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Interview with Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton of
"It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on FX
The transcribers had a hard time, I guess, so they put
"M" when they weren't sure if it was McElhenney or Howerton
FX NETWORK: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
October 11, 2012/10:30 a.m. PDT
Jennifer Reed, BWR Public Relations
Rob McElhenney, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
Glenn Howerton, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Executive
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia conference
call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only
mode. Later, we’ll conduct a question and answer session;
instructions will be given at that time.
I’d like to turn the conference over to our host, Jennifer
Reed. Please go ahead.
J. Reed Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us today for the
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia conference call, with
executive producers and stars of the show, Rob McElhenney
and Glenn Howerton. As a reminder, this show premieres
tonight at 10:00 p.m. on FX. At this time, I’m going to turn
the call back over to Karen and she can begin with the first
Moderator Yes. Are you there?
J. Reed We’re here. Go ahead and start with the first
Moderator Okay. We have a question from Earl Dittman,
Wireless Digital. Please go ahead.
E. Dittman Hey guys. How are you this morning? I have to say
congratulations. Once again, you all have done another great
show for another great season.
McElhenney Thank you very much.
E. Dittman I’ve been watching from the beginning. I’ve been
a fan quite from the beginning. I watch every show. I think;
how do these guys come up with these things? I guess that’s
the basic question. How do you all come up with a lot of the
material you use? Does is happen in life? Do you watch other
people or how does that come about for you?
M Some of it is, probably, to whatever degree, taken from
the headlines. I think it’s really just the way our brains
work, I guess, you could say. It’s the way that—it’s the
filter to which we see the world. I think we’re all
observing what’s going on around us. Taking down ideas as
the years go on and putting them on screen in the only way
we know how.
E. Dittman Is any of it autobiographical or biographical in
R. McElhenney In our premiere episode, we deal with
euthanasia and that was sparked somewhat by a conversion
that I was having with Kaitlin where we were fast-forwarding
in our lives, and trying to figure out if one of us was on
life-support—those are conversations that we have to have.
E. Dittman Yes.
R. McElhenney What do we want? Do we want to be DNR? Do we
want to be hooked up forever? We were having that
conversation and I brought it up in the writer’s room and
then that’s what sparked the conversation and we started
thinking; okay, now, how can we do an episode about this?
E. Dittman Rob, anything to add?
R. McElhenney That was Rob.
E. Dittman Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Glenn.
R. McElhenney I don’t think Glenn and Kaitlin are discussing
their DNR practices. Oh, you guys are?
G. Howerton We are. Well, in case something happens to you,
then we have to ….
R. McElhenney What have you guys decided?
G. Howerton We haven’t decided on anything. We’re definitely
going to take you out.
R. McElhenney Oh, well, I see, I see.
G. Howerton I did have that same conversation with my wife.
This is Glenn. It was actually funny because we both had a
totally different view on it. She was like, well I don’t
know, I mean, what if something happens and—I was like,
look, if something happens to me and I’m in a coma for a
certain amount of time and the doctors are all saying even
if I do wake up I’ll be brain dead, just pull the plug. I
don’t want to live that way, you know what I mean? Take me
out. Send me off into the next—release my soul from this
crushed body. Something.
E. Dittman You’ll do it with style. Thank you all so much, I
R. McElhenney I want to be kept alive until the machine
overlords can upload my soul into a … .
Moderator Our next question comes from Michael Gallagher.
Please go ahead.
M. Gallagher Hi guys.
M Hi Michael. I have about five friends named Michael
M. Gallagher First of all, I was wondering if you could talk
a little bit about the promo that you had with the
replacement cast and how that came about.
M We had discussed doing something along those lines for a
while just virally, just for fun. I actually don’t know if
that was ever expressed to the marketing department. We have
to give the marketing department a lot of credit for that. A
lot of that was their idea. We assisted them in terms of how
we wanted to present it. A lot of that was really just them,
M. Gallagher Okay. What are you ultimate goals for the show?
Are there any milestones or anything that you’d like the
series to achieve?
