Breaking CHEERS

Emmy-award winning writer/producer Ken Levine talks about how hard it was breaking stories for CHEERS.

For every story we used there were always twenty or thirty we threw
out. The core of every story had to present a substantial problem for
one or more of the characters. And it had to have some comic spin. When
an idea is on the table and the writers are able to come up with
possible scenes and twists and jokes that’s a pretty good indication
that we may have hit gold. And very often a story will evolve into
something completely different from what you started with. You begin
with Sam has to hire a new bartender and an hour later it somehow
becomes Lilith’s pet rat dies and she keeps it in her purse…

[…] Once we had an area we liked this is how we generally broke the
stories: Our first question was always “what’s the act break?” Then
“what’s the ending?”. Then "when’s lunch?" Once we had the big midpoint
turn and the ultimate conclusion we’d go back and fill in the acts.
Sometimes we would lay out a story and see that two or three characters
would be excluded. So in order to service them we would do a B story
that usually could be told in two or three scenes.

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