If you’re a sitcom aficionado, then there are a trio of shows from which you’ll be familiar with Megyn Price. Her first big claim to fame was starring alongside Al Franken, Miguel Ferrer, and Robert Foxworth in the short-lived NBC series “LateLine,” which was followed by the decidedly longer-lived “Grounded for Life,” which ambled along hilariously for five seasons. Currently, however, she can be found playing the wife to Patrick Warburton on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement,” which returns to the network tonight, March 1st, for its new season. I had a chance to chat with the lovely Ms. Price about all three of these series, but I didn’t let her get away before I needled her briefly about her appearance in “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.” Most importantly, though, I finally got to thank her for providing me with my favorite anecdote of the summer 2009 TCA Press Tour. What was it? To find out, you’ll have to join us for…
Megyn Price: (Sounding startled) Hello. Uh, hi, is this Will?
BE: Yes, it is.
MP: Oh, hi, it’s Megyn Price calling. (Laughs) I’m sorry, you sound exactly like my husband. I’m just, like, “Oh, crap, I called the wrong number!
BE: I’m sorry to have totally freaked you out.
MP: You did, you totally freaked me out. But it’s okay…and I’m sorry I’m a little bit late. I was being killed by a small woman who’s training me.
BE: (Laughs) Well, that’s quite alright. At least you have a good excuse.
MP: I’m training for another triathlon, and this crazy woman is trying to make me croak or throw up in the middle of the day.
BE: Awesome. Well, hopefully this’ll be at least a little less stressful, then.
MP: And I pay her for that, too, by the way.
BE: Even better.
MP: It’s very messed up. Can you hear me okay on these headphones? ‘Cause that’s what I’m using.
BE: Yeah, you’re fine.
MP: Okay, good.
BE: You and I actually have chatted in the past, at least slightly, in the past. I was at the TCA tour, standing next to you and Drew Carey for a little bit.
MP: Oh, yes, of course. Oh, I totally know who you are. Yes!
BE: I’m looking forward to the new season. I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning.
MP: Well, that’s very sweet of you.
BE: I talked to Patrick (Warburton) at the beginning of last season, so I wanted to spread the wealth. So what can we expect from this season? It looks like, from the press photo that I saw, that you’ve formally added a new cast member.
MP: Well, I don’t know what the press is sending out, but, yes, Adhir Kalyan has joined the cast, who played David Spade’s assistant, Timmy, and he’s just the greatest addition to our cast. They’re like an old married couple, those two…and, sadly, they’re like that in real life as well. So that’s one change which I think is a good change, because it sort of makes David part of a couple. (Laughs). You know, I feel like every year I’ve said, “It’s the best it’s ever been,” and then this year…I mean, they’ve tweaked our writing staff again, and every season it’s just sharper and sharper. And this is…it’s so odd to me, because I’ve done a lot of series…I mean, I’ve been on series for years at a time…and it always works so that the first day of our work week the script is rough, and by the end of the week the script is tight, and this year…I swear, the first day of the week, it’s almost the exact same script as it is by the end of the week. It is so good. The writers have…I mean, they have totally figured out our voices and where all of the relationships are at their best, you know? They’ve really figured out what works and what doesn’t work. And it is such a joy to go to work. It’s, like, there’s no stress; it’s just all funny, all the time. I’m just never stressed that the script isn’t going to work out or that it’s going to be difficult to do the show. It’s always easy because it’s so well written now. It’s unbelievably fun. I feel like we’re in our tenth season because it’s just so smooth, you know?
BE: Well, you and Patrick had an instant chemistry from day one, I thought.
MP: I am so married to him, it’s ridiculous. It’s retarded. I was on jury duty and I called him. Like, I was feeling sad and out of sorts, and I called Patrick from my house. What? Not that my own marriage isn’t wonderful, because it is, but