M We want to go a full quarter century.
M God, no, no, no. God forbid. We’d like a nice round number
of ten. We’ll probably go ten seasons. I think our goal for
the show is always to surprise people because we think that
that’s really the best way to achieve comedy; comedic result
is to always be surprising people. That’s our overall goal.
I think the idea of knowing when our last season is is
exciting because we can actually write towards an end. But
that won’t be for a couple years.
M For me, I want to break Bonanza’s record.
M What was Bonanza’s record?
M 22 years.
M I want to be longer than the Simpsons. I want to be able
to take out our … scenes.
M. Gallagher Alright. Thank you.
M You’re welcome.
Moderator Our next call comes from April MacIntyre, Monsters
& Critics. Please go ahead.
A. MacIntyre Yes, Monsters & Critics. Hey, guys. Hey. You
know how much love we have for your series and your work. I
have two craft questions for you, and I love the premiere
episode, “Pop-Pop: The Final Solution.” The painting, the
German shepherd painting, did you find that, per chance? Did
your art department find that or did someone actually paint
M That painting was actually in Charlie’s apartment during
the second season of the show. That was basically just set
decoration in the second season. Interestingly enough, we
actually were the ones that when we got into editing and we
were watching the show—all the episodes of Season 2, that
painting stood out to us so much, too much, it was too
distracting. We actually said we never want to see that
painting again. Take it down. Get rid of it because it’s
just a shining, white, weird painting in the background of
every Charlie’s apartment scene.
M We had so many fans and so many comments, asking about it.
When we took it down, people were irate.
M Yes. They were like, what happened to that dog painting?
We loved that dog painting. We kept thinking, the scenes
aren’t supposed to be about a painting of a dog in the
background. We just felt like it was too distracting, but we
always wanted to bring it back in some way.
A. MacIntyre That’s great. Do you have any guest stars that
you can mention that we’ll be seeing this season?
M We’ve got a really fun guest star role for Sean Combs this
year; P. Diddy. I’m excited for people to see it. I think
it’s very, very different from anything that, at least I’ve
ever seen him do, on anything. We’re excited about that.
M Guillermo del Toro.
M Yes, Guillermo del Toro, the director, writer, producer is
also, we found out, a big fan of the show. Charlie just did
a movie with him so he really wanted to do a guest star so
we wrote him in this year, too. It’s really funny.
A. MacIntyre That’s great. Alright. Thank you so much.
M You’re welcome.
M Thank you.
Moderator Next call comes from Lauren Damon, Media Mikes,
please go ahead.
L. Damon Hi guys.
M Hi, Lauren.
L. Damon Hi, I’m a huge fan. I was wondering, when you’re
writing your episodes, do you have favorite teams that you
guys like to work with? The gang is so often shifting
alliances, even within one episode.
M That’s a great question.
M That is a good question. Everybody brings something unique
and different to the table. The three of us only ever write
with each other. Sometimes we write in pairs, sometimes we
write all three of us. We did a lot of writing this year,
though, the three of us.
M No, I think she means in terms of storylines.
M Oh, in terms of storylines. I’m sorry. I misunderstood
your question. We do try to keep tabs of that, actually, to
a certain degree. We try to mix it up as much as possible,
so that the same pairing isn’t happening all season long.
M Sometimes we’ll find that, too. Where we’ll break three or
four episodes in a row and realize that we have ‘Dee’ and
‘Frank’ together for those three or four episodes and we’ll
realize that we’ve got to break them up a little bit.
L. Damon From the last season finale, did you always know
that ‘Mac’ was going to be Ronald McDonald, or is that
something that just occurred to you? Will you have a similar
revelation with the waitress?
M We’ve been talking about that for a while.
