Considering The New Normal is about a gay guy named Bryan who runs a show called Sing, Glee creator Ryan Murphy gets most of the credit for putting stories from his real life on the NBC comedy. But don't forget about co-creator Ali Adler (formerly of Glee and Chuck) who does just as much of the heavily lifting, especially considering Murphy is spread as thin as Jennifer Hudson in her Weight Watchers commercial. "It's a true partnership," Adler says, adding that the show may seem to be crafted from Murphy's home life, but she is a mother raising children with another mother, so her normal is pretty new to most people too. "I think less than same gender parents, [the show is] about all parents. Every story is about everyone's story and the struggle to have a family."
So far the struggle to find a family — at least for Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), their surrogate Goldie (Georgia King), her daughter Shania (Bebe Wood), her grandmother June (Ellen Barkin), and Bryan's assistant Rocky (NeNe Leakes) — has been a hit with viewers, and after tonight's "mid-season finale" (God, I hate that term) the show has been picked up for a full first season for NBC. So, what can we expect from tonight, the show's first Christmas — I'm sorry — holiday episode?
"When you start having children, all the traditions you've come to expect shift a little bit," Adler says. "So it's about when you bring a baby into a home while preparing for the holidays, and dealing with the loss of the things in the past you might not get to do in the future. But then there are all the wonderful things that come along with having a child."
But speaking of holiday episodes, because of Hurricane Sandy, NBC preempted The New Normal, and we never got to see the show's Halloween episode and all of the elaborate costumes that went along with it. "That was so sad for our crew and our makeup team," Adler says. "The actors were in the chairs for hours getting all these prosthetics done. We'll figure out a way to bring it to people in the future. Shania was Honey Boo Boo." (Between Honey Boo Boo, Little Edie Beale, and Cher, is there a gay icon that Shania hasn't dressed as?) "It's such a special episode. What the audience missed is the resolution about the custody of Shania. Her father came down from Ohio and saw what an amazing mom Goldie is, and what an amazing family they are building in LA, and decided to stay and in his own way become another parent. Instead of pulling the family apart he became a part of this new family."
But we don't really want to hear about the episodes we missed — we want to hear about what to expect in the future. "We're going to get a visit from Matt Bomer, who is an amazing actor and hilarious. He plays Bryan's ex-boyfriend," Adler says about the openly gay Magic Mike actor's first openly gay role. "We're talking about all the stages of being pregnant and baby showers and a wedding for these guys. There should be some big surprises in there." But what about the biggest surprise of them all: the baby? Adler is coy about whether or not Bryan and David's son will be born by the season finale in May.
Adler says there won't be any more Real Housewives joining Miss Leakes on the show, but we'll see more of Sing, and Bryan and Rocky's work life. Adler hopes that they'll get to show off their cast for years. "I hope even more people start to watch the show," she says. "We're excited to bring fresh characters and a new perspective to the comedy genre. We have so many stories to tell, and it's hard because we have this limited number of episodes. Hopefully we'll have a lot of episodes in the future to tell all these stories. We're so excited to figure out ways to showcase our talent." And that talent is much more than just Mr. Ryan Murphy.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Neil Jacobs/NBC; Trae Patton/NBC]
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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Next up is ABC's submarine show that definitely isn't the same as Lost, okay? Last Resort sails into its Thursday night slot Sept. 27, and we'll let you know just what kind of training you'll need before diving in. New show: Last Resort Network: ABC Premiere Date: Sept. 27 at 8 PM ET Stars (including Scott Speedman, in case you missed that): Some of us have been waiting to see Ben Covington (thief of Felicity’s fragile, baby bird of a heart) return to TV, and now he has. Welcome aboard, Mr. Speedman. Also, Andre Braugher of the now defunct Men of a Certain Age stars with support from Autumn Reeser and Robert Patrick, an appearance from Glee’s beloved Karofsky (Max Adler), and a handful of other folks whose names we’ve yet to learn. Street TV Cred: It’s from Shawn Ryan, the