Ask Bob Blume – Column #37- Directing for Television vs Theatre with guest Steve Zuckerman (Part 2 of 2) – Times Square Chronicles

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Hi everyone, welcome to ASK BOB BLUME – a twice weekly visual column with summary discussing issues pertinent to the entertainment industry and appearing exclusively here on Times Square Chronicles. I am your Host and president of Step Forward Entertainment, a Talent Management and Production company located in both New York and Los Angeles. I am currently located in New York.

This column is also a benefit for The Actors Fund Covid 19 relief effort and I ask you to go to the link below on your screen and donate if you are in position to do so. They are most grateful to accept donations from $25 to whatever you want and this money is used to help out all eligible members of the entertainment community as a stimulus while in the pandemic.

Continuing from my last column Directing For Television vs Theatre with my guest Steve Zuckerman, we are discussing directing in both mediums. Part 1 has Steve taking us on his journey from college, the NY theatre to directing soap operas prior to moving to LA.

Bob: I spoke about reading audition material and then coaching some of my clients to help them better understand the thrust of the audition and how to prepare for it. Many veteran actors do not need this but many younger ones do.

Steve: Concurred and spoke about his talent manager wife, Darlene doing similar coaching with certain clients when needed.

Note: Both of us spent some time discussing specific stories that need to be viewed and cannot be transcribed.

Here is an example of where luck is involved and really helped me get going right after I arrived in Los Angeles.

After I directed Nuts on Broadway, Barbra Streisand optioned it and made it into a film (which was not successful, but not important to my story) with a great high profile cast. The film came out with huge billboard advertising in LA at the same time I decide to go to LA and get an agent, and become a LA TV director. Because of Nuts being so high profile, every meeting featured questions was what is like being the original Broadway director of Nuts? This led me to getting many great opportunities. Of course, I had the skills and experience to take advantage of the break as this could not be planned – you just need to be lucky – and I was!

Many TV directors come up from the ranks of assistants to various TV production staff and learn TV from the inside out. This allows them to be knowledgeable and if they possess the skill sets, they move onto directing.
A flaw here is that many of them, although comfortable in dealing with tech folk, really do not know how to speak and communicate properly with an actor leading some to make it and some to not. I was fortunate in that many of the directors I came up with had some theatrical training and could read a script, interpret it and communicate it to the actor – as well as deal with all the technical folk. These are, by and large, the most successful of the TV directors in Hollywood.

Note: Steve went into a short discussion of sitcoms with and without a live audience, the differences, etc.

In answering a question from Bob about changing the TV script if jokes are not landing to a sitcom live audience, I responded in detail. Live audiences are there only on the actual shoot day, so changes are not made at that point. Not like the theater where the playwright is the boss and only he can change something if audiences aren’t reacting in previews. However, if a joke is not landing in a rehearsal, i called the writers room and discussed it with them and would either get advice on how to re-stage it or maybe they would rewrite at that point. 

Note: Steve went on to tell a story to show an example of this process.
I wanted to make a point. You should never ‘blow smoke at an actor.’ Always tell them the truth! If you don’t, they will never trust you and any good director MUST have the trust of the actor.

Note: Both further discussed this point with examples from their respective experiences.

Bob then thanked Steve and said he hoped young directors received some good insight from this. They both said goodbye.

Steve Zuckerman’ website

Steve Zuckerman’ IMDB

Bob Blume’s company site is 

To Donate to The Actors Fund:

To Send in a question: [email protected]

To see ALL of the prior columns: ASK BOB BLUME columns

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