A chat with Bill Lawrence, Bill Lawrence interview, Scrubs, Cougar Town
Bill Lawrence

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Don't miss Bullz-Eye's 2008 interview with Bill Lawrence!

Bill Lawrence has always been one the hardest working men in television, but these days he’s on the verge of running himself ragged: not only is his new series, “Cougar Town,” picking up steam, but his beloved “Scrubs” is returning for a new season. Yes, that’s right: it used to be that we were hearing a death knell for the series every time we turned around, and now we can’t seem to get rid of it. (Not that we want to see it go, you understand.) Despite Lawrence and his cohorts offering up what was seen at the time as a definitive series finale, ABC opted to renew “Scrubs,” and in doing so, the decision was made to reinvent the show. Now it’s going to be kind of like “The Paper Chase.” Except about doctors. Also, it’ll probably be funnier. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Mr. Lawrence about the goings-on with his two series, and although we had to stick it out through our usual wait for a hole in his incredibly fluid schedule  (like we said, he’s a busy man. The other “as usual” bit is that we got a lot of good stuff out of him. Be forewarned, however: there is considerable talk about what you can expect from the first two episodes of “Scrubs,” which air on Dec. 1. In other words, consider this your official SPOILER ALERT!

Bill Lawrence: Hey, Will!

Bullz-Eye: You’ve got nothing on Godot, man.

BL: Dude, I -- (suddenly realizes what I’ve said) Nice! You had that line locked and ready!  (laughs) Yeah, I’m sorry, as usual, man. It’s just hectic pre-holidays here.

BE: No, no, totally cool.

BL: How are you doing?

BE: I’m doing good. (hesitates) So, uh, what kind of cereal are you having?

BL(laughs) You heard it, right? I just had to eat something. I’ve been here since 6 in the morning. I won’t eat while we’re talking, I promise, but it’s a bowl of Special K.

BE: So “Cougar Town” made it into our Honorable Mention section of Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings.

BL: I saw, man! I appreciate it. People float me that stuff all the time, and I liked the stuff you guys wrote about the other shows, too. There are some of my favorites on there. I’m digging on “Dexter” this year, man. John Lithgow is really good.

BE: What’d you think about the season finale of “Mad Men”?

BL: That show’s so good, but, y’know, for me -- I’m behind, because I’m working so much, and what I do is -- I’m a huge TiVo freak. ‘Cause a show like “Dexter,” I usually like to watch all at once, you know what I mean? It’s just more fun.

BE: So I watched the first two episodes of the new “Scrubs.”

BL: Yeah, it’s not bad, huh? I hope you liked it. Ah, I don’t know (trails off)

BE:  (laughs) No, I do, absolutely. I know we talked about the “Paper Chase” comparison, and I can definitely see it, especially with the look of Dr. Cox’s classroom.

"To me, the medical school aspect that I really like that’s a little different from where ‘Scrubs’ started is that it’s, like, literally just 10 weeks after you’ve left William & Mary or wherever, y’know? So you’re still a dumb frat guy, or you’re still some girl that thinks she can go out at night, or you’re still people wondering who you’re going to date this Friday. And that’s different."

BL: Yeah, it’s all -- look, man, the only thing I wish I could’ve done with that show -- just to give it a fair shot, ‘cause we both know that the blogosphere and the internet can be ruthless -- is to re-title it. If it were re-titled, I think people would not even be bumping the way that sometimes I think they might bump once it comes on. So if I could’ve called that “Scrubs Med,” y’know?  (laughs) Or something like that, and said, “Hey, it’s our shot just to keep moving forward and show you some new, young characters,” then I think people would realize that the show’s going to succeed or fail based on whether or not they respond to the new cast members.

BE: But Steve (McPherson, President of ABC Entertainment)?

BL: Well, I understand that it’s a business issue, y’know? It’s more about branding and syndication things than anything else.

BE: I liked the way that, in the season premiere, you have J.D. crossing paths and bonding with Lucy, the new intern, more or less because they both have internal monologues.

