IR Exclusive Print Interview: Drew Carey For “The Price Is Right” [CBS Daytime TCA Set Visit 2012]

Connecting with the psyche of America, especially in its vast middle section, has always been a great talent of Drew Carey from his days on his own highly rated sitcom to the bombastic fun of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” When “The Price Is Right” came along, allowing him to take over the legendary shoes of Bob Barker, Carey did not waiver, understanding the power of this specific game show. After seeing the people lined up for a day of taping at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, IR’s Tim Wassberg talked to Drew Carey upon the famous stage of “The Price Is Right”, wheel in walking distance and colors abounding, about the key to the game show’s demo, its slice of Americana and the surrealism of it all.

Tim Wassberg: How does “The Price Is Right” appeal to the college audience, because it seemingly does in droves.

Drew Carey: Tons of college kids are fans of “The Price Is Right”. [Some of it is] breaking from classes. There are  [also] “Price Is Right” watching clubs all over the place. We don’t do anything special to appeal to college students. Well…maybe the models (laughing).

TW: At what moment does it become surrealistic for you?

DC: It’s always like that. [In terms of prep], I get here about a half hour before the show starts. I go to my dressing room. I put my bag down. Put on my suit. Do hair and make-up. And walk on-stage. I don’t even know what the games are going to be half the time. They leave me a list of games to play on my desk but I never even look at them anymore. I just walk out. There is a stagehand that points me to go over here and over there. I know if we do a car, we do them every act. If we have done two games and we haven’t done a car yet, the car is coming up. I am just as surprised as everyone else when I see the games.

TW: The energy is great but it is so fast paced to the point that there is no room for improv. Does it just become instinct?

DC: It is instinct. My whole job out here is to be nice and have fun with everybody. [It is to] make sure they have fun, and guide everybody through the game and hope they win.

TW: When you look out at these audiences for “The Price Is Right”, what do you see?

DC: Man…when I look out there, I just see America. It is all workers of America. I ask people what they do all time and I never get “I’m a CEO” or “I’m the president of a company”. It’s all “I’m [some kind of] a worker”. It’s the like the “working class” of an audience every single day.

“The Price Is Right” airs on CBS weekdays at 11am.

IR Television Review: Design Infrastructure & The Narrative Lens: New TV Shows – Spring 2012 – Part II

Finding different intonations to set genres against requires different elements of design and character infrastructure which becomes harder and harder with the extensive formulaic elements progressing through the TV landscape. Whether it be the medical drama or the lost adventure, the key becomes seeing it through a different lens or narrative construct which will allow the audience to see themselves in a brand new light.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series With “Clone Wars” setting the bar high in terms of visual excellence on Cartoon Network, it is undeniably a highlight to see this incarnation doing so well. Succeeding in ways that the feature film failed on because of its need for mass market appeal despite some lofty possibilities in the attempt reflects the purity. Beyond the journey set up, which is what lifts the series,(using an almost “Star Trek: Voyager” construct), is that it forces the creators to think outside the box and create a new world with rules aside from what the Guardian lore creates. Mixing Hal Jordan with a monster Lantern who lives by a rule of discipline and adding a Red Lantern always on the verge of betrayal keeps an interesting dynamic moving, not to mention a neat AI perception of a ship that happens to look like RL’s slain wife. For a Saturday morning show, it is a bit dark but also deep on mythology. The most stunning aspect by far is how complete the look is with some of bigger set pieces (like a starship falling into a black hole) culpable to anything on “Clone Wars”.

The River Bringing a found footage angle to network television is a tricky thing because much depends on the scare factor which is hard to function on a network (this one is on ABC). While, in certain scenarios where it is about what you don’t see (like LOST) it works to its advantage. This set-up works partially on this element but the pay off is not apparent. For what it is so far, its premise is engaging. What provides it with a solid ground is the flashback personage of Bruce Greenwood as a TV famous biologist who goes into the jungle to search for a lost “angel”. His found camera footage in the wilderness including the warding off of the “demon” and his refusal to kill his dog to avoid sacrificing his humanity is exceptionally compelling. The surrounding elements watching these journals but also the attacks from undead perceptions lack a degree of depth or tension creating a vessel and a void which definitely has potential for greatness but is not quite there yet.

