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July 25, 2014

TheTvSquadInterview

Brian Williams on Tiger coverage, his funny self, and what's on his iPod

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 17th 2009 2:03PM
Brian WilliamsWhen NBC was promoting Brian Williams' fifth anniversary as anchor of the NBC Nightly News, I figured it was a good opportunity to ask him a few questions. After all, with two wars, a lousy economy, the health care debate, and Tiger Woods, there's lots of news going on right now.

And, in such a relatively short period of time, the news landscape has changed on both the broadcast and the cable fronts, including the fact that on Monday, when Diane Sawyer takes over ABC's World News, he'll be the only male evening news anchor left.

Williams (or as he's been called lately, BriWi) was nice enough to answer some questions via e-mail about his new competition and how he lets his famous sense of humor come through during a serious newscast. Finally, he gives me some insight into what he's listening to right now (if you've seen previous interviews with him, he leans more towards the college radio side).

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Tracy Morgan: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 26th 2009 11:00AM
Tracy Morgan: I Am The New BlackAs my Thursday afternoon time slot to interview Tracy Morgan came closer, I knew I was in for an interesting twenty minutes. As most people have seen and heard over the years, interviewing Tracy is an amusement park ride that even Busch Gardens couldn't conceive. He's blunt. His emotions rise and fall quicker than a roller coaster. And you never know what he's going to say.

When I got to talk to him, he had been interviewing all day in support of his surprisingly emotional and inspirational memoir I Am The New Black, and he was tired. But there was a lot of stuff I wanted to ask him about, only some of which involved his well-publicized smackdowns of SNL co-stars Cheri Oteri and Chris Kattan. There was also his criticism of David Israel and Jim O'Doherty, the creators of The Tracy Morgan Show, and just the general details about his rough upbringing in the Bronx and Brooklyn in the '70s and '80s. Tracy didn't disappoint.

So, buckle up folks, and get ready for a fun ride. Audio and a transcript is after the jump.

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Matthew Weiner of Mad Men: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 9th 2009 10:57AM
Matthew Weiner accepting the Emmy for Best Drama for Mad MenIt's hard to say that a show that's already won a small U-Haul's worth of Emmys and other awards can be having a breakout season, but that seems to be what's happening with Mad Men during its third season. The buzz around the show has been as loud as we've heard since The Sopranos went to black, and that's not a coincidence; the man who created the early-1960s world of Sterling Cooper, Matt Weiner, was a writer on the landmark HBO drama.

Weiner just completed shooting season three, and he took time out of his post-production process to sit down with me on Monday and talk about how the season has been going so far. I tried to get him to talk about what seems to be the show's inevitable roll towards the cataclysmic event of 1963, the Kennedy assassination, but Weiner was tight-lipped as usual. However, his observations on how he approaches events like that is an interesting read. Oh, and we also touch upon how he came up with the idea to run over a British ad exec's foot with a lawn mower, which is a good story by itself...

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Joan Cusack: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 21st 2009 12:02PM
Joan Cusack from Acceptance on LifetimeJoan Cusack has made a career of finding the comedically crumbling foundations beneath what are at first normal-seeming characters. The two-time Oscar nominee also has a knack for making the most out of her roles, and in the new Lifetime movie Acceptance, both of her greatest skills are on display.

In the movie, which debuts on Saturday at 9PM ET, Cusack plays Nina Rockefeller, the hard-driving and high-strung mother of the movie's protagonist, Taylor (played by Mae Whitman of Arrested Development). The movie examines the pressure on high school overachievers to go to just the "right" college, and the story is told in a way that looks at it from both the students' and the parents' perspectives.

Cusack called me from Chicago (where she lives full-time) earlier this week. We talked about college pressures, if the notion of a Lifetime movie has changed, and why she loves working with her brother John so damn much.

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Bill Lawrence: The TV Squad Interview (Scrubs 2.0 edition)

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 20th 2009 11:18AM
Bill Lawrence at the TCA 09 session for Cougar TownOn the last day of the TCA press tour, as the stars of ABC were yukking it up at a crowded party at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Bill Lawrence and I were out in the courtyard talking about what the new season of Scrubs -- or as I'm calling it, Scrubs 2.0 -- is going to look like.

Essentially, it's going to be like a medical version of The Paper Chase, with Turk and Cox being the professors. We'll be following the lives of young medical students who will shuttle back and forth between classes and their rotations at the "new" Sacred Heart, which is being rebuilt on the med school's campus. While in the hospital, they'll run into a lot of the characters from Scrubs 1.0, including J.D., as Zach Braff is scheduled to be in the first six episodes.

