Will Matthew Perry’s new “Go On” be a hit show for the former “Friends” star at long last? Bill Cobbs tells us that NBC is “giving us the feeling that, hey, we love you and we want to see you do well and make this a good show.”
Cobbs plays George, the blind member of Perry’s “life transitions” therapy group in the tragi-comedy, premiering in its regular timeslot tonight (9/11), in which Perry’s a hotshot sports radio show host whose wife recently died. The beloved 78-year-old actor of “Night at the Museum” and “The Muppets” fame has a string of movies on the way, including “Oz, the Great and Powerful.” But he’s happy to be focusing on “Go On” and his recurring role, “given the great cast and the way they’re writing this. It’s quite different, quite a different thing, which is great.”
The series also happens to mark the third time Cobbs has played a blind character. He drew inspiration from writer James Stovall, who penned the best-selling The Ultimate Gift, which was made into a film with Abigail Breslin, Drew Fuller, James Garner and Cobbs among the cast. Stovall “is blind, but when you meet him, you have no idea that he is blind. He looks right at you. And you can sit and talk to him for awhile before your realize he is blind,” Cobbs relates. “He has a marvelous spirit and great take on humanity. I thought about that in terms of George, and I was very touched that the writers paid attention to what I had to say about that. They have been really great about incorporating ideas that you bring and talking about things. We have this great cast, and I think it’s the same way with all of us.”
Viewers will find out a lot more about George and the other group characters as the show, created by former “Friends” executive producer Scott Silveri, continues on, says Cobbs. “In the beginning, it seems like just a single joke, but now the characters are really developing along the lines of what the writers envisioned.”
Interesting, the jockeying for position among singing competition shows before the kickoff of the 2012-2013 season. While Simon Cowell has been teasing his new “X Factor” judges by letting the world know Britney Spears has turned out to be Quite Mean, NBC’s “The Voice” team made a point of stressing that they have no desire to be mean — or negative at all.
“We’re not interested in being on a show where we rip people. That was a common theme,” said Adam Levine, who turned out to talk to press about the show at producer Mark Burnett’s posh Malibu home the other day, along with his fellow “The Voice” music superstar coaches — Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, as well as host Carson Daly.
“And it proved something. The blind auditions replaced the need to find terrible singers and rip them,” added Burnett, referring to the early audition rounds full of non-talents and scathing critiques so familiar to “American Idol” audiences.
“I really have been averse to it,” Levine went on. “I personally have never experienced a positive feeling — I don’t like to see that. It looks like someone getting bullied and it makes me sad, it really does. I don’t like to watch.”
His fellow coaches – remember, on “The Voice,” they’re more into coaching than judging –agreed.
Aguilera even had kind words for Britney, who, of course, she’s been getting sized up against since their “Mickey Mouse Club” days together.
“I know she’s a pro and she’s going to give, I think, great advice,” said the pop star, resplendent with blond and lavender hair for the panel. “I don’t know the format of the other shows. I just know the format of the show I’m on. But I welcome these very talented women. Especially in my genre of pop, the media gets in there to pit us against one another and women against women, this and that, and you know, I’m just not down for that at this point in my life. I have no patience for it, so I’m like, come on, the more the merrier. She’ll have fun with it.”
Considering the fact that this year, “X Factor” will be going toe to toe with “The Voice” – “The Voice” launches Sept. 10 and “X Factor” two days later — Aguilera is likely going to find comparisons impossible to avoid. (“American Idol” returns mid-season.)
The wide-ranging talk, accompanied by the sounds of surf and sea birds near the beachside grounds of Burnett’s home, also covered the topic of celebrity mentors.
Green talked about reaching out to artists with whom he has personal relationships and friendships, like Prince and Rob Thomas, to work with his up-and-comers. Levine has Mary J. Blige. Aguilera has Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.
