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Speed Thrills, Say American TV Producers, 11.15.02 ...

Actors in US sitcoms and drama series are speaking more words a minute than ever before in a bid to make their characters appear more intelligent and appeal to younger viewers.

Scriptwriters on some of America's biggest TV shows have upped the word count significantly because they believe the faster characters speak, the more intelligent viewers perceive them to be.

Hollywood producers also believe rapid-fire conversation - often while characters are on the move - is popular among the "MTV generation" of viewers.

They have even hired dialogue coaches to help actors keep pace with the increased word rate, according to the Wall Street Journal

Aaron Sorkin, the creator and executive producer of political drama The West Wing, described the speed at which characters speak as "turbo fast".

He told the Wall Street Journal: "My parents will call me every Wednesday night and say, 'Great show, tell them to talk slower.'"

Bill Lawrence, the creator and executive producer of hospital comedy Scrubs, which is broadcast on Sky One and Channel 4 in the UK, said quickfire dialogue and short, snappy scenes were a "humour insurance policy".

"If someone doesn't think one scene if funny, another one is coming right away," he said.

The phenomenon can be seen in other US dramas. In Gilmore Girls, so-called "fast talk" makes a small-town setting feel hip.

In American Dreams, the characters talk quickly over the family dinner table to appeal to teenage viewers.

Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator and executive producer of Gilmore Girls, said the show avoided using close-up shots because the technique slowed down the dialogue.

She added the actors were encouraged to "walk and talk" to save time.

Moonlighting, the 80s romantic comedy starring Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd, is thought to be the first show to use "fast track" dialogue when it featured quick-fire exchanges between two stars.

The practice has its drawbacks, however. The number of takes required to complete each scene is said to have rocketed.
Credit: Media Guardian

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