NBC has revealed the fall and midseason slate of new shows that are meant to save the network, and some of them look good! But some of them... do not, we'll say. I woke up bright and early this morning to attend the red-carpet portion of the network's upfront presentation to get season finale spoilers from current NBC talent, and to ask the new stars what the hell their shows are about and, in one case, why their show is so racist. (Also, while I couldn't get an interview with Tina Fey, I did eavesdrop the hell out of all her conversations, which were all about shrimp. Just a little tidbit.) Read on for all the information I could get out of strangers in two or three questions while their publicists desperately tried to tear them away from me.
First, the always gregarious Greg Grunberg:
Condolences on Heroes.
Greg Grunberg: Thank you.
Has there been any movement on a movie?
Grunberg: They're talking about it, they're trying to work it out. I think they will. Financially it makes sense, they'll make a lot of money on it, and Tim has some great stories to tell, so hopefully we'll get two or four hours to wrap it up.
Everybody wants to know whether or not you'll be making an Undercovers cameo.
Grunberg: Where is he? [Starts looking around.] Where's J.J.?
He just left, I couldn't get him.
Grunberg: Ohhh, man! Alright, well. Yes! Yes, I am.
In the pilot, or when?
Grunberg: I don't know yet.
I was a huge fan of your Alias character. They should just have Eric Weiss cross franchises and pop into Undercovers.
Grunberg: Whoa! That would be so cool! That's a good idea. I'm gonna tell him that! That's a great idea.
People would go apeshit.
Grunberg: They'd go crazy! Eric Weiss! That would be nuts! You're a genius. [I swear to God he said this. I have the tapes to prove it. - M]
And you're on Love Bites, joining the Mile High Club with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Grunberg: Yeah, Love guest-starred, and then I guest-starred.
Just one episode, right?
Grunberg: No! I'm a series regular. They're just about to announce that. They couldn't announce it before because of Heroes, because we didn't know.
Next up is Becki Newton:
You were famously offered about a dozen scripts after Ugly Betty was cancelled. Why did you choose Love Bites out of everything you read?
Becki Newton: In reading them all, I wasn't looking for one thing in particular, I was just -- if I was going to start a new adventure, I wanted it to be as different from Ugly Betty as possible. I had such a great experience on that show, and I loved playing Amanda, and I loved my castmates, but I thought, "I have to find something where there won't be a comparison." It's night and day, and that's really what I found. I also happen to love Cindy Chupack, the creator. I met with her a few years ago, and just fell in love with her, and fell in love with her voice as a writer. So when this came up and I read this character, and I knew Cindy was involved, I just couldn't say no. I absolutely had to do it.
I know the format is a little unique...
Newton: It's an anthology, so every week there will be three different storylines, meaning that every week you're going to get different plots. I know that's confusing for people, but in general it's like when you read the love column in the newspaper -- it's like watching the love column every week. All the stories are connected by the same theme, sort of like Love, Actually the movie, where you see all these different stories and at the end you see how they connect.
Is there any danger of the show being like a G-rated Sex and the City?
Newton: I think it's like a PG-13! And I would say the only overlap between it and Sex and the City is that Cindy created it. So I think in general it's got a very separate tone, and a very separate voice, but equally fun and fantastic.
Moving on to Cole Hauser of Chase:
Tell me all about the show.
Cole Hauser: The show is a kick-ass, kind of in-your-face drama about the U.S. Marshalls, and James Godfrey [Hauser's character] is a kid out of east Texas who joined the U.S. Marshalls when he was about 22 -- he's been in there about 11 years -- and he's just a good ol' boy who cares about taking down the bad guys.
The online clip was all action --
Hauser: Well, it's Chase!
Have you done any of your own stunts?
Hauser: Oh yeah.
How does a person just start doing that?
Hauser: You know what, I've been blessed to do a lot of Navy SEAL training, I've done some police work with doing K-Ville down in Louisiana. I have a friend who's actually a U.S. Marshall, so I talked with him, I kind of picked his mind a little bit.
Can you speak to how it compares with FX's Justified?
Hauser: With Tim Olyphant? Is he a Marshall in it?
Yes, and some people have drawn some early comparisons between the shows.
Hauser: He's a friend of mine, but I have not seen it yet.
And Kelli Giddish, also from Chase:
I just found out your co-star does his own stunts. Care to show him up?
Kelli Giddish: Yeah! It's all me! Except for the roundhouse kick in the online clip, I let my great stunt double come in to do that for me.
What else can you tell us about the show?
Giddish: It's good guys wanna catch bad guys, that's what it is. And it's unique because a woman created the show, you have a woman leading it (me), and it's just going to be a lot of fun. You get to see the characters develop over time, but it does have a procedural type of feel to it because it wraps up at the end of each episode, like a Bruckheimer show should.
Is there added pressure to kind of save NBC?
Giddish: No, it's a great time to be on NBC. I was so thrilled to know that this was where Chase had landed, and this was what they wanted to do with it. They're so excited about building a new network, and I feel very lucky.
