Will & Grace executive producer Greg Malins, who also wrote for the hit NBC comedy "Friends", let us in on some behind-the-scenes secrets to writing a live show.
How many drafts of the script did you go through and how does that differ from a normal, filmed show?
This script was pretty much written by the whole writing staff, I was just lucky enough to get my name on it. We heard it read three times and saw five (I think) rehearsals of it. With a rewrite after each one, the script went through at least eight drafts.
What are the challenges of writing for a live show? Do you consciously keep sets and costume changes to a minimum? Did "Friends" ever consider going live?
The biggest challenge with the live ones is getting the show as close to exact air time as we can. Usually we cut out about five minutes in editing. This one we had to do it before hand. We also try to put in things that would be a challenge if they were live. Like, the "Rosie cleaning the bathroom in ten seconds" bit and the big shaving cream/baby powder/lotion fight. And of course the pills coming down.
I don't think we ever talked about doing the show live when I was at Friends. The thing NBC did back then to try and make the ratings go up was "super-sizing" episodes. We did a lot of those.
How important is dress rehearsal to a live show? Did you learn specific gags that maybe weren't working?
The dress rehearsal is very important. Not just to get the show to time but also to make sure all the jokes work. In regular shows, if a joke doesn't work, we can either stop and work to replace it or cut it out in editing.
For the two broadcasts there were a lot of joke changes. Were those made that night or were they pre-determined?
The joke changes were made in between shows. We went back to the office and thought up all the new jokes we could.
What was your reaction to the West Coast "Pill Incident"? The cast had great adlibbed responses!
I loved the "pill incident." It's that kind of thing that is the reason to do it live. The cast was great. Thank God Megan came in. She kind of saved it. And Debra acting like there was a ton of pills on the floor was pretty funny.
I heard the bathroom fight scene required special non-product ingredients for safety reasons. Can you elaborate on what was really in those powders and lotions?
The "lotion" was vanilla pudding mixed with soy milk, the "shaving cream" was whipped cream, the baby powder was actually baby powder just as the blow dryer was a blow dryer.
What was your favorite moment?
Second favorite moment, the west coast "pill incident." First favorite moment was when it was over. It was a lot of work.