Interview with Ron Howard and Lauren Graham of "Parenthood" on NBC - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Ron Howard

Interview with Ron Howard and Lauren Graham of "Parenthood" on NBC

NBC sent me this great interview. I did not participate in it, but it is very interesting, and you should enjoy it.

Read my review of the show!

Moderator: Marsha Rickett
February 11, 2010 12:33 pm CT

Coordinator: Hello and welcome to the Parenthood conference call. At the request of NBC this call is being recorded for instant replay purposes and a transcript of the call is also being made. With us on todayís call is Jessica Nevarez of NBC.

Jessica Nevarez: Hi. Welcome everyone to the Parenthood conference call. On the line today weíre privileged to have Executive Producers Ron Howard and Jason Katims and series star Lauren Graham. You should have all received bios and a show description last week. We can resend that if anyone didn't receive that information. And please don't forget Parenthood premiers Tuesday, March 2 at 10:00 pm on NBC. And we now welcome your questions.

Coordinator: Thank you. If you would like to ask a question throughout todayís call press star 1. The first question is from Mike Hughes, TV America.

Mike Hughes: Oh hi. I wanted to ask the - both the guys I was really impressed with how much you got the pilot film to be kind of lighter and more fun in the second try. And howís that gone on since then in the future episodes? Are you getting more comedy into the episodes as it goes? And thereís a lot of serious things youíre playing with too so howís it going so far?

Jason Katims: Yeah, I mean, I think - this is Jason. I think that we have tried to, you know, really, you know, anytime you start a show youíre sort of trying to find that balance and figure out, you know, sort of discover the tone of the show and, you know, how that - what the show wants to be.

And one of the things that I'm so excited about - about what I've seen as you were saying, you know, the second version of the pilot and then as we've gone into episodes is we've found more and more humor. But itís really the humor of life, you know, itís the humor that you find...

Mike Hughes: Yeah.

Jason Katims: - when you're, you know, dealing with parenthood and family and being both, you know, a, you know, dealing both with, you know, your, you know, your kids but also in the context of being a, you know, a son or a daughter as well.

And, you know, what I like about, you know, thatís what I like about the humor that weíre finding it just feels very relatable and real; it doesn't feel like - to me it doesn't feel like itís too broad or trying to - or going into a place that, you know, is in any way sort of not really relatable.

Mike Hughes: Okay thanks. And just wanted to ask Ron in retrospect I think parenthood is often very funny. We don't realize it sometimes at the time but we laugh about it afterwards. You've done a lot of parenthood in your life; overall is there a lot of room for humor in it?

Ron Howard: Well itís unavoidable. You know, like Jason was just saying, I mean, it might not feel funny in the moment, youíre right, but, you know, gratefully more often than not, you know, there's, you know, thereís a light at the end of the tunnel and, you know, and you can personally look back and find the humor in it.

Others, you know, can always see the, you know, how ridiculous other peopleís lives are.

Mike Hughes: Right, right.

Ron Howard: They might not tell them right to their face but, you know, they could see it. And itís that - it is that sort of elevator ride that is, you know, I think makes stories on the subject of parenting and being a part of a family so relatable and so entertaining. And I've loved what Jason has been doing, you know, with the sort of the family that we started 20 years ago.

Ever since our first conversation and, you know, from the first script onward, you know, the just has such a fantastic contemporary take on the whole thing that I've been, you know, nothing but proud of it.

Mike Hughes: Okay cool. Thanks.

Coordinator: David Martindale, Hearst Newspapers.

David Martindale: Hi, thanks for doing the call. We've enjoyed the pilot. Question for Ron, what is it about parenthood, the premise, the title, the franchise, that keeps you coming back?

Ron Howard: Well the interesting thing - and I've got to include Jason in this because, I mean, I'll just say that, you know, we - Brian Grazer and I are intensely proud of, you know, the film Parenthood. You know, our friends Ganz and Mandel, did a brilliant job writing it. And it, you know, it remains a movie that people compliment us on.

We tried a television series a couple years after it and it couldn't capture the sort of the - I don't know the scope of the family; it was a half-hour sort of sitcom approach. And it was frustrating in that way. And we thought that was sort of the end of Parenthood.

We would even toy occasionally with trying to do a sequel. But we just - we felt like, you know, another two hours on the subject was not going to be particularly more informative. A series would have allowed the characters to develop but just another movie would probably not, you know, not be, you know, a good creative idea.

And then Jason came to Brian and I and of course we know Jason from Friday Night Lights where he does a spectacular job and said, you know, I want to do a one-hour dramatic version of Parenthood. And, you know, and we were thrilled, Brian and I, very open to the idea because of Jason and his talent but - and our experience with him.

But also we frankly said in that first meeting, you know, youíre a pretty creative guy why don't you just make up your own family? And at the time I wanted to take this because at the time the said well, you know, itís like a book or a play or anything that you can make a strong adaptation from, thereís something in the DNA of those characters and the family dynamics that I think I can build upon.

And, you know, lo and behold he has, heís given every character its own contemporary voice and of course the actors are now going even further with it. But I'm just, you know, incredibly sort of gratified that those characters - that situation, the DNA of that family can evolve. And now I know it'll continue to in the right way where, you know, you can really understand so much about what it is to be, you know, a family member or a parent. But, Jason, talk about that because, I mean, we had the...

Jason Katims: Right.

Ron Howard: ...quick conversation and then we just took yes for an answer and weíre glad. What were you thinking?

Jason Katims: Well, yeah, well, I mean, I think sort of going back and looking at the movie again I felt that, you know, truthfully I felt that it was so rich and that the, you know, that it was - the world was - not only was the movie so wonderful, but the world that was created in that movie was so rich and so ripe with possibilities.

And I kept thinking, you know, I want to see more, I want to know more about them, I want to live with these people. And that to me is the key to, you know, it seems like, oh yeah, come up with a TV show it seems like an easy thing to do. But itís a very hard thing to try to figure out, you know, the ingredients that would make a good show.

And I felt like not only was it a wonderful movie but in the movie I just was sort of the perfect sort of foundation for what could be a really wonderful show. And, you know, honestly the show that I would want to watch. Thatís why I was really drawn to it; this is the kind of TV show that I would want to watch.

Itís the stuff that, you know, sort of most compelling to me right now, itís the stuff I'm, you know, thinking about most right now in my life. And I think thatís always the thing that you should try to let, you know, let guide you as you try to figure out what you want to write.

And of course, you know, the other side of it is I've had such a wonderful experience with Ron and Brian and everybody at Imagine on Friday Night Lights. You know, I - you know, also thought this would be - it would be, you know, a good thing for me and hopefully for everyone to sort of, you know, find something else to do, you know, together.

And this, you know, the combination of those two things made me feel like this was just too good of a thing to not pursue. And even though it was - I had to, you know, sort of go into Ron and Brian, you know, it was a - I felt kind of humble going into them saying I want to, you know, because I know there had been a show that had been, you know, that had been done already based on it.

And, you know, but I was so kind of excited and passionate about the idea of trying to do it that thatís what made me sort of talk to them. And what got me really excited was once I did talk to them that they were really interested in only doing the show if we could re-imagine it. You know, not do to the - not do something which is a copy of the movie but to, you know, to look at, you know, you know, to let the movie inspire something that is new.

David Martindale: Ron, this isn't really a question but I cannot leave for a softball game every week without my sister-in-law singing the diarrhea song.

Ron Howard: I'm very sorry.

David Martindale: So thanks for that. Okay thanks so much guys.

Ron Howard: You bet, thank you.

Coordinator: (Bonnie Gottis), University of Massachusetts.

Bonnie Gottis: Hi guys.

Jason Katims: Hi.

Bonnie Gottis: I just wanted to first of all - I'm (Bonnie) from UMass. Ron, I wanted to let you know I really admire your work. I think I broke a record for seeing Apollo 13 like at least 50 times. I loved Frost/Nixon and you have an amazing way of seeing through the personality of people. Parenthood, another movie I - itís wonderful. I'm an older student and I have a 15 and a 12-year old so I've lived a lot of this except for the diarrhea song.

But anyway I wanted to know, you know, thereís a lot of - I'm looking forward to seeing this - to be on TV. I think itís a really important thing for people to view parenthood, to see what itís like. But what is - thereís a lot of issues. There was an issue with Kevin when he had the worry issue that he inherited from Gil. And Max has the Aspergerís Syndrome.

Are you going to expand on those type of things - those type of childrenís issues like kids with ADHD and stuff in the show?

Ron Howard: Well youíre talking to me and the question really needs to be directed to Jason because, you know, it really is his vision.

Bonnie Gottis: Okay.

Ron Howard: But I, you know, I mean, the short answer is that I know that if weíre lucky enough to have the show go that, you know, that all aspects of it, again, you know, sort of that - the stuff that makes us laugh and also the, you know, the painful realities of the experience are what he wants to build on. But specifically, you know, we haven't discussed that. Jason?

Jason Katims: No I think that - absolutely itís what I, you know, want to, you know, the idea of the show is to sort of try to explore as much about the experience of parenthood as we can. And that includes, you know, the joyous moments, the celebration of family.

It includes the embarrassing funny moments. And - but it also includes, you know, some very dramatic stuff, you know, which includes, you know, having a kid with special needs which is something that is very much a part of the show.

Bonnie Gottis: Yes.

Jason Katims: What I'm really proud of so far having now, you know, shot the first, you know, handful of episodes and seeing a few cuts, what I'm very proud of is that I think not only are we dealing with that subject matter in a way that, you know, honors it and is real, but itís also done in a way that is not self-pitying and depressing, you know.

Bonnie Gottis: Yeah, yeah.

Jason Katims: I mean I think what - really knowing what that experience is like first hand I know that it's, you know, as much of a blessing as it is a curse. And I feel that that is reflected in the work that weíre doing.

Bonnie Gottis: Well itís wonderful because Parenthood is - the move had great resolve. Everyone kind of came together at the end and everyone - it was kind of like a happy ending and sort out all their problems. But the title Parenthood may discourage some people from seeing it because they feel like they can't relate to it except the parents.

What will be the attraction you think for young kids, you know, or people that don't have children to watch the show?

Jason Katims: Right, I mean, I think to me that's, again the thing - the reason why I wanted to do this show is because, you know, you know, it allows you to come at it from so many points of view. I mean, and really we have ages in the show covered from, you know, a, you know, four year old boy to, you know, a - grandparents in their 60s.

And should the show go, you know, go long enough I'd like to go to the next generation up from that, you know.

Bonnie Gottis: I hope so.

Jason Katims: You know, I think that everybody will - and I'm not kidding about that. You know, I think that every - it allows, you know, us to see through, you know, people of, you know, at any period of their life, you know, you can both see - you can both look at it and be in it as youíre watching.

You know, so I think, you know, itís as interesting for, you know, younger people to watch it not only to see hopefully to some degree themselves reflected but to see into - to see behind the, you know, what happens behind the doors when theyíre not there when their parents are talking about them.

You know, I mean, I think thatís interesting too. I would be interested in that if I were a kid. So...

Bonnie Gottis: No kidding. Wow, no I agree with you and I hope that this stays and grows and...

Jason Katims: Thank you.

Bonnie Gottis: on for years to come and that every year we can see this family grow and change. And I think thatís part of the process for all of us. And thank you very much.

Jason Katims: Thank you.

Coordinator: As a reminder please limit to one question. The next question is from Virginia Rohan, Record Newspaper.

Virginia Rohan: Hi. This is for Jason and Ron if you have anything to add. I found the storyline about Max and his parents struggle to accept the diagnosis to be so moving. And I was wondering why did you decide to have a child with Aspergerís in the story? And also I'm imagining that you have autism consultants working on the show?

Jason Katims: Yes we do.

Virginia Rohan: Yes.

Jason Katims: You know, I think that what I find more and more from, you know, my own, you know, experience - personal - very personal experience in life but with knowing so many people that, you know, what you find is everybodyís dealing with something that, you know, everybodyís dealing with something.

You know, every - and, you know, one of the basic, you know, sort of defining principal that I had when I was thinking about what I wanted the show to be was the idea that, you know, your children are never the people you expected them to be.

Youíre surprised by them. And that is - thatís something that is really what, you know, I think, you know, a lot of what parenthood is about is figuring out how to, you know, how, you know, how to, you know, deal with that and fight that and ultimately maybe accept that. And I think that, you know, you know, to deal with an issue like that which is, you know, in many ways scary - a scary issue to sort of - to confront.

But in many ways I just think it speaks to what so many people are dealing with. Maybe, I mean, obviously not specifically with Aspergerís but...

Virginia Rohan: Right, right.

Jason Katims: know, there's, you know, thatís what I find, you know, honestly. What I find when I see people is like, you know, everything looks a certain way from the outside. And then when you get inside their homes or you talk to people and meet them and really get to know whatís going on everybodyís dealing with something.

And so I wanted that to be part of the show. I didn't want the show to just be - I didn't want the show to, you know, as much as I want this show to be fun, and it is, and a celebration of family, which it is, I also wanted to be real and to see people, you know, sort of grappling with stuff thatís - that is, you know, create real challenges.

Virginia Rohan: Right.

Ron Howard: And probably, you know, the Aspergerís diagnosis wasn't really on the radar - at least it wasn't on ours 20 years ago when we made this.

Virginia Rohan: Right, right.

Ron Howard: But, you know, most of the elements from the movie - and I think largely, you know, from the show now, you know, are coming from personal perspectives and personal experiences. And, you know, the same can be said for that aspect of that story.

Virginia Rohan: Right, right, right, very good. Thank you so much.

Coordinator: Rick Porter, Zap2It.

Rick Porter: Forgive me I joined the call a couple minutes late, is Lauren Graham with you all?

Ron Howard: Yes she is.

Lauren Graham: Yeah.

Rick Porter: Okay. I'd like to ask her a question.

Lauren Graham: Hello.

Rick Porter: Hi. Can you just talk about first of all the differences between being part of a kind of a big ensemble as opposed to more or less carrying a show like you did with Gilmore Girls? And also now that youíre a ways into it some of the things you may have discovered about your character.

Lauren Graham: Well itís a more sane life for sure, you know, to be part of an ensemble. And I find that youíre - the work can be more specific therefore. I have to really make sure I know where I am in the story because I'm not in every scene and I'm not, you know, I have to sort of think about it as an actor in terms of the arc of each episode in a more deep way instead of trusting that, you know, since I'm in most of the scenes I can kind of gauge where I am.

So I've found this work really gratifying because it is more specific, you know, youíre working with a smaller amount of material and therefore everything is really important. And, you know, on Gilmore Girls sometimes I'd be in a scene that was just there kind of for fun, you know. And here each scene really is an important part of where my character is.

And so thatís been really interesting. And, you know, I don't see dawn as much as I did on the other show which has been really enjoyable. And, you know, I think what I've discovered and what I've really enjoyed about sort - weíre in maybe Episodes like 5 and 6 right now - is just finding the ways in which this character just continues to sort of feel like - itís too strong to say, like a failure.

But, you know, as opposed to maybe Lorelai Gilmore who had a very sunny outlook on things, itís been really interesting for me to play someone who has - is kind of shouldering a lot of baggage in terms of being disappointed about where she is in life and just, you know, the feeling of living in your parentís house at 38 and how that informs everything, you know, and doesn't make you feel too great.

And so itís just trying to, you know, thinking about looking at life through the eyes of disappointment is kind of a thing I think about a lot with Sarah.

Rick Porter: And quickly for Ron and Jason, will we be seeing more of Mike O'Malley?

Jason Katims: Will we be seeing more of Mike?

Rick Porter: Yeah.

Jason Katims: Yeah, he is in the third episode and then right now weíre planning to bring him back again later in the season for one more episode so far and then depending on how those two crazy kids work it out maybe more, we don't know yet.

Rick Porter: All right thanks.