TV wizard who brought us The Shield and the fantastic, yet wildly undervalued, Terriers. He knows his way around a good drama. What you’ll have to give up to watch it: It airs on Thursday night at 8 PM, also known as one the toughest slots on television. Your DVR only allows you to record two shows, so what’s going to get the boot? Last Resort is up against five network series: 30 Rock (Weekend Update until the election), Up All Night, The X Factor, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men. You’re going to need some time to think about this. I’m going to give you a minute while the rest of us enjoy this GIF: So it’s about a submarine? What else?: Well, there’s a crew on the submarine. They’ve all got their individual problems, but no one has bigger problems than XO Sam Kendall (Speedman) and Captain Marcus Chaplain. Sam is unbearably separated from his brand-new, adorable wife and Marcus just lost his son, and of course both of them are faced with a challenge when the sub receives a questionable order to fire on Pakistan. Cue the disconnect between the upper eschelon of government commands and the crew of the U.S.S. Colorado. And it’s not long before the U.S. gives Sam and Marcus an excuse to start their own rebellion on a faraway island. That’s really all the information you should really know before getting into it; twisting your brain into a pretzel as you learn everything else is half the fun! Imma let you finish, but: Before you decide you don’t like it because it’s “super leftist because the sub crew is fighting the government” or “far right because it’s a commentary on how unhappy we are with the current (ahem, Obama) administration,” just stop. The series doesn’t take a political stance, but rather a human stance: Something up top isn’t working, so maybe we can fix it. Now, whether or not that is possible is a fate to be seen, but then again, that’s kind of the point. "Fashion" moment: Dudes (i.e. Speedman) look great in blue camou. Take heed, men. Wine and cheese pairing: Is there such a thing as military issue booze? Probably not. So try whatever run-of-the-mill red wine you can find and some sort of inoffensive cheese – something that a crew of navy guys could get into, like cheddar or pepper jack. Keep it simple, you’ll need most of your brain power to figure out how all these plot pieces fit together anyway. Who to watch with: Do you have a relative who was in the Navy? A neighbor? A friend who plays a lot of Call of Duty? Close enough. Invite them over. You’re going to have some questions. Who NOT to watch with: Any friend who often uses the phrase “It’s just a TV show” to justify blabbing over important dialogue. There’s a lot of it. How to justify watching: “This will all make sense eventually, right?” Also acceptable: "But Scott Speedman's in it!" What to wear while watching it: A snuggie. This is not a social event show. You won’t be inviting people over for cosmos and a little Last Resort after a gourmet dinner of foie gras and figs in a balsamic reduction. Go ahead, put on your sweats. You know you’ve been thinking about it all day. What to yell at the TV: “Wait, what? What’s going on?” And then, to yourself: “SHHHHH” because the next important plot point is about to be revealed. Cringeworthy moment: Washington lobbyist, Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser), making out with and straddling a nameless, hot guy in her underwear while describing the capabilities of the U.S.S. Colorado submarine like she’s talking dirty. Nothing gets a person all revved up like a giant, sandwich-shaped vehicle sending sonar pings into the watery abyss, right? Character to know: Did we mention Scott Speedman is on this show? And that he’s in charge and pining after his gorgeous wife who’s waiting for him back in the good ol’ U.S. of A? (Okay, okay. I'll stop.) Word to the wise: Seriously. When I say the plot is complicated, I mean it’s complicated. It’s got more moving pieces than a Transformer. My advice? Come into this show mentally prepared to listen, watch, and absorb. Put down the iPad (the half-naked lady who shows up in the first five minutes in will help), close your laptop, tell the friend you’re texting you’re going to be busy for an hour, and actually watch the episode. Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance of really understanding what this show’s about. Facial expression while watching: Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Mario Perez/ABC] More: 'Last Resort' EPs on 'Lost' Comparisons and Scott Speedman Romance Fun with Ratings: 'Vegas' Gamble Pays Off For CBS, No Luck For 'Mindy' and 'Ben & Kate' Get Ready for Tonight's Alien Invasion of 'The Neighbors' on ABC
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.