[03/05/10 - 07:00 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: ABC's "Cougar Town"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:01 PM - Tonight's archival clip is from a 1967 episode of "The Lucy Show" in which Lucy, working as a flight attendant, is flustered by a good looking businessman.

7:07 PM - The Paley Center's Becky Levikow welcomes us to night six of the festival and brings out tonight's moderation, US Weekly's - and friend of the site - John Griffiths. He in turn intros "Cougar Town" co-creator Bill Lawrence, who notes he's about 12 glasses of chardonnay into the evening. While he sobers up, he's brought us next week's episode, "Counting on You."

7:35 PM - John returns to bring out tonight's panel: Brian Van Holt! Ian Gomez! Christa Miller! Bill Lawrence! Courteney Cox! Kevin Biegel! Josh Hopkins! Dan Byrd! As for the absent Busy Philipps, Bill quips, "It's a spoiler but Busy's been let go." Or she's in Hawaii.

7:41 PM - "What's Jennifer like, seriously?" Bill says, realizing Courteney hasn't said anything yet.

7:42 PM - "I thought we were making a joke when we decided to have Brian's character live in a land boat," Bill says about his southern roots. "And my uncle Bob, who is a great fishing guy, he sent me an e-mail, he said here are five pictures of my friends living in their land boats." Kevin, Courteney and Josh are from Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky, respectively.

7:44 PM - Speaking of Kentucky, everyone mocks Josh for constantly doing the John Wall dance. YouTube will explain it for you better than I can. "The first time something is funny and the next thousand times it's not funny at all," Bill notes. "You learned that from 'Scrubs?'" Josh fires back.

7:45 PM - "I'm from the south as well," Brian later adds. "Southern California."

7:49 PM - Bill on the early origins of the show: "The one thing we were afraid about was the show would only work if you can buy into being completely self-depricating and have no vanity whatsoever. And you will let people see you in your most embarrassing situations right from the start. And I think this is the one actress at her level in Hollywood that was immediately like, 'Yeah, who gives a shit.'"

7:51 PM - Courteney gives her take: "Bill wasn't like, 'Absolutely!' He was a little nervous about doing it with somebody who's going to be kind of a partner with him... so that's why I did 'Scrubs.' And then, I don't know what happened first but once you said okay, you guys came up with the idea."

7:53 PM - Courteney on her "Dirt" experience: "It was dark and very heavy. It could have been more fun." As to someone ever trying that type of show again, she says, "It's actually being done right now, TMZ has a show."

7:54 PM - Courteney on being a fortysomething woman: "I don't have that many more good years but the ones I have I'm pretty psyched about."

7:56 PM - Bill swears the opening scene in the "Cougar Town" pilot - in which Jules inspects her aging body - is based on catching his wife Christa, shortly after giving birth to their third child, walking in front of the bathroom mirror, opening her towel and going "Fuuuuuuck!"

7:58 PM - Bill on how they mirror their real life characters: "Courteney is nicer in real life than her character is. Christa is slightly meaner."

8:00 PM - Bill on the show being treated differently than ABC's other comedies: "Let me start by saying I love 'Modern Family,' fantastic show. I'm a fan, I watch it. They can have a dog butler that is essentially having sex, two guys with naked asses touch and our show is so policed now that I think we had to edit out, like in that show you just saw, they changed that for you guys because it used to say 'and then the gorilla killed the cat by trying to make love to it,' which is apparently too crude because it's 'Cougar Town.'" Kevin quips that it's probably because they had "and then the cat exploded" at the end of that joke.

8:02 PM - Bill on the show's writing staff: "I will say with great confidence that this is the only network comedy that has more women on the writing staff than men. [Crowd cheers.] It's the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life."

8:04 PM - Bill on one of his early encouters with Courteney while writing on "Friends": "She walked up to me and she said, 'You know I know this show is really working right now. And that's just a great thing for everybody but I'm one of the first people to tell everybody it's about the writing first. And I just wanted to tell you it's a joy to work on this show and thank so much for your hard work... Chris.'" Courteney's defense: "I thought he was Marta [Kauffman]'s assistant."

8:05 PM - The ever-chatty Bill on the current wave of comedy success: "The one thing that people are gravitating back to, and I really point to all the shows that are working right now, is shows that mean something. You know what I mean? Shows that you hopefully feel an emotional connection to. I've learned this lesson, truth be told, from my dad. I used to get to him to watch these shows I love and I still love them. I loved 'Arrested Development'... that's a great show, that's a great comedy writer show....