Coordinator: Jim Halterman,

Jim Halterman: Hi everybody. Thanks for your time. Guys, first Lauren, I wanted to know, you know, did you watch the original pilot with Maura Tierney or did you stay away from it so it wouldn't get in the way?

Lauren Graham: I did not - I didn't watch it, no.

Jim Halterman: Okay. And guys is there a chance that Maura might turn up on the show in the future in a guest spot or something?

Jason Katims: You know, I have no idea whether that would happen. I mean, you know, obviously I, you know, love Maura, love the work that she does and, you know, I mean, right now she's, you know, doing what she, you know, kind of needs to do to get healthy and get back to a place where, you know, we might have that conversation.

But, you know, itís not, you know, weíre - itís nothing like that is anything that we've talk about yet.

Jim Halterman: Got it. Okay thank you.

Coordinator: Kristen Benson, Hollywood Life.

Kristen Benson: Hey everyone, thank you so much. And Ron, this question is more directed to you. Jason talked a little bit about how kids surprise you and they do things that you didn't expect. So I was wondering if you could talk about how being a dad has affected, you know, any input you've had on the show.

And then also - this is kind of an off the wall question - if you could compare, you know, I know that Bryce is doing Twilight, if you could compare children to vampires.

Lauren Graham: My God, good luck.

Ron Howard: Children to vampires. Well, you know, I got to say I felt safe when the sun when down in my household. So I have a hard time drawing that parallel. But I had good kids.

The, you know, again I think, you know, all of our parenting experiences, you know, are going to come in to play and thatís Jason and the staff and all of us involved. But itís certainly, you know, as it continues to grow itís also going to be - itís also going to be the actors.

You know, and with - again whatís great about this is that, you know, I don't think I've ever seen a cast just sort of gel from the first moment of the life of a show the way this cast has. And so, you know, I know that, you know, that this cast is, you know, is going to carry, you know, their personal understanding of these relationships into the show in ways that the audiences, you know, are going to feel.

So, you know, the one specific thing is that, you know, Bryce has a son whoís almost three. And when I was making Parenthood we certainly - we had grandparents and they were, you know, they were significant. But I didn't remotely understand how profound that experience is. And that's, you know, and so, you know, I think thatís something that this show will be able to develop also that audiences really relate to.

Itís interesting when you become a grandparent you start bumping into other, you know, folks who have had that experience. Thereís this sort of wink and a nod like itís a - itís a particular sort of a club or something. And itís very difficult to articulate, you know, sort of how it works and why it runs so deep.

But, you know, the series is going to be able to do that in ways that I think are going to be relatable and entertaining on a whole other dimension.

Kristen Benson: Thank you.

Coordinator: Cindy Perlman, New York Times.

Cindy Perlman: Hey guys, thanks for doing this today. Just a few questions for Lauren - and I got cut off when you were speaking before. But just wondering how - what was the decision like to come back to TV? And what do you think it is about you and playing great moms on TV?

Lauren Graham: Well, you know, the decision was kind of just a very instinctual one, you know. I have been reading scripts for two and a half years or three years, whatever it is since Gilmore Girls ended. And there just wasn't anything I connected to and thatís including things that I was developing that, you know, maybe didn't get to exactly the place I wanted them to.

And I always think about, you know, it follows like the dating model of you have a list of things that you want and then you meet somebody and fall in love and half the things were not on your list. And this is kind of that in the ways that I didn't plan to play a mom, I didn't plan to do an ensemble, I sort of, you know, was thinking about a comedy and, you know, maybe cable.

And then, you know, and then I read this script and I met with Jason. And just the idea of being able to collaborate with a writer who, you know, has such a beautiful group of work but also is encouraging in the, you know, yeah, take your idea and kind of run with it and, you know, improvise once in a while if that makes sense to you.

Itís just a very different model from, you know, from the show that I had come from. And so it just seemed like a good idea.

Cindy Perlman: And what is it with you and moms and do real moms ask you for advice?

Lauren Graham: They do. Well and thatís sort of one thing I said to Jason. I don't know what the thing is because, you know, I spent, you know, my dad essentially raised me and I think if thereís any sort of connection I have itís that I don't have an idea of what a mom is supposed to be; I just kind of, you know, look at who the person is.

And also I've been extremely fortunate to have kids who play my kids who are really easy to love. And even in this case, you know, with Mae Whitman who we have a very contentious relationship on the show but thereís a chemistry in that even, you know, that you really have to have. And I've just been really lucky to have that.

And, yes, moms do ask me for advice. And I say I don't know how to help you. But I did say to Jason, you know, when we started this that, you know, I've been in a place where people are like oh my mom is just like you and they mean that as a compliment, you know.

And that wasn't so much my interest going forward, I was like, I don't necessarily want anyone to want to be me as a mom on this show. Like thatís what I like about her is that sheís really kind of doing things in a more haphazard way and isn't always noble and doesn't always make the right choice. And so that felt, you know, different enough to me to, you know, that it wasn't going to be itís just like Lorelai so.

Cindy Perlman: And finally how is she different from Lorelai? How do you compare them?

Lauren Graham: You know, itís just - in so many ways the experience of doing the show is so totally different, the tone of the show is so different so I think the fact that, you know, the circumstances are similar actually never - they - it never reminds me of - they don't remind me of each other at all.

You know, this show is less about verbal kind of dexterity and long speeches and itís more small moments and real behavior and - thatís my call waiting. And, you know, people reacting to each in a moment. Thereís a lot more silence.

