With the $15 million weekend opening of Sex Tape serving as exhibit A, it would be an understatement to say that romantic feature comedies have been in a sling creatively and at the B.O. for sometime. But for those TV creators who love the genre at Fox’s “Behind the Laughs” TCA panel, if romantic comedies are alive, then it’s on the small screen with such shows as Elizabeth Meriwether’s New Girl and Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project. Chalk the death of romantic comedy movies up to the staling of set premises like the sexy wedding planner who can’t get anybody or, as Kaling pointed out, “Matthew McConaughey falling into a cake.”
“They are so predictable, but that’s why I love them so much. I think they can be good, but they’ve been suffering for so long. I think the easiest way to your voice out there (for romantic comedies) is TV,” said Kaling whose next season of The Mindy Project dotes on her character’s relationship with long-love Danny (Chris Messina).
Meriwether pointed out that the current generation of single folks, unlike those protags portrayed in big screen romcoms, simply don’t to see any obstacles when hooking up. “As someone who loves the romantic comedy genre, I don’t think there’s a lot of space in the movie industry for the stories I want to tell: small stories that are honest and not about The White House being taken over by North Korean terrorists. Sorry, I just watched Olympus Has Fallen this morning,” said the New Girl creator. Meriwether explained that she will continue to keep her lead character Jess (Zooey Deschanel) single in season 4 as there”s more gas in the situation than when she’s dating Nick (Jake Johnson).
“It’s easier for me to write them as single people in the world trying to get laid. I had trouble figuring out the conflict and where the comedy was coming from in their relationship,” said Meriwether.
Declared Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Mike Schur, “The types of movies that Nora Ephron made, I don’t think they exist any more. That’s sad to me as I loved those movies. The new chapter of people who write movies for grown ups having relationships do it on TV.” Schur even pointed out that an action road movie such as 1988’s Midnight Run would have a hard time getting traction with movie executives now. “Today, that concept of a bounty hunter taking a mafia accountant cross-country would be a special event miniseries.”
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Serving as a complete, hysterical distraction throughout the entire Fox panel was Will Forte, sitting front and center, donning a Grizzly Adams-like beard for the new comedy that he’s the creator/writer/EP of, The Last Man on Earth. Will there be any women or children in Forte’s new show? “No, because I’m the last man on earth,” exclaimed the Saturday Night Live alum. Whether the beard will live or die on the show, well, Forte just couldn’t let that secret out of the bag.
Among the animated creators on the Fox panel, EPs Steve Callaghan and Rich Appel explained that the Simpsons Guy crossover event on Sept. 28 is essentially a one-hour Family Guy episode, written by their team; that they were lent The Simpsons characters. In addition, Liam Neeson will play himself on upcoming episode of Family Guy in which Peter brags that he can kick the actor’s ass. Meanwhile, Simpsons EP Al Jean revealed that The Simpsons-Futurama crossover episode scheduled for November is being overseen by team Simpsons. Jean also teased that Krusty the Clown might die in the Sept. 28 season opener.
Joked Jean, “Actually The Simpsons crossover we’re doing is with Scooby-Doo where they don’t find Casey Kasem’s body.” Also present on the Fox “Behind the Laughs” panels was Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Dan Goor and Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard.
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