Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET).
Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) just imagined Wilfred and their pot-smoking bonding sessions in the basement? Last week’s pre-season episode answered that question, hilariously (short answer: no … probably), and season two kicks off with the maddeningly endearing, teddy bear-humping, Matt Damon movie-loving, manipulative Wilfie pledging his friendship and devotion to a surprising, non-Ryan character.
I chatted with series star and creator Jason Gann about the new season, donning that hot, itchy dog suit again, what mischief Wilfred will spark for season two and what he thinks of the new movie Ted, with its similarities to Wilfred.
Have you seen the trailer for the movie Ted?
I’ve seen a couple of trailers for it.
I can’t help but think of Wilfred when I see the trailer, which looks very funny …
Yeah, when you see Ted smoking the bong on the sofa with Mark Wahlberg, I guess, you can’t help but draw comparisons, but it seems different enough for me. I’m sure both worlds can exist side by side. It is very different as far as the premise, I think. Are you asking me what I think of it?
Well, are you flattered that people, especially Wilfred fans, are going to see that trailer and almost certainly be reminded of Wilfred, which came first?
Look, I think that that’s flattering that people might think that. I think that Seth MacFarlane is in his own stratosphere as far as success goes. He probably wouldn’t even be … I know he is aware of us right now, because he joked the other day to our showrunner that everyone is saying he ripped off Wilfred. But I don’t think he has. We didn’t create talking … teddy bears. I’m not even the first writer in a dog suit, and we didn’t invent bong smoking. When I did the original pilot, the Australian version, back in 2004, I was nervous then that someone would come out and beat us to the punch, and so I was just relieved then that we got it out, so we were the first ones.
For it to be 2012 and there to be finally something similar, I think we’ve done pretty well. I really think Wilfred has evolved far more and is far deeper than smoking bongs and putting on a dog suit, acting inappropriate. Because that would get really tired really quick. There’s a lot of layers going on in the show.
I haven’t seen anything like that, in the previews, anyway, for Ted. It seems kind of standard fare … a movie comedy … it’s funny, silly. It’s probably got a bit of pathos at the three?quarter mark, and then it ends happy. That’s not the kind of story we’re telling, so they’re very different.
You’ve already filmed the whole second season of Wilfred … how are you feeling about it?
I’m pretty proud of it. It’s just getting at the stage where we’re starting to get some feedback and I’m really enjoying it. And it’s good to be out of the suit. I’ve been out of the suit for a week now. On reflection it’s always … it’s a lot more fun once it’s all done.
I’m just looking at some stuff now at the office and picking up some things, some last minute things that I left behind. These studios we’re working in, they’re actually being destroyed and they’re making apartment buildings here, so it’s pretty sad. They’re called Centinela Studios, and they’ve been around a while. They shot 7th Heaven here and a bunch of other stuff. It’s been a lot of fun shooting here. Last year, we shot on locations for (the whole season). But this year, we actually rebuilt the house in a studio, Ryan’s house.
It was great. I mean, it’s just so great to be able to walk 20 feet to your dressing room instead of getting in a minivan and driving up to location. Last year it was kind of like we were the TV show without a home. We were like gypsies going from place to place and annoying neighbors wherever we went, whereas now we had our own place. We built about four or five different sets in here, for different scenes, like the office stuff was here as well.
But it’s the end of an era, because there’s been a lot of stuff shot here. It kind of reminds me of old Hollywood.
Season one ended with a cliffhanger, which you wrapped up in a very satisfying way with the episode that aired last week. Did you know all last season how you would resolve the cliffhanger, which could have radically changed the direction of the show?
No, we didn’t. We were already shooting season one when (executive producer) David (Zuckerman) had the idea of the closet being sealed off. We weren’t really sure. We loved it, (but) then it was just a matter of whether FX would. They don’t traditionally do cliffhangers for their shows. That was the only thing, whether we would go with a cliffhanger. Then in the end, they liked the idea, and supported it. You take a risk when you do a cliffhanger. If you don’t come back for season two, you look pretty silly and you drive your fans crazy.
Aside from building the sets and shooting the show in the studio, did you make any other changes after having had the experience of doing a complete season?
Wilfred changed a lot in season one from the Australian Wilfred in that he would take on little characters within his character, like whether he was being possessed by Sneakers, the dog of Ryan’s childhood, or he was the scientist plotting to poison Ryan with chocolate, or the aristocrat who was just trying to seduce the giraffe.
It was so much fun. That was something we just discovered in writing season one, and so I’ve continued with that and just the lightness of the character. Wilfred’s light and fun and almost childlike and innocent in certain areas, so I’ve taken that a bit further in season two.