M We’ve been talking about what ‘Mac’s’ name is for a long
time. I think we came up with the idea that his real name
was Ronald MacDonald a while ago; like a couple years ago.
We also thought it was so ridiculous we weren’t sure if we
ever really wanted to reveal it or if we did that it would
ever actually be that. So, we finally decided to do it. As
far as the waitress goes, we don’t have any plans as of now
to ever tell anyone what her name is. Although she does have
a name and we do know what it is.
L. Damon That was my next question. Thank you.
M You’re welcome. Thanks.
Moderator Next question comes from Nathan Smith,
N. Smith Are there a certain set of criteria that do go in
to breaking a story, that you find that you have to have a
certain set of criteria?
M Most importantly, what we’re always talking about is, for
as unbelievable as some of the storylines may seem, we have
to believe that the characters believe that what they’re
doing gets them what they want. That’s the most important
aspect of breaking a story, so it doesn’t just feel like a
series of funny events. That we really justify why these
characters are acting the way that they do.
N. Smith Okay.
M That’s the major criteria that I follow. Of course, we
like to tie things up and tie things together. That’s good
N. Smith As a sub-question, have you ever written a scene or
story where you thought you had gone too far? I know that’s
G. Howerton The gauge for too far is always just—we never
set out to—we never want to offend anyone; not for the sake
of offending anyone. People will always be offended by
things. That’s just the way it is. Usually the people who
get insulted the most over the course of the episode are the
characters themselves, which is why I think we can get away
with so much. There are certain things—it’s just a matter of
taste. We had some things actually in the season opener with
some very touchy subject matter. I won’t go into it, but
there were some things that we decided to extract from the
episode because we felt like it took the joke a little bit
too far—it’s when it goes into territory where it’s not
N. Smith Okay. Thank you.
Moderator Next question is from Earl Dittman, Wireless
E. Dittman Hi guys, it’s me again. I’m kind of jumping on
his question. We were talking to the guys in The League
yesterday and he said that FX gives the standards and
practices gal a lot of headaches. I imagine that you all
might do that as well. Do you pretty much handle
yourselves—do you test—he said everybody likes to test the
standards and practices. Do you mind doing that?
R. McElhenney No, I think after eight years we’ve figured
out what we can get away with and what we can’t. I think at
this point everybody understands what the show is and what
we’re trying to do with the show. I think that that helps a
lot. That allows the audience to be along for the ride as
opposed to, like Glenn said, offending people.
G. Howerton Yes. A lot of it is just about context. Certain
things done in a certain context when they’re justifiable
and they’re not just cruel or offensive, we can get away
with. It’s never our intention to try—I also have to say, it
does cause you to be a little bit more creative when you
can’t just do anything.
E. Dittman Yes.
G. Howerton Having certain boundaries and restrictions can
actually be helpful, to a certain degree. We have some good
ones with FX. I think it makes it more challenging; it
forces you to be a little bit more creative.
E. Dittman You mentioned that Charlie was in a film and
Glenn, you also have film coming out, or come out, Coffee
G. Howerton I do. I’m not sure exactly sure when it’s going
to come out. We might be taking it to festivals and doing
some other things like that. It was more of an independent
film. It was not a studio film. Yes, I’m excited about it.
I’ve seen the movie; I think it’s really good. Again, I
don’t know when it’s coming out but I’m excited for people
to see it.
E. Dittman I guess the other big question is for both of
you; the show obviously allows you enough time to go ahead
and to venture into feature films, correct?
M It’s been tough in the past because we do write, produce,
and star in the show. In previous seasons, it’s been almost
a year-round gig and then we’re so exhausted coming off of
it that we don’t really want to do much else, which is why
you haven’t seen us do much else, quite frankly.
E. Dittman Right.
M But we are—as the show goes on, we have a lot of talented
people surrounding us that we’ve worked with for many, many
years. The process has become a little bit more streamlined,
which is why hopefully you’ll be seeing us pop up in things
more and more in the next couple years.
