Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cutting Room Floor Commentary: Joel McHale on Twitter, Nathan Fillion, 'The Soup', and DVR culture...

I get to spend time with some pretty awesome people for my day job. Most of the time our encounters are brief-- and admittedly usually rushed as production schedules are crazy and I'm usually just one of a block of reporters with slotted interview time-- but that doesn't stop me from going off on tangents. It's not always my fault; sometimes the person I am interviewing will say something that I respond to with a passing remark-- or what I intend to just be a passing remark-- but then they use it as a jumping off point. These are not moments that ever make my "professional" interviews because they usually have nothing to do with the show we are currently there to discuss, nor do they feature any kind of official news or announcements. In fact, sometimes the very idea of including such commentary has me flop-sweating with fear of rumors being started from a simple off-topic anecdote. Case in point: My most recent interview with Joel McHale.

It was an odd day to be visiting the set of Community as it was: an eighty degree day in L.A. where the cast was forced to don polyester robes and felt costumes of all icons Christmas. And it only got weirder (and more awesome!) from there. Nathan Fillion non-chalantly popped in at one point, just strolling onto set as any member of the crew. He was not there to film a cameo or top secret guest spot (so don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything), and he Tweeted as such, but when McHale and I sat down later that morning to do our formal interview, Fillion's name came up, and I knew if I used any of it in my official write-up, fans would want to read between the lines and assume he was coming onto Community. Sadly, that is not the case (yet).

But as I sat transcribing this interview, which will be posted on my Examiner page soon, I realized that no matter what we were talking about, McHale didn't treat anything as flippantly as I did (he knew he was on the record after all) and always had thoughtful, interesting, and yes, humorous commentary to offer. And the more I thought about the pieces I was not copying into my interview template, the more I realized that the true fans-- of McHale's, of Community's, and of the things we talked about, like Twitter and Fillion-- might be interested in reading them anyway. They may not always be entirely relevant, but they can still be fun! Just because "news" and "scoop" dominate my day job doesn't meant the part of me that still knows what it is to be a fan doesn't remember wanting to read everything possible about and from my favorite actor/writer/showrunner/whoever. If you're of that mind set, too, I think you'll like this new column: Cutting Room Floor Commentary, which starts with the comedic stylings of McHale:

Sitting down in the study room housed in Paramount Studios Stage 31, McHale was a gracious host-- but perhaps a little *too* gracious, wanting to get some intel on me. Presumably because as an actor, stand-up comic, and television host details of his own life and personality are public knowledge, discussed, dissected, and at times simply speculated on openly and could be used against him at any time. Perhaps he was sizing me up to be able to do the same. I got him on track, though...and then we got a bit off-track again. That is what I bring to you here...

DanielleTBD: So, I saw Nathan Fillion wandering around. Are you bringing him on the show any time soon?

Joel McHale: If he would come on, I would love to have him. He is so funny.

D.: Yeah because he Tweeted he was here, and he said 'No, I'm just stopping by to say hello' or whatever, but already people got so excited. It was like five minutes ago.

J.M.: Yeah, no, I have become friends with him, and I was such a huge fan of Firefly and Serenity, so it's very strange to be friends with a guy that you're a fan of. It's weird. And wonderful. So I stopped kind of doing The Chris Farley Show with him. I went over to his house, and I was finally like 'So, you, aahhh!'

D.: Get it out of your system. Have him sign your action figure...

J.M.: That show not continuing was a tragedy. I mean, that was one of those struck down too soon. I mean, like, it's like if a javelin thrower who's in his prime accidentally gets hit with a javelin or something. It's like 'How could it be canceled!?' AND they ran that show out of order because some executive was like 'Uh, I like this one better.' They completely ran it out of order.

D.: That's not a show you can do that with.

J.M.: No! Are you crazy? I'm actually in the middle of composing a Tweet...

D.: About Firefly?

J.M.: No, but I'm going to make some joke about it.

D.: Well, you put a lot more thought into Tweeting than I do, I'll say that, if you're in the middle of it. I'm just like 'Oh, whatever!'

J.M.: Really? How many followers do you have?

D.: Like 3800. Not a lot. But I'm not famous. So you know...

J.M.: That's true.

D.: [Laughs] Thanks!

J.M.: No, well, you have to be thoughtful.

