Rob Long on fixing a sitcom and embracing life on Long Island
TV writer-producer Rob Long was brought in on short notice to run the faltering CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. Long talks about getting the sitcom back on track, why he hopes there's not a writers' strike, and what itPs like to be one of the few outspoken conservatives in Hollywood.
Veteran TV writer and producer Rob Long splits his time between Los Angeles and Manhattan. Or he did, until he got a call asking him to step in and run the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. Since star Kevin James had the clout to insist on filming near his home in Bethpage, New York, that meant commuting by train to Long Island in dead winter. Long talks about how you fix a sitcom and what it's like to be a conservative in the industry.
Photo: Kevin James and Erinn Hayes in the sitcom Kevin Can Wait. (CBS)
The topic of theatrical windows has always been the elephant in the room at CinemaCon, and this year the elephant was ever larger than usual. Studios are eager to find a way to get movies into people’s homes faster for a premium price, but theater owners and many filmmakers want to protect theatrical exclusivity.
Regular KCRW listeners may have noticed the weekly Hollywood commentary Martini Shot has been on hiatus. Not to fear -- it'll be back soon.
Martini Shot comes to you from Rob Long, a veteran TV writer and producer who built his career on the long-running sitcom Cheers. Long had to take a break from Martini Shot after he got a call a few months ago asking him to help save a big-ticket CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait, starring Kevin James. The series was James' return to television following The King of Queens -- which ran for nine seasons from 1998 through 2007, also on CBS.
In Kevin Can Wait, James plays Kevin Gable, a newly retired Long Island cop who wants to hang with his buddies after leaving behind the stress of his job. Naturally, life on the home front, with his wife, three kids and a soon-to-be son-in-law, is far more hectic than he imagined.
Kevin Can Wait is a very down-the-middle, old-school sitcom. The show premiered to strong ratings in September -- more than 11 million people watched the pilot episode. But then those numbers started to dip, and there were reports of trouble behind the scenes between Kevin James and the original showrunner.
That's where Rob Long, our guest today, came in. We reached him in his current office in Bethpage, New York -- a hamlet on Long Island with a population of fewer than 20,000 people -- a long way away from Hollywood.
Long tells us how about his "secret recipe" for running TV shows, why he hopes there's not another writers' strike, and how being a conservative has helped him get jobs in Hollywood.