Thursday May 24, 2018

TLC has picked up another season of Trading Spaces.

ABC has canceled The ChewThe hosts reacted.

GMA will now be 3 hours.

CBS has canceled Code Black.

Congrats to Wendell.  I was pulling for Dom.

Jeff Probst talks about that first ever tie in the final Tribal. "Well, the final vote is unique in that we remove our camera operator from the voting booth to ensure that nobody sees the votes as they are cast and therefore nobody on our crew knows the winner. Then I go back to get the votes where executive producer Matt Van Wagenen is checking the votes to ensure each piece of parchment has a name on it and we have a good vote. So, the only two people that know the result are Matt and myself. Typically, I just grab the urn and head back to tell the players that I'll see them in L.A. for the reading of the votes. But this time when I walked back, Matt was staring at me with wide eyes. He nodded knowingly, but said nothing. I was so mentally drained by the end of Tribal that I didn't know what he was doing. He finally mouthed the word: 'Tie.' I couldn't believe it. Thirty-six seasons, we had never had a tie. It was exciting in the sense that it was historic, so we both took a moment to silently acknowledge it, and then went back into work mode. For the first time since season one, I was going to read the votes in front of the players. I think the best part of the entire moment was when I placed the urn down and said, 'I'm gonna read the votes.' Their shocked faces were fantastic. . . .I can't remember when we established this rule, but it has been in place for years. In the early days, we had a final two and a jury of seven, so a tie wasn't an issue. But as we grew to a final three and a larger jury and with the possibility of evacuations or someone quitting, it became a bigger concern.

A new trailer for The Break With Michelle Wolf, which premieres on Netflix on Sunday.

"Former The Bachelorette star Meredith Phillips alleges she was drugged and sexually assaulted by a female masseuse while the ABC show was in production on Season 2. Phillips revealed the allegations during an interview on the Reality Steve podcast. She said producers brought in a massage therapist to help her relax after she told them she felt fatigued during filming in 2003. (The show aired in 2004.) The female masseuse allegedly then gave Phillips an unidentified pill. 'I just assumed it was an aspirin or something to loosen up my back, or Tylenol or something. And it definitely wasn’t that, that’s for sure,' Phillips said. 'The last thing I remember was she got naked and she was in the tub with me, and rubbing my back and rubbing areas probably she shouldn’t have. And then I was put in bed. I woke up naked. Don’t remember much.'”

"On Tuesday, Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon publicly announced that after meeting three summers ago on Bachelor in Paradise, they’re finally an item — and Bachelor Nation collectively lost it. From diehard fans to reluctant ones, all were united in their joy that these two reality stars, seemingly against all odds, finally found a way to make it work."

Netflix has handed a stand up comedy special to Ken Jeong, titled Ken Jeong: First Date, and with a premiere date is yet to be determined.

Miz & Mrs. heads to USA after SmackDown on July 24. The new docuseries from the WWE and Bunim/Murray Productions focuses on Mike and Maryse Mizanin and their journey toward parenthood.

A first look at Matt Gorenig's new show Disenchantment.

The Voice winners, where are they now?

David Harbour and Winona Ryder sat down with The Los Angeles Times for a lengthy Q&A.

A few tidbits about the cast of 13 Reasons Why.  Nice to see that Miles Heizer and Mae Whitman are still best buds. #Parenthood.


From The New York Times: "[p]erhaps no moment better defines Arrested Development than a recent attempt by Tony Hale, who plays the high-strung, blissfully immature (and one-handed) Buster Bluth, to set up a promotional clip on Conan.

“'I don’t even know how to explain this,' Mr. Hale said.

"The show, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, has always been difficult to characterize. The zany, self-referential sitcom tracking a narcissistic family as they dodge the claws (or hook!) of justice was critically adored when it debuted in 2003, but failed to build an audience over three seasons on Fox. It remained a cult favorite, its disciples ever clamoring for more banana standsstair carscousins in love and $5,000 suits (Come on!). But Netflix’s convoluted revival in 2013 left many fans cold. (Mr. Hurwitz recently re-edited those episodes.)

