News

Five Things to Know About NBC's Crowded

The stars discuss the return of multi-camera sitcoms and the perils of dating co-stars.

by | March 14, 2016 | Comments

NUP_170584_0282.JPG

Crowded has a dream cast: Carrie Preston (The Good Wife, True Blood), Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagement, The Tick), Stacy Keach (The New Mike Hammer, Fat City) Carlease Burke (Switched at Birth), and onscreen sister duo Mia Serafino (The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations) and Miranda Cosgrove (Despicable Me). The show is a multi-cam live-audience sitcom about a couple of parents who must adapt their empty nest to accommodate their grown daughters moving back in. To add to the mayhem, Dad’s parents opt to stay rather than retire in Florida. The show previews tomorrow night and has its official premiere on Sunday.

We went to the set to check in on production and ask the cast about the experience while we got to hang out in the bar (those cocktails ain’t real, dern it!). The actors were all smiles and warmth, clearly delighted to be a part of the show. Here’s what we learned:


THE CLASSIC MULTI-CAM LIVE SITCOM IS FUN BUT CAN BE NERVE-WRACKING TOO

NUP_167745_0494.jpg

Is the live sitcom making a comeback? “NBC is definitely behind trying to make a multi-cam stick and we’re hoping this is going to be the one,” said Carrie Preston of the format. They can be exciting for the cast and the audience, but that doesn’t mean it’s not nerve-wracking, too. Patrick Warburton told us, “I was nervous at first. Going into another multi camera show wasn’t something that I intended to do — but they seemed to have something special here.”

Preston wasn’t nervous, though. As a “theater baby,” her first love is working in front of an audience. “This is like a wonderful hybrid between film and theater,” she said. “It’s thrilling. It’s like game night. We rehearse during the week, but then it’s really exciting when [the audiences] finally come and we get to fly.” Veteran actor Stacy Keach feels the sitcom is the “best gig in the world for an actor.” He said, “You get a chance to have a life — you don’t have to work on the weekends, except to memorize lines. And I think there’s nothing more purgative than laughter.”

When writers think jokes don’t land, or dialogue sounds wonky, or even if they just want to hear something different, they give rewrites to the cast which must be instantly incorporated into the next take. “[It’s] a little bit like being shot out of a cannon,” Preston explained. “You see the script supervisor coming over and she’s got the script, and you’re like, ‘Oh God, is it me?’”


BEING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE CAN LEAD TO “THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW SYNDROME”

NUP_170584_0357.JPG

Those of us above a “certain age” recall the magical moments when the actors in The Carol Burnett Show would break character in front of a live audience (the cast used to make bets offstage as to how soon into a sketch Harvey Korman would break and start laughing). Anytime there is a live audience, actors are in jeopardy of this. “[Thos moments] work in a sketch show like Carol Burnett,” said Preston, “not so good when [it’s] a multi-cam.” But she shared a story of a funny exchange between Mia Serafino and herself that grew so out of control with laughter, that they had to re-stage the scene so Serafino would look down — avoiding eye contact with Preston — because they kept making each other laugh.

Serafino then recounted a time when she couldn’t stop laughing during a sequence with onscreen sister Cosgrove. “I kept laughing,” she said, “and [Miranda’s] face is like twitching and [director] Jimmy Burrows, like, yelled at me. And I felt bad I threw [Miranda] under the bus — I [said] ‘It was Miranda!’ And [Burrows] was like a parent scolding us. He was like, ‘Miranda, you are not to look at her until she is done with the line!’” Serafino felt bad about it, hoping at least one take was usable.  Cosgrove, though, responded, “I didn’t do anything, I was stone-faced!”


BEING IN AN ONSCREEN ROMANTIC COUPLE REQUIRES CHEMISTRY, BUT IT CAN BE BAD NEWS WHEN THOSE LINES GET BLURRED

NUP_170585_0266.jpg

According to Carlease Burke, who plays Keach’s wife in the show, actors who play loving couples on screen simply must have a chemistry together. “Even Stacy mentions in his book,” she said, “just by pretending to be in a relationship can create intimacy between people.” She clarified that, of course, nothing romantic needed to happen, but that there is a certain closeness involved. She learned a valuable lesson, though, about blurring the lines early in her career when she was a stage actress in New York. She recalled, “I didn’t quite get the difference between reality and fantasy — lines got a little blurry. So I ended up getting in a relationship with someone who I was playing a girlfriend to and it was just all wrong. Then you would have thought that I learned my lesson, but then I did another play and the same thing happened and there really was no chemistry.”

Burke enjoys working with Keach as her onscreen husband. “Stacy Keach definitely has swagger,” she said. “He is a sexy man and I love pretending to be married to him. I’m not married in real life and I don’t have a relationship, so I get to come to work and have this gorgeous man look into my eyes and tell me how beautiful I am and we get along really great.”


EVEN STACY KEACH STILL DEALS WITH ACTOR REJECTION

NUP_170584_0227.JPG

Keach told us the advice he gave his daughter entering the industry: “Be persistent and patient. Don’t take things too seriously. When rejection comes your way you have to learn to roll with the punches.” He feels that’s the hardest thing in the world, even for an experienced pro like himself. With disappointment and “unfulfilled expectations” at the crux of the business, Keach said he tries to impress upon his daughter and his acting students that the only recourse to rejection is to just keep going. “We have an idea of what we want to happen — and things don’t happen,” he said. “You crash and that’s not good. You’ve got to go on.”