Armstrong wasn’t a friend, she said, when she went after him to be a mentor for her team. But they did have mutual respect. With his “punk, badass” persona, “He brings a whole different energy and different advice than I would give from a female pop star perspective. He comes from a completely different world and kind of puts a whole new spin on everything,” she observed.
Blake Shelton’s bringing in Michael Buble. Their paths have converged a surprising number of times, considering they, too, are from different musical worlds. Shelton noted that he had a country hit with a Buble song, then they worked together on a David Foster special, and a Shelton Christmas album. “We’ve become friends – as close friends as you can be when he lives in Vancouver, and I live in Oklahoma,” Shelton said. When it came time to adding a new mentor for “The Voice,” “I thought, ‘This is a no-brainer.”
The joking, teasing, competitive camaraderie between the coaches that is one of “The Voice’s” greatest assets was also on display. Talking about their crammed schedules, Burnett noted that Shelton had been juggling tour dates, and in fact had just made a whirlwind trip back and forth to Washington.
“Is that what Blake told you? You guys are so gullible. Tour!” cracked Levine – who was, himself, leaving for South America tour dates the next morning. The show’s social media maven, Christina Milian, noted that the four singers can do dead-on imitations of one another.
Daly noted that we’ll see more of Green, Aguilera, Levine and Shelton performing this coming season, “because that’s what they do.”
But what about “The Voice” come spring? Burnett admits that the “matrix of tour dates of these artists is a producer’s nightmare” in terms of scheduling. “We’re all talking, all the time.”
“I want to do it,” said Green.
“We all want this to work,” said Levine.
But there is a chance that the current foursome might help bring in substitutes for themselves to fill in. “The good news is we’re all friends; we’re all openly talking about it all the time,” said Burnett, who stressed that he and his team knew what they were signing up for when they became involved with touring musical stars at the top of their game. “This is really like family.”
As fans of NBC’s popular “Grimm” know, last season wound up with Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) spilling the truth about his creature-fighting proclivities to girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) — and his police detective partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), finally getting a look at Nick’s supernatural world.
“To see all the enthusiasm fans have for their respective shows — that’s fantastic! Keep it coming. But as it may be directed toward us, the actors, that’s where it can be a bit crazy. I appreciate it because it does mean the show is doing well, and I’m doing well and it’s increased my profile, my awareness with audiences, but to be honest, it’s a little
It’s a very different Tyler James Williams we’ll be seeing in Matthew Perry’s forthcoming NBC series, “Go On.” The former “Everybody Hates Chris” lead is playing a member of Perry’s therapy group — a guy whose brother is in a coma.
According to him, the series that has Perry as a sportscaster attempting to deal with his psychological woes is “one of those comedies where, ha ha it’s funny — but it’s actually very sad. It’s really dramatic, and you have people dealing with real issues, and yet it’s funny and you laugh. There’s always that one point in the episode where we have to get really serious.”
“The show is going to be a surprise,” Williams believes. “I think you’re going to see a lot of dramatic sides from people who you’ve just seen doing comedy in the past.”
And it marks a leap to a more mature character for the 19-year-old multi-talent, who last month starred in the Disney Channel’s “Let It Shine” hip hop musical — that became the No. 1 TV movie among kids and tweens this year in the ratings.
His leap into maturity “was part of the game plan,” he says. “We wanted to open up the audience a little, although I’ve had somewhat of an adult audience through most of my life.”
Williams acknowledges that “Go On” is “a little risky,” but that’s part of the excitement.
The May parade of season finales continues. “Grimm’s” is coming up tomorrow (5/18). “Someone’s life is going to be in the balance,” teases Russell Hornsby, whose homicide detective character, Hank, does not, as yet, know that his partner, Nick (David Giuntoli) is a special being who can see and fight supernatural creatures.
