Category: TV Shows

Kristen Bell and Ted Danson Dish on ‘The Good Place’ and Their Real-Life Bad Places

Kristen Bell and Ted Danson Dish on ‘The Good Place’ and Their Real-Life Bad Places

The Wrap – Don’t put Danson behind a bar or take him to an escape room, the way Bell recently did.

This story about Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and “The Good Place” first appeared in the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

Heaven or hell? Devil or angel? And does it even matter?

NBC’s delightful comedy series “The Good Place” started out as a vision of paradise, albeit a rather odd and completely secular paradise; it ended its first season with the show-shattering reveal that our human characters had actually been spending their time in a radical new version of hell designed to get them to torture each other rather than leaving that job to the pros.

And in Season 2, the show from “Parks and Recreation” creator Mike Schur kept upending itself in the most delicious of ways.

This is a show that can make hell kind of charming and give a fun, cuddly twist to the afterlife. Kristen Bell somehow makes us root for a woman whose self-obsession knows no bounds but who’s smarter and maybe even nicer than she lets on. Ted Danson was a scene stealer even in the first season as a human-torturing demon who had to hide his true nature from the other characters and from the audience.

(Granted, words like demon may not be appropriate for an altogether nonreligious and bureaucratic afterworld; he’s middle management at best, and not very good at his job of torturing humans.)

On a break early in the filming of Season 3, Bell and Danson discussed the pleasures and challenges of a show that delights in blowing up its own premise over and over. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

Season 2 must have been a real kick for you, Ted, because you finally got to…
TED DANSON Be who I am. Yeah, it was really fun. And it was easier to find the funny, because funny usually is this kind of triangular thing between you, another character and the audience. But I had no relationship to the audience in Season 1. They never saw me in a private moment, or I would have been twirling my mustache.

Would you have taken the part without the knowledge that eventually you were going to get to show who this guy really is?
DANSON Oh, I would have done it. I signed on before I saw a script. I knew that Kristen was likely going to do it. I then listened to Mike Schur empty his mind for an hour and tell me everything he knew about the show and the twist. And I really signed up for Mike Schur.

KRISTEN BELL He can tell a story with detail that is frightening, like a computer. “Here’s what I want to do in Episode 9, and it’s a callback to Episode 6…” And I’m like, “You haven’t even written the pilot, bro! Slow down!”

DANSON Is this the first job you’ve taken when you haven’t read a script?

BELL Yeah. Wow. Yeah. We were sold on the idea, with the twist, and with his commitment to cliff-hangers and pulling the rug out from under people. I just thought, “What a goal. Let him try, I’d love to be a part of it.”

I feel as if Ted needed to know the twist to play his part, but you didn’t.
DANSON But she needed to know in order to take the part.

BELL Well, yes and no. Mike is an unparalleled collaborator, and I think he had respect enough for me to say, “I would like you to know what you’re signing up for.” So he opened the whole kimono that day.

Was it frustrating to hide who this guy was, Ted?
DANSON I don’t know about frustrating, because I had my hands full just trying to fulfill the script. But watching it, I would go, “You’re either doing a really good job, Ted, or that’s some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen.” And I couldn’t quite make up my mind.

BELL Around Episode 8 of the first season, my husband [Dax Shepard] said, “I love your show, but my one critique is that Ted is just wildly underused. He’s just kind of one-note.” And I didn’t tell him the twist, because I can keep a secret.

DANSON [Silently mouths] I can’t.

BELL I couldn’t tell him that there was a very specific reason you’ve never seen Michael on camera by himself, that all those choices were leading up to something wonderful.

DANSON It was hard.

BELL Keeping the secret?

DANSON No, that was easy, because I didn’t. But I didn’t know how to be funny.

BELL I don’t think you realize how funny it is when you’re bumbling.

DANSON I don’t.

BELL It’s pretty cute.

So Kristen, were you looking forward to working with the unleashed Ted Danson in Season 2?
BELL Big time. That terrifying cackle he gave at the end of Season 1, I was like, “What is in store?”

What’s in store is that Michael changes — he starts the season torturing humans and ends as something of a guardian angel.
DANSON Well, he’s madly in love with humans. And I think he recognizes that Eleanor’s way smarter than he is.

