Wednesday, March 23, 2016

RIP Ken Howard, 1944-2016

I was saddened today to hear about the death of Ken Howard, who began his career in 1968 with a role in Broadway's Promises, Promises, and the following year, created the role of Thomas Jefferson in the Tony-winning musical 1776.  Ken himself received a Tony for his role of a young gym coach at a Catholic boys' school in the 1970 stage drama Child's Play; interestingly, it would later be the 6'6" actor's starring role as a former NBA pro-turned-inner city basketball coach in CBS' The White Shadow (1978-81) that would make him a household name for TV audiences.  In 1974-75, Ken had his first TV starring role as bounty hunter Dave Barrett on CBS' The Manhunter, and he would continue to pop up in later years in recurring roles on such shows as Dynasty and its spinoff The Colbys, FameMurder, She Wrote, Melrose Place, Crossing Jordan and, most recently, in the hilarious recurring role of Kabletown CEO Hank Hooper on NBC's 30 Rock.  Elected president of the Screen Actors' Guild in 2009, Ken continued to juggle his SAG-AFTRA duties with performing, such as in HBO's adaptation of Grey Gardens, for which he received his second Emmy Award in 2009.

And apart from all that, Golden Girls fans will of course forever remember Ken as Jerry, the gentlemanly gentleman caller of Blanche's who preferred old-fashioned romance to bed-hopping, and who ultimately left Blanche speechless with their first kiss, which made her feel "like a lady."

A few years ago, I happened to have been seated next to Ken's lovely wife Linda at the taping of the pilot for CBS' sitcom The McCarthys, in which he was appearing, and soon thereafter in February of 2014, I had the pleasure of interviewing them both by phone, as they drove up the coast, about Ken's work on The Golden Girls.  A shorter version of that interview is included in my book Golden Girls Forever, which hits stores on April 5.  But in light of the news today of Ken's passing, I'd like to share his full recollection about working on the show, with its brief glimpse into the life of this beloved actor.

The opportunity to guest star on The Golden Girls came out of the blue, in December of 1991, as my then-fiancĂ©e Linda and I were planning our upcoming wedding in February. It was a busy time, but I was excited to do the show because I was a fan. I knew Bea Arthur a little through Broadway circles, and Betty White a bit, too – and now that Linda and I are on the board of directors for the animal charity the Onyx and Breezy Foundation, we’ve gotten to know Betty much more dearly. And I’d just worked with Rue McClanahan on a TV movie, The Man in the Brown Suit, which had filmed on location in Spain in the summer of 1988. We’d had a lot of opportunity on the set to chat, and so when I heard I’d be working with Rue again, I knew it would be great to see her again. 
Working on The Golden Girls was a wonderful experience, although it goes by so fast. I had a few loving scenes with Rue, which is what I remember most. But I also remember how I enjoyed watching those women work, as they rehearsed their scenes together. That week, I even developed the impression to imitate Bea Arthur -- the trick was to let all the air out of my lungs before I would talk.
When the week was over, Linda had the idea to send each of the ladies flowers. So we sent each a bouquet, a dozen roses. And they were all so touched – but the way Bea Arthur expressed how touched she was, she got mad at me. She said, “You mustn’t spend your money that way, and don’t you ever do that again. Do you hear me?!” And she read me out, which was so her. Her way of saying “Thank you” was to say, “That’s excessive, and don’t ever do it again!” --Ken Howard

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Blanche's Granddaughter Finally Belts Out that Number

In a 1991 episode of The Golden Girls, Alisan Porter -- who, at age 10, already had a rising career after appearing in the 1989 film Parenthood and as the title character of 1991's Curly Sue -- guest starred as Blanche's granddaughter Melissa, whose visit was marred by the pushiness of a stage grandmother who forced her to compete in the Little Miss Miami pageant.

When it came time for her big number, little Melissa froze, completely unable to launch into "Put on a Happy Face."  But now grown up at 34, Alisan has absolutely no problem with "Blue Bayou," Roy Orbison's 1963 hit, which Linda Ronstadt recorded again in 1977.

