HART OF DIXIE's Wilson Bethel Talks About Writing the 'Funny or Die' 'Call Me Doctor' Video - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HART OF DIXIE’s Wilson Bethel Talks About Writing the ‘Funny or Die’ ‘Call Me Doctor’ Video

January 22, 2012 by  

As you may have seen, “Funny or Die” debuted a rap video last week starring HART OF DIXIE’s Rachel Bilson (Zoe) taking down the haters who deemed her not an appropriate choice to play a television doctor.

To get some more details about what led to the hilarious video, I hopped on the phone with Wilson Bethel (Wade) — who just happened to write the uber-catchy lyrics — to see what he could share…

What prompted you to write this song?
Wilson Bethel: Well, a couple things, I guess. Obviously, I have a huge interest in music and comedy and other things. And what had happened is, early on in the existence of the show, we had done a few of these panels for press and I saw that people were kind of giving Rachel and the show’s creator [Leila Gerstein] all this flack about [Rachel’s] casting. And it seemed to be so preposterous, given the nature of television in general. How many shows are a stretch? How many crime scene investigators do you see looking that certain way or acting a certain way that we’ve been conditioned to believe is plausible. And on the other hand, that Rachel, just because she’s a young, pretty woman, couldn’t possible be believed as a doctor.

So I had these things going on in my head, and I had done a fake PSA for The CW last fall, after which they were eager to see if we could collaborate on something else. And I pitched them the idea of a music video that would have Rachel coming back at her detractors. And they were super enthusiastic about it, and basically gave me a little bit of cash to work with and zero oversight. And what you saw go up on the internet a few days ago was what happens when you arm me with a little cash and nobody looking after us. [Laughs]

It was the product of about two-and-a-half months of work. We could have probably done it faster, but it ended up going over the Christmas break, too. My brother is a music producer, so he drafted a beat for me. I wrote the song to the beat. I recorded the early version of it that I then passed along to Rachel so she could check it out and start to learn her lines, so to speak. And then when we got back from Christmas, and we shot the whole video in a day. And it was a pretty amazing example of what a bunch of people who are totally on-board with a project and excited about it, what they can accomplish when they’re put together on a sound stage. [Laughs] With a loud backing rap track playing over and over again.

So did you write the lyrics before you officially got Rachel to sign on?
WB: I don’t think at any point until we were actually shooting the thing, did she think it was going to happen. [Laughs] Before I met with The CW originally to pitch the idea, I had kind of casually asked her if she would be interested and she was like, “Yeah, sure, I’d be down for that.” But I pitched it to The CW saying, “Oh, she’s 100% in.” [Laughs] Which of course I then immediately had to go about the tough business of convincing her I was bestowed with this money and I had to do something with it, so she better be onboard now. And even at that stage, I think she was [skeptical]. And then I gave her the song, and I think she was like, “They’re never going to let you do this.”

And what was remarkable about it was how little they got in my way. I basically told [The CW] over and over again, “Just trust me on this.” And until the video came out — or right before it came out to the public — they had neither seen the video nor heard the song nor seen the lyrics. [Laughs] Which is pretty shocking if you think about it. It was a total — I guess the Thursday before it came out was the first time The CW saw or heard anything of it. And at that point, didn’t bother changing anything either.

That’s really impressive. It’s also fascinating to me that the party line with a lot of actors is that they say they won’t read their reviews, so they can kind of be oblivious to those sorts of complaints made about their characters and/or shows. But in this case, you guys chose to take those statements head on, in pretty much the best way possible.
WB: You know, and it’s funny too because whether or not you read the press, you hear the questions and the way the questions [by some of the press] are framed, there’s already a level of incredulity in them. Which is not to say I don’t read a certain amount of press, because I do, I’m not the guy who says he doesn’t, but the framework [of some of the questions] is immediately accessible to anyone who is listening. Those early panels were full of that type of questions.

And then it was the manner of trying to figure out — from a certain level, there’s a sense of indignance about it, like, “Who are these guys [who are complaining]?” But you can’t be the one who just comes off complaining. You can’t be the one who is defensive to the point of sounding like an asshole yourself. So humor is really the natural form for it. I’ve always — that’s always been the stuff that I’ve found the most funny…the stuff that actually manages to conveys a point while still being ridiculous and that was what I went for that with the video.