BELL I agree.

DANSON He watches her change and still be doomed. And if you can change in the afterlife, you should be able to garner points or something. The system sucks, and it just seems horribly unfair to him that people he’s grown to love don’t stand a chance to be in the Good Place.

As a viewer, I have no idea where the show is going in Season 3. You blew up the premise at the end of Season 1, then took the setting for both seasons and stuck it in a museum on hell. The humans are back on Earth, but for how long?
DANSON Nice try, thinking you can get us to tell you something about Season 3. Not me.

BELL It’s impossible not to say at the end of each of our seasons, “Where on Earth are they going to put us?” No pun intended. “What is going to happen, how could we possibly raise the stakes?” But they figure it out. They are given a problem in that writers room and they figure it out. I don’t even know how they do it, but it’s fascinating what they do.

Kristen, when you were on TheWrap’s comedy actors panel, you talked about how we’re in a time where we need heroes who are good — that we’re not looking for Walter White or Tony Soprano anymore. Do you think this is a show for its time?
BELL I do. I think that when your reality is comfortable, you can be entertained by something uncomfortable. When your reality is more uncomfortable, I think you want to see people fighting for good. You want to see something relatable: “Oh, those people are in a crazy/s—ty situation as well, and they’re figuring it out, and they have hope and drive.”

I think that’s why our show has been successful, because people enjoy that these characters are fighting for goodness amidst all their bumbling complexities and idiotic behavior.

DANSON When I think about Mike Schur, one of the things I think about is that he’s a decent man. And I think to talk about decency and ethics and consequences and do it with a 9-year-old’s fart sense of humor and magical visual effects, it’s just brilliant.

Was the morality of it, for lack of a better word, one of the reasons you were interested?
DANSON I don’t think I got it until I started watching the shows and would see Eleanor wrap up a little moral to our story. It took me a while to get it. You must have gotten it faster.

BELL For sure. In that love fest with Mike in our first meeting, I realized that he, too, has long been preoccupied with what it means to be a good person. I felt a connection with him.

So you have that preoccupation as well?
BELL Oh, yeah. It began as your regular old therapeutic codependency. I wanted to please people, and I want to be liked, and I’m afraid to disappoint people. And in learning how to manage that a little bit more, and figure out how to be good to myself with self-care and boundaries, I realized that a lot of my codependency was things that I really enjoyed, and some of it wasn’t codependency at all. It was just who I wanted to be.

There is a part that recognizes that good behavior makes me feel good. Who knows if there will ever be a reward, but the reward of feeling good is enough for me right now.

Ted, was it as much fun for you as it was for the audience when you showed up as a bartender in a scene late in Season 2?
DANSON No! I hate getting behind a bar. It took me a year on “Cheers” to not be embarrassed or shy. I was so not a bar person or a confident Romeo. I was a backwards, shy kind of kid. Took me almost a year to get that Sam Malone relief-pitcher, bartender arrogance. So having stopped that, I seriously have anxiety stepping behind a bar. It was a great scene, but I was so uncomfortable.

Had you two met before this series?
BELL We had. My husband and I had just watched the first season of “Damages,” which is so good. Ted plays Arthur Frobisher, and we were so obsessed with it that for that year or two, we changed our alias to get mail to Holly and Arthur Frobisher.

Then I booked this movie called “Big Miracle,” which Ted was also in. And I met him for the first time in Alaska in this lobby of the hotel. And I said, “Hello, Mr. Danson, my name is Kristen Bell. I don’t want to freak you out, but I do want to let you know that I am checked into this hotel as Holly Frobisher.” And he was like, “Oh, OK. Very nice to meet you.” I realized in retrospect that was maybe not a good opener.

DANSON Captain Cook.

BELL It was the Captain Cook Hotel. Did it freak you out when I told you I was checked in as Mrs. Frobisher?

DANSON Well, maybe.

BELL Did you, like, tell the ADs to keep me away?

DANSON No. And now that I know you and Dax, I can see how much fun you must have had doing it.

BELL Oh, we loved it.