"Now it’s back for a fifth season — debuting May 29 — and there’s a cloud hanging over the Bluths’ model home. One of the show’s stars, Jeffrey Tambor (George Sr.), was accused of sexual misconduct on the set of Transparent, allegations he denied but that still resulted in him being fired from the show. When the accusations emerged, Arrested Development had nearly finished production; Mr. Hurwitz and the cast members expressed support for Mr. Tambor.

"This week many of the actors got together for a group interview about the new season, including Mr. Tambor, Mr. Hale, Jason Bateman (Michael), Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke), Jessica Walter (Lucille), Will Arnett (Gob) and David Cross (Tobias Fünke).

"In a freewheeling, at times emotional conversation that had the air of a family Thanksgiving dinner, the group candidly discussed Mr. Tambor’s behavior on set, reflecting in particular on the time he blew up at Ms. Walter, his onscreen wife. Ms. Walter spoke publicly for the first time about the incident, which Mr. Tambor first mentioned in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“'I have to let go of being angry at him,' Ms. Walter said through tears, as Mr. Tambor sat a few feet away. In 'almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set and it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now.'

"When Mr. Bateman painted Mr. Tambor’s behavior as typical of certain performers, Ms. Shawkat interjected: 'But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.'

"It was a notably raw interlude for a cast better known for absurd antics, and it reflected the emotional complexities of Hollywood’s ongoing reckoning with toxic male behavior. It was also just part of a wide-ranging interview that touched on awkward fans, the comedic limitations of the Trump family and how long these actors can keep playing the Bluths. These are edited excerpts from the conversation:

Fan devotion to this show is legendary. Who has a good story about an interaction in the street?

DAVID CROSS: Oh, Will does.

TONY HALE: He’s got the best.

WILL ARNETT: I’ve had so many bizarre interactions. Of course, you’re always happy to meet somebody who’s a fan of the show, and our fans tend to be particularly enthusiastic. And then you’ll be on the subway and someone will come up and go, “C’mon!” Very jarring. Or they’ll ask you to do the chicken dance at Penn Station. And you don’t want to because you’re at Penn Station.

JESSICA WALTER: I get a lot of — especially on the subway and buses here in New York — “You know, you look a lot like that woman that plays Lucille Bluth.” I say, “You know, I’ve heard that.”

ARNETT: Because they don’t expect her to be driving the subway.

You have played these characters off and on for 15 years. When it came time to return for the Netflix seasons, did it come right back? Did you rewatch old seasons?

WALTER: You know Lucille is in my DNA now.

ARNETT: [Sarcastic] No!

WALTER: I want you to say in the article, there’s so much testosterone in this room.

ARNETT: But there’s a lot of love.

WALTER: Of course, there is some of me in the character. Only some. I just so have it in my system.

ARNETT: And I think also, when we get together, the chemistry brings it all to the surface.

JEFFREY TAMBOR: It’s chemistry and also confidence. Because you see the others, and it just brings up your confidence level. Acting is not only what you send, but what you receive.

ARNETT: What I always enjoy about this show, and it’s never waned, is the feeling that nobody’s worried about falling on their face. Everybody takes chances.

Alia, you were 14 when the pilot shot. How do you view your experience?

ALIA SHAWKAT: It’s very surreal doing a job for 15 years. Especially transitioning from a child into an adult. When we finished, I was 18, and I didn’t work for a little while because I was reading [expletive], I was like, “This is just a bad version of an angsty teen.” I was like, “I can’t do this.”

Tony, there’s no learning curve for you in dealing with Buster’s gigantic hand, or hook, or jeweled hook?

CROSS: His hand is fake. He’s wearing it.

