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September 30, 2014

the tv squad interview

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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Human Giant: The TV Squad Interview - AUDIO

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 10th 2008 11:02AM
Human GiantConsidering that MTV seems to cater to nothing but teenagers, how did two thirtysomethings and a very mature 25 year-old end up making one of the network's most popular shows?

By being funny. Damn funny, in fact.

Rob Huebel, Aziz Ansari, and Paul Scheer (l-r), otherwise known as Human Giant, are entering their second season on the cable network, starting tomorrow night at 11 PM ET. I spoke to the guys by telephone last week as they were doing a round of promotion for their second season, as well as the DVD of the first season, which was released on March 4.

Tidbits from the interview, and audio clips, are after the jump.

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David X. Cohen of Futurama: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 26th 2007 11:01AM
Bender's Big ScoreOn November 27, Futurama comes back in a big way with Bender's Big Score, an "epic" film involving all the characters from the show that ran on Fox from 1999-2003. The DVD is the first in a series of four direct-to-DVD releases, which will be edited into 16 episodes that will air on Comedy Central in 2008. Fellow Squadder Brad Trechak gave the disc a positive review last week, which is high praise coming from a big fan of the show as he is.

David X. Cohen, executive producer and show-runner of Futurama, spoke to me via phone last week. We didn't have much time, only about ten minutes or so, so we got down to the nuts and bolts: how the movies will play on Comedy Central, some information on the show's comeback, a quick preview of the next DVD, and how the Fox executives felt about being ground into all-purpose powder.

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Bruce McCulloch of Carpoolers: The TV Squad Interview - AUDIO

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 2nd 2007 11:28AM
Bruce McCulloch and the cast of Carpoolers
When I wrapped up my interview with Bruce McCulloch -- executive producer of ABC's Carpoolers and a member of the legendary comedy troupe Kids In The Hall -- I asked him if there was anything else he might be working on. "Yeah, I'm going to have a heart attack next March, and I wanted people to know about that," he joked. For a guy who has worn a lot of hats in his career, nothing has kept him busier than being the boss.

Carpoolers, a single-camera comedy premiering on ABC tonight at 8:30 PM ET, is about four guys who use their carpool to explore what's going on in each other's lives. The show is McCulloch's brainchild, which means he's involved with everything from the writing to how many donuts will be on the craft services table. Yet he still has time to write and perform his own surreal works, as well as perform occasionally with the Kids, who have been together for almost a quarter-century.

I got a chance to speak to McCulloch last week, and we talked about what it's like to premiere after the season's most lambasted new show (Cavemen), what parts of himself he sees in each of his main characters, what it's like to work with Fred Goss and Jerry O'Connell (who spoke to our friends at AOL last week), and why the Kids have managed to stay together for so long. Highlights are after the jump, as well as an audio embed of the interview (35 minutes).

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Zachary Levi of Chuck: The TV Squad Interview - AUDIO

by Varun Lella, posted Sep 24th 2007 2:01PM
Zach Levi ChuckSo we are doing a little new thing here at TV Squad: the audio interview. It is part interview, part podcast, all fun. Please bear with us (or more specifically me) as we get the format down to something that is both interesting and informative to you, the audience -- kind of like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Only instead of science we have interviews with celebrities ... same difference.

It began last week with Joel's interview with Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Today I am posting a phone interview I did with Zach Levi of Chuck, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. EST. If you read my Early Look post, you know that I love this show. Now that I have seen the third episode -- oh, the perks of TV blogging -- my opinions have been confirmed. However, I may have been biased when watching my episodes, because of this interview.

As you will hear, Zach Levi is the nicest guy alive. Very humble and thankful to be in the game. Unlike last week's audio, this is pretty much SFW.

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Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The TV Squad Interview - AUDIO

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 20th 2007 11:00AM
Rob McElhenney of It's Always SunnyWe're going to try something a little different here at TV Squad: audio interviews!

