A Chat with Rizwan Manji, Parvesh Cheena, and Anisha Nagarajan (“Outsourced”)

Although I mentioned in the intro to my chat with Ben Rappaport that my encounter with him at the 2011 Winter TCA Tour was the first time I’d ever spoken with him, it was not the first time I’d talked to a cast member of “Outsourced.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Rizwan Manji and Parvesh Cheena back in August at the summer TCA tour, and having enjoyed watching the ensemble of the show really come together since then, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to them again. It was an added bonus, however, that the lovely Anisha Nagarajan, who plays Madhuri on the series (and who I’d not met previously), happened to walk up while we were chatting. All three were jazzed about the way “Outsourced” has been coming along and, perhaps more surprisingly, are actually kind of excited about their new 10:30 PM timeslot, which takes effect tonight.

One housekeeping note: there are a couple of questions within the piece which were asked by my TCA compatriot Bill Brioux, who has a great and appropriately-titled site called TV Feeds My Family. Poor Bill was forced to battle his way through the last half of the tour with an excruciating case of laryngitis, and he asked if – in lieu of trying to croak out all of his questions – he could piggyback on a couple of my interviews, so if you should happen to be one of the few people who reads both of us, let me assure you that any crossover between our pieces on “Outsourced” is totally authorized.

Bullz-Eye: You and I first met back in the summer, for the initial “Outsourced” panel. Are you nervous about being back amongst the critics?

Rizwan Manji: (Laughs) You know what? We’re very excited to be back. We’re glad that we’re still here and that we’re doing so well, so we’re very happy about that. Yeah, I think we’re a little bit more relaxed than we were in August. We were very nervous about what we were going to be asked, and we hadn’t done it before. Now, we’re sort of…we’ve gone to a bunch of different events now, so we’re a little bit calmer than we were in August.

BE: Plus, you guys are a hit now.

RM: Yes! We’re very excited about that!

BE: I liked the show from the get-go, actually. I used to work in a call center, so I had a natural affinity to the concept.

RM: So you’re the real Todd, I guess? (Laughs)

BE: Well, I did my best. In fact, I just spoke with your onscreen nemesis a few minutes ago.

RM: You did…? (Cuts eyes suspiciously around the room, then laughs)

BE: You guys really have some great chemistry together, a hero/villain dynamic or whatever you want to call it.

RM: Oh, thank you! Yeah, me and Ben, we have a tremendous time. We actually even live really close by each other, so we actually even see each other on the weekends. My daughter loves him, and whenever she sees him on TV, she’s always, like, “More Ben! More Ben!” (Laughs) She’s two, and that’s what she can come up with. You know, it’s…I’m so thankful that, as you said, the chemistry worked out, because we never auditioned together. It was one of those things where I found out really late in the game, because, as I think I might’ve mentioned to you in the summer, I auditioned for a different part. So when we actually met was the first time we were reading it for the network, and we were, like, “Oh, my God, this works!” So it could’ve gone horribly wrong, or it could’ve been this, and I’m so happy that we have a little bit of chemistry.

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Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 13 Quotes from Day 8

No proper panels today, but we did a heck of a lot of driving around. It was TCA Day, which meant that we went to this studio and that, visiting the sets of various shows and meeting their casts and creators. It started bright and early with trips to “Lopez Tonight” and “Conan,” then it was over to 20th Century Fox, where we were treated to panels featuring stars from “Glee,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Raising Hope,” and “Modern Family,” divided up into men and women, with Jimmy Kimmel moderating the panel for the guys. After that, we hit the sets of “Cougar Town,” “Parks & Recreation,” and “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.” Good times all around, especially for someone like me, who lives in Virginia and rarely gets to enjoy these kinds of experiences. After that, I headed over to the Vanguard for the taping of two episodes of Season 2 of “The Green Room with Paul Provenza,” which was phenomenal. How can you go wrong with an evening that includes appearances from Ron White, Kathleen Madigan, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Richard Lewis, Jeffrey Ross, and others? Can’t wait to see the final cut of the episode. (They run 30 minutes, but the taping’s more like an hour and a half.)

