The real Tatort story

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Opening the New York Times supplement to the Süddeutsche this week on page 4 there is a story by Michael Kimmelman on “German TV Viewers Love Their Detectives“. I was thinking: Great job, NYT, you really pick up on stories quickly. Of course I was thinking of the scandal that hit the presses this weekend: Doris Heinze, director of the NDR TV film program, was sacked after she was discovered to have written many of the film scripts herself, along with her husband, under assumed names, with both of them cashing in on the scam. As the TV scripts are mostly miserable, a sigh of relief has gone through the arts world, and there is some slight hope that the quality might perhaps improve just a bit.

But what does the NYT write? None of that. Simply that the Tatort series is very regional and that ordinary relationships are what it’s all about. Ok, but… Newspaper lead times can really kill a nice article.


7 Responses

  1. I like Tatort! I think, Tatort shows, represents, or meanwhile partly is a part of regional identity in Germany. There is much more rubbish in the German TV than Tatort like djungle camp or the political talk shows, that are really boring!

    Tatort was my favorite TV-Show on Sunday evening while ironing my shirts for the next week.

  2. I’m missing something here -what is the scandal?
    Chaplin wrote and directed (and played and composed for) his own work, what was she doing wrong?

  3. She was in charge of screening and selecting scripts from all entries for one of the most popular German broadcasts, specifically for her region of Northern Germany, but she selected scripts she and her husband wrote themelves, under assumed names. When editors griped that they had to rewrite the whole thing and wanted to know who the “authors” were, said elusive authors wouldn’t be available for comment, and she’d explain that they didn’t have phones, etc, living someplace far off the grid in a forsaken forest in Canada or whatever. PS: I’ve just rechecked, and it seems that Heinze admits to having written two scripts and a script treatment under the assumed name of Marie Funder, and that her husband wrote five under the name Niklas Becker, and received preferential treatment, viz was selected over other entries.

    If she had even a spark of Chaplin, this wouldn’t be the scandal it is. Perhaps you haven’t seen German TV. Ok, so she’s been responsible for only a small section of the sad programming, but this story confirms the worst suspicions about how TV brass keep talent out. There are occasional nuggets on TV, but they are now exceedingly rare.

    Anyway, when our TV went bust a few years ago we opted against getting a new set. We still watch TV on the computer from time to time, but you need to set stuff up for that, lug the old laptop round and put the cable plug in and speakers on it, so it’s not the old slouch on the couch and click a button routine we used to have. Instead we get cozy with blogs and whatnot.

    Helburg, I’m with you: Having lived all over Germany, in Berlin and Dresden and North-Rhine Westphalia and Konstanz, I love the variety of the regional Tatorts. The best ones used to remind me of some of the best days I’ve had in those places. The sense of nostalgia seems to be a key to these very German “Whodunnits”, don’t you think?

    It’s frustrating when a broadcast doesn’t consistently provide quality. You love it because you’ve watched great films. And then you switch it on and get crap. A wasted evening! Worse still, a wasted Sunday evening!! And then it happens again and again. A brand like “Tatort” should be a guarantee that at least the best in editors and producers have been involved. It should merit my trust.

  4. Thanks, now i get it, i like the “writers are in Canada” bit.
    I didn’t really think she would be a patch on Chaplin – he was a genius after all.
    Did you know that when Chaplin first went to the States – in a stage production of Mumming Birds – his understudy was Stan Laurel?

  5. Chris, you’ve been an actor yourself, haven’t you? You know a lot about these things. Have you written about your experience somewhere?

  6. Do you mean – have i written about my experiences with cheating script writers, dishonest promoters and German TV?
    Or- have i written about life on the stage?
    Hmm, i dropped a little story into the comments on Vickis blog – you can see it here;
    There’s a very early, personal story, on my blog from Seattle which is really part of my Bitsnbobs blog.
    Here –
    About 18 years ago I was offered a role in the reopening of the Wintergarden theatre in Berlin – it was called The Quatier at the time.
    I was offered the job because the world’s greatest Juggling Historian lives in Berlin, is a friend, was advising the manager and they needed someone to partner a Swiss performer who among other things had a plate throwing number (he’s in the first link above) and i was in Town.
    The Swiss man was happy once we had improvised together for the afternoon but teh Manager was a bit suspicious.
    One thing he wanted was a number where the Waiters sang – like a barbershop quartet and my role with the Swiss man was to be an anarchic undercover waiter/clown.
    The manager took me to one side and showed me the text that we had to sing.
    My German was rudimentary, the song complex and he insisted that I get it perfectly right for opening night.
    I am a professional so i went home and rehearsed like a dog, i had a week.
    The dress rehearsal day arrived and i took my place up on the stage with 10 other , german, waiters.
    The band struck up – i was the only one who knew the song!
    I still remember it today!!!
    Though my spelling may be wrong
    Wir sind the flotten troupe……. etc etc.
    So, was any of this the sort of thing you were asking?
    If it was, i’ll tell you about the plastic fly and Otto sander one day.

  7. Oh, my, I missed this lovely comment. How could I miss it? Yes, want very much to know about Otto Sander and the plastic fly.

    I actually had a little collection of plastic insects when I was living in Kreuzberg in the 1980s. I felt so far removed from my natural habitat there, so grass, no trees, no bees, no flies anywhere, that I got this weird little collection started…

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