Check out Alisan's "Blind Audition" performance on the season 10 premiere episode of NBC's megahit The Voice, airing this coming Monday, February 29 at 8PM Eastern.  When they hear a voice this amazing, all four judges -- Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine -- are bound to turn their chairs around.  I won't reveal which coach Alisan ultimately chooses.  But let's just say that Alisan's story, of childhood stardom, a journey through addiction, and now a happy life as a wife and mother, has many wonderful chapters to come.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Check Out Superstore

America Ferrera debuts tonight in Superstore,
10 PM Eastern/Pacific on NBC
Although it's not set to continue the rest of its 11-episode first-season run until the new year, America Ferrera's latest series, Superstore, premieres tonight at 10, as a special one-hour block following megahit lead-in The Voice.  (The series' eventual Monday night companion piece, Eva Longoria's Telenovela, will get the same preview push at the same time next week, on Monday, December 7.)

I've seen episodes of Superstore, and can attest it's worth checking out, not only for Ferrera's endearing new character Amy, but for the rest of its skilled comedic ensemble cast, including Mad Men's Ben Feldman as her new romantic interest, the elitist Jonah, Kids in the Hall's Mark McKinney as the hyperreligious store manager Glenn and Another Period's Lauren Ash as the super-weird and aggressive Dina.

Superstore comes from creator Justin Spitzer, who worked for years as a producer on NBC's great ensemble comedy The Office -- and the DNA shows here.  Superstore has the same mix of officious weirdos as funny supporting characters, and yet also shows a lot of heart.  After the overwhelming experience playing a title character on Ugly Betty, Ferrera said today at a lunch for critics on the Universal lot in Los Angeles that she's happy to step into a true ensemble.  Plus, the woman is busy; not only does she develop TV shows at her own development company, but as a producer of Superstore, she's part of the show's story decisions.  As such, she adds that she's happy that Spitzer and his writing staff are expert at pacing out story developments in Superstore's first season, trusting the audience to keep tuning in to learn more about its ever-deepening characters.

If the four episodes available to the press are any indication, it will be a season worth spending.  Check out the show's first two installments tonight at 10 PM, following The Voice on NBC.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Undateable: Je Suis Paris

From the start of this, its third season, NBC's sitcom Undateable has aired live every Friday night -- until tonight.

At 4:45 PM Pacific time -- just 15 minutes before the first of two live telecasts was to be performed for the Eastern time zone -- Undateable opted to cancel tonight's live show in deference to the terrorist attack on Paris.

With several of the networks scrambling to cover the breaking situation -- such as ABC's 20/20, which will devote its hour to coverage -- it's likely that NBC would have pre-empted at least one of the Undateable performances anyway.  But as an emotional Bill Lawrence, the show's executive producer, explained to a disappointed yet understanding crowd, tonight it didn't feel right for the cast or producers to go live with the show's trademark brand of silliness.

At the producers' request, musical guest Joshua Radin did perform for the crowd, albeit a different, more mournful song than he'd planned.  Barring anything unforeseen, Undateable will be back live next Friday -- probably with the same episode we would have seen tonight.  Bravo to Bill Lawrence, Randall Winston (he's the producer you'll see placing the "Je Suis Paris" sign in the video below), Chris D'Elia, who addresses the crowd here, and the cast and crew of Undateable for this classy move, in tribute to the victims of this senseless violence.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Another Undateable Duo

Undateable's Ron Funches (l) and David Fynn
According to his posts on Twitter, on tonight's live episode of Undateable -- the second installment of Undateable's all-live third season on NBC -- actor David Fynn, who plays gay British bartender Brett, will be periscoping live from within a scene.  It's one of the many ways Undateable is reinventing the live broadcast, and folding viewers into the experience via a variety of social media.

Last week, just in advance of the show's season premiere, I sat down with David and co-star Ron Funches, whose character Shelly has a way of imbuing even the most edgy of remarks with his trademark cuddliness and likeability.  I talked with the two about everything from Ron's weight loss -- 75 pounds since last season! -- and their biggest fears about what could happen live, tonight at 8PM Eastern (rebroadcast for other time zones) tonight on NBC.

Must-Hear TV:  Ron, you look a little different from last year.  How did you do it?

Ron Funches:  Just working out.  Exercises with a trainer.  And I hate it.

MHTV:  How is the show going to explain Shelly's new appearance?

RF:  I don’t think they’re going to have to.  I lost 75 pounds, but I’m magically still fat!  So it works!  I think they’ll just let it go.

MHTV:  Come on, with all the live stuff that could happen on the show?  Last year, Chris D'Elia's Danny commented on Brent Morin's character Justin's weight.  So you think they’re just going to let it go for Shelly?

RF:  That would be fine!  Great, bring it up, get me more dates!

