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Interview with Liz Meriwether, creator of "New Girl" on
FBC PUBLICITY: The New Girl Conference with Liz
November 14, 2011/2:00 p.m. EST
Todd Adair Ė FBC Publicity
Liz Meriwether Ė Creator, New Girl
Moderator: Welcome to the New Girl Conference call with Liz Meriwether.
At this time all lines are in a listen-only mode. Shortly we will have a
Q&A session, and instructions will be given at that time.
I would now like to turn the conference over to Todd Adair.
T. Adair: Thank you very much for joining us today. Liz, thank you for
taking time out of production to do this. A reminder, New Girl has a new
episode tomorrow night on Fox, 9:00/8:00 Central. Tomorrow nightís
episode is called ďThanksgivingĒ and itís about Easter. No, Iím just
kidding; itís about Thanksgiving, and it begins a three-episode guest
star by Justin Long.
Thanks again for taking the time to ask some questions for Liz today,
and weíll start the Q&A.
Moderator: Our first question comes from the line of Megan Masters with
M. Masters: I think everyone is loving Nick and Jess on the show, and
anyone just wants to see them together. You guys kind of hinted at a
little something in the last new episode and it kind of ended on a
really sweet note with them. So what can you say about whatís coming up
between those two in episodes moving towards the middle of the season?
L. Meriwether: Probably marriage by the end of season oneóno.
M. Masters: Yeah.
L. Meriwether: Itís going to go fast and furious. No. I think this show
is about male/female friendship more than itís aboutó I mean itís about
Jess learning how to be friends with those guys and those guys accepting
Jess into their world and becoming friends with her as well, and I think
thatís the most important thing. I think both of those characters
theyíre both coming out of these relationships that didnít go that well,
and I feel like theyíre not at the perfect time in their lives to sort
of be together. But I think itís actually more important I think that
their friendship kind of blossoms. I just used the word blossom. I donít
think itís going to be likeó I think that that was sort of why we did
the episode last week was to kind of address it, but also say itís not
really happening right now.
M. Masters: And the chemistry between the two actors was that just
organic and youíre kind of playing on that or did you always think that
those two would have a particular connection?
L. Meriwether: They absolutely hate each other. They cannot standóno. I
think they have great chemistry. Everyone on the cast has great
chemistry; I think thatís why the show is working. I think of all the
characters theyíre the two that kind of I think fit together the best,
but I think they have a while to go emotionally before theyíre going to
be at that place. I think, I donít know, but who knows.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Rachel Stein with
Television Without Pity.
R. Stein: I wanted to know was it hard to pitch a series revolving around
a woman to a network? Was there any resistance on that, because we donít
see as many female centric wonderful shows like New Girl?
L. Meriwether: It wasnít hard; I felt really actually encouraged by the
way the network received the show the whole way through, actually which
sounds like Iím sucking up but Iím not. I think the first time I met
Kevin Riley, who is the Head of Fox, he said to me I want to keep this
female character really unique and I want you to protect here throughout
this whole process, which it was really rare and the first time I had
really heard that from a network exec before. I actually found there
wasnít resistance to a kind of odd female character at the center of the
show, which I found really gratifying, and I really donít think this
show could work if the network hadnít understood it and really supported
it. But yes, I guess thatís my answer.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Jean Bentley, Zap2It.
J. Bentley: I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about
Justin Longís character. I guess heís supposed to be sort of a romantic
interest for Jess, and so I was wondering if you could tell us a little
bit about him.
L. Meriwether: Yes. Heís a music teacher at her school, and whatever the
male form of a dork Ö is. I donít know. No, as soon as he walks in the
door Jake Johnsonís character, Nick, says, ďOh my God thereís two of
them,Ē which I think sort of describes his character. Heís sort of the
male version of Jess, and they just immediately sort of hit it off, Jess
and Justin Longís character. But the struggle kind of then becomes
Justin Longís character with the guys and then just Jess kind of dealing
with her coming out of a really long six-year relationship and walking
into a new relationship.
