Interview with Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia of "Raising Hope" on FOX 9/15/11 of "Raising Hope" - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Interview with Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia of "Raising Hope" on FOX 9/15/11

FBC PUBLICITY: Raising Hope with Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia September 15, 2011/5:00 p.m. EDT


Jennifer Sprague
Greg Garcia
Martha Plimpton


Moderator Welcome to today’s Raising Hope Conference Call with Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Shortly, we will conduct a question and answer session and instructions will be given at that time. As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host today, Ms. Jennifer Sprague.

J. Sprague Hi, everybody. Thank you for attending the Raising Hope Conference Call with Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia. As a reminder, our second season premieres on Tuesday, September 20th at 9:30 p.m. on FOX.

So now, let’s start with the first question, Dave.

Moderator We’ll go first to the line of Lisa Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

L. Steinberg Hi, Greg and Martha. It’s wonderful to speak with you today and I’m glad you are cheery and have a good disposition, Martha, after that nap you just had.

G. Garcia Not a nap. We have to preface this by saying we’ve been shooting in Vegas for the last three days and we finished shooting this morning at—what was it again?

M. Plimpton At 9:00 a.m.

G. Garcia At 9:00 a.m. this morning—when we were shooting all night. And Martha woke up from sleeping and I got off a plane and have slept 4 hours in 48 hours. So—

M. Plimpton Oh, man.

G. Garcia But we’re going to—we’re good.

M. Plimpton Oh, man. We are good to go. We’re on fire.

L. Steinberg Well then I’m going to start off with a really great question because you guys have been teasing on Twitter. We’ve got to find out if you’re going to tell us who Burt’s parents are?

G. Garcia Oh, yes, I think it’s out there. It’s Lee Majors and Shirley Jones.

L. Steinberg Oh, that’s going to be a wonderful combination.

G. Garcia Yes.

M. Plimpton It’s fantastic. I can’t tell you how psyched I am.

L. Steinberg Speaking of Twitter, I mean everybody now, except for baby Hope—maybe she has an account too—is on Twitter. I’m wondering how that has been such a great asset to the entire show and the cast, with the promotion?

G. Garcia Well, technically, we have everybody but Lucas Neff who I was actually just pretending to be Lucas Neff for a week and just—torturing him by tweeting like really silly things like, “Tummy aches are a drag” and things like that. But I actually came clean. So he’s still Twitter-free.

M. Plimpton Yes. Lucas doesn’t believe in technology.

L. Steinberg How has it been, then, a really great asset for the show and for the cast as well with the promotion of the new season coming up, and previously before with Season One as well?

M. Plimpton I have to trust in the powers that be that it’s getting out—that it’s bringing attention to the show because to be perfectly honest most of the people that are communicating with me have seen the show and they love it. And that’s kind—I mean it’s nice; it’s a really nice boost hearing how people love the show. But not a lot of people write to say they haven’t seen it, which is kind of a good sign.

G. Garcia Yes. I mean from where I sit on Twitter, I mean it seems like it’s a really fun way to communicate with the fans of the show and the people that are big enough fans of the show—that they would want to reach out and follow people associated with the show. I think if you took all of our followers and combined them together, it wouldn’t really do much of a blip on the ratings scale compared to our actual viewing audience and stuff. But I mean, it’s just really fun to get feedback and have that communication with the real loyal viewers.

M. Plimpton You can tell that Greg’s been awake a lot longer than I have.

G. Garcia But I may nod off and you may stay awake.

L. Steinberg I would love to hear a little bit—also, if you could tease about some great stories that we’ll get to see this season with Maw Maw because everybody loves Cloris.

G. Garcia Cloris will be in episodes. Is that not enough of a tease? I hate teasing episodes. I like just people being surprised. Well, you know what? Here’s a good one for you. Maw Maw swallows a gold tooth and the family has to deal with the fact of—are they the type of people who go through poop. That’s one of my favorite Maw Maw stories.

M. Plimpton You asked.

Moderator Next we’ll hear from the line of Danielle Turchiano with the L.A. Examiner.

