A panel was held last night for NBC’s The New Normal at the 30th annual PaleyFest TV Festival. Co-creators Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler were on hand as well as Executive Producer Dante Di Loreto and cast members Andrew Rannells (Brian), Justin Bartha (David), NeNe Leakes (Rocky), Georgia King (Goldie), Bebe Wood (Shania) and Jayson Blair (Clay). John Stamos, who plays Brice on the show, moderated the panel. (Ellen Barkin was filming late and could not attend. While the show may be struggling in the ratings, there was much love in the room for the freshman sitcom.
Here are 10 things we gleaned from the upbeat panel:
- The baby is coming! Yes, we will meet Brian and David’s baby by the end of the first season, but don’t expect the typical zany madcap sitcom birth. Murphy revealed, “We’ve been building towards David and Brian getting married, and we’re building towards a baby being born and we’re building towards Georgia, her character [Goldie] really deciding if she’s really going to get back together [with Clay]…and NeNe becoming Queen of the World.” They’re shooting the finale right now and Adler says the marriage and the baby don’t happen the way you’d expect.
Andrew Rannells and Jayson Blair
- Bebe Wood loves RuPaul’s Drag Race. In educating the young actress about Cher for an episode earlier this season, Rannells advised her not to watch video of the legendary singer. “Don’t watch Cher, watch Drag Queens doing Cher,” he told her. Adler also joked that Wood is the most mature of the actors.
- TV can change minds… Murphy said at a dinner hosted by Rob Reiner with Prop 8 attorneys (Ted Olson and David Boies) that the topic of the power of TV came up. “They were asked how has public opinion [changed]…the bar has moved so far and so quickly in only four years and we asked them that question. Without missing a beat they both said television. And they talked about the idea that because of shows like The New Normal and Modern Family and Glee people feel that they know gay couples, they know gay people now more than eve,r and I guess the old adage is if you know someone and you really know what their struggle is then you’re less likely to have prejudice against them.”
- …but how we watch TV is frustrating. “We try very hard to put on a quality show,” Bartha said, “and the nature of watching comedies, everyone knows, on network television is changing drastically. No one watches them live…that’s a frustrating part of making network television.” FYI, there was no announcement about whether the show will get a second season.
Ryan Murphy and John Stamos
- Ryan Murphy has loose lips…at least last night he did. “You’re telling everything!” said Adler when Murphy teased the season finale. Murphy talked about using John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” (They had to get permission from Yoko Ono.) He also let spill the finale will have an act with no dialogue and just music. “It’s really different and cool and it’s heartwarming to hear.”
- Men loving men on TV is OK. “In my mind it wasn’t brave,” says Bartha of being a straight actor playing a gay character and said he knows there are people out there who still have a hang-up about it. That said, Murphy and Adler set a precedent on the show for showing affection. “If we’re going to kiss, we’re going to kiss. If we’re going to hold hands [and] if we’re going to hug,” Rannells said. “It’s not a very special episode of The New Normal if Justin and I kiss.’ Bartha then leaned in and said, grinning, “it’s very special for us.” Yes, they’re adorable. Adler also said they never got any notes on the showing of affection from the network or studio.
The Angelina Jolie pose a la NeNe Leakes
The Evolution of Rocky. “I love it! I actually love being a mom on the show” Leakes gushed. “Rocky’s character has grown and grown. I’m the producer of Sing now and I’m a Mom and I have a big career and I love it. Rocky’s great.” Stamos, who said he knew her from The Real Housewives of Atlanta reality series, also complimented her on being a “great actress.”
A Grey Gardens gift. No shocker here…Rannells and Wood are besties, which showed when the actor had to figure out a birthday gift. “I didn’t know what to get her,” he explained. “What do I get a girl who’s turning 11? So I asked Christine Ebersole to call her and most 11-yr olds would be like ‘What?’ but Bebe Wood wept that Christine Ebersole had called.…kindred spirits, Bebe Wood and I.” King said that Wood played the message four times in a Pinkberry with her.
Justin Bartha says the final four episodes of the season are ‘amazing.’
- John Stamos needs a talk show. Murphy said what we were all thinking during the panel – get Stamos a talk show! Incredibly comfortable, quick and witty and, yeah, only getting more sexy with age (he turns 50 later this year). The natural lines in his face are working, so steer clear of those Hollywood plastic surgeons, Mr. Stamos.
- The last 4 episodes are ‘great television.’ Bartha said the next four episodes that wrap up the first season are terrific. “They are the best episodes of the season…for the fans of the show I think that they’ll be very pleased and for the people that aren’t really fans yet or haven’t seen it, I think that they would be after they seeing these shows…we really hit our stride. The writers knock it out of the park, all of the actors are all in sync.” Stories in these episodes include Boy Scouts, naming the baby and, of course, a wedding and the arrival of David and Brian’s Beautiful Boy.
What do you think? Do you want a second season of The New Normal? Let us know!
The New Normal airs new episodes starting April 2nd on NBC.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Parry, Paley Center For Media
- Justin Bartha & Andrew Rannells: ‘New Normal’ at PaleyFest! (justjared.com)
- ‘The New Normal’ At PaleyFest 2013: Spoilers, A John Lennon Song, And More (deadline.com)
- ‘New Normal’ at PaleyFest: Yoko Ono OKs Use of John Lennon Track for Special Finale (entertainably.com)
- THE NEW NORMAL Announces ‘All Music’ Act, Return of John Stamos (tv.broadwayworld.com)
- PaleyFest: “Community” Table Read and Full Panel, Plus: Puppets! (VIDEO) (franklinavenue.blogspot.com)