Last week, I got a chance to speak to Rob McElhenney, creator and co-executive producer of FX's no-holds-barred comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which will air its third and fourth episodes of the season tonight at 10 PM ET. We spoke about the third season, about getting Fred Savage to direct some episodes, the making of their "BJ" video, and how Kaitlin "Sweet Dee" Olson almost lost her role on The Riches because of Sunny. We also discussed few details that came out on the DVD of the first two seasons, like why they shot all of Danny DeVito's scenes at once and how they got the TV legend to leer at his daughter.

Instead of typing out the entire transcript and printing it (frankly, transcribing makes us tired), we decided to take advantage of this whole Net 2.0 thing that's going on and embed the audio of the entire interview, which is about 28 minutes. So, after the jump, I'll give you the embed and some highlights.

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

by Joel Keller, posted May 11th 2007 10:01AM
Craig Thomas and Carter BaysThere are lots of questions that have come up about the last few episodes How I Met Your Mother's second season: Will Robin and Ted stay together or will they break up? Why were the two of them covered in tomato sauce during the "Showdown" episode? Will Ted finally meet the woman who becomes the mother to his kids? And, of course, will HIMYM make it to a third season, given the rumors that the show is very much on the bubble?

Well, who better to go to for answers than Carter Bays? He and Craig Thomas (Craig is on the left in the picture above, and Carter is on the right) are the creators and executive producers of the show, and have been working as a writing team since they met at Wesleyan University. The 31-year-olds worked together on Late Show with David Letterman, Oliver Beene, and American Dad before getting a chance to run the show on HIMYM in 2005.

I spoke to Bays by phone last week (I was supposed to also speak with Thomas, but a family emergency called him away). Be warned that this interview contains MAJOR SPOILERS pertaining to the finale. I will warn you prior to a spoilery portion of the interview (and tell you when it ends) so you can skip it if you wish.

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Bill Lawrence of Scrubs: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 17th 2007 11:33AM
Bill LawrenceIt doesn't take much to get Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence going. I fully intended to speak to him only about his show's musical episode, which airs tomorrow at 9. But Bill managed to launch into monologues on current shows, the network testing system, Scrubs' weird history, and other topics. But he dropped a lot of interesting information, some of which I mentioned a couple of days ago.

For a guy who isn't quite 38 yet, Lawrence has had quite a successful career. He already has two long-running shows under his belt (he co-created Spin City in 1996), and has been involved in a number of other series. Included in his credits is the Internet phenomenon Nobody's Watching, which scored an NBC development deal after the pilot was "leaked" to YouTube.

After the jump is the freewheeling phone interview I conducted with Lawrence last week. Keep tuned to TV Squad for a Scrubs set visit video, which will be posted next month.

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Will Arnett: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 2nd 2006 11:43AM
Will Arnett as GOB BluthArrested Development might be gone -- for now -- but Will Arnett is still basking in the show's afterglow. Last month, Arnett, who played illusionist and ne'er-do-well "Gob" Bluth, was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the defunct cult classic. In addition, the 36-year-old actor has been extremely busy shooting a number of different movies, from the Will Ferrell-starring comedy Blades of Glory to two projects being directed by Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show.

The man was so busy, that I only had about twenty minutes to talk to him. But we were able to cover a lot of territory when we spoke, from his Emmy nod, to why he thought Arrested didn't make it, to the prospect of an AD movie. And, of course, he was very funny, even rolling with my lame jokes when I dared utter them.

The interview was conducted by phone on July 24.

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Billy West: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 15th 2006 11:15AM
Billy West of Futurama
If you've watched any cartoon on TV in the last fifteen years, chances are you've heard Billy West's voice. West is one of the premier voice actors working today, and during those fifteen years, he's used his versatile voice to create new characters -- and resuurect old ones -- all over the television and movie landscape. From Shaggy to Bugs Bunny to Woody Woodpecker to the Cherios Honey Bee to the Red M&M, the 54-year old West has put his imprint on all of them. But most people know him from two classic cartoon series: On Ren & Stmpy, he did the voices of both main characters (he picked up Ren after creator John Kricfalusi was fired after the first season), and on Futurama he did the voices of Philip Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. John Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan, among others.

