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It’s been more than a decade since NBC’s Freaks and Geeks graced the small screen, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
The full house was treated to a rare reunion of most of the drama’s core cast (and a screening of the finale) — and even a message from Oscar-nominated actor James Franco. Fresh off his highly-criticized Academy Awards hosting gig, Franco joked that he and Anne Hathaway were now gearing up to host the Emmys and the NAACP Image Awards.
(Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive interviews with the cast and producers.)
Here are nine things that were revealed about the beloved high school series Saturday night at PaleyFest:
1. Creator Paul Feig noted that Freaks and Geeks, which featured a young cast — some of whom hadn’t gone through puberty yet — was NBC’s lowest-rated show when it aired from 1999 to 2000. It drew 7 million viewers, Feig said, and a hit today pulls in 8 million. So still not a hit show, Apatow joked.
2. The series ran for 18 episodes, but the finale wasn’t shot last. “We shot the finale halfway through the season,” Segel shared. “That’s such a Jew thing to do,” Apatow replied.
3. Cast member John Francis Daley, currently on Fox’s Bones, was 13 years old when he filmed Freaks and Geeks and appropriately, he experienced his first onscreen kiss. “First onscreen erection too, but no one talks about that,” Daley deadpanned. (What?!) John Daley still believed in Santa Clause, Rogen joked. “I also didn’t have pubic hair,” Daley said. (Double what?!) Busy Philipps, currently starring on ABC’s Cougar Town, had her first onscreen kiss with Franco.
4. Director Jake Kasdan detailed the auditioning process for the show, and though casting went on for weeks and weeks, there was one day where Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel and Franco all came in during the same session. Cardellini, who had never toplined a series before, recalled a time when she went into the bathroom and cried before clips from the pilot were shown. Segel and several members of the cast remembered that moment during the party all those years ago.
5. It was revealed that the network didn’t want to air “Kim Kelly Is My Friend,” and Samm Levine shared that the episode instead was broadcast on Fox Family Channel.
6. Several panelists reminisced about being on the set with Franco, who they said constantly carried around heavy books like Proust and Dante’s Inferno. Philipps shared a funny story of a time when Franco — a method actor — threw her to the ground during a scene. She prefaced the story by explaining that Franco had created a backstory to his character Daniel that no one was aware of. Daniel had maybe been abused by his father, Philipps explained to the crowd.
So when she said her line and grabbed Franco, he went bonkers. ” ‘Don’t you f—ing touch me!,’ ” Philipps recalled him saying. “And threw me to the ground.” While it was happening, Rogen didn’t know what was going on. “That story took 127 hours,” Segel said to laughs. Apatow added: “[Franco] is method. He is the only one among all of you to be nominated for an Academy Award.”
7. When Apatow got word that Freaks and Geeks would not be returning, Cardellini was about to appear on the Late Show With David Letterman to promote the series. Apatow called her beforehand and broke the news. “I said, ‘Letterman’s canceled?,’ ” Cardellini said laughing.
8. Apatow is known to use the same actors in his movies and TV projects, as witnessed by Segel and Rogen in both Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. But it goes much further than that. “A lot of us have no higher education because of you,” Segel joked to Apatow.
9. If Freaks and Geeks did return for a second round, Feig and Apatow had several ideas cooked up. Martin Starr‘s Bill was going to become a jock, Philipps’ Kim was going to do a school play while pregnant and in the Season 2 premiere, Cardellini’s Lindsay would be taken out of a Grateful Dead show on a stretcher.
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William Jackson Harper
Friends: The Reunion