Modern family is by far my favorite scripted show on television. It’s funny, it’s witty, and to quote an audience member at The Paley Center, the writers “write up” to their audience and not “down to” them. When the cast members discussed their show at the 2012 PaleyFest, you could immediately understand its success. These actors have the same chemistry in real life that they do on television. It’s a huge gift that they are even willing to attend such an event and let the audience in on the show’s process. Watch below.
Whenever a notable part of a show neglects to show up for an important appearance, I can’t help but question their mysterious absence. At last night’s Paley Center panel for American Idol, Jennifer Lopez was a no show. This was particularly strange because the other two judges were in attendance, and one of those judges includes the legendary Steven Tyler. So is the question-and-answer session good enough for Steven Tyler and not Jennifer Lopez? My guess is that Jennifer Lopez thinks the appearance is beneath her and therefore decided not to show. This is a dangerous assumption, but I feel it’s a relatively safe guess. Why? Because not one person mentioned the elephant in the room. If she had some sort of important personal commitment, I’m confident that the moderator would have explained it, so as to make her look better. Things only go unexplained when there’s guilt afoot.
I was lucky enough to get invited to the Hot in Cleveland panel at The Paley Center. The panel included: Betty White; Valerie Bertinelli; Wendie Malick; Jane Leeves; and series creator Suzanne Martin. This was probably the best event I’ve ever been invited to since moving to Los Angeles. First, it was incredible to see Betty White’s improvisational comedic brilliance in action. I’ve seen her execute this unique talent on various talk-shows, but seeing it in person will be forever etched in my memory. White discussed how she only planned to star in the Hot in Cleveland pilot, because her intense work schedule didn’t allow her time for the series. Because she “has the backbone of a jelly-fish,” as White put it, she relented after much coddling from the studio. When an audience member asked the panel to choose their all-time favorite co-stars, White said, “Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.” I’m not embarrassed to say that I got slightly choked up by her response. After seeing these women interact, it’s clear to me that they actually like each other’s company. I can spot a Hollywood lie when I see it, and these ladies are legitimate. Wendie Malick was also a favorite, not only because she snorts when she laughs, but also because she had a very funny description of Susan Lucci, saying, “Lucci’s so tiny, her leg is as big as my arm.” Malick also had a hilarious exchange with Valerie Bertinelli. When Bertinelli said she removed the part of her wall where she measured her son’s height because of its sentimental value, Malick asked, “did the house fall down?” The panel laughed, at which point Suzanne joked that she gets her material from the actors true personalities. It’s always fun to see the origin of how great television shows are made, and these ladies certainly delivered the information in an entertaining way. My only critique involves the moderator, who wasn’t equipped for such a hefty task. When I turned to my friend to lambaste the moderator’s terrible questions, a woman behind me barked in my direction, saying, “I completely disagree. She was good because she got out of the way.” If “getting out of the way” means excessive gushing coupled with impertinent questions, then yeah, she got out of the way. Thank goodness these comedic veterans were equipped to run the show.