BL: Y’know, it’s funny, man. I mean, I always get in trouble for saying stuff like this (laughs) but when we said, “Look, we’re gonna introduce a new voiceover to the show and be able to tell the show from a female perspective,” which I think will get us a little bit away from what we were doing in the past, if we’re lucky enough to move forward, they said (in a frantic voice) “Well, what are you gonna do when J.D.’s there? Because he’s in one out of every two episodes, this season!” And I’m, like, “Well, in his scenes, he’ll have voiceovers, and in her scenes, she’ll have voiceovers.” And it was very funny, because the initial response was (frantic voice) “But people won’t be able to understand! They won’t understand what’s going on! They’ll be … ” I’m, like, “Uh, I think we’ve reached the point where people are savvy enough that they’re gonna go, ‘Oh, hey, I get to hear her thoughts and his thoughts!’ I don’t think it’s gonna make anybody’s head explode.” (laughs) But, man, it was if I’d said, “We’re gonna do the whole thing without dialogue.”

BE: I also liked the way you integrated the new cast. They seem to be interacting well with the old cast thus far.

BL: Well, you know what? The thing that I’ve been trying to explain to some of the fan-types that are still out there -- if there are any -- on this show is that I think, in the past, they’re, like, “Oh, you introduced young people before, and it didn’t work.” But before we had seven regulars on the show, and we introduced a bunch of young people just to kind of mix it up a bit and see how it felt, but no one ever had more than three or four lines an episode because the shows weren’t about them. And, now, we’ve introduced four new leads: Eliza Coupe, Mike Moseley, James (stops himself, then chuckles) sorry, Dave Franco, James Franco’s little brother and Kerry Bishe. And to me, it’s like someone essentially said, “Hey, man, you can do a new pilot and put it on TV without having to go through the whole process!” So I was, like, “All right, I’ll do that.”

BE: So I’m presuming that, at some point, at least before the season’s up, Cole’s going to get his comeuppance. Because, I mean, I’m only two episodes in, and I’m already rooting for it to happen.

Bill LawrenceBL: Yeah. But, by the way, what’s nice is that we’re going back to what originally made “Scrubs” work. I think people like where Ken Jenkins (Dr. Kelso) ended up, and he’s a real presence on the show moving forward this year. You’ll see him in a ton of episodes. But at the beginning, you needed an antagonist, you know? And you needed someone that people loved to hate. And on “Scrubs,” it was Dr. Kelso, but in the med school -- we talked to enough students and enough people going to med schools out there who said that there’s always one over-privileged prick who’s just kind of coasting through. And without a doubt, he is hopefully a guy who you love to hate.

BE: You brought up Kelso. Obviously, there’s been a transition in his life when we see him return to the show for this season. Was there any talk about having him actually deal with his wife’s death on the show?

BL: No. You know why? Because of the two things we did with Ken’s character. We tried to be decent about continuity, and we had made two characters in Kelso’s life such jokes -- both his wife and his son -- to the extent that, when we talked about things long ago, we were, like, “I don’t think we can ever come back and do a story that matters about these people.” (laughs) And for us -- I mean, I nerd out about “Scrubs,” all right? And it’s very funny, because if people ask me what we’re looking at, I use the fact that J.D.’s married and is having a kid with Elliott to say that a year’s passed. The way we looked at it was saying, “Hey, the last time we were at work was a year ago,” and by the time this is on TV -- I mean, that’s a long time between gaps, so we were able to say, “What could happen in a year?” In a year, she could be months pregnant, Kelso’s wife could’ve passed on, they could’ve torn down that old shitty hospital and built a new one on the college campus that we always talked about but never saw. And we logic-ed it out that, y’know, enough shows have jumped ahead now a year, two years, three years, four years, that we didn’t think it would bump anybody.

BE: So with Lucy, Drew and Cole, how much of a back-story have you created for them? Or are you just kind of starting with the one-sentence description of them and building them as you go?

