SURVIVING SUBURBIA – “Hero” – In the premiere episode, “Hero,” Steve reluctantly agrees to house sit for Onno (recurring guest star Dan Cortese) and ends up starting a fire that he later claims to have stopped. Steve gets caught up in being praised as a hero by his daughter and his neighbors, until his conscience gets the better of him. “Surviving Suburbia” premieres MONDAY, APRIL 6 (9:32-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/RANDY TEPPER) LORNA SCOTT, BOB SAGET
Bob Saget returns to network television Monday night, with ABC’s newest show (a survivor of the MRC / CW contract break earlier this fall) Surviving Suburbia, this time appearing in front of the camera, versus off screen. With him come some of my favorite people – Jere Burns, Cynthia Stevenson, and Dan Cortese. Among the cast is one of my newest favorite people, Lorna Scott, the fantastic woman who plays eccentric neighbor Monica. Lorna and I had the chance to talk about the show and everything else under the sun!
TakeFiveGal: The show brings together people that I’ve been fans of for a long time, and puts them in the same arena.
Lorna Scott : Well, we love working with each other, I gotta tell you, what a great group of people.
From the top down, from Bob [Saget] down to G [Hannelius, the daughter], there’s a charm there.
And G! Aw! She is adorable. And of course, Jared is going to be the new heartthrob across the country. I don’t know in the premiere, if you saw Lindsay and Alexandra. Alexandra plays my daughter, and Lindsay plays Dan’s daughter. They’re also beautiful 20 something girls, gorgeous.
Tell me about getting this role, how it came together?
I’ve known the casting people for a long time. It was Greg Orson and his folks over there at his office. Stacey and Leslie. They had just watched Wanted, a film I did this summer and were doing the pilot, and said, oh god, we gotta get Lorna in, and that was that.
I love that your character loves Bob’s character so much!
We’re actually kind of more like Rhea Perlman and Ted Danson [laughs]. I don’t suffer his foolishness well! [laughs] We have a really good time. I’m kind of the Margaret Dumont to his Groucho.
Did you guys know each other, or did you know any of the cast before you started shooting?
I had met Cynthia Stevenson when I was doing a guest star on her show for Lifetime years ago, Oh Baby. That was probably 10 or 12 years ago. She was such a terrific person, and I was just like, oh man, I hope I get to meet her again. This is somebody I want in my life as a friend. She is the best person in the world. You can’t ask for anyone better. I mean, she’s a terrific actress, but I’m talking about her just as one of God’s people. I was thrilled that she was going to be in it and we were reunited. Kevin Abbott, our executive producer, I had worked for him on The War at Home. And some of the guys, I think, some of the other writers and producers on the show worked on that. I honestly couldn’t have picked them out of a barrel if they’d been sitting in it [laughs]. When you come in to read for people, or you see them on set, you’re really kind of doing your own thing, and you have to concentrate on what you’re doing, and you see them out at a grocery store later or something, you have no idea who the heck they are. They recognize us, because of course, they’re looking at us! I’ve been really rude to some producers that I thought were crazy. Turned out I worked for them! [laughs]. They weren’t actually stalkers!
What are some fun things that we have to look forward to?
We have a great episode airing the 20th, DMV, which Jere and Bob get up to their hijinx and I have to come and save them. At my own expense, I must say! They tried to get away with it, but then they didn’t pull it off. That’s a really good episode. It’s called “DMV”. I always associate anything DMV-related with a lot of hilarity [laughs]. There’s some lovely episodes with Melissa Peterman from Reba!
Oh I love her!
Oh you’re going to love her in here. She has some great scenes as G’s teacher. She does some really hysterical work. Just fabulous. Barbara Barrie plays Cynthia’s mom, they come to visit. And Alan Rachin plays her father. I hear that’s a wonderful episode and everyone loves them. I wasn’t in that week; I was very sad that I didn’t get to hang with them.
Why do you think this show is going to resonate with people?
