and they shot every bit of it. All the trimming came in post. And my most brilliant scene ever found the cutting room floor. Geez, I've had an awful run! Nary a break since.I'm polishing up the first screenplay I've ever finished, and it's heartening to know that I have some fat to be trimmed. 108 pages has become 104, and I'm going to do a read-thru just to look for dialogue that could be eliminated in favor of visuals. Might do another read-thru to eliminate extraneous scenes for subtext purposes...I have so many themes going on at once it might do me well to simplify.It's "Election" meets "The Wonder Years." Is that even allowed? A meeting between movie and TV series?

Zach

My page eight has three great jokes on it. Two closing one scene (one character joke and one visual gag) and the last opens the next scene.Though I recently did a pass and there were 12 other pages that I cut. So I could well have moved up what had previously been page nine. I better cut page seven.

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About

    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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