“Cougar Town” makes its move from ABC to TBS on Tuesday, premiering its fourth season, and Busy Philipps couldn’t be happier.
The 33-year-old actress recalled in a recent interview how the cast was assured by creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence that the comedy wouldn’t be canceled, but he couldn’t elaborate.
Some of her co-stars were taping TV pilots for other possible jobs, Philipps said. “But I’m at ICM, which handled the deal with ‘Cougar Town,’ and TBS, and (co-star and Lawrence’s wife) Christa Miller is also with them. Both our agents were like, ‘No, you’re not gonna do any pilots.’ So that was a little suspicious. They knew something we didn’t know.”
Lawrence has a history of keeping his critically acclaimed — but maybe not ratings-magnet — shows alive. His comedy “Scrubs” aired for seven seasons on NBC before switching to ABC.
With “Cougar Town” now on cable, Philipps said the writers are able to push the envelope a little more. “There was one joke in particular by another character that Standards and Practices wouldn’t let us air when we were on network and I was so bummed when it was cut from the script and it made it into the show this year, so I was really excited about that.”
Still, she cautioned, “Cougar Town” is on a basic cable station. “It’s not HBO. I’m not having ‘True Blood’-type sex scenes.”
Philipps said she enjoys showcasing her comedic chops.
“I was always a very quirky kid. I remember very early like fourth or fifth grade doing pratfalls to make my friends laugh, like falling on the ground on the playground and doing like bits and characters,” she said.
On “Cougar Town,” Philipps plays Laurie Keller, a real estate assistant to Courteney Cox’s Jules, who has infiltrated her group of friends. She’s fun-loving, ditzy and has a history of one-night stands.
Philipps said she does “nerd out” by challenging herself to make each of Laurie’s outrageous stories or comments sound different from the one before.
The actress, who is expecting her second child, said the pregnancy has made her forgetful.
“I had a major case of pregnancy brain and had accidentally stolen my friend’s car keys and put them in my purse and left my cellphone at her house, and I was explaining to my husband in the kitchen that I needed him to go back and get my stuff, and my daughter (4-year-old Birdie), we didn’t even know she was listening, said, ‘Mama, I think that baby in your tummy is makin’ ya crazy.’ Perfectly sums it up!” she said.
I have just updated our photo gallery with 42 HQ and MQ images of Busy Philipps from all the events she has attended so far this year. There is photos from the Turner Broadcasting’s 2013 TCA Winter Tour as well as images of Busy out in New York City earlier today at “Good Morning America” and SiriusXM.
Earlier today, Busy Philipps was interviewed on “Good Morning America”. You can watch her interview in the video below!
The Cougar Town team kicked off the winter Television Critics Association press tour by serving mimosas to a ballroom of bleary-eyed critics. Sure it’s only 9 a.m., but this is the alkie-friendly Cougar Town on stage so let the party begin.
Here’s six notable quotables from the panel, with the Cougar Town team pledging Courteney Cox cleavage, some barechested Josh Hopkins and a “naked day” episode.
– Co-creator Bill Lawrence expressed more appreciation for TBS rescuing the show for a fourth season, along with some playful knocks on his former network ABC. “I don’t know if you’ve seen them but there’s commercials for this show now, it’s insane,” he says. “Go to New York and you’ll see the [ABC] Don’t Trust the B— posters they’re right next to ours.”
– Lawrence and the cast repeatedly emphasized that fans shouldn’t notice any difference in the show compared to previous seasons. “I want them to notice no difference,” Lawrence says. EXCEPT… “One difference is Courteney did declare this year the year of her cleavage,” he says. Adds Cox: “You will not see one scene where I don’t show my boobs.” Lawrence also joked, “the big difference is we’ve shifted from Brian Van Holt not wearing his shirt all the time to Josh Hopkins not wearing his shirt all the time. I think that was probably TBS’ only big note.”
– TBS wasn’t interested in changing the show’s much-debated name. The network’s head of programming Michael Wright said: “Cougar Town had become part of the humor… why change something that we all appreciate that’s part of the show’s humor … why [move away] from all the marketing that had already been done [in support of the show].” Lawrence says he’s embraced the title at this point.
