Two very different Fox shows each persevered against all odds to make it to air. The comedy Welcome to Flatch survived the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and the drama The Cleaning Lady adapted its story when they cast Élodie Yung. Talent from each show spoke on a panel for Deadline’s Contenders TV on Saturday.
The Cleaning Lady creator Miranda Kwok said she imagined her show would end up on cable. The show stars Yung as Thony, a Cambodian doctor who has to work as a maid in the U.S. Thony gets embroiled in a life of crime to provide for her son.
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“Originally I thought I would pitch this to cable and streaming because that’s where stories like this normally land,” Kwok said. “Warner Bros. said, ‘Let’s try network first because there’s a greater appetite for diverse stories.’ Fox was actually the first network we pitched. They scooped it up immediately and, again, embraced that it was a Southeast Asian character.”
Yung is half Cambodian and half French. She said the original role was written as a woman from the Phiippines. Yung said Kwok and the producers of The Cleaning Lady adapted the role to suit her.
“It’s the first time as a person, as an actress, I feel like I’m completely seen,” Yung said. “We had a lot of conversations to make it authentic. To have for the first time on broadcast TV, a lead character that is Cambodian, really it felt like I’m seen fully. It’s part of my roots. I’m also French but I feel like I have a little banner and I’m proud of that.”
Fox has renewed The Cleaning Lady for a second season. Kwok promises to push Thony into more moral gray areas.
“We’re definitely going to see a lot more grays with Thony and challenge her some more,” Kwok said. “A lot of circumstances are going to keep dragging her across the moral line. It’s just a matter of how far we go with her.”
Welcome to Flatch is an adaptation of the UK comedy This Country. Aa documentary crew films the residents of a small town. Sean William Scott plays Father Joe, a former Christian rock star who is now the town minister. Holmes plays a local girl.
Flatch was filming for one day in March 2020 when they had to shut down. Creators Paul Feig and Jenny Bicks used that day to film enough footage to sell Fox on a whole season, which they completed when production was allowed to resume.
“Basically, they were realizing that we were going to have to shut down so they called all the cast back to set,” Holmes said. “They got as much footage as possible so they were able to make a sizzle reel.”
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Scott said the idea of a Christian boy band singer as a grown up minister was enough to sell him on the role. His mom likes it too, after Scott has played characters like Stifler in American Pie and a stoner in Dude, Where’s My Car?
“My mom, she’s a very strong Christian,” Scott said. “But when she heard I was going to play a minister, she was pretty psyched, especially after all the weird characters Iv’e played. I had to tell her I’m not really a minister. She’s like, ‘I don’t care. Praise the Lord.’ I can retire after this.”
Father Joe is more of a straight man than Scott has usually played in comedies.
“It’s fun to see this guy, he just can’t get over his glory days of being the lead singer of this band,” Scott said. “His life kind of went to sh*t afterwards. He was like, ‘I’m going to become a minister.’ All of a sudden he got a job and he’s in way over his head. He definitely operates at a different speed than other characters I’ve played.”
Check out the panel video above.
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