A few words from Jesse Metcalfe, formerly of Desperate Housewives, currently of Chase:
Jesse Metcalf: Every episode we're going to be chasing a different bad guy. Sometimes we get 'em, sometimes we don't, but it's a lot of action, great writing and great characters, and also a bit of a humor to it as well. It's basically a gritty, authentic look at the lives of U.S. Marshalls.
I assume your character is a good guy?
Metcalfe: Yes, I play Luke Watson, I'm the new guy, the kind of wet-behind-the-ears new member of the task force. I don't have a lot of field experience, so I'm not really accepted at first, and have to work a little harder.
Is it safe to say that you're done with Desperate Housewives for good?
Metcalfe: I think most likely I'm done with the show. You know, it's a change of networks, a total different turn for me. This is a completely different character than what I played on Desperate Housewives, and a completely different show. This is a gritty, hard-nosed drama, and Desperate Housewives is a primetime soap. This is definitely a new, more mature turn for me, and I'm excited about the opportunity.
And now, the cast of Outsourced:
The show's premise is just an American guy working in an office in India, right?
Ben Rappaport: It starts off with Todd Dempsey (my character), he comes to work one day after getting off of management training, and comes to find out that his office has been outsourced to India, and they're sending him with it. So he goes to India, and it's his first time as a manager, and he manages these guys and tries to teach them about the fun product line and how important it is.
Does getting Parks & Recreation's timeslot create any added pressure for you guys?
Parvish Cheena: No pressure at all! We're having a blast.
Rizwan Manji: It's a funny show.
Sacha Dhawan: Something like this has not been done before, and we're all really excited about it. It's going to be an amazing journey.
Cheena: But seriously, we are just really grateful to be a part of "Must See TV," a lineup that we've grown up watching from Friends to Cheers and Cosby Show, and now we're a part of it. It's pretty amazing.
Manji: And with Ken Kwapis directing it -- who's an executive producer and director of The Office -- it's a good pedigree.
There's been some concern that maybe the show's promoting some negative stereotypes...
Rappaport: What I would say is that the show focuses on workplace stereotypes. That's what we're poking fun at, not cultural stereotypes. The characters in the workplace that you know -- the guy who wants the girl, the guy who's trying to stab the boss in the back, and the quiet one, the annoying one -- that's what you're going to relate to, and that's what you're going to be laughing at.
Dhawan: It's very much East meets West, and it's very much about the West, more than it is about the East. It's a series where we learn to kind of laugh at one another --
Rappaport: And accept one another.
Is the show going to spend a lot of time on the political ramifications of outsourcing, or is it not at all an issues show?
Rappaport: It's not about that at all.
How's it been working on the show so far?
Rebecca Hazlewood: We love each other!
Cheena: We're a total family, we've celebrated birthdays, we go out to eat, and we have sleepovers, too.
Rappaport: We carpool!
Dhawan: Ben just bought us all a house -- each!
Rappaport: No, we bought a house together!
Cheena: It's our reality show. It's Real World: Mumbai.
I would watch that show.
Cheena: Thank you, we would, too. It's a summer series for NBC that we're pitching, that's really why we're here today.
A quick minute with The Cape's Summer Glau and David Lyons:
It's a superhero show that's not a superhero show, do I have that right?
David Lyons: [Laughs] You said the word!
Can you tell me a little about your characters? I've only seen a 90-second clip of the show.
Summer Glau: I'm a blogger. Orwell is an investigative blogger who's trying to get the city back on track. There's been a lot of crime and the police seem to be corrupt, and she's trying in her own way to get the city back.
Lyons: I'm a cop who's framed for a crime that he didn't commit, and he's presumed dead and trying to clear his name. The only way that he can do so is through the guise of a superhero, and he's trying to send his son a message that everything's going to be OK.
And I have to ask you -- any chance we'll see you in Whedon's Avengers?
I know, I know, everybody's asking you the same thing.
Glau: The answer is "I wish." I'm really excited to hear that he's doing it, but that's all I know.
And now, some words and medical trivia from the great and powerful Donald Trump.
Do you know yet if Bret Michaels will be able to participate in the live finale?
Donald Trump: Well, I'm excited for him to do it. He's a great guy, a special guy, and we'll just see what happens. I mean, we just don't know. Most people wouldn't have made it to the hospital. They say 50% of the people who have what he had don't make it to the hospital, and he not only made it, but he had some great doctors who worked quickly and saved him, and now he's talking about doing the finale in a week. But we'll see.
And last but not least, Gillian Jacobs, a.k.a. Britta from Community:
What can you tell us about the finale?
Gillian Jacobs: Let's see. Cliffhangers, game changers, beauty pageants, Dalmatians, what more do you want? Emotional devastation --
No one dies though, right?
Jacobs: Only souls.
I can live with that. Do you have a favorite moment from the season?
Jacobs: I really loved tap dancing as the teapot in the dance episode. That was really a highlight for me. And anything from the paintball episode.
Any comment on Thursday nights being broken up with the new show?
Jacobs: I'm really excited to see the new shows -- I haven't seen them yet, but I'm sure they're great. I love Parks & Recreation, though, and I can't wait for it to come back midseason.
Your thoughts on the new shows or the stars' comments? Discuss it all below!
Check out our initial reviews of NBC's new fall and midseason shows.
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