By: Valerie Milano
Beverly Hills, CA (Hollywood Today) 9/25/13 - Chuck Lorre has another hit on his hands with MOM! The Monday blues will fade into laughter when audiences chill out and have some laughs of a struggling working single Mom played by Anna Farris who waitresses and worries about her emerging teenage daughter and her insightful sweet young son. Adding to the mix is Anna’s character’s struggle to stay sober and while at an AA meeting she encounters her Mother played by Allison Janney who has been keeping tabs on her daughter via her frequent calls, texts and Facebook connections with her granddaughter who tells her everything. The fun yet realistic drama takes place between Anna’s home and the restaurant where Anna works with her flirting and caring married restaurant manager who is in a cold marriage yet complicated by the fact that the restaurant is owned by his in-laws! In the first episode, Anna as Mom drives home after an emotional day at the restaurant and pulls into the driveway to see her daughter’s study pal jumping out of her bedroom window with barely his pants on, and so the drama ensues!
Talented actresses Anna Farris and Allison Janney are both Mothers in the new CBS comedy MOM by producer Chuck Lorre on Mondays at 9:30 pm. At the press day, HollywoodToday got to hear the answers to some revealing tales about the cast and characters of MOM.
Chuck Lorre was asked about juggling his many shows besides the new show MOM plus Two and A Half Men and the Big Bang Theory. He replied, ’I once asked Norman Lear when “Big Bang” started, I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into. And I asked him what he did. He said, “You go where the fire is burning the brightest,” which I thought was really nice. You go and do what you can do where you’re most needed.’
Anna and Allison are obviously the heart of the show with their revolving relationship of the past and the present and their connection to Anna’s sexually active teenage daughter who by the end of the first show will be a MOM too! The actresses were asked ‘Can you talk about working together and the challenge of making us believe that, this is an actual mother daughter relationship in terms of idiosyncrasies or relationships or how you drive each other crazy.’ The first to reply is actress Allison Janney. ‘Well, we have that mother daughter relationship like everybody. We both have it with our real mothers, and it’s sort of one of those relationships that everyone can relate to even, everyone’s going have a relationship with their mother. So that’s how we bring our own relationships with our mothers to this. We find the characters, and they’re coming up with back story for us. We certainly had a very colorful past.’
Anna Faris adds, “We are hoping for some flashbacks! Allison is, I feel, so honored that she came onto this project because, as you all know, she’s such an incredible actress. She’s also such an amazing person, and it is truly a joy to work. Chuck knows how to assemble people that, I guess, really sort of get along. We feel very lucky. And yeah no, I think the relationship, mother daughter thing is very, very relatable. She’s sort of my biggest champion and my harshest critic and very, very critical of me, just like all moms are.’
Embracing an earlier statement of Chuck’s that ‘L.A. is the city of second chances’, Anna and Allison share about a second chance they were given starting out as an actress, that space after hitting a bump and then getting a second chance, that second handshake of luck. Anna Faris explains ‘Well, I think I have a couple of thoughts. I did just slowly come to realize that getting your first job is hard, but it’s not nearly as hard as getting your seventh job. That is hard. That’s when you really have to sort of, okay, you have to prove it to people. My journey was a little bit interesting because I had never done comedy. I grew up in Seattle, did theater up there in little, I don’t know, industrial films. But came to town, got “Scary Movie” and was sort of I felt that was as incredible as that experience was, it was difficult to reidentify myself as something other than a spoof movie gal. I also feel fortunate that I ended up doing comedy because it’s so much fun. I know that’s kind of a vague answer, but I think this is you know, you just have to really pedal yourself around town and attempt to not get too discouraged. And also I think as it’s there is a different kind of challenge for women as they graduate into their 30s. And it’s hard. Yeah, there’s isn’t as much work. You’re sort of you’re suddenly the aunt or something, and so it’s a process. And I think that’s why we’re so fortunate that we get to play such dimensional characters.’
Actress Allison Janney shared her second chance, ‘I don’t know, whatever it is, this to be back on television again and this time in a comedy. I mean, just every job is a chance, another chance to do it, what I love to do, and, you know, that sounds sappy, but it’s kind of true. So this is my second chance at getting a comedy.’ When Allison and Anna are asked, ‘Will your mothers watch the show? Since you talked about relationships between mothers and daughters, are they going to say to each of you, “I’m not like that” or “Where did you get that idea?” or “You’re using my lines”? Or what do you expect to hear from your mom?’ Well Anna laughs and Allison explains, ’My mother, will be she’ll be a little because this is very edgy. This is not just a typical comedy half hour. There is some there’s some subject matters that we deal with that and some ways we deal with them, some circumstances that she’s my mother will be uncomfortable with.She will watch it because she has to and she loves me, but she will call me and go, “Well, I just don’t know about that.You know, she’ll say, “I just don’t think” she’ll watch it, and she’ll love it, but she’ll have issues because she’s old school. No, she never commented. My mother was an actress too, but she’s never commented on my performance. She’ll talk about the thing as a whole and if it works or not, but she doesn’t ever say, “You really knocked it out of the park. I keep waiting for her to say that. No, I know she loves what I do, but she’s not going to say, “God, you hit that, that moment between you and” she’ll just say she loved it. She loves me, whatever I do. ” Anna chimes in about her Mother, ‘She is really supportive. She’ll say like, “Oh, you know, you were so good” or whatever, very kind. But she is the very typical mom, and I’ll have to tell her, you know, “Mom, you gave me three pieces of advice today. That’s all you get. Save it up for tomorrow. She would never be able to see, I don’t think, the similarities between Bonnie and Christy and how it’s like all mother daughter relationships.’