MHTV:  When you were told you were going to do live shows all year, were you intimidated?

David Fynn:  No.  I think this is a cast that embraces pressure like that.  The four boys come from standup backgrounds, Bridgit [Mendler] is a live performer, and I’ve done theater and stuff.  I think if any cast is going to embrace live TV, I think it’s going to be us.  I think we kind of get off on the adrenaline of it as well.  Like on our tape nights, when things were kind of coming out a bit crazy and the improv was going a bit crazy, you could really feel that energy from the audience.  And I think to have that in a live scenario suits our cast very well.

MHTV:  What’s your worst nightmare of what could happen?

DF:  Cursing, for sure.

RF:  Cursing is the worst nightmare.  But also, because the show will be doing some things where they unexpectedly put the camera on other [audience] people, what if that person curses?  That’s my worst nightmare, where it’s someone out of our control.

DF:  I guess dropping a line would be pretty bad.  But someone would save you, though.  You’d be fine.

MHTV:  You’re all skilled enough in working without a net that you can cover for each other.

DF:  Sure.  And because we rehearse quite a lot now, we know the story so well that if a line goes, the most important thing is that you’re tuned into the story, so someone will bail you out.

MHTV:  Do you have a dream guest star you’d like this season?

RF:  I like The Rock.  The Rock would come here, and be like, "Oh man, I’m not feeling confident. Shelly, teach me how to be so cool!"  That would be great.

DF:  I’d like Ricky Gervais

MHTV:  He could play your dad!

DF:  That would be amazing!  And he’s lovely, too.  I think he’d embrace it.  Let’s get Ricky Gervais!

RF:  Let’s make Ricky Gervais MY dad!

MHTV:  He might be one of those people who could drop the F-bomb.  He’s a little unpredictable.  Maybe he’s the one who’d get the show fined by the FCC!

DF:  And he’d love it as well!

MHTV:  Do you think comedies like Undateable have a specific advantage in addressing stories about race and class, as compared to TV dramas?

RF:  Yes, of course!  The advantage is, you get to tell jokes.  Or more exactly, you can say exactly what you mean, and people will think it’s a joke.  And those are usually the best jokes, when you’re really just saying what you truly believe, but because it’s an uncomfortable truth, people are going to laugh at their reaction.  When you’re doing it in a drama, you have a tendency to be whiny or preachy.  But when you’re using humor, you can diffuse the situation and make light of it, and be very honest without people really holding you to it.

MHTV:  Do you guys have in the back of your heads some lines that you would throw out there in a nervous moment, or just to mess with your costars?  Are you banking stuff to play with in the scenes?

RF:  No, because I feel like that’s cheating.  That’s taking away the live atmosphere.  What will happen is when we’re live, because we’re very funny people we’ll play the situation.  And if something comes up, we’ll say it.

DF:  I think we all had moments in the [live season 2] finale that we improv’d something.  I think the first [East Coast broadcast] was a little tighter on the script, and the second show [for the West Coast] everyone was a little bit more loose.  I felt like in the first show people were spotting opportunities, but not taking them as much as in the second.  And then in the second, people were  having little gos and still improvising.  So I still think that spontaneous thing will still be there this season.

MHTV:  What are this seasons's character arcs for Shelly and Brett.  Will Brett get a boyfriend?

DF:  It’s already talked about that I’m possibly seeing a guy, so hopefully we’ll bring him in at some point.

MHTV:  Do you know who they’ll cast?

DF:  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Anthony Hopkins.  [laughs]

MHTV:  Or, another possible dad!

DF:  Yeah!  My dad actually looks like Anthony Hopkins a bit.

RF:  I know a specific thing but I can’t talk about it.  But I can say that Shelly’s going to have some trials in his life that he’ll have to deal with, coming up.  And we’ll get to watch him deal with them.

MHTV:  Any special ladies?

RF:  I hope so.  I hope so in the show, and in my real life.

MHTV:  What kind of social media things will you be doing to tie into the live performances?

RF:  Every day at 4:30, we’re all going to be doing periscope.  We’ll all have our own individual shows: David will be doing some actor challenges, and I will be doing a thing called Funches’ Favorites, which is basically a lifestyle magazine about being a modern man, just showing you the things that I love.  And then we’ll be live tweeting during the shows.  We’ll be all over social media.

DF:  During scenes, if we’re not speaking, we’ll be on our phones, tweeting.  We’ve been told to do it during scenes.

