One of my favorite moments during the television critics meetings in California last month came when Chris Pratt of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” went on an expletive-laced rant that every critic in America could relate to and had many on the floor laughing.
When cast members were asked for advice they would give the creators of new NBC comedies, Pratt addressed the online comments made by people who watch TV shows.
I’ve severely edited Pratt’s passionate comments but I don’t think it will be hard for you to imagine the expletive constantly used by the actor who plays Andy Dwyer on the series and has become a movie star with the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Advice you could give those shows is don’t read comments because it doesn’t mean anything,” said Pratt. “Don’t read the (expletive deleted) comments and what everyone thinks.
“It doesn’t (expletive deleted) matter. It really doesn’t, and if you change your vision to try to fit what some jackass online thinks or some group of (expletive deleted) nitwits think as they’re (expletives deleted) writing comments you’re going to (expletive deleted) lose your vision. So (expletive deleted) everybody who writes comments.
“Don’t read them. It’s just a crazy, toilet bowl that you stick your head in and you flush down for as long as you want to waste time, but if you have time to read comments, you should be rewriting your jokes. Don’t read comments. Faster is funnier, and don’t be afraid to be sentimental.”
Amy Poehler, the star of “Parks and Recreation,” then turned to critics and deadpanned “but thank you all for your support.”
That prompted Pratt to make clear he wasn’t directing his comments at the critics, many of whom have praised his series.
“You guys are professionals,” said Pratt. “Your opinion matters, but not some (expletive deleted) in (expletive deleted) Ohio who’s probably 12.”
After Pratt added he doesn’t read comments, “Parks” executive producer Mike Schur deadpanned “well, you definitely shouldn’t now.”
Pratt actually was saying what my editor often tells me. Don’t read the comments to your articles or blogs. Truth is sometimes I can’t help myself. In a way, it is like looking at a car wreck on the other side of the highway. It is just human nature to read them.
I love all my readers. Even the readers who call me names or complain that no one cares about what I am writing about it.
That usually means the writer doesn’t care about the day’s topic and fails to realize that every reader’s interests might be different. I usually try to make my column and blog a smorgasbord that offers a wide menu of items from ratings, news and opinions.
I wish I could always follow Pratt’s advice, which my editor has reinforced. But since ignoring online comments is about as easy to do as watching the Buffalo Sabres play this season, my goal now is to read them without changing my vision of what the column or blog should be.
As hard as it might be for some readers to believe, many people want to read about local ratings and many care about who is coming and going from local news departments.
Let’s face it, outside of the Bills and Sabres, some of the biggest celebrities in this town are people on television and the radio.
I have noticed since my return to The Buffalo News that readers who generally have better manners write me personal emails and don’t feel it necessary to participate in what Pratt refers to as the toilet bowl of criticism online.
After last Sunday’s column on Channel 4 meteorologist Todd Santos, three sailors sent me a personal email to advise me that he couldn’t be sailing on Lake Erie out of the Youngstown Yacht Club because the club is on Lake Ontario. The emails were very courteous and disproved the old cliché that sailors have mouths as dirty as Chris Pratt.
Some readers of my blog have been helpful, correcting an occasional typo or mistake. OK, more than occasional.
I want to thank the reader who advised me that I should have capitalized the B in my least favorite food – Brussels sprouts. I also laughed during the Feb. 12 episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” when Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) served them at dinner to her disagreeable sister-in-law.
A reader who is a fan of Channel 4 anchor-reporter Nalina Shapiro questioned why I made such a big deal out of Shapiro mistaking jazz great Louis Armstrong for Neil Armstrong, one of 12 people who has walked on the moon. Shapiro corrected herself and blamed the mistake on the script.
There were humorous and serious reasons for writing it. It was a very funny mistake that had people inside and outside of the Channel 4 newsroom talking.
But it also provided Shapiro and every young anchor a lesson. I would bet now that she reads the copy before each newscast she anchors. If she had done that, the mistake probably wouldn’t have happened. Most anchors realize they should read scripts beforehand early in their careers. Sure, a producer may have made the mistake of having written it, but saying it made it much worse. One veteran anchor gave 51 percent of the blame to Shapiro, 49 percent to the producer who wrote it. “How could the anchor not read the copy?” he wrote. “Lazy.”
Some readers questioned an interview I did with WBBZ owner Phil Arno in which he remained optimistic that the independent station is on the right track despite the departure of General Manager Bob Koshinski and the view of cynics in the industry that his station could have financial issues.
One reader thought the column was too soft on Arno. Another thought I went all Brian Williams and made up the cynics and should have identified them.
The column’s goal was to give Arno a forum to address the station’s health at this point. However, I wasn’t going to let him just paint a rosy picture, which is why I included the cynics who still view him as crazy as Corporal Klinger on “M*A*S*H” to give the column balance.
After all, you can’t expect industry cynics to identify themselves and appear to be rooting against a hometown TV owner bravely risking his own money. That would make them just as rude as some of the people who Pratt ranted against in California.