BL: No, we actually did our homework on those guys, so much so that I could tell you more about them than I think the audience will find out. (laughs) We see Cole as a kid of privilege who’s kind of skated through, a typical kind of East Coast jerk-off wannabe who went to private school and has been coasting on his family name for as long as he possibly can. We built up Lucy as somebody -- we actually, and it wasn’t me -- made her kind of a Chesapeake Bay girl.

BE: Nice.

BL: But then they turned her into kind of a Maryland-on-the-water girl, the only one in her family to go to college, much less med school. She’s from a blue-collar family, father that works in the fishing industry, and all the extra pressure of all the hopes and dreams of her parents are on her shoulders. That kind of thing. And then Mike Moseley’s character, Drew -- I really like that character, because I took some of the real J.D. What a lot of people don’t know is that he didn’t decide he wanted to be a doctor until late in life. We were screwing around and being idiots in our 20s, and he went back to school and didn’t really get to med school ‘til 30. He doesn’t have as tortured a past as this character, but he always talked about how weird it was entering -- or just by your age, all the other kids would look up to you and thought that you were some wise guy on top of a mountain that they could go to and ask questions, and that you knew the answers when you were just another person there struggling. And we thought that a guy who’s really got some darkness in his past, and that truly had lived a different life and is now kind of starting over, would be a cool character for two reasons: one, we’d never done it, and two, we said, “If we’re going to go forward with this show, we can’t have Dr. Cox being a reluctant mentor to another person.” But we could have -- we said, “What would be worse than having Dr. Cox as your mentor, but he doesn’t really want to give you that validation?” The only thing that could be worse is that he sees himself in you and decides that you’re the one that he’s going to actually invest in from the start, because the amount of pressure and the bar that has been set for you and the amount that he expects from you would be horrifying. So that’s why we came up with that guy. He’s supposed to be, y’know, by character, someone that Johnny C would take an interest in.

"(‘Cougar Town’) was never about, like, ‘Oh, Courtney’s not attractive enough to get dates.’ We all know that’s bullshit. But I defy you to find the successful, emotionally-okay 40-year-old single guy that’s out there, going, ‘Man, I’ve just got to find a girl my age or slightly older that I can date and be serious with!’ I just don’t see it.”

BE: I know that there was, at least for a while, a rumbling that they were going to be bringing in a “big name” to bulk up the cast. Is that still happening, or are you just going with the cast as you have it right now?

BL: No, y’know, I -- I don’t want this to go to his head, but I was able to logic out that, for all intents and purposes, Zack is our big name. The show is going to survive moving forward, I think, on whether or not people respond to these new actors, and the money it would cost to cast a big new personality, I would rather have the wherewithal to have Ken Jenkins on the show every week, and Sarah Chalke on the show a whole lot, and the Todd and Ted and all those people. And the studio and the network were really supportive of that because I think, on some level, the stunt casting days are a little over. You know? ‘Cause sweeps don’t exist in that same way, and I don’t think people watch TV in that same way. “Hey, huge news! Ben Affleck is on ‘Modern Family’!” (laughs) Although “Modern Family” had Edward North and Elizabeth Banks last night, but on the other hand, I didn’t see 9,000 commercials going, “Come catch Ed Norton!” I think they’re just sold on the show, which made me happy.

BE: Now how are you going to handle the character of Carla, since Judy Reyes isn’t coming back as a full-time player? Is she just going to be referenced sporadically?

BL: Yeah. To me, it’s, like, look, I’ve got to go with the reality. I can’t spend the time servicing -- see, here’s the trap with that: I can’t spend the time servicing a character that’s never gonna be there. And on the other hand, I’m not gonna say that that character got divorced, or that his wife’s passed on, or any of that stuff, because that would be disingenuous. I’m gonna go by the same rules that we went by for Kelso and everyone else: he’s married, she’s at home. We talked about it at the end of last year that, with having a second kid on the way, she wasn’t sure she was going to be a nurse anymore, and that’s kind of what we’re going with. He’s the chief of surgery, she’s home with their kids.

