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[03/14/12 - 11:48 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: ABC's "Modern Family"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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

6:55 PM - The final night of Paleyfest kicks off with an archival clip of the short-lived CBS comedy "The Class" starring none other than Jesse Tyler Ferguson. And with that tonight's moderator, Cynthia Littleton, takes the stage to bring out "Modern Family" co-creator Steven Levitan. He's brought with him a special treat: a rough cut of the upcoming episode "Election Day," which we'll later be told was directed by Bryan Cranston.

7:28 PM - Following the screening, Cynthia returns to bring out tonight's panelists: Rico Rodriguez (Manny)! Nolan Gould (Luke)! Ariel Winter (Alex)! Sarah Hyland (Haley)! Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell)! Eric Stonestreet (Cameron)! Julie Bowen (Claire)! Ty Burrell (Phil)! Sofia Vergara (Gloria)! Ed O'Neill (Jay)! And of course, Steven Levitan. They're all amused by how Sofia's tiny dress is making putting a mic on her a challenge.

7:31 PM - "We love meth," Eric says about working with Cranston on the episode we just saw. "Every time he gives you [an acting] note you know he can do it better," Ty quips. Julie adds it took a day and a half before she stopped seeing him as Walter White. Eric notes one of his first jobs was as a guest star on "Malcolm in the Middle" and Bryan couldn't have been nicer back then or now.

7:34 PM - "I think we've gotten into some bigger arcs," Levitan says about what's different this season. "That was a little bit of a change... It doesn't feel that different to me from [years past]."

7:37 PM - "It's like getting a sneak peek on how funny your week is going to be next week," Julie says about their table reads. This is followed by some very sweet testimonies by the child actors about how great their experience has been. "We kind of sound like a cult," Eric jokes.

7:41 PM - Everyone teases Jesse about how he regularly breaks during scenes. "Sometimes you'll start a scene that isn't, there's no particular joke happening right then and he'll start laughing at the absurdity of the fact we're pretending to be other people."

7:45 PM - "It is like doing a math problem while [solving] a Rubik's Cube," Levitan says about balancing the various plots in each episode as there's not really an A, B or C story but rather three concurrent plots that take place over the same period of time. The actors themselves often serve as inspiration for them, such as an upcoming episode which will focus on Ty's (and subsequently Phil's) tendency to "blink like a crazy person" when he's nervous.

7:49 PM - Asked about the most challenging episodes, Julie and Jesse quickly point to the ice dancing episode while Ty says the tightrope episode. Eric says he felt judged by the horses in the dude ranch episode. "I'm always worried about falling," he says in general about the show as is custom with Cam. "Just about the safety." He quickly notes that Julie had the best fall of the year in the "Egg Drop" episode, which Julie credits to being because she actually fell. "We were watching the video on playback," Nolan adds. "And the guy with the camera, they were rewinding it so they were like making her dance."

7:53 PM - "It's why you see on 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' the kids run in and run upstairs," Levitan jokes about the challenge of working with kids on television. Now he's got the reverse problem: the kids know their lines better than the adults.

7:56 PM - "You can't really beat the script," Ty says when asked about ad-libbing on the show. "It's very difficult to just like, you don't want to be throwing stuff in because it's almost impossible to top it."

7:59 PM - Jesse teases Eric that "recently I gave Eric a kiss and he wasn't expecting it and he goes [mimics Eric], 'You gotta warn me!'" Eric clarifies that he wants to make sure they always look real and believable, rather than an actor being surprised.

8:01 PM - "I said, well that makes perfect sense," a smiling Ed says about his reaction to learning Sofia was cast as his wife. Meanwhile, Sofia isn't shy about the fact she hates Jay's dog on the show. The reaction on her face is priceless.

8:06 PM - Everyone muses how the characters on the show are better parents than they are. "It's a lot of pressure watching a show like that," Ty says about the episode in which Phil learns Haley is no longer a virgin. "Realizing you're never going to be that good of a parent." He adds when the time comes for his own daughter, he's just going to show her that episode.

8:10 PM - Will we ever see Cam's farm? "I have been saying that's the best idea ever," Eric exclaims. "I'd love to see Gloria in Missouri." Jesse fires back, "I'd love to see all of us in Columbia." Eric responds, "Columbia is obvious, Missouri is the better choice." While we don't see the farm just yet, Barry Corbin will stop by as Cam's father. Levitan says he's a lot like Jay, leading to some conflict.

8:14 PM - Would Levitan rather do 13-15 episodes a year like cable rather than the 24 they do for ABC now? "The reason we wouldn't, frankly, is because of the kids - they're growing. We've tried to stop it and it's not working." This leads Sarah to suggest "they" are Ariel's breasts. Only at Paleyfest folks.

8:17 PM - "We loved the little girls who played Lily for two seasons," Eric says. "But they were just really not happy to be there." He adds that he can't believe there was actual backlash of them recasting a two and a half year old. "The age of Lily has never changed in the show. It's not like all of a sudden Lily went from three to nine. So put that in your pipes and smoke it."

8:20 PM - "I definitely look forward to the day when this is not a revolutionary couple," Jesse says about Mitchell and Cam. Eric adds he's always thrilled when unexpected people - say at NASCAR races, of which he's a big fan - come up to him and say, "[mimics Southern drawl] my wife and I love your show... where do you get those shirts?" Another favorite: a teen once approached Eric and told him he recently come out to his mom, who responded: "Well, are you Mitch or Cam?"

8:23 PM - Cynthia opens the floor to Q&A. Someone asks about the casts' favorite shows. After the likes of "Parks & Recreation," "Mad Men," "Homeland," "Justified," "The Office," "30 Rock," "Community," "New Girl," "Archer," "Raising Hope," "The Big Bang Theory" and company get rounds of applause, Ed says "I like 'Luck,' but I heard it got canceled," to silence. Levitan quips, "Way to bring it down Ed."

8:27 PM - "He tried to slip me the tongue," Julie deadpans when asked about guest star Greg Kinnear.

8:31 PM - Sarah and Alex say they both feel like sisters. "For us it's cool because, you know, we get to go to our separate homes at night," Sarah quips.

8:34 PM - A rather excited, flamboyant fellow tries to ask a question, leading Eric to ask if he can follow him around for when people say he plays Cam too over the top.

8:39 PM - Three girls asks Julie to write a note to their teacher to excuse them for not doing their math homework to come tonight. She invites them on stage and in a bizarre sequence, the girls hug and shake hands with everyone while she writes the note. This sucks up the remaining time and with that Cynthia bids us farewell.

8:46 PM - That's a wrap on another year of Paleyfest! Thanks for hanging out with us and we'll be back as always next year.

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





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· MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
· PALEY CENTER (TFC)











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