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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 29, 2005 / 24 Av, 5765

So 10,000 sitcom writers walk into a bar...

By Joel Stein


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For an art form no one has ever respected, people spend a lot of time worrying about the state of the sitcom. How about jazz or painting? Or poetry? Pretty important for the last 24 centuries, that one has deteriorated into whatever 50 Cent can rhyme with "club." The man is one album away from cornering himself into a Charlie Daniels-esque hubbub with Beelzebub.

Yet people feel that a season without hilarious 21-minute playlets bespeaks a failure of our entire society. The unspoken fear is that if we can't make another "Seinfeld," what hope do we have against the Chinese? Those people can even make menus funny.

To save us before we fall disastrously behind, Sean Hayes, who plays the gayer gay guy on "Will & Grace," decided to stop complaining about sitcoms and finally do something to save the cursed format that has made him rich and famous. His Bravo show, "Situation: Comedy," invited people from across the country to submit pilot scripts. He was looking for new voices that the staid network pitching system doesn't seek out. The last time someone tried this, Redd Foxx rehired all the Jews the next day.

But Hayes indeed got 10,000 scripts from all over the country, from young and old, red states and blue states, men and women, and one person who wanted the main character to be a lampshade. A lampshade that, no doubt, was fat and annoying but had a hot lampshade wife.

The nationwide search ended, of course, with the selection of two teams of young white guys. And the team that's winning has a guy so connected that I know him. And I know Carrot Top. Do the math.

Bravo has been referring to one finalist, Andrew Leeds, as a math tutor. What they've left out is that he's a 26-year-old Stanford graduate who has acted on shows such as "The Practice," "CSI," "Nip/Tuck" and "I'm With Her." He has Stanford and Harvard buddies writing for "Desperate Housewives," "Joey," "King of Queens" and the upcoming "Everybody Hates Chris" pilot. My new boss, the creator of a show on both the upcoming ABC and NBC schedules, also knows him. This was the most unsuccessful search party outside of Tora Bora.

Leeds' writing partner on the show, Stanford grad David Lampson, was the editor of the Stanford humor magazine and a novelist. The team they are competing against for the chance to get a TV writing agent are two young Jewish guys who have optioned a screenplay — and already have an agent.

"I was surprised there wasn't one person who just picked up a pen and just wrote a great sitcom," Lampson said. "It kind of makes you think that most of the guys who really want to write comedy are already trying to do it." Not only that, but even guys who don't want to write comedy are working for Jim Belushi.

Sitcom writing isn't, after all, a profession you have to trick people into, like nursing or being press secretary for Pat Robertson. People aren't exactly scared away by getting paid a lot of money to eat snacks and make jokes. Although Showtime probably wishes it hadn't offered that deal to Kirstie Alley.

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Hayes' bold experiment proves that a broken system isn't causing sitcoms to be lousy. The problem is that very few people can make something good, whether it's sitcoms, classical music, pizza or an article that can explain that Robert Novak scandal.

And now that we have cable, the Internet, MP3s and Xboxes, our bar for what is worthwhile has been raised. Few of the hit sitcoms from previous decades would make it past the pitch stage today. In the '60s, you were satisfied with shows about genie wives and talking horses and identical cousins. It's like you were all on drugs or something.

The irony is that even making a good reality show is hard.

"Situation: Comedy" is such a ratings catastrophe that Bravo bumped it to Fridays at 7 p.m., when the audience is made up only of guys like me — in high school. I bet, after this experience, Sean Hayes is being really nice to the "Will & Grace" creators.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Joel Stein is a Los Angeles Times columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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