A Gifted Man Approaching the medical environment with textures of paranormal influence is not unusual with ideas of guilt versus moving on. This series tries with good emotional weight to take this on but with a limited amount of perceptions to feed the fire. While the death of his ex-wife in a car crash resurfaces in heart transplants and the definition of love in the re-emergence of his high school sweetheart who eventually suffers from a life ending concussion has repercussions, the idea of what the lead character finds necessary to learn feels unstable and not very telling. Patrick Wilson tries his best but almost over-emotes the necessary beats to make an audience connect.

Two Broke Girls Using the vapid intentions of “Sex & The City” writer/producer Michael Patrick King on a network sitcom is both engaging and slightly worrying simply because the line becomes much more maligned just because of the nature of the beast when one moves between pay cable and network passing over basic cable entirely, While some of the jokes play dirtier than normal for network, it does play to the honesty of the characters. Kat Dennings’ slacker slut-type is perfectly in control of her facilities and understands her position but knows when to take risks even though she knows she might fall on her face. The actress sometimes plays it too hard because her sweetness in real life shows through while her cohort, more unknown to the public, is seemingly and paradoxically the more transparent of the two. The attempt focuses on a trajectory for these girls yet the most telling scenes (which at times are not used enough) are the moments in the diner where the true facts of life ring strongly.

IR Print Interview: Jon Cryer For “Two & A Half Men” [CBS TCA]

Revolving in notions of what is said and not said has never been more truthful in the drama of “Two & A Half Men” over the past year. Jon Cryer, long the unsung hero of the show as Alan because of his ability to sacrifice dignity at times for the sake of a joke, spoke to The Inside Reel’s Tim Wassberg on the texture that makes the show more than it might seem.

Tim Wassberg: Can you talk about the story progression on the show after the loss of Charlie?

Jon Cryer: First of all, it was very strange to have the plots hang on Alan which happened a few times last season but was unusual still for me. What’s been nice about the last few episodes we’ve been shooting is that it has mostly been hanging on Walden [Ashton’s character] (sighs) just like old good times. I think the hardest episode for me to do is when Alan lost it and started thinking he was Charlie…because to find a tone that worked was difficult. The writing came through so strongly on that episode that it did alot of the work for me. I’d love to take credit (chuckling) but it was mostly the writing.

TW: But you had to angle the comedy differently though to make that angle work.

 JC: Yes. Because we didn’t want to do an impression. We thought that would be inappropriate but we had to sort of embody who he was and who Charlie Harper was…and not obviously what Charlie Sheen was. I don’t know. It felt like very risky territory but I feel like we got away with it. And we had to deal with it in some respect. When you lose a sibling, it’s a devastating experience and obviously dealing with it in any way comedically is hard. But I think the writers have jumped through some really amazing hoops on this.

TW: Do you feel that Alan is a more confident character now?

He gets full of himself because he’s actually on the board [of Walden’s company] and has an actual job. But I don’t know how long that’s going to last.

TW: Is this different perspective of who Alan thinks he is manifested differently for you through both the physical and emotional comedy?

JC: Part of what’s always been fun is that Alan is “Job” [from the Bible]. He gets humiliated, dresses in women’s clothing and has no dignity whatsoever. And that’s great. I’m happy to continue that. But what I am doing hasn’t really changed. It’s just a small change in the dynamic of the scenes in a general sense.

Creating Identity & Mysterious Energy – New Television – Fall 2011 – Part II

Creating characters with a sense of self and putting them in a mileau which puts the notion of identity to the test is the landmark of any great new series because personas need room to grow or else they are of no consequence to the audience. Whether it be secret computers, new roommates or traveling 85 million years in the past, if the mystery and energy is not there, no narrative can save a misguided concept.

