Sunday, May 14, 2006

The episode finished, and the first end credit appeared on the screen, in big bold letters, with the appropriate title:
King o’ da Shit
This came in lieu of the Executive Producer’s credit. The EP was there in the screening and I wasn’t sure how this little surprise joke by the editor would go over. Especially late on a Friday night.

Fridays are long days at the network. We view a couple of new rough-cuts in the morning, then work all day with the editors to finalize what we’ve sculpted all week from last Friday or Monday’s raw footage, going over and over the episodes, before screening them again, for the Executive Producer, in their still-not-so-final format.

They’re not completely broadcast-ready yet because even after the EP approves 'em, the editors need to do another pass. They fine-tune the sound mix and trim a frame here and there, adjust for commercial breaks, etc. Then the episode is presented to the network’s Standards & Practices people, who insist half the jokes in the show have to be bleeped or cut entirely. Bleepin’ Puritans.

Sometimes we can prepare for this. Like in one scene of this recent episode, a couple of girls were talking about receiving oral sex. “Don’t you hate,” a sneering blonde said, “when a guy goes down on you and then wants to come up and kiss you? Eww.” The other girl asked what it tastes like. Blondie thought for a moment… “Tuna melt.” Haha, angle on the other one looking grossed-out, quick shot of awkward laughter, cut to the next scene.

“Uh, no, I don’t think so,” the Executive Producer said. “S & P will never go for that.”

No problem. We had a back-up scene just in case.

In this one the girls discussed whether a dude should shave his privates. Blondie decreed: “Well, if we have to, they it’s only fair the guy should do some ‘man-scaping’.” And then she added, “but, when you have sex with a guy whose balls are shaved… they sometimes stick to you.”

Yeah, that chick’s a class-act. But anyway, for whatever reason, the EP thought that scene would get past the censors.

See? It’s good we had an alternative trimmed out. Kept several shorn balls in the air or things get hairy with the network. And you don’t want them testes.

Sorry. Like I said, it was a long day.

In fact, earlier, as I was sitting there in an AVID bay, one of the editors asked me if I thought there was anything of his episode that needed to be cut. By the twelfth screening of the same friggin’ 12-minute sequence featuring the grooming and flavor of pubic regions, both the editor and I were getting kinda loopy.

I said no, things needed to be added, dammit. What about the end credits? The EP and other top bananas already had their title cards prepared. Where was mine? And I didn’t want it in some tiny lettering that you couldn’t read even if you freeze your TiVo and put a telescope to your 85-inch plasma screen. C’mon, don’t you know who I am?

“You’re da shit,” the editor said.

“Damn right, baby,” I said. “I’m the king.”

So I guess he took a break from his splicing duties to fashion this little on-screen gag about my end credit title.

Fortunately, the EP and everyone in the room chuckled, appreciating our audacity. So I took it a step further.

“Just take my name off. I’m sorry. I can’t be associated with a show that compromises our artistic vision.” I threw up my hands. “No ‘tuna melt’, no King o’ da Shit.”


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