HALE: It’s very good, it’s very expensive. In all honesty, when we came back for the fourth season, I did have some anxiety about if we could match expectations. But to Will’s point of being around the cast, there was something about Jessica’s voice, which is a lovely voice, when she says, “Buster.” It’s a very degrading, passive-aggressive tone. It was kind of Pavlovian. Gob and Buster are such opposites, so being around that energy definitely helps.

Is there much improv on the set?

TAMBOR: I get that question a lot. “Did you guys just make it up?” It is a credit to the writing because Mitch Hurwitz and company, they are really whips, and there are so many layers to this. It’s very word-specific.

ARNETT: There’s certain things that you have to hit.

JASON BATEMAN: And want to hit.

ARNETT: One of the hallmarks of this show is that, for the most part, all the jokes continue to move story forward. And so they’re not just disposable jokes that are zeitgeisty.

CROSS: You know what I wish we had, now that you’re saying that? I wish we had had a bottle episode. Where we’re all, the entire cast is just stuck, trapped, something.

TAMBOR: Oh, that would be wonderful.

CROSS: How much fun would that be?

WALTER: Stuck in an elevator!

Whatever criticisms there were of Season 4, it was remarkably prescient. You guys had the border wall before Trump did, and there was a subplot about “Fake Block” and privacy.

CROSS: I think it may turn out to be slightly burdensome, in that people who don’t realize that was five years ago are going to mistakenly think, “Oh they’re jumping on and trying to shoehorn in —”

WALTER: Oh, but we actually filmed it six years ago.

CROSS: I think most people will get that. But I think some people, no fault of their own, are just sort of lazy when they’re consuming entertainment and won’t make that connection. I tried to help it by aging dramatically between seasons.

You take on Trump a lot more directly in this season. How does the show navigate that?

ARNETT: There’s not a lot that’s actually really all that funny about the Trumps. They’re not particularly funny in any way.

BATEMAN: Well, they were. Now it’s just straight depressing.

Were there jokes in the new season that were either scaled back or dropped because it was just too real?

ARNETT: Too real and also too boring.

BATEMAN: And too easy. It’s such a big fat target.

WALTER: I think Mitch had said he had to scale back on it a little. It’s too obvious now. And you know, it’s almost as if our family, just by themselves, are the Trumps. You’ve got the two dysfunctional sons. You’ve got Portia as Ivanka. George and Lucille. Although Melania, no, I don’t think we could compare Melania — Melania is the only one who is sort of likable.

BATEMAN: Lazy, morally bankrupt people.

WALTER: The Bluths are fun, though.

CROSS: The Bluths have no fans. The Trumps are where they are and we’re where we are because they spoke to a lot of people out there that wanted to hear the [expletive] they were selling. And it’s weird, too, because personally, I’m speaking as me, I’m the only Trump supporter in this group. [Note: This was sarcasm.]

I have to address the elephant in the room, which is the allegations from the Transparent set. The Arrested Development cast has been publicly supportive. Jeffrey, if there’s another season, do you expect to be a part of it?

TAMBOR: I surely hope so.

BATEMAN: Well, I won’t do it without you. I can tell you that.

TAMBOR: Well thank you, that’s very, very, very sweet. I hope so. I love these people, and Netflix has been so supportive and Mitch has been so supportive. I sent out an email to these guys and I just said, “I’m so thankful and sorry for the distraction and you have to be asked these questions and such.” And I went much further into it with The Hollywood Reporter, and I’ve denied the allegations but the upshot is I won’t be playing Maura anymore. I’m going to miss that cast. I love that cast, and the answer is I would love to do “Arrested.” I love these people. I love George Sr. I love Oscar [George Sr.’s twin brother]. I’m such a fan of this.

BATEMAN: And there’s no reason he shouldn’t.

TAMBOR: This is their best season. They knock it out of the park. These are home run hitters. These guys in this room, and they are just walking acting lessons and inspirers.

From the Hollywood Reporter interview, you talked about how you yelled at directors, assistant directors, the “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway. You even said at one point you lashed out at —

WALTER: Jessica Walter.


