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By Suzanne

Liz Meriwether

Interview with Liz Meriwether, creator of "New Girl" on FOX 11/14/11

FBC PUBLICITY: The New Girl Conference with Liz Meriwether
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 TV Line.

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

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 guess.

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 Canada.

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 quickly.

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,

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 TV.

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 experiences.

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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