It all sounds a bit confusing, so I'll let Bill lay it out for you folks. An edited transcript is after the jump. The full transcript can be found here. And I'll be getting on the phone with Bill to talk Cougar Town sometime next week, so stay tuned. Oh, and at the end of the interview, we talk about the role Bill's wife, Christa Miller, had on Scrubs that didn't involve any acting.

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Mayim Bialik talks about her faith and her return to acting

by Kona Gallagher, posted Jul 14th 2009 1:00PM
saving grace mayim bialik
I suppose if you want to be cynical, you could say that Mayim Bialik is in the midst of a comeback, with several recent television roles, including guest stints on Bones, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and now, Saving Grace. However, it's not as though the erstwhile star of Blossom has spent the last fifteen years sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. After the series' end, she attended UCLA, got married, had two children, and even earned her PhD last year.

Ms. (er, Dr.) Bialik has indeed been busy, but she is now looking to make her way back into Hollywood. She's guest-starring on Saving Grace tonight as Esther, a Hasidic Jewish mother of seven, whose own mother is found murdered in a field full of dead cows. I spoke with Mayim about Saving Grace, the lasting legacy of Blossom, and how she hopes people see her today.

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Amy Ryan: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 9th 2009 11:19AM
Amy Ryan as Holly Flax on The OfficeThe last few years have been very good for Amy Ryan. She's had a recurring role in The Wire, nabbed an Oscar nomination for her role as a drug-addicted mother in Gone Baby Gone, co-starred in The Changeling and helped Matt Damon find WMDs in the upcoming Iraq-themed action pic Green Zone.

But if you show most people a picture of the veteran actor, who's also been nominated for Tonys for her stage work, they'll just go, "Oh, that's Holly." Ryan's role Holly Flax on The Office not only represented a soul mate for Steve Carell's Michael Scott, but she was surprisingly adept at channeling her inner dork for the role. She has no idea if she'll be back next year, but she I can't imagine Greg Daniels and his minions won't think of some way to work her in again.

Ryan recently wrapped up production of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's first directorial effort, Jack Goes Boating, and was taking a welcome break when I spoke to her in late May. But at least she did something nice for our mid-morning interview, as you'll see after the jump.

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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...

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Megan Mullally: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 25th 2009 11:03AM
Megan Mullally in In The MotherhoodThere aren't many actresses out there that you could affectionately call a "broad," but Megan Mullally's one of them. Ever since she came on the scene a decade ago as the caustic and spoiled Karen Walker on Will & Grace, Mullally has shown that she can be bawdy with the best of them.

Now, after a foray into the talk show world and a turn as a disabled and ugly -- but desirable -- chief of medicine on Rob Corddry's web series Children's Hospital, Mullally is back on series TV, on ABC's new comedy In The Motherhood (premiering Thursday at 8 PM ET), which was based on a web series that took episode ideas from submissions by real moms. In the series, Mullally plays Rosemary, a "bad ass," as Mullally calls her, who has raised the perfect son even though she's an imperfect mom.

In this quickie interview, Mullally talks about the new show, about a rumor that she was in a catfight with her co-star Cheryl Hines, about how Rosemary and Karen could be the new Odd Couple, and running her Kerry Weaver-esque Children's Hospital character past Laura Innes.

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Dylan Baker talks about Kings, playing creeps, and The Pitts - VIDEOS

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 13th 2009 1:03PM
Dylan Baker in KingsDylan Baker is one of those "That Guy" actors, a guy you've probably seen in a million different shows and movies, but can't quite place his name. But his "That Guy-ness" has a twist: he generally plays creeps, scumbags, pedophiles, and otherwise not-so-nice people. It's a lot in life he seems to be perfectly OK with. "I think they're more interesting. They're more fun to play."

In Kings (which Danny previewed earlier today), the Biblical-themed soap that premieres on NBC on Sunday, March 15, Baker finds himself in as equally reprehensible role: he plays William Cross, the head of a huge conglomerate that holds the purse strings behind the power of King Silas Benjamin of Gilboa (Ian McShane). The complicating factor is that he's also the brother of Silas' wife, Rose (Susanna Thompson).

I spoke to the 49-year old character actor about the show, how he thinks his character has a little bit of Dick (Cheney) in him, how he can play a child molester (fans of the 1998 movie Happiness will know what I'm talking about) and how much he loved working on the doomed sitcom The Pitts.

