Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Nobody could be happier about the success of Fox’s comedy hit New Girl than executive producer Liz Meriwether and star Zooey Deschanel, whose performance has caused the word “adorkable” to enter the popular lexicon. No wait — it’s possible that the Adam F. Goldberg and Christian Slater, executive producer and star of the comedy Breaking In, are even happier: At a TCA panel on Fox comedies Sunday, Goldberg says the renewal of his series was linked to New Girl’s success. “[Fox Entertainment president] Kevin Reilly said: ‘I want to build a whole comedy night,’ so he picked up the actors’ options,” said Goldberg on a panel that included actors and producers from Breaking In, New Girl and Raising Hope, which will represent Fox’s Tuesday night comedy block. “I was in a holding pattern. Nobody wanted New Girl to work more than I did, because that meant we could come back.”
Slater said that when Breaking In landed at Fox, he felt like Goldilocks because the fit was “just right.” Now, he said, “I’m a little more like Tinkerbell.” Added Goldberg, “I got this e-mail [from Slater] saying we’re going to come back from the dead.” Slater also said the decision to renew the show came after “I decided to relocate to Miami. As soon as you move away from where you shoot the show is when they decide to bring it back. I thought it was adorable.”
He did not say “adorkable,” but there were plenty of jokes flying about the word. The first to grab onto the term was Megan Mullally, who has been added to the cast of Breaking In. “I’m adorkable — there’s going to be two,” she said of her character, Veronica Mann. “I met these people for the first time at Tuesday night’s table read. I just pulled it right out of my ass yesterday morning. That’s pretty much how it went.” Goldberg said the addition of Mullally represents part of an attempt to make the program “feel more like an office show — that meant building in more people in the office that could be funny. Also one thing that was missing for me was a foil for Oz, Christian’s character.”
Raising Hope also didn’t escape the “adorkable” factor. Star Martha Plimpton was asked a joking question about whether she, too, was adorkable. “Aren’t we all,” she deadpanned. The same journalist referred to Raising Hope as a show that had stumbled a bit coming out of the gate. “Do you think so? We didn’t know that, but thanks for telling us,” Plimpton replied in the same mock-frosty tone. “You’re really hitting it out of the park, lady.” After reassuring the journalist that she was just teasing, Plimpton described her show as being unusual for comedy: “The show has an inherently dark, weird, unattractive element to it. [But] even though it’s dark, even though it’s weird and we were throwing up on the children and whatnot, it’s not ugly, and it’s not mean. That’s something we’re thirsty for in the culture.”
Executive producer Greg Garcia said that Raising Hope viewers can expect story lines to continue to explore ways in which to expand the roles of the child characters. In explaining that idea, however, he couldn’t resist also including a reference to always-outrageous cast member Cloris Leachman. “Cloris will do anything, she’s a gamer. If it’s funny, she’ll do it,” he said. “On Friday, we had a tarantula crawl over her face while she was sleeping, and she didn’t budge. The babies hate the tarantulas. We put them all over them. They’re both a couple of pussies when it comes down to it.”
With that comment, it was clear that the panelists had entered a sort of comedy meltdown. Someone asked Deschanel what kind of breakfast cereal her family had grown up on to make both she and her sister Emily Deschanel into successful actresses. Emily stars in the Fox drama Bones. “Fox cereal. We ate Fox cereal,” Zooey said.