BATEMAN: Which we’ve all done, by the way.

WALTER: Oh! You’ve never yelled at me.

BATEMAN: Not to belittle what happened.

WALTER: You’ve never yelled at me like that.

BATEMAN: But this is a family and families, you know, have love, laughter, arguments — again, not to belittle it, but a lot of stuff happens in 15 years. I know nothing about “Transparent” but I do know a lot about “Arrested Development.” And I can say that no matter what anybody in this room has ever done — and we’ve all done a lot, with each other, for each other, against each other — I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I have zero complaints.

ARNETT: I can say that I keyed Bateman’s car. I never admitted that. Because I was like, look at this guy, taking up a spot and a half.

CROSS: You know, one thing that Jeffrey has said a number of times that I think is important, that you don’t often hear from somebody in his position, is that he learned from the experience and he’s listening and learning and growing. That’s important to remember.

WALTER [TO THE TIMES]: What was your point about that, though?

If someone approached you and said, “O.K., here’s an actor that admits he routinely yells at directors, at assistant directors, at co-workers, assistants,” would you hire that person?

TAMBOR: I would hire that person if that person said, you know, “I’ve reckoned with this.”

And you feel like you have?

TAMBOR: And I have, and am continuing to do. And I profusely have apologized. Ms. Walter is indeed a walking acting lesson. And on “Transparent,” you know, I had a temper and I yelled at people and I hurt people’s feelings. And that’s unconscionable, and I’m working on it and I’m going to put that behind me, and I love acting.

BATEMAN: Again, not to belittle it or excuse it or anything, but in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, “difficult.” And when you’re in a privileged position to hire people, or have an influence in who does get hired, you make phone calls. And you say, “Hey, so I’ve heard X about person Y, tell me about that.” And what you learn is context. And you learn about character and you learn about work habits, work ethics, and you start to understand. Because it’s a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life. It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes.

SHAWKAT: But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.

WALTER [THROUGH TEARS]: Let me just say one thing that I just realized in this conversation. I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go. [Turns to Tambor.] And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.

TAMBOR: Absolutely.

WALTER: But it’s hard because honestly — Jason says this happens all the time. In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.

BATEMAN: She didn’t give it up for anybody else.

HALE: But I will say, to Jason’s point, we can be honest about the fact that — and not to build a thing — we’ve all had moments.

WALTER: But not like that, not like that. That was bad.

HALE: Not like that. But I’m saying we’ve worked together 15 years, there has been other points of anger coming out.

BATEMAN: Exactly. Again, there is context. What we do for a living is not normal, and therefore the process is not normal sometimes, and to expect it to be normal is to not understand what happens on set. Again, not to excuse it, Alia, but to be surprised by people having a wobbly route to their goal, their process — it’s very rarely predictable. All I can say, personally, is I have never learned more from an actor that I’ve worked with than Jeffrey Tambor. And I consider him one of my favorite, most valued people in my life.

CROSS: I agree with everybody. And I think it’s important to note — and it hasn’t been noted — that this kind of behavior that’s being described, it didn’t just come out of the blue. It wasn’t zero to 60. There is a cumulative effect sometimes.

BATEMAN: You have different people’s processes that converge and collide at times. So Jeffrey is not just popping off, coming out of his car and some unhinged guy.

CROSS: That’s what I’m trying to say.

BATEMAN: Not to say that you know, you [Walter] had it coming. But this is not in a vacuum — families come together and certain dynamics collide and clash every once in a while. And there’s all kinds of things that go into the stew so it’s a little narrow to single that one particular thing that is getting attention from our show.

WALTER: Only because you brought it up, Jeffrey, in that article! I never would have brought it up.

BATEMAN: I didn’t mean to speak for you. That was part of his process of being as contrite and as transparent as he felt like he could and should be, and wanted to at the time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what it’s like to be on a set. I’ve never been on one. But it seems like Jason is saying that this is part of the process. But that’s not what you’re saying, Jessica.