I hear you took Ted to his first escape room, and I’m wondering if there will be a second.
DANSON No. No f—ing way.

BELL Shut up! There will be a second escape room. First of all, if Mary [Steenburgen, Danson’s wife] and I have anything to say about it, there will be.

DANSON Mary is dying to go again.

BELL I should have done more research, so this one is on me. I should have realized that this was an escape room where A, they split your group up, which is already no fun, and B, they turn off the lights, so it’s pitch black. You are given flashlights, and Ted just sat down on the little twin bed that was in the room and handed Dax his flashlight…

DANSON And just stretched out.

BELL Meanwhile, Mary was killing it on our side. She was an amazing detective.

DANSON It wasn’t just that the lights were out and I like to take naps. It’s also that I was with the guys, and the guys are meant to relax. If I’m around women, I’m up and interested. If it’s the guys, I’m gonna stretch out. There’s no one to impress.

Getting back to your show, do you have any ideas of how you’d like things to end for your characters?
DANSON I can guarantee that whatever I could possibly imagine would fall so short of whatever comes out of Mike’s noggin.

BELL Ditto. Yeah. We know our place, and we’re so happy to live here.

It’s a good place?
BELL Exactly. I have no problem leaving the heavy lifting up to them.

Read more of TheWrap’s Comedy/Drama/Actors Emmy issue here.

Magazine Scans > 2018 > The Wrap
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Kristen Bell attends FYC screening of Universal Television’s ‘The Good Place’

Kristen Bell attends FYC screening of Universal Television’s ‘The Good Place’

On June 19, Kristen Bell attended the FYC screening of Universal Television’s ‘The Good Place‘ at UCB Sunset Theater in Los Angeles, California.

Kristen was joined at the event by her co-stars Ted DansonJameela JamilManny JacintoD’Arcy Carden and William Jackson Harper.

Bell was wearing a black bodysuit by David Koma, pants by Ulla Johnson, shoes by Jimmy ChooTheory cream/white coat and earrings by Pearl Collective.

‘The Good Place’ is set to return to NBC with an hour-long season three premiere on Thursday, Sept. 27 – Mark your calender’s!

 Events > 2018 > Jun 19 │ FYC screening of Universal Television’s ‘The Good Place’

A forkin’ awesome conversation with the cast of ‘The Good Place’

A forkin’ awesome conversation with the cast of ‘The Good Place’

LA Times – “The Good Place” ended its first season with an astonishing, ground-shifting bombshell — Eleanor (Kristen Bell), a human trying to save her soul by becoming a better person after death, figured out that the Good Place was, in fact, the Bad Place, which should have been obvious all along what with those ubiquitous frozen yogurt stores in the neighborhood.

Ted Danson’s afterlife architect, Michael, confirmed this delicious disclosure with a maniacal laugh that became an instant moment of classic television, also revealing himself to be an immortal demon, and the episode itself firmly established the show’s bona fides. If series creator Michael Schur possessed the confidence to play that kind of a long game, what might he do for a follow-up?

The 13-episode, second season answer proved every bit as satisfying. While premises were still made to be broken, Schur and the show’s writers leaned into the idea of community, exploring the idea that people define themselves by the strength of their tribes. For “The Good Place,” that includes four humans striving to avoid eternal damnation, a demon learning to love flawed mortals and an all-knowing Siri-like being named Janet who appears to be turning into a human herself.

The actors playing the members of this makeshift family — Danson, Kristen Bell, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto and Jameela Jamil — have quickly become one of the most appealing ensembles on television. The day before they were to begin shooting the third season premiere, we sat down with the cast on the Universal Studios backlot to talk about the show’s radical optimism.

I want to get just a taste of the upcoming season, and I have it on good authority that one of you has trouble keeping secrets.

Bell: Loose Lips Danson!

Danson: That’s absolutely true. I’m impossible. So let me guess: You probably want to know about what’s in store for our group of humans, who, last we saw them, were down on Earth pursuing their second chances. And Michael and Janet are monitoring them …

Bell: I think we can reveal that, metaphorically, this next season is about how you can play chess with people who don’t know you’re playing with them and doing so in a way that doesn’t affect the greater universe.