Adding to the ensemble cast is Nate Corddry who talk about his characters and how he came to be involved in the show. Nate starts, ‘I play Gabriel, and he’s the manager of the restaurant that Christy works in, who has a cold, loveless wife, very unhappy guy, I think, in his marriage, and he sort of falls for Christy’s character, who’s one of the waitresses in the restaurant, but is unwilling to leave his wife for her because my wife’s my father in law owns the restaurant. So what are you going to do? But he’s sort of I feel like he lives in fear. He spends most of his time afraid and sort of walking on eggshells a bit, wants to make sure that everyone is okay and everything is taken care of but doesn’t have the guts or the gumption, I guess, to go for what he wants. So we’ll see how it evolves throughout the series. And how I came to it was I was lucky enough to have the last series I did cast by the same casting director. So I think when they were looking for this character, I was very lucky to have Nikki Valko and Ken Miller put my head shot in front of Chuck perhaps and in front of other people, and that was sort of my, I think, kind of in. It was just luck of the draw. And as soon as I saw the breakdown of the character and that it was, Chuck’s company, I mean we’re in the 1 percent. I mean, to have a job like this, to work with Chuck and this cast is just unbelievable. So that’s my story.’
In the upcoming shows, there will be the introduction of Octavia Spencer. Chuck Lorre explains, ‘She’s playing a woman who, it turns out, has bigger problems than Christy (played by Scream films actress Anna Faris).’ Mom lead actress, Anna Faris chimes in at the news with ‘Oh, Thank God!’ Matt Jones was on hand to share about his role. The press asked, ‘How much noticeably more mature is this character than a certain other character a lot of us know you from?’ Matt laughs and explains, ‘I figure you’re assuming “Breaking Bad.” This character does not sell drugs that are that severe. So I think this character is a lot more well intentioned. He’s he really does care about his son and about Christy and about helping out as much as he can. He just fails at it constantly. Whereas on “Breaking Bad,” I was just trying to get high.’
The direction of the press conference shifts to genre subject matter. There are so few shows about working-class people in any genre on TV now outside of reality, weirdly. The question is asked, ‘Do you think that’s a challenge getting those shows on TV? And what do you think is funny about that sort of setting about that world?’
Writer Eddie Gorodetsky comments, ‘There’s more working people than there are people that work in television. I don’t know why there’s so many shows about people that work in television. You know, I came from a blue-collar background, and there are a lot of things that were funny. There were a lot of things that weren’t funny, but I met a lot more people in that world than I’ve met in this show, and I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a show for those people.’ The writing duties of MOM are shared between Eddie with Gemma Wade who writes for Two and Half Men. Gemma helped rescued the initial show scripts when she was called in by Chuck to help out.
Regarding relationships, the question is posed to Anna and Chuck, ” After watching this pilot, I thought of the old joke, ‘what’s the similarity between grandparents and grand kids?’, The answer is common enemy, and there were times when I actually felt sorry for Anna’s character because she was kind of getting it from both sides.’ Anna is grateful for the insightful question and replies, ‘Thank you very much.’ Continuing on the theme of ‘getting it from both sides, Chuck Lorre replies about the moments where Anna the Mom can actually win a little bit, ’Oh, yeah. There’s definitely moments where there’s some peace and joy in the valley, no question about it. Now, it’s a good observation that she’s getting it from both sides.’
Concluding the press panel, the question is asked, ’Have you noticed it’s getting easier in casting now because a lot of people you’re casting and all people know they’re getting work for maybe 13 weeks, but when you cast a show, they often know they’re going to get work for five years or seven years. Have you noticed that it kind of makes it easier for you to get people now?’ Chuck replies, ’That’s interesting because one thing that’s happened over the last few years is that TV has gotten more credibility as a good place to be, a good place to work for actors. And the other part of that question is really a testament to the magnificent Nikki Valko, who’s been my casting director since “Dharma & Greg.” And when we sent her the script in December, she emailed me a response that had two words on it, and they were “Anna Faris,” you know. There was no list. It was that’s it. She read the script, and she came right back with that. And the first lady who walked in the door to play mom was Allison. So we’ve been very fortunate to have a great casting director who’s guided us through this process.’