Bill Lawrence

BE: With the new class of med students, how are you finding the difficulty of trying to echo some of J.D.’s experiences from earlier in the series without feeling like you’re repeating yourself?

BL: The biggest thing is that med students aren’t really there yet as doctors, you know? So I think we’re doing -- what’d I say, “The Paper Chase”? We’re doing a little more of the school aspect of it and the learning aspect, so there’ s not as much “I’ve got to save this person” or “I’ve got to figure out what this person has.” You know, when we started the show before, they were interns, not med students, so I feel on some level we can’t not get to that point, that if it were to move forward, we’d be exploring some of the same issues. But then I think that the key for this particular show is that it would be more character-relationship-driven than medical-driven. I mean, there’ll still be medical stories, and we can always find new ones the same way -- I mean, you could ask the same question of “House.” I love “House,” but how many times can they find a mystery disease that someone has to figure out, y’know? But for us, I think that the key thing is going to be making it a little bit more about the inner connection between students trying to get through med school, and the romances and the ups and downs. ‘Cause, to me, the medical school aspect that I really like that’s a little different from where “Scrubs” started is that it’s, like, literally just 10 weeks after you’ve left William & Mary or wherever, y’know? So you’re still a dumb frat guy, or you’re still some girl that thinks she can go out at night, or you’re still people wondering who you’re going to date this Friday. And that’s different. To me, I certainly don’t want to sound cynical about TV, but TV for the most part is about execution. You can say that “Friends” and “Cheers” are the same show: one is a dysfunctional family of friends in a bar, and one is a dysfunctional of friends in a coffee shop. It’s about how they execute it that they don’t seem the same. So I don’t think that there’s going to be a reality that we’re tracing four new characters and their lives that it’s going to feel like the same show. The only time it really borders on that for me is the transitional stuff, where Zach is back in this world.

BE: One more “Scrubs” one before we moved on to “Cougar Town.” I know you just made a comment about guest stars not being as important, but do you have any notable ones coming for this season? I mean, I saw John Billingsley, and to me he’s a cool guest star, but …

BL: Yeah, but, y’know, I go with actors. At this point, we just do actors that we like and that we respond to. So you’ll see some names like that, but no one who’s a huge “oh, my God!” name. Well, unless you go “oh, my God” when Zach Braff’s on television.

BE: Oh, I do that, anyway.

BL: Sure. And if you say “oh, my God” when you see a very pregnant Sarah Chalke, ‘cause we see her a lot.

BE: Excellent. Okay, so, “Cougar Town.” Like you saw in the Power Rankings, I’ve been enjoying it.

BL: Yeah, man, I feel like we’ve been finding our legs with that show.

BE: Yeah, actually, I was going to ask about the process of finding those legs. Is it just a matter of teaming up various characters and seeing which ones gel the best and which ones don’t, at which point you don’t use them together unless you absolutely have to?

"You want to know where I get half the guy shit (for ‘Cougar Town’)? The guy who plays the Todd, Robert Maschio, is 42 and lives by himself down by the beach, and he’s a surfer. And he’s finally got a serious girlfriend right now, and she’s 15 years his junior, I believe, and her mom is only three years older than him. So if you’re wondering where I tapped the guy stuff, it’s there."