Danson: What she said. [Laughs]

Bell: Because our characters don’t know there’s a greater mission. We’re meandering on Earth. What I loved about that whole last episode from Season 2 was that it summed up everyone’s yearly existence from Jan. 1 to March 1. You make resolutions. You’re going to be a better person. You’re going to work out more. You’re going to eat broccoli. And by March, none of that is happening. You saw it with Eleanor. She vows to change, and then she gets bored.

So now we are all left on Earth separately. And what we learned from the first two seasons is that our strengths come when we’re together. But can Michael and Janet tamper with us without affecting the universe?

Jamil: I will also add that the scripts we’ve read so far are even funnier. And slightly filthier.

Filthier how? Asking for all those fans writing “Good Place” erotic fan fiction.

Danson: Wait a minute. Where do you see this erotic fan fiction?

Jamil: On your blog, Ted. No … there’s volumes of it, mostly about me and Kristen.

Bell: It’s no secret that Eleanor’s very fluid in her sexuality. So people have been stimulated by that thought.

Jamil: The stories always start the same way. We’re just laughing and having a great time. And then one of our fingers touches the other one’s hair and then one thing leads to another.

And a hot-diggity-dog moment ensues …

Carden: You get it!

Jamil: It’s genuinely very sweet. Our fans are so passionate. They’ve made so many amazing paintings and even some statues.

Carden: I’d like to buy some of it. Is that dorky?

Danson: Well, it’d be like going to someone’s house and they have a baby picture of themselves out.

Carden: What if I buy it and make my parents put it up in their house? That’s cool, right?

Harper: No. But I have a framed baby picture of myself, so who am I to say?

Going back to that idea of Michael and Janet tampering with the humans, we saw that in the last episode where Michael shows up as a bartender on Earth, offering Eleanor guidance. Ted, did you enjoy that “Cheers” callback?

Danson: No. I’m literally traumatized if I have to get behind a bar. For some bizarre reason, I break into a sweat.

Bell: You’re so weird. Is it too much pressure?

Danson: No. It’s really like … I don’t know …

Bell: Well, dig deep!

Danson: It blindsides me every time. And if I have to be attractively coming on to a woman in a scene, it just devastatingly paralyzes me. I just hope they can get back to the Good Place without Michael having to do that.

Do you think there is a Good Place?

Jamil: I don’t know. But I do know I think about my motivations a lot more since doing this show.

Danson: Making sure the waitress sees how large a tip you left. Everybody does that.

Bell: Will just whispered that he tries to hide it.

Harper: I don’t want to be that cheesy guy who looks them in the eye and says, “Hey, that’s for you.”

Bell: Mike developed this point system, this little game with himself where if he’s driving and someone cuts him off, it’s minus 20 points. He tallies people all day for a fun game for himself.

And what he figured out for the show was … [Section omitted because it involves a huge spoiler for Season Three.]

Carden: That was a bit that got taken out of Season Two.

Harper: Yeah. But it will come back.

Danson: Who’s “Loose Lips” now? [Laughs]

Will I have points deducted if I put that information in the story?

Bell: You will go straight to the Bad Place.

If you went through life in a Mike Schur way, what kind of behavior loses points?

Bell: I judge everything by: Does it lean toward happiness or does it lean toward suffering? Like cutting someone off in traffic or all the seven sins … because cutting people off in traffic is one of them, right?

Harper: In L.A. Also: Selfies.

Jamil: Selfies definitely. And anyone who designs any sort of G-string. I’m more about minutiae.

Carden: I think about the point system a lot because my husband and I have a different moral compass. He’s a very good person, but he can justify just about anything if it helps his family or people he loves.

Bell: That’s tribal and, to be stereotypical, it’s more male. It’s more female to see the world a little more maternally. But look, if there was a lion in my backyard, my whole family would be dead. I’d be wondering if he needed water or had a thorn in his paw.

Jamil: Manny, what would your bad place things be?

Jacinto: I grew up in a very religious household and was fortunate to be given those principles as a kid. But who knows if they’re right or wrong. I think all I know is that I know nothing.

