[03/16/11 - 12:05 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: NBC's "Community"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:05 PM - Night 11 of the 28th Annual Paley Festival kicks off with an archival clip of the infamous word association skit between Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor from a 1975 episode of "Saturday Night Live."

7:12 PM - The Paley Center's Betsy Levikow welcomes the crowd and intros tonight's moderator, AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff. He in turn brings out creator Dan Harmon, who after amusingly fumbling through his welcome chat, says he's brought this week's episode with him!

7:37 PM - After the screening, Todd returns to bring out tonight's panel: Executive producer Russ Krasnoff! Jim Rash (Dean Pelton)! Dan Harmon! Joel McHale (Jeff)! Danny Pudi (Abed)! Gillian Jacobs (Britta)! Executive producer Anthony Russo! Executive producer Joe Russo! Ken Jeong (Senor Chang, who does his best Billy Jean while entering)! Chevy Chase (Pierce, who nearly chokes himself while getting mic'ed)! Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley)! And executive producer Garrett Donovan! (Alison Brie and Donald Glover are unfortunately MIA.)

7:42 PM - "We are going to tell some stories," Harmon says coyly when asked what's ahead. All he'll confirm: Shirley will give birth before the season's out. Danny adds to keep an eye out for Abed's "critical analysis" of 1980s staple "Who's the Boss?"

7:46 PM - Joe Russo says they pay for its various stunt episodes by banking the money - and time - saved by installments like "Cooperative Calligraphy," which was shot in three and a half days.

7:48 PM - Todd asks about Yvette's chemistry with Malcolm-Jamal Warner. This leads Chevy to gesture - you don't have to stretch your imagination as to how - that they're sleeping together.

7:51 PM - "He's got the mind of a 13-year-old," Chevy says about his character. "And I love playing a guy like that because it's so close to who I am." The writers add that they regularly discuss if they're making Pierce too irredeemable. "I get one fan letter a week now," Chevy quips.

7:55 PM - Joel says, to keep himself from cracking up, Ken will constantly say "cancer, dead babies, cancer dead babies." Ken adds that in this job "you're genuinely having a laugh every day at work and how many of us can say that? I've had other day jobs where I've never laughed."

7:59 PM - Gillian reveals she's really grateful for her character's development over the past two years. "It's been really fun to go from the girl on the pedestal in the pilot to like, 'You're the worst, please leave.' People would prefer death to my presence. It's a real dream come true." She adds that like Britta, she used to be all about women's issues and various causes but now "I don't really care anymore."

8:01 PM - "No because it was in clay," Danny says when asked if he found the Christmas episode depressing. He notes that when he first met the animators they told him, "It's really interesting to make an awkward shaped body like you." Danny goes on to give a sweet thank you to the audience for coming... which is interrupted by Chevy farting. "He saves his farts for the perfect time," Danny admits.

8:05 PM - "We'll meet Jeff's father... I'm just kidding," Joel says. "He's half horse, half man." He adds that he's hopeful in season three they'll tackle more of Jeff's issues as a result of his absentee father.

8:07 PM - "I'm offended that no one thinks Shirley and Jeff should be together," Joel quips when asked about his various romantic pairings. He adds that he's seen the various YouTube videos in favor of Annie, Britta, etc.

8:10 PM - After Jim jokes about doing an episode told entirely from the dean's perspective, Harmon pitches how it could work (complete with his impression of the cast): the cold open would be "Troy's like 'I want to grow a moustache,' Shirley's like 'I want to change what I eat'... and you come in, 'Hey everybody!' So [all] this is going on but then the camera follows you." The episode would then circle back to Shirley eating something healthy and Troy with a moustache at the end.

8:13 PM - Joe Russo indicates the show's one-hour season finale, a follow up to last year's "Modern Warfare," will be a [Spaghetti Western icon] Sergio Leone homage.

8:15 PM - "As sure as I was we were only going to get one season, when we got our second season, I was positive we were only going to get two seasons," Harmon explains. "So I made sure - and it was for better or for worse - that I did everything I could ever possibly do in the second season. So if we get a third season, it's going to be boring."

8:17 PM - Having dropped a few hints about the upcoming "memory" episode, Harmon finally spills the beans: rather than do a traditional clip show, "we shot a bunch of [scenes] from episodes that don't exist. "I don't think we've been more excited to kill ourselves," Yvette adds about the episode, which used 75 different scenes.

8:20 PM - "The first season I did not know how to work with anybody," Harmon says about the show's evolution, adding that he pulled a "weird Howard Hughes thing" by sheltering himself from the other writers. He's since opened up the show to the staff and credits them for making it better this year.

8:22 PM - Yvette says she's honored that Shirley has "a pretty prominent role" in the season finale. And what can we expect from guest star Josh Holloway? Chevy could not confirm or deny that he does "something to him."

8:26 PM - Todd asks if there's any episodes they weren't particularly fond of. Harmon recounts showing an early cut of the conspiracy theories episode to this friend Dino Stamatopoulos (who plays Starburns on the show) who told him: "That's not just the worst episode of 'Community' ever, that's the worst episode of television ever." Harmon's fix: add music in post-production to better establish the tone. "Even still then at the end of it I thought the audience was going to hate this," he adds. "It's so weird and confusing."

8:28 PM - On the same note, Garrett says he's still irked by the pool episode from season one. "We were still finding our way and I think it's the only one where our act break that was in the script was not how we did it... We had to actually create an act break in editing."

8:30 PM - Todd wonders what everyone's favorite comedy on TV is outside of "Community." "It's off the air now but 'The Tyra Banks Show,'" Joel quips.

8:32 PM - And so begins audience Q&A. "I just have one question," says a fan. "Pop, pop!" This brings down the house. Joe Russo adds that we can look forward to Magnitude's best "pop, pop" yet in the season finale.

8:34 PM - Harmon says Donald is the show's most frequent improviser. Among his best lines: "Set phasers to love me." "I have the weirdest boner." He also credits guest LeVar Burton for the "more fish for Kunte" tag.

8:36 PM - A fan asks if a recent dig at the Barenaked Ladies was aimed at time slot competitor "The Big Bang Theory." Not so as Harmon says it was just a hacky joke. He adds that he was amused by how people on Twitter said "there's no way that it was random: it's too outdated a joke." Joel however comes to his defense: "Tell me that [this phrase] does not ruin your night: 'It's been...'"

8:38 PM - Yvette says she'd love to have Isaiah Mustafa guest star on the show. "[She thinks] our sitcom is just a platform [for her] to order handsome black men," Harmon jokes.

8:40 PM - A fan, who's the spitting image of Jim Rash, wonders if Twitter has affected the show. Harmon puts it in this context: "There's a window on our office building where we do the writing and sometimes it rains, sometimes the sun is out, sometimes Andre Braugher walks by singing - we're on the Paramount lot where they shoot 'Men of a Certain Age,' okay? - these things all affect you too." Harmon adds that fans mostly just quote their favorite lines. Joel cites "brown Jamie Lee Curtis" as being especially popular.

8:44 PM - Someone wonders if we'll see Joel McHale shirtless again this year: yes we will.

8:45 PM - "I feel like, I am kind of like a fan," Danny says about playing Abed. "I'm literally a fan that got dropped into this world of Greendale and walks around like, 'Here's what's happening now, Here's what's happening now.'" He later adds that he'd love to do a Bruce Lee movie parody.

8:48 PM - That's a wrap! Jim is back tomorrow for "Glee!"

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.

  [march 2011]  


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