Bill Lawrence of Scrubs: The TV Squad Interview (Page 3 of 3)
by Joel Keller, posted May 22nd 2008 2:19PM
JK: When you say ditch the baby, ditch the couple stuff, so there's not going to be any more J.D. and his son and Turk and his daughter?
BL: You know, it's a burden man. You get caught in this shit and the burden is I don't want to be one of those sitcoms that J.D. suddenly doesn't have a kid because it's fake, right?
But by the same token I think by now at least I won't need to see J.D. learn what it means to be a dad and I don't need to see Turk struggling to find time with his kid, you know. Maybe I'll do one of those stories here and there but this show at its core is about people that are doctors and what goes on at a hospital.
So the burden you have to juggle is don't cheat. J.D.'s character still has a kid but, you know, maybe all that means is, you know, one night when he and Turk are hanging out the kid's on his lap, you know, because he's looking after him that night. It doesn't have to mean that, hey, this week, I'm going to teach him how to walk. Do you know what I mean?
And same thing with people having babies and shit, you know, it's like this is the way we view it this year. I'll tell you a story that we're doing just because it made us laugh because we think it's the core of what drives people crazy about sitcoms. We're going to have, towards the end of the year, it's a spoiler, you can do it if you want, Turk and Carla are going to get pregnant. It's the second kid. They're going to be all excited and they're going to go to work and they're going to tell everybody about it and no one's going to give a shit. (laughs)
JK: I like that one.
BL: You know what I mean? Because that's the truth, that's the truth of TV, you know what I mean? Once you've done that once who cares?
And that story, it's outlined and it's great because, you know, no one gives a shit. "Don't you already have a kid? Yeah, I have a kid, too." You know, it's like now I have three kids. If someone tells me they're having a kid I say (in a flat tone), "Hey, great, congratulations."
JK: Right. Well, how about the J.D. / Elliot thing? Is still going to be in play or no?
BL: Yeah, you know, we've already worked that out just because it's a big pain in my ass because I never thought it was the core of the show. Yet when you look at all our nerdy fan sites it is tilted I would say 60/40 toward people that wanted them to end up together. So how do I juggle the burden of -- and we've always paid attention to what those people want to see -- and so, how do I juggle the burden of the fact that more people want these two to end up together but the people that don't want them to end up together, like me, they're like who gives a fuck? You know, all right, it's not what the show's about.
So all I can tell you is that, you know, I just made the creative decision that the end of this show isn't going to be, you know, J.D. running to the airport to keep Elliot from leaving. The end of the show isn't about those two.
JK: By the way, it sounds like the end of a movie that I saw called Garden State.
BL: There you go (laughs).
JK: So I don't know where you got that idea from.
BL: No, man, I almost got you -- it's a coincidence because I was lifting it from Friends.
JK: You say you're going to try to get back to what the core of what the show was about. Now, the show tried doing that a little bit this year, didn't it?
BL: No, we were kind of easing back towards it but we still weren't getting that. I still don't think that we were dealing with these guys as medical professionals on the same level we used to, you know.
I still think we were always deferring to kind of goofy jokes and to, you know, big, giant, broad moments and J.D. and Turk being as infantile as ever.
Here's an example (of what we're trying to do): We did an episode, I thought it was really good and it's the type of thing we would have done a couple years ago but haven't done anything like it since then. And it was just Zach and Donald as J.D. and Turk; their respective kids are both taken care of and they're both heading out to go to a steak dinner that they get to do like once every four months. And they check in on this dude just to check his IV for some nurse, and that he isn't their patient. He's played by Glynn Turman, that guy from In Treatment. And he's a really good actor. Guy's dying, they know he's dying, you know, the guy knows he's dying. The whole episode is just those two, you know, Turk and J.D. in that guy's room talking to him, you know, essentially talking the character through his own death, you know?
And it's bittersweet and it's funny, but there are no goofy, infantile behaviors from J.D. and it still was really funny and poignant. So what you saw us doing was easing back in, you know, and I thought we were doing that last year and what we're doing now is just saying fuck it. Let's write the show the way we used to write the show.
JK: And you've cut down the number of writers, right?