When you said that, it made me think of the scene, which is one of my favorites of the first three episodes, when Wilfred’s having the discussion with the pigeons about how much he was loved by Ryan’s co-workers at the office.
I love that because suddenly Wilfred’s a standup comic. You know what I mean? I like the bit where he’s like, “So, how many of you work here? Show of hands?” He’s got that, like a street performer. It’s like, well, they all work here. This is where they work. It’s fun watching Wilfred struggle at things, as well, because he’s so manipulative. When things don’t work out for him, that’s a lot of fun.
When I talked to you last season, you mentioned that the Wilfred costume was particularly hot. Did you find a way to deal with that for season two?
Actually, it even was worse this year because we were in the studio, a big warehouse. In the morning, it’s cold, but as the day goes on, it just heats up. The suit that I wore is a different suit. You know when he goes in season one to seduce Raffi and he’s groomed? Whenever Wilfred gets groomed, it’s a different suit. Basically, it’s the same material, but it’s never been washed, so it’s actually twice as thick. The material doesn’t breathe at all. I wore that suit for a couple episodes toward the end of the season. Basically, I cook in it so much that, after a while, I go past the pain threshold into euphoria.
They’ll say, “Jason, Jason, do you want to get out of the suit?” I’m like, “No, no, let’s keep going. Let’s do another one. Let’s do another one.” I’ll be standing crazed, and people are hearing me singing from miles away, and it would look really weird if you didn’t know me or didn’t know what show you were watching.
It’s kind of like hitting the wall when you’re running?
Exactly. That’s right, yeah. Because otherwise, putting that suit on and off, people would think, “So what? You’re just putting on clothes, taking them off.” But it’s like water torture. If it’s a couple of drops of water, no problem. When it’s a couple of hundred thousand drops over and over and over, and something finally snaps inside my brain.
There are so many great little touches that I’m sure fans of the show notice and love … in last week’s episode, Wilfred’s wheelchair, and the arm that became his bong. Whose idea was that?
(Laughing) That was my pitch in the writers’ room. Because someone had pitched in the story that maybe he was passing a joint. I’m like, “No, no. He’s got to … ” I just said, “If you just pulled the arm off of the wheelchair and turned it around, and it’s a packed pipe, and he lights it up and offers it to Ryan …” Everyone was, “Yeah, that’s great.” Then I turn up on the day of filming, and there it is. It looks exactly like what I imagined. That’s one of the most fun parts of the job, is when just a random idea like that can come up, then one day you turn up and someone’s made it real. Then it’s shot and edited, and now you’ve seen it. To me that’s still the most incredible, exciting part about this job.
Do you get feedback from fans about details like that?
Yeah. I think our show is one of those likely that people are watching over and over, and so we have the little scenes in there that we’re quite aware that you may not notice on the first viewing. But the fans will get it on the second or the third.
How did the Robin Williams guest appearance come about for “Progress”? Was he a fan of the first season?
Yes, he was. That was exactly what happened. He was working with Elijah on publicity for Happy Feet 2. Elijah sent me an email to tell me that he is a big fan of the show, and thought Wilfred was hilarious, and that he would be interested in doing a guest spot. I went back into the writers’ room and said to David, “Robin Williams asked to be in our show. We’ve got to find something for him.” David said, “Well, we’ve broken all the stories. There are not really any characters.” I said, “No, no, you don’t understand. We have to find something for Robin Williams.” He was such a hero of mine as a kid. We were able to isolate that character and say, “OK, how can we finally make this work if Robin was to play it?” But still, we weren’t sure that he would do it, because we didn’t know if it was big enough, or if it was funny enough, or worthy enough for him to do. We sent it off and just hoped for the best. He read it and said, yeah, he’d be glad to do it. I haven’t been so nervous about meeting someone, so nervous and excited at the same time, about meeting someone as I was him. You know, going up to him and just those two days that he was on the show … it was a real highlight.
I think we’ve got to do everything we can to get him on the show one day. But, season two, it didn’t come up. I mean, we really do put the characters first and create the show that we want to create, and sometimes when we’re at work on a character, we’ll say, “Oh, such?and?such would be good for this role.” But it really is one of those things where … even with Elijah playing his role, we needed a certain actor to play Ryan, and he won that role with his great acting. We don’t really do any stunt casting for the gimmick of it. I mean, people have been suggested to us before, that definitely fit into that stunt casting category and we’ve said, “No.” Then we’ll get, “Are you crazy? Imagine the publicity you’d get.” We’re like, “Yeah, but at what expense?” You know? We’re setting up this world.
You have had so many great guest stars. Will Dwight Yoakam return as Bruce in season two?
