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Going ‘Boys’ Crazy with Jordana Spiro

TBS, usually known for its syndicated reruns and movies, is going out on a limb, introducing two original programs into the fray, My Boys and 10 Items or Less. First up is My Boys, a refreshing Friends meets Diner comedy about a female sports journalist, PJ Franklin, whose best friends happen to be all guys. Hollywood.com got to chat with the show’s spunky new star Jordana Spiro (Must Love Dogs) about dealing with all that male testosterone from co-stars Kyle Howard, Jamie Kaler, Reid Scott, Michael Bunin and Jim Gaffifan.

HW: Are you indeed one of the boys?
Jordana Spiro: Oh yeah. It’s soooo easy to get along with those guys. Each one of them is so different but they are all such good people, have good hearts. Yeah, I got lucky, I’ll definitely say that.

HW: How did this project fall into your lap?
I did a pilot the previous year that didn’t get on its feet with [My Boys] executive producer, Betsy Thomas. I had really wanted to work with her again. I like her attitude and her sensibilities so much that I was really hoping for a chance to work with her again. Then lo and behold the next year pilot season and I’m just kinda running the actor rat race we all run in pilot season, and her pilot came to me just like everyone else’s did. But hands down it was my favorite pilot I had ever read. So, the fact that I got it was just a dream come true. I’m just laughing out loud in every scene.

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HW: Are you a lot like PJ?
JS: What I like about PJ is that it’s not just so much that I felt similar to her, but that she felt similar to all of my girlfriends. Most of the women that are my friends aren’t that stereotypical girlie girl that sort of does everything for a man. And to make sure the man’s opinion of her is always perfect. It’s so exciting to see a woman on television that isn’t polished and doesn’t really give a damn about that stuff. Wants to find a guy she can relate to and be buddies with, and also be completely ambitious with her career and have a really healthy social life with her guy friends. It’s just nice to see this truly multifaceted woman. And knowing Betsy, that the integrity would remain. Like they wouldn’t ask me to lose 20 pounds. I felt protected with Betsy.

HW: There is such a natural chemistry between the whole cast, even in the awkward moments.
JS: Betsy is a really big fan of SUPER awkward moments. The more awkward the moment is, the more happy she is. After the cut, you can hear her snickering behind the monitor. That’s what I love about the show because the comedy doesn’t come out of anybody’s shtick but it comes out of real moments, where we can all say, “Oh my god, I know that moment so well!” One of my favorite moments is this one episode where I’m getting ready for a date, and I’m nervous and flustered about it, trying to be more feminine, and I’m a little bit out of my comfort zone because he’s taking me to the opera. And the guys come over anyway, even though I said next Thursday. And then we have this whole argument on to whether next Thursday is next Thursday or this Thursday is next Thursday. I’ve had this argument before in real life and to see them writing it, cracks me up.

HW: My favorite part is when the guys are sitting around, just riffing off one another. That’s all improvised, right?
JS: Oh yeah, a few of the guys have really strong improvisational backgrounds, and they brought all of that to the set. I think the cast members, including myself, that didn’t have a strong background in improv definitely got the chance to improve with the show. Betsy definitely encourages it. And its fun, cause she’s a pretty sarcastic lady and she’d come to us and ask us to ad lib around a beat, make it juicy, so we’d do the take and she’d come back and say, “OK, don’t do THAT again.” [Laughs] About halfway through the 13 episodes, we got word the editor was going crazy because every take was different and had nothing to do with the other take. We had to figure out how to kinda, sorta find a through line. But those guys are amazing, especially Jamie Kaler (Mike) and Michael Bunin (Kenny). They are just like Abbott and Costello together.

HW: Did you have to do much research to play, well, ME, a journalist?
JS: I got to shadow a couple of sports writers. It was a really unique and exciting experience. I didn’t actually have to write any stories on deadline or turn anything in though. That’s where I give you guys a lot of respect. I think that’s where the enjoyment ends and the work sets in. And you and I also have similar jobs in that our work is out there for everyone to see and judge. You have to develop a little bit of a thick skin to say, “I’m just going to keep trying to do my best and the work that I believe in and say or write or act in the manner that I think is appropriate.” If people don’t like it, so be it!

HW: Is it hard carrying a whole show?
Sure, there’s pressure, but it’s mostly coming from myself. Me just wanting to do the best job I could because I believe in the project so fully. Also because I grew to really like all the people I was working with and I didn’t want to let them down, you know? But the pressure never came from Betsy or TBS. It never came from anybody else in the cast. Everybody is just constantly supportive. It’s kind of a joke. [Laughs] I mean, I don’t get it. I feel like I’ve walked into this gold mine.

HW: Do you feel TV in general is getting better and better?
I think for awhile there was a stigma against TV and I think so often now TV is better than a lot of the films you see. Especially because TV shows [that aren’t doing well] are getting yanked so fast and they have to come up with something unique and great in order to stay. Which is good and bad because its nice to be able to have the time to develop a voice and an audience. And if you get yanked after just one episode, it seems a little harsh.

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HW: What’s it like working with TBS?
I think because TBS is so supportive of their shows, that they believe in them 100 percent, it creates this team spirit within the whole network that I’ve noticed. And it’s such a nice place to be because even at the few events I’ve been to with the 10 Items or Less cast, we have this sort of kinship, you know? We all kind of in it together. We never felt like we were at a place that would just throw 10 pilots on the wall and see what sticks. We always felt from the beginning—and from what I heard the producers talking about during the development process—is that we were sort of their baby and they wanted to work on nurturing and supporting us the whole way and give us a genuine shot to succeed. And that’s a rare thing.

HW: And TBS is also doing a really nice job promoting the two shows.
I know! My head is apparently on a billboard in Times Square, which is kind of a trip, especially for a native New Yorker. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m going to be in New York in December, so, I’ll have to check it out. I’ll pretend for two seconds like that doesn’t mean anything. But I’m totally going to be there with my camera. I’ll say that my mom would kill me if I didn’t get a picture—but it’s totally for me.

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