Chuck
The Phil Klemmer Interview

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"Mr. And Mrs. Smith Meets The Office"

So one of the perks of covering Veronica Mars for TWoP is that I got to develop relationships with some of the people involved in making the show. One of those people was writer Phil Klemmer, who I can tell you is a mean tennis player on top of being a super-nice guy. When VM unfortunately got canned, Phil took another job on the new series Chuck. He accommodated my lately-rather-crazy schedule to tell us all about it.

Couch Baron: Tell me a little bit about where you grew up, your school experience -- stuff like that.

Phil Klemmer: I was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and lived there until I was school age. We moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, the lovely place between the Blue Ridge and Appalachia, where you're close to West Virginia, and lived there until I left for college at Stanford. I came immediately down to Los Angeles afterward with a bunch of buddies who were like, "Yeah, we're gonna come to Hollywood and become PAs!" And I didn't know what "PA" stood for. But it sounded really cool, and I was a Classics major, so I didn't have a lot of prospects, because I'd sort of washed out of any academic track -- well, I didn't really wash out, I did fine, but…

CB: Was it more that you didn't commit to a track?

PK: Yeah, I guess I didn't have the courage. I liked it a lot, and I did a semester in Rome and was really fired up, but I was just a wimp about it for some reason -- I just couldn't imagine eight years of additional schooling and unemployment. So I just sort of chickened out, which took me down to a job where I didn't know what it was, and tried to follow what my friends were doing. One of them had put in for an internship at Propaganda Films. In the mid-90s, it was the really hot commercial and video house, and they had just signed a deal with PolyGram to have feature money too, and they had this crazy roster of hip music video directors, like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, and commercial guys like David Kellogg -- like, anyone who's making blockbusters now cut their teeth there. So my roommate got an internship there, which he didn't wind up taking, so I was able to get that instead of doing the PA thing, and that was the start.

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Chuck

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