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[03/11/11 - 12:35 AM]
Live at the Paley Festival: HBO's "Eastbound & Down"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:09 PM - Night six of the 28th Annual Paley Festival at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles kicks off with a panel featuring the HBO comedy series "Eastbound & Down." Tonight's archival clip is an ode to sports heroes - the 1979 Coke commercial where football star Mean Joe Greene gets a bottle of Coke from a kid and, in turn, tosses the kid his jersey in return. A classic!

7:14 PM - The Paley Center's Betsy Scolnick welcomes the crowd by saying that at the center of "Eastbound & Down" is Kenny Powers who, she says, is often cruel but he effortlessly holds our sympathy. True!

7:16 PM - Tonight's moderator, Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice, is introduced and recalls how someone at HBO told her she might not like this show when it first was coming on the air but, alas, they were wrong! Lynette recites a piece of Kenny dialogue, crude language and all, and nails it. "This show is a real winner about a true loser," she says. Lynette introduces a series of clips from the show that gets the already vocal audience revved up for the panel.

7:28 PM - Lynette introduces the panel for tonight's PaleyFest event. Ana de la Reguera (Vida)! Katy Mixon (April)! Steve Little (Stevie)! Executive Producer Chris Henchy! Executive Producer/Writer/Director/Co-creator Jody Hill! Writer/Co-Creator/Star Danny McBride (Kenny Powers)!

7:30 PM - Jodie and Danny met in college in 1995! They made the film "The Foot Fist Way" in 2006 and caught the attention of Will Ferrell and producing partner Adam McKay who asked the guys what they wanted to do. They said they wanted to make a show for HBO.

7:34 PM - "We know when to reel it in and when to be respectful," says Danny about the abrasive character that is Kenny Powers and how they somehow manage to not alienate viewers.

7:35 PM - "He didn't know to kiss my ass yet," says Danny of Steve Little coming in for the audition of Stevie. Steve says, in agreement, "He's right!" Danny also says of the Stevie character, "We had no idea how far we'd go with him." On the rest of the casting, Danny says, "It was one of those things that when we saw the people who ended up being in the show there was never any doubt."

7:37 PM - Katy Mixon auditioned for the role of April (Kenny's ex-girlfriend who is still drawn to him) in a hot fuschia dress looking like "Jessica Rabbit!" Of course, she got the part!

7:41 PM - Lynette asks, "In what parallel universe with women who look like that" go for a man like Kenny? Danny simply says, "The magic of television."

7:43 PM - Danny explains that the show is very planned out even when it doesn't appear that way. Danny also reveals that the British version of "The Office" and Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge character were inspirations for their work with "Eastbound & Down." "We treat each season like it's one long movie," he says.

7:45 PM - Was there an initial fear that Kenny would be too unlikable? "HBO is as giving as they come... [but] HBO was really nervous," says Chris.

7:46 PM - Despite the raunchy dialogue and sexual situations, Chris says that most of their moms were on set during shooting.

7:48 PM - Lynette observes that Kenny is a character that they're not trying to reform or make less of an asshole. "That's where it's fun as a writer," says Danny on creating this antihero who he says is a total asshole but you want people to root for him.

7:50 PM - Michael Pena, who played Sebastian Cisneros in season two, comes onto the stage late to join the panel. Michael says his role on "Eastbound & Down" is the first time he took a job without reading any script with his character. He did, however, watch the first season, which he says is "what makes it even crazier."

7:52 PM - Katy talks about her amazing stare that she does as April and says that sometimes April just needs to stare to see if things will come to her. Of the attraction between April and Kenny, Katy explains, "She gets him... and he's a romantic... so he has this big thing that he puts on which is him, it's his essence but she just gets him... he's extremely exciting for her."

7:53 PM - Ana, who also joined in the second season, talks of the sex scenes on the show and talks of wanting to make her butt look bigger. As for the sex scenes he had with Ana, Michael grins largely and says, "It was amazing!"

7:56 PM - Danny says "I was never really that interested in turning the show into something traditional. We always wanted to just follow this character... we wanted the first season to weirdly stand on its own." In terms of the second season, which mostly took place in Puerto Rico, "we had to go outside the show in order to come back to it."

8:00 PM - On the casting of Don Johnson as Kenny's father, Danny, still seeming a bit awestruck, says, "The first day I met him was the day we were doing the scene on the four wheelers... he had his shades on the whole time, trying to hide behind them, and in the middle of a scene he took the glasses off and I was like 'Fuck, it's Sonny Crockett!'"

8:02 PM - Katy talks about one her favorite lines on the show thus far: when April and Kenny are in a Hibachi Restaurant and Kenny says, "Listen, you beautiful bitch. I'm about to fuck up your head with some truth."

8:05 PM - Jody's favorite line is "There's no I in team but there's a 'u' in cunt." 'nuff said.

8:08 PM - Danny says that the upcoming season three, which they are still writing, will have the action return to Shelby. Katy Mixon will also be back in the new season, Danny confirms. Lynette asks if Danny knows how the show will end and he simply says, yes. He then adds that season three will probably be the last. "The third season to us has always been the climax of the story that we set out to tell."

8:11 PM - Q&A time with the audience. A woman thanks the panel for never sacrificing humanity and the truth in the story. They also don't make fun of the South. Are they conscious of that? Jody explains, "We did notice typically Southern characters are played for cheap jokes." They also never wanted to shoot it anywhere else but North Carolina and Danny says they wanted to use real Southerners and not "kids from Van Nuys working on some accent."

8:16 PM - A fan says he has been to the real bar, Shaboom's and wonders how they did not get stabbed there. Danny smiles and says, "We run that town."

8:17 PM - Have any real people inspired any of the characters? Danny says there are no real inspirations for Kenny since he and Jody "don't know shit about baseball." However, one sports player who is a fan of the show is Jeremy Shockey of the Carolina Panthers.

8:20 PM - On shooting some of the scenes with kids where Kenny berates them and uses crude language, Danny says "They're all home schooled so they're all messed up anyway." (He also reveals their parents are present during shooting.)

8:22 PM - "There's something about the South that feels like home," says Jody on shooting away from Los Angeles. Danny reveals another plus of filming in Wilmington - there are no direct flights from Los Angeles so most TV executives don't come to the set.

8:24 PM - What is it about British TV that has inspired Danny in making "Eastbound and Down?" He says. "Those shows rallied the audience around a character you don't really rally around." He's doing the same thing with this series.

8:27 PM - Danny says there's a game online where you have to guess if a given quote is from Kenny Powers or Charlie Sheen. Jody admits they write the show and they even had a hard time guessing the right quote.

8:30 PM - Will Ferrell and Craig Robinson are the only two guest stars they actually wrote the parts for. Every other case the story/character comes first, then they think of who they can get at the last minute.

8:33 PM - A fan asks if Stevie's wife Maria (played by Elizabeth De Razzo) will be back for season three? The answer is yes and Elizabeth, who is in the audience, stands and waves to the excited (and adoring) audience.

8:36 PM - "That all comes straight from the dome," says Danny as he points to his brain when asked about where Kenny's choreography comes from.

8:38 PM - Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray are comic inspirations for Danny while Jody admits he never really thought about working in comedy so he has no real inspirations but he decides to ad lib and says... Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy.

8:48 PM - That's a wrap from the "Eastbound & Down" panel at the Paley Festival. I'll be back Friday night covering the "An Evening with Jimmy Fallon" panel.

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.





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· EASTBOUND & DOWN (HBO)
· PALEY CENTER (TFC)











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