8:06 PM - ...I called my parents and said, 'You gotta watch this show.' And after two weeks my dad was like, 'Who give a shit?' I was offended, I was like, 'Why? Why? Why?' And he's like, 'If I'm gonna spend a half an hour watching TV I want to care about someone.' As a comedy writer I don't necessarily need that. And I think in tough times the one trend beyond single-camera, multi-camera is that I see people really responding to characters that they care about. The biggest lie in television comedy is that 'Seinfeld' was a show about nothing. Because the reason some people wanted the finale to be different is because they loved all those people."

8:08 PM - "It's like working with a comedy ninja," Josh says about Courteney. "She's so good and quick and funny."

8:10 PM - Josh proves to be quite the impressionist as he does his best Dan, Brian and Busy.

8:12 PM - Christa notes the only criteria you really need to work for Bill is a love of basketball.

8:13 PM - "It was atrocious," Brian notes about his audition for Grayson. Thankfully Bill let him try again for Bobby.

8:15 PM - Bill on his wife's friendship with Courteney: "The coolest thing by the way is that these two have developed a relationship in real life that we can all kind of feed off of and steal from. And it truly is the nice guy [points to Courteney] and the other one [points to Christa]." This leads Ian to offer his couch to Bill for the night.

8:17 PM - Ian on the Andy/Ellie dynamic: "I like the fact that we have really a sexy relationship on the show and that..." Christa interrupts, "And in real life." It amusingly flusters him.

8:21 PM - Kevin reiterates the only criteria you really need to work for Bill is a love of basketball.

8:24 PM - Bill on the Jules/Grayson relationship going forward: "One of the things Kevin and I and the writers like, I think most shows set up expectations - will they or won't they, and stuff like that and drag them on forever. I like blowing that stuff up immediately. So I like throwing her back into bed with her husband and write that song... and so we're not going to drag that stuff out. So the end of this year it gets naughty and fun for Courteney and Josh."

8:27 PM - Bill on upcoming guest stars: "I'm sure we'll see Ian's wife [Nia Vardalos] on the show soon, she's amazing... and Jennifer Aniston is gonna be on the show next year. She does not know it yet... Courteney promised me as a birthday gift she would make that happen. I think that's super sweet." As for Sheryl Crow: "Sheryl's one of Courteney's old friends and easily the nicest rock star out of all the rock stars I know. If she loses her day job I think it would be super fun to have her around."

8:30 PM - John opens the floor to Q&A.

8:36 PM - When someone points out the frequent use of red wine on the show. Bill points out that it's not fake - they're drinking the real stuff for you!

8:39 PM - "Christa, she did the soundtrack of 'Scrubs,'" Bill notes when someone asks about the music on the show. "And Zach [Braff] stole it and won a Grammy for it on 'Garden State.' He won a Grammy for a mix tape!"

8:41 PM - Bill notes that Courteney will be directing one of the first episodes next season.

8:44 PM - Someone asks who came up with M&M Tea. The answer: consulting producer Mara Brock Akil. Said fan also notes she was watching that episode on her computer at work. "That's how we want you to watch it," Bill says sarcastically.

8:46 PM - A fan asks if Courteney's recent Golden Globe nomination means a lot to her. "It means everything!" she screams.

8:51 PM - Bill on who's more like Courteney, Jules or Monica: "I knew Courteney on both shows and the OCD thing is true but she doesn't have Monica's edge. In real life, she's insane. This stuff that Courteney's doing on the show, she's that crazy in real life."

8:53 PM - Kevin on getting to know Courteney: "The weird thing is we go to Courteney's house on a Sunday afternoon [and] it's like the most famous people in the world. So I'm just like some idiot in a chauffeur's hat. It's like Abraham Lincoln and Henry Kissinger. I think I held Chrissie Hynde's hand during prayer sometime. And Thomas Jane, who's like the fucking Punisher and I'm like holy shit, I'm like are you fucking kidding me?"

8:56 PM - "Oh my God, I'm good looking!" - Josh after catching a glimpse of himself in the projection behind the panel.

8:59 PM - That's all folks! Jim will be back tomorrow for "The Vampire Diaries!"

  [march 2010]  


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