Did you know Rachel is such a good rapper when you conceived the idea?
WB: No. No, I didn’t and she brought it. She brought it. I knew she had a little bit in her. She talked with me about her early days in high school being a little bit — hanging out with a little bit of a seedy crowd and being a little bit of a bad chick herself, which may be hard to believe — but I was banking on her having encountered enough of the other side of the tracks or the hip-hop crowd that she could access that. Because believe me, when you’re looking at a five foot tall Valley girl, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, your immediate association is not that she will be able to bring it behind the mike. But she did.

Have you been surprised by how much this has spread? I feel like everyone I know has seen this video…
WB: Which is absolutely amazing to me. In some ways I’m not surprised. I thought a lot about it before even pitching it and I know the amount of appeal Rachel has. Whether or not people watch HART OF DIXIE, people love Rachel Bilson. They have a real desire to see more of her. So my reference points for the potential success for the video was her other “Funny or Die” video, the deleted sex scene one, which is one of their top viewed videos, and also Natalie Portman’s rap that she did for SNL, which have both been huge internet sensations. So I figured if I could pull off something moderately successful as far as the execution, then we could get a lot of people to watch it. It just so happened I feel we pulled it off really well, and I think the people are responding to both that it’s Rachel Bilson and that it’s a actually funny video and actually a great song, I think.

Absolutely. Given the success, are there any plans for a sequel?
WB: Believe me, the wheels have been spinning a lot in the past couple of days. The wheels have been spinning a lot. I imagine in the shorter term I’d like to do some other kind — obviously I’m very eager to keep doing this kind of content. Whether it’s going to be another video right out of the gate, it’s hard to say. I might go simpler in the short term. It’s going to be hard to stay away. There are just too many natural fits for me, with my own interest in music and because my brother is a producer, so we have access to his studio. It’s easy to make music. I don’t mean that in a self-congratulatory way, but just in the same way if you have the right tools to make a drawing, you can do it. So I’d love to make another song and have it be equally ridiculous and hopefully have it say something, too.

Speaking of ridiculous, are you and Scott Porter (George) ever going to be able to live that car wash scene down?
WB: [Laughs] That was amazing to me. Rachel has been getting a lot of — justifiably so — a lot of accolades for her job as pulling off the rapper, but let’s give credit where credit is due and address the fact that Scott Porter might be one of the greatest video hos ever to have appeared in rap music history. And that was the idea. When I originally pitched it to him, I was like, “Rachel is rapping and for any good rap music video, you need video hos. We can’t use girls, so it’s gotta be guys and it’s gotta be you and me.” [Laughs] And I don’t think at the time he quite understood what I meant. And then he got there and what’s funny is I knew it was going to be a car wash thing, and I knew what I was going for, but we started doing a couple shots and I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and Scott was owning it like 100 times more than me. And he kept bringing my level of ridiculousness up, and up, and up and way over the top.

So Scott was the catalyst for that getting as out of control as it did. I have to give him a lot of credit. I mean, he took what could have otherwise been a little “ha ha” funny moment and set it off into one of the real coups of the entire video is when that footage starts rolling. And every time I screen it for friends or especially people that know Scott, people at the network and stuff, that’s when they die laughing. I’m real proud it came together. [Laughs] I don’t know if it’s for better or worse that it’s one of the more memorable parts of the video, but so be it.

You’ll need to release bloopers one of these days.
WB: Absolutely. I’m sure there are a lot.

What was your favorite part of the “Call Me Doctor” video?


HART OF DIXIE’s Rachel Bilson Takes on Haters in New ‘Funny or Die’ Video

Follow @GiveMeMyRemote and @marisaroffman on Twitter for the latest TV news. Connect with other TV fans on GIVE ME MY REMOTE’s official Facebook page.

And to be the first to see our exclusive videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/givememyremotetv

Filed under #1 featured, Hart of Dixie


2 Responses to “HART OF DIXIE’s Wilson Bethel Talks About Writing the ‘Funny or Die’ ‘Call Me Doctor’ Video”

  1. ben tang on January 23rd, 2012 9:11 pm

    it’s ridiculously funny how “And on the other hand, that Rachel, just because she’s a young, pretty woman, couldn’t possible be believed as a doctor”

    what an ageist and sexist statement. she’s not believable because she’s a terrible actress. it’s got nothing to do with how young or pretty she is.

  2. Chrissy on February 10th, 2013 12:57 pm

    I think she is awesome at acting. I’ve been watching Heart of Dixie from the beginning and I just love it.