'How I Met Your Mother' stars dish

Cast gathers at Paley Center ahead of 100th episode

Just as Ted Mosby has grown while telling his children the story of how he met their mother, so has CBS' "How I Met Your Mother."

Gathered Thursday night at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills to celebrate "Mother's" 100th episode, stars Josh Radnor (Ted), Jason Segel (Marshall), Cobie Smulders (Robin), Neil Patrick Harris (Barney) and Alyson Hannigan (Lily) as well as executive producers/co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and executive producer/director Pamela Fryman shared several stories, including how the cast genuinely click as friends.

Starting with when Hannigan crossed paths with friend Harris during network auditions for "Mother," the cast treated the packed house with a hint of what a day on their set would be like -- "We'll just spend hours doing cat puns," Hannigan said. From that point forward, no response was sacred as "litter," "paws," "catamarans," "purr-fect" and more were all worked into the conversation.

Topics bounced around the panel like the random yet serialized nature of the show and included Bays' reveal that series lothario Barney Stinson was initially envisioned as a large "John Belushi-type" until Harris walked in. The role of Lily Eriksen, however, was always meant for Hannigan, who spent six seasons playing Willow on Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

"Craig and I were both huge dorks for Buffy," Bays said of Hannigan's casting. "We got far better than what we had ever hoped for."

Asked to recall the first season of "Mother," Harris shared the uncertainty that permeated on the set of the then-bubble show.

"It was always eggshells. For a good two and a half out of our first five years, we were considering cancellation," he said, noting "Mother's" time slot competition of "Deal or No Deal" and "Dancing With the Stars." "We never had a lot of light shining on us. I don't think for the first year, we ever really celebrated."

"We came on in the time that sitcoms were dead," Segel said. "We made it through some tough times, TV was changing and we stuck it out.

"Now people want to do the show -- we told Clooney ‘no,' " Segel joked of "Mother's" long roster of guest stars that so far has included everyone from Britney Spears to Carrie Underwood.

Bays, who noted that the sitcom was sold to CBS as a multicamera show but has a single-cam feel, said "Mother's" creative team has embraced the new media that is often featured on the show -- like Barney's blog and Robin's music videos.

"To be honest, we do all the things that will someday push us out of a job," he said. "It was fun finding a way to make the show exist outside of TV."

Thomas agreed. "We started casting our Internet pieces, too," he said. "We love how the idea of the show spills over; it's its own universe."

And as for when Ted will -- finally -- meet the mother, Thomas was coy: "We always feel like a Bush-era secretary when asked that question," he joked.

"We like the idea that he doesn't have a kid yet but he's already a dad," Bays added.

"If we keep waiting, science will catch up and there's no reason that Marshall won't be the mother," Segel joked.

"How I Met Your Mother's" 100th episode airs Monday.
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