In this wide-ranging interview, conducted by phone on May 31, Billy and I talked about his history with John K., the way he went about creating some of his Futurama characters, his early-'90s role on "The Howard Stern Show", and the influx of celebrity voices in current cartoon movies (let's just say he's against it). We also went over all the Futurama Season One episodes in the 90-minute (!) interview, which you will see in my Retro Squad coverage of the show. He was even nice enough to do a Futurama / R&S -themed intro for our APB podcast, which we used to open podcast #13 last week. Needless to say, Billy West is a mensch.

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George Takei: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 26th 2006 11:06AM
George TakeiGeorge Takei is a busy guy. Believe it or not, of all the interviews I've done, his had the most regimented procedure: I was supposed to call him and immediately begin the interview, because he had other interviews scheduled around mine.

Apparently, his itinerary has been a bit crowded lately. And for that, Takei -- best known for playing Mr. Sulu on the classic series Star Trek -- can thank the combination of his public coming out late last year and his addition to Howard Stern's Sirius satellite show as its announcer. In fact, the 69-year-old actor's voice was the first one that people heard when Howard first debuted in January. He spent the entire first week there telling graphic stories about his first sexual encounters, cutting goofy IDs, and trading wise-ass remarks with sidekick Artie Lange. He also got pranked not once, not twice, but three times by the crew: once with a David Letterman impersonator and twice with an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator. As always, though, he was a good sport, giving the audience his trademark halting laugh whenever he got scammed.

Since the Governator vetoed the state's same-sex marriage bill, Takei has spoken out passionately for gay rights. He is currently on a speaking tour for the Human Rights Campaign he has dubbed an "Equality Trek". So between that, his appearances at Trek conventions, and his negotiations to return to the Stern show, it's a wonder he has time to talk to any reporters at all.

In our conversation (after the jump), George and I talked about the speaking tour, Howard, his guest turn on Will & Grace, and his appearance as Sulu on a web-only Star Trek series. Oh, and I couldn't leave without asking him about Bill Shatner at least once.

Because Takei needs to be heard as much as he needs to be read (I mean... that laugh!), I've made the audio version of the interview available for download. It's available here.

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The TV Squad Interview: Howie Mandel

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 4th 2006 10:52AM
Howie Mandel of Deal or No DealLike many stand-up comedians, Howie Mandel likes to be the center of attention. But as host of NBC's Deal or No Deal, the sometimes-manic comedian is showing another side of himself; the one that lets the game be the star. In the show, the 50 year-old host is using his improvisational as well has his dramatic acting skills to keep the simple game -- where a contestant picks cases with money amounts in them, hoping the amounts are smaller than the amount in the case he or she possesses -- going while helping build tension and drama at the same time.

It's been a winning formula; since it's debut in December as a special one-week strip of shows, Deal's ratings have steadily increased. It started a Monday and Friday run in February, which has been scoring well. NBC has even aired a third weekly episode from time to time; the episode that aired two Wednesdays ago ended up being the twelfth-most watched show of the week. So obviously Howie's doing something right.

Howie called me on Monday, March 27, from Los Angeles. Even though it was 11:30 AM at the time he called (2:30 my time), he was dead tired. Still, we had an entertaining conversation where I found out about fainting contestants, how Howie was pitched the Deal job over pastrami, and how he deals with the show's mean old banker.

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The TV Squad Interview: Fred Goss and Nick Holly of Sons & Daughters

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 14th 2006 11:02AM
Fred Goss and Nick Holly of Sons and Daughters

For two guys who have never written for TV before, Fred Goss and Nick Holly are off to a fast start. Their new ABC comedy, Sons & Daughters, which airs Tuesdays at 9 ET, has been universally praised by critics (including me), and the first two episodes gave the network better ratings than it's had in that timeslot.

Goss, who also stars on the show as Cameron Walker, mostly had acting and editing credits before this project, most notably on the Bravo comedy Significant Others. Holly, believe it or not, was a literary agent who partnered with Goss to create this and other pilots. As they pitched their ideas around, demand for their services increased; an ABC executive actually pitched them the idea for this show, for instance.

There's a good reason for that, though: the show's improvisational style and realistic extended family dynamic have hit a nerve with everyone... including Arrested Development fans, of which Goss seems to be very aware. The AD issue and others came up last Friday as the two spoke to me by phone from their office in Los Angeles.

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