“We’re looking at quite a few cliffhangers. So far, Nick has kept his personal and professional relationships at bay, but now, there are questions as to how much he is going to tell Juliet, and what will happen to their relationship,” says Hornsby, speaking of Nick’s girlfriend, played by Bitsie Tulloch. “Is Nick going to tell Hank the truth? Will their partnership last? Will Hank be around? Will he stay on the force?”
We’re betting he does, given Hornsby’s glow as he anticipates going back to work on the show for Season 2 at month’s end. Hornsby and his wife just returned from a hiatus trip to Vietnam in time for him to be present in NYC at this week’s upfront presentation for advertisers. He’s ready.
“I was really happy with the fact we got picked up, then got the go-ahead for the back nine, then the second season, the fact that we have a cult following — all the success the show has had up to this point, really. Every actor hopes to get one of these kinds of shows,” he says. “People are really intrigued by the characters and the storylines. There are likeable characters you don’t often get to see in a procedural drama — quirky characters that make witty comments, some off color remarks, have some fun.”
If NBC’s “Bent” romantic comedy gets tossed on the dust pile of short-lived series after tonight’s two episodes air — as TV pundits across the land predict — it certainly won’t be for lack of effort on the cast’s part to save the show.
Charming hottie David Walton tells us his schedule this past week included an intensive radio tour, TV and print interviews. “Whatever is out there, I’ll do. I’ve been whoring myself out as much as possible” as he puts it. “I love it. I love talking about the show. The NBC publicity team has been helpful. I don’t really know how publicity works, but I’m sure the more people hear about it, the better the chance people will watch, so I’ve been telling strangers. I opened a bank account yesterday and I told the teller I would withhold my opening of the account if she didn’t watch.”
The series, with Walton as a surfer dude contractor working for Amanda Peet’s no-nonsense corporate lawyer/single mom character, has its flaws. But it also has appeal in the actors’ chemistry, fun repartee and Jeffrey Tambor as Walton’s father, a frustrated actor. It certainly appears to have more going for it than other shows given more of a chance than its stingy run. Six episodes are being burned off in three weeks — opposite “American Idol” and “Modern Family.” Really, it looks like the network is committing sericide.
But Walton is being as upbeat as possible, in his actory way, as he stresses the collection of good reviews amassed by “Bent.” He adds, “The first episode was good, but by the third and fourth we hit our stride and were dying to do more. We’ll end our run, and then for a month and a half we’ll wait for our fate.”
“I don’t know that we’re a huge hit, but certainly a hit enough. It exceeds most expectations,” notes Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays the series’ good wolfman, Monroe. “Being on Friday is a nice element, because I think the expectations, viewership-wise, are less on a Friday. We’re doing really well with Live+7, which is anybody who watches it on DVR or on demand within seven days of the original airdate. As far as that metric goes, we’re doing very well.”
Mitchell is known for having played a string of disturbed and/or disturbing characters on “Prison Break” (as “Haywire” Patoshik), “Burn Notice” (as unstable arms dealer Seymour) and other shows. He laughs when asked whether he yearns to play a regular sort, say a suburban dad or office worker.
“I don’t know about playing ‘regular,’ per se, but I think it would be fun to play someone whose rhythms are slower and kind of more delicate, than Monroe, whose brain fires at a certain speed,” he says. “I love the bouncy, firecracker mind, but I think it would be fun to play someone deliberate, just as a change of pace.”
The actor is grateful that he hasn’t had to endure as many hours in the makeup chair as some might expect for the transformation into his creature alter ego. He tells us that the team shot sequences of Monroe, the Blutbad, doing various movements all at once, and has interspersed them through the season, as needed. “The guy who has really had to take it on the chin in terms of schedule is David Giuntoli,” he says of the series’ lead. “Especially at the beginning, it was really all about him and stuff he was doing. Now, as the story has entrenched itself and grown roots, there are more people involved in the story and it’s a little easier on him.”