WALTER: That’s correct.

I realize this is an awkward question to ask with Jeffrey in the room. But do you have reservations about working with him again?

WALTER: Of course not. No. I’ve just given it up. And you know, there’s something really, really freeing about that now. I realize that. I don’t want to walk around with anger. I respect him as an actor. We’ve known each other for years and years and years. No, no, no, no. Of course, I would work with him again in a heartbeat.

These roles defined you in many ways. Are you ever ready to just move on?

HALE: What helps me is I love the show so much. I’m such a big fan, so when people come up to us and they talk about the show, there’s a lot of stuff I’ve forgotten. So it’s fun to see the jokes that I missed.

ARNETT: From the first moment that we all worked together, we got a sense that there was a chemistry and that there was something about this group of people that worked. Through the good, and the bad, and the difficult, and the highs of winning the Emmy, when we all stood on that stage in 2004, there is something that drives us together. And I can tell you from my own personal experience being with these people, even through moments that are seemingly difficult in this room, whatever it is, it’s a process that I enjoy. These are people that I enjoy being with and creating with.

WALTER: You can sort of tell we’re like the Bluths, can’t you? The thing I wanted to say was 15 years ago, writers weren’t writing juicy Lucille Bluth roles. It was very hard for a woman of a certain age, which was 62, to get a wonderful role like this. And it really put me back sort of on the shorter list. It really, for a lot of us, upped our careers.

CROSS: Everyone.

WALTER: Everybody. The kids started out, look at them now. And all of us, what it’s done for us. It has so much meaning for me. I’ll play this until I die, with my wheelchair and my cane, if they ask me.


Per Deadline, "Lifetime is set to unveil Real Love relationship Tuesdays, beginning this summer. Anchored by breakout docuseries Married at First Sight, the new relationship block will air from 9-11 PM starting in July.

"Married at First Sight will kick things off on Tuesday, July 10 with a two-hour Season 7 premiere at 9 PM. The following Tuesday, July 17, Seven Year Switch debuts its third season at 10 PM. Seven Year Switch follows four couples who partake in an extreme experiment of switch therapy, swapping partners in an attempt to salvage their broken relationship.

“'Personal connection is at the heart of what Lifetime delivers to our audience, and we’re committed to offering a weekly destination for high-quality, non-fiction, romance and real relationship-based programming,' said Gena McCarthy, Executive Vice President, Head of Programming, Lifetime Unscripted & Head of Programming, FYI. 'With the enormously successful Married at First Sight anchoring the night, we’re confident that 'Real Love' Tuesdays on Lifetime will quickly become required viewing.'

"Married at First Sight wrapped its sixth season with series high ratings in the key Adults 25-54 (648,000) and Women 25-54 (467,000) demos. Additionally, over 1.2 million Total Viewers tuned into Tuesday night’s season finale, the show’s best performance in over two years. Boosted by Married At First Sight, Lifetime was cable’s top entertainment network from 9-11 PM among Women 18-49 (418,000) and the series was Lifetime’s best Tuesday telecast in key demos in two years.

"Over the course of season six, Married at First Sight posted double-digit gains in the Adults 25-54 (+19%) and Women 25-54 (+18%) demos, and grew 23% among Adults 18-49 and 24% with Women 18-49 vs season five."


Per Vulture, "Retta has made herself comfortable. She’s created a pillow throne on the long, burgundy settee at the bar of the Four Seasons hotel; a couple of red, plush cushions rearranged as armrests, another two behind her. She came down from her room in a gray sweater and fuzzy purple slippers she got from the set of her latest TV show, Good Girls. 'I am in a space of trying to Zen out,' she says, projecting a cool, pay-no-mind calm as though now, at the age of 48, she’s fully internalized the serenity prayer to accept the things she cannot change, the courage to change the things she can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It’s a philosophy she’s carried throughout her career, which she began as a stand-up comic and led her to a starring role on the hour-long NBC dramedy Good Girls. 'I’ve always thought that I would have to prove myself with some really small role before I’d get on the level where there’s a stack of scripts that I had to get through and make a decision,' she says. 'I’ve never been in that position — still not. There’s no stack. But I’m working, so I’m not that pressed anymore.'