– One upcoming storyline will feature Jules Cobb (Cox) having a “naked day” to liven up her marriage to Grayson Ellis (Hopkins). “One day in trying to keep our marriage alive we have a naked day,” Cox says. “There happens to be only one spot in the whole house where I can stand and the light comes in at all angles; step out of it, disgusting.” Lawrence says the idea was from a writer on staff who tried such a themed day with his wife. “It was sexy for about five minutes and then it was just two middle aged people standing around naked,” Lawrence says.
– Expect the show to also keep a focus on a possible romance between Laurie (Busy Philipps) and Travis (Dan Byrd). “We build toward something by the end of the year,” Lawrence teases. Meanwhile Laurie’s boyfriend returns from Afghanistan, “So no I longer have to have cybersex … I get to actually make out with him in real life,” Philipps says.
– Lawrence says he wasn’t worried about having Jules get married despite the TV curse of shows declining in the ratings once a potential lead couple pairs up. “I don’t believe in TV curses — Cut to: ‘Cancelled? [After] one episode?’” Critics laugh. “I think it’s just as big of a burden to do will-they-or-won’t-they when so many people have done it so well … once we decided the show is about adult friendship … it felt like the organic thing to do.”
The cast and crew of Cougar Town graced the stage Friday with a new energy.
“There are commercials for the show now. It’s insane,” quipped co-creator Bill Lawrence of his cult comedy, which will move from ABC to TBS for its fourth season Jan. 8. The comment, made at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, came after three years on broadcast, where Lawrence was often vocal about the lack of promotion his little watched critical darling garnered.
Lawrence — who stepped down as showrunner but remains a hands-on executive producer — and his cast went to great lengths to insist that Cougar Town’s viewers will get the same show that they have enjoyed for the past three seasons. The goal, he noted, is that the series’ audience will be able to watch reruns years from now and not be able to tell the difference between a season three episode and a season four episode.
To hear new showrunner Ric Swartzlander tell it, TBS executives had said they wanted him to come in and provide the series that his predecessors, Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel, had delivered. “They were basically like, ‘Don’t screw it up. We don’t want to put your fingerprints on the show at all, and I think I pulled that off,’ ” he joked of his mandate. That the cast of the ABC Studios-produced series has remained intact has made that that much easier for Swartzlander, whose fourth season will focus on such storylines as Jules (Courteney Cox) and Grayson’s (Josh Hopkins) adjustment to married life and the evolving relationship between Laurie (Busy Phillips) and Jules’ son, Travis (Dan Byrd).
As for that pesky title that has long been the subject of digs – even Cougar Town’s title cards take jabs at a name no longer representative of the series’ premise — there was never any serious consideration to changing it in the move to cable. According to the network’s entertainment chief Michael Wright, doing so would be risky, particularly since they’re already asking viewers to find the series at a new time on a new network. What’s more, he said: “The title itself is part of the show’s humor.”
Lawrence suggested that he and his team now wear the title as a badge of honor. “Being filled with self-loathing is a characteristic of 90 percent of comedy writers anyway,” he added to big laughs, acknowledging that they have embraced the poor title after all of these years. “It’s an amazing title. I’d do it again.”
Busy Phillips returns to TV Tuesday as the single, cocktail-loving best friend of Courteney Cox on Cougar Town (10 ET/PT, TBS). In real life, this married mom (who is pregnant again) enjoys baking for daughter Birdie, 4. She chats about her sweet life.
Second banana: “Before my daughter was born, I used to say ‘I want to be the lead in the movie.’ Now I say ‘I want to be the best friend.’ I want to make it to gymnastics Tuesday and Thursday.”
Secret talent: “I make these intricate 3-D sculptural cakes. … For [Birdie’s] third birthday, she had a 3½-foot-tall Rapunzel tower cake. It was pretty incredible. It used to be my secret talent but the secret got out with Twitter.”
How to be a slim baker: “Chew gum while you’re baking so you don’t taste.”
Guilty pleasure: “I do love to eat cookie dough.”
Husband’s secret talent: “My husband is an amazing chef. If you ask our daughter she’ll say, ‘Momma can only really cook breakfast and cakes.’”