MHTV:  Just to make it harder, to have more things to juggle!  Are we going to meet any of your family members?  We were joking about your possible dads.

RF:  I haven’t heard anything yet.  I know we’ve been talking about my cousin, who’s meth-addicted.  So hopefully he’ll show up!

Airs LIVE for the East Coast, Friday October 16 at 8PM,
Replayed from live broadcast in other time zones

Friday, October 9, 2015

Live from Warner Brothers Studios, it's Undateable on Friday nights

After scoring big buzz and good ratings with its first live episode back in May, NBC's hip sitcom Undateable returns tonight at 8 PM for the first of an entire season of episodes performed live.

It seems like it might be hard to top last season's stunt, which featured cameos from showrunner Bill Lawrence's stable of actors from his past shows, including Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn and his wife Christa Miller, as well as Minnie Driver, Kate Walsh, Victoria Justice, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Scott Foley and Ed Sheeran.

But as they discussed with me below earlier this week, Bill and his fellow showrunner/Undateable creator Adam Sztykiel have many surprises and tricks in store for us -- from the opening credits onward, Bill teases, so pay attention! -- as well as innovative new ways to enhance the live experience for today's multi-media, multi-tasking viewer.

Must-Hear TV:  The latest news from NBC explains that tonight's special one-hour season premiere will air live on both the East and West coasts, as was the episode back in May -- but then the rest of season 1 will be performed live only once.  What's the thinking behind the decision?

Bill Lawrence:  [The decision to air live once versus twice] will depend on the night and what we feel like.  It doesn’t cost that much extra money to do it twice.  [For the show's crew] part of the appeal of doing a live show on Friday nights is maybe seeing your kids at 6:30. But we promised the network that anytime we’re doing an hour-long special like this first one, we’ll do it [live for] both East coast and West coast. Just because then we can fool along with the medium and have the bands do different songs, and have our guests do different things, like Ed Sheeran and all those people did last time.

MHTV:  There was such a difference between the two live episodes last time.  You could really see the difference between the two feeds, and how loose you were for the west coast, knowing you had it in the can once.

BL:   Also, we’re west coast guys.  So with the west coast show, we were like, "No one’s watching this!  So let’s be idiots and see if we can get ourselves thrown off of television!"  But I think we’ll try to do it a bunch more than just the first time.  We just have to be careful about what we’re allowed to say and not say [language-wise on live TV].  But I’ll say it, yeah, we’re going to do more than one of this season's episodes live on both coasts for sure.

MHTV:  What can you tell us about [tonight's] season premiere?

BL:  Last year, when it was just a one-off live episode, we made it kind of like a variety show, just “Hey, it’s the night of 1000 stars!” and Ed Sheeran is singing, and the cast is going to wink at the camera 9,000 times.  So [for this season] Adam and I had to come up with an idea of how to bridge that gap where we can still tell stories, but kind of acknowledge that the show is live.

So what we’ve been trying to sell to the network – we’ll see if they buy into it or not – is a live experience.  Which means that the show for us is a weeklong thing.  Every day at 4:30 [Pacific time] we put out live content.  Viewers have access to all the cast members, to the bands that are here, to everybody who is coming by and doing stuff for the show.  That leads up to the show, and then even during the show, there’s the opportunity for live interaction.

Chris D’Elia very proudly last year said he was the first actor ever to live tweet a show whilst he was simultaneously acting on it.  So one thing we're doing is passing out phone numbers for real cell phones; so that if the phone rings, it will be an actual fan at home calling [in to the scene].  We'll be Periscoping in the downtime during commercial breaks.  If any actor is typing on a phone, it’s not fake the way characters drink coffee on normal shows; he or she is probably interacting with someone who’s watching.  It’s like last year, where someone tweeted to Chris, "No way!  You’re not talking to me while I’m watching this!" And he was like, "I totally am!  I’ll touch my head right now!"  That type of immersive experience will hopefully be fun for people.

MHTV:  That’s real showmanship for the 21st Century.

BL:  We’re trying hard.

MHTV:  It sounds exhausting.

BL:  It is exhausting.  You’ve got to make current event jokes, and you still have to make a show that people give a crap about, that has emotional depth.  Adam always says one thing, that I truly believe, about why we’re doing it live...

Adam Sztykiel:  Whether it’s the perfect show or an epic disaster, it’s still going to be more interesting than routine half-hour TV.  There’s so much on TV now that you have to do something to separate yourself from everybody.  So I look forward to those handful of episodes where the wheels come off a little bit.

