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'Human Target's' Chi McBride Misses 'Pushing Daisies'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 16th 2010 3:02PM
Chi McBride at the FOX all-star party January 2010One of the most fun things of any press tour is getting to sit down with Chi McBride and just talk, about anything. Politics, baseball, cigars... when you're talking to Chi, the conversation can go just about anywhere.

The drawback to seeing McBride on so many tours is that he's always there with a new show to promote. Because he's able to handle drama and comedy with equal ease, he's cast in a lot of pilots. The problem is, most of the resulting shows rarely last more than a couple of years. In the last six years, since his four-season run on 'Boston Public' ended, we've seen McBride in 'Killer Instinct,' 'The Nine' and 'Pushing Daisies.' Now he's co-starring with Mark Valley and Jackie Earle Haley in the FOX popcorn-action series 'Human Target.'

I sat with McBride as he held court at FOX's all-star party in Pasadena last month. As he puffed away on an Opus X -- he offered me one and I very reluctantly declined -- we talked about which of his roles he misses the most, and how he does his running scenes on 'Target.' Let's just say he doesn't waste too much film on those.

Do you find that when people run into you, they're talking about 'The John Larroquette Show?' Are people running into you talking about 'The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,' 'The Nine' or 'Pushing Daisies' or any of the other shows you've been on?
Yeah. It happens all the time, which is good. Because for one, people remember you, and they remember your work and what you did, and they're interested in still hearing your take about things that are long gone. I think it's flattering, you know, that people think that much of you or your work in order to ask about those questions in retrospect.

I always felt 'The John Larroquette Show' was under-appreciated in its time...
Yeah. I think it was a little bit ahead of its time. You know, it was a dark, you know, subversive kind of sardonic television series.

It matched his personality and the characters he usually plays.
Yeah, I mean really. And I really miss those days because everything I learned about being a comic actor on television I learned from John.

I was talking to a colleague of mine about 'Desmond Pfeiffer.' That's a show that seems to be always on people's Worst of All Time lists.
You know what was great? I read a book called 'The 100 Stupidest Things Ever Done on Television,' and that show was in there. And they said wonderful things about me, which was cool, because it was like "Yeah, apparently Chi McBride is bulletproof." So that was good to hear. I don't take it that seriously, but it's good to hear that people appreciated what I did and that, and actually what they were talking about was that it was crazy for them to take it off.

Did they take it off because of pressure?

So it wasn't bad ratings or bad quality, it was pressure from groups who thought it was racist?
Yeah. People who had a political agenda, you know. And people like that never waste an opportunity to get in and get their digs in in order to really further highlight what it is their agenda is. So it was no stranger to that. And it lives forever on YouTube.

Out of the shows that you've done that have not made it, which one do you miss the most?
Probably 'Daisies.' I really was having fun. I really loved playing Emerson. It was a lot closer to my own personality than many of my other roles. So I really was having a really good time.

Do you think the writer's strike killed that show?
I think it certainly helped. I don't think that it helped the cause of that show at all. And when you've got a show that's really just out of the gate that's more different than anything on television, the one thing people need to do is see it. It's tough when people walk off the job. And for what they ended up getting, it really wasn't worth the walk.

Do you think the writers compromised too much?
It isn't even a matter of that. I think that the whole thing could've been resolved without walking off the job. You know? I mean I just... once you walk off the job, man.. I mean look at baseball. With all the flap about steroids, what people forget is, the irony about that is, if it wasn't for steroids..steroids brought baseball back. Because steroids are what gave way for the long ball. And that's what made people start coming out again.

There was a lot of upheaval due to the strike...
People don't like you messing with their TV shows, man! You know what I mean? People get really invested, they get an emotional attachment. And when you go for what people perceive to be... It doesn't matter what the real issues are. The perception out there is that everybody that's on television has a 16-bedroom house, you know, and great danes and hounds, and grounds, and drive around their grounds on a golf cart. And it's really hard to you know, sort of take the gas out of that theory.