Person Of Interest Melding ideas of “Big Brother” with a vigilante intention has different angles to pursue but only with the plot device to push it forward. A supercomputer which configures possible motives insinuates the plot. With exceptional actors like Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson [of “Lost”] there is always interesting character work but the line that the creators want to create between reality and high drama is short lived. The comparison can be made to “Life On Mars” which, while still trying to be grounded and slick, varied because of a sliver of disbelief that creeps into the progression (much like “Unforgettable”]. Uncovering a secret past in the gist of Caviezel’s soldier character keeps the intrigue going but the mythology of Emerson’s eccentric billionaire needs to be expanded because without the mystery and stakes, the series feels simply like another procedural with a couple new neat toys.

The New Girl Throwing a girl (and a weird one at that) into the mix always makes for interesting television if the actress can sell it. Spinning a reverse “Three’s Company” in an age of cynical relationships and quick bedding with a sense of innocence though is not an easy sell. Zooey Deschanel has the ability to play out the backstory of eccentric and uncool while still being cute and likeable (which is helped by her friend in the series who happens to be a hot model). The key is watching her extrapolate the indiosyncracies of the men without losing her own identity which she does by forming a relationship with a similarly weird violin player. The series works in its quirky way because of its relatability whether being at a wedding or picking up stuff from an ex’s house. Add to this essence a killer music supervisor who can mix nostalgia with a sense of new and that gives this show a consistent spin.

The Secret Circle Making a witch’s haven comparable to the “Buffy” universe is always a difficult persistance especially if humor cannot play as much of a placement in your arsenal. The idea of high school witches unable to Cope with an onslaught of demons threatening their town feels like an ode to “Witches Of Eastwick” more than anything else without the comedy. The angle here is to key it into CW’s young demographic and make it slick while also vivid enough to appeal across the board. While the soap essence overwhelms the show at times, the characters are aware enough to make their dire circumstance personal to the audience depending on the interrelation of what the characters actually want to accomplish.

Terra Nova The big wait is over in terms of this highly anticipated series that has been watched for like the second coming of “Lost”. The problem is that no series can live up to that type of scrutiny. Granted the pilot is impressive but it is necessary to sell the world. It is not so much the element of the dinosaurs and the prehistoric period that the money was spent on as it is the future world coming to ruin. One can tell that the latter angle took most of the special effects budget there but as the series progresses into subsequent episodes, it becomes truly “Swiss Family Robinson” with some high tech gadgets. While the family is interesting, it doesn’t carry the cool attitude or simple energy of say the family from “Lost In Space”. The addition of Stephen Lang as the commander of the post keeps the tension running as an ongoing feud between him and a rebelling faction keeps the ammo firing as does various prehistoric creatures. However, the immersion factors feels both authentic and yet fake at the same time despite the modern family take.

Intrinsic Enhancement & Angular Balance – New Television – Fall 2011 – Part I

Identifying and enhancing the note of the female antagonist is always an interesting play in order to appeal to the broad demographic but with female leads dominating most of prime time, the angular balance remains making them intrinsic and funny without reverting to a basic standard. Whether it be a retribution-fueled socialite in “Revenge” or 60s-era flight attendants modulating woman’s lib and society with a sense of style, this new crop of shows shows a diversity of vision.

Revenge Using an often used idiom of coming back to take out those who caused your childhood misery is the focus of many a literature and/or crime novel. The key becomes having the resources to pull it off. The lead characte rin this show tries to move back to her original stomping grounds and takes out [figuratively and financially] the people responsible for her father’s death. The soap opera touches of class structure and ideas of romance try to maintain a balance despite an overarching banality to the narrative. Creating a more intrinsic and keen viciousness within the air of a mask-oriented society is a keen art but the access remains within getting your hands dirty while looking great doing it without losing a sense of purpose.

Unforgettable Using a forensic style playback of someone’s memories to create a structure of investigation is a little far fetched but, of course, it depends on the psychology used to make it work. While the texture here has the balance of elements of “Prime Suspect”, the red-haired renaissance of the lead gives the series a bit of verve but has the possibility of wearing itself out as a “forensic light” because everything that the woman sees is immediately circumstantial. However, the idea is to do the investigations in reverse is clever but necessitates the eliminates the idea of probable cause. While there are some good moments, the progressions suffers from similar pains of “Life On Mars” which had a good hook but required too much suspension of disbelief.