But I know, you’re wondering, “Why 13 quotes?” It’s a weird number, so it’s a valid question. Originally, it was going to be 15 quotes, but for reasons unknown to me, we have yet to receive a transcription from our trip to the “Parks & Recreation” set, which contained at least two more solid quotes. Oh, well.

1. “I’ve said it before and I sincerely mean it, in the modern landscape of television there is only a few ways to stay on TV, and one of them is to be, you know, lucky as shit and have a huge giant hit, and everybody in the world watches you, and the other is to cultivate a loyal and hopefully intelligent audience that follows you around, and that is in no great part due to people that champion the show if they like it. First and foremost, I wanted to say that for those of you that don’t like the show, fuck you guys. But those of you who have really taken the time to champion the show and write about it and say nice things, I’m grateful. It’s not just for ego reasons, in this day and age it really means something.” – Bill Lawrence, “Cougar Town” (ABC)

2. “On April Fools’, I was talking to Usher, and I said, ‘You have three kids.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘No, I don’t. Don’t you have research people that tell you?’ I mean, and he looks at the audience, and he says, ‘You would think that a host would do his research and know facts about a guest before he asks a question.’ And then he said, ‘April Fool’s.’ He got me, yeah.” – George Lopez, “Lopez Tonight” (TBS)

3. “I’ve never considered myself particularly interested in media. I mean, I’m someone who likes to come in and do my job, and then I like to go home and play with my kids. I wasn’t used to being a media story. It was never a goal of mine. So the strangest thing about immediately after the (end of ‘The Tonight Show’) was my wife decided the next morning, early on, we should just drive up to Santa Barbara and check into a hotel and decompress for three days because she thought this guy needs to decompress. He needs to. So we got up really early in the morning. We got in our car, and we pulled out of our house, and two cars followed right in behind us and followed us all the way to Santa Barbara and then just hung outside the hotel for three days. And, you know, I’m not Brad Pitt. I’m not George Clooney. You know, I’ve been blessed with their DNA, but I just thought, ‘Who are they following?’ So that was weird.

“And there were a lot of highs. I walked into a restaurant that day, and everybody in the restaurant applauded. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s nice. This is weird. And, also, this isn’t a living. I don’t see how to do this as a job, walk around and get applauded in restaurants.’ So there was an initial sort of high, but then I went back to my house, and we had a lot of stuff to figure out. And one of the first things I did was…you know, this show and these shows have been the organizing principle of my life for such a long time that I thought, ‘I’ve got to call my assistant and get to work.’ So I called my assistant, Sona, and I said, ‘We should get together and go over all of the things we need to do.’ And she said, ‘Okay. Where?’ And my wife wanted me out of the house, and so I said, ‘Okay,’ and we decided to meet at a Marie Callender’s pie restaurant.

“I’m not kidding. I hosted ‘The Tonight Show.’ I think the last show was a Friday. I hosted that ‘Tonight Show’ on a Friday, and on Monday, I’m in a Marie Callender’s pie restaurant, and my assistant has a laptop, and we are sitting there. And there’s two other customers in the place, you know, stabbing at a pie at 11:00 in the morning, and this was now my new headquarters. And I pass this Marie Callender’s a lot, and I think about that shocking…I mean, it was just the juxtaposition of these insane images of ‘Tonight Show,’ iconic, Marie Callender’s restaurant, meeting / office. This is where I work now. And that kind of summed up the madness, I think, a little bit of that time.” – Conan O’Brien, “Conan” (TBS)

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Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: No Quotes from Day 6? (Well, not many, anyway…)

The greatest mystery surrounding ABC’s day of the TCA press tour is why they chose to make so little of it. Given that they had ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, DisneyXD, the outgoing SOAPNet, and the incoming Disney Junior to work with, it’s absolutely unforgivable that there were only five panels the entire damned day.

