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Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson talk about the return of Cupid - VIDEO

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 30th 2009 1:11PM
Sarah Paulson and Bobby Cannavale of CupidTen years after ABC prematurely cancelled Rob Thomas' dramedy Cupid, the alphabet net has decided to give it another go. The new version of the show, which premieres Tuesday at 10 PM ET, now stars Sarah Paulson and Bobby Cannavale in the roles originated by Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven, respectively.

The premise is the same: Trevor Pierce claims to be Cupid, exiled from Mt. Olympus, and he needs to find true love for 100 couples before he is allowed back home. After Trevor is arrested for one of his stunts and sent to a psychological hospital, singles self-help guru Dr. Claire McCrae is assigned to keep track of him as he makes his way in the outside world. This time around, the show is set in the fast paced and cynical world of New York, complete with all the modern touches of dating in the late '00s (Maybe Cupid will have a Twitter account).

I spoke to the stars of the new Cupid last week. While I was on the phone, I asked Paulson about what happened on her previous series, Studio 60. I got a pretty interesting response...

JK: When Rob Thomas approached you to do this new version of Cupid, you didn't have any preconceived notion of what the show was about?

Sarah Paulson: No.
Bobby Cannavale: No. I remember it being on (ten years ago), so it was familiar to me: "oh right, that was that thing Jeremy Piven did? They're redoing that, huh?" I had the same questions anyone would have. And then I just read the script and then I thought, "Oh, wow, it's a really cool idea. It's a really great part to play. There's so many things I can do with it." And so for me it was a really fresh piece of material. And I don't know that it was really on long enough for me to... it's not like I'm reviving the part of Archie Bunker (Sarah laughs). So it wasn't a problem for me.
SP: Well, I just didn't want to watch it (the original version). I was afraid I would try to take to much of Paula Marshall's performance, because I do think she's a really great actress, and I remember her kind of being around when I was (under her breath) a little younger, but I just, uh.. (chuckles)

JK: I'm sure she'd be happy to hear that.

SP: Yeah, yeah, that's why I sort of said it under my breath, so I could basically claim I never said it. I was just afraid that I was going to pilfer from things she had done and let it infiltrate how I was going to approach the character and I didn't want to do that because with Bobby it was going to be a totally different thing than what Jeremy Piven had done and so I decided it would be good to stay away.

JK: The original show has a following, though, even now. People were upset when it got cancelled. Do you think you owe something to the original show's fans or that this is a fresh start?

BC: From my perspective, it's a whole new deal. Maybe Rob feels more of an obligation as a writer, somebody more in touch with the fans of the show that I would ever be. I don't feel any sort of responsibility to the unnamed masses...
SP: It's a different show, from what I can tell. It should stand on it's own, I think, because it's been ten years and thjere's different actors. Rob even speaks to it, that he's a different person than he was ten years ago. He has a different perspective on things so that's shifted it a bit, too.

JK: We'll examine quite a bit of the Cupid mythology as the season goes along, right?

SP: There's a line in the pilot that I don't know anyone will really notice, where I tell Trevor to meet me on the corner of such and such between Atlantic and Pacific. It depends on what kind of ear is listening to it and if people are going to pick up on that or not.

JK: How do you think dating and how people meet each other has changed since ten years ago?

SP: We have an episode that involves Match.coms and things like this. Was that around ten years ago and I just didn't know it?
BC: Certainly texting wasn't around, right? How many times have you texted (with someone) back and forth and had that little thought come into your head that "I'm so much funnier when I text?"

JK Are we going to see Cupid use Twitter and Facebook?

: Maybe (laughs).In the first few episodes, there's an awareness of just starting something that's trying to find its sea legs. If we get lucky enough to do more, I think we'll have more diverse couples, more same-sex couples, all kind of things. Really trying to show the full gamut that love runs, so that it's not just pretty people every week.
BC: We do have a young man who's a soldier who's been stop-lossed and is being sent back to Iraq for a second tour of duty. We have a radio disc jockey who for years had his own indie alternative show who's being pushed out by this corporate satelite radio company. So i think we're keeping the characters in this world as a sort of working class kind of people.

JK: Why did ABC want to revisit this show and do you think they'll give it the chance they didn't give it ten years ago?