Pan Am In following the perception of “Mad Men”, it seems interesting to approach this angle of intrigue and world travel through the notion of flight attendants but the ideal is that Pan Am was very different than air travel of today. Granted the through line is very soapy at times but the use of music and exceptional production value raises the bar. The characters, despite their perceptions, at times seem ambitious yet still virtuous in accordance with the times. The use of specific locations that definitely fall between the beaten path like Haiti and Rangoon definitely balance the idea of more urban destinations like London and Paris. Christina Ricci leads the pack blending a tongue-in-cheek modern virtue that almost puts her at odds with the backrgound she is against but her pinpoint accuracy on what the character believes in resolves any distance. While hanky panky among the ranks, women’s lib and the civil rights movement do intersperse in the stories, the episode progression still resolves to a lighthearted tone. The key is making the relationships and bonds stronger so that when they are eventually torn apart, the emotions will run high.

Up All Night With Will Arnett having less-than-optimum luck with his last two comedy pilot outings, it is great to see him settling in a notion of family comedy that he definitely knows something about. The key of course is a great partner. Despite the initial crank up time, the chemistry between Arnett and his on-screen wife Christina Appelgate, together raising a baby daughter, feels natural especially in their young fun singles-grown-up kind of way. With the addition of Maya Rudolph (who has the most kids in real life of any of the cast members) as a cross between J-Lo and Oprah with as many man problems as necessary to fuel a comedic actress of her like, the balance tends to work because the realities and what the characters want (especially since Arnett is playing Mr. Mom) with their ideas of life before and after baby are exceptionally pinpointed with a grand amount of tongue-in-cheek lunacy.

Ironic Social Endeavors & Artistic Paradox: The CBS Summer 2011 TCA Press Tour – Feature

The texture of comedy versus drama placates itself in the idea that people act and function a certain way because of notions of situation, upbringing and general perceptions of morality.

With the greatest market share of viewers, CBS uses their intentions to pick shows that both reflect the brand but progress the narrative to create a sense of tension, both sociologically and psychologically.

With “2 Broke Girls”, creator Whitney Cummings envisions an ideal of life that is prevalent very much in youth culture today in the aspect of doing bad jobs against a better thought process. Whitney herself dictates that the concept is very relatable. What motivated her though was the opportunity to mix with Michael Patrick King, the creator of “Sex In The City” saying that his “work formed me as a person” adding that after consuming “Sex” she “went and bought 100 Christian Louboutin shoes”. The key for this series she says King came up with and would not back down from is “two girls in yellow uniforms” and the fact there “was a diner and places where you put trays down” alluding to his style as more “visceral”. For her, the original names of the two girls were “Black” and “Blonde” which evolved when one of her descriptions for “Blonde” became “Homeless with a Horse”.

King, for his part, wanted to try to make “Girls” as “contemporary and edgy as it could be”. He did what he deems his “Scarlett O’Hara search” before integrating with Whitney in terms of the style. One of the cruxes that drew him to this specific concept was the idea of the “scary dynamic of talking about money on TV”. In terms of comparison with his earlier show, King says Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex” and these girls are very different in their DNA. If Carrie Bradshaw and her closet were Narnia then “2 Broke Girls” is their evil twin with chick lit. “Sex”, he interrelates, was playing with “the reality and fantasy of girls in their 30s”. Whereas the girls in “Sex” have check lists, the girls on “Broke” barely have checks.

Adding within the ideal of sociological structure and its reverse intentions, “How To Be A Gentleman” works in the congruence that equal reaction in terms of manners requires a bit of a kick in the pants.

