‘Cougar Town’ Interview: Co-Creator Kevin Biegel on the Move to TBS
The story is that Bill Lawrence was throwing ideas for bad sitcoms around the writers room at 'Scrubs.' As cougars - the idea of older women hooking up with younger men - were a popular meme in pop culture, Lawrence threw out the idea of 'Cougar Town.' Lawrence and Kevin Biegel ran with it, and the rest is history.
Co-creator/writer/executive producer Biegel and the entirety of the 'Cougar Town' crew had to deal with a year where they didn't know if they'd have a future, but Thursday it was announced the show would be moving to TBS for at least two more seasons, getting the show to a syndication friendly 100 episodes. We got a chance to talk exclusively with Kevin about the show and the move. Check it out...
Congratulation on being picked up by TBS. Do you now feel a little bit like Conan O’Brien?
Kevin Beigel: Maybe more like the Gaseous Wiener.
We’re curious, when did this plan come into fruition to change networks? Was it talked about when ABC gave you the reduced schedule order for Season 3 or did it come together more recently?
It came together quickly over the past week/week and a half. They had been talking before that, seeing if it was feasible. It wasn't talked about before, no. I'm not sure it's been done a lot before- so even more cheers to TBS for doing it.
Will you guys be moving or do you get to stay where you are?
Not all the questions have been answered yet or conversations had, but I think we get to stay where we are. I'm usually wrong, though, so don't quote me. But I'm pretty sure we won't have to shoot the show in someone's backyard.
With the addition of Grayson’s baby and the upcoming wedding, was there a sense that you could close out with this season if you had to? With the move will there be some changes to this season’s finale?
No, we wrote the season finale as a nice (hopefully), fitting end to the stories of this past season. If it absolutely had to serve as a series finale, it could've. I hoped it wouldn't be, though.
How far ahead do you guys map out, was there always a game plan, or a game plan that could be ignored? Are there things you’ve been building to since day one? For instance, did you know Jules and Grayson would get together, or was that something that happened as you saw how Josh Hopkins and Courteney Cox played off each other?
It varies. We kinda got an idea of Courteney and Josh getting together halfway through season 1. We were fine with them just dating season 2. But before season 3 started, we very consciously said, okay, let's bookend the season with proposal/(maybe) wedding. I say maybe because the finale hasn't aired yet and you neeeeeeever know (you know). But other stories, i.e. Grayson's kid, Laurie and Travis, we had vaguer ideas of and kinda figured those out as we went along.
You’ve had a nail-biting year in terms of your show’s future, it had to be hard when you saw some of your cast start to take auditions and get roles in upcoming pilots. What was the discussion you had with Dan Byrd and Josh Hopkins?
Nah. It was nail biting in terms of "I hope the show continues." Josh and Dan taking pilots, though, was just people getting work - absolutely no hard feelings involved. If the show didn't go forward, they were hooking up their next gig. Luckily for us it did go forward, and contractually they have to do our show. Which is great for us but I apologize to their pilots, which - by the way - were very good.
This has been a great season, by the way.
Thank you! I think so, too. I'm so happy with how Leslie's campaign ended. Wait, do you mean 'Cougar Town'? Thank you!
TBS ordered two fifteen episode seasons, which gets you guys to the syndication number of 100, right? How big a difference does that make to everyone?
It's a very good incentive to not muck up the show and keep the quality up.
If those seasons go well, could we see a season six?
And a movie. Anything is possible.
I know you’ve talked about how you borrowed from the great movie 'Gambit' for one of the episodes this year, what other bits of smuggling are you most proud of? And what’s your favorite theater marquee?
I love the 'Kickpuncher' movie marathon marquee. No one saw that! I also love that 'The Stabilizer' not only was on the marquee but was a plot point. Everyone go rent/buy/worship 'The Stabilizer.' Damon, throw up an IMDB link!
Do you have a favorite joke of the season so far?
Hmm... Get back to me later. I don't want to spoil an upcoming gag.
And how much 'Robocop' have you snuck into the show?
For this last season, you guys did a lot of screening parties and self-promotion, is that something you’re talking about continuing in the TBS era?
We'll try. The fans certainly deserve it. First order of business is keeping the show good. Then booze parties.
How did the 'Cougar Town'/'Community' relationship start, anyway? Will we see more of that in the future?
It was a lot of the guys over at 'Community' starting it - we're friends with Neil (Goldman) and Garrett (Donovan), two exec-producers who we worked with on 'Scrubs.' They had the idea that Abed likes the show, then we said let's try to get the characters on each others show, and it kinda spiraled from there. To me, it's the coolest thing in the world. I love that show dearly and when I met Danny Pudi on set I was a nervous little girl.
So… Laurie and Travis, you seem to be working the Sam and Dianne “will they or won’t they” thing, is the will or won’t a big discussion around the writer’s room? And – perhaps more importantly - have you run across any fan-fiction of their possible coupling?
It's a non-stop talk in the writers room. The fans are split, too. As for fan-fic, I love that stuff, it's flattering, but man some of that stuff is dirty. Will they get together? I don't know. I have good arguments for either way.
At this point you’re stuck with 'Cougar Town' as a title, does that mean the opening credit gags will continue?
I hope so. I'm also open to it evolving. I feel like it'd be weird now if we didn't do it.
And how is your day going so far?
Pretty great. You? I had dumplings for lunch. That's about all I need to be happy.
'Cougar Town' runs two episodes on ABC this week, and then returns to finish out its third season on May 29.