D.: Yeah, but for you guys, they don't care what you say; I would imagine they're just happy you're Tweeting and are engaging.

J.M.: No! For us, we have to-- no! You only get new-- well, you only keep people interested, and I assume, get new followers, by Tweeting hopefully funny or clever things.

D.: I guess. I just use it for promoting my articles and stuff.

J.M.: But then, see, in my situation, it's okay to promote Community, promote The Soup, but you can't do it just for that because people would be like 'This is just a place for you to advertise!' I try to Tweet stuff that I find funny-- like I just Tweeted today about in the New York Times, there was a correction-- it was really funny-- a correction that they had described the game Angry Birds incorrectly. So it was great to see the New York Times' very clinical explanation of and what they had gotten wrong.

D.: But speaking of The Soup, you're moving to Wednesdays, so is that going to change the show? Are you doing anything differently?

J.M.: No, nothing will change other than hopefully I'll get some new suits out of it. But, um, oh here it is [reading]: "The books of the Times reviewed on Saturday about "Steve Jobs," the book by Walter Issacson, described Angry Birds, a popular iPhone game, incorrectly. Slingshots are used to launch birds to destroy pigs and their fortresses. Not shoot down the birds."

D.: Oh, that's sad.

J.M.: And I reTweeted it, and I just said 'This almost made me lose my shit.'

D.: Yeah, that's sad.

J.M.: No, but it will be no different in execution. There will also be an iPhone and iPad App being launched, and also a new website, and that's great. It will be dedicated to The Soup, so you won't have to navigate to get to it, which is great. We always taped it on Thursday night, so that meant we didn't have access to anything that happened over the weekend, so now we will have access to those things, so we'll have access to different things now. That should be, hopefully, good. We'll see. We'll see if more eyes go to it or not.

D.: That's good because to add the weekend-- there's some crazy shit on the weekends!

J.M.: Yeah, and our show is so DVRed.

D.: True, you can watch it whenever.

J.M.: You can watch it whenever, and I think most-- I forget what the percentage is, but it's very DVRed. So for that thing, which I think most television will end up going, other than sports-- I mean look at last night.

D.: Please, let's not look at last night. Last night was a mess; I was pissed [Editor's Note: This interview was conducted after Game Six of the World Series]. Twitter was all baseball. I don't follow sports, but I really don't follow baseball, and Twitter was all baseball.

J.M.: Well, it was one of the greatest games!

D.: It also messed me up work-wise because I had this piece set to publish about 'this time tomorrow you'll see this on Fringe', and now Fringe is being pre-empted.

J.M.: Well, it may have pre-empted Fringe, but it's going up against the premiere of Chuck and Grimm. I really want to see Grimm; I think it's an interesting thing. So, anyway, it won't change. I think we're going to have a new theme song; I'm very excited about that.

D.: Are you going to sing it?

J.M.: No!

D.: But you've been singing, so I don't see why not.

J.M.: [Singing] Sing-sing-sing. Because that's what people want to hear.

D.: So who's going to sing it?

J.M.: Well, there was never anyone singing.

D.: Oh, but you said you're having a new theme song, and I automatically went to old-school style. Or like New Girl.

J.M.: You have a lot of assumptions.

D.: I do. I have a lot of ideas.

J.M.: [Laughs] They're not all necessarily correct.

D.: I didn't say they were good! But thank you for taking time to sit down with me today anyway. I know your schedule is crazy to finish this episode. It looks amazing so far.

J.M.: Thank you for wanting to do this because without you guys-- without the critical help or support, we'd be floundering, I think. Not floundering, but our ratings would be lower probably.

D.: But the people who are watching Community don't have Nielsen boxes in their houses.

J.M.: No, I'd say the people who are watching Community, like, I went to a college, I asked thirty kids 'You guys watch Community?' I was doing stand-up, so of course a lot of them who came to see me knew me from the show. All the hands went up. And I was like 'All right, who watches it on Thursday night?' All the hands went down. Then I go, 'How many people have TVs?' Four hands. And I was like 'Four people have TVs!?' The rest was all Hulu and iTunes.

D.: Well, iTunes is probably still okay because at least they make money from it.

J.M.: I prefer watching it on iTunes because Hulu has commercials and stuff. Sorry.

D.: I still watch live TV, but I'm old.

J.M.: Not as old as me.

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