BL:  I don’t know if our network does, but we embrace the potential for disaster.  We saw it almost happen last time in the west coast feed.  Scott Foley was getting dangerously close to us getting fined.

MHTV:  The scene that looked like it was going to turn into a possible blowjob?

BL:  Yes, because he was riffing.

AS:  Bill was literally inches behind the camera line, leaning in, about to jump in front of the camera.

BL:  The second I knew we were going to lose money, I was going to put my head in and say “We’re going to keep moving!”  I have my SAG card. I would have walked in like, "Hey, Justin!  Hey, Danny!  It’s your neighbor from this fake door over here!  We’ve got to keep this thing moving!"

MHTV:  I’m SO hoping that happens this season.

BL:  Part of the fun of this show is that these actors and actresses are adept enough and quick enough on their feet that they can handle this stuff.  You can’t fabricate it.  You can’t ask a performer to fake a spontaneous moment.  And so one of the things that they’re all up for, if you go back and look at [last season's] live show, and we’ll be doing it in every episode, is we'll give certain performers lines that the other performers don’t know are coming at certain spots in the scene.  The cameramen are ready to handle it.  So like last year, Brent Morin didn’t know Ed Sheeran was going to kiss him.  Brent Morin had no idea that when they were fighting, that in one take, Chris was going to say, “Oh yeah?  Well you’ve gained a lot of weight since this show started!”  Chris didn’t know that Scott Foley was going to make him get on his knees and do all that stuff.  We want to watch to see what happens and hope that the people don’t have panic attacks.

MHTV:  "People" meaning the network censors, or your cast?

BL:  Cast.  I mean, look at Bianca [Kajlich].  If she starts laughing, she can’t contain herself.  So I truly hope that happens this year, because everyone will try to dive in and save the scene.  But watching that train wreck, we equate it to Saturday Night Live.  I love when Jimmy Fallon used to kind of screw up.  I wouldn't have liked if he did it in every single sketch.  But when it happened once in a while and was real and organic, it made me feel like I was part of watching something cool.

MHTV:  Will we see any of the character interactions changing, like Justin and Candace, or “Lursky?”

BL:  "Lursky," I like it!  The season premiere picks up where the last season ended.  We’re really tracking Justin and Candace, and Leslie and Bursky.  Because that’s what I think a hangout sitcom is.  We’re trying to find the way that you can bridge this weird kind of live show that knows it’s live, in which there’s a live opening credits every week with cast members up, interacting with the audience, into a show that you actually watch, trying to buy into the characters.  We think we’re pulling it off.

MHTV:  Is there an eye on replays of the show or syndication when you’re doing it live?  It’s fun now, in the moment, but does that affect how fun it is 10 years from now in repeats?

BL:  If we weren't thinking about [the show's later life], we wouldn’t care as much about telling ultimately stories that still hold up as sitcom episodes.  So I think one of the things we’re proud of this year is, if you took the live winks out, the stories hold up just as when I wrote on Friends or did Spin City.  They’re classic sitcom stories, hopefully with a fresh spin because of the way we’re shooting them.

MHTV:  How do you plan on testing the audience this season in terms of pushing the boundaries of comedy, to leave the audience gasping but at the same time tuning in every week?

BL:  The reason we wanted to do this is, if you see any of these standups live, they’re all very dangerous.  They do things that make you uncomfortable in your stomach.  Rick Glassman as a standup got compared at [Montreal's annual comedy festival] Just For Laughs to Andy Kaufman, because he makes the audience so uncomfortable.  And I think really good comedy is dangerous.  We’re on a network, and we’re almost constantly in battles and policing ourselves upstairs in the writers’ room – can we really do this?  And I think that, as people get into it, we can get a little more risky.  We had a politically charged joke last night that we were talking to Ron [Funches] about.  We couldn’t decide if it would just take the audience out of it...

MHTV:  Was it politically divisive?

BL:  Justin was describing a reaction of Danny’s, saying, "I thought you turned quick, like you heard a gunshot.  But with a smile on your face, like a happy gunshot."  And then Shelly says, “Sounds like a Fox News headline:  'Annoying peaceful protest silenced by happy gunshots.'”  And that’s the type of stuff that those guys would do in their standup acts.  But we were like, "Yeah, is that something we want to do in the first episode, and have some people up there [in the live audience] if they like Fox News, being like, 'NOOOO!'”  So we’ll probably ease our way into [topics like that.]