E. Dittman Great. Do you have anything else coming up;
anything film-wise or you didn’t do anything this year?
M We’re all—
M So early again this year—
G. Howerton Yes, this year is a little bit different—we had
to start a lot later this season. We want to get back on our
earlier schedule. We’re really only going to have one month
off between seasons.
E. Dittman Yikes.
R. McElhenney We all have babies. Multiple—we have two
babies. Glenn has one and Charlie has one; so we want to
spend as much time with our families as we can.
E. Dittman Congratulations, guys. Thanks very much, I
M Thanks, Earl.
M Thanks, Earl.
Moderator Our next question comes from, Dan Calvisi, Act
Four. Please go ahead.
M Hi Dan.
D. Calvisi Hey, guys. Earl asked you about features. Do have
any plans or wishes to write feature comedies in the future?
If so, what do you think are the challenges of writing for
film versus TV?
G. Howerton For me, this is Glenn, the biggest challenge for
me is that we are so used to writing in that format, that
television format. It is a different structure entirely.
Certainly, long term we have plans to write, produce, direct
features and things like that. Right now, our focus really
is on Sunny, though, because it’s something—it’s a job that
we take very, very seriously; we don’t take it for granted.
We don’t ever want to take it for granted. We have a high
standard for ourselves. I think the fans have a high
standard for us. In order to achieve what we’d like to
achieve on the show, it takes up most of our year.
D. Calvisi What are you favorite TV shows?
G. Howerton Good question. I really think that new show,
Girls, on HBO is really terrific. I’m a fan of that. I
really, really enjoyed Enlightened, also on HBO. I think
it’s terrific. I think Louie is a really interesting show.
R. McElhenney My favorite show—this is Rob—I love Mad Men,
Game of Thrones, 60 Minutes—
G. Howerton Oh yes, 60 Minutes continues to kill us.
R. McElhenney Breaking Bad—
G. Howerton Yes, Breaking Bad is just, I think—
R. McElhenney I try to watch as little of comedy as I
G. Howerton Yes, yes, same here, same here. It’s just hard,
when you’re working on comedy all the time. Seriously, the
last thing I want to do is go home and watch a bunch of
comedies. No offense to any comedies, it’s just, you can’t
help but overanalyze it and it just becomes not fun anymore.
D. Calvisi Okay, thanks.
M Thank you.
Moderator Next call comes from Rachel Cericola, Big Picture.
Please go ahead.
M Hi, Rachel.
R. Cericola Hi, guys. Hi. I just finished watching the
Season 7, Blu-Ray; I was surprised that there were no
deleted scenes or outtakes, or anything like that. How much
of what you do doesn’t make it to air?
G. Howerton We started to—this is Glenn—we’ve started to
streamline things a little bit better in the writing process
so that we don’t end up with a lot of scenes on the cutting
room floor. I think, actually, earlier on we probably had
more things that we cut because the scripts were longer and
we just hadn’t—we would try to edit ourselves as much as
possible in the writing because we don’t want to shoot a
bunch of things aren’t going to make it. Most of the stuff
that just doesn’t make it on the air is just either probably
extensions of scenes or little things that were cut out more
than whole scenes themselves.
R. Cericola Back to some of the weird storylines. I want to
know what gets rejected. Do you have any favorite rejected
G. Howerton If it doesn’t happen—we probably had some stuff
earlier on, in earlier seasons—but now that the network
understands our sensibility and trusts us a little bit
more—they really are great to trust us now. They see
that—they get it more. We don’t have to explain to them what
we’re going for and they trust it. If we think it’s funny
then it probably is. What pops into your head? Anything,
R. McElhenney Yes. We tried to break this story a couple of
times—maybe two or three years—and it’s just never quite
worked. We never got it to a place where we wanted continue.
That was something involving us and a reality show. We were
potentially picked as being the focus—focal point—of a
reality show or that we sign-up for a reality show. Maybe
like—what’s that show?
