[02/01/11 - 01:25 AM]
Live at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: CBS's "The Good Wife"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

While the weather on the East Coast forced some of the cast members of CBS's "The Good Wife" to head back to New York City before the next round of snow began, there was still a solid representation of cast and crew Monday night at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood to honor the sophomore hit series. During the panel, there was much talk about how the popular series came together, the level of quality the show has in producing 23 episodes a season plus a few teases as to what is to come during the rest of season two.

8:20 PM - A video recap of this second season fills everyone in on the action thus far on "The Good Wife" but after the recap we're treated to three new scenes from tonight's episode - one between political candidate Wendy Scott-Carr (played by Anika Noni Rose) and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) discussing the "silly season" (also the title of the episode) where a political campaign can go off the rails, a second with law partners Will Gardner (Josh Charles) and Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) plotting to oust legal partner Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy) and, finally, a tense scene between Blake Calamar (Scott Porter) and Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry). Looks like a very juicy episode.

8:24 PM - Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross is our moderator for the evening and confesses that when the series was first coming on the air he didn't plan on watching even one episode chalking it up to just another legal show.

8:26 PM - The panel comes out to the stage - Executive Producer Brooke Kennedy! Executive Producer David Zucker! Archie Panjabi (Kalinda Sharma)! Matt Czuchry (Cary Agos)! Julianna Margulies (Alicia Florrick)! Creator/Executive Producer Robert King! Creator/Executive Producer Michelle King! Casting Director Mark Saks!

8:28 PM - Dalton acknowledges Julianna's SAG win to big applause and then asks what sold her on "The Good Wife" when she'd just come off the short-lived FOX legal series "Canterbury's Law." Julianna says, "I knew it was something special because we had never seen this kind of woman before on television because she's not a hero and she's not a victim." Julianna also says that Alicia is "very far from who I am."

8:30 PM - Brooke says she knew the show was special when she met Julianna and the fact that the show was about "the unobvious choices." Zucker says it was when he read the pilot script. Archie jokes that it came together for her when she discovered Kalinda's now-trademark leather boots. Matt says he knew it was because "we had people who came to work everyday and the most important thing was the work."

8:35 PM - Julianna confesses that she didn't think audiences would respond to the show in the beginning because it was "too smart." In fact, she had told her agents she wanted a cable show because it would give freedom of expression. "On network, I often would see things where your free expression was... stilted... I'm trying to be diplomatic. I truly believe I found my cable show and it just happens to be on network."

8:39 PM - Julianna compares the fact that "The Good Wife" is producing 23 episodes a year of the same quality without all the cash that a show like "Boardwalk Empire" has. Also, the fact that the Kings regularly talk to the actors about their choices is unique, she adds. "I've done this for awhile. Archie and Matt are new to this and I say to them daily 'This isn't normal!'"

8:42 PM - Julianna thinks that "The Good Wife" has helped "put network back on the map... and it's truly made network television better. If you look at the pilots they're trying to put out now and the level... they've raised the bar again."

8:44 PM - Michelle says she knew they were onto something when she saw Julianna step into Alicia Florrick's shoes in the pilot. "Alicia Florrick had been living in our house for months... and [Julianna] was better than I could have imagined her and that, for me, was when it became special."

8:46 PM - Dalton asks about how social media became such a big part of the show. Robert cites the "massive change in the way we absorb news and literature and media" and said it changed how politicians run campaigns and, as is utilized in the series, scandal. Robert also adds that in terms of the Florrick teenagers and how they regularly see their parents on social media sites, "the feeling would be that the kids would be outraged or upset or cry at night but it's like, no, it would be cool that their Dad would have been caught with a prostitute."

8:48 PM - Dalton asks Matt how he juggles the moral center of his love him/hate him character. "I love that challenge... it's always nice when people come up to me on the street and say we want to strangle you through the TV but in the same time and in the same breath they say 'But we love your character, too.'" When he reads the scripts and sees what Cary is up to, he's not always sure he can pull off that balancing act.