MHTV:  Any guest stars you can tell us about coming up?  Any Detroit-specific elements?

AS:  Detroit – obviously we will always tag it as much as possible.  So Leslie’s job as someone who markets the city is going to be a big part of the show.  And of course Shelly living and loving everything Detroit, that’s going to be a big thing.  And then hopefully we'll have a few guest performers whom I won’t mention yet, who will have ties to the city, down the road.

BL:  We’re doing so much immersive stuff here, and our guest cast will be part of it.  Besides seeing the band in the show, they’ll finish their act, and then here afterwards we'll have kind of a VIP lounge where hopefully comics and other friends of the family will be there, not only participating, but tweeting.

This isn’t a traditional TV show in the sense that, in network television were I to call up Zach Braff like last time and say, “Hey, I want you to come be a guest star on my show,” they’d have to do contracts, and then he'd have to be on set all week, and shoot 4 days.  The reason we’re able to get a lot of guest stars is instead I can say, “Hey, if you come Friday between 4:15 and 5:20, and just hang out for an hour and five minutes, we can give you a really funny cameo on a live show, and you don’t have to rehearse at all during the week, and whatever happens happens.  I can’t pay you a lot, but in return we’re not going to use you to promote and sell the show.”

That’s really our business model.  If last year's live episode had been normal episode of TV, and we'd had to pay everyone as a special guest star, that would have cost like $5 million.  You can’t do it, with that sheer amount of people on.  On the other hand:  "Hey, you feel like coming by and getting 3 free drinks and then walking out and doing something ridiculous?"  And then most people are like "Yeah, that sounds like it might be fun."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Julie Chen Talks Big Brother Strategy

Julie Chen is watching.  For 15 years, she's presided over CBS' Big Brother -- and this past June, on the eve of the debut of the show's 17th season, I sat down with Julie to get

Difficult People to Return

Although the summer season is getting ever-busier, with even broadcast networks debuting new limited-run dramas (CBS' Zoo, ABC's Astronaut Wives' Club, NBC's Aquarius, etc.) for each of the past few years.

For comedy, though, with the exception of this year's two NBC sitcoms Mr. Robinson and The Jerrod Carmichael Show, the only place to go is cable, for offerings like two of my faves this year, Comedy Central's Another Period, and the return of USA's Playing House.

And then there's my favorite new comedy of all, Hulu's Difficult People.  At the TV Critics' convention last month, I asked the show's creator/executive producer Julie Klausner and her co-star Billy Eichner if the show, with its gay man/straight woman duo, might be the new Will & Grace.  It turns out, that's kind of how they originally pitched the show -- with self-deprecating qualifications about how they're less attractive.

That day at TCA, though, Julie and Billy did distance themselves a bit from the 1998-2006 classic NBC sitcom -- because these days, it's so out of fashion to be compared to, God forbid, a multi-camera comedy.  But I do see the connection, and it's a positive one.  If you liked Will & Grace, you'll love Difficult People, which has similarly witty one-liners that will have you laughing out loud.  The show has garnered criticism that its lead characters are "unlikeable" -- but really, I see it as if not Will Truman and Grace Adler but instead their wackier sidekicks, Jack McFarland and Karen Walker, were unleashed on New York.  And even when Karen was upbraiding a waiter or picking on Grace's outfit, I always found her not only likeable, but loveable.

So invest some time in these Difficult People -- particularly because, as we found out today, the show will be returning for a ten-episode second season.  (And check out Julie's hilarious quote in the official NBC Universal press release below.)

Hit Amy Poehler-produced Comedy Starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner from Universal Cable Productions will return for Second Season on Hulu 

SANTA MONICA, CA – August 27, 2015 – Hulu Original Difficult People has been picked up for a second season, the company announced today. Season two will include a 10-episode order.  Following a critically acclaimed debut, the breakout comedy series from executive producers Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation), Dave Becky (Louie), Tony Hernandez of Jax Media and showrunner Scott King will return for a second season with creator, star and executive producer Julie Klausner and star Billy Eichner. The series is produced by Universal Cable Productions (UCP), a division of NBCUniversal.  

“We have been big fans of Difficult People from day one and are so happy to have Julie and Billy be part of the Hulu family. I cannot wait to see what a whole new season will bring and am pleased to bring more of their hilarious brand of comedy to fans,” said Craig Erwich, SVP, Head of Content, Hulu. 