Jeffrey Tambor is having a blast playing an unsuccessful actor on NBC’s March 21-debuting “Bent” comedy. Since he’s always one of the busiest actors in town, it’s a stretch, though he certainly knows the territory. “Actually, my character teaches, too, and I teach, in fact, so we could poke fun at that whole thing a little bit — gently,” he tells us. “And he thinks he’s 52 years old, so here we go.”
Tambor, 67, plays the live-in dad to David Walton’s character in the romantic comedy in which the very-charming Walton and Amanda Peet star. He hadn’t worked with either actor before, but discovered some common ground in that Peet is an avid “Arrested Development” fan.
This past October — after years of rumors and denials — “Arrested Development” creator Mitchell Hurwitz confirmed that he is going to do a feature film version of the cult hit TV show, and not only that, but it would be preceded by 10 additional episodes.
And now? Any word on production plans?
“Honestly, and I’m not being deceptive, you know as much as I do,” insists the man known to “Arrested” viewers as George Bluth, Sr. and his twin brother, Oscar Bluth. “I know it’s being done. That’s what I know. We were back East, together at The New Yorker Festival when we heard the news, and everyone is very excited. I know that it’s almost completely written, or written. And that’s what I know. I’m just waiting to hear, waiting to hear. If you hear anything else, please give me a call.”
In fact, Tambor has been way too busy to get lost in pining away for the “Arrested Development” cameras to roll this summer. The father of four young children, in addition to two grownup daughters, he’s been doing multiple projects. “I’m leading a very interesting life. I do animation [voices] for Disney. I do ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,’” he referring to the Nickelodeon preschool show. “And coming out this year on HBO, I have ‘The Phil Spector Story’ with Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, who are just jaw-droppingly brilliant.”
“The Biggest Loser” is wrapping up shooting for its currently-airing season this week, and host Alison Sweeney admits “I’ve been counting the days” ’til it’s over. That’s because Alison, a master multi-tasker, has taken on a workload that’s nearly impossible. There’s “Biggest Loser,” her ongoing starring stint on “Days of Our Lives,” plus the “Hollywood Girls Night” TV Guide Channel show she’s executive producing along with her on-camera chores.
Planning her schedule has been like “a thousand-piece puzzle that only fits together one way. It’s all been happening at once,” she tells us. “I try to avoid this, but one time did I have to do all three shows in one day, with the Hollywood Moms coming for dinner. That was a long day.”
In case you weren’t aware, the Sunday night show, in which she partners with Ali Landry, was inspired by their real-life social circle of celebrity moms, who had fun getting together at each other’s homes and dishing on the industry, men, their kids, men, friends and men. “We want to keep it all positive, fun and light-hearted, just like it is when we talk to our girlfriends off-camera. It’s not often you’re in the middle of an outrageous conversation or a catfight. We behave as we would if we came to someone’s house for dinner,” she says.
Sure. Not surprisingly, though, the show’s teaser promos stress the spilling of secrets, and such attention-grabbing bits as this week’s guest Kendra Wilkinson talking about building a “sex room” in her home with hubby Hank Baskett. “Kendra is a highlight — the way she opens up about her married life, her background, what her life has been like as a Playmate, how she’s comfortable with her body,” Alison says. “She had great stuff. I kept asking her questions. I HAD to know more.” Robin Givens is also on this week’s show. Future shows include Brooke Burns and champion dancer Cheryl Burke.
Alison brushes off reports that she and Landry annoyed their real-life friends by going off on their own to sell the show last year. “Obviously, I just think there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she says. “It’s a wonderful show, really positive, and most important for us, it’s celebrating our friendships.”
The busy actress-host-producer-director also has her husband and two small children at home. Finding family time “is definitely a big piece of the puzzle,” she says.
She credits nutrition and exercise tips she’s picked up through her years on “The Biggest Loser” for the fact she has the energy for all this. “These are tools you can use for your whole life, not just when you’re losing weight,” she points out. And…are you ready?…she’s also training for the L.A. Marathon March 18.