Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cougar Town Interview

Bill Lawrence and Friends (Brian Van Holt, Ian Gomez, Kevin Biegel, and special appearance by Neil Flynn)

Whatchamacallit Reviews: What would you rename Cougartown?

Bill Lawrence: “Cougar City”? “Cougarville”?
Kevin Biegel: “Nothing But Cougars”?
BL: Town isn’t the problem? It’s not town? Honestly, I liked “The Drinking Age”. I liked “Grown-Ups”. I liked “Stay Tuned for More Modern Family”.
KB: That was the best one. [contintuing on with the list] “Still Cougartown”
BL: I liked “Friends Part Two”, “Mid-Life”.

WR: Penny-Can…who is the best at it?

BL: Everbody is going to say they’re the best.
Ian Gomez: I’m not good.
BL: I’m not that good. I scare the other writers into losing to me.
KB: Bill is very intimidating.
BL: Maybe Josh Hopkins?
KB: Yeah, Josh Hopkins.
Brian Van Holt: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why am I being overlooked here? It’s my game. I need to promote myself. Christa is good, Bill is good, I’m average.
IG: Dan is not very good.
BL: Dan is not very good at anything.

WR: What was your favorite of the title bit?

KB: Cougarton Abbey was a good one.
BL: I liked “sorry no joke this week”. I also liked “This is not The Simpson’s chalkboard bit.”
KB: I liked “This is not scrubs with wine.”

WR: The characters drink a lot on the show, what is your drink of choice?

KB: I have a keggerator in my office at work. Gin and tonic if I’m feeling fancy.
BL: Tequila and red wine.
BVH: A really nice tequila. Fine, fine tequila.
IG: I like that too. As long as you don’t mix it with anything sweet, it’s a nice, clean, drink.
KB: You’re trying to make drinking straight tequila sound fancy…you’re like swigging from a bottle.
IG: It’s got a handle! It’s a jug! I’m also a bourbon drinker.

WR: Are you anxious about switching to TBS?

IG: They’re very excited about the show, the head of TBS and his wife are fans of the show and I think it’s going to be a wonderful show. The head of the whole network actually came down to hang out with us and watch one of the panels. It’s a great sign.
BVH: I think it’s a great fit. I’m excited about it. I think it’s the place to be. I think TBS is where we belong.
BL: I think we’re going to be on for a long time because of the switch. I think it had always been a show that was looked over on ABC, and I think this is a fix. I think we’re going to be on for a long time.
IG: And then the Andy Torres spin off, of course.

[Neil Flynn joins table]

WR: How did you guys decide to put it in Florida?

KB: I grew up in Sarasota. When it zooms in [in the title sequence], we pass right over it. Bill spent his youth in Florida. We just liked the idea of setting a show somewhere other than New York or Los Angeles. It’s a story generator to write to that area of the country. My uncle sent a lot of pictures of people on their land boats, boats in their yards.
BL: It’s funny because our ratings are worse in Florida than any other area of the country.

WR: Funniest story from the set. Go.

IG: I don’t know.
BL: We generally torture people when they’re late—especially, Dan Byrd, we clap for him as a giant group for finally showing up. He tends to be asleep.
IG: We do bits where we try to convince Josh Hopkins that he’s being written out of the show and he goes “What? No!” I do a bit with his [Bill Lawrence’s] wife, where, if we have to kiss, I say we have to rehearse in my dressing room over and over again. We run these improv, twenty-minute bits for nobody’s benefit except our own.
BVH: We expose everybody’s weaknesses.
IG: We stomp on the weak, that’s always fun.

WR: Do you improv on the show?

BVH: Ian is a better improv person for sure. I’m not so much [an improv person], I tend to stick to the writing.
IG: Well, you’re inspired by the writing, you’re inspired by the situations created. 99.9 percent of the time, what is written is funnier than what we come up with. In the spur of the moment, we might find a different tag for something or an alternate line. Most of the time, the alternate line comes from a writer on set.
BL: It’s usually expanding on a joke. Taking a line one step further.
IG: It’s always based on the scene.
Neil Flynn: It’s usually helpful getting out of a scene. A button.
IG: Exactly, a button.
BL: It’s like the slap bit with you [Ian Gomez] and Josh. You were supposed to slap Josh and every time he did it, you did it a little bit harder than you would slap an actual human being.
IG: I was directed to actually slap him.
BVH: And have you seen these mitts?
BL: Then we got to a bar scene later, and Josh Hopkins was very professional and he came up to me and said “I’m going to ruin a take. Is that okay?” I said, “what are you going to do?” He said, “When Ian says his line, I’m going to slap him as hard as I can.” So, Josh did and Ian stayed in character for a second. Then Ian just said, “WOW” and he broke a little bit.
NF: That’s a nice take. Have you seen it?
IG: It was in the show!
BL: Yeah, I used it but I didn’t use the “Wow” because he broke a little bit.
IG: It was shock. My brain kind of started swelling immediately. My mouth just started saying words that were not connected to my ideas.
NF: Yeah, it happens.

WR: Do you have a favorite moment from the show?

BL: My most recent favorite line was—I giggled out loud at Ian Gomez saying, “These girls may not be real.” At first he says to the girls, “are you even real?” Then, when his wife comes in and is mad and he says, “Before you get mad, these girls may not be real.” Because in his head, there’s still the possibility that they aren’t real.
KB: My favorite moment is still Ian doing Shawshank in the first season. It was one of those moments that we thought, “oh, this is what the show can be.”
IG: I’m very lucky that we’ve done a few parodies and that I get to be a part of them. In Courteney’s first episode that she directed, there was a Braveheart moment and that was so much fun. I loved doing that.
BVH: One of my favorite moments of many, is that Braveheart moment.
IG: Which hopefully is up for Emmy consideration.
BVH: That and how Courteney said the Alice Cooper thing out loud. Coopering. “Who is Alice Cooper? Is she pretty?” It’s hilarious. She killed it.

Neil? Do you have a favorite from Scrubs?

BL: My favorite moment was watching you and Zach trying to get through that scene when you gave him shorts to wear at work.
NF: Oh yeah, that’s a great one. I gave him shorts to wear and I said, “My wife worked very hard on those shorts. She wasn’t gifted with all ten fingers. She only has pointer and thumb-pinky.”
IG: Was that written?
NF: I don’t remember. It was so preposterous. Zach goes, “I’m a doctor, I really can’t wear short-shorts to work.” I was lying anyway.

WR: Thoughts on comedy? TV?

IG: Comedy is funny.
BL: I think there is more, even though people think TV sucks, it’s just because there are more channels. I think there is more good TV now than ever before.
NF: I agree. Television now is what independent film was fifteen years ago, where a lot of the coolest stuff is happening.
KB: On Sunday night, you can look at a show and say, “this is the best season of this show ever,” and there are about four shows you can say that about. Game of Thrones. Mad Men. Sherlock…is amazing. The Killing. That’s ONE night of TV right now.
BL: Don’t tell me, I have it Tevo’d. I still don’t know who killed her. The Killing is going to be one of the best shows on DVD to sit down and just zip through it because it’s making me crazy that I don’t know who killed her right now.
KB: It’s amazing to watch the Game of Thrones battle scene and it happens and it’s bigger than any TV thing you’ve seen ever. It’s crazy, it’s really great.

Make sure to tune into Cougar Town,  Season 4, which premieres Tuesday, Jan 8 at 10 p.m. EST on TBS.

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