"From our first meeting with Julie, Billy and Amy, to the spec pilot we shot with them, to Hulu's spectacular and ongoing commitment, this has been a dream of a show.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid of them," said Jeff Wachtel, President, Universal Cable Productions and Chief Content Officer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.   

Difficult People hails from Julie Klausner (Billy on the Street) who stars alongside Emmy®-nominated Billy on the Street host Billy Eichner. As best friends living in New York City, their typical, irreverent behavior lands them in some very awkward situations. Klausner and King wrote all episodes of season one and will continue to serve as executive producers for the series. 

"I'm the luckiest girl in the world to be able to make more episodes of Difficult People,” said Klausner. “This must be what it feels like to win the lottery, have a fast metabolism or win an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny." 

The second season of Difficult People comes to Hulu in collaboration with Universal Cable Productions. Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions in conjunction with Dave Becky’s 3 Arts Entertainment and Jax Media will continue to produce the series.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Supergirl and the Four-Timers' Club

It's Supergirl!
Coming soon to CBS
So much has been made in seasons past of mega-successful TV producers who juggle multiple shows on the air, and all the moving parts that must entail.  The feat is made all the more impressive when you note how producers like Dick Wolf and Shonda Rhimes preside over programs that also happen to be among the best in their genres.

Super-successful Shonda Rhimes
Next season, both producers will probably keep their records in tact, with four definite shows for Wolf (granddaddy Law & Order:  SVU plus Chicago Fire and its now two spinoffs, Chicago P.D. and the new Chicago Medical) and probably four for Rhimes (the grandmommy Grey's Anatomy, plus mega-hot Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder and ABC's likely pickup of a new drama, The Catch.)
Prolific producer Dick Wolf

But while those producers have sold their wares all to one network (Wolf at NBC, Rhimes at ABC, and, let's not forget that before this season's finale of Two and a Half Men, Chuck Lorre had four shows at CBS), undoubtedly leveraging one's popularity to gain pickup for another, yet another megasuccessful producer has emerged, with shows all over the broadcast dial.

Four-timer (and counting) Greg Berlanti
As of Fall 2015, Greg Berlanti will also have at least four shows on the air, with the CW's Arrow and The Flash, NBC's recently picked up suspenser Blindspot, and now CBS' announcement that it has picked up Supergirl to series.  Will NBC break the tie by maintaining a fifth Berlanti series on its airwaves, the on-the-bubble Mysteries of Laura, next season?  We'll find out this coming Monday, May 11, when all things peacock will be revealed.

In the meanwhile, news is just coming out today about Supergirl as CBS' first new series pickup.  That the story broke today is already an impressive feat, considering how secretive CBS normally is about its upfront news; in fact, journalists have nicknamed the secrecy surrounding the network's last-minute programming war room each May "Les Moonves' Cone of Silence."  But with a producer like Berlanti who has clout, he can ask for an early deadline for the decision.

Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist in the title role of Kara Danvers/Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman; the show's pilot, written by Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg, starts with Kara at age 24, deciding to embrace her superhuman abilities and becoming a hero.  The impressive cast also contains Calista Flockhart, as Kara's tough boss, Cat Grant; Mehcad Brooks as love interest Jimmy Olsen; Chyler Leigh as Kara's doctor sister, Alex Danvers; David Harewood as supervillain Hank Henshaw aka Cyborg Superman; and Laura Benanti in a recurring role as Kara's birth mother, Alura Zor-El.  All that, plus the news that broke a few months back that this adaptation will bring back some faces familiar to Superman fans, with Helen Slater (big-screen Supergirl) and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark:  The New Adventures of Superman) cast in "secret roles."

No word yet from CBS as to whether the show will debut in Fall 2015, or "midseason" (even though CBS President Nina Tassler has officially banished that word), or in what time slot.  That news will come on Wednesday, May 13, as CBS rolls out its upfront presentation at New York's Carnegie Hall.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ed Sheeran tonight on Undateable LIVE

Well at least one of the cats is out of the bag, whether NBC wanted it that way or not.  (And it's a good one!)

As he announced today on Twitter, Ed Sheeran is among the high-wattage guests joining tonight's live episode of Undateable.  The Detroit-set sitcom is a great show you may not yet be watching -- so check it out tonight, live from 9-10 PM Eastern and Pacific.

randomly, i'm gonna be on tonight for my dude , should be fun, tune in. lots of fun to be had