TV habit: “I do love cuddling in bed way too early and watching House Hunters International [HGTV]…. I love thinking about buying a second home in Belize, or some crazy location, like the south of France. I also love seeing what’s important to people and the way they live [and] how people in other countries live.”
Mom/daughter activity: Disneyland visits. Birdie “is at that age where it’s real to her. It’s magical.” Phillips once worked the toy circuit as a real-life Barbie.
Must-have in your fridge: “Since having a kid, it’s milk. Also weirdly hummus and cucumbers, very Mediterranean in our house; and we have to have Tortilla Land Uncooked Flour tortillas,” says the native of Oak Park, Illinois who was raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. “They make the best breakfast burritos.”
Gadget girl, not: “[The] iPad saves my life for traveling: you can have your TV shows, movies, books on one little device. The buck stops there for me.”
Fast Food runs: “We have a couple of rules: If you need fast-food burgers, it’s only In-N-Out in my house. Fast food Mexican, we’re kind of a little bit lax: Chipotle; Baja Fresh; we do it all. Birdie loves El Pollo Loco.”
Reading to Birdie: Little House on the Prairie. “I was totally sobbing at the end of the second chapter when I thought the dog had died. … But the dog comes back — don’t worry.”
Grown-up reading: “I just read, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? [Maria Semple] and now I’ve been reading some parenting books — Between Parent and A Child [Dr. Haim Ginott.] I try to get information on what I can do better, how I can improve.”
Favorite reality shows: Top Chef and Top Chef Masters because I love seeing the people who are at the top of their game and to get to know some of these famous chefs’ personality is really cool especially if you are into food and restaurants; Project Runway; The Amazing Race. My husband and I have an ongoing debate about whether we would win or kill each other. I think we would win.”
Crafty girl: “You’re going to make fun of me. I have a crafting room. I like doing felt projects. For Birdie’s birthday this year, I sewed little felt crowns for all the kids coming, and then they could decorate it with glitter, sequins and glitter glue to be their own beautiful, sparkly crown. We make our own snow globes using jam jars. Hot-glue a plastic animal onto ’em, add glycerin and water. It’s so easy and fun.”
Raise your wineglass in celebration and pound some grape as Cougar Town returns for Season 4 on its new home, TBS, beginning Jan. 8 (Tuesdays at 10pm ET/9pm CT). Early last year when ABC was waffling with the series’ future, TBS made an enthusiastic bid for the quirky comedy, winning over the show’s executive producers and landing them a permanent prime-time slot on the network that’s all about “very funny.”
The series follows once-divorced-now-newly-remarried (as of the Season 3 finale) fortysomething Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox), her extended family of dysfunctional, lovable neighbors, and their overindulgences with wine and the oddities of life. Busy Philipps, who plays Jules’ protégé Laurie, was in between hair and makeup when she jumped on the phone to talk to us about the new season.
“It’s kind of incredible, really amazing to get this new life as a show in its fourth season. Nothing has changed,” Philipps says, in regards to the move to TBS. “No one is taking pay cuts, no budget crunches around the set — basically we’re doing the same show. Writers are pushing the envelope with their goofy storylines and the situations our characters get into. … When we came back to work in August, it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat.”
Season 4 picks up with Jules and Grayson (Josh Hopkins) dealing with the dynamic shift of being married. “They have this whole thing about setting precedents once you’ve gotten married,” Philipps shares. “If you bring me a cup of coffee in the morning, you always have to bring me a cup of coffee in the morning — you have set that precedent.”
Now that they are living under the same roof, Grayson needs to sell his house, which means a good opportunity for new neighbors in the cul-de-sac. As for who that could be, Philipps shares a little. “I will say that we had a fabulous guest star appearance by Miss Shirley Jones. It was kind of incredible to have television royalty stop by, so hopefully she’ll be back. I think maybe she will.”
As for Laurie and Travis’ (Dan Byrd) ongoing flirtations, Philipps says that this season the two will have some definite ups and downs. “She does have this boyfriend who is great and amazing, so that does cause a bit of conflict for her and Travis.”
Cougar Town returns on Jan. 8 at 10pm ET/9pm CT on TBS.