Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saturday Night Specials with Carl & Leon

It has taken me a while but I have finally tracked down a piece of work from a long time ago.

You may view this posting as a vain attempt to relive the glory of the past, but I assure you, it's not. (OK, maybe a little)

In addition to the infamous Yellow billboards we did for ABC, we also cranked out close to a hundred TV commercials in 1998. Nobody saw them, simply because they were broadcast exclusively on ABC -- a network with quite possibly the shittiest shows ever put out over the airwaves.

For this particular assignment, the client asked us to "package" their three crappy crime shows running back-to-back-to-back on Saturday Nights.

We, meaning John Shirley, Cody Spinadel, Mikey Collado and I, put our heads together and came up with the notion of Carl & Leon, two career criminals who would host the Saturday Night Specials about felons, cops and our nation's crack judicial system.

From the comfort of their community viewing room in D Wing, perpetual inmates Carl and Leon would pimp the episodes and show up during interstitials to give us running commentary on the unfolding drama.

Something akin to Mystery Science Theater 3000.

That was the ambitious plan.

Despite the success of the Yellow branding campaign, ABC never bought in all the way. Nor did they take us up on the many suggestions we had for loosening the way a broadcast network goes about their business. Including our proposal to change the tagline every day. Run odd 6, 9 or 17 second commercials. And breaking the 4th wall with spontaneous on set interviews or golf cart tours around the lot. Or the commissary, which had many colorful nicknames and clever allusions to ptomaine.

Nevertheless, we did knock out a dozen of these Carl & Leon spots, which I won't bore you with.

This one is my favorite. If memory serves me correct, it started with a premise that young Mr. Collado wrote and then evolved through a process of improvisation -- which we were free to do because the client never showed up at any of our shoots. That's how good we had it.

Special thanks go out to Jeff Gorman, a Chiat/Day legend who directed the Carl & Leon spots and who was gracious enough to rummage through his 3/4 inch videotapes to fish these out of storage.

It costs me two meaty lunches to get my grubby hands on these spots, but in my mind, it was worth it.

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