Archive for the ‘Emily Kapnek’ Category
Question: Do you know if Dalia will still be living with George next season on Suburgatory? I love that dynamic. I hope it doesn’t go away just because George and Dallas broke up. —Tania H
Ausiello: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds like it’s going away. “Dalia will really want to remain part of George’s world, but given what has gone on with her and Tessa, how realistic is that?” muses series creator Emily Kapnek. “It will be really hard for George to justify spending time with Dalia. It will hurt him probably to turn his back on her. Until Dalia and Tessa can reconcile, there really is no place for Dalia to go with that. I imagine that she would be really upset and hurt, and probably take some of this stuff out on Dallas, blaming her for the loss of Daddy Altman.”
Emily Kapnek started as an actor and was an editorial assistant at Backstage before going on to create the Nickelodeon show “As Told by Ginger” and to write for “Parks and Recreation.”
Your show has established actors but is also known for breaking talent, like star Jane Levy. To what do you credit your great eye?
I think acting. Studying the craft also made me a better writer; you understand what natural dialogue sounds and feels like. And when people come in and have their head around it, you really are able to tell.
Is it true you’ve had many small roles grow into much larger ones?
Chef Alan [Evan Arnold] had no lines in his first appearance, but we loved him so much we brought him back and gave him major story lines, and he has ended up playing Rex Lee’s boyfriend. Both Bunnie Rivera [Dallas’ housekeeper] and Maestro Harrell [Malik] started with one line and now are huge characters. If you come on and do a great job and we spark to you, we will find a way to bring you back.
Do you have any advice for performers and writers looking to be seen?
There are so many opportunities and venues to get your work out there and get in front of people. With the Internet and shorts and sites like Funny or Die, people really do see this stuff. Be motivated, a self-starter, someone who’s not waiting for an opportunity to come to you but going out and making your own destiny.
To say the introduction of Tessa’s mom on Suburgatory has been a long time coming is a little bit of an understatement.
“This was much later than we originally planned,” creator and showrunner Emily Kapnek tells TVGuide.com of the debut of Tessa’s long-gone mom Alex (played by Couples Retreat actress Malin Akerman). “We thought that we would get there by the [Season 1] finale and, at the same time, none of us were willing to rush that character in the door if we hadn’t found the right person. It was really, really difficult, but Malin is the total package.”
Wednesday’s Thanksgiving episode of Suburgatory(9:30/8:30c on ABC) serves up a big helping of family drama when Alex, who left town when Tessa (Jane Levy) was just a baby, comes to Chatswin and tries to connect with her daughter. “In comes this estranged parent that George thought was out of the picture. He’s dealing with all of the complicated feelings that come up with having to talk a good game and be supportive of something that he is highly skeptical about. He is really concerned about his kid getting hurt,” Kapnek says of the episode. “[George is] saying all the right things to Tessa. He’s doing all the right things, but you can just see right beneath the surface is all of this concern and doubt and anxiety.”
While MODERN FAMILY was busy stealing the spotlight, a little show called SUBURGATORY was quietly winning hearts with its tale of a father in need or parental guidance and a daughter who’s not quite as worldly as she thinks herself to be who go from city slickers to suburban dwellers. To find out what changes will hit the neighborhood in Season 2, we went to creator and executive producer Emily Kapnek!
Did the show’s success catch you off guard?
EMILY KAPNEK: I’m naturally a very pessimistic person and always much morecomfortable operating from a place of being prepared to fail versus being prepared to succeed, so it was a very pleasant surprise. When we premiered to pretty good numbers, I took my manager’s advice to keep my eyes on my own paper, focus on the work and try not to pay too much attention to everything happening around me, because it can
be fleeting as we all know.
How will the fact that Tessa (Jane Levy) spent her summer in New York impact her feelings toward Chatswin when she comes back home?
KAPNEK: It was a lot of fun for her to get to sort of dip her toe back into the New York City life, but I think more important than the landscape is the blossoming interest in her mom. This is all sort of her grandmother’s master plan, which is to reintroduce Tessa into their world. That will culminate with Tessa finally getting to meet her mom around the holidays. Ultimately, I think that one of the things that we’ve been keen on is getting to a place where Tessa gets to sample New York yet realize that maybe Chatswin is home. That lets us do a great story, where she comes back to suburgatory on her own terms, not thinking of it as exile anymore, but maybe that she belongs here.