So how does a successful actor like Keach still have rejection to contend with? He explained, “What you don’t see are the moments when the phone doesn’t ring, and the part goes to the other actor. You don’t get to see that.” He grew up in Southern California in a theatrical family — his dad was an actor. He got used to the life, but it still can be tough. “You never get to the point where you’re so jaded that it doesn’t affect you and disappoint you and [you] feel stung by rejection,” he told us. He teaches his students, “If you want to really be successful in this business, you have to be so determined that nothing will take you down. You have to have that kind of ferocious appetite for punishment.”


YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE A COUPLE STARS FROM HOT IN CLEVELAND

crowded edit 6

The creative team behind Crowded also worked on Hot in Cleveland, so it’s not a huge surprise that Betty White and Jane Leeves make appearances. Burke told us there was an exciting energy on set when the two arrived. “Betty White is just … Does anybody not like her? She’s 93 years old and still sexy and funny and sharp and witty — when I worked with her [on Cleveland] she was 89. It was actually her 89th birthday on one of the days that I was on set. Here she is now at 93. And then I said, ‘I want to be like Betty White’ — I was kind of imagining myself as the black Betty White of this cast. But then she showed up and I was like, ‘No, you are the queen. Just let me be Alice.’”

 


Crowded previews on Tuesday, Mar. 15 at 10 p.m. and premieres Sunday Mar. 20 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.

  • Jack Dee

    I am going to take a guess here- one sister is smart and the other is skanky?

    Also, I assume the dad will be a clueless imbecile, a la Phil Dunphy, Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin.

    And mom- she likely has a job but somehow she raised two kids but still keeps the house clean,

    And of course, the token interracial relationship.

    This looks like a show straight out of focus group.

  • TomNewYorker

    This show looks funny.

Tag Cloud

TV X-Men facebook Shudder Nominations Mary poppins HBO Character Guide composers boxoffice Logo Election National Geographic Video Games First Look Superheroe BBC America television period drama TCA 2017 Freeform Opinion miniseries award winner Rocky zombies technology Food Network Winter TV crossover DGA discovery The CW Trivia Trophy Talk BET Action PBS DirecTV GIFs Western 24 frames Chilling Adventures of Sabrina social media OWN doctor who Sneak Peek cops Bravo Paramount Network talk show Shondaland Captain marvel 2015 spy thriller Awards Tour Crackle romance sports Box Office Netflix Fall TV politics Hulu Horror Star Wars blaxploitation 45 The Arrangement biography comiccon Super Bowl El Rey 2019 Amazon Nat Geo E! Britbox Music jamie lee curtis FXX FX Valentine's Day casting Sci-Fi TCA Rock DC Comics Apple AMC Polls and Games Martial Arts 2018 PaleyFest Set visit Esquire Pop crime thriller aliens TLC Sony Pictures Mindy Kaling vampires Mary Tyler Moore Lifetime Acorn TV docudrama History ABC Musicals Christmas Tomatazos Year in Review Animation spider-man FOX DC Universe Adult Swim TruTV Holidays VH1 CBS Pirates Red Carpet crime drama festivals crime Dark Horse Comics anime DC streaming service ITV Ellie Kemper police drama Mary Poppins Returns sitcom dramedy Writers Guild of America 2016 Nickelodeon Best and Worst transformers YA San Diego Comic-Con Rom-Com American Society of Cinematographers TCM war Universal golden globes Sundance Now diversity TBS Columbia Pictures political drama Infographic Ovation Biopics singing competition cooking Warner Bros. Watching Series cats unscripted dc Sundance Oscars Showtime Schedule cinemax Calendar Disney green book ratings Black Mirror finale ABC Family Cosplay Winners Ghostbusters Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Grammys MTV justice league Comedy Central Epix Extras E3 Summer Paramount Drama robots Teen See It Skip It Marvel Countdown IFC Amazon Prime Quiz Fantasy Starz Cartoon Network Spike Lucasfilm Musical historical drama CBS All Access Marathons SundanceTV USA Superheroes WGN Toys Thanksgiving VICE Fox News Spring TV IFC Films Tumblr Country mutant 007 TIFF zombie Brie Larson Comedy CW Seed Interview Kids & Family Syfy MCU Emmys medical drama Creative Arts Emmys CNN serial killer NBC hist USA Network SXSW LGBTQ Walt Disney Pictures NYCC travel Certified Fresh Masterpiece APB dceu Trailer Podcast cults 20th Century Fox RT History SDCC Reality Competition GoT Reality MSNBC Awards 21st Century Fox thriller ESPN Pixar Lionsgate based on movie CMT Disney Channel New York Comic Con A&E GLAAD Premiere Dates President what to watch psycho comic YouTube Red supernatural Comic Book TNT YouTube Premium TV Land Song of Ice and Fire Star Trek streaming 2017 harry potter binge Photos BBC Comics on TV science fiction Mystery adventure