I think, first of all, Kevin put together a really good cast of people that really love to work together. The scripts are very funny, and I think anybody can relate to these things. They’re also modern in a way that you don’t always see with a typical 4 camera show, audience tapes, you know? There’s places where there’s fights, and there’s discussions about things that are really more, realistic than your typical sitcom. I know there’s a where Jared says to Bob, and he comes in and yells at him, and Bob has to leave a room full of guests, and he says, you come back here, and don’t you talk to me like that in my own house! I mean, how many times have we either said that or had that said to us? Everybody’s got somebody when they were a teenager or a teenager in their lives now! There’s a lot of things that I think people can relate to, that they’ll find extra funny. A familiarity to the situation, but it’s also very new. Bob is just the best. He is the best. I love Bob. I gotta get me a t-shirt. He’s so terrific to work with. And I cannot say enough about our writers, I mean, oh god, it’s such a luxury. When we have the run through, and they all come in, and do the whole show for them. Then we all come in and sit in the living room set, and go through page by page together, and Kevin says things like ok, I like that, I like that, I like that. And if you have a question, like Cynthia and I were having a little problem, it’s like, oh we’ll fix it for you. Usually, you have them saying, well, we’re paying you to make it funny, so make it funny! What’s the problem, it can’t be the writing! [laughs] It’s like, oh, yeah, no no no, I’ll make it funny. But with them, they just keep making it funnier and funnier. Some of the stuff that we’ve thrown out and not used, where we’ve changed things, I hope they put it back in another script, because some of the jokes were hysterical! They went a different way, and made it even better, but some of those jokes were pretty good! [laughs]
That’s another question that always comes up when I talk to sitcom actors – how much leeway do you have with lines and what’s on the page?
It’s definitely collaboration with these people, these writers and producers. When we first do the blocking, we come in on a Friday, and block out the whole script and everything. By the time we come back Monday, it’s practically a whole new script. They’ve taken things that we’ve worked on, or things that they need to polish up, or things that they just weren’t happy with and they throw it out and start over. One of our best scripts, it was where Jared’s going to be the godfather of my grandchild. It was what I think was one of the best scripts at all. I get to take my character in a different direction, it has a few somber moments, which is terrific, I love to be able to show the range of that character, and I think it’s more interesting for the audience, too. But that script came about when we were flopping around with the original, and by the time that they had finished it and got it where they wanted, it was probably one of the best scripts of the whole season. It wasn’t a bad script to begin with, it just wasn’t quite there. Boy, by the time they were done, it was so impressive. I was like, gosh, I hope we have trouble with all the scripts, because this is great! [laughs] Most people would, even the way it was in the beginning, most shows would have been thrilled to have a script that good. They give us a lot of leeway to play. They are so attentive to us; they know when things aren’t exactly badump bump.
What other shows do you get a chance to watch when you have downtime?
I’ve recently been watching The Chiller Channel, which is a new channel, and it’s got reruns of Beauty and The Beast, Twin Peaks, and Millennium. All these old shows. Man, I can’t believe we ever managed to stand up with shoulder pads [laughs]. I mean, poor little Linda Hamilton, she’s got these shoulder pads in some of these Beauty and the Beast things, where it’s like “whew! Flying nun!” [laughs]. Bat her down boys, off she goes! I just watched Better Off Ted and Castle which I thought were terrific. Really nice shows and interesting and original. I love Medium, I love Dancing with The Stars. And So You Think You Can Dance, because I started out as a dancer many years ago, and I’ve worked for Adam Shankmen, and he’s always terrific on SYTYCD, and he did Hairspray, and 17 Again, he produced that, which I’m in, and Bedtime Stories. He’s a terrific wonderful guy. Big Love is just rocking this year.
Did you watch the finale?