Suburgatory — for our money, the best of ABC’s Wednesday-night comedy block — returns for its second season tonight at 9:30 Eastern. Creator and executive producer Emily Kapnek agreed to share a day in the very hectic life of a showrunner on the eve of her season premiere. We also probably need to mention that ABC and Grantland are both owned by Disney.
Tuesday, October 16, 6:45 a.m. Wake up thinking about Hershel and the amputation and why, in my mind, that really shouldn’t work. I mean, it’s not a fucking snake bite, right? Look over at my husband. He’s up too, mulling over his 36-point loss in the NBA 2K13 game he played last night. We spend some time talking about what went wrong and identify the wireless controller/possible lag time as a culprit in his loss. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
7:15 a.m. Watch my older son eat Cinnamon Life cereal and Mucinex. Try to think about what might make it a more well-rounded breakfast. Sausage? Turkey sausage? He asks, “Mom, did kids wear ‘Jesus pieces’ when you were little?”
7:35 a.m. Google-image-search “Jesus pieces.” Nope, kids didn’t wear these when I was little.
“Suburgatory” ended its first season with single dad George (Jeremy Sisto) letting his daughter Tessa (Jane Levy) spend the summer in New York City — the place he fled in the pilot — and also letting down his guard a little about Tessa’s long-absent mother.
Season 2, which premieres Wednesday (Oct. 17) on ABC, brings Tessa back to Chatswin, but she’s carrying a lot of new feelings about her mom. (Malin Akerman has been cast in the role and will appear later in the season.)
Even though she doesn’t really know her mother, Tessa feels a pretty strong connection — so much that in the season premiere, she takes up the guitar after listening to some music her mom recorded years earlier.
Series creator Emily Kapnek says she and her fellow writers want to play out the “fascination” Tessa has with her mom.
“Being so removed from her mom for all these years, it was sort of easy [for Tessa] to shut it off and not really fixate on it,” Kapnek tells Zap2it. “Somehow in staying with her grandmother and being able to go through lots of her mom’s things, or look at these old photos, it kind of just awakens in her a curiosity that continues to grow this season. It really throws George for a loop.”
If that sounds like kind of a heavy subject for a half-hour comedy to be tackling, it is — but “Suburgatory” has mixed in dramatic moments in the past without letting it overwhelm the funny parts. And the season premiere has its share, including an ongoing battle between new dad Noah (Alan Tudyk) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) over the services of Dallas’ maid Carmen (Bunnie Rivera) and the Shay family rehearsing a scene from “Cats” for Chatswin’s annual Fall Follies.
Even with all that, though, Chatswin feels a little less cartoonish than it did early in the show’s life. Kapnek says that’s deliberate. She wanted to “grow up” the show’s look a little in part because the show has a later timeslot — 9:30 p.m. ET, following “Modern Family” – and in part because George and Tessa are getting used to their weird, no longer brand-new home.
When SUBURGATORY’s second season kicks off next week, fans will have a lot of guest stars to look forward to. And now, there are a few more to add to the mix!
This season, viewers will meet Malik’s parents, Edmond (played by SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE vet Tim Meadows) and Tracy (Paula Newsome) in the seventh episode of the year.
“We meet them in the Thanksgiving episode,” SUBURGATORY creator Emily Kapnek told me today during a table read for the eighth episode of the season. (Where Meadows and Newsome will make their second appearance on the show.)
While what they’re doing in the episode I saw is top-secret, Malik’s father is described as a “strong patriarch of a close-knit family.” He also apparently favors Chatwsin for the schools, not the people, which means I’m really hoping he has an awesome scene with Rex Lee’s Mr. Wolfe.
But they’re not the only guest stars you can expect in the eighth episode of the year.
“We have Steve Little from EASTBOUND AND DOWN who is guesting as Dalia’s dance teacher,” Kapnek teased. “I think we have such a dream team here and our ensemble is so strong, that we take these opportunities when we have these fun roles that come up, and try and expand that even further. Who’s on our dream list, who’s our pie in the sky names, and obviously we’re just such huge fans of [Little's] and reached out to see if he’d be willing to come hang out with us, and this is his first day shooting. So I’m very excited…It’s always so exciting when we fold new comedic energy into this group of people and see it expand even further. I feel like it’s an embarrassment of riches on set.”
