Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
To his credit, Greg Garcia, creator/showrunner of the new CBS comedy The Millers starring Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale and JB Smoove, took the full hit for needing to recast two characters in the original pilot with new actors. Michael Rapaport and Mary Elizabeth Ellis had to be replaced with Jayma Mays and Nelson Franklin. And as Garcia explained during a TCA panel this morning promoting the show, it was all his fault. “It was 100% on me,” he said, “because those characters in the initial script were underdeveloped. I didn’t do a good enough job of conveying to the audience of who they are. I didn’t write funny enough material. My attention was on some other things in the pilot.” He said he apologized to the actors for his writing shortcomings and having to pay the price. “Things kind of have a snowball effect when you’re in testing,” Garcia went on, “and you just get past the point where there’s anything you can do. And that was very unfortunate for them that I was asleep at the wheel.” He believes he’s finally gotten a handle on the issues surrounding those recast characters “with the help of our writing staff. I think we’ve done a better job this time.”
Another area of the Millers pilot that Garcia took the blame for — albeit proudly — was the abundant number of fart jokes. It turns out that the producer is a big fan of flatulent humor. He defended, “We’re not going to do them every week, but fart jokes are funny. There’s really no arguing the fact that fart and shit jokes are funny and have their place on TV once in a while.” As an example, Garcia pointed to having recently attended AFI’s Mel Brooks life achievement fete alongside Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Morgan Freeman and others. Yet everyone in the distinguished crowd busted into hysterical laughter when a clip of the famed fart scene in the Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles was played on the screen. “So see, farts are just funny,” he maintained. “People love to laugh at them. In the next 8 or 9 scripts for the show, I don’t think (another) fart joke appears. But they will happen once in a while.” Alongside Garcia on the panel, however, Bridges noted that he personally would never consent to fart on the show, drawing uncontrolled laughter from Martindale.