BL: You know, I think most of the thing, to tell you the truth, is realizing -- well, not really realizing it, but doing what we said we would do at the beginning, which is -- I don’t know if I ever said it to you, but I said it to a bunch of people at press tour: if this show were a sketch every week about a 40-year-old woman trying to relive her 20s and go out and try to hook up with guys, it would be a giant mistake, because people would want to kill themselves, and it would get -- dead. It would be over after eight episodes. And I said to one interviewer, “The show will only succeed if it turns into essentially an ensemble comedy about a dysfunctional family,” which is what “Modern Family” is and what I would argue “Cougar Town” is. At its heart, Jules is a mom with an ex-husband and a son, and a best friend who’s a neighbor, and a young protégé friend, and a neighbor across the street, and those guys with their barbeques and their hangouts. This is their world of people. So to me, I think it’s working because, y’know, all pilots that start as star vehicles, you almost start by nature only getting to know that one character, and everybody else seems to be one-line jokes without any back story and not any depth and not any relationship to each other. If you stay in that world, you’re doomed, and if you get out of that world, it’ll work. I mean, the people that taught me this are Gary Goldberg and Michael Fox. When we wrote the “Spin City” pilot and the first few episodes, it was Mike Fox’s return to television, so there were 9,000 things about Mike. Mike this, Mike that. And Mike was the first guy to say, “These other actors are really funny, and I’ll be funnier if we get to know who they are and what their relationships are to each other.” And that show, I thought, hit its stride once we started to be able to do stories about Stewart and Carter and the Mayor and all of the different characters intertwined, because you also create a world, Will, where there’s something for everybody. The best thing I can tell you about “Cougar Town” is that some of my friends, guys that knew that this wasn’t specifically a show targeted for them and have been watching out of loyalty have gotten in touch with me and said, “Ah, you’re starting to get me!”   (laughs) You know what I mean? Because there’ll be a story for them every week now, and it’s not just, “Let me watch this one woman re-hit the dating scene.”

BE: Well, you started off pretty strong as far as having the trifecta of Jules, Ellie and Laurie, because they’re, y’know, three sides of the same coin. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

BL: Yeah, and I do still like that dynamic, and I like that push and pull for Jules’s character. But I like it for any characters. I like somebody being trapped between the two polar opposites of their friends. I love that as a guy relationship. But I can’t just do those three, or it’d be “Sex and the City,” so I’m getting really interested in -- I really like the show now that I’m exploring the relationships between other people and stuff.

BE: It’s one of those shows where it’s easy to appreciate it because, y’know, I’m 39, so these characters resemble people I know -- and, on occasion, even myself.

Bill LawrenceBL: Well, I gotta tell ya, Will, the one thing -- I get busted for a lot of stuff, you know, and I know sometimes I do stuff that’s better than others. I drop the ball sometimes when we’re doing really well. But the one thing I would maintain with this particular show is that, like, I’ve based almost every story and almost everything you’ve seen and heard on -- I mean, I’ve got these people in my life! You want to know where I get half the guy shit? The guy who plays the Todd (Robert Maschio) is 42 and lives by himself down by the beach, and he’s a surfer. And he’s finally got a serious girlfriend right now, and she’s 15 years his junior, I believe, and her mom is only three years older than him. So if you’re wondering where I tapped the guy stuff, it’s there.  (laughs) My wife and I have at least three women in our lives who are single now and at a place in their life that they’ve got a kid and are, like, “What the fuck?” Because all the guys -- everybody always hit me up at the beginning, and they’re, like, “Hey, it’s not hard for Courtney Cox to find a date!” I’m, like, “No kidding.” But guess what? One of my wife’s friends, a stunning actress, is single and in the world of going, “Hey, I’m 40, and all the guys my age that I’m attracted to and are successful out here are hooking up with hot younger girls!” (laughs) And she feels like a tool going out with a younger guy. I see it on a day-to-day basis. So it was never about, like, “Oh, Courtney’s not attractive enough to get dates.” We all know that’s bullshit. But I defy you to find the successful, emotionally-okay 40-year-old single guy that’s out there, going, “Man, I’ve just got to find a girl my age or slightly older that I can date and be serious with!” I just don’t see it.

BE: Well, with the guys on the show -- at first, I was, like, “I cannot believe that Andy is this obsessed with Bobby.”

BL(laughs)

BE: But at the same time, I started thinking, “Well, if I was married and had reached a point where wanted desperately to live vicariously through somebody single, I’d probably get a little obsessed, too.”

