A writer for M*A*S*H made the cast wear parkas on their Malibu, California set after getting too many complaints from the actors. M*A*S*H was an absolutely iconic show, but that doesn’t mean the producers couldn’t get creative when the cast stepped out of line. Growing exhausted with hearing the actors complain about the scripts, writers decided to write multiple episodes that forced the actors to pretend like they were in freezing weather, making them wear parkas.
Writer Ken Levine wrote about the tactic in a blog post. Spoiler alert: it worked. It got a lot of the actors to stop complaining.
“Sometimes someone in the cast would have a real ticky tack issue with some line. And not to be upstaged, another cast member would have a “problem”. Pretty soon, they all were having “problems”. Page after page after page,” Levine wrote.
The Writer’s Room Got Fed Up with the ‘M*A*S*H’ Cast Complaining
“We loved and admired the cast and would always be accommodating but inside we were IRKED,” he wrote.
In the post, Levine admitted that there was no way they could have gotten away with a tactic like that today, but it was a hilarious way to get them to pay the writers their due respect.
“The next time it occurred we went back to the room, addressed all of their minor concerns, and then made one other little change of our own to the script. We made it a cold show,” Levine continued. “The next day filming began at the Malibu ranch. Summer temperatures were routinely in the 90’s and 100’s. Now the cast was all in parkas standing over fire barrels delivering lines about how bitterly cold Korea was in the winter.”
So next time you see an episode set in the winter, just know somebody probably pissed off the writer’s room.
The Cast Members Did Have Some Reasonable Fights… But not with the Writers
While bugging the writers is usually not the best use of time, standing up for yourself to your network is a pretty bold move. When M*A*S*H began, home network CBS didn’t take the show super seriously. In fact, they even moved the show around to different timeslots… constantly. That’s an effective way to kill any shot it has at succeeding in the ratings.
According to MeTV, the actors, producers, and the crew joined together and took on CBS by showing up at their headquarters and demanding a better timeslot. It actually worked, and the show got a regular spot.
With a show as legendary as M*A*S*H, there’s bound to be some fascinating behind-the-scenes info. This cast, as well as the writers and producers, all seemed to have a fighting spirit. However, it’s clear some rebellions were more successful than others.