"That small role, of course, was Donna Meagle, the office manager on Parks and Recreation whose catchphrase, Treat yo’ self, has so fully infiltrated popular culture that it’s on mugs, T-shirts, and anything else Etsy can imagine. When she first auditioned for the part, it was presented as a 'glorified background' role. For the first season, Donna was an office worker quietly typing at her desk at the Pawnee Parks Department, but show creator Mike Schur always planned to bring both her and co-star Jim O’Heir (Jerry/Garry) into the foreground. Slowly but surely, she became a regular cast member in season three, and eventually a beloved favorite. 'We’d written some dummy scenes, and Retta performed them in this wonderfully tiny and realistic way — and then the conversation we had afterwards was a revelation, because she was ebullient and vivacious and so funny,' Schur wrote in an email. 'She’s an onion, and the more layers you peel back, the cooler the onion gets.'

"The role was a turning point for Retta, who had been working the college comedy circuit for years. She began her career as a stand-up after college, when she was working as a chemist for GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. She had done her pre-med requirements at Duke University and was taking a year off to study for the MCAT. 'School was my shit,' Retta says. 'I still have my MCAT study books and all my science notebooks in the closet of my guest room. Because I really feel like, if this does not work out, I can pack up those bags, move in with my parents, start studying for the MCATs, and go to medical school.' Living alone meant that she had free rein over the remote, and that she could freely binge television. It helped her realize that what she actually wanted was her own sitcom, so in 1996, the year after she graduated from Duke, she decided go into stand-up comedy.

"She started off doing open mics at Charlie Goodnights in Raleigh before packing her things and driving cross-country to L.A. in January of 1997 to pursue stand-up full-time, but it wasn’t until gigs dried up after 9/11 that she started to go out to auditions more aggressively. As she worked, she found herself, as many black women comedians did, competing for a small number of parts against the likes of Wanda Sykes, Octavia SpencerFun fact: Octavia Spencer also auditioned for the part of Donna on Parks before going on to win an Oscar for The Help., and Sherri Shepherd, who eventually became a close friend. 'I feel like Sherri got every job that I didn’t get before I started working. Seriously. Like, legit got every job that I went in for,' she says.

"Today, Retta might not be getting endless offers, but she’s 'made it' by any ostensible metric: She worked steadily after Parks, booking a guest arc on Marti Noxon’s Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce before getting upped to a regular cast member. Good Girls, which recently wrapped its first season and has been renewed for a second, is her biggest role to date. She stars alongside Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman as Ruby Hill, a desperate parent trying to pay for prohibitively expensive health-care costs for her child, who’s suffering from kidney failure. She provides the show’s emotional backbone for when they do crazier things, like rob a grocery store — twice. And she has a book tracking her rise called So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, out May 29.

“'When I first moved to California, I used to drive around in this ’84 convertible Mustang playing Prince, like, blasting it with my top down, literally thinking someone was gonna discover me while I was driving on Sunset. I was like, "I know there’s like some like agent that’s gonna see how fun I am in my car singing my Prince. I know people were like, ‘Can you turn it down?’"' she laughs. 'I used to see billboards on Sunset and I was like, "When my face is on the 9000 building, that’s when I know I made it."' She got close: Last fall, the Good Girls advertisement appeared two blocks away from the tallest building on the Sunset Strip. 'I told my bestie, "I’m only two blocks away from the 9000 building. I’m very close to making it." And my friend goes, "You’re in Times Square, bitch. You made it."'

