In anticipation of tonight’s much-anticipated return of RAISING HOPE — which by the way we guarantee will be the funniest half hour you see all week — your very own TV Addict was recently given the opportunity to sit down with creator Greg Garcia at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles where he candidly talked about his inspiration for the show (“Rich people are annoying”), the genesis of tonight’s special guest star Greyson Chance (“He’s just amazing”) and the series premiere you won’t see (“I was going to do an episode which basically said that she [Hope’s mom] survived the execution.”). See for yourself, after the jump.
Is it safe to assume that an Emmy nomination for the likes of Martha Plimpton and Cloris Leachman is also a victory for a writer such as yourself?
Greg Garcia: Anytime the show is recognized is fantastic. To get Martha [Plimpton] and Cloris [Leachman] nominated, it is great for the writers because that’s a representation of our work as well and just to be among the crowd that night when you’re watching the Emmys and you see, “Oh RAISING HOPE, they’re nominated, I haven’t watched that show yet, maybe i’ll check that out” you never know. Anytime you can get more mentions is good, so it’s great, I’m thrilled for them and was saying look, I can look at every single category and make a case as to why we should be nominated in each one as can any showrunner of any show who loves their show. So we’re thrilled for them and hopefully there is more to come in the future for us.
What is your take on getting bumped from the plum post-GLEE timeslot this season. Do you think having a more compatible lead-in such as the NEW GIRL will work out in RAISING HOPE’s favor?
I think it will definitely work in our favor. I was thrilled to see that we were being moved to 9:30PM. I think the NEW GIRL is a better lead out for GLEE, I think a better lead in to us. i think it really kind of bridges that gap better than what we had and it is a very funny show. I saw it, Zooey Deschanel I’d watch her in anything, she’s absolutely charming. I tried to get her to play a role early on when we shot the pilot, I tried to get her to play the character that ultimately went to Bijou Phillips, who was fantastic by the way, I tried to get Zooey to do it early on. I think it will be great. I’m looking forward to it and I hope we do good numbers coming out of it.
Considering that the show is about your everyday lower-to-middle class family, do you ever find yourself wondering why more people aren’t tuning into this show that might be far more reflective of the actual average American family?
I don’t know. I don’t think too much about that. I’ve always liked shows like ROSEANNE, that’s what I’ve always been drawn to. But who’s to say, sometimes people want to watch shows that are relatable and other times they want to watch lifestyle porn. They want to watch ENTOURAGE because they don’t have that lifestyle and they want a window into that world. So I guess it just depends on the person. All I can say is that I feel like we have a nice core audience and I hope it keeps building as more people watch it.
Between RAISING HOPE and MY NAME IS EARL you seem to have a real fascination with the slightly less fortunate, financially speaking. Does that have something to do with how you grew up?
No, not really. I grew up when I was real little my dad drove a cab and it wasn’t like we had a ton of cash or anything like that, a lot of amy family has blue collar jobs, I worked for my Uncle’s lawn business growing up, like Burt’s, it’s actually called ‘Better Lawn Service’ in Arlington Virginia. My Uncles were mailman, worked for the gas company, blue collar, so I grew up kind of in that world. My friend lived in a trailer park and I would go into that trailer park and i was always fascinated by the tailer park, it was just more interesting to me. I knew poor people and rich people growing up, we were kind of middle class but I was always more interested in going to the trailer park then going to the nicer side of town. I just found those people easier to root for, rich people are annoying.
Internet sensation Greyson Chance guests on the season premiere in flashback form as a 14-year old Jimmy Chance. Was he the obvious choice based on his last name, or was that purely coincidental?
I didn’t even think about that until somebody pointed that out to me. Honestly, I don’t remember what their last name is on the show they just call each other by their first name. But we’re excited about Greyson. We got him for three episodes, the first one is the big one, he’s 13 year old Jimmy in flashbacks, and there were two other episodes where he’ll make smaller appearances, but right now it’s 3 episodes and I’m looking forward to it. I went to see him with my kids to see him do a little concert at the Hard Rock Cafe, he’s just amazing. He just sits down at a piano and belts things out, it’s amazing.
Was there any concern about Chance’s availability based on his burgeoning music career? Which is to say, he might not be available for future flashbacks should you need him?
Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We didn’t do a lot of 13 year old flashbacks we tend to do a lot of 4 year old flashbacks because that’s my kid. And it’s my only chance to see him during the week because I work so hard, so when you see 4-year old Jimmy that’s my youngest. I hope he does get too big for us, he’s a sweet kid and I hope he takes off and goes to the moon with his career. That would be okay.
If we could go back to the show’s pilot for a moment, what was Fox’s reaction when you told them that you were planning on executing Baby Hope’s mom, was there any concern that the death penalty might be a bit of a buzz kill when launching a show?
We went back and forth with that really. When I pitched it we killed her then everybody was laughing and they were all cool with it. But then I went back to write the scripts and I was talking about it to my father-in-law. My father-in-law is a right wing guy and I was telling him the concept and he was like, “You can’t kill her off, you can’t have her die in the electric chair!” And I was like, “Oh Sh*t, if he doesn’t think we should die in the electric chair than maybe I’m making a mistake.” So I actually wrote the pilot where she gets fried and she’s alive and they can’t fry her again because there’s laws against that. So we were going to keep her alive, and we shot all the scenes, tested the pilot and we just felt that the audience wasn’t interested in being back in prison, they wanted to be back at home with this family and the baby and looking forward I didn’t really know what I was going to do with her in prison. I’m not going to redeem her at some point because she’s killed people. So ultimately we decided to kill her. But on the DVD we have the whole pilot where she is alive so people can check it out, it’s fun.
I even toyed with at the end of last season, the season finale, we shot it, we have it, it’s also on the DVD, where Jimmy opens the door on his birthday and she’s standing there and she says, “Where’s my daughter?” and he just throws up. And the idea was going to be at the beginning of the season I was going to do an episode which basically said that she survived the execution, they’ve been hiding her and now she wants the baby back, but at the end of the first episode this year I was going to kill her again. The only reason we didn’t do it was that we were kind of thinking that over the summer we’d get some new viewers and then to do the whole thing in the first episode where we introduce this woman only to kill her again it was like maybe that’s a bad idea, maybe we should do a bread and butter episode of what this show is really like. So as much as I kind of dug the idea, we decided not to do it. But all that stuff is on the DVD (Which by the way is available for a mere $29.99 on Amazon)
And finally, Jimmy’s love life. Are we going to see any movement in the Jimmy and Sabrina department this season?
He’s going to make some strides. We know when and if they’re going to get together. We made a conscious decision this season to sit down and make that plan. Look, it’s the only kind of secretive thing we have so I’m not going to say what it is. But I think last year we didn’t make a lot of progress with it, and you got to take these things kind of slow, but I do feel like because I didn’t exactly know where it would ultimately end up I was reticent to do certain things. But now we have more of a long term plan there will be some progress made and I hope people will enjoy it.
RAISING HOPE returns with brand new episodes this Tuesday September 20th at 9:30PM on FOX (CityTV in Canada) and stars Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt, Shannon Woodward and Cloris Leachman. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv