Interview with writer Ken Levine on Guilty Pleasures, Volunteers, and TV Legacy

“I’m happy to be able to defend Volunteers, and maybe you can have me back to defend Mannequin Two."

In 237 episodes of The Next Reel and nearly 200 movies as a part of the weekly show, we try to do solid service to the creators of the work that we talk about. Most of the time, we think we do a pretty good job. Sometimes, we drop the ball. 

A few weeks back, as part of our guilty pleasure series, we did the movie Volunteers from 1985 directed by Nicholas Meyer, written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs. We did our usual thing and in the process of talking about the characters and story, we did particularly short shrift to the guys who wrote it. 

Of course, we didn’t realize that we came up short until we were called out by Ken Levine himself on his blog, by Ken Levine

Ken’s credits are one thing, but just wait… he and Isaacs are behind truly seminal television series, and that’s not hyperbolic: how about MASH? Mary? Wings? Cheers? Frasier? Yeah, all those, and many more… he even named a baseball team on The Simpsons. And that doesn’t even begin to touch his other career as a play-by-play baseball announcer.

So you can imagine how thrilled — and a touch embarrassed — we are to have the one and only Ken Levine with us on The Next Reel. We talk about his history in the field, from his first assignment on The Jeffersons to his latest plays. We talk about the craft of writing, doing so with a partner, and the growing writer’s room today. And of course, we talk all about Volunteers and what it took to bring cast and crew together for one of Andy’s favorite flicks!