Anyone watching The Good Wife Q&A at PaleyFest tonight might not have learned a whole lot new about CBS’ lawyer/political drama, but they did get to watch one of James Corden’s final dress rehearsals before becoming host of CBS’ Late Late Show in about two weeks.
“We have to talk about Josh Charles. What the f*ck?” Corden demanded to know of The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, in re the sensational killing off of Charles’ character last season.
Robert King explained Charles’ contract was up and he wanted to leave.
“So it was HIS fault. It made me love you and hate you at the same time,” Corden said.
The reaction to the murder of Charles’ character “speaks to the strength of what we do over the course of 22 episodes over five years,” cast member Christine Baranski said, adding that the audience doesn’t “get that from shows that are shorter runs.”
“What is it about you that makes great characters die?” Corden asked, turning to series star Julianna Margulies.
“It’s so sad, really,” Margulies joked.
“What is it about you that makes men go, ‘I can’t do this anymore?’ ” Corden retorted.
“I think I make them look so good they go off and have great movie careers,” she shot back.
“Great answer,” Corden responded, approvingly. Still, he wondered why her Alicia character didn’t just find “the gumption” to leave Chris Noth’s Peter character.
“She’s such a strong character in every other aspect of her life. What makes her stick around?” he asked impatiently.
“Right now I think it’s this political arena. It really is a Bill and Hillary story right now –” she began.
The audience in the hall reacted to that news.
“That was such an interesting reaction,” Margulies marveled.
“That can’t have been a shock,” Corden scolded the crowd. “Someone in the back is going, ‘I just never thought of it! I see it now. I was thinking, ‘Where do they get these thoughts?’ ” he added, mocking the audience.
“At first it was her time to climb up the ladder in the law firm and having the governor as husband definitely helped get clients,” Margulies explained. “Now, in the political arena, they are a power couple.
“I would truly love to see her leave Peter,” Margulies said, to wild applause. “Wow, we have some Peter haters!” she joked.
Corden wanted to make sure the audience knew he’d co-starred with Baranski in the movie Into The Woods. So he asked her, “Christine, I absolutely loved you in Into The Woods. Who was your favorite person on the set? And why did you love being around him so much?”
“You…because you’re so funny. I cannot wait for your show, and I can’t wait to be a guest. Next question,” Baranski joked, knowing she’d been used.
When Corden asked who they’d like to see guest on The Good Wife, Baranski went with Alan Rickman, because she has a crush on him; Margulies went with Alfred Molina because she’s a “little obsessed with” him; and Matt Czuchry went with “Ryan Gosling or Chris Pine” — who’d played Cinderella’s Prince Charming in Into The Woods.
“You don’t want to work with Chris Pine. He’s a nightmare,” responded Corden who, in the end, was reduced to flat-out asking if he could guest on The Good Wife. “I want to play a really disgusting sex fiend,” he said.
Corden exuded confidence handling the substantial crowd at the Dolby Theater. When someone in the audience asked Margulies if she was ever going to get laid on the show, Corden shot back, “Said like a true Australian man!”
The next question came from a guy in the crowd who was dressed head-to-toe in denim. Corden noted his “double denim” look, saying, “Not many people could pull that off, but you are working it.” (The denim riff, which seemed spontaneous, was lifted from his faux ad libbing in One Man, Two Guvnors, the Broadway comedy that won him a Tony Award and made him a bankable U.S. star.) “From a distance you look like Jay Leno on his day off,” said Jay Leno On Holiday Guy, wondering why CBS never had ordered any Good Wife spinoffs.
“This show has a very intelligent, specific audience that is not as wide-ranging as CBS would like,” Robert King said diplomatically, noting NCIS’s multiple spinoffs. “The difficulty is they want shows that have a wider appeal,” King said, adding “We would be open” to the idea. “Talk to CBS. Maybe they’d be up for it,” King suggested to the audience member.
Corden jumped in smoothly when a particularly awkward question was lobbed by an audience member, who wondered what it was like for the show creators, and for Margulies, to know their first choice for her role had been Helen Hunt. “These things are always the case, with every single project,” he said. “Any part I get has been offered to Brad Pitt. And I know that and he knows that and it’s not awkward. It’s just the way it is.”
That gave Margulies time to collect her thoughts and respond that while at first she thought it a little strange to “think you’re sloppy seconds,” but her agent had reminded her all that matters is what the audience sees — “No one’s going to to know.” “Well now they do,” she joked, saying that, ultimately, she decided, “It’s important what you bring to it, because you’re the first person doing it.”