BL: Yeah. You know, what I did man, was we, I kept the whole writing staff on but I only can afford to keep everybody for half the year so we just divvied up the 18 episodes.
JK: How do you teach the writer that have come on since the first season or second season? How to do a first or second season-like episode?
BL: To tell you the truth man, is two things. Everybody's hyper-familiar with the show and secondly, this is still a show that the people up top have all been here if not since the beginning, since the very early if not the second year. So Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman and Bill Callahan and Tad Quill who are all executive producers, those are guys that are going to be here the whole season, you know. And really protecting the tone of the show and, for some of the newer writers, younger writers it's challenging but I think they think it's fun, you know.
JK: The show's not coming on until mid-season again, right?
BL: Yeah, I would assume -- my guess is it's going to be on in November if I had to -- that's, it's not really off the record it's just my guess because I think that's when the next Dancing with the Stars installment ends at the end of November.
JK: So, just to confirm, if there were to be a Scrubs season nine it would be Scrubs: The Next Generation or something like that?
BL: Yeah. If this Scrubs exists past this year, you know, I would imagine there'll be a couple familiar faces and there'll be -- but it'll really be tracing hopefully people will like and dig these new, you know, the new younger faces on the show.
JK: Oh, by the way, I forgot to ask about the NBC finale. What was your reaction when they determined that "My Princess" was going to be the finale?
BL: Oh man, what could I do? I said fuck it because, you know, how am I going to fight that fight? It pissed me off just because -- here's what pissed me off. First of all the episodes were out of order, you know what I mean? So like anybody who pays attention to the show would be like, "Hey, Dr. Kelso's character was fired two episodes ago and now he's back working around the hospital again."
Secondly, you know, I heard it marketed, and bandied about as the series finale of Scrubs which just absolutely sucks for two reasons. One, the only reason to say that is to hopefully help it on their own network but also to damage it on ABC and secondly, I wasn't allowed to go out and refute that because they were still in contractual and, you know, legal haggling about whether ABC could have the show.
And the third thing that just pissed me off was that particular episode, we spent a lot of time on and worked our ass off and if everybody was just watching television in a normal season and that episode came on, I think people would really dig it. When it's sold to people as a series or even a season finale, neither of which it was supposed to be, you know, and then they're looking at everything as, well, J.D. and Elliot say they decided meant nothing so they -- it put such a burden on the show that the episode that I will continue to argue is really, really good, people are taking giant shits on it. It bummed me out.
JK: There are articles about how going to ABC was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood, they also said that when the rumors about the move leaked out, NBC was still up in arms.
BL: They weren't up in arms, dude. They had no interest in the show.
JK: They had no interest? So what was that all about?
BL: I think it was just trying to get out of paying any money they might owe. And the other part you said was we're all very arrogant and self-centered out here, man, so when you say it's the worst-kept secret in Hollywood, the key there is in Hollywood because even though people around the community knew that Scrubs was going on, you interview any Joe Q. Public person watching television in America and they the show was ever forget.
JK: That's true. So, I mean, and there was nothing you could do about that?
BL: No. I wasn't allowed to, you know, I wasn't allowed to say anything until the show was done airing on NBC.
JK: Was there anything else you wanted to mention about like what was going on and, you know, just some of the upcoming season, that kind of thing?
BL: Yeah, no, you know, the only thing is if, you know, the cocky thing I can say is that I'll tell people that if you like the show before I think the people will really think that it's returned to its roots and I think they'll really like it. And I don't mind being taken to task by you or anybody else if you guys feel it's not the case when you see these episodes. I'm really proud of them. I think they're really good. And, you know, the other thing is I've been dissing NBC a lot, you know what I mean? And when you sit back and take the whole thing into a, you know, get retrospective, I think that it could have been different but by the same token it's very weird because you want everybody into this thing. There are a ton of cool people at NBC. This guy Jeff Ingold has been like one of the biggest champions and protectors of this show forever, you know?
And Kevin Reilly who was actually pretty nice to the show for the five minutes he was at the network, you know. And it was just tough to ever get any traction there, man. I mean it's, you know, I think it's a tough place to do a comedy right now. You'd better either be owned by Reveille or be a giant hit right out of the gate, you know?
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