munchman: HAPPY DAYS Writer-Producer Bob Brunner Has Really Jumped the Shark Now

The headline of this post is our typically sensitive TVWriter™ way of reporting the death of very funny writer Bob Brunner, the dood who gave Fonzie his name and even came up with the idea for the HAPPY DAYS scene where a water-skiing Fonzie does in fact “jump the shark.”

Bob died of a heart attack October 28th at the age of 78. A long-time buddy of HAPPY DAYS honcho Garry Marshall, he wrote LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and BLANSKY’S BEAUTIES as well as HAPPY DAYS.

In closing, we’d like to wish Bob a merry afterlife by shouting out to him with the immortal phrase that, yes, he created: “Sit on it, Bob!”

And thanks for all those wonderfully happy evenings of TV viewing.

EDITED TO ADD: We’d like to think that somebody as funny as Bob Brunner would understand and forgive our insensitive headline, taking it in the anything-for-a-joke spirit of wannabe sitcom writers everywhere. But to any and all of you who read this and disagree: We apologize in advance.

Garry Marshall on Rewriting

A big tip of the TVWriter™ hat to screenwriter-blogger Scott Smith for reminding us this great book exists:

Offensive & Defensive Screenwriting (Tip #62) – by Scott W. Smith

“The biggest lesson a screenwriter can learn is how to master a rewrite of his own script, or someone else’s, and make the change a studio wants without destroying the story. It’s like a football game: If you think of writing an original screenplay as ‘offensive’ creativity, then rewriting is all about ‘defensive’ creativity.

There are some screenwriters who are great on offense while others excel only at defense. The greatest screenwriters–and the ones who are in demand—are those who can handle both kinds of creativity. The problem I’ve found is that young writers usually change too much in a rewrite and old writers often don’t change enough. What writers should remember is to read a first draft or a rewrite twice, not once but twice, before handing it in. First read it for pacing and plot, and then read it a second time to see if there are good parts for the stars, because that’s exactly how the stars are going to read it.”

Garry Marshall, Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)
pages 114-115

Read it all (not the book, the blog post)