And since Little’s actually playing a hip-hop dance teacher, I couldn’t resist asking Kapnek if that meant we’d be seeing him in an outrageous costume.
From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (killing characters off, dealing with agents), TV’s most influential writer-producers featured on The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners come clean about the people, things and quirky habits that keep them — and their shows — alive.
Emily Kapnek, Suburgatory, ABC
The show that inspired me to write:
Kapnek: I would have to say Saturday Night Live. I grew up watching and it blew my little mind.
My big break:
Kapnek: My first major writing job was doing my own animated series for Nickelodeon called As Told by Ginger. Believe it or not, I wrote the pilot script for a contest that Nickelodeon/Klasky-Csupo held. It came in first place– and we wound up doing 60 episodes.
My biggest accomplishment this year:
Kapnek: Creatively, I would say the season two pickup felt pretty amazing. I’ve always known not to count chickens before they hatch, but when they hatch it’s pretty exciting.
Comedy is a more important part of the television landscape than ever before, thanks in part to a generation of highly visible creators, writers, and executive producers who balance the work of maintaining a show’s artistic vision while also overseeing its day-to-day operations. In anticipation of the new fall TV season, The A.V. Club spoke to a handful of the people who’ve made the industry term “showrunner” a household word. Today, we talk to Emily Kapnek, creator of ABC’s Suburgatory.
Emily Kapnek had a rich, varied career in television writing—including gigs on Parks And Recreation, Hung, and Aliens In America—before she created the ABC sitcom Suburgatory, but it’s that show that’s launched her into the upper ranks of TV’s comedic showrunners. The series, about a father and daughter from New York City who move to the suburbs, underwent a steep and rapid learning curve in its first season, going from an enjoyable, diverting satire, to one of the best comedies on TV over the course of just 22 episodes. What began as an occasionally too-broad satire of suburban codes and mores grew into a deeply felt, often emotional comedy about figuring out where your home is and what it means to be a family. The series also boasts one of the most talented ensembles on TV, headed up by the unlikely pairing of Jeremy Sisto as George, the father, and Jane Levy as Tessa, the daughter. Suburgatory now confronts the challenge of moving after Modern Family, where ABC hopes its promising first-season performance will get an additional boost. (The show’s season premiere airs October 17th at 9:30 p.m. ET.) Kapnek sat down with The A.V. Club to talk about developing the characters in the series’ massive ensemble, the perils of reading everything people say about your show online, and the show’s changing visual focus in season two.
Note: Some minor spoilers for season two follow, but all are clearly marked.
The A.V. Club: The challenge for any comedy in its first season is to fill in the characters. You had such a huge ensemble to work through, so how did you prioritize that?
Emily Kapnek: It’s something we still struggle with in terms of [having] to decide which characters to focus on in which episodes, but we did have to inch everybody in every episode toward being a little more three-dimensional. I think it was probably most important for George and Tessa, that the biggest priority was realizing that where the show started was not where the show was going.
The pressure is on for Suburgatory this coming season. On-screen, the family comedy is preparing to introduce the long-gone mom of Tessa (Jane Levy) as well as finally put will-they-or-won’t-they couple George (Jeremy Sisto) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) together. Off-screen, the family comedy is in the hot seat (in a good way) after a last-minute bump on the fall schedule from 8:30/7:30c to the coveted post-Modern Family spot of 9:30/8:30c.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I should send [ABC Entertainment President] Paul Lee as a thank you gift,” creator and executive producer Emily Kapnek says. “It’s not just a huge opportunity, but a good fit. We were a little bit edgy at times for 8:30.”
When Suburgatory returns for its second season on Wednesday, Oct. 17, months will have passed since George’s girlfriend, Eden (Alicia Silverstone), went into labor with Noah’s baby and Tessa came face-to-face with her maternal grandmother. Since then, George has been dumped and Tessa has been spending quality time with her grandma in the Big Apple — a new development that will have big repercussions.
“We get to see in flashbacks her out in the clubs and getting that New York experience. She comes off the train and realizes that she has this renewed interest in her mom, and George tries to be respectful of that,” Kapnek says. “George reaches the realization like, ‘I’ve got to step back. She’s almost 17. … And at the same time, I think he’s very self-conscious about what the grandmother’s version of what happened is.”
Jokes Kapnek: “It’s really nice, complicated stuff for a half-hour comedy.”