Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Without revealing any plot spoilers, the first episode of Modern Family’s upcoming fifth season will take on the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in California. At tonight’s onstage “table read” of the episode for an audience of Emmy voters at Fox Studios, executive producer Steven Levitan pleaded with tweeters not to spoil any surprises while at the same time acknowledging that a plot tweet was likely to escape. (Co-creator Christopher Lloyd, who sat in the audience, already had said in interviews that the “gay marriage” issue might crop up on the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom.) And after the reading, which featured most of the cast members, the writing staff was quick to talk about how the same-sex marriage issue came to the table. Jeffrey Richman — writer of the episode, titled “Suddenly Last Summer”, which premieres September 25 — joked of the June 26 Supreme Court ruling, “I’m gay, and I was happier as a writer.” Then he added, “It was great for the gays, too.”
Related: EMMYS: Comedy Series Overview
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Veteran Christpher Lloyd has been tapped to star opposite John Leguizamo and Dustin Ybarra in ABC’s multicamera comedy pilot Only Fools And Horses. Based on the British format, the multicamera comedy chronicles the misadventures of two streetwise brothers, Del (Leguizamo) and Rodney (Ybarra), and their aging grandfather (Lloyd) as they concoct outrageous, morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes in their quest to become millionaires. Also cast in the pilot is BJ Bales (Happy Endings) as Trigger, a ghetto-talking con man who is Del and Rodney’s perpetual enemy. Lloyd is with Gersh and Freedman Management; Bales is with APA and Principato-Young,
Majandra Delfino (The Great State Of Georgia) has been cast in ABC’s single-camera pilot starring Mandy Moore and directed by Shawn Levy. The project, written by Bob Fisher and Stacy Traub, centers on newlyweds Annie (Moore) and Ben, who get the opportunity of a lifetime to run a hip, new restaurant in Annie’s hometown bringing her closer to her needy and high-maintenance family. APA-repped Delfino will play one of Annie’s sisters, who is divorced and living at home. 20th Century Fox TV is producing with Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s studio-based banner. Read More »
Here’s is the Deadline/TVline assessment of 2011 Emmy comedy races:
Deadline/TVline: 2011 Comedy Series Overview
Competition for Emmy nominations among this year’s Outstanding Comedy Series contestants is no laughing matter. The showdown between two 20th Century TV hits … Read More »
Christopher Lloyd is co-creator and co-showrunner with Steven Levitan (his Q&A here) of last year’s Emmy winner for Outstanding Comedy Series, Modern Family. But Lloyd didn’t go onstage to accept the accolade. This recipient of eight Emmys for his work on comedy series including Frasier and The Golden Girls prefers to stay in the shadows and let his chatty partner bask in all the public limelight. Now, Lloyd breaks his silence and talks to Deadline TV Contributor Diane Haithman for an interview one TV publicist claimed was harder to nab than “a sitdown with Osama Bin Laden”:
DEADLINE: Obviously, I first have to ask why do you rarely speak publicly about Modern Family, and why do you let Steve Levitan do all the talking about it?
LLOYD: I think Steve started out wanting to be a broadcast journalist, an on-camera guy. He likes doing things that I don’t like to do. I tend to avoid things like award shows and panels and interviews, not remotely because I feel I’m above them or wish to cultivate the image of the intriguing recluse. I’m just not very good at them. There are some comedy writers who came up on the performing side and might welcome those sorts of events. There are others to whom an auditorium full of people looks like a welter of angry torch-bearers. I have nothing against the first group but when I see members of my own tribe in public appearances sweating like murder suspects and spraying the front row with Xanax flecks, I wonder why they didn’t choose, like me, to stay home. Look, the work we do on the show gets plenty of accolades, and I get plenty of pleasure from it. But I sense from people that they get frustrated with me for not being out and about. But I guess I’m a shy boy.
DEADLINE: What’s the division of showrunning between you and Steve?
LLOYD: He goes off and talks to the camera and gets every interview, and I stay home and do all the hard work with the writing staff. (laughs) But seriously, we have a large staff of 10 writers including myself and Steve, and we can fairly easily divide the room in half: he takes four, and I take four. We generate stories separately, but that’s early on in the process. Once we get on track, we confer with one another and feel free to intermingle the groups. A lot of the work with the actors we do separately because we each take every other episode and see it through to the end. We have a five-day shooting schedule, 10 hours Monday through Friday, all the way through the season. That’s one of the more fun aspects of the job. It would be overkill to have both of us onstage. Plus, if we did that, I don’t know what would be happening with the writers back in the room. Given that we have slightly different styles, it’s a good system.
DEADLINE: What does an Emmy mean to a show that’s already successful?
LLOYD: It’s wonderful acknowledgment of what you’ve done. What comes with that is a challenge not to repeat yourself, and to keep the show good, and maybe even to make it better. Continuing recognition says you’ve done that job. No one wants to be in charge when the show starts to slide and people say: ‘Meh, it’s seen better days.’ But then there are those shows that go away and come back. Everybody Loves Raymond was in that category. And I think Cheers. I’m not an Emmy historian, but there is some fun andsome challenge in a show being thought of as on top, then a little passé or whatever, and then comes back and proves everybody wrong. Read More »
Christopher Lloyd has been tapped for the last lead role in NBC’s untitled Dan Goor comedy. The multicamera centers on Dr. Adam Foote (Andrew J. West), who leaves a broken relationship and a job as hospital administrator in Boston to … Read More »
Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan looked like a single dad tonight, accepting alone the show’s awards for Best Comedy Series and Best Writing for a Comedy Series. Where was fellow co-creator Christopher Lloyd, the executive producer who co-wrote the pilot that won the writing award? ”He has an aversion to crowds … Read More »