8:51 PM - Michelle talks about the challenge in how the writers work to service the many characters on the show. "It is very much a team effort. The writers are fantastic in terms of servicing everyone. Part of the pleasure is that the characters do have their own voices so it's just natural that Will would be in a particular scene and doing that because that's what Will would do so in that sense they dictate it as much as anything else."

8:53 PM - Keeping recurring characters moving in and out and being able to utilize busy actors, like Titus Welliver, is "very, very difficult," says Brooke. "We try to never say no to anything. We just want to be there and watch the magic happen... everybody has patience and we have a lotta luck." Marc explains that there's a huge grid they use for all the recurring characters to start a "gigantic puzzle" to keep track of all the actors that come in and out of the show in non-regular roles.

8:55 PM - Marc reveals that Alan Cumming's Eli Gold character was originally offered to Nathan Lane, who wanted to do it but was doing "The Addams Family" on Broadway and realized he couldn't make it work. Since Cumming was leaving the much-ballyhooed "Spider-Man" musical on Broadway, the timing was right for him to step into the show.

8:57 PM - Dalton asks about the revolving stable of judges - David Paymer (who was in the pilot), Ana Gasteyer, Griffin Dunne, Jerry Stiller are some who have appeared - do the actors have a favorite that they get excited about. Julianna says "when [Paymer] comes it's like going home because we started with David and I think Marc was absolutely right that he set a tone for the level for the kinds of judges that we have on our show." Marc says that the Kings told him that in terms of casting they didn't want generic "Law & Order" judges but ones with personality.

9:00 PM - When Griffin Dunne's judge made Alicia go home for wearing pants in his courtroom, Julianna asked a real-life lawyer - her husband - if this would happen. "'Absolutely,'" he told her. "'The courtroom is the judge's home and you have to abide by his rules.'"

9:02 PM - Archie has to talk about the infamous scene from earlier this season when Kalinda smashes the hell out of Blake's car in the parking garage. "That was probably one of my favorite scenes that I've ever worked as an actor, period. It was fun to shoot and it's not bad to be paid to wear high-heeled thigh-high boots, take a baseball bat and smash a car!'

9:04 PM - Is Robert surprised at what they get away with on the show? Nodding, he says that in season two "we're kind of exploring how far we can go... will they let us do this? The first thought was that we should have Chris Noth go down on [Alicia]." Julianna hides her face in embarrassment since this actually did happen in a scene earlier in the season.

9:07 PM - Julianna is asked whether she wants to see Alicia end up with Will or her husband. She says that while she doesn't know what is coming on the show because she's told the Kings not to tell her so her performance is "fresh," she does offer, "I think that we want to make this as real and not as melodramatic as possible... I think she truly needs to find out who she is without a man because I think she got lost in a world where she completely lost sight of who she was in a relationship."

9:10 PM - Dalton asks some Twitter questions - could there be any developments between Cary and Kalinda? Archie enthusiastically says "Yes!"

9:11 PM - Twitter question asked whether Alicia and Cary ever smooth over their misunderstandings. Juliana cites last week's episode where Cary said he'd come back to the firm if he made more money than Alicia and be her senior. "If that does happen - and again I don't know and they don't tell me because I don't want to know - then I think there's going to be some real problems!"

9:13 PM - Julianna's favorite case on the show is the death-row case "because it brought such a huge element in the idea in how truly important this is. It's life and death and at the end of the episode when she says, 'If there's any doubt, you can't do this'... I found it very moving." Matt starts mentioning his favorite cases and then gets teased by Julianna for naming basically every episode of the series. This cast obviously has a lot of fun together.

9:15 PM - Robert is a little tongue-tied about what is coming next in future episodes but more guest stars coming up include the return of Michael J. Fox, Denis O'Hare as a judge, Gary Cole coming back for an episode and F. Murray Abraham. Robert does say that in the coming episodes we're going to see some escalation "in the situation between Scott Porter's character Blake and Archie's character Kalinda which is very provocative and quite a stretch for network TV." The room is abuzz with anticipation.

9:17 PM - That's a wrap for tonight at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"The Good Wife" airs Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c on CBS.

  [february 2011]  


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