It's, you know, so and Sarah really struggling in her life and not in a great place and, you know, hasn't reached her potential in a lot of ways. And, you know, the character I played in the past is sort of always winning in a way, you know, and so this is someone who has much further to go to reach any of her dreams and that was all appealing to me.

Cindy Perlman: Thank you.

Lauren Graham: Thank you.

Coordinator: Alix Sternberg,

Alix Sternberg: Hi this question first is for Lauren. I wanted to know how it felt sort of coming into this ensemble cast taking over for Maura Tierney?

Lauren Graham: Well it felt really difficult in ways. I mean, I've put a lot of pressure on myself to really do a great job. And I push anyway but then, you know, this just felt like I hoped that it would go well and I hoped that we would all gel. And, you know, I hoped that actors wouldn't mind doing a scene a second time, you know, with me.

And I really, you know, Ron mentioned it earlier, but I do have to say, you know, it didn't feel so much like taking over or anything, you know, it wasn't like that. It was like we all together kind of started, you know, anew.

And that was the only way you could kind of deal with that, you know, situation is - and actually the chemistry between these people I can just honestly say I've - and not to be, you know, not to compare any of my other wonderful jobs, but this is a very, very special group of people and a really great feeling on the set and an actual, you know, functional and dysfunctional family of its own. And all of those kind of, you know, it was actually really easy ultimately to do, you know, to do this work. And so I feel lucky.

Alix Sternberg: And I wanted to know who do you relate more to Sarah or Lorelai?

Lauren Graham: Well I can only say Sarah because thatís whatís on my plate, you know, right now. And - but I would say, I mean, you know, this feels in a strange way like kind of a natural next step in terms of, you know, the world of Gilmore Girls was really idyllic in a way and such a great place to live, you know, as an actor and a person for awhile.

But this is - feels more grown up in a lot of a ways. And so the possibilities sort of - the range of what I get to do on this show is, you know, itís more 10 o'clock than 8 o'clock. And thatís a great kind of next chapter to, you know, to have in terms of just feeling challenged, you know, and moving forward. So Sarah is who I really...

Alix Sternberg: Absolutely. And for - just quick for Ron and Jason if you could just talk a little bit about the casting process. Thereís some really great acting in this so how did that come about?

Ron Howard: I can speak and just say, you know, Jason just kept, you know, I just kind of kept seeing amazing actors one after another, you know, agree to do Jasonís work. And so I was just, you know, smiling in the background.

Jason Katims: You know, it was an incredible experience casting the show because, you know, it first of all itís a very, very big cast. Itís unusually large ensemble for a TV show. And, you know, so it was all about, you know, putting the, you know, sort of putting the pieces together and feeling like well youíre not just, you know, obviously you want to find great people who connect with the roles.

But itís also youíre trying to create a family, youíre trying to create a group of people who when you put them together the sum will be greater than its parts. And, you know, so thatís what was sort of, you know, that was what was, you know, the complicated and challenging part of it is making sure not only were you, you know, getting wonderful people for the roles which is of course, you know, what youíre always doing.

But, you know, I really wanted to feel, you know, at the end of the day that when you saw these people together they felt like a family. That, you know, they reminded you of, you know, that there be dynamics and things that would, you know, reminding you of your - of hopefully of your family and reminding you - it felt familiar and real.

And so there was that. Then the other side of it is we - we got so much tremendous support. You know, I think luckily, you know, the network believed in the show so much that they really supported us in putting together this incredible cast.

I mean, you know, we, you know, I mean, if you look at the people we were lucky enough to be able to work with - with Lauren and Peter and Craig and on and on and on, you know, itís just - Bonnie Bedelia - and it's, you know, this is for me, you know, such a, you know, I feel so excited and humbled by having this, you know, sort of embarrassment of riches is really what it is.

And that wouldn't have happened had we not gotten the support from the network to say you know what weíre not just going to put one person in this that we could go out and sell, weíre going to build a beautiful show here and weíre going to put our resources behind it.

Alix Sternberg: Well thank you so much.

Coordinator: As a reminder please limit to one question. The next question is from Amanda Hamilton,

Amanda Hamilton: Hi all, thank you so much for doing this call today.

Jason Katims: Sure.


Amanda Hamilton: ...everything, this really is an honor and a pleasure to be speaking to all three of you.

Ron Howard: Okay.

Amanda Hamilton: My question is for Ron, I was wondering how working on this Parenthood has been different than working on the last Parenthood other than the cast?

Ron Howard: Well I haven't had to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning one single time. And really I'm an Exec Producer along with Brian Grazer and David Nevins and I really am on that side of it. And, you know, quite frankly if somebody has a question I answer it, you know, maybe once or twice I threw in an opinion from the distance but this is Jasonís show.

And I'm, you know, and I'm totally supportive of it. But he doesn't need - he honestly doesn't need my help. Itís there should he ever. But - so itís been a very different experience. But the other nice thing is, you know, I get to really enjoy those episodes.

Well I read scripts and I have an idea where the show is going. But itís going so well that, you know, I'm just - I'm just proud.

Amanda Hamilton: Excellent. Thank you so much guys.

Ron Howard: You bet.

Jason Katims: Thank you.

Coordinator: Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel.

Hal Boedeker: Hi. My question is for Ron Howard. You grew up in television, I'm wondering where you think television is today? Are you excited by it?