I mean, the last two episodes, it’s been Oh, Oh, Oh, every minute! The whole Nikki arc, with the daughter. I wonder if Harry Dean Stanton is really dead? He’s such a big part of the show! And Hollis Green. Sandy Martin, plays Hollis’ wife, she looks like a guy? She’s a friend of mine, and I think she was wonderful last week, when she was all upset about the little girl, oh my god, Go Sandy! Yay! I just love to see people really show off what they can do, especially with character actors. We’re always filling in the blanks and it’s nice to stretch out a little, like she’s been able to do with that character, because it’s such an odd character. She’s into that torture thing, and all of a sudden you just feel so bad for her! What else? Oh True Blood. I love Alan Ball. You just can’t go wrong with Alan! There’s another show. I have to say, it’s surprising because a lot of times, I get bored quickly. And there’s so many things to watch. But like with True Blood and Big Love, I’m hanging on my seat until the next week. Of course, I’ve always been a Law & Order junkie. Oh and Criminal Minds, gotta love Criminal Minds, anything scary! Terminator, I like Terminator and Dollhouse, all those sci-fi things. Of course, Little Britain USA and Sordid Lives because I’m in those shows! I’m in the cast of both those shows.
You’re keeping busy!
Well, I’m trying [laughs]! We’re waiting to see if we get to do a second season for Suburbia!
Your show was kind of a victim of the MRC thing, where it was going to be on The CW and then that changed, and ABC swooped in.
Oh yeah, we had the MRC for The CW, and we were going to be on Sunday night and we had been hired for the pilot, and we came in for the table reading, before we read the script or anything, and they said, oh guess what, we’re going to do 13, we got picked up for 13, which is unheard of, you know, which was terrific. Then the pressure’s off and you can really get some work down. Then we found out that The CW and The MRC broke off their contact, and I told my publicist, and she was like, yay! It was a great show, and we knew we were going to go up from there. I think there were two networks and ABC got it, so that’s where we wanted it. And what a great timeslot, right after Dancing with the Stars!
It’s a built in audience!
My friend Gilles is doing wonderfully on the show, so I want you to vote for him! He is the sweetest thing, and his wife. I think they have two kids now. Gilles and his wife taught me how to pronounce the French lines I had in Alan Ball’s Towelhead, the film. I’m the Texas French teacher in there. So I wanted to make sure I had the pronunciation right even though I was doing it with a Texas accent. I had a Latin teacher in West Virginia and she did not have a Roman accent, so [laughs]…but anyway! He and his wife helped me get those lines right for that movie. Of course, that was before he dazzled us with his winkie! I think he’s doing a wonderful job on DWTS.
I didn’t know him before, didn’t know he could dance like he can!
Well, he couldn’t dance before this. He hadn’t done this all. He could move a little, but he never trained for dancing, and I think he looks like some of the guest artists they’ve had on there, he’s as good as some of the guys. I think it also shows what a terrific actor he is. He is the dance, you know? He dances with his heart and soul and mind and sex organs and everything [laughs]. I say that because they did the salsa and that’s a big one. You have to have a little “salsa”. I was really proud of him. The technique can go a little if you’re fully committed to the dance, and I think he’s showing, whether as an actor or a dancer, I think it’s going to lead to some great work for him.
He’s got a great natural charisma, for sure!
Oh yeah, he would be fabulous in a film, like some kind of Strictly Ballroom kind of movie, which I also loved!
Oh I love that movie!
Did you watch that, too? Oh, fabulous, fabulous movie! He definitely could pull off something like that.
What else do you have coming up besides Surviving Suburbia?
Well, I have 17 Again with Zac Efron. And I have The Great Buck Howard with John Malkovich, Tom Hanks, and Colin Hanks. It’s really Colin’s film. I have just tiny little parts in those, but you know, that’s okay. I’m a character actor, I know where the work is [laughs]. I love doing films, and I always end up working for the directors again! I’m hoping we’re going to do a sequel to Wanted. You never know, but Mark Miller was really happy with my portrayal of Janice in Wanted, so maybe he’ll come up with a comic book character for Janice! [laughs] Janice Kicks Butt with her super stapler. We’re supposed to go back and do another season of Sordid Lives but the financing hasn’t come in yet. We’re waiting for AIG to fork up the money [laughs] and then Little Britain USA, they asked us to come back for a second season when we were doing the first season. I imagine we’re going to get a second season and if we do, I hope they still want to hire us. They did then, but you never know! [laughs]