To: Jamie, Jonathan
Re: Dave's World/Miami trip
Just back from Miami and wanted to write these notes while I'm still fresh on it, so bear with me.
Kind of a bizarre trip -- but nothing life-threatening. To answer a few openers: Dave's house is nice. Real suburban. Looks kind of like the site Nikki found for exteriors. Beth's great. Her main concern is publicity. In particular she mentioned their maid, who I gather isn't legal. I told her I didn't think that was going to be a problem, and Dave chimed in: "Besides, we can always kill her!" (Dave humor...)
The kid is surly. Said he's sick of seeing himself referred to as "Robbie" (for future press reference, "Rob"). But the dogs are hilarious. They truly will shit anywhere.
Dave in person really isn't as funny as I'd hoped. He tends to repeat gags from his columns. But maybe that's my fault. I prepped for the meeting by re-reading his books. On the up side, he did talk a lot about "Animal House" and how cool it was that "Hoover" was going to be producing his life story.
I wanted to stop by the Herald to get a feel for the newsroom but Dave said only the staff losers work over the weekend. So we went to one of his favorite hangouts, a place called the Laughing Loggerhead. (Guess what Dave calls it: the Lazy Boogerhead.) Dave's a bit elitist about beer. He only drinks stuff from micro-breweries and spent a half hour railing about "the piss water they advertise on TV." Obviously I didn't mention the placement thing Leslie's been working on.
I have to say, Dave's not the best drunk in the world. As the evening wore on he turned sort of nasty. He wasn't too crazy re: Harry. I tried to explain all the trouble you guys went through to get him down from Oregon, but Dave kept insisting that if we used him we'd have to find a role for that bald guy who played the bailiff on Night Court. I told him we'd see what we could do. (Don't worry.)
Things got pretty ugly when I brought up Shadoe. Dave said something along the lines of: Why don't you just get Casey fucking Kasem to play me! Then he started ranting about how he knew this was going to happen and we were selling him out. And then he got on this jag about Liberterianism and how the networks were puppets of the government and the government had no right to tell him how to raise his own children and neither did a goddam TV program. I couldn't really follow him so I just kept my mouth shut. I tuned out when he started talking about suing for breach of contract if Shadoe made the final cut.
The next morning I stopped by the house before going to the airport. Dave was still asleep but Rob answered the door. He handed me an envelope, which turned out to be a list of Dave's -- get this -- "demands." He wants the show to be titled Dave's World: Misadventures of a Pulitzer Prize Winning Smartass. Censors will love that one. He also wants us to have his rock band (Stephen King, etc.) record "Louie Louie" as the theme for the show. (I'm still with you guys re: Billy Joel and I didn't tell Dave we'd already optioned rights.)
I'm not sure what this means but I'm not too concerned. Dave may just be pulling our legs. (Or still drunk.) But I do think we need to take a second look at the concept as a whole. I still don't know that we can base a full series on his stuff. You guys know I love Dave's writing, but between the exploding animals and the bodily fluid stuff and the anti-government jokes -- how much can we really use? I know we've talked this to death already, but I'm starting to get worried, especially after re-reading everything and meeting the guy in person.
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Something else: If Jon is going to pitch us for a lead in to Murphy, we're going to need to pull solid boomer numbers. So I think we need to scale back on some of the more juvenile bits: the presidents-in-drag fantasy montage and the highway shootout. Definitely not for the pilot. We might also consider killing the auxilary dog (I know it cracks you up, Jamie -- sorry) and adding a cute younger son. Dave's "world" can't be so offensive that we turn off families. He needs to be more universal, the kind of guy who loves oldies rock but doesn't get rap, who bucks the bummers of adulthood but does right by his kids. The whole "60s dude trapped in the body of a 90s dad" thing.
Seinfeld works because Jerry's humor is more sophisticated. But with Dave we've got to aim a bit lower. (Maybe I should say broader.) Something more along the lines of Cosby meets Seinfeld. Or Wonder Years meets Seinfeld. You'll see I've expanded the voice-overs and cut back on the self-referential stuff in this latest draft, which should be on your desks by Thursday.
Dave's also written a few major-league tearjerkers. There's one about his mother that blew me away. (Let's ask Sheryl to find out who's repping Bea Arthur.) I know we talked about sticking to our guns with the zaniness, but don't forget: we are talking about CBS here.
I'll be back in the office on the 8th. Let's meet on this ASAP.