SP: That's something I wish we could control. You would think that if you spent the time and energy and money to revamp something that you'd give it a shot. But so much on television now... reemember the days of Seinfeld when something could be on the air for two years before anyone really knew about it? I don't think there's really a market for that now unless you're on cable, where they give something a shot to really build an audience. I would hope so, but there's really no way to know.

JK: Sarah, you've got experience with a network not knowing what to do with a show...

SP: Whatever do you mean? (chuckles)

JK: I dunno... A little show on NBC a couple of years ago. Do people still talk to you about Studio 60?

SP: They do, actually. If anyone comes up to me about anything, it's always about Studio 60.

JK: Is it about your character of Harriet and how controversial it was, or is it more about the show?

SP: More about how sad they are that they thought it was such a smart show and they wish it had been given more of a shot.

But listen, I understand why the show ultimately didn't make it. I really do; it makes a lot of sense to me. I think... I think there were mistakes made. And maybe it's totally inappropriate for me to say this but it's been enough time now that I don't think anyone will care, but I think it was a funny hybrid of The West Wing and a Saturday Night Live (kind of) show, and it didn't know what it wanted to be. It was sort of imbuing everything with so much political importance that I think doesn't really have a place when you're talking about how to get a comedy show on the air. It weighted it down, and gave it a certain amount of gravitas that I don't think it helped.

Not a lot of people can get behind a show where people are flipping out and taking it so seriously about whether or not they're going to get their show up, which in fact was what happened on Saturday Night Live, but it was done with a great deal of humor. Our show was more about the behind the scenes stuff. And I don't think people could really... relate.

JK: It was a really polarizing show, and It seemed that Sorkin really got the hang of it by the end of the season, but by then it was too late.

SP: That's right, and I think we got the shot that we got because NBC really wanted to be in business with Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme. And we got so much love at first, critically. The ratings were okay for a couple of weeks and they started to dip, and then I think critics started to turn on it, too, and said "what has this become?"

Again, it's nothing that I can control. It was one of the greatest jobs I've ever had , because Aaron Sorkin is a really brilliant writer and I feel incredibly that even for a year I got to say his words. I hope I'm lucky enough to work with him again.

JK: Bobby, you haven't been a regular on a series in a few years. Was a series something you were looking to do at this point?

BC: Not really. I wasn't really looking to do a show. I had done a pilot every year for the last five years and none of them had gotten picked up. But the opportunity presented itself, and I was curious to see if I could play a part that was that big. Rob came to me through a mutual friend, Paul Rudd, and I was flattered that he'd want to build a show around me.

(See Paulson and Cannavale interview each other using reader questions on AOL's Outside the Box)

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Harriet Hayes ruined Studio 60. 'nuff said.

March 30 2009 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to StillBash's comment
Chip Douglas

They ruined the show when they tried to put "Comedy Sketches" on the show. The show was about the drama behind the scenes. Not the comedy "on Stage."

This new show has to hit on something unique. So far, I have not see anything that separates it from everything else. I liked the original show.

March 30 2009 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry but this might be _another_ reason but not _the_ reason.

The problem was that not a single person on this planet liked her character and the reverse revealing of her and Matt's breaking up over religious beliefs as well as the religious groups pressuring the show and then Matt becoming a drug addict was all too much for a relationship nobody could even think of rooting for. Who gave a damn? She was a religious psycho and he was in love. Great for them, who else cares?

On top of that there was ALSO no chemistry between Danny and Jordan. It was as if Bradley Whitford was negotiating with Terrorists when he was dealing with the birth of the baby. Again: who gave a damn?

This show, as Sarah Paulson rightfully points out here, was an extension of the same formula that made The West Wing such a great show. The problem is that that formula didn't fit into the Saturday Night Live frame UNLESS you have characters you are rooting for. The humor wasn't the problem - the problem was feeling something for the cast. If you found out that today's cast of SNL would have the same problems in getting things on the air or making stuff funny, I for one would totally support them and root for them. I like the cast although the jokes suck at times and the show as a whole is about half an hour too long for what the writers are able to come up with on a weekly basis.

Anyway I agree that the show got better in later episodes but it was already doomed after five or six. Sorkin packed too much into too little time at once and ruined the show with that. He didn't easy into the whole thing, no he rammed everything down our throats at ones. It's a shame. The show could've been great.

March 31 2009 at 3:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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