Ron Howard: Well I am excited about it. Look, you know, thereís more going on and so there are more opportunities to stub your toe along with, you know, doing something really special. But I think that cable TV and the series - the short, you know, 12 and 13 episodes a season cable shows have really been great for the medium because I also think it sort of challenges the more traditional network shows in exciting ways.

And, you know, and just as a an I love the variety that you find on TV. I think that, you know, from an acting standpoint and a writing standpoint it's, you know, itís pound for pound the best work in the world is going on in that medium.

Hal Boedeker: Better than the movies?

Ron Howard: Best creative opportunities...

Hal Boedeker: Better than the movies.

Ron Howard: I think so, yeah on average hour by hour. It's, you know, itís - you can take more risks right now in the current climate on television shows than you can in movies in some instances.

I mean, filmmakers are always out there trying to find ways to, you know, to be bold and to do things that are - that, you know, explore things from new perspectives but they either, A, don't really have the time or, you know, itís hard in this climate to get the financing for something that feels, you know, like itís really breaking the mold.

Studios are, you know, more conservative than ever about the kind of choices that they want to make. And they have their sort of, you know, fiscal responsibilities to attend to. And I'm not, you know, I understand it. But I feel like thereís more experimentation going on in TV and thatís yielding some really great - some really great breakthroughs.

Hal Boedeker: Thank you.

Ron Howard: Okay.

Coordinator: Megan Masters, E! Online.

Megan Masters: Hi guys, thank you so much for doing this today. Sorry to have to be the one to ask this but Jason we were hoping maybe we could get some kind of reaction or thoughts on the announcement - unofficial announcement yesterday that this would be the end - or Season 5 would be the end of Friday Night Lights.

Jason Katims: Well, I mean, I think the - first of all I would say - I would use unofficial.

Megan Masters: Yes.

Jason Katims: The show hasn't been canceled yet. You know, I mean, look Friday Night Lights is a show that has been, you know, struggling to stay on the air from the second episode of the show. And we will, you know, do, you know, a minimum of five seasons.

And, you know, the thing is truthfully we are just - we just finished our fourth season of the run on DirecTV and are premiering our fourth season on NBC, have not yet premiered it, you know, until April 30. And then we have an entire, you know, another year to go that we are just starting to break the stories on.

So, you know, to me I feel itís early, itís early yet. Of course if it winds up being the final season of - this next year winds up being the final season of the show then I will, you know, you know, feel very, very lucky and grateful that we were able to do, you know, as many episodes of a show that I - that is so dear to my heart.

So but, you know, as I said there hasn't been any official, you know, decision about that yet. So, you know, you know, and itís still, you know, itís still, you know, I mean, itís weird that that would happen when literally weíre breaking stories for, you know, for a new season that we haven't even started to shoot yet.

So I think, you know, I just don't want to - I just don't want it to seem like, you know, itís - the show is over. You know, there was a period of time between, you know, the second season and the third season where we were cancelled, you know, the show was gone.

And the show wound up coming back. So, you know, I don't, you know, itís - thereís nothing official yet.

Coordinator: (Liz Scordo), Yahoo! TV.

Liz Scordo: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time. Jason I know you mentioned re-imaging the show a little earlier. Can you guys talk about what the process was like creating characters based on characters from the film but also with new characteristics?

Laurenís character, you know, the fact she married a deadbeat musician with a drug problem makes her very different than Diane who had married a successful dentist. And then maybe Lauren you could also talk about playing a role based on an existing one.

Jason Katims: Well what I was given - the gift that I was given by Ron and Brian when I set out to do the show was complete freedom. You know, whatever I wanted to do that I should do however closely or - I wanted to follow any of the characters or format of the movie or not ,was really completely left in my hands.

And when I started to sit down to do the work I, you know, felt that I kept gravitating back toward some, you know, toward a significant amount of the structure of the movie. Because as I said earlier I thought that it just was really sort of a - in a weird way it a wonderful movie but in a weird way it was sort of the perfect model for a television show.

And - but what I also did was I basically went - what I did was I let the movie, you know, go after I saw it a couple times. And I didn't watch it again while I wrote it at all because I didn't - and honestly some of the stuff that people say oh that happened in the movie and it's, you know, the same kind of thing is happening in the show.

Some of the thing I didn't even realize you know what I mean because I didn't want to become too enmeshed in the movie. I mean, I thought it was important that I be inspired by it but I not be bound by it. And so but, you know, the truth is I did go, you know, when I was first starting to do it I went with some sort of radically different ideas and came back around to the structure of a lot of it.

In terms of the Sarah character, you know, you know, what, you know, basically - and really all of the characters, you know, what I was trying to do - what I wanted to do was just to make sure that I was going to do a, you know, write a pilot that was not only going to be, you know, entertaining and hopefully, you know, moving as the pilot, but to write something that, you know, was going to be, you know, setting up, you know, you know, 100 stories for all of these characters and, you know, not just one.

So, you know, in making these choices I wanted to try to, you know, and as Lauren was talking about before about a character that hadn't reached her potential, you know, I mean, to me thatís an interesting character. I mean, thatís a character you want to - and especially as Lauren is playing her - as somebody you are - want to follow and you want to see her, you know, you know, hopefully reach that potential.

And, you know, to me it's, you know, thatís the journey, thatís what you want to set up in a TV show. You want your characters to have not only the episode by episode journeys but you want to feel like theyíre on a longer journey as well.