Day 6 began on a decidedly solemn note, as the giant screens in the ballroom aired the national moment of silence to commemorate the tragedy in Tucson, and, perhaps appropriately, things shifted directly into the introduction of new ABC News president Ben Sherwood. Next up, Paul Lee, the president of ABC Entertainment, took the stage for his executive session. After that, we had a “Winter Wipeout”-themed cocoa break, then came back into the ballroom for two more panels: one for the return of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars,” the next for the new ABC medical drama, “Off the Map.” Then came lunch revolving around the new Disney Junior animated series “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” followed by a panel for the new Disney Channel movie, “Lemonade Mouth,” which – beyond the music playing during the trailer – only held my interest when the very cute and very British actress Naomi Scott opened her mouth.

And that’s it.

Well, it wasn’t quite it. We had a cocktail party at 5 PM which was ostensibly “Off the Map”-themed (they offered a trio of tropical cocktails, but I am hard pressed to recall any hors d’oeuvres that had any particular South American flair), but it only featured stars from ABC’s mid-season shows, and even then there were several notable names missing from the guest list, the two most notable being Matthew Perry from “Mr. Sunshine” and Dana Delaney from “Body of Evidence.” Now, admittedly, my experiences with Mr. Perry during the summer tour make his absence neither surprising nor overly upsetting, but it was kind of a bummer that Ms. Delaney wasn’t there, as she’s always been a real sweetheart.

What I want to know is, why didn’t ABC offer panels for one or two of their existing shows, like CBS and NBC are doing with “The Good Wife” and “Community,” respectively?

I’ll give us them credit for setting up a “Cougar Town” set visit for us – that’s happening on the 12th – but I would’ve loved a panel for “Castle,” “The Middle,” or any number of current ABC series.

And why not have an evening function featuring folks from all of their series rather than just their midseason material? I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the fleeting chance to speak with Allison Janney about “Mr. Sunshine.” I’m just saying that the whole day felt like one big missed opportunity.

You know, I was originally going to try and offer up the top 6 quotes from Day 6’s panels, but it would feel forced, so I’m not going to waste your time or mine. I will, however, offer at least one which made me laugh…

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Greetings to the New Season: ABC – UPDATED

Another day, another network upfront. Now it’s time to say hello to ABC’s Fall 2010 line-up. No accompanying videos at the moment, but you can get an idea of what to expect from the descriptions they’ve provided…and be sure to let us know what you think of the potential of the new series!

UPDATE: Hey, look: ABC came through with videos!

MONDAY

8 – 10 PM: Dancing with the Stars

10 – 11 PM: Castle

TUESDAY

8 – 9 PM: No Ordinary Family: The Powells are about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim and Stephanie’s relationship lacks the spark it once had, and their family life now consists of balancing work and their two children, leaving little time for family bonding. During a family vacation set up by Jim in an attempt to reconnect, their plane crashes into the Amazon River. But this is where the fun starts for the Powells, as they soon discover that something’s not quite right. Each of them now possesses unique and distinct superpowers. But saving and savoring their family life will be equally important, as they try to find purpose for their new powers and embark on a journey to find out what defines and unifies them.

The Powells are a totally relatable family who happen to be a little bit amazing. Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”) stars as Jim Powell, Julie Benz (“Dexter”) as Stephanie Powell, Romany Malco (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) as George St. Cloud, Tate Donovan (“Damages”) as Mitch McCutcheon, Autumn Reeser as Katie Andrews, Christina Chang as Yvonne Cho, Kay Panabaker as Daphne Powell and Jimmy Bennett as JJ Powell. The pilot was written and executive-produced by Jon Feldman. The series is executive-produced by Feldman, Greg Berlanti, Morgan Wandell and David Semel, who also directed the pilot. Joe Hartwick, Jr. serves as producer.