Danson: He’s just going for being the smartest person in the room. Because it’s true, what he said. I remember watching my mother die. Up until then, I had read this philosophy, that religion, meditating, Zen and felt a kind of spiritual pride about who I was. And watching her die, I was like, “Oh, I know nothing. She may be about to know. But I don’t have a clue.”

Which brings us back to wondering if there’s a Good Place — both on the show and the afterlife.

Bell: Maybe the Good Place is right here, finding those people who challenge you and help you grow. And you do the same for them.

Carden: And no mobile phones. There are no mobile phones in the Good Place.

Jamil: Because we have Janet. But think about it: If the characters had mobile phones, they never would have bonded. Too many distractions — the breaking news alerts, the social media, the apps. Also Chidi would have ghosted the hell out of Eleanor every time she got in his face about his neuroses.

Danson: Now what does “ghosted” mean again?

Carden: It means when you don’t reply to a text. Ted, you should know. You’re a big ghoster!

Harper: I think we see groups of people doing bad things so often in the media that, with our show, it’s heartening to see a bunch of people come together and look out for each other without it being cheesy. In life, I’ve been part of groups of friends with really great people, and I’m a better person because of that. I think it’s a pretty common experience, so it’s nice to reflect that.

Bell: I think this show helps us digest the negative things around us and transcend them. Because if you look at the statistics and start from a place of logic, things have never been better. It’s like Steven Pinker said in a lecture a couple of weeks ago: Every newspaper could have printed for the last 30 years that “Today, 138,000 less people died of starvation.” The world is not getting worse. I mean, the Crusades aren’t going on. Little things like that.

Jamil: Absolutely. You know, there are moral philosophy lecturers discussing this show in their classes.

Danson: [Feigning pomposity] Oh, we’re fabulous. You know the trouble with these conversations is you always walk out and step into a big pile of karmic poop. We’re all going to have to tread carefully the rest of the day.

Kristen Bell attends the ‘The Good Place’ FYC Screening and Q&A

Kristen Bell attends the ‘The Good Place’ FYC Screening and Q&A

On May 04, Kristen Bell attended the NBC’s ‘The Good Place‘ FYC Screening And Q&A at Universal Studios Backlot in Universal City, California.

Also were in attendance Ted DansonMarc Evan JacksonD’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil ,William Jackson Harper and Manny Jacinto.

  Events > 2018 > May 04 │NBC’s ‘The Good Place’ FYC Screening And Q&A at Universal Studios Backlot

Frozen Costars Kristen Bell & Josh Gad Will Star in New Animated Series

Frozen Costars Kristen Bell & Josh Gad Will Star in New Animated Series

DEADLINE – In a very competitive situation, with three major streaming services pursing, Apple has landed animated musical comedy Central Park, from 20th Century Fox TV, with a two-episode, 26-episode straight-to-series order.

The series comes from the creator/executive producer of the Emmy-winning Fox/20th TV animated comedy series Bob’s Burgers Loren Bouchard, who co-wrote it with the Bob’s Burgers‘ executive producer Nora Smith and actor-writer Josh Gad (Frozen). The show’s voice cast includes Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs and Kathryn Hahn.

Central Park tells the story of a how a family of caretakers, who live and work in Central Park, end up saving the park, and basically the world.

Bouchard and Gad executive produce alongside Brillstein Entertainment Partners, with Smith serving as consulting producer. Kevin Larsen, who played a key role in getting the project together, is a producer.

Central Park was developed at 20th TV — home of such animated series as The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob Burgers, King of the Hill and American Dad — where Bouchard is based. It was originally eyed for Fox, which has been looking up to ramp up its animated offerings, recently ordering Lil Kev animated pilot presentation based on the comedy of Kevin Hart.

After Fox ultimately passed on Central Park, 20th TV took the project out, sparking a heated bidding war among Apple, Netflix and Hulu.

Central Park marks the first animated series for Apple and one of two series the new streaming players has give a 2-season order, along with the morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

It also marks the first animated comedy series in the streaming space for 20th TV. The vast majority of the studio’s animated shows to date have been for sibling broadcast network Fox. (American Dad, which currently airs on TBS, originally ran on Fox for 11 seasons.

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