RAISING HOPE Showrunner Mike Mariano Previews Season 4 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

RAISING HOPE Showrunner Mike Mariano Previews Season 4

November 14, 2013 by  


RAISING HOPE is finally back on Friday!

It’s been nearly eight months since we last checked in with the Chance family, but now they have a new time slot (Fridays at 9 PM), a new showrunner (RH creator Greg Garcia is now working on THE MILLERS, so his second-in-command, Mike Mariano is running the Fox comedy), and they’ll be airing back-to-back episodes for the rest of the calendar year.

Even better? There is some great stuff in store for RAISING HOPE fans this season.

I spoke with Mariano about the show finally premiering, what fans can expect to come, the challenges of being a showrunner, and more…

We’re so close to the premiere of RAISING HOPE. How are you feeling?
Mike Mariano: I’m excited, because we’re dying to get back on the air now. We’re making our 11th or 12th episode now, and in my 12 years of doing this, I’ve never gotten this deep into our episode order and not aired yet. So we’re excited to get on air. We’re looking forward to the move to Fridays and pairing with BONES. Especially with the big launch they’re giving us with this move. But yeah, I’m excited to get on air — we’ve been making these, I’m excited to share with the world! This is what I do, I want everybody to see it.

You’ve been with the show for years, but this is your first official year as showrunner. What has been the biggest challenge so far?
MM: You know, the biggest challenge is ultimately that I don’t get to work with Greg anymore. Because that was truly what I loved to do; I worked for him for 12 years. I just really enjoyed getting up every day, coming to work — he and I would always get in early, we’d get in five, six in the morning sometimes — and the biggest challenge is being alone in that. First of all, I have to come up with the answer [for any of the problems we run into] and second of all, I don’t have him to come in at six in the morning when we can’t figure out what to do next and talk and make each other laugh, and eventually, one of those ideas or jokes that made the other laugh would be something we could put in the show. And then everyone else started showing up around 7, 8 o’ clock and we were ready to go. So now the biggest challenge is making sure I have those final ideas, those communications to other people, because that was what he was always so great at. And what I’m trying to do is make sure I communicate all of my thoughts, and my random ideas, and random thoughts about the show to other people so they can run with the ideas and make the show.

Any time there is a scene the writers have written two or three times, and I’m not seeing it, and it’s not quite right, and it’s not funny to me or it’s not doing what I need it to do, it’s generally because I need to get in there and sit down and talk with them. I need to give them more of myself. I need to make sure I’m getting in there and they’re getting information and communication from me. It’s never [about] what people are bringing to me: if I don’t like the set, if I don’t like the way the actors are playing it, if I don’t like the scene, if I don’t like the location, everybody here is always trying to bring me things so I can make the show, but it always has to come from me first. So my one biggest fear would be I don’t communicate adequately what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling, so I [wouldn’t] get things coming back to me that are like, “Yeah, this is an idea I didn’t know I had yet, and it’s fully fledged out and ready to go. Great.” It’s just making sure you’re communicating.

That makes sense. What can you tease about how the season kicks off?
MM: I just think having Jeffrey Tambor on the show [in the season premiere] is an incredible thing. He’s such an icon, he’s so funny. I thought he was so funny since I saw him in the movie …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL years and years ago. And just everything he has done in between. So to have an actor with that kind of magnitude and that kind of following, I’m excited to see what people think of what we’ve done with him. I know we enjoyed having him here. Our cast loved working with him. He seemed to like being here. It was a really fun time. Hopefully, that’ll be something people tune in to see.

I think the whole “deja vu” man idea [with his character] is really clever and I’m really proud of the staff for how they made a a really layered, intricate introduction of this character. In terms of structure, normally you would have him walk in and [find out] that’s [he’s Virginia’s] father. And we revealed the father fairly late in the episode, which I’m really proud of. We hung our hats on the big emotional moment of that being her father, but we found a really cool Natesville thing with a deja vu man who follows you around, and the cookie man, to get you hooked into this weird little mystery, and then reveal who he is later. To me, that’s great storytelling. And so I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud of the staff of that.

And [the second episode,] “Burt Bucks” is a story we’ve been trying to do forever. “Burt Bucks” is funny, because we conceived it in season 1, and it’s one Greg never really liked very much, and it’s one I always wanted to do, but I could never get him to do, but he could never wrap his head around it. It was right after the whole financial meltdown, and we were trying to equate it to that, but he was like, “But it doesn’t equate exactly.” And we were like, not exactly, no. So we kept trying to figure out how to make it work and then we started working on it this year, and we did like four versions of it and it just didn’t make any sense. So we went back to the very simplest, earliest version that we had ever done in season 1, and basically came up with it’s hyper-inflation. [Burt] creates hyper-inflation. We went for it in that simple sense…and we kind of fleshed it out and went with it, and we were really happy with what we got. We were able to pair it with something nice that was going on with Jimmy and Sabrina, too, so that helped it. So that was a culmination . And it was very, very rewarding when I sent a cut over for Greg to watch, and he went, “Oh, now I get it!” So he finally understands Burt Bucks. But I had to make it and show it to him first.