Yeah, yeah. I think I tweeted it … I said I thought this show was fucked in the head, and then Dwight Yoakam showed up. That guy … oh man, he’s his own person. He has a lot of fun with Bruce, and he really had even more fun this year. We love having him on the show.
Bruce is one of the few connections to Wilfred’s past. Will we find out more about Wilfred’s pre-Ryan life in season two?
Yeah. That’s one of the great things about Wilfred … he could be 100 years old. Do you know what I mean? He just has this history that may be real or may be fabricated, but we have no choice but to take him at his face value because you’re talking to a dog. We find out his middle name in one of the episodes.
One day, I’m reading the script, and I see it, and I’m like, “All right, it’s as good as any.”
You didn’t come up with the name, then? It was a surprise to you?
I didn’t come up with that one. That one was a surprise to me and then once it’s said in one episode, before you know it, it comes up again later in another episode. Then it’s season three, if we have a season three, we might find out where he got the name from. You don’t know, but it’s funny how these little threads start and then you pull it out and it becomes this big, ongoing thing.
You mentioned Twitter … do you enjoy it? Some people love it, some people hate it, but it must be interesting to have that direct interaction with fans.
It took me a long time. I’ve had that account for a few years now and I think I tweeted like three times before FX asked if I’d like to tweet (more) for the show. I’ve enjoyed it, but I think I was thinking about it too much, like it seemed like a lot of work for me. But now I, just about two months ago, fell in love with Twitter, because I was always just a Facebook guy. Now I have really been enjoying tweeting more as me. I’m looking forward to tweeting during the shows again this year. I would think I’ll do it a lot more.
I saw that someone had tweeted you a photo of a tattoo they’d gotten of Wilfred and Bear. That’s real commitment. Are people still sending you a lot of drawings and things of Wilfred?
People do art. Someone painted an oil painting of me. That’s why I’ve actually stopped by the studio today, because of another painting that a girl did, and I have the whole wall just covered with prints of people’s artistic impressions of Wilfred, or Wilfred and Bear, or Wilfred and Ryan. They’re all so different, but they’re all so brilliant. The most humbling thing for me is that people are taking their time and creative energy, and it’s inspiring them to use their creativity to express their attachment to the characters. It’s just wonderful.
Do you have a favorite thing that someone has done?
No, I don’t have a favorite. Well, the oil painting, I just had it framed, and I’m going to actually get a fireplace to put under it (laughing) … to me, that was … I just love them all, but to me, that was when I looked at that and said, “Oh wow.” Like, that painting will probably live way beyond me. I was trying to imagine, like you see, oil paintings of people from hundreds of years ago. That’s when I thought about how Wilfred has existed. Wilfred is here. One day, it will be gone, so I’ve got to enjoy it. I was wondering if my grandkids are going to look at that and wonder, “What was he thinking?”
Can you imagine, can you look down the road and see, if you’re doing a fifth season of Wilfred, what that would look like? What Ryan and Wilfred would be doing at that point?
Sometimes when I’m in that delirious, euphoric state that I was talking about earlier, in the suit … I come up with some really crazy ideas. I pitched something the other day and David just looked at me …
What’s the craziest thing Wilfred does this season?
I just walked by editing and saw (a scene with) Wilfred, just being like Rambo. He gets so caught up in those characters.
So, no spoilers for those who may have some DVR’ed Wilfred ahead of them. But for those who have seen the season finale … whoa, right? It’s going to be a long wait for the next season, and the resolution of how … well, again, no spoilers. But it is going to be a long wait.
The good news is that there definitely will be a second season of Wilfred, my favorite new show of the year, the delightful FX comedy that brought together Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood (who proved he has as much skill with the funny as he does with the fantasy) with Australian actor/writer/producer Jason Gann, the man in the Wilfred suit.
I had a chance to chat with Gann, who’s been playing Wilfred since he co-created the series in Australia in 2007, before Thursday’s finale, and he, like that sometimes-naughty pooch he plays, is, in a word, charming.
That he’s enjoying the success of his first American TV hit and is very appreciate that viewers have embraced the show and his character so much is endearing enough, but during our chat he also talked about how excited he was to move to Los Angeles, because he sees Hollywood as a town and industry rife with opportunities for someone who wants to tell good stories. It’s a refreshing point of view, when so many people are cynical about the prospect of good storytelling in Hollywood.
But don’t take my word for it … dive in and get to know Gann for yourself, as he talks about the season ender, what’s ahead for season two, the delicate balance the show tries to strike between whimsy and touching on mental health issues, the Sesame Street stars who inspire him and the comedian who was integral to convincing him to don the hot, smelly Wilfred suit for FX.
TVSCREENER: I have to start by telling you that I love Wilfred, both the show and the character. I think it’s been the best new show of the year, and it’s just been such the perfect summer show.
