While many of the questions about the workplace/cop comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” landed with the producers of the show during the FOX press tour panel for the show, more than a few were lobbed at the cast, which was peppered with familiar faces. Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) and Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) were joined by retired NFL pro Terry Crews (“Bridesmaids”), Melissa Fumero (“Gossip Girl”), stand-up and writer Chesea Peretti (“Louie”), Joe Lo Truglio (“Reno 911”) and Stephanie Beatriz (“Modern Family”).
When asked if he drew from his previous experience playing a cop, Braugher raised an eyebrow. “Am I drawing anything from what happened 20 years ago?… I wear my cuffs the same way. This is much more a workplace environment, and the stakes are not nearly has high as they were 20 years ago.”
Creator/executive producer Michael Schur reminded the audience “This is not ‘Police Squad,'” and drove home the idea this series is about “real human beings doing real things.” Also important to the show is the fact Samberg will not be playing a goofy incompetent.
“Otherwise, why do you care?” Samberg said. “If he’s good at it, when he’s a jackass, you can forgive him more.”
Braugher discussed working on a comedy. “They’re a funny group… there’s a different spirit with a comedy. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but I’m watching these guys like hawks. I’m getting on board with the spirit of comedy… so much more uplifting.”
Samberg added that he felt no burning need to add humor to the mix, explaining, “The writers are no joke, so the scripts come in extremely funny. We do it a number of times scripted, and once we have what everyone has in mind, then it’s cut loose. The only finished one we’ve see is the pilot. The spirit of the show is irreverent and silly. I wouldn’t be surprised if that stuff squeaks in and gives it a little boost.”
After explaining the show will delve into the more mundane aspects of police work so the character’s aren’t “constantly running at top speed after a criminal,” co-executive producer Dan Good added that the casting of the show was color blind. “There are a lot of ethnicities in New York. [The police force is] roughly 50 percent Caucasian and 50 percent not, Caucasian.” Schur added that they auditioned people of eight different ethnicities and ultimately went with the cast they wanted.
Beatriz was thrilled to be on a series with a colorful cast. “It never happens that you look over and find another Latina actress. Nobody’s doing accents, nobody’s doing anything spicy. Change happens in small steps. It’s happening.”
As far as why Samberg chose a TV series instead of sticking with a film career, he admitted, “I don’t generally try to think about trajectory, because every time I do it’s backfired for me. Everything I’ve done is geared toward comedy, and I was not looking to do a TV series at all, but I was a huge fan of ‘Parks [and Recreation’] and I’d seen what they did with Amy [Poehler], who is my comedy idol… I knew I was going to do it, because it was too good to pass up.”
Samberg also told a story of how his family knew he was going to be a comedian. “I am told I was given a bath and relieved myself in the tub, and my sisters started squealing and laughing and I started laughing hysterically — and my mom says that’s when we knew… I was literally voted class clown [in high school]. That’s a big school, too, so I was a dumbass.”
While the regular cast is impressive, the set-up of the show will allow for fun guest stars, too (Fred Armisen shows up in the pilot). “Doing door duty is a real and common aspect of their job, and it seemed like a really good way to grab anyone… and have them show up,” Schur said. “We emailed [Armisen and asked], do you want to do this thing in our pilot? He flew out, did the scene, and went home. Especially in New York City, you never know who’s going to be behind the door. “
Crews, who made his pectoral muscles bounce in rhythm for a laugh, discussed his role on the show, adding that he has no problem maintaining his impressive critique. “A lot of people say muscles and comedy don’t mix. I would disappoint so many people ,…I love to have this place in comedy, where I can be the muscle guy. ” After admitting he’d happily return to “Arrested Development” if he got permission to do it from his current show, he joked, “I’m an old football player. I should be in jail… I’m truly blessed.”
Samberg cut in, saying, “When you first meet him, you think this dude’s full of shit. But he’s just the most positive person ever.”
Someone who isn’t perhaps known for being positive on screen is Abe Vigoda, who might someday be pulled into the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” arena. As comparisons to “Barney Miller” flew, Goor admitted, “It would be great to have Fish on the show.”