Bill Lawrence: Ted From 'Scrubs' Will Appear in 'Cougar Town' Finale & Other Surprises
by Joel Keller, posted Apr 16th 2011 9:00AM
It's always fun to talk to Bill Lawrence because you never know where the conversation is going to go. When I spoke to him earlier this week, the conversation ranged from ratings to his wife Christa Miller appearing on the Howard Stern show to 'Hanna Montana.'
But the best parts are the tidbits about his show, 'Cougar Town.' For instance, Lawrence told me that Sam Lloyd will appear in the show's Hawaii-based second-season finale, as his 'Scrubs' character, hapless lawyer Ted Buckland, a move that had been rumored a few months ago. He'll be there to help Travis through some tough times.
"We were outlining the show to have a friend [of Travis'] that's had his heart broken there in Hawaii, and we're like, who should we cast? And I'm like, I'll tell you, we should get Sam Lloyd out there and put him with his guitar," said Lawrence. "It's one of my favorite bits of the year. Because it's a gag that Sam Lloyd can do, which is, he can take any popular song with a guitar, and make it depressing."
Another fun surprise for the show's return -- it comes back on April 18 in a special post 'Dancing with the Stars' airing and settles back into its usual Wednesday at 9:30PM ET timeslot on April 20 -- are a couple of more details on what's going to happen when people call up to get a Penny Can.
As Courteney Cox and others have mentioned, during Monday night's episode a phone number will be mentioned; anyone who calls that number will get a member of the cast or crew on the line to order what is basically a paint can with a special label on it.
"We've already started fighting over who gets it first," he told me. "I think Courteney's actually going to... and this is actually a good thing... Courteney I think is actually planning on taking [the cell phone connected to that number] on Jimmy Kimmel and answering calls on the air." Lawrence also said that some of the callers may be getting some surprises along with the cast answering the calls, but he couldn't say what that surprise was.
More from Mr. Lawrence:
On the tabloid stories surrounding the show:
"It's not that big a deal, because... if you were working on 'Two and a Half Men' where the reality is close to the tabloid portrayal, that's a big deal. But we all laugh about this because Couretney's not hooking up with Brian [Van Holt] or Josh [Hopkins], and at work we're just all hanging out. And people don't see David [Arquette] that much at work, so it's never really that uncomfortable.
"You know, you'll say 'Yeah, we were joking around and Courteney's like, 'Yeah, I'm so glad I'm making out with Josh.'' And then you'll look in a tabloid two days later and it says, 'Show insider says I'm so glad I'm making out with Josh.'"
On why he and his partner Kevin Beigel have taken to Facebook and Twitter to promote the show's return:
"The real reason behind what Kevin and I are doing is that the network's ability to promote a TV show by just throwing commercials on their show, I think that's a relic. I think that they have an opportunity once a year in the fall to really spend a quizillion dollars launching something, and do multi-platform media campaigns and stuff, and they have to pick one or two (shows). But other than that, you just gotta hope that people catch on.
"I mean, to be honest, I'm a huge Norm MacDonald fan. I watch a lot of Comedy Central. I just found out that he has a new show on Comedy Central that premiered already. As a rabid TV watcher, I am almost surprised on a month to month basis that some show I want to see or heard about has already begun, or is starting on some network. I didn't catch up on what was... I didn't even get a chance to see what the heck 'Terriers' was until people were already writing about how it was dead. And all I remembered was a couple weird posters with a dog on it.
"So really, what Kevin and I are doing is just saying you know, I think the burden falls to the creators now. If you don't get busy and try to do stuff like this, there's a chance you'll get swallowed up a little bit."
On why he still feels he has to apologize for the show's name:
"Here's what is interesting... we were done (apologizing), right? I rarely get hissy with media writers, because I think you guys all have a gig to do. But for the 'My Dinner with Andre' episode of 'Community,' Entertainment Weekly, which has two writers that are so nice to our show and so cool... Somebody that did the 'Community' recap over there, wrote a review and then said, 'I can't believe that there's be any crossover fans between these two shows, what with the other one being about an older woman talking to younger guys.' I emailed him, and I'm like, 'Dude, you write for an entertainment magazine that's written tons of reviews about how this show isn't about that... you're killing me.' And so, to me, that's the only reason I still think that we have a couple battles to fight, so much so that the trailers that ABC cut, that they're airing during 'Dancing With the Stars', have a real 'It's not what you think' through line to them."
On whether he thinks he'll move out of the 9:30 Wednesday slot at some point:
"Oh, by the way, I think our show moves out without a doubt. The only question is when. For this show, what's really interesting is, on their Wednesday night block, we're the only show they own. And for it to be worth money, it's going to have to eventually be in its own time slot and lead off its own hour."
On trying to convince the 'Scrubs' Facebook fans to watch 'Cougar Town' via 'Scrubs Bobblehead Theater' videos:
"It's been a weird experience, because there's nine million fans on [the] 'Scrubs' [Facebook page], and all I was ever planning to do was go on there and go, 'Hey, 'Cougar Town' is essentially now 'Scrubs,' just with adults and more drinking. It's about adult friendship instead of about a hospital. You should check it out.' Those people do not want to be talked to about anything else, other than 'Scrubs.' So they're glad I'm there and they're asking me 'Scrubs' questions, but it's been a little bit of an edgy thing for me. Because I'd say one out of every two posts back to me [say], 'Hey, f*ck you, I like 'Scrubs,' I don't want to watch your other piece of sh*t shows.' So I've been coming home at night, because my wife's out of town, and getting a glass of wine and just going on all the negative people and engaging them for fun, just because I'm a masochist.
"One person did the -- no bullsh*t -- 'What right do you have to come onto the 'Scrubs' website and tell us to watch your other show?' I feel like if anybody has the right to say hey, please try out my other show, it would be me."
On if he'd ever want to do a cable sitcom:
"I would kill to do one, man. I work for Warner Brothers now. I don't know if you know that. I kind of kept that on the QT, but I signed like a four-year deal with Warner Brothers that starts May 31. And I think what's cool about that is that you can make TV shows for anybody. The push and pull from me is always, can I create a network TV show where your real burden is giant, across the board appeal? And I thought that we came close to that on 'Spin City,' which was a show that had some edge and some funny banter from me that I was still really proud of it, but it was also a show, I think, that appealed with Mike Fox -- it had big numbers -- appealed to all walks of life and stuff. I think that's what you're looking for in the network and what appeals to me about doing a basic cable or cable sitcom is that all you need to do there is lock into a rabid, psychotic fan base."
On why the multi-camera comedy is being sold short by the networks:
"The second you hear laughs, you know it's a stage play. You know, the second you see the three-wall sets with the bar that everybody's seen, and the backdrops of the city out the window, you know it's fake. What I think people have screwed up is where they go 'Hey, we're going to make our multi-camera comedy seem really real.' It's gonna be hybrid, it's gonna be this... I don't think anybody cares. Because I think you stumbled onto the thing that makes multi-camera great is, much like a play or a standup comedy show, I know that it's a medium that people are allowed to be broad and goofy and unrealistic. Here's an example: I liked 'Will & Grace.' Can you imagine Sean Hayes or Megan Mullally playing those characters in a single camera show? I think that that medium allows actors and actresses with real comedic strengths to go big and broad, and hook people in."
On Charlie Sheen, who took over for Michael J. Fox on 'Spin City' in 2000:
"I left 'Spin City' when Mike did. When they cast Charlie in that new role, Christa and I ended up seeing him and talking to him at upfronts, because she was still doing 'The Drew Carey Show,' and 'Spin City' and 'Scrubs' overlapped a bit. When we flew back to LA, we're all on the same plane, and he was just such a gracious, well-spoken, sweet, mellow, nice guy, and so thankful for the opportunity, and just a great dude. And that's why this just kind of sucks to watch. Because everybody has their different... I think it's easier to laugh at if you haven't seen the other side of the guy. And so to me, it's just a flat-out psychotic break."
On whether he'd take Sheen back if he were running 'Two and a Half Men':
"F*ck no, man. Chuck [Lorre]'s got plenty of dough. The only reason I would ever... the only thing I would consider, for the people that still work there, is trying to have the show go a different direction without him. But that's because -- and you and I have had this conversation about 'Scrubs' before -- people that are fans never go 'Oh, by the way, there's 110 people or 250 people working there that this is their career.'"
'Cougar Town' returns Monday, April 19 at 9:30PM ET, then returns to its usual Wednesday at 9:30PM ET slot on April 20.
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