D. Turchiano So, I wanted to see—with the flashback in the first episode, where we flash back to young Jimmy, is that a theme for the new season? Are we going to see a lot more young Burt, young Virginia in—?

G. Garcia I don’t think any more than we saw last season. I mean we did a lot of flashback stuff. It’s always been a device—ever since the pilot, it’s just been a device of the show. I mean, my feeling is that—that’s the way I kind of see life. If you go and you meet some people and you meet like a new family on your block that moves in, sooner or later you’re telling stories, and you’re telling stories about your past. And you’re hearing about things that they’ve done and that kind of informs you of who they are and where they’re going now in their lives.

And that’s always just been, for me, a big part of socializing with people is stories and things that have happened to them. So I guess in the writing, we feel like we like to use that as a tool. But I don’t think it’ll be any more than we’ve done in the first season.

D. Turchiano We’re getting to know these characters a little bit better—learning that Jimmy has secret talents or at one point had a secret talent. And we’re learning a little bit more about Sabrina. What can you guys tease that we’ll learn about Virginia this season?

G. Garcia I’m looking back at my list of episodes. What will we learn about—? Nothing. We know everything we know about Virginia.

M. Plimpton We know everything we need to know about Virginia.

G. Garcia No, we’re going to find out in our third episode—we’re going to find out some big secrets that Virginia has been keeping from some people. This is the year of secrets. It’s all coming out. Yes. Our third episode, we find out some—yes, we find out some stuff about Virginia. I don’t even know how to tease it, it’s such huge news. I don’t want to give it away.

D. Turchiano Just one last quick—as an aside question. With the first season coming out on DVD next week, was there one episode that you guys would say to new viewers, if you haven’t seen the show watch this episode and you’ll get right at the heart of what we are, and what we do?

G. Garcia I would be greedy and say watch two. I mean, first of all I’d say watch all 22 because we are real proud of all of them. I mean if you’re going to buy the DVD, sit down, get some popcorn and have fun. But I would say if you only had time for two—I don’t know. I’d say maybe watch the pilot and the season finale because they kind of tell a little story and bookend the season. And it really kind of kicks things off and then kind of plays some stuff out with the different characters and stuff.

That’s what I would say. I don’t know if Martha had a different—

M. Plimpton Yes. Yes. I agree. I agree with Greg. I would second that.

Moderator Next we’ll hear from the line of Jenny Rarden with

J. Rarden Last season, Hope was still young enough—she was just learning to scoot and crawl at the end of the season. This year, though, from what we’ve seen on the previews and everything she’s kind of a walking/running machine, right?

G. Garcia Yes. She’s real mobile.

J. Rarden How does that change how things are on the set and during filming? Because I can only assume it’s more of a challenge because you can’t just set the little girls who portray her down and expect them to just stay there.

G. Garcia Yes, it’s tougher. You have to use glue. No, we’re learning actually. I mean we’re learning. We can still put them in a highchair and they’re happy and then now we found a little rocking horse that they like to be on. And we’ll start scenes with kind of a foreground cross of one of the babies, get them from point A to point B and kind of establish that they’re there. But the days of just putting them on a blanket and having them there are over. And the days of carrying them around are over if anybody wants to keep their back muscles intact.

So yes, just like real children—as they grow older, there are new challenges and then there’s new things that we can do that are fun. And then there’s new ways of trying to figure out how to get around certain production things.

J. Rarden How do you balance the humor with the heartwarming parts of the show? Like you have Maw Maw with her Alzheimer’s, which is funny, but it’s also a serious thing.

G. Garcia Well she has TV dementia. She’s not technically diagnosed with anything other than whacky TV dementia.

M. Plimpton Whacky TV dementia.

J. Rarden Well, and then you have some utter ridiculous story lines and then the episode about everybody flirting and the sweet talk Burt gave the coffee shop guy. How do you balance all of that stuff—to keep it a comedy but give it some heart, I guess?

G. Garcia I think you just kind of feel it out based on the story you’re telling. There are some stories that you tell that you don’t earn a nice sweet moment in it so you don’t try to jam it down the audience’s throat and you just go for comedy. And then there are some episodes that definitely have warmer moments at the end.

And, I think that our second episode that’s going to air has a very nice, compelling and sweet ending to it that isn’t necessarily funny for a good deal of the—just the very end of the show. It wasn’t driving toward some big comedy piece, but it was very compelling. And once you have met these characters and start to care about them, I think you can do that because the audience is invested in their lives and you have actors that can pull this stuff off and make you care about what’s going on with them.

But, I think you try to mimic life as much as you can and you just combine ridiculous humor and sweet moments which is, I think, life—at least my life.

Moderator Next we’ll hear from the line of Jenny Eden with TV & Satellite Weekly.

J. Eden Hi, Martha. You started off acting very young, obviously not quite as young as the babies on the set. What was it like being a little kid surrounded by grownups when you were starting off like that?

M. Plimpton It was a blast. I loved it. I mean, obviously I enjoyed it; otherwise I don’t think my mother would have let me do it. And I wasn’t doing anything quite as involved as a TV show or anything when I was a kid and I was working mostly on plays, which is really fun for kids. It’s like two hours of work a night and you get to be in front of an audience and play act, and it’s a lot of fun. I mean it was playtime for me when I was little.

J. Eden How did your mom manage to keep you grounded?

M. Plimpton Well my mom just didn’t put a very high premium on me being like really famous or really wealthy or anything. She allowed me to do it because I liked it, because I had a good time doing it. She wasn’t interested in me pursuing it in order to enrich her or give her life meaning or whatever. You know what I mean?

J. Eden Yes.

M. Plimpton She let me do it because I liked it and she always let me know if I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t have to. I could stop at any time and we just had a very—my mother had been an actress and we came from that world in New York, the theater world and the downtown sort of theater scene, and so I guess we didn’t really have what you’d call like a Hollywood kind of life at all. We were in New York and so we just had a different kind of life than that.

J. Eden Has that kind of lesson helped as you’ve gone along in your career, do you think?

M. Plimpton Oh, for sure. I mean I think the thing about it is that it meant I grew up thinking about what I was doing as a job, as work and as something that was about the quality of whatever work I was going to be doing. It wasn’t about getting into parties or something like that. It wasn’t about cultivating fame or anything like that. So, yes absolutely. I think those are good things to keep in mind.

Moderator Next we will hear from the line of Donna Gafford with

D. Gafford I have a question apiece for both of you. Greg, I read that you went through the Warner Bros. Writing for Television classes and it kind of opened the door for you, maybe in Hollywood. What are your thoughts about that and is it beneficial for anybody to be able to do that if they’re interested in writing television in Hollywood?

G. Garcia Well yes, I mean I think that any program that’ll open some doors or get you around writers is good. Yes, I was involved in an outreach program that Warner Bros. had, which they don’t do anymore, through colleges and I got picked—one of two people in the country to come out to Los Angeles. And that’s when I got to sit around a writer’s room and I really got to kind of realize that this was, perhaps, an obtainable goal that I would want to try to do.

Then I went through their other program, they had a ten week program that I went through that traditionally opens doors for you but actually, after that one I was told I wasn’t going to get a job at Warner Bros. and then I actually kicked down a couple doors and I did get a job out of that workshop. But yes, I mean I haven’t kept up with that workshop. I don’t know if it’s still going on and thriving. But yes, I mean, any place that you can get around other writers and have a structured place where you can write and get advice from other people and feedback from other people, and then the added bonus if it’s one of these like Disney or Warner Bros. things where you can actually get placed on a show. Obviously yes; that’s a great opportunity.

D. Gafford Martha, I read somewhere that you were actually credited for your second season being the best new sitcom of last season. You were credited for that—from a writer. What do you think about that?

M. Plimpton I think that’s awesome. That’s delightful …. I mean, I think it’s horrible. He’s totally wrong. It really got a lot better. No, I think it’s thrilling. I mean, I personally—I agree with that person. I … of our show and we’ve worked and continue to work extremely hard. I love our writing and I love our cast and I think—great. That’s certainly how I feel about our show and if other people agree with me, well then that’s great.

