Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At tonight’s PaleyFest panel on Fox’s New Girl, star Zooey Deschanel revealed that this week the show is shooting a flashback episode that details how the main characters lose their virginity. While offering few specifics, creator and executive producer Liz Meriwether, who wrote the episode, said cryptically that Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, playing the scene as his overweight younger self, would be seen “in that dorm room moving through space a little bit. He gets very overzealous with some lube.” No clues were revealed about the other characters’ first-time experiences. Earlier in the session, Meriwether said the show’s writing process always includes some “real shit and some stupid shit,” and that this episode will fit that signature mold of combining the silly with emotions that are “beautiful and real.” The panel at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills included Deschanel; Meriwether; executive producers Brett Baer, Dave Finkel, Jake Kasdan and Katherine Pope; and cast members Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone.
Earlier this month the show was renewed for a third season, but there were plenty left to talk about regarding the remaining episodes this season. Panelists confirmed news reports that Episode 20, airing in a few weeks, takes the cast to Chicago after the death of Nick’s (Johnson) father. While again not revealing too many spoilers, producers said the episode would feature guest stars Margo Martindale (who died on Justified but won an Emmy for her role) as Nick’s mother and Nick Kroll as Nick’s brother. Also guest starring as Nick’s grandmother: Ellen Albertini Dow, who played the “rapping granny” in The Wedding Singer, variously reported to be either 94 or 99. The episode was directed by Kasdan, who said setting the show in Chicago and blending regulars with guest cast made this episode feel “like the pilot for a different show.” And he added that “Elvis shows up” — played by Deschanel.
The other big topic for this freewheeling panel was where this season’s surprise kiss between Jess and Nick might be headed. Producers and cast said they were not sure where they would take that storyline in Season 3 but that the kiss was inevitable at this stage of the game. Said Meriwether: “It felt like if we waited any longer it was going to feel, like, not true, not what would really happen.” In real life, she added, “they would have attacked each other a year ago.” Deschanel said the kiss was added in after the script had already been through the table read for “maximum surprise.”
In comparing the drawn-out sexual tension between the characters to that of other legendary love-hate couples on TV, Deschanel said she liked to think of the two characters as akin to Sam and Diane on Cheers. Dissolving into laughter, Meriwether added: ”We talk a lot about Carrie and Brody [on Homeland]”.
The producers confirmed the return of guest star Rob Reiner as Jess’ father (Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed her mother). They also teased the possible return of guest Dermot Mulroney and Nelson Franklin as CeCe’s (Simone) ex-boyfriend Robby.
When it comes to guest stars who get romantically involved with regular characters, Meriwether joked: “The relationships last about as long as the contract with the actor. When characters get other shows, it’s hard to keep love going.”