BL: I think it’s just a little bit of hero worship, and it’s something we’re setting up to break down a little bit, too.

BE: Now, it seems to me that you promised Dan Byrd at TCA that he wasn’t going to be completely and totally embarrassed throughout the season.

BL: Yes. We’re trying to get there.

BE: Okay, because I’m not entirely seeing it so far. (laughs)

BL: Well, we’re getting him a girlfriend, and one of the things we’ve done, too, is that rather than just having things happen to him, he’s a bit more of an active participant, as far as how he gets in his mom’s face, and how they talk and communicate with each other.

BE: As far as guest stars on “Cougar Town,” I do understand that Lisa Kudrow is forthcoming.

BL: Yeah, she’s really funny. I mean, to me, it’s -- I mean, I’m sure they’ll promote it as a stunt, but you and I have talked before about the “no asshole” policy, and that we bring friends in, and she and Courtney are good friends, and she really liked the show. And that woman is a brilliant comedienne, so it was a super treat to do it with her.

BE: I seem to remember during the TCA panel that someone was immediately trying to get a commitment from Jennifer Aniston to appear on the show.

BL: I think I said it! (laughs) But, you know, that’s inevitable. I mean, I’d do it in a second. This show’s going to be on for a while. It did really well again last night, and that made me really happy. My biggest fear about this show would be -- I didn’t think it started at a perfect place, okay? And you have in this modern landscape, Will, this limited window to get it going. I think we started at a good place, but to me, there’s almost more pressure when you start --  (Pauses) Okay, just so you know, I’m doing the self-deprecating thing.

BE:  (laughs) Fair enough.

"My kids aren’t allowed to watch (‘Cougar Town’). That’s crazy talk! My God, they’re barely allowed to watch ‘Scrubs’! And even then, only certain ones. I let them watch that damned musical, and they sang 'Everything Comes Down To Poo’ for six months."

BL: “Spin City,” I thought, was an awesome pilot. Halfway through the year, “Entertainment Weekly” -- and I still remember it because it stung so much -- wrote halfway through the season, “‘Spin City’ is Best Pilot, Worst Show.” And I think it was because we started with a great pilot, but we hadn’t really found that world yet. If you look back at the early “Spin City,” we had this idea that it was a world half-divided between Mike’s home romantic life and Mike’s work life, and it was like telling two stories. If you look at the old “Barney Miller,” the original pilot, he had a wife and a home and he’d have to be at work with the cops, and they quickly found that work was where the show was. It took us, like, 10 episodes back then with “Spin City” to find out that there is no Mike home life. He’s a workaholic. A very talented actress, Carla Gugino, played his girlfriend, but we sent her on her way not because she wasn’t good but because the show was about Mike and the world that he lived in at work. And this particular show, I feel like “Cougar Town,” we started at, like, a “B,” which is showing a character, showing her world, and it might be too narrow. If we had stayed there or gone down, we would’ve been in real trouble. I think the quality of the show -- and I’ve been tracking it a little with you guys -- has gotten better each week, so I feel like we’re going the right direction. It just doesn’t feel like you have the same amount of time that you used to.

BE: So now that the fling with Josh is over on the show, are we going to Julies her bouncing from person to person for a little while, or is she going to try to get into another, uh, short-lived long term relationship? (laughs)

BL: Yeah, you know, what I think is one of the interesting things -- you know the way I like to write is that -- I keep track of people that watch the show, and so many people are already going, “Ah, it’s just a matter of time before she ends up with that neighbor! They’re gonna keep doing will-they, won’t-they for three years, and then they’re gonna get together like Sam and Diane!” And in my head…I see that stuff, and it makes me annoyed. So I’m gonna mess with people. But, look, Jules is a single person, and I’ve brought in an old friend of mine, Scott Foley, and he just finished his third episode on the show as somebody that Courtney’s with who’s her age and legitimate. And when I do these things, we do them open-ended, because I think he’s a guy that’ll be back through the world. So I don’t think we’re going to be pursuing -- I don’t think it’s a date-of-the-week show, but I do think that she’s somebody that is looking to find that permanent connection. And, shit, man, the title’s just a title. Nobody knows where this show could go, there’s nothing saying that she’s not gonna be married by the end of next year. I’ll mess with people. I don’t care. I’d rather read articles that say, “Hey, the show’s called ‘Cougar Town,’ and the only cougar in it is that woman Barb!” I’ll live.