At least he admitted he got why you guys wanted to do it!
MM: And that one, the look of it is fantastic. Rebecca Asher, who is the closest thing we have to a house director, she’s done five of them this year, maybe six, and she’s just fantastic. She’s an incredible emerging director who is very in demand. She was our script supervisor season 1, and she was starting to get more and more directing work, and has now transitioned over to being a booked out director. And she does a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s a very good friend. And I couldn’t be more happy we get to use her as much as we do. That episode is really beautifully shot, as are all of hers.

Especially one we have later in the season, which is entitled “Murder, She Hoped,” which is a Hitchcock parody, which she directed so beautifully and so amazingly, that I really hope it wins something. I’ll be nominating it for everything I’m allowed to nominate it for.

That sounds great. You guys shot a couple extra episodes last season with the intention to air them this year. Do you know where they’ll fall in the schedule, or is that still up in the air?
MM: I can tell you exactly where they will air! We shot one last year that is called “Hi-Def” that airs in our second week, that is paired with our vacation episode, “Ship Happens.” And so “Hi-Def” is going to air week two.

And “The Road to Natesville,” I believe is going to air around the Olympics. It is a spoof of the HBO and other sports documentaries you would see around then, so it’s about  the grocery games. So it’s just us doing a genre-spoof and it will air around the Olympics because it’s sports-themed.

Oh, how appropriate! It seems like in at least the first few episodes of the season, you guys are utilizing the actresses who play Hope a little bit more. As they get older, are you guys trying to find a new balance in how much they can be used for pivotal scenes, etc.?
MM: You know, you’re always playing it by ear; sometimes it’s hard to get the adults to do what you want to do to get the shot done on time.

But you don’t expect what you would expect from an adult actor from a child. I am first and foremost a parent. I have a 17-year-old daughter, I have two sons who are nine and 13. I treat these girls as I would want my children treated if they go anywhere. They’re here to have fun. They’re not ever to be stressed. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. We always have multiple background plans. We don’t take them to exotic locations — we don’t really go to exotic locations where we’ll be like, “Oh, we won’t be able to get all these stunts in if we don’t get her to cry.” I would never do any of that crazy stuff. You just take your time and tell their mom ahead of time that maybe we’re thinking of blowing a raspberry.

In our Christmas episode, we needed them to sing, so we taught them the song so we could get shots of them singing. And we can use the magic of dubbing and post-production and things to make it sound a little different and whatever. But in terms of them singing, they just learned to mouth the song.

They like to stand on their “T”s as they call it — their mark [for filming on set] — they see their color and they go, “That’s Hope’s T.” And they call it “being Hope”: “I’m going to go be Hope.” And they take turns. One sister will do it and then the other will say, “I’m going to go play Hope!”

And they have a wonderful relationship with everyone in the cast, especially Shannon [Woodward (Sabrina)]. Obviously they’re in a lot of scenes with her since she plays their mother. But also with Lucas [Neff (Jimmy)], and Martha [Plimpton (Virginia)] and Garret [Dillahunt (Burt)] and Cloris [Leachman (Maw Maw)]. So they kind of think they’re coming to play with their friends. And that’s what I want it to be for them. I never want them to feel in any way stressed or anything like that. We’ll get what we need. We don’t ever rely on what we’re getting from them; we just expect we’ll get something. We have a tremendous cast of adults who are paid to be actors.

Absolutely. Given the insane roster of guest stars you have coming up this season, is there anyone in particular you’re really excited for fans to see?
MM: Molly Shannon. She’s shooting her second episode now where she comes back and dates Barney, and they go out on a double-date in a restaurant with Burt and Virginia. And so I’m very excited about having Molly on the show. She’s really terrific, and brings great energy to a really interesting role.

We have a lot who come through along the way. Diedrich Bader is in the Hitchcock episode I referenced and is absolutely fantastic in that. He’s absolutely hilarious. And Bernie Kopell is in our second week, he’s in our vacation episode. He and Cloris have a scene together that is absolutely hilarious.

And Amy Sedaris is back. Amy Sedaris did an episode which is possibly my favorite episode maybe of all time of this show. There’s an act break she does in the episode, “Hey There, Delilah,” where her character, Delilah, comes back, which is the funniest act break I’ve ever seen on television. I can’t even say I’m proud of it, because I had nothing to do with it, it was all her. And she and Martha when they go head-to-head, it’s just really funny. They’re just both terrific.

Are you excited to having RAISING HOPE back?

RAISING HOPE airs two new episodes Friday, November 15th at 9 PM on Fox.

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4 Responses to “RAISING HOPE Showrunner Mike Mariano Previews Season 4”

  1. Nicholas Richardson (@Slicknickshady) on November 14th, 2013 8:50 pm

    Such a Great Interview. So glad that the show is back. Praying that it can somehow do well enough on Fridays to get another season at least.

    I’m having to DVR tomorrow since ill be at a Michigan State basketball game so ill have to DVR it as well as Bones but im still so excited for it to be back. Such a great show.

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