And when people have that perception and you walk off the job, I mean while they gotta get up at 6:00 in the morning to go to a job they can't stand, then their attitude is they flip you off and they don't f---ing watch. You know? And it takes something special to bring it back. And the new crop of shows that came back are the ones that pretty much stayed. And the new crop of shows that was in that year pretty much fell by the wayside with probably the exception of maybe 'Chuck.'

Why do you think 'Chuck' got the chance and 'Pushing Daisies,' 'Jericho,' and some of the other ones didn't?
I think because they had a lot more episodes, they had a rabid following, and NBC really stuck with it because they really didn't have a choice. They really didn't have anything, and they gave it a chance and an opportunity to grow its audience. But ABC man, they've got stuff in development, they've got rooms full of that stuff, you know what I mean? If you know you've got 'Modern Family' on deck, are you gonna keep something that's gonna be kind of fledgling and sort of wobbling on the track?

Is there any thought from Bryan Fuller to bring 'Daisies' back in some form?
He's doing a graphic novel right now.

But nothing more than that?
Not at this point. Not that I know of. I think we've sufficiently moved on and we've all gone to other things. But 'Daisies' was special to everybody who did it. And people are still winning awards for it, and getting nominated for awards for it. So it'll live on in its own way and that'll be that. Whatever happens, happens. If they end up doing something else, we'll see if we're all available.

By the way, how do you think they handled that last episode, with the rushed ending?
Well, they did the best they could with what they had, you know what I mean? There was only really so much they could do. So with what they had, I think they made good out of it.

With 'Human Target,' what more action sequences are we going to be seeing (your character) Winston doing, besides flight attendant ass kicking?
Well, you'll see some shooting, you'll see a little bit of running. He hates chasing people. That's what he really hates more than anything. So I'm sure at some point you're going to see how much he hates it, and what happens when he does.

Does Chi hate it as much as Winston?
Yes. I tell everybody, "If I gotta run, look, I'll do it. I don't wanna hear any 'hair in the gate,' I don't wanna hear any 'soft focus.' This is it. Alright? So get everybody going. Take a practice run with another actor, if you want. But if I'm gonna get in here, you're gettin' one."

No, I understand. Look, I've got a big belly too. I'm not a big runner either, so I can understand. And you're probably still in better shape than I am.
Well, I try to stay in good shape, you know, good enough to do my stunts. And it's always better if you do them yourself, you know what I mean? But it's been fun.

Do you and Mark (Valley) just get together and just talk about all the different shows you guys have been on? Does any of that come up?
Yeah, we talk about our experiences. Mark's a really good dude, man. Mark does all the heavy lifting and never complains. And it really sets a tone for everybody involved. And we know that we're all there to work. We have a good time...we have a lot of fun, but we work. And we're serious about that. We try to make the days as productive as possible.

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I love Chi, but Chuck had a fanbase that really fought for it to be saved prior and during Season 3 and it's different than most shows on TV IMO. I think Daisies died because of the strike, and naturally, promotion. I don't think ABC knew how to promote it successfully. To be honest, they were better off selling the show to another network. Chuck survived because the fanbase and the fandom never died, and NBC knew it.

December 22 2011 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish he had been asked about his time on House, I love everything Chi does he is at the top of his game.

February 17 2010 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jgreenefields's comment

I agree. Love me some Chi McBride.

February 18 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chi is so damned good! Probably one of the five coolest men in America as well. Although I didn't really care for his Vogler character on "House," he really nails his roles. Emerson Cod will probably go down as my fave, but I gotta admit I'm digging Winston in "Human Target." I hope he gets a long run out of it...

February 16 2010 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I miss Pushing Daisies, too... but I'm psyched to hear Fuller's working on a comic adaptation!

February 16 2010 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I so miss that show. It was a moment of beauty to watch that show. Quirky plots, silly eccentric characters, murky family background. And the colors of everything; felt like I was living in a dream or some literary fantasy murder mystery. I wish they could bring that show back.

February 16 2010 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

God I miss Pushing Daisies. It had such promise.

February 16 2010 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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