G. Howerton Bar Rescue, or something. The Amazing Race or
something like that.
R. McElhenney Yes. We’d talked about doing some kind of a
reality show thing. Again, it wasn’t rejected because it was
too hot or nobody liked it. It was just we haven’t been able
to crack it yet in a way that we felt was funny.
R. Cericola Thank you.
Moderator Next question comes from Nathan Smith,
Blogomatic3000. Please go ahead.
N. Smith Was it more of a gradual development or was it just
planned that you would start adding more supporting
characters in the show, and open up what was a little more
of an insular world with the three leads?
M As we built out the show and built out the characters, we
realized that what we were creating was a bit of an
alternate universe. Certainly, the stakes are just as high
as real life, but the results are a little bit different.
These people—I was counting how many major car accidents my
character has been in over the last seven years. I think
I’ve had five or six head-on collisions. I don’t seem to
have any—maybe some brain damage, but the character doesn’t
seem to have any physical scars. Clearly, we’re creating a
heightened reality. When we started joking about who else
lives in this universe, who else lives in this world, it
just made us laugh. That helped broaden our scope, which I
think only adds to the comedy.
M Maybe more of a parallel universe that an alternate, a
completely alternate one; slightly heightened reality, yes.
N. Smith Whose idea was it to bring on your significant
others in real life, only to bring them on the show to
loathe the characters that you pair them up with?
R. McElhenney I started to loath Kaitlin only after Season
1. We weren’t dating at all prior to it. We met on the show.
The loathing didn’t start until Season 1 and then that’s
when it really got exciting for us, sexually.
N. Smith In addition, Glenn, I believe it was your wife and
the D.E.N.N.I.S. system? Is that correct?
G. Howerton That’s correct, yes.
N. Smith Her character pretty much loathed you—that’s kind
of what I meant in Mary [Elizabeth Ellis] loathing
Charlie—to basically bring them on just so that they will
just be the worst pairing possible.
M I think that’s just more of the nature of our show than
what we were trying to do specifically … . It’s just more
funny within the context of our universe to have characters
in conflict than the other way around. It’s not a show that
you’re really going to see many characters that are in love
or having a good relationship or healthy relationship. It’s
not the nature of our show.
N. Smith Right. Thank you.
J. Reed Karen, we have time for one more question.
Moderator Okay. The next question goes to Lance Carter,
Daily Actor. Please go ahead.
L. Carter Got in in the nick of time. Alright. Is it easier
for you guys to act in something you write as opposed to
saying someone else’s words on another film or TV show?
M I don’t know if it’s—it’s easier in the sense that because
you wrote it you know it works, at least in terms of what
your sensibility is. With respect to that, it’s easier.
M Certainly having a lot more control over the entire
process, not only writing it, but then having a very heavy
hand in the directing, and then knowing very well who it is
that you’re acting with. Then, being in the editing room so
we can shape the performance is really liberating and it
helps build a lot of confidence. That being said, when
you’re on somebody else’s set, you don’t have any
responsibilities other than saying the words, which is
M That’s pretty sweet, too.
L. Carter Just real quick, I love it when you guys pop up in
films and TV shows. I’m like, oh, hey, cool, so more of
that. That’s awesome, too.
M Thank you, Lance. We will do our best. We’re very … .
L. Carter Thanks guys.
M Thank you.
M Thank you.
J. Reed I want to thank everybody for joining us today. As a
reminder, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres
tonight at 10 p.m. on FX. All photos can be found on
Foxflash.com. At this time, Karen will give you replay
instructions and then you can disconnect. Thanks to Rob and
Glenn, as well.
M Thank you, everyone, thank you.
Moderator Ladies and gentleman this conference will be made
available for replay after 3 p.m. today until 10/12 at
midnight. That does conclude our conference for
today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T
Executive TeleConference Service. You may now disconnect.
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