I interviewed "Undateable" executive producer Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel at a noisy bar in Pasadena shortly before a press conference in mid-April.
Going back and transcribing the 35-minute interview is bittersweet.
At the time, Lawrence had two shows in limbo -- TBS' "Cougar Town" and FOX's newly premiered "Surviving Jack," which he EPed along with creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker. While Lawrence wasn't directly involved with "Enlisted," he has a close relationship with "Enlisted" and "Cougar Town" creator Kevin Biegel, whose comedy was newly shelved.
Since that time, "Enlisted" and "Surviving Jack" were both cancelled. "Cougar Town" was renewed for a final season on TBS.
At the time, Lawrence also wasn't feeling especially confident about "Undateable." The multi-cam sitcom, which features Chris D'Elia as seemingly cocksure ladies man Danny, who mentors the less confident Justin (Brent Morin) and his group of allegedly "undateable" friends.
"Undateable" had been announced for NBC's 2013-2014 slate at the May 2013 upfronts and went without a premiere date until spring. And when a premiere date was slated, NBC gave "Undateable" a launch on May 29, after the conclusion of the season. The network also announced plans to double-pump the comedy, airing two episodes per week.
Normally, that would be a sign of pessimism, but just because Lawrence wasn't confident doesn't mean he lacked confidence. A network veteran who burst onto the scene as a wunderkind on "Spin City," had a huge hit with "Scrubs" and has most recently been shepherding a series of protégées including Biegel, Halpern and Sztykiel, Lawrence has watched the TV business shift and watched the business of TV comedy shift and he's never been shy when it comes to holding court on Small Screen State of Affairs.
In this wide-ranging interview, Lawrence and Sztykiel talk about why they're not discouraged about "Undateable," why they think the show is special and why they think the cast is special. They also talk about TV ratings, the eternal battle between multi-cam and single-cam comedy and other industry shifts.
It's a huge interview -- 6200 words of transcribing -- but I think it's a good one... [And remember the timing of the interview as it relates to "Cougar Town," "Surviving Jack" and "Enlisted." Lawrence was hopeful on all three shows. Oh well...]