9 – 10 PM: Dancing with the Stars (Results Show)

10 – 11 PM: Detroit 1-8-7”: What does it take to be a detective on America’s most dangerous streets? Get ready to be part of the action when a documentary crew rolls with some of Detroit’s finest, offering an insider’s glimpse behind the curtain of a Homicide Unit. The cameras unearth the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism of these inner city cops — moments of raw exposure when they address us directly, as well as private moments when they forget they’re being filmed.

There’s the damaged but driven Detective Louis Fitch, a wily homicide vet who is the most respected — and most misunderstood — man in the division; Detective Damon Washington, Fitch’s new partner, who finds the first day on the job is a trial by fire, complicated by the imminent birth of his first child; Detective Ariana Sanchez, sexy, edgy and beautiful, who has emerged from a rough background to become a rising star in the department; Narcotics undercover cop John Stone, a streetwise smooth talker, clever and quick with a smile made for the movies, who is teamed with Sanchez — a combustible pairing rife with conflict and sexual tension; Sergeant Jesse Longford, a 30-year veteran struggling with his impending retirement from the force and the city he loves, who, together with his partner, Detective Aman Mahajan — a fully Americanized son of Indian immigrants — form an amusing mismatch of experience and enthusiasm, intellect and instinct, old school and new world, but whose combined skills have never encountered a case that couldn’t be cleared; and all are headed by Lieutenant Maureen Mason, a strong-willed single mom struggling to balance home and work. “Detroit 1-8-7” stars Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) as Detective Louis Fitch, Jon Michael Hill as Detective Damon Washington, James McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”) as Sergeant Jesse Longford, Aisha Hinds (“True Blood”) as Lieutenant Maureen Mason, Natalie Martinez as Detective Ariana Sanchez, D.J. Cotrona as Detective John Stone and Shaun Majumder as Detective Aman Mahajan. The pilot was written by Jason Richman. Executive producers are Richman, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and David Zabel. Jeff Nachmanoff directed the pilot.

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Let’s Have a Ball Down at the Globes (TV Edition)

The announcements have been made, and the nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards are now officially a matter of public record, but just in case you haven’t caught them elsewhere (which, to be fair, is highly possible), here’s my look at the TV series, mini-series, and movies which received nods, along with my personal picks for who should take home the win for each category.

Best Television Series – Drama

• Big Love (HBO)
• Dexter (Showtime)
• House (Fox)
• Mad Men (AMC)
• True Blood (HBO)

My pick: “Mad Men.” Regular readers of Premium Hollywood had probably already narrowed my pick down to two entries, anyway, since I’m the designated blogger for both “True Blood” and “Mad Men,” but while “True Blood” had a strong season that was tarnished slightly by an unsatisfying finale, “Mad Men” offered up a full-fledged game-changer for the conclusion of their third year. The most notable omission from this list, however, is “Sons of Anarchy,” which you could almost write off as being too harsh for the voters if you didn’t have a drama about a serial killer in the mix.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

• Glenn Close, “Damages” (FX)
• January Jones, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Julianna Marguiles, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
• Anna Paquin, “True Blood” (HBO)
• Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer” (TNT)

My pick: Julianna Marguiles. I know full well that it’s a dark horse pick that almost certainly won’t pay off, but “The Good Wife” has been my favorite drama of the new season, and Marguiles offers a multi-layered performance as Alicia Florrick, a woman having to struggle with the media shining the spotlight on her husband’s infidelity and political and legal misdealings while she’s trying to return to a career as a litigator. And am I the only one who scoffed somewhat at January Jones’ nomination? Of the three primary “Mad Men” actresses, she’s the last I would’ve nominated, and this is one case where I think most would agree with me.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

• Simon Baker, “The Mentalist” (CBS)
• Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (Showtime)
• Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Hugh Laurie, “House” (Fox)
• Bill Paxton, “Big Love” (HBO)

My pick: Hugh Laurie, “House.” God love Jon Hamm, but I said of the “House” season premiere back in September that it was “strong enough to warrant giving Hugh Laurie an Emmy nomination no matter what else he may do on the show during the course of the season’s subsequent episodes,” and I stand by that.

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