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Bob Newhart: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 4th 2008 11:08AM
Bob Newhart in The LibrarianWhat can you say about Bob Newhart that hasn't been written a million times over? He's a TV legend, with two classic sitcoms (The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart) on his resume. He's also a stand-up comedy legend, who left a humble accounting career to win a Grammy with his first comedy album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, in 1960. He still tours today, and has been seen on both the big and small screens in a number of projects (Legally Blonde, Elf, ER).

On Sunday at 8 PM ET, he co-stars in The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, the third in the Librarian series that has become a nice little franchise for TNT. He plays Judson, who acts as a guide and mentor to Noah Wyle's character of Flynn Carsen, a librarian who acts more like Indiana Jones than the person who stamps the insides of new books.

I spoke to Newhart by phone last week; we discussed the movie, shooting in New Orleans, his recent penchant for memorable supporting roles, and if he thinks the multi-camera sitcom has a future.

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Eddie Izzard: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 2nd 2008 11:03AM
Eddie Izzard"Eddie loves doing interviews!" is the bubbly e-mail that came to me as I was trying to arrange a date and time for the following interview with comedian Eddie Izzard. That part didn't surprise me; I've read interviews before where Izzard was engaging and expansive on all sorts of issues. The surprising thing was who the PR person e-mailing me was representing: Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Yes, that's right: Everyone's favorite longshot Presidential candidate has Izzard in his corner as he tries to retain his House seat this week. In fact, this afternoon, Izzard will be interviewing Kucinich at a campaign fundraising event in Cleveland (tickets can still be purchased for the 3 PM ET event). We've heard before that Izzard is interested in politics; but how in the hell did he get involved in Kucinich's congressional campaign? I talk to Izzard about that, and The Riches movie that he seems to think should happen, after the jump.

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Carter Bays of How I Met Your Mother: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 10th 2008 3:40PM
Reege on How I Met Your Mother
Yes, I know: I just spoke to Carter Bays a couple of months ago, right before How I Met Your Mother's season finale. But there was so much news coming out about the show over the summer -- The Bro Code, a wedding, self-contained episodes, Regis -- that I felt I had to speak to him again before the fourth season started on Sept. 22.

(Well, I actually wanted to talk to both Carter and his show-running partner Craig Thomas, but, as usual, the mystery man was elsewhere. I've met him more than once, though, so I know he does exist.)

Anyway, I could have spoken to Bays at the CBS press tour party in July, but I wanted to get a bit more in depth, so we arranged a phone interview; that took place a couple of weeks ago, right after the third episode of the fourth season wrapped. He was a bit more evasive about those topics than he's been in the past, but he still provided me some good information about the upcoming season, the "haunting" singing voices of his male stars, and what it's like to see his show being played on an airplane. Interview is after the jump.

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Bill Lawrence of Scrubs: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted May 22nd 2008 2:19PM
Bill LawrenceAs I found out when I first spoke to Bill Lawrence last year, it doesn't take much to get the creator of Scrubs going. All it might take is a quick question and he'll go off on a monologue that is not only funny, but has a lot of good information as well.

That's what I got from him when I spoke to him earlier this week. Yes, we went over what happened with NBC after the writers' strike and how his show was able to make the shift to ABC. But, since he already spoke about that at length, we talked more about why NBC treated the show like it did, what creative shifts he's going to make to the show this year (expect to see less baby and relationship stuff this year, and more of the medical drama and comedy that got people hooked on the show). And, of course, he also dropped the mini-bombshell that I posted about earlier in the week, that there might be a ninth, "next generation" season of Scrubs.

I'll warn you right now, this is a long transcript, which is why we're splitting it into three parts. But it's got a lot of good information, and if you're patient, you'll find some interesting spoilers about what's going to happen next year on the show (production on eighth season should be wrapped up by August, according to Lawrence). So, buckle up and enjoy the ride...

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Lewis Black: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 19th 2008 12:03PM
Lewis Black In the last twelve years, Lewis Black has gone from being "that angry guy on The Daily Show" to a comedy icon. Now, he finally has his own show.

In Lewis Black's Root of All Evil, which airs on Wednesdays at 10:30 PM ET on Comedy Central, two comedians argue why the pop culture item they represent is "the root of all evil." Last week's premiere episode, for instance, pitted Oprah against the Catholic church. Black plays the judge who controls the proceedings and makes the ultimate verdict. Sounds corny, but the first episode, which featured Paul F. Tompkins and Greg Giraldo, was wickedly funny and just a tiny bit subversive, everything you want in a good comedy.

I spoke to Black by phone last week; he was in Atlantic City on his stand-up tour. We discussed everything from the 2008 election to being on a cable news show with Ben Stein to sharing a jail cell with Jim Norton. The interview is after the jump.

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