"Retta was born Marietta Sirleaf to Deborah and George Sirleaf, who immigrated to New Jersey from Liberia the year before she was born. She grew up in a two-bedroom apartment with six people including her parents, her two younger brothers George Jr. and Michen, and a 'revolving door of cousins,' in a compressed living situation familiar to anyone from a big immigrant family. Her mother worked as an insurance adjuster while attending college, and her father worked at the Revlon warehouse. Eventually, they moved to a seven-bedroom fixer-upper in Cliffwood Beach and her father got a job at the packing department of Conair. When Retta got into Duke University, her dad took on a second job at Stern’s department store as a way to pay for her tuition. That last detail in particular provides an emotional wallop. She told it to a group of high-school students recently and started crying. 'I was like, I don’t know what’s happening. I know this story. Why am I crying?' she says.

"If there’s a through line in Retta’s career, it’s her unvarnished honesty, which comes through in her work. It’s a quality that she’s learned to embrace by playing Donna, who even though she might have existed in the background of the narrative clearly lived as the protagonist of her own show (her cousin is multi-platinum artist Ginuwine; her Mercedes-Benz is named Michael Fassbender). 'Donna knew exactly what she wanted and she asked for it,' Retta says. 'There was nothing that was going to make her be fake. I actually learned to do that better and not do what I thought people wanted to hear or wanted me to be. In the past I’ve done stuff I didn’t want, and I’ve gotten to a place now that started when I was on Parks, of not doing stuff I didn’t want to do.'

"Some of Retta’s most formative years as a comedian were during Parks and Recreation, where she felt like she took part in a high-level and extremely raunchy comedy masterclass with the likes of Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, and others. The cast would regularly do a roulette of celebrity impressions and improv on set. There was the now-infamous time that Chris Pratt showed up naked in a scene when he was supposed to be wearing a modesty sock. In the episode The Comeback Kid, she remembers a gag reel line when Pratt said, 'Yeah, she’s the Comeback Kid because of the cum on her back.' And then there was the time when the female cast members were in Ron Swanson’s office and 'would pretend to jerk off like they had little penises.' 'I was like, "We’re going to get in trouble, you guys!”' she says. 'I was really new and like, "You can’t do dirty jokes like that! They’re filming!" I would never say anything. You could see the heat fill up in my face and I’d just stand there.' She eventually found her groove with the episode The Hunting Trip when someone shot Michael Fassbender (the car, not the actor) and cracked up the normally tough-to-please co-creator Greg Daniels, who was directing the episode. 'I was like, Okay. I’m gonna make it in this town.'

"She’s still close with her Parks and Recreation castmates, including Aziz Ansari, whom she often shared scenes with. When the story about Ansari broke earlier this year, she felt defensive when she saw her friend lumped together with other men like Harvey Weinstein. 'I read it, and I was like, "It’s not the same as what’s been going down." And someone had done some video and it had a bunch of the men that were in this hot water for this, and they had Aziz in the list. I was really pissed about it,' she says. 'I just felt bad, and I texted him to check on him to be like, "Are you okay?" And he’s like, "I’m okay." But I know he feels really bad about it.'”

She regularly texts with Ansari and the rest of the cast, and talks about them in effusive terms: Amy Poehler was an inclusive leader (she threatened to pull out of an Entertainment Weekly cover of the cast if Retta and Jim O’Heir weren’t included on the cover), Aubrey Plaza has a “hidden sweetness,” Chris Pratt was a lovable if extremely dirty little brother. They all had dinner together in Los Angeles a couple of weeks before we met in New York, and they have a group chat where Ansari sends them photos that people took of him asleep on the set of Master of None, a habit they clowned him for during Parks.