Liz Scordo: And Lauren?

Lauren Graham: I didn't feel haunted by the movie. I just loved that movie and loved Diane Weist so much. And, you know, I would say it was way more frightening to play Adelaide in Guys and Dolls or something, you know, where people have ideas about what that character is based on, you know, previous performers.

And I know that, you know, the thing you can - and the thing you really must do in television is bring yourself to everything you do. You can't try to be anybody else, you know. So I loved how the show - you could feel the movie kind of in it but it didn't feel like a copy in any way.

So, you know, I feel like I could have watched the movie and still not, you know, been affected in a way in terms of what weíre doing. You really have to make it your own and kind of find your own way. But I do love Diane Weist so much.

Liz Scordo: Thank you. Thanks, guys.

Lauren Graham: Thanks.

Coordinator: (Terry Forsey),

Terry Forsey: Hi everyone.

Lauren Graham: Hi.

Terry Forsey: Jason, I have a question for you. I was kind of thinking, you know, having two shows on your plate that are so wonderful it must be kind of like juggling two children. Do you play favorites or does it feel like that to you?


Lauren Graham: Parenthood is his favorite.

Jason Katims: Yeah, I like to play one against the other. You know, no I - it is like that in a, you know, itís actually a good metaphor for what itís like; it is like two children, you know, and you can't, you know, and therefore, you know, you can't play favorites, you know.

And in this case itís - it is, you know, I love both shows so much and theyíre both so personal to me, you know. And when I first started doing it the very first day that I was in a writerís room on both shows it was - it was awful. It was like literally I would run from one writerís room to the other and saying, you know, literally, you know, I'll be right back, I'll see you in a little bit.

And then come back two hours later feeling like I had just cheated on my wife, you know. And then that was the first day and then honestly after that from the second day, you know, I sort of went home, I took a breath and figured okay I have to figure out how to do this.

And from the second day on for me itís actually been a wonderful experience and surprisingly exhilarating and, you know, and I don't know exactly why but itís actually - having both shows going on at once has helped me on, you know, each for each other. You know, and I don't know why itís given me somehow a little bit more perspective on things because you always get so entrenched in the show.

And so - and somehow, you know, itís helped to, you know, and plus I, you know, I could steal from one and, you know, and use it in the other. So itís always - itís that fantasy like in junior high school where you have - a paper to do in two separate classes and you try to figure out how do I write one paper.

Lauren Graham: Thatís so weird because Sarah has started playing football and I never understood why.

Jason Katims: I know, I don't understand that. So but in any case itís - itís been - and obviously itís different - the needs of both shows are different because, you know, Friday Night Lights is a show thatís been ongoing for, you know, for so long. And Parenthood itís always a, you know, itís - to start something new, you know, certainly, you know, it's, you know, you know, it requires a different, you know, different types of what I need to be doing, you know, everyday for it, you know.

But, you know, itís been enjoyable and no I swear to you I don't love one more than the other.

Lauren Graham: Except for Parenthood which you love more.

Terry Forsey: Thank you so much.

Jason Katims: Okay.

Lauren Graham: Thank you.

Coordinator: Robert Philpot, the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Robert Philpot: Hi. My question is for Jason. And it kind of goes back to the questions about the state of television and Friday Night Lights. I just wanted to get your thoughts about coming into what I perceive is going to be a tough timeslot with Parenthood because itís been a tough timeslot for NBC this year.

And your thoughts on the support that NBC has given you with Friday Night Lights which I think has been a little unusual.

Jason Katims: The support in what way? In terms of the...

Robert Philpot: The DirecTV deal.

Jason Katims: The DirecTV deal. Well, I mean, I mean, thatís two separate questions really, I mean, in terms of Friday Night Lights the, you know, the deal with, you know, DirecTV literally kept the show on the air.

And so to me it was, you know, just a wonderful experiment to be part of and one that I hope that, you know, if it winds up - if that business model is, you know, starts to be used for other shows - to keep other shows that are, you know, have a loyal fan base, you know, but not a big enough audience to keep those shows on the air. If that continues to happen with DirecTV or other outlets, you know, that would make it even sweeter for me, you know, that, you know, that Friday Night Lights was, you know, was at the beginning of something.

Because, you know, there are so many shows that don't live as long as their creative lives should live because of, you know, just dollars.

In terms of Parenthood, in terms of our timeslot, you know, I don't know enough honestly about the - about that world to know, you know, you know, whatís a good timeslot and what isn't other than to know, you know, every time you get a timeslot and then you really start looking into it youíre thinking wow, you know, that ain't easy, because there are no, you know, you know, either youíre going to have a timeslot where nobodyís really tuning in which isn't good or it is a good hour and, you know, you've got a lot of difficult competition.

You know, I do think that, however, I mean, the one thing I would say is NBC is I think being extremely, you know, supportive of the show with their marketing and campaign and putting a lot of their, you know, have really put a lot of thought into it.

And, you know, I think in trying to launch us, you know, in launching us after, you know, the Olympics where they know theyíre going to have a lot of, you know, viewers and viewers that, you know, I think would be, you know, you know, potentially people who watch the show I think thatís going to be really helpful.

And, you know, we have a really strong, you know, you know, lead-in which is always very helpful. And so, you know, I don't know what to expect. And - but, you know, I think theyíre giving us, you know, every chance to succeed.

Robert Philpot: Thank you very much for your time.

Coordinator: (Timal Jibari), TV Squad.

