NYTVF: The Knights of Prosperity premiere and party
Fed, cooled-off by the Frappuchino, and now smelling sporty-fresh, I stationed myself near the red carpet for the premiere of ABC's new comedy The Knights of Prosperity. You've heard about the show by now; a group of down-on-their luck folks conspire to rob Mick Jagger in order to help them improve their dreary lives.
I was shuttled around a couple of times to make room for photographers with real cameras, so the pictures after the jump are taken from a couple of different areas. Outside, press and photographers were put in a pen, with barriers on three sides. I didn't want to stand inside the pen while waiting for everyone to go in, because it just felt a touch humiliating. As I pointed out to another reporter: barriers on two sides make a line, but barriers on three sides make a pen. Yeesh. More pictures after the jump.
Josh Gricetti plays Louis, an intern hired by the Knights to help them out (yes, a criminal organization with a college intern. Hey, it's a comedy). He's 24, and you could tell that he was thrilled with being on the red carpet; in fact, he arrived at least 10 minutes earlier than the rest of the cast. He can't wait to see 30 Rock, by the way. "Anything that shoots in New York I have to support." He called Tina Fey "one of the shining stars at SNL."
I was shuttled outside to make room for someone with a camera that was only slightly bigger than my point-and-shoot. But I managed to catch Maz Jobrani, who plays a cab driver named Gary (the character has a long Indian name but everyone just calls him Gary). When I asked him how he learned the accent for the character, he said "I'm married to an Indian woman, so I get to study my father-in-law, who has a more extreme accent (than Gary)."
Ah, Donal Logue. He, of course, is the star of Knights and the big draw. He plays Eugene Gurkin, a janitor who decides to get the Knights together to rob Jagger so he can open a bar. He called Knights the best thing he's ever done, which is saying a lot given his track record, with the quirky Grounded for Life and the cult classic movie The Tao of Steve. He knew series creators Rob Burnett and John Beckerman from the days where he played that cab driver on those MTV ads; they wanted to make a movie out of it -- JJ Abrams was involved! -- and they've remained friends after the project fell through.
What does Logue look for in a project? "If you feel like it's with intelligent people, I think that's kind of like the bottom line." And he feels that people should stay with Knights, because "It's so fantastically funny, and there's no end to the adventures that these people are on."
Hamina, hamina, hamina... Gorgeous Sofia Vergara, who plays waitress and Knights member Esparanza, is the only woman in the cast, and she knows it. "Now I'm one of the guys... I know too much now about men." They play jokes on her all the time, but none she can repeat in public.
When he first read the script for Knights Lenny Venito, who plays Eugene's co-worker and friend Squatch, thought, "Wow, this is like Oceans Eleven gone awry. I couldn't wait to do it." He said that they wished they really could have robbed Regis Philbin, "bout when I found out it was going to be Mick, I was blown away."
Inside, they showed some previews for ABC shows and then the pilot, which was a little different than the rough-cut version I had seen in June. Most of the opening scenes had been reshot, and they got to the creation of the Knights faster than they did in the rough-cut version. The pilot was funnier than I remember, but it could have also been the influence of the audience laughing at all the best lines.
After the screening, the cast joined Burnett and Beckerman for a Q&A moderated by Bill Carter of The New York Times. The creators talked about the pitching process for the show -- all four networks loved it after they said the magic words "Let's Rob Jeff Goldblum" (yes, the original target was supposed to be Goldblum) -- and the process of getting Mick Jagger to do the show. They never believed they could get him, and had to go all the way to New Zealand to shoot his scenes in the span of five hours, but it was worth it. I liked how Burnett referred to him as "Mick... I do call him Mick... when he's not here."
Neither the creators or Logue think the show is a classic serialized show; episodes will not always put them one step closer to robbing Jagger. Even having Jagger for only the pilot isn't a big deal, since the show is about the relationships amongst the Knights and not about the actual robbery. Even the change of title, from Let's Rob... to Knights helps everyone out, said all three guys, because the group can now do something completely different if there's a second season. They don't have to go rob someone else.
The party afterwards was a little more laid-back than the opening night party on Tuesday. I was able to talk to more people since three days of festival-going gave me the chance to get to know a few people here and there. The cast was mingling with the crowd but I was content to talk about Scrubs, Family Guy, and Lost with Gretchen and Cheryl from the festival's PR company, who saw my lukewarm assessment of the last party and made it their mission to show me a fun time (get your minds out of the gutter, people... we just talked TV). One more red carpet experience: Sunday's party for FOX's Standoff. Maybe I'll quote some Office Space lines to Ron Livingston. Bet he's never heard anyone do that before.