D. Gafford And obviously, you should agree with that person. Are you bored yet? Because you sound like you kind of get bored kind of easily.

M. Plimpton I am not bored at all. I am not bored in the least. I am still figuring it out. There’s a lot to learn about working on a show that shoots 22 episodes a year and these characters are definitely—Virginia is definitely keeping me interested. And I think the writers are working extremely hard to make sure the audience isn’t bored either. So I mean it’s way too early to talk boredom. It’s only Season Two. Ask me that again eight years from now, okay?

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Krista Chain with

K. Chain I wanted to know if there was any characters or any other actors or actresses that you would like to see guest star on your show.

M. Plimpton Well, I’ll tell you something very exciting which is that just the other day we were talking about who was going to play Burt’s parents in an upcoming episode. And I got so excited about Lee Majors coming on the show because of my enduring crush on him since I was a little girl that I just—I think I just harassed Greg until he …—

G. Garcia Yes, you were very excited.

M. Plimpton “Is he doing it? Is he doing it?” That was me, for like a day, maybe longer. So I’m very excited about Lee Majors, of course. Shirley Jones is going to come on and play Burt’s mom and that’s just beyond great.

G. Garcia It’s funny because we get these roles and then I’ll come down with like a list and we just all kind of get all geeky and look at all the names and there’s like so many that we’re excited about and stuff. So I think it’s hard to kind of just say, “Oh, there’s this one person that we want on the show.”

M. Plimpton Right. No, it’s true. It’s true. But I’ll tell you, it’s thrilling that we even get to do that. I mean, I love that Greg even lets us know who he’s thinking of casting because I don’t know, it’s just really fun and we all get very excited and we sort of sit there twisting our little mustaches wondering who we’re going to victimize next.

K. Chain Is there any of the shows that you’ve done that have been your favorite?

M. Plimpton That’s a really hard question, and a good one, because I have a lot of favorite episodes. I have a lot of favorite moments. From last season I really love—I call it sort of the jenga episode but it’s the hoarders episode where Cloris has to empty out the garage so we can find the baby.

K. Chain I loved that episode.

M. Plimpton Yes. I thought that was great. I loved our pilot episode. I also loved our finale last season and there’s a new episode coming up early on this season—I think it’s the second episode, Greg. It’s the one where Burt gets kidnapped.

G. Garcia Oh, that’s the third episode.

M. Plimpton That’s the third episode. Yes. So that’s also really good, but I haven’t seen the other two so—

K. Chain Okay.

M. Plimpton No. There are a lot. There’s too many to mention.

K. Chain Well my husband and I are both big fans. And my husband told me when he found out I was going to be talking to you today, he told me to ask if Maw Maw was lucid today.

G. Garcia Last time we saw or heard from Maw Maw she was in New York taking French fries off somebody’s plate.

Moderator We’ll hear from line of Rita Sherrow with the Tulsa World.

R. Sherrow I had a question specifically about Greyson Chance and the genesis of this episode and using basically a non-actor, although he’s done some theater. And he’s such a great kid. He’s from here, so—can you talk about that, Greg?

G. Garcia Yes. Well my son is 13 and he went to a bar mitzvah and he came back and was raving—because, of course, everyone has crazy, insane bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs around here—and he came back raving that it was in an airplane hangar and Greyson Chance was playing. He was talking about how amazing he was and I said, “Oh, well who’s that?” And I looked him up on You Tube and I realized, “Oh yeah. I’ve seen this clip of the paparazzi.” And I watched him for a second and I thought, “Man he kind of looks like a young Lucas Neff.”

Then instantly I was thinking, “Wow, maybe this would be a good a guest spot to do.” And then I thought of the idea that Jimmy perhaps had musical talent at one time in his life, and how we’d deal with that. And I brought that to the writers and they ran with it. And we all kind of came up with a story and then I contacted—I actually went through my friend who’s the executive producer of Ellen because I know Greyson does a lot of stuff with Ellen and he put me in touch with Greyson’s management. We all got on the phone and they seemed interested, and we all went to see Greyson at a little concert and met him there, and then that was that. And we signed him on to do—he’s going to do three episodes.