He carries around a kazoo; thatís one detail that I am particularly
proud of. I had to fight for the kazoo is all Iím saying. They tell you
to pick your battles, and I decided to Ö battleó
J. Bentley: You fought for the kazoo. How does his presence affect Jessí
relationship with the guys?
L. Meriwether: I think theyíre excited for her to be in a relationship,
but I think a little worried that heís going to be around all the time.
But I think ultimately theyíre pretty supportive of it. I think one line
we cut out was like, ďMaybe heíll tire her out,Ē or something Ö. I donít
know if thatís in there anymore.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Lisa Paul with
L. Paul: You talked about the network wanting to protect Jess. I know
that Zooeyís kind of a polarizing figure among women, I was wondering
were you worried about alienating women with casting her or have you
been happy with how people have embraced her as Jess?
L. Meriwether: I never really realized; I guess before the show came out
I just loved her acting and I loved her, I like her music. I sort of
just love Zooey, and I never really saw her as a polarizing figure and I
still sort of donít. I think sheís just kind of an amazing actress, and
I feel like the character is like a complicated character that has a lot
of different layers, and I donít really, you know what I mean, I donító
Iíve definitely seen some of the, I guess, criticism, but I havenít
really understood where itís coming from totally.
I think I was really just writing about myself, and so my main goal is
just to give her, give Zooey, really fun, interesting things to do every
week, and then just be really honest with myself about the character and
really just present an interesting, funny female character on
television. Yes. I donít know.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Henry Hanks with CNN.com.
H. Hanks: So New Girl has definitely started to resonate with viewers and
thereís been hard to miss that there have been other shows with female
protagonists with comedies that have done really well this season. Do
you have any thoughts or insight as to why that is?
L. Meriwether: Yes, Iíve been asked this a lot, and I donít know. I feel
so lucky to be a part of it and it really surprised me. It surprised me,
and I think itís great. And I really love how all the different
characters in the new comedies with female protagonists theyíre all
really different, and I think thatís great. I feel like people have a
tendency to lump sort of female comedy into one box, and I really love
that there are different shows that are doing well right now have just
really different styles and really different characters at the front of
them. And I personally think that they are all really funny, so Iím just
really happy to be sort of a part of this whatever it is new moment I
H. Hanks: Yes. I donít know if you noticed in recent years some more
female show writers and more opportunities for female comedy writers?
L. Meriwether: Yes, I think probably with Bridesmaids and thereís just
sort of a feeling, I think, of more trust from the people in charge that
women actually want to see shows and movies that are written and created
by women as opposed to sort of shows created by men that women are just
supposed to like. I feel like that trust just from a business sense is
really important for empowering more women creators of shows.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Emily Gagne with TV Guide
E. Gagne: I just wanted to ask specifically about the ďThanksgivingĒ
episode. I was talking to Hannah Simone a while back and she told meó
L. Meriwether: I love Hannah.
E. Gagne: She is great.
L. Meriwether: Sheís from Canada.
E. Gagne: Yes, exactly, thatís why I talk to her. But yes, she was saying
that you guys have a scene or a gag in the episode that has been never
before seen on a holiday episode. Is that true?
L. Meriwether: Sheís a good saleswoman. Thatís exciting. Yes, I think we
have a couple. Yes, there are definitely some surprises in store. Yes, I
think the episode is available for you guys to watch, but yes, we have
some kind of crazy things that happen in the episode that Iím personally
excited to show America and Canada.
E. Gagne: Okay, but nothingóand canít tell me anything. All right.
L. Meriwether: No. Yes, I donít know.
E. Gagne: Ö spoil it.
L. Meriwether: Yes. I mean there is a turkey in the clothes dryer if that
entices youóif youíve always wanted to see what would happen if a turkey
were in a dryer then you should tune in.
E. Gagne: I have. But also since Justin Longís character is a teacher at
Jessí school will we get to see any scenes of her teaching or anything,
because Iím kind of interested in that?
L. Meriwether: Not in this episode, but definitely kind of coming up in
the rest of the season weíre going to get into her work life definitely.
I think in this episode theyíre just at school in the beginning really
Moderator: Next question comes from the line of Kelly Bedard with My TV.
K. Bedard: One of the things I love so much about the show is how real
and somehow recognizable a lot of the characters feel, especially Jess.
So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your character
inspiration, maybe how much of you is in your leads?
L. Meriwether: I feel like thereís a part of me in all of them. Maybe not
the model of character, but yes, I think originally Jess was based on
me, and it was sort of me writing about my male friends that I could
have looked around and saw that I had a lot of guy friends and was
wondering why that was and what I went to them for that I didnít go to
my girl friends for. And yes, I think I also am super awkward sometimes
and occasionally sing to myself and Iím occasionally a douche bag and I
do like to hide in hooded zip up sweatshirts and Iíve never played
professional basketball in Lafayette, but Iím considering it.
But yes, I think on a more serious note, I think what was really
important for us was really making sure that all of the characters felt
real and that the show felt real, and weíve really made that our focus,
I think, with all the episodes and sort of the stories and whatís
actually going on in the characterís lives. It was really important to
us that the audiences could emotionally connect with the characters and
really believe that these are real people that are going through these
real events in their lives. So I think that really came from my
experiences and the experiences of our writing staff, although I donít
think anyone has put a turkey in a dryer.
K. Bedard: I bet somebody has.
L. Meriwether: Iím not sure. Iím not sure.
Moderator: Next question comes from the line Alan James, Fox.com.
A. James: Youíve talked about the ďThanksgivingĒ episode and I know you
have a Christmas episode coming up, and I was just wondering what sort
of the challenges are in writing holiday themed episodes. Does it become
easier when you have sort of a hook to hang your jokes on; does it
become easier or is it harder, whatís your thought on this?
L. Meriwether: Anyone who has watched TV throughout their lives itís
exciting to be kind of like okay Iím writing a Thanksgiving episode. It
feels like a sort of tradition to step into. But itís definitely
challenging, because I think there have been so many Thanksgiving and
Christmas episodes, so itís like you donít want to just go into the same
territory. And I think, on the other hand, I feel like theyíre such
universal holidays that are oftentimes so funny because they are moments
when people kind of have to come together, and I feel like all of my
best family stories are from Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Itís both; itís like a fun challenge thatís a little bit scary because
you want to do it right, but also it does inspire a lot of stories and a
lot of great moments. I think like when we did the wedding episode I
think we spent the entire day in our writing staff just going around
telling horrible wedding stories. I think itís like that similar sort of
universal moment of comedy the holidays.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Claudia Bax, Voice of
C. Bax: I was wondering in the pilot you mentioned that Jessí mother
lives out-of-town. My dogs are trying to hurt me. So that came up. Is
there any idea to develop a family story line for either Jess or the
boys, and if you do do you have a preference for a guest actor for that?
L. Meriwether: We definitely might go into their family stories. I feel
like there is so much comedy in who Jessí parents are and who Schmidtís
parents are and who Nickís. Weíre definitely going to do that. We donít
have anything lined up right now, but itís sort of constantly discussing
it in the writerís room so Iím hoping that that will happen soon. Iím
really interested in Schmidtís bunny costumes and his motherís
C. Bax: Any guest actors you would like to bring in?
L. Meriwether: I feel like itís too soon to say that, because we havenít
figured out exactly who those characters would be yet. There are a lot
of guest actors I would love to bring in, but I donít know yet who would
be sort of the perfect people to play Nick or Jessí parents.
C. Bax: But not necessarily for his parents, just any guest actor for
whatever purpose. A preference for say, I donít know, someone crazy that
you would be dying to have in the show at some point?
L. Meriwether: I would really love Sarah Silverman on the show, but I
havenít run that by anybody.
Moderator: We have no further questions.
T. Adair: Okay, great, then we are all set. Thank you so much, Liz, for
taking the time out to do this today.
L. Meriwether: Oh, yes, thank you. Thanks, guys. Okay.
T. Adair: As a reminder, New Girl airs tomorrow night at 9:00/8:00
Central on Fox. The episode entitled ďThanksgivingĒ is currently
available at our online media screening room. .
Thanks again, everyone.
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