Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parenthood, Take 3

Today, NBC presented its panel on its newest drama, premiering at midseason, Parenthood. Critics asked Lauren Graham about stepping in for Maura Tierney, who continues her treatments for breast cancer and who the show's executive producer Jason Katims says is "doing well." Katims explains, by the way, that they delayed the show, which was originally supposed to premiere in the fall of 2009, in deference to Tierney, who was the one who opted out of the show and gave the go-ahead to recast.

The show is also quite unusual in at least two other ways: 1) it's based on a movie from two decades ago, Parenthood which starred Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen in 1989, and 2) it's being attempted even though an earlier TV adaptation failed in 1990. That Parenthood, says Ron Howard, one of the new show's executive producers and the director of the original film, was more of a sitcom treatment of the material, which he says in hindsight wasn't the right approach. This new show, Katims and Howard say, is a combination of comedy and drama (and is an hour long.) When the new show's pilot was re-shot with Graham replacing Tierney, it was lightened up a bit, away from the other extreme of heavy drama.

Howard told, by the way, the fun story of the film's origins in the '80s; back when he was heading to Argentina to make the film Gung Ho, he got on a 17-hour flight with his family and dozens of carry-on and checked bags. In the first hour, he decided to let his young daughter Bryce try his sushi appetizer; baby Bryce -- now better known as the movie star Bryce Dallas Howard -- proceeded to projectile vomit all over his shirt. "Great -- let's totally embarrass her," Graham said with a laugh as Howard told the story on stage.

Graham says she had spent the past 2 or 3 years not planning on acting in TV but looking for projects to produce, but could not resist the quality and pedigree of the Parenthood script when it was sent to her this past year. The show does have an impressive cast, including Six Feet Under's Peter Krause, Boston Legal's Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard, Craig T. Nelson, and Bonnie Bedelia, who was so fabulous most recently on Del Shores' Sordid Lives.

Parenthood debuts on Monday, March 1 at 9 PM Eastern on NBC.

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