At the CBS portion of the TCA Winter Press Tour, writer/producer Chuck Lorre and show star Melissa McCarthy were in attendance to talk about their hit series Mike & Molly. The comedy tells the story of a working class Chicago couple – Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) and fourth-grade teacher Molly Flynn (McCarthy) – who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
During the panel presentation, Chuck Lorre talked about having three shows on the air at one time (with Mike & Molly, The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men), what makes for a successful multi-camera comedy, how you know when something is working and the challenges of doing so many episodes in one season, while Melissa McCarthy talked about having had such a successful year, the fun of hosting Saturday Night Live, the opportunities she gets to make a complete ass out of herself on the show, and how much she enjoys working with the new additions to the cast. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Chuck, when you have three shows on the air, do you still work on developing new things, or is it all about running these three shows right now?
CHUCK LORRE: No, not at all. This is just fine. This is wonderful. They’re all very different. They have different voices. They have different tones.
Melissa, this has been a big year for you, with the success of the show and Bridesmaids. How has that been?
MELISSA McCARTHY: It’s been pretty crazy. I think you just hope to get a job so badly. We’re a weird bunch at Mike & Molly. We go to work, and we’re crazy about each other, and we love where we go to work. That’s my day job. If your day job was the greatest thing on earth, to get to do a little side project that people really respond to and you get to work with another group of friends, has made this an insane year. It’s funny. I was really anxious. I felt that school thing. I was really anxious to get back to work and see my family there. I don’t know. It’s like I’m going to get hit by a bus soon because it’s been all good stuff. This will be great, when I am hit by a bus and have said it to all of you. I went to Catholic school. It all make sense.
Did Saturday Night Live let you do the kind of things you can’t do on Mike & Molly?
McCARTHY: It’s apples and oranges. It’s such a totally different beast. It just was a whole different, fun, wild thing to do.
Would you like to be able to do more physical comedy on the show?
McCARTHY: I feel like we do physical comedy. I think I get to do a lot more stuff. I don’t think there’s any other sitcom where they come in and are like, “Take your time with it. We’re not in any rush.” It always throws me off because I’m so used to people being like, “Faster, faster!,” especially with how everything is cut so fast today. So, I think they give me lots of opportunity to completely make an ass of myself. I feel like I’m getting the best of both with this show.
LORRE: Well, take away the phrase “multi-camera,” because who cares how many cameras there are. Honestly, why count cameras? The crew would like six cameras. But, the answer to that question is really simple. It’s great actors and great writing, and it doesn’t really matter if you have six or eight or one camera. They have different tones and styles, but if you don’t care about the characters and the relationships, you are not going to laugh at the jokes and, if you are not laughing at the jokes, you are not going to watch the show. It’s real simple. It’s about great actors and funny scripts, and the genre itself is secondary.
How early in the process do you know that something is working?
LORRE: When they read together. When Billy and Melissa read together the first time, we all looked at each other and went, “Oh, okay, we have a show here.” Those are remarkable moments, and they are rare, so when they happen, it’s pretty exciting.
In the old days, comedies sometimes tried to get up to 26 or 28 episodes in a season. How many episodes could you do, if they really wanted you to do more episodes?
LORRE: I think we are doing 23 this year, for this show. The other shows will be 24. I would like to do six. I think six would be great. It’s exhausting. It really is. It’s a ridiculous format to try and turn out 23 good stories in eight months. It’s a crazy schedule, but this is the business we chose.
Melissa, as the cast has grown in the second season, we are starting to see Mike and Molly play around with other characters more. Are there other characters that you haven’t gotten to spend too much time with, who you are really chomping at the bit to do scenes with?
McCARTHY: I keep waiting for a full fistfight with Lou. I keep asking. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. No. I don’t know. It gets so much more fun when other people come in. It’s just crazy. Every time somebody starts, it just feels like they’ve always been there. It’s such a sense of history, the second they walk in. They all just came in and were amazing. But, I look forward to anytime I get to have a good scene with somebody new. I get really excited.
Chuck, is a marriage going to happen this season?
LORRE: We are thinking May.