July 20, 2014 6:20pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Krusty on 'Simpsons' Death Watch? A Platonic 'New Girl'? 5 TCA Takeaways From Fox Comedy
A slightly slaphappy group of creators, executive producers and showrunners closed out Fox's Sunday panels at the Television Critics Association summer press tour — with voices from most of the network's comedy series (New Girl, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers) onstage to discuss the state of the genre.
Will Forte, plugging his yet-to-be-filmed midseason starring vehicle Last Man on Earth, got the most attention right off the bat with his especially grizzled beard. Why all the facial hair? The answer to that and several other questions were among the panel's highlights.
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The Last Man on Earth Doesn't Shave
The facial hair Will Forte sports in the trailer for Last Man on Earth is nothing compared to what viewers might see on the show. The creator and star of the odd comedy about a man who discovers he's the only one left in the world is busy growing a beard for the September start of production. "We're trying to keep some secrets, and we have written in some fun little twists and turns," said Forte, who conceded the beard was for the show and little else. When pushed about whether he really was the only castmember, he only replied, "I am the last man on Earth."
The Simpsons Death Is 'Big' — and It Might Be Krusty the Clown
Simpsons showrunner Al Jean was coy about the long-talked-about character death taking place during the Sept. 28 premiere. Then he was a little more transparent. "It turned out bigger than we thought it was going to be," he said. "It's not going to be this bloodbath where they all get murdered." When pushed about who it might be, he repeated that the voice actor has won an Emmy for the role and that his clues have been "obvious." "It's called 'A Clown in the Dumps,'" Jean said to gasps. Does this mean Krusty the Clown is on his way out? Voice actor Dan Castellaneta, who is more famously behind Homer, has won an Emmy for his work on the show.
Family Guy Got Carte Blanche for Crossover
Sept. 28 is also the date of the big Family Guy crossover with The Simpsons — though all of that action takes place on Family Guy. Executive producers Rich Appel and Steve Callaghan said that The Simpsons team only gave them a few notes on the script, so expect that slightly more abrasive Family Guy tone to remain intact.
New Girl Is Recalibrating Its Romance
Talking about the third season of her comedy, in which central duo Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) dated and ultimately broke up, creator Liz Meriwether says she's ready to move on from the romance for now. "I love them together and I don't think it's it for them at all," she said. "I've never been in a good relationship … I just found that it's been easier for me to write them as single idiots out in the world trying to get laid and looking for love. I had trouble figuring out where the conflict and comedy was coming from with them last season. Admittedly, it's definitely fun to keep them apart for more."
A Mindy Project/New Girl Crossover Isn't off the Table
Speaking of crossovers, Mindy Kaling spoke about her experience briefly enlisting New Girl's Max Greenfield for her own series last season. A full crossover between the two seems unlikely, but neither Kaling nor Meriwether ruled it out. "The tones of the show are so different, but I used to love it on the sitcoms in the ’80s," said Kaling. "People don't do it anymore because we're 'artists,' " added Meriwether — with air quotes.