BE: Well, see, my understanding was that the sole reason the show was called “Cougar Town” was because the mascot of the high school football team is a cougar.

BL: Yeah, that’s what I’m sticking with! I’d better throw a high school football game scene in there again soon.  (laughs) I’ll tell ya, I think Carolyn Hennessey is fantastically funny, too, and Barb is where we’re going to get at least a small dose of that joke once in awhile.

BE: Yeah, I love the way she just pops up in the most random places.

Bill LawrenceBL: Oh, yeah, and she’s a character, too. She’s on “General Hospital,” she’s a novelist with a bunch of kids’ books out, she’s traveling the country and speaking, and -- she writes her own little blog for “Cougar Town,” and I think it was “Entertainment Weekly” or somebody who put it up as one of the best internet supplements to a show. She does “Barb’s Dating Tips.” We’re barely involved with that stuff. She’s just…she’s really a funny gal.

(Writer’s note: Bill’s a busy man, and like he said, they’re barely involved with it, anyway, so we’ll forgive him the error, but -- it’s actually called “Ask Barb,” and you can find it by clicking here.)

BE: You were talking about Jules’ neighbor, Grayson. He’s been coming along really well as a character over the course of the past few episodes.

BL: He’s interesting to me because you start with him as a cold, closed-off guy who’s never going to change completely, but if you open him up a bit? I like it.

BE: And based on the first few episodes, anyway, it doesn’t seem to me that their relationship necessarily have to be a “Ross and Rachel” situation.

BL: No, it doesn’t have to be at all. I agree with you.

BE: Of course, you’re totally defying the expectations of the average viewer.

BL(laughs) Yeah, right!

BE: So as you’ve been doing the freshman season, have you found anything that just didn’t work for you that you’ve tried to remedy ASAP?

BL: Yeah, and it’s my fault, but I think that playing -- if we ever veer into Courtney playing frenetic and having to be somebody that’s just -- like, a couple of times I’ve written an air of desperation that shouldn’t be there, you know? Early on, especially. But I think we’ve gotten away from it. The other thing that I think you might’ve seen, some changes that were made from the pilot you saw that didn’t end up on TV, but anything that’s overly edgy or risqué just for the sake of being risqué is also a mistake. If it’s organic, that’s one thing, but if it’s, like, “Hey, look at us, we can do this on TV,” then I think some people are going to get turned off, and I don’t want to do that.

BE: Oh, I meant to ask you earlier: how do your kids feel about their mom’s character’s tenuous relationship with her child on “Cougar Town”?

BL: My kids aren’t allowed to watch this show. (laughs) That’s crazy talk, Will! My God, they’re barely allowed to watch “Scrubs”! And even then, only certain ones. I let them watch that damned musical, and they sang “Everything Comes Down To Poo” for six months.

BE: Of course they did.

BL: It drove me crazy! (laughs)

BE: And, lastly, to throw in the obligatory William & Mary content, when are you planning to head back to your alma mater again?

BL: Well, you know what’s interesting, man? They had an inquiry out for me to do some teaching, and I think I had lined it up for the winter at one point, after January, but that was with the expectation that I wouldn’t be working any more.  (laughs) The odds were that one show wouldn’t survive, and “Scrubs” was going to be over by Christmas. So I’m hoping to set something up with those guys, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do it because they picked this show up, so I’m still stuck here working through February.

BE: There are worse fates.

BL: Yeah, but you know what, though? The idea of going somewhere where you just have to talk about working and you don’t actually have to work…? That’s a fantastic idea.

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