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After nine days cooped up in The Beverly Hilton, the Television Critics Association press tour hit the road on Friday for a morning of visits to the YouTube studio space and to a pair of comedies on the Fox lot.
We then returned to our familiar ballroom for afternoon Hulu panels featuring Mindy Kaling, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog and Hugh Laurie.
Some of the day’s highlight quotes:
*** Over lunch with reporters on the Fox lot, Last Man on Earth stars Will Forte and Kristen Schaal were in fine form, especially when discussing Forte’s unique half-shaved look last season that included both his hair and his bushy beard.
“Oh, people on the streets thought I was a crazy person,” said Forte. “I mean, it was a lot of double and triple takes. And I was already with the big beard, people would walk to the other side of the street at night. And this was just like, you know, this was another level of just ‘This person is insane.’ ”
But apparently Schaal had been willing to follow her co-star’s lead.
“In solidarity, Carol [Schaal’s character] would shave half her head. And I was so psyched because I’ve had the same haircut for about 15 years now. Someone was like, ‘I’m going to come do your hair. What does your hair look like?’ I’m like, ‘Google any picture, girl, because it’s never changed.’ I just need it to change,” said Schaal.
Nobody took her up on the offer.
This progressed, though, into a deep and philosophical — Phil-osophical, after Forte’s character’s name? — discussion.
Schaal: Would you cut off a finger for a really, really good joke? Like, the best joke that — I mean, that, like, people would be talking about it 300 years from now?
Forte: If it was a pinkie, I might.
Schaal: Like if it’s the best joke ever done, but you had to lose a thumb?
After some deliberation, they both agreed that they’d consider it if, as Schaal put it, “if we would go down in history thumbless, but the funniest.”
Harder to explain is Schaal’s long-running joke about wanting Beyonce to guest-star on the show “because she needs to work on her acting. And I think that I could teach her a lot,” which was followed by ample protestation that “She’s perfect, and she will realize that,” continuing with, “I really dug a hole. Why did I come here? Why did we just start a feud with Beyonce? I love Beyonce, guys.”
I’m only reporting Schaal’s comments as encouragement for Beyonce to appear on The Last Man on Earth.
*** Following the visit with the stars of Last Man, we trotted over to the set of CBS’ Life in Pieces, a show that had an up-and-down first season, but features one of the best casts on TV — one of those casts whose collective chemistry really comes through on the show and also when they’re all sitting on a stage talking to reporters. The new season will have one noticeable change, as Hunter King has been upped to a cast regular, and one change that might not be as evident.
Series creator Justin Adler explained that balancing pregnancy and a baby will change things for the characters played by Zoe Lister-Jones and Colin Hanks.
“And there’s going to be lots of stories of them with their baby, Lark, who’s going to be 1 this year, who’s going to start walking this year. And we just had to recast the babies this morning, which was really cute,” said Adler.
After some joking that Lister-Jones got to fire the twins playing Lark, the actress explained the dark secret held by one of the wee thespians playing hers and Hanks’ onscreen daughter: “The boy started looking like a boy, and it’s like, we didn’t ask him to do that.”
*** Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog enjoys hitting the press tour because we enjoy laughing at his good-natured abuse, especially if he arrives 10 days into tour and we’re too exhausted to protest and extra-especially if his primary topic isn’t even there. Promoting Hulu’s Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016, Triumph appeared from behind a couch and announced, “I’m only here briefly because, you know, Hulu wants to be respectful. The last time I was here, I referred to the TCA as the Triple Chin Association. It would even be less appropriate today, as Alan Sepinwall’s sadly not here yet. So I’m merely going to read one statement that the Hulu people asked me to read. Yes, it is quite an honor to have joined the Hulu team. You know, everybody loves Hulu. Time Warner just announced that it now owns a piece of Hulu. Fox owns Hulu. NBC owns Hulu. Even Disney. Yes, Hulu has so many fingers inside of it, it could easily be a member of the Duggar family. And now, the hideous Jew up my ass, he’ll be right out. Thank you very much.”
Robert Smigel then arrived and carried out an informative panel with respect and restraint.
*** In Melvin Van Peebles‘ 1970 film Watermelon Man, a racist salesman wakes up one morning and discovers he’s black, and important lessons in understanding ensue. It sounds like Mindy Kaling is pitching a somewhat similar episode for the next season of The Mindy Project, titled “If I Was Born a White Man.”
“Now, who knows if we’ll do this,” said Kaling, admitting they were just batting the idea around today. “We’re still breaking the stories. But I love the idea that something happens to Mindy that’s very sexist in the cold open, and then we do these episodes every now and again that are very high-concept where, then, she wakes up the next morning as a white man, and we can get an actor that we like to live my life for me in the show and still do my VO. And I was like, ‘Yeah, why not?’ That’s really interesting and fun, and it’s also a kind of a weird wish fulfillment to see how differently she’d be treated. Because that’s one thing, as a woman of color, I always think: Like, if I had to do my job as if I was [Modern Family co-creator] Steve Levitan sitting up here, would the questions be different? So, anyway, that seemed really fun to me, and we can take those kind of risks at Hulu. They don’t even know about that. I probably should have told them.”
So we’ll see if that happens.
*** Since Veep is a comedy and The Night Manager was a limited series, the Hulu thriller Chance represents Hugh Laurie’s return to regular drama TV for the first time since House. When a questioner asked the actor if he was worried about starring in another show named after his character, another doctor, Laurie briefly feigned concern.
“And a monosyllable,” he lamented. “It’s only just occurred to me as you said it. I thought, ‘God, what can we call him? Should he be called “Chancelington” or something, or “Chancefordbury”?’ I don’t really see similarities, and maybe that’s because I’ve artificially erected a wall between the two things, and maybe I’m incorrect. Maybe it would be a terrible distraction for the audience, but I hope not because, to me, the characters are massively different. Their practices are different. Their attitude to life is different, and the story that unfolds is infinitely removed from that other world you mentioned.”
Note that Saturday is TCA Awards and other informal events, so press-tour quotes will be back on Monday with highlights from Amazon’s panels on Sunday.
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