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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Trying to Put Words Together With Mark-Paul Gosselaar

If you read my column Thursday, or you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know that the only actor/actress I’ve ever interviewed that got me tongue-tied is Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

So, any time I get the chance to talk to him I do, to try and make it up to myself…

The latest opportunity was his media conference call to promote his new TNT dramedy, “Franklin & Bash.” And I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions—in coherent English…

Here’s my portion of the call from the network transcript:

Me: Hi, Mark-Paul, thanks for taking the time today.

M-PG: Hey, Angela, thanks for you taking the time.

Me: So, you kind of just alluded to it, you and Breckin Meyer have a great chemistry and I’m wondering did that come instantly, was there something that you guys did to try and make that work, or...

M-PG: Well, we tried dating and that was a bit awkward. It was - I mean, so - it’s - it we’ve known each other for a while. Not - you know, we never hung out, we weren’t friends, but we’ve known about each other. We’ve grown up in this industry together and I’ve always respected his work. I’ve always heard good things about Breckin. His work ethic and mine are very much alike. Our - you know, we both have families. We’re very - those are important to us.

There’s a lot of mutual qualities that we have that are - that were - we’re in sync. And one of the things that helped sort of expand that relationship was when we filmed this pilot. The show takes place in Los Angeles, but we filmed in Atlanta, just for the pilot, and it was just him and I. We left our families at home and we were sort of forced to be with each other, you know, on the set and off the set for a good 2-1/2 weeks. And I think that really solidified this sort of relationship with us and helped, you know, the - sort of the product that you have in the pilot.

Me: I was wondering if you would also talk a little bit about what it’s like to work with the great Malcolm McDowell?

M-PG: Well, Malcolm is a legend, so the minute he walked on the set, you know, he demands that respect, but he is such a genuine guy who is open and approachable, and really a team player. He is a great actor to work opposite, he’s extremely funny, and I think that’ll become very apparent when you watch our shows. He’s got great timing and he just - he’s just a joy to watch and to be around.

So, I’m very happy that he’s a part of our show and I think he brings a great quality to the show, especially for, you know, the side that we’re - we got to work for Infeld Daniels, which is sort of the - where we never - we didn’t want Franklin & Bash - we never wanted Franklin & Bash to become a firm like Infeld Daniels.

We always wanted to represent the underdog, the - sort of the people that can’t afford these high powered, high priced attorneys. But also, we wanted to do cases that were fun and, you know, not your typical legal case. But, working for Infeld Daniels that was the things that Franklin and Bash wanted to stay true. If we’re going to work for a white shoe firm we still want to stay true to our - you know, our roots, and I think they were able to do that.

See why he might leave a girl tongue-tied? This is my third time speaking to him—twice on a call, once one-on-one—and he has been totally gracious every time. Even when I lost the ability to form words…

Here’s some more of what Mark-Paul had to say…

On the differences between Peter Bash and Jerry Kellerman, the character he played on “Raising the Bar”:

I don’t think there’s any similarities between the two characters other than the fact that they may look alike, and even that is questionable with the hair. You know, Peter Bash is an attorney who is confident, who, you know, is great in a courtroom, he’s an assassin in the courtroom, he’s - you know, he knows how to be surgeon with the jury. Jerry was, you know, a public defender who wore his heart on his sleeve, was righteous, and he needed to be that way because of the environment that he was up against. You know, the cases that he was up against he was always the underdog, and in an environment where he thought the cards were stacked against him.

Where I think Peter enjoys the process. I think he - he doesn’t see that the tables are uneven. He feels that because he is a defense attorney that he can find those loopholes and kind of stick it to the man. But, yes, I think - and one of things that, you know, right off the bat that differentiated this show from ‘Raising the Bar’ was the element of humor.

That stood out immediately reading this, as well as the relationship, the comedy, the bromance, if you will, of the two main characters, Jared and Peter. I think that those were - all those elements together made it, for me, was - easy for me to pull the trigger as - knowing that this was not the same show that I had come from.”

On singing AND exposing his backside in the pilot episode:

“I do carry the guitar with me throughout the whole season. I do carry my a-- with me through the whole season as well, except I don’t expose either after the pilot episode. Thankfully they have not, you know - they haven’t forced me to drop my pants more than once throughout the season.

That was actually a very uncomfortable scene for me to shoot. I mean, I’ve done some things in the past, you know, on ‘NYPD Blue’ I just recently had something on ‘Weeds,’ but to be standing on a set in front of 100 extras, you know, in a hot tub naked is, you know, not something that I look forward to going to work to do.

The musical aspect, I really enjoyed. I’m - I - I ‘m glad that Peter plays the guitar. I’m sort of a fiddler with a guitar as well and I think it’s a good character trait of Peters. But, you know, the 10cc’s, ‘I’m Not in Love’ on the pilot episode was unfortunately the only sort of song that we could use. I think we blew through our budget actually, to be honest with you. I mean, that song probably cost us $40,000 just to do. So, if the show becomes more successful maybe we’ll do some more musical numbers, but I think, you know, we need success to pay for that 10cc song.”

You can read my review of the show in my column. No surprise, I loved it.

“Franklin and Bash” premieres tonight (Wednesday, June 1st) at 9 p.m. on TNT…

Photo Credit: Annette Brown/TNT