Timal Jibari: This is for Jason. I have actually a couple of friends and a lot of the online community just talks about how they really like the Taylors in Friday Night Lights and how they've been like this model of family life that you don't really see very much on TV.

Has that influenced kind of like why you decided to do Parenthood? I mean, they always say that Eric Taylor is like, you know, their model for what a husband should do. Is that kind of something that we'll see in Parenthood or will it be toned down a little bit?

Jason Katims: Well, you know, I think that one of the reasons why I want to do a show like Parenthood is my experience on Friday Night Lights. But itís a bunch of things, itís that, you know, you know, Friday Night Lights while itís theoretically about football to me isn't really about football - it is - itís a show about family.

And whether itís about a, you know, you know, in one sense truly a family like about a marriage but then also in terms of all these surrogate relationships between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters, etcetera that are created on that show.

So to me, you know, and the idea of doing, you know, that - telling stories about that - intimate stories about, you know, family and family-type relationships is the thing thatís most compelling to me about, you know, about, you know, and most enjoyable to me about, you know, what I've done on Friday Night Lights.

And so when it came time to start thinking about doing another show I wanted to continue to do that and continue to talk about that and thought Parenthood provided a really great opportunity to do that.

I think that, you know, the specifics of, you know, what you'll hopefully see in Parenthood is, you know, not exactly any, you know, exactly, you know, a marriage or whatever that would be precisely like, you know, whatís on Friday Night Lights.

But, you know, what you'll see, you know, hopefully are relationships and, you know, you know, both in marriages and, you know, relationships between parents and their children and brothers and sisters that will all feel I hope very, you know, you know, relatable and specific. And, you know, in the way that I think people, you know, sort of, you know, connect to, you know, that relationship on Friday Night Lights and those types of relationships on Friday Night Lights.

Timal Jibari: Great, thank you very much.

Jason Katims: Sure.

Coordinator: Reg Seeton, the

Reg Seeton: Hi guys, how you doing?

Lauren Graham: Hi.

Jason Katims: Good.

Reg Seeton: This is for Ron and Jason. Had Parenthood get off the ground as a sitcom 20 years ago do you think it would have had the same impact or significance in a different climate? Like is it better that you guys got more life experience with family?

Ron Howard: Well I came to believe that the half-hour model actually wasn't correct for the show. And so, you know, it would have either had to become a much broader show with sort of quick hits and almost sketches on parenthood or it needed to be what Jason came to us to talk about which was something that would really allow the characters to grow and evolve. And, you know, and worry less about framing up jokes and more about just reaching people in a way that resonated.

And in fact, you know, the movie was always intended as a comedy but the simple storylines were dramatic and even dark. And that was something that was impossible to work into the half hour without just, you know, taking over the episode and then suddenly it wasn't a comedy.

And so it was, you know, it really, you know, sort of - the growth of the family was kind of struggling there in that format. So, you know, we put it away and never considered bringing it back until Jason talked to us about it. But it was - I thought it was really - really a smart idea based on my previous experience with it.

Reg Seeton: And Jason?

Jason Katims: Well I mean, to me I think it really - it comes down to - the thing I was most excited about in doing this as a show was that we were going to be examining really four families - four very different families even though they were connected by, you know, being siblings and five families if you include, you know, the grandparents.

And to me that was the thing that was most exciting about it was that, you know, you would get all these different perspectives on family. And, you know, I just don't think that in sheer amount of time, you know, there would be enough time in a half hour to do that, you know, to, you know, to examine, you know, four families...

Ron Howard: And keep that balance going.

Jason Katims: And keep that balance going. You would have to start cutting it down and saying well, you know, you know, really have it focus mainly on one family and then maybe thereís a subplot with another family. And thatís just, you know, I mean, you know, I don't know that you can't do a show like that but in order to really honor what the movie was and hopefully expand on that vision of what the movie I think, you know, to me the hour format, you know, you know, really is necessary.

Reg Seeton: Ron, just really quick, how did Andy, Marion and Tom all contribute to your view of parenthood and family?

Ron Howard: Well I had a pretty solid family situation, I was blessed with that. And so, you know, while I had nothing but admiration and love for those - for, you know, for, you know, all - for Andy and of course he was an incredibly significant figure in my life. But, you know, I never confused him as a father figure. But as a great sort of mentor, you know, definitely.

And I think that the way that I try to work as a director and the kind of emphasis that I put on scenes and characters and that kind of problem solving was really led by Andy. And the sort of environment that we had on that show and the way that the problem-solving was, you know, was approached and the, you know, and the work ethic that was involved in all that.

And so, you know, the meant a great deal to me. But, you know, when I was - in crunch time trying to figure out what Cheryl and I should do with one of our four kids my thoughts would go to my own father and mother and Cherylís to hers. And, you know, I wouldn't be thinking about an episode of a TV show I did.

Reg Seeton: My parents will love this answer by the way. Thanks guys.

Jessica Nevarez: Hi. Thanks everyone. Weíre unfortunately running out of time. Thanks again for joining and thank you to Ron and Lauren and Jason. If anyone has any follow-up questions or needs a copy of the pilot you can email me at And don't forget Parenthood premieres March 2, Tuesday, at 10:00 pm on NBC.

And thanks again everyone.

Lauren Graham: Thank you.

Jason Katims: Thanks.

Ron Howard: Thank you. Bye.

Jason Katims: Bye.

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