[03/18/11 - 12:22 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: FOX's "Raising Hope"
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.

7:04 PM - The final night of PaleyFest 2011 opens with a 1963 clip of "77 Sunset Strip" featuring a very young Cloris Leachman. And with that, The Paley Center's Betsy Scolnick welcomes tonight's attendees and brings out our moderator, KTLA's (and "The Soup" staple) Steve Edwards.

7:10 PM Edwards, who's turned up in a few episodes of "Raising Hope" as a news anchor, in turn welcomes creator Greg Garcia. He's brought a treat - the show's season finale, which won't air until May 17.

7:41 PM - After the screening - and I have to say, it's probably one of if not the best installments of the series - Edwards intros tonight's panelists: Greg Garcia! Shannon Woodward (Sabrina)! Lucas Neff (Jimmy)! Martha Plimpton (Virginia)! And Garrett Dillahunt (Burt)!

7:43 PM - "I was interested in doing another domestic sitcom after doing 'My Name Is Earl.' But I wanted it to be kind of bent and different," Garcia says about the show's origins. "So I thought what can I do to get these people in a very odd situation? And that's how I came up with the whole serial killer [angle]. I wanted to have a family that was kind of getting a second chance at raising a child again. Even though they had no idea what they were doing, their hearts were in the right place."

7:45 PM - "Up front a lot of people thought, after the pilot, we were going to keep putting the baby in jeopardy," Garcia notes. "For the most part we save that for flashbacks of young Jimmy because we know he's okay now... plus he's played by my son."

7:47 PM - "I like to say we plucked Lucas out of obscurity and then when we're done we're going to put him back," Garcia jokes about casting the unknown Neff as Jimmy.

7:48 PM - "I watched the show and I thought it was so moving. And it was so grounded and I was crying watching a 22-minute comedy pilot," Woodward says about her casting, which came after the original pilot was shot. (Olesya Rulin played Sabrina in the previous incarnation.) She adds it took some wooing on Garcia's part to get her to sign on as she was worried about never having done comedy before.

7:52 PM - "I feel like we make a 22-minute comic film every week," says Dillahunt. "The frame is really deep: there's stuff going on out of focus in the back that's funny." After Edwards compliments said elements in the episode we just saw, Garcia quips, "It's amazing what you can do when you go a quarter of a million dollars over budget."

7:55 PM - "I was in Chicago, broke, fairly unemployed depending upon how you look at the arts," Neff says about the time of his casting. "I wasn't cleaning houses, I was cleaning my first house. It was a miraculous sort of nexus point. I had scrubbed my first two toilets like the week before I got this audition. And when you're elbow deep in someone else's toilet you just got to imagine things are going to go up from there." Garcia teases Neff that while waiting for his network test, he took pictures of himself with the photos of the various FOX stars in the hallway.

7:58 PM - Where's Cloris tonight? "She was with us when we got here," Neff quips, looking around.

8:01 PM - "We do, constantly. It's very unprofessional," Plimpton says about the cast's frequent bouts with the giggles while filming. She adds that it's nothing that's ever that funny now, just the result of long days getting to them.

8:05 PM - Nuff realizes that the panel is actually being projected onto the screen behind them - a discovery that literally freaks him out. He regularly looks back trying to catch a glimpse of himself to no avail, a tic that gets a laugh throughout the panel.

8:08 PM - "We're moving to Hawaii!" Plimpton exclaims when asked what's ahead for season two. Garcia later reveals the writers don't report back until June so nothing's been planned.

8:11 PM - After Neff is once again distracted by the projection behind him, Edwards gets up and tries to force his attention. This leads Neff to hide behind his chair. Only at PaleyFest folks.

8:13 PM - "It's wonderful. As you know I'm quite old," Plimpton jokes about the show's success. Adding, "I certainly don't mind being out of debt... for the first time ever."

8:15 PM - "Most people that watch the show do love the show," Garcia notes about "Hope's" fan base. "The network would like a few more people to like it and a few more million people to tolerate it."

8:17 PM - Woodward says being recognized from the show has been a positive experience. "I felt proud," she notes. "Like I felt almost like I worked for a great charity." Plimpton quips, "FOX?"

8:19 PM - "We're with the trolls by the way," Garcia notes after Charlie Sheen inevitably comes up while talking about celebrity. "Losing!"

8:21 PM - "It's just us and porn up there," Garcia jokes about filming in Chatsworth. "So we try and stay out of their way, they stay out of our way."

8:24 PM - Garcia notes during the pilot Cloris asked him how long he thinks the show could go. "I said over eight years. She said, 'How old am I?' I said, 'You'll be 92.' She said, 'I can do that.'"

8:28 PM - "I wake up every morning terrified I'm going to do a bad episode of TV," Garcia notes about his process. "And that just drives me. And I'm very conscious of the fact these people up here in front of you have signed on to do this show. They signed on kind of as a leap of faith on the one script that I wrote. And I take that very seriously."

8:30 PM - Edwards opens the floor to Q&A. A fan wonders if Cloris actually gets a script or do they just wind her up and let her go. "I wish she was here tonight... none of us would have to talk," Garcia quips, adding her antics on the show are completely scripted.

8:33 PM - Garcia notes the original title for the show was "Keep Hope Alive" however fears of being sued by Jesse Jackson caused them to preemptively change it. He adds that the original pilot may find its way to the DVD.

8:37 PM - "They think it's real," Neff jokes about the twin girls who play Hope on the show. "Think about that."

8:40 PM - Garcia notes that the show's stable of supporting players - literally all of whom turn up in the season finale - was built intentionally. So if you see someone with just one line in an episode, there's more than likely something else in the works down the road with him or her.

8:42 PM - "So I hear you have three amazing sons," a "fan" notes. "We've seen the two younger sons on the show. Why haven't we seen the [older] one?" Garcia replies, "Funny story about that guy that just asked that question... when I asked him to be on the show, he said, 'You know, I don't know. I'm thinking about just doing movies.' I have a long memory."

8:44 PM - A fan wonders why Cloris isn't listed in the title credits. Garcia notes it's because she was a guest star but that will change come season two: she's now a series regular. As part of her deal though, Garcia says she'll be credited as "and introducing Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw."

8:48 PM - That's a wrap on PaleyFest 2011! We hope you dug our coverage and as usual we'll see you next year!

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

  [march 2011]  


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