WGA Awards Backstage Report: Seth MacFarlane, Larry David Take No Prisoners
Could season 4 be the final one for 'Mad Men'? Which hit sitcom is on its way to Hawaii? There was lots of TV scoop (and more than a few laughs) found at the 2010 Writers Guild of America Awards, which were handed out to television, film and video game writers on Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Century City, California.
The evening kicked off with a promise from host Seth MacFarlane ('Family Guy') to do the best "Tom Bergeron, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Howie Mandel" job he could do, a reference to the five reality show hosts' critically panned performance at the 60th Annual Prime Time Emmys.
The evening kicked off with a promise from host Seth MacFarlane ('Family Guy') to do the best "Tom Bergeron, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Howie Mandel" job he could do, a reference to the five reality show hosts' critically-panned performance at the 60th Annual Prime Time Emmys.
Next, MacFarlane and a group of backup singers performed a musical number of 'Ya Got Trouble' from the 'Music Man' with re-written lyrics set to the challenges facing WGA members.
Presenter pairs included writers and performers or directors who have worked together and have great stories to share about doing so. "The guild came up with this idea in 1986," MacFarlane quipped, "but it took this long to find enough writers who had wonderful stories about their collaborations with actors and directors."
When 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner, who, along with his writing team, won for Best TV Drama, was asked to give a tease for season 4 of his AMC series, he said, "I honestly can't tell you. I don't know. I'm not even giving a cute smile saying, 'I can't tell you.' I really don't know."
Can he see the show, which is set in the '60s, lasting long enough to enter the disco era? "I can't even speak to that," Weiner told AOL TV. "I'm curious as to where [the characters] will be. I can't see beyond Tuesday, seriously. Season 4 looks really like a fantastic place to stop for me today." The scribe hastened to add, "I want to do [the show] as long as people want to watch it."
While writer's block temporarily may have struck Weiner, the team from 'Modern Family,' led by Steve Levitan, revealed that his characters are Hawaii-bound for the show's freshman finale. "It won't be about Hawaii," Levitan explained. "It'll be about a family on vacation."
While the characters will enjoy a new locale, Janis Paige (whose guest character on 'Eight Is Enough' sprang for the Bradfords to go to Hawaii) -- or any other guest stars -- don't have to pack their bags just yet. Levitan says that 'Modern Family' won't be seeing a lot of celebrity cameos. "We like our cast," he said. "We get approached more and more every week by people who want to do the show. We're so flattered, but we want to keep it on check and not do too many guest stars. Our cast can do no wrong in my eyes. Only when it's exactly right do we want to bring someone in."
Levitan made two trips to the press room during the evening. His team won for New Series and Levitan picked up a solo statue for Episodic Comedy for writing the show's pilot. (The latter award tied with an episode '30 Rock,' titled 'Apollo, Apollo.')
'Seinfeld' alum Jason Alexander presented funnyman Larry David with the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement. Ironically, David's series 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is partially improvised. "There's a very dense seven or eight page outline that guides us," David explained to us. Will we see another season of 'Curb'? "Quite possible," he responded.
David's acceptance speech was the highlight of the night, so entertaining it probably could air as a TV special. "The Writers Guild has chosen to bestow one of its most prestigious awards on Larry David," said Alexander, deadpanning, "To say that something is a miss in the universe would be an understatement ..."
"What's really ironic is that I hate writing," the 'Curb' creator later said. "I hate all kinds of writing: recommendations, thank you notes, excusing my daughter from school, condolence letters -- those are the worst ... I'd rather blow my own head off."
"I'm only sorry my mother's not alive to be here tonight," David continued from the winner's podium. "There's no doubt that she would have stood up and shouted, 'Larry? Are you sure? You're giving an award to Larry?' Her great dream for for me was to become a mailman. That was her best case scenario. 'Please, Larry! Take the civil service test!'"
David tried to put a positive spin on the honor, but anticipated nothing but heartache as a result from receiving the accolade. "I've noticed that whenever something good happens to me, it's usually followed by something terrible," he said. "[This award] has disaster and doom written all over it! It's a great honor, but it's not being worth getting hit by a bus. So thank you Writers Guild for the death sentence. I only hope I live a few more months to enjoy it."
There were many "Oh, yeah. They went there." moments through the evening -- like when presenter Chris Rock weighed in on Tiger Woods' private life. "Just be honest for once," Rock implored, suggesting Woods admit, "I love [making love] to strange bitches! This does not make me a bad husband. I'll [expletive] a bitch and take my kids to school, dammit!
But nothing appeared more risque than when presenters MacFarlane and 'Family Guy' co-star Mila Kunis (since they had no interesting stories about collaborating themselves) pretended to be 'Two and a Half Men' creator Chuck Lorre and star Charlie Sheen.
MacFarlane (as Lorre): "You know, the great thing about writing 'Two and a Half Men' is that Charlie's versatility and comedic chops just open up a limitless number of stories.'
Kunis (as Sheen): "Right. Right. Like, I think we should do a story where I threaten to kill my wife on Christmas!"
John Corbett ('The United States of Tara') confirmed to AOL TV on the red carpet that, yep, that is his voice on the commercials for Applebee's. "For years now John Corbett and Applebee's have been dishing up '2 for $20s' for the American public," proudly stated the actor, who added, "We've already shot the second year of 'Tara.' It premieres March 22 [on Showtime]. We're very excited about this new season."
What does Corbett think of fans who think Carrie made the wrong choice by choosing Big instead of his character Aidan on 'Sex And The City'? "I agree," he said. "In fact, I'm 100 percent sure she did." Any interest in reprising the furniture-making Aidan on the big screen? "It'd be fun to do. I love all those people."
"Thank you all for coming out," MacFarlane wrapped up the evening by saying. "If you've enjoyed yourself, I've been Seth MacFarlane. If you haven't, I have been ['South Park' creators] Trey Parker and Matt Stone."