Comic-Con 2011: 'Psych' Creator Steve Franks Shares Season 6 Details and Teases a Panel Surprise (Q&A)
The creator of USA Network's veteran comedy talks about the long break between seasons and pulling off a "fun" presentation.
With hundreds of thousands of people attending San Diego Comic-Con every year and the July 20-24 event kicking off this week, The Hollywood Reporter chatted with the big names in television to discuss their favorite memories and tips for attending the annual event. THR’s Live Feed will talk Comic-Con with actors, writers and producers in the days leading up to the event so check back soon for interviews and the latest news on panels and screenings.
Geek Cred: Psych
Comic-Con panel: Psych, Thursday, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Ballroom 20
The Hollywood Reporter: This has been a very long break in between this seasons for you guys. Normally you’re back in the summer, but they’re pushing to the fall. How have you dealt with it?
Steve Franks: What’s so funny is they were going to have us premiere in June so we actually started a month earlier than usual and then they changed their minds when they realized they were going to put this may shows on the air. We’re a victim of our own success in that when they put us on in the fall last year, we did the same numbers just as we would’ve everywhere else. “Those guys can work in the fall too,” so we started a month earlier with anticipating starting earlier and now we’re starting late. We’re going to be done shooting before we ever air.
THR: Are you doing any special things for this year's panel?
Franks: We probably snared the biggest Comic-Con special guest for our Comic-Con panel video. I cannot imagine a name that would be better for Comic-Con panel. It’s going to be huge and awesome. It’s a secret. I wasn’t going to give it away.
THR: What was your first Comic-Con experience like?
Franks: I was terrified because I really didn’t think many people was going to show up and I was kind of hoping that there would be something great before us and that people would stay in the room. They told us they were going to put us in the 4,200-seat auditorium. I’m like, “This is going to be the most embarrassing day in my life. There’s going to be 26 people there.” Usually I’m way overconfident about everything, we got there, we went out there and we poked our heads out before we went on stage and the place was full and they were all crazy Psych fans. I turned our other producers and James [Roday] and said, “Oh my god, this is one of the greatest days of our lives. We have to remember this.” It’s so cool because we shoot up in Canada where the show doesn’t air. It was magical and awesome and it was life-affirming. You work so hard to put these shows together and this is why.
THR: How did you get that "fun" mentality to translate to the screen?
Franks: I created the show years ago because I thought it was all doom and gloom on TV. Every procedural became about dead kids and mutilated bodies and I just remembered the fun cop shows when I was growing up. For me, I just wanted to make people happy and it actually happened. [Laughs] Our show is designed to make you laugh but it’s also designed to make you – in the points where you’re not supposed to be laughing out loud – you’re supposed to be grinning the whole time. It’s more about a feeling and a mood and a lifestyle. To see that connected to people is neat and cool.
THR: What are your favorite places to go in San Diego?
Franks: I love Comic-Con because there’s so many great restaurants in downtown San Diego. My favorite place is The Cheese Shop and not only is it an awesome sandwich place but they do the most spectacular breakfast. You wouldn’t expect it from The Cheese Shop and it actually is a cheese shop. There’s another place called Café 222, which the most amazing French toast dish anyone has ever put together. Our tradition always is we always go to Ghiradelli afterwards and have one of the most ridiculous ice-cream sundaes in the world.
THR: Any tips for pulling off an awesome presentation?
Franks: We like to think of ours as a variety show. [Laughs] We think of what we like to see the most and figure out a way to make it happen.
THR: Like Dule Hill tapdancing?
Franks: There’s always dancing and singing. We did this college tour at the end of our season last year and we went around the country college to college, and they had this sing-along to the theme song. They had a little bouncing ball with the lyrics on the screen and people went crazy. They were screaming the lyrics, also one of the great moments ever of my life. I was suspecting, “Will people even know what the words are?” As a writer, who usually is sitting in a room alone making myself chuckle hopefully with my own dialogue, struggling to make cuts work, to get out and actually put a face and a voice to the people that watch the show and appreciate and analyze it. You come to the realization that they have their own expectations and hopes for the show. It’s not even my show anymore. It belongs to them and I just have to be the one who shepherds it along in the right way.
THR: Which panel would you stand in line for all day?
Franks: I would love to do any of the Pixar panels, they are always so cool. Pixar is the be all end all of storytelling. Anything that Pixar does, I would be there for. From preview day ‘til it came through.
THR: What’s your dream panel?
Franks: It consists of a really big movie that I just directed. [Laughs] Me directing a James Bond movie, that’s my dream panel. You never know.
THR: Any questions not to ask at panels?
Franks: I love the weird and inappropriate things. You can only be asked what’s with the pineapple so many times. I live for the moment that somebody asks a totally crazy question.
THR: Any tips for those attending Comic-Con for the first time?
Franks: Yes, pedi-cabs. Pedi-cabs, pedi-cabs, pedi-cabs. They’re worth it. We had been walking all through the hall and then there’s all these pedi-cabs and no one was taking them so we hopped on them. It was the best ten bucks we’ve ever spent.
THR: If you were going in costume, who would you dress up as?
Franks: I think I would want to go as Indiana Jones ‘cause that kinda looks cool. I’m so tall that I’ll have to go as Jaws from Moonraker. Although Jack Sparrow would be fun too.
THR: What can you tell us about Season 6?
Franks: We’re doing a vampire episode. We’re going to try and do an entire Halloween marathon because we have all the spooky episodes that we do. We’re trying to put all those together and then make a whole night out of it and shoot wraparounds. We’re doing a Hangover episode, which is really, really funny. We’re doing a Shawn goes undercover in a mental institution in our One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest episode. We are doing a baseball episode. We’re doing kind of a Witness episode but it takes place inside a cult. [Laughs] Instead of hiding out in an Amish community, they hide out in a community that Shawn is convinced is a cult. We might show the first four minutes of the episode or we might show another scene. There’s a really big moment in the season premiere we might preview there.
THR: Can you list the guest stars who viewers will be seeing?
Franks: We have a crazy list. The season premiere is the one I wrote and directed. We have Malcolm McDowell and Polly Walker in it. We have Molly Ringwald in our One Over the Cuckoo’s Nest episode. We have Danny Glover in our baseball episode and Brad Dourif in that one. Joey McIntyre from New Kids From the Block, who provides the greatest Psych-Out of all time. It cannot be beat, will never be beat. We got Corey Feldman and Kristy Swanson and Tom Lenk; we got all kinds of great vampires from people who played vampires or were in vampire movies. Dietrich Bader appears in the cult episode. Those are just the episodes that we’ve shot. We got Hall of Famer Wade Boggs for our baseball episode and he’s really, really funny. Cary Elwes returns but not until the spring.