David Hornsby plays the lead character here who is a bit of a stick in the mud. The idea to create this sort of buddy comedy of sorts grew out of a short manners book that crossed his desk. The progression, he dictates, is based in idioms like “When waiting at an ATM, a gentleman does not check his balanc”e. The structure of a gentleman he finds rests within the auspices of Cary Grant or George Clooney who reflect in the ideals of the “strong-jawed but less-misogynistic James Bond” types.

Dave Foley, ever in lighthearted mode, moonlights with gusto as Hornsby’s boss explaining “I think that he knows it is pathetic trying to stay relevant” but that he “is charming in his need to try to appeal to the younger” sect. Part of the notion for him in the character reflects on the idea of being 50 in the workplace because “the intention is hilarious”.

Kevin Dillon, playing the macho structure to Hornsby’s featherweight, was shooting the end of the HBO series “Entourage” at the same time though he said he hardly planned it like this. The irony is that besides the pilot, the first day of the cast being together is right now.

Angling away into the perspective of drama, “A Gifted Man” takes on a more paranormal structure while dictating a grounded scenario where a doctor recently mourning the death of his wife begins to become aware of other possibilities around him as he makes his rounds.

Patrick Wilson, playing the doctor of note, says people will want to assume certain aspects about his character especially in the fact that “he has an answer for everything”. Wilson explains that this man has a connection to the spiritual world and that “this constant struggle will be explored” in the fact that he is battling “being frustrated and being heartbroken”. The biggest challenge for him, as an actor, relies in the fact of not being a film or a play, is that “you have to give it out in small doses” which necessitates not thinking “from an acting perspective too far ahead”.

Exec producer Neal Baer indicates that, as the series progresses, the character that haunts the doctor will be revealed more than simply in the texture of a morning drink. Visually the idea of the show will develop , even though in the pilot, whilst setting up the relationship, doesn’t show the clinic prevalently.

Resolving the idea of a more procedural intention, “Person Of Interest” tries to spin the narrative on its head through the story influx of creator Jonathan Nolan who specifies that “the title for me suggests alot of what the show is about”. This theme, he explains, that fascinates him, is “uncertainty” which “we are all very aware of these days”. The basis for him suggests a-case-a-week structure. While the process within the medium is very different than working in film, approaching these kind of characters in this structure has always been of interest to him in that he “wanted to write something all the more dangerous”. Nolan continues that “the Batman analogy is not so far away” because these ideas were “a small feature of ‘The Dark Knight'” in that “it examined Batman and the lengths to which he will go”.

In reflection of the genesis of “Interest”, Nolan speaks about growing up as a kid in England in the 70s noting that “there was a lot of cameras up in London during the IRA attacks”. His family moved to Chicago a little later but when 9/11 happened, “you started seeing cameras everywhere again. For this reason, he explains, “it was a rich story to tap” but, for him, “the draw of the characters” is within “the way they can build change and grow”.

Michael Emerson’s character is enticed as the catalyst. Emerson describes him as “a shadowy tech millionaire…who wanted to apply himself to a justice mission” but “needs to team up with someone who is more active and skilled than he is”. The actor offers that the character can be called “Mitch”. In reflection of his earlier TV exposure, Emerson says that part of him wants to leave behind the “Lost” perception but “at the same time I have a working method” and “it has a certain sound and feeling to it”. He explains that his character on “Lost” was supposed to be just another guest spot but “I was never allowed to go home from the Hawaiian Island” which for “every character actor would be a secret dream” though it became “a little harder for me to hide”. He hopes though to “still do the odd turn here” adding that “I’d like it to have a limp or an accent”. The key for him though is “the idea that you can never have a life unobserved” because “it doesn’t seem so far out anymore”.

Jim Caviezel who plays the officer that Emerson’s character recruits for his “mission” describes his character as “a former Special Forces/CIA operative on the surface” but “deep down is a guy who is searching for a performance”. Ultimately the ideal for him is about becoming “redeemable” though achieving this through different roles was a “little more controversial than he thought it would be”.

Examining the new shows of CBS leading into the fall, the inherent balance shows the continued predilection towards a movement of both broad comedy but also edgy drama fare which challenges the norms of audience involvement with a definite creative edge.