R. Sherrow Oh, wow. He wouldn’t tell me that. I talked to him today and he wouldn’t tell me that. He goes, “Oh, no. It’s all secret. It’s all secret.” And I said, “No, you can tell me. I won’t tell anyone.”

G. Garcia Oh, I’ve let the cat out of the bag.

R. Sherrow That’s okay. He’s such a great kid. I mean—

G. Garcia Well he was great and when you say he’s not—I mean, to say he’s not an actor, he is now.

R. Sherrow Well, yes. And he said that at one point you said he was going to have—they were going to bring an acting coach on for him or something and you said, “No, no. No acting coach.”

G. Garcia Yes, my kind of feeling on that kind of stuff is—and I guess everybody’s different but I’d seen Greyson doing some interviews and he seemed very comfortable in front of the camera. I didn’t want somebody just taking our script and trying to interpret what we wanted and coaching him and getting him into any kind of habits. I wanted him to come in here and be a 13-year-old boy and do it. And then we would adjust him a little bit if need be, and I would think it would be more natural that way and that’s the way it turned out.

R. Sherrow And was he, as far as being on set because he’s not used to marking and sounds and let’s do this over and all of that stuff—different takes. Was he—he seemed to be a natural on screen.

G. Garcia No. He was great.

M. Plimpton Yes. He was great.

G. Garcia He took to it right away. And there was a lot of singing and stuff so a lot of it was in his wheelhouse and so you get him in front of a piano and you know he’s going to thrill everybody watching and then you do some scenes and he was very comfortable.

R. Sherrow Martha, how was it working with him?

M. Plimpton Oh, it was fantastic. He could not be more sweet and charming and just a regular kid. He’s just a lovely, lovely kid and I thoroughly enjoyed acting with him.

J. Sprague Dave, we have time for one more question.

Moderator We’ll hear from the line of Simon Applebaum with Tomorrow Will Be Televised.

S. Applebaum Greg, shifting gears. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to what the Directors Guild America had to say yesterday. For those people on the call who may not have known, … the Hollywood Trades or Los Angeles Times and so forth. The Directors Guild came out with a study of episodic television last year. The basic conclusion was that far too few women are directing television episodes; far too few people of color directing episodes. It’s like 12% for both; 1% for women of color.

And in doing that study, I don’t know if you saw the press release but they listed the worst shows—the best shows that are hiring women and minority directors, and in terms of the new shows that came on last year, Greg, your show was in the worst category. They mentioned the five—according to their survey 5% of all your episodes were directed by women or people of color. And I wanted to give you the opportunity to respond to what the Directors Guild had to say overall and the situation with your show.

G. Garcia Well, I mean, I can respond to what I did last year as far as directing went. There were a lot of female directors that I tried to hire that weren’t available or passed on episodes. Allison Liddi-Brown and Lee Shallat Chemel, and then also—gosh, I’m blanking on her name. She did a bunch of Earl’s, or she did an Earl.

And a first year of a show you’re very protective and you kind of bring in people you’ve worked with in the past as much as possible. I actually tried to hire somebody of color who was completely busy that I’ve worked with a lot in the past so I don’t know. I’m not really sure how to respond to that. I mean we have Rebecca Asher who’s our female director.

M. Plimpton Yes and we worked with a lot of the—and I’m guessing, I really am not an expert on this, but I’m guessing in your first season you’re going to work with a lot of the same directors in your first season. People you’ve worked with before that you know what their style is and what their pace is and you’re familiar with them. But I mean, we did like four episodes with one guy. We did like eight episodes with another person. People direct multiple episodes on our show. They don’t just pop in and pop out.

G. Garcia Yes. So I mean, we are lucky that we’re single camera so we get a chance to try new people here and there when we have availability, or the people that I’ve worked with a lot that aren’t available. But, I’m not sure what more to say than that.

J. Sprague Thank you everybody for joining us today for the Raising Hope Conference call. As a reminder, the second season premieres on Tuesday, September 20th at 9:30 p.m.

At this time I’ll turn the call back over to Dave. Thank you.

Moderator That concludes our conference today.

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