Retta is in her element when she’s telling stories like this, ideally with a glass of wine in hand, which is exactly the vibe of her upcoming memoir, So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know. The book is what happens when a stand-up comic who has spent much of her professional life observing other people break into the gilded ranks of Hollywood at awards show parties (Pre-parties! Night-of parties! Brunch parties!). Retta is still an avid television watcher, a fact well-known because she regularly livetweets her favorite shows, including ScandalGirlsThe Good Wife, and The Vampire Diaries. And there’s still a touch of fandom when she encounters a celebrity that she’s watched onscreen for so long: Yes, Idris Elba is dreamy in person. If Robert Redford accidentally steps on your foot, he’ll be very apologetic about it. Meeting Sidney Poitier is a religious experience. Oh, and did you know that Michael Fassbender (the actor, not the car) totally digs black women?

The best encounter is a micro-drama that encapsulates the surrealist joy of a celebrity interaction. It happened during the 2014 Golden Globe Awards, the second time the proceedings were hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Her Parks and Recreation co-star Jim O’Heir kept refilling her glass with the giant bottle of Moët & Chandon on the table, which meant that, eventually, she had to pee. Retta got in the very long line for the bathroom, where pop star Taylor Swift was standing behind her. “We’re standing there forever in line, standing in line, moving up, moving up, and I was next. I was looking off to the left, and I see Taylor walk past. I yelled ‘Taylor!’ She turns around and was like, ‘Oh, were you next?’” Retta recalls. “I was like, ‘Was I? We was standing in this together for like 15 minutes. Bitch, you know I was next,’ and I walk past her and went to the bathroom.”

It’s not what she would call a “deathbed story” (she’s saving those, duh), but the anecdote is prompting some anxiety since it had to be vetted by lawyers for St. Martin’s Press. “The lawyer was like okay, how can we work this because [Swift] may be like, ‘That never fucking happened.’ It did because I told the story the minute I came out of the bathroom, and I’ve been telling it ever since. It was pretty fucking funny to me,” Retta says. Still, she’s not sweating it: “I was thinking I’ll be in her songs next.”

You could imagine a world in which Retta had her own talk show, interviewing celebrities and ribbing Swift for that very encounter. In fact, in 2014, she had a deal to host her own HBO talk show, produced by Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham, that eventually fell through because she wanted to establish herself as an actor first. “I just didn’t want to be seen as a talk-show host, and people don’t see me as an actor,” Retta says. Instead, she went to Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, which allowed her to flex her dramatic range, a skill she’s expanded further on Good Girls, where she’s proven that among other things, she can cry on cue. More recently, she’s been losing roles to Oscar-winner Allison Janney, who got the job she wanted for Spy, as well as another part in a serious indie film she was up for. “I’ll say I’ve made it when I win an Oscar. That’s my new goal,” she says. “After she won her Oscar [for I, Tonya], I was like, ‘Maybe it is in my future — I’m just a few steps behind.’”


"While we don’t know for sure which characters any of them are playing, the first cast members of HBO’s upcoming Watchmen pilot have been revealed. And they’re pretty fantastic.

"Variety reports Regina King will play the lead character in the series, and she’ll be joined by Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Adelaide Clemens, and Andrew Howard. Deadline adds that 'King is believed to be playing Angela Abraham, while Gossett Jr. likely is Old Man. Howard is said to be playing Red Scare, Clemens could be Pirate Jenny,' but none of that is confirmed.

“'But wait,' you’re wondering. Since it’s Watchmen, who is Rorschach, the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, etc? Well, just yesterday, showrunner Damon Lindelof explained that the HBO series is not a direct adaptation of the iconic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons series. It’s both a sequel, and not a sequel. A modern retelling, but with familiar characters and situations. So, while the surviving characters from that series could appear in this new series, it’s not that simple.

“'Those original 12 issues are our Old Testament,' Lindelof said. 'It all happened... The Comedian died. Dan and Laurie fell in love. Ozymandias saved the world and Dr. Manhattan left it just after blowing Rorschach to pieces in the bitter cold of Antarctica.'

“'Some of the characters will be unknown,' Lindelof added. 'New faces. New masks to cover them.'

"No matter who each of these actors will be playing, though, it’s a very eclectic, interesting cast—and a great start for the sure to be controversial and scrutinized show."