JASON GANN: Wow, that’s really great. Thanks so much. I really appreciate that. Put a smile on my face. That’s a good way to start an interview.
It’s true. I wish I had my own Wilfred.
I hear that a lot. I’ve heard that statement a lot. And I say, ‘Do you really? Are you sure?’
Does that surprise you? Does it surprise you that, even given how ornery Wilfred can be, we all love him so much?
Well, it surprises me that people say they wish they had their own Wilfred. I didn’t hear that much with the old, with the Australian version. And I think that is because Wilfred … he was very negative. He was much darker. And even though I’ve maintained those elements in this character, (this Wilfred) is funny, he’s a lot more, I hope, more positive, a more positive influence with Ryan.
People do question constantly, is he on Ryan’s side, is he trying to help him, or is he trying to destroy him? And there’s that kind of balance that makes people say, ‘Well, it looks like they have a lot of fun in the meantime.’ Whereas I don’t think the dynamic between Wilfred and Adam (in the Australian version) … there wasn’t as much fun going on. The Australian show is primarily a love triangle, whereas FX were very clear with what they wanted early on, and that was a buddy comedy. So I think in our efforts to make it more of a buddy comedy, the relationship is a lot more fun between the two guys, and that maybe is why people are now starting to say they want a Wilfred. Because the guys do seem to have fun when they’re on their misadventures together.
Do you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm?
I think of Wilfred as a doggy Larry David in a way. He does what he wants to do, says what he wants to say without worrying what anyone thinks …
(Laughing) Yeah, without the intense paranoia.
Exactly. All the good parts of Larry David.
All the fun parts. It’s really exciting at the moment for me, just to see the feedback, the love for Wilfred that fans are giving. I’ve just discovered all of this artwork that people have been doing of Wilfred … Wilfred and Ryan … Wilfred and Bear.
Some of these pictures, these paintings, are just phenomenal. There’s dozens of them now. They’re on my Facebook … it’s really one of the most humbling gestures that I’ve had over the years with people’s love of Wilfred. It’s really surprising to me.
I think you’re going to see Wilfred Halloween costumes this year.
Oh, look, I get asked all the time where can they get one. Someone at FX said to me last year that we’re going to have to have a lot of these for Halloween next year, these suits. I’m not sure if they are selling them or not, but I know someone tried to start a website. I think that was shut down … so I don’t know where they’re going to be sold, or if people are going to have to get them made. I know there’s a hundred suits that FX had at Comic Con. There’s a hundred Wilfred suits. I saw them, and they’re better than my suit. I said to them, ‘They’re better than my suit!’ (Laughing) They’re really nice and fluffy and have this really nice texture. But then I thought that’s probably better. I think that the copies should be superior to Wilfred’s suit, because that’s part of the charm, just how rough (his suit) is.
The season finale is … wow. Cliffhangers, we find out new info on Ryan’s background, tying back to the pilot … and though there’s a lot of humor, it also definitely gets darker than the show has been most of the season. Did you intend all along to pack so much into the finale?
Well, I guess we just opened so many doors over the season that we had to take it somewhere. And what is different in the new version of Wilfred is that we really go into the psychology of Ryan, and what Wilfred may be to Ryan, or why Ryan has either created Wilfred or summoned him.
And because we’ve gone into that and the potential mental illness, we need to go there further. And so, as a result, things are just a bit darker towards the end when, you know, hopefully the audience, who’ve come along for the ride, have really invested in the characters and are prepared to think of it a bit more.
I mean, to actually make a comedy that really makes you kind of think is sort of unusual. And so that’s just a risk that we take. I mean, we’re concerned sometimes. I sometimes would worry that it’s not funny enough. But it doesn’t need to be, and so therefore, just make it as funny as you can, while giving sort of some brain food, something to think about, and hopefully people have come along for the ride.
Now, as it turns out, they have. And so now people are really talking about the characters and discussing the show and debating it, which is one of the things we hoped for.
And thinking ahead to season two …
Yes, we’ve been commissioned for season two, and when we go back to that, I suspect things will lighten up again, and we can go back to having more fun again. It’s just that, at the end of the season, we wanted there to be a bit of tension … just some good storytelling, I think.
Are you working on season two yet?
I’m ruminating at the moment. I’ll always have ideas that will come up, story ideas. The change in my work method with the new Wilfred was that I think of funny ideas and then make them work in the show. Whereas (producer) David (Zuckerman) comes from more of a story-driven background, where the story has got to work first and then you work out how to make it funny. So I know that David has got his ideas about where he wants the show to go. I tend to now put all my ideas in a file and then bring them out when they fit in.
You touched on it a bit … there seem to be two camps of Wilfred fans. There are the fans who, like me, are so charmed by the characters and the friendship between them, and the humor of the show, that we’re not really thinking, ‘Is Wilfred real? Or is Ryan crazy?’ We’re just kind of going with it. But then there are fans who love it, but also really want to know, definitely …
And I love that. Sorry to interrupt, but yeah, I think that between David and I, we have found a good balance for that. I’m in the same camp as you. What I feel like I bring to the show is a lot of charm and comedy. To me, it’s funny first. To me, Wilfred’s real. I need to think he’s real for me to be able to play him and for me to be able to live in him. I don’t really spend a lot of time questioning why he is in Ryan’s life.
For me, personally, he already was in someone else’s life (with the Australian series). To me, the character’s been around for nearly 10 years. I’ve kind of gotten used to having him around. I never really start to analyze too much about who he is or why he’s there, but I love that David’s really opened up that world. I’m really excited about it. I know Elijah’s really excited about it, because the Ryan character has got a lot of depth to him, as opposed to being a punching bag that (Adam) the Australian character was.
Do you think you guys will, or do you even want to, ever answer definitively why/how Wilfred is in Ryan’s life?
I don’t know if we want to do it definitively. Someone was asking the other day about Wilfred’s childhood and background, and we’ll never know the true story. I said that Wilfred changes his backstory all the time. He’s recreating his story to suit whatever purpose he has at that time. I think who Wilfred is to Ryan could be one of those open-ended questions, where we never really know. It’s up to the audience to decide. If we want to end the show, all we need to do is give that answer, I think.
But I think that’s one of Wilfred’s charming qualities. He reinvents himself.
People have called Wilfred a doggy version of Russell Brand, and the relationship between Wilfred and Ryan has been compared to Calvin and Hobbes, but what kind of things did you think about when you created Wilfred and thought about how you wanted to play him?
Well, originally, Adam (Zwar, co-creator of the original Wilfred series) was telling me about this dog who terrorized his owner’s new boyfriends. And so I just started improvising out of that, thinking about how he would behave, interrogating the boyfriends, kind of like Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents.
And then we started thinking about it more, and about how there would be a conversation between two blokes, and one of them happens to be a dog. So I really wanted Wilfred to be a dog who thought he was human, but just stuck in a dog’s body. He’s frustrated by his body, the frame he’s in. Like in the pilot when Ryan says, ‘Why didn’t you climb over the fence?’ And Wilfred says, ‘I don’t have arms.’ Ryan goes, ‘What are they?’ And Wilfred says, ‘Legs!’ He’s really pained by the body that he’s born into, because he feels like he’s so much more than that. I think a lot of dogs that are spoiled probably go through this internal crisis as to who they are. So I really wanted that.
I worked in a lot of children’s shows, comedies, back home … and I always think back to the classic Bert and Ernie routines from Sesame Street. I just thought, growing up, that they were that perfect comedic dynamic of the hapless, dumb one who’s almost like a philosopher in his naivety and ignorance, and then then the brainiac who’s really intelligent, but has been driven crazy by his idiot friend. And these two have this dynamic where one just infuriates the other one, but they’re also, obviously, really close friends. I really like that dynamic.
When you brought the show to FX, did you consider at all the possibility of not playing Wilfred, of working strictly off camera?
When it was first suggested to me, the exact quote was, ‘I’m not putting that fucking dog suit on again.’ That’s exactly what I said. It was my manager, Jeff Kwatinetz who sold the show, who had the idea of this new version, this new angle. It was me as Wilfred. He said, ‘I know you don’t want to do it. But hear me out.’ Then he pitched it to me in a way that intrigued me, and said, ‘Look, this show is going to happen over here one day. You’ve got a window to play this role now or someone else is going to play it.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. Who could possibly play it?’ He said, ‘Oh, the name Zach Galifianakis has been mentioned.’
I said, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll do it. If you can sell it, I’ll do it.’
It’s a big risk as an actor. I’m actually very shy by nature. So, to be in front of a lot of people, the whole crew and everything, in a dog suit, when no one knows what you’re doing … and they’re just thinking, ‘I hope for your sake that this works, because if it doesn’t, you look like an idiot.’ But I guess there is a high return now from that risk, because people really love the character, and it’s really put wind in my sails. I really want to continue doing it and make people laugh.
You and Elijah have such great chemistry together. Was that instantaneous?
It was instant, yeah. He’s just such a giving actor. I always say with Wilfred, we are all telling the same joke. The show is one joke. But we didn’t want character actors coming on, trying to make a name for themselves, trying to do their comedy shtick, competing against what is already working. What Elijah did straightaway was play the truth of the situation, and basically told the jokes with me for a whole scene. Straightaway, it wasn’t his ego. He wasn’t showing off.
Sometimes when you’re working with other actors, you kind of want to slap them and say, ‘Get in here. Let’s do this scene. Let’s do this. Be in here. I don’t know where you are, but I know you’re not in the scene. You’re acting and you’re showing off.’
So to have someone come in and just be so giving and consistent and humble is such a treat. It’s a rarer treat than it should be, really.
The funny thing is, Elijah and I are very different people, coming from very different backgrounds, career-wise, as well as personally. Yet immediately, we just had that instant connection. It is fun. Whenever I’m feeling like I’m not in the scene, I’m not connected, it’s usually because I’m not looking at Elijah enough. I’m not feeding off him enough. An acting teacher once said to me years ago that if you’re ever feeling that you’re not in the scene, you’re not in the moment, then look to your other actors. Look them in the eyes, because there’s a good chance that one of them will be, and you can feed off that. I always think about that. So, to this day, whenever I feel like I’m not in the moment, I just look into Elijah’s dreamy baby blues and I’m there.
Speaking of baby blues … Wilfred loves Matt Damon. Why?
(Laughing) You’ll have to ask David Zuckerman that. I don’t know. I think he has a mad crush on Matt Damon. That was one of the new things that appeared in the FX show, so I can’t answer that. Wilfred used to be obsessed with Alex Baldwin. Alex Baldwin.
Are you a big TV watcher?
Probably not as much as I should. But Breaking Bad I do. Deadwood was on last night, and I forgot just how much I really love that show. I just thought Deadwood was the best TV show ever made. The dialog is so rich and amazing that I just go back and play it again and again and again. Not a lot makes me do that … I love watching Ancient Aliens. That was my favorite show on the History Channel, but it’s on the same time as Wilfred, so I can’t really promote it.
I read an interview where you said Wilfred has made you fall in love with acting again. Why?
Yeah, I have. I’ve kind of fallen in love with it again. I think it all has to do with just a different perception that Hollywood has of story guys. It’s really tough to survive in a small country like Australia doing what I do. People can perceive you as being a control freak or, what is it that they say, jack of all trades, master of none if you’re doing more than one thing. So you play down your skills and abilities, because people get weird about the fact that you can be a writer and an actor, let alone a producer or a musician or anything else that you might be good at.
Whereas over here, when I brought my shows that I created to people … I came over here initially just to try to sell formats to shows. I wasn’t selling myself at all. I just wanted to sell the formats, sell ideas, because I’d heard and I knew from talking to (Sex and the City series creator) Darren Starr that Hollywood ran on ideas. It wasn’t just about who you knew or who your dad was. It was about if you had the good ideas and you had enough determination, you could be successful.
So I came over here to sell formats and everyone said, ‘Look, these are great, but you’ve got to be in this stuff. You’re fantastic,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, really? Well, OK.’ So yeah, weird, I unintentionally sold myself as a comedic performer.
Wow, I’m sorry, I promised I wouldn’t take up more than 20 minutes of your time, but we’ve been chatting for almost an hour …
Yeah, that’s OK. I like talking. I tend to have sentences that are more like paragraphs, a lot of commas. I’m a comma freak.
Do you write the way you talk?
Yeah, I do.
I think that’s the key to good dialogue.
Yes! That’s why … I think one of my best skills as a writer is dialogue between characters. Because I write like I talk. Someone who really does that well, who became a favorite of mine several years ago, is Charles Bukowski. He became a hero of mine for a while, because he did that so well. When I’d read his works, I’d feel like I was hanging out with an old friend. I’d feel like I was having a conversation with a friend. I think that’s a great skill, if you can write as you think.
I’m just a bit … people say to me all the time that I say things that people think but don’t normally say. I think that sometimes that’s a good thing and maybe sometimes it’s not. But I don’t know. I just don’t have any time in my life for dishonesty. That doesn’t mean that I say things that are going to hurt people and use being honest as an excuse. Some people say, ‘I’m just being honest. I’m just being honest. I’m just being honest’ … ‘You really don’t look good in that shirt. I know it’s the only shirt you’ve got to wear out. But I’m just being honest.’ People can be really mean.
Look, I’m rambling. I’m rambling now. I can go and sit. I’ve made my point. Thank you so much, Kim. It’s been really great … that’s why I waffle on, because I know that you are interested in what I’m saying. So, I’m enjoying talking to you.
I am too, thanks so much, Jason. And now I’m sad, because I’m going to have to wait until next year to see more Wilfred. I may have to go find a Wilfred suit for Halloween just so I can see him again.
Well, if you do, make sure you get a photo and send it to me.
I will. I’ll send it to your Facebook.
You’ve got to go on my Facebook. You’ve got to see some of these paintings that people have done. And there’s another site this girl has created, called Fuck Yeah Wilfred. She’s from Brazil. It’s incredible. It’s amazing.
What is it called again?
It’s called … what, you couldn’t remember that? (Laughing) Fuck Yeah Wilfred.
(Laughing) Yeah, I just wanted to make sure I heard that right.
You heard it right.
Googling it now …
(ALL TIMES ET)
10PM | FX
Wilfred – Only one more Wilfred before next week’s season finale. Sad. But tonight’s installment is a good one: An attractive woman is interested in Ryan, but he’s preoccupied with doing for others, including Kristen, Jenna and, of course, Wilfie.
8-11PM | DISCOVERY
Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero – The miniseries concludes with episodes featuring 9/11 survivors who hung around to help rebuild their communities and a memorial for 9/11 victims.
9PM | USA
Burn Notice – Sam and Jesse try to trap Max’s killer while Michael and Fiona pretend to be a wealthy couple at a swanky South American resort to rescue a bioweapons expert.
9PM | TEENNICK – SUMMER FINALE
Degrassi – It’s prom night, and on Degrassi, that means someone’s probably gonna get shot.
9PM | LIFETIME
Project Runway – Kenneth Cole is the guest judge as the contestants have to create garments inspired by student art projects.
10PM | COMEDY CENTRAL
Futurama – When Bender gets a boost in his processing power, he’s suddenly able to see the future. A prescient Bender … all kinds of potential there.
10PM | USA
Suits – Harvey’s mentor shows up and asks for Harvey’s help when the mentor’s office comes under investigation. The best part: said mentor is played by guest star Gary Cole, who always elevates whatever project he’s in.
12:15AM FRIDAY | ADULT SWIM
NTSF: SD: SUV – Trent (Paul Scheer) plans a cruise for the NTSF crew, but he has an ulterior motive: to catch a terrorist who’s allegedly hiding on the ship.
Worth flipping to during commercials:
– It’s eviction night on Big Brother (8PM, CBS);
– In case you missed it on Sunday, the conclusion of last week’s Jersey Shore (10PM, MTV) finds Situation leaving the house on a stretcher after he and Ronnie duke it out;
– On Louie (10:30PM, FX), Louie’s sister wigs out and takes her daughter to Grand Central Station … and leaves her there.
And the late-night line-up:
– Conan (11PM, TBS): Zach Galifianakis (REPEAT);
– The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (11PM, Comedy Central): Mark Adams (REPEAT);
– The Colbert Report (11:30PM, Comedy Central): The space shuttle astronauts (REPEAT);
– The Late Show with David Letterman (11:35PM, CBS): Julianna Margulies and Lady Antebellum;
– The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11:35PM, NBC): Kevin Smith and Heidi Klum;
– Jimmy Kimmel Live (12:05AM, ABC): Jamie Foxx (REPEAT);
– Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (12:35AM, NBC): Lenny Kravitz;
– The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (12:37AM, CBS): Kathy Griffin;
– Last Call with Carson Daly (1:35AM, NBC): Sarah Vowell (REPEAT).
(ALL TIMES ET)
8-11PM | DISCOVERY – SERIES PREMIERE
Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero – Ground Zero will ultimately be a 16-acre complex that includes four skyscrapers, a transportation hub, a museum and a 9/11 memorial with the largest man-made waterfall in history. This miniseries, produced by Steven Spielberg, documents the construction, including the remembrances of those who were in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2011 and those who are involved now in this massive, emotional rebuilding effort.
9PM | USA
Burn Notice – Michael worms his way inside a group of hijackers as a way to help Jesse with a security job, but he’s caught by surprise when the hijackers take hostages at an airport. And the person trying to help the hostages escape? Maddie, of course.
9PM | LIFETIME
Project Runway – Survivor meets PR? The designers not only have to conceive a new frock based on sneakers and sportswear, but they actually have to participate in a running event.
10PM | MTV
Jersey Shore – They’ve been teasing it for months, and tonight we finally see the big throwdown between Ronnie and The Situation. Oh, I feel just a little bit more ridiculous every time I type that name.
10PM | FX
Wilfred – Dwight Yoakam guest stars as a guy who may confirm Ryan’s suspicions that his friendship with Wilfred may not be totally healthy.
11:59PM | ADULT SWIM
Childrens Hospital – Glenn (Ken Marino), finally, gets a bar mitzvah.
12:15AM FRIDAY | ADULT SWIM
NTSF: SD: SUV – Gabrielle Union guest stars in “Tijuana, We’ve Got a Problem,” as plans for the space shuttle are stolen and sold to Mexico, and Trent (Paul Scheer) and the gang must retrieve them.
Worth flipping to during commercials:
– It’s family team night on Wipeout (8PM, ABC);
– It’s eviction night on Big Brother (8PM, CBS);
– Katie and Marisol continue to trash their friendship for a dude on Degrassi (9PM, TeenNick);
– Fry sneezes and reintroduces the common cold into the future on Futurama (10PM, Comedy Central);
– Mike questions why Harvey fired a certain executive on Suits (10PM, USA);
– On Louie (10:30PM, FX), Louie … Afghanistan … comedy ensues.
And the late-night line-up:
– Conan (11PM, TBS): Jim Parsons (REPEAT);
– The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (11PM, Comedy Central): Michael Wallis (REPEAT);
– The Colbert Report (11:30PM, Comedy Central): Robert Wittman (REPEAT);
– The Late Show with David Letterman (11:35PM, CBS): Paul Rudd;
– The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11:35PM, NBC): Dolly Parton and Ben Bailey (REPEAT);
– Jimmy Kimmel Live (12:05AM, ABC): Howie Mandel (REPEAT);
– Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (12:35AM, NBC): Ryan Reynolds and Fountains of Wayne (REPEAT);
– The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (12:37AM, CBS): Kal Penn;
– Last Call with Carson Daly (1:35AM, NBC): Adam Pally (REPEAT).
(ALL TIMES ET)
10 and 10:30PM | FX
Wilfred – Back-to-back new episodes of Wilfred kick off with Ryan’s mom (guest star Mary Steenburgen) checking out of the “wellness center” where she’s lived for 20 years and moving in with her son. Ryan already has a contentious relationship with his wacky mama, and the fact that Wilfred bonds with her just gives him another reason to resent her. And in the second ep, Wilfred picks on Ryan and tells him that people are starting to call him weird because he spends so much time alone, but Wilfie’s motives, of course, are not all about what’s best for Ryan.
9PM | USA
Burn Notice – While Fiona and Jesse do some sleuthing on behalf of a drug company mogul (who’s hiding secrets from them), Sam helps Michael track down a bomb maker who has some scoop related to Max’s murder.
9PM | VH1
Do Something Awards – Jane Lynch hosts (few TV promos have been as entertaining as the ones she’s done leading up to the Do Something show) and Foster the People and OneRepublic perform in this nod to social do-gooding. Among the presenters doling out awards: Adam Lambert, Nick Cannon and Kristen Bell.
10PM | A&E – 2ND SEASON PREMIERE
Beyond Scared Straight – It’s tough to tell sometimes how effective the show’s prisoners are in persuading teens that crime doesn’t pay, but I find their schtick so scary as to make me reconsider taking a cent from the Take a Penny dish at the local bodega.
10PM | MTV
Jersey Shore – It hits the fan when Mike tells the whole house he and Snooki hooked up, and Deena proves that, yes, she can get even sloppier when she hooks up with twins Vinny and Mike had their eyes on.
11:59PM | ADULT SWIM
Childrens Hospital – In “The Chet Episode,” we experience a day in the life of the creepy paramedic.
12:15AM FRIDAY | ADULT SWIM
NTSF: SD: SUV – Trent’s (Paul Scheer) on the trail of a serial killer (a dolphin serial killer), and looks to a another murderer, who’s locked up, for help. Tonight’s guest star: Tony “Buster Bluth” Hale.
Worth flipping to during commercials:
– Contestants drop like flies when they’re swatted like flies on Wipeout (8PM, ABC);
– It’s eviction night on Big Brother (9PM, CBS);
– This won’t end well: on Degrassi (9PM, TeenNick), Eli won’t give up on Clare, and Imogen won’t give up on Eli;
– The crew discovers one of Dr. Zoidberg’s lost adventures on Futurama (10PM, Comedy Central);
– On Suits (10PM, USA), it’s Harvey vs. an undefeated Boston attorney in a class-action lawsuit;
– Louie (11PM, FX) takes the girls trickor-treating and finds himself having to explain Lilly’s costume.
And the late-night line-up:
– Conan (11PM, TBS): Louis C.K.;
– The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (11PM, Comedy Central): Anne Hathaway;
– The Colbert Report (11:30PM, Comedy Central): Kevin Mitnick;
– The Late Show with David Letterman (11:35PM, CBS): Ryan Gosling (and his cool dog) (REPEAT);
– The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11:35PM, NBC): Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb (REPEAT);
– Jimmy Kimmel Live (12:05AM, ABC): Anton Yelchin and Zoe Saldana;
– Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (12:35AM, NBC): Brian Williams (REPEAT);
– The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (12:37AM, CBS): Dick Van Dyke (REPEAT);
– Last Call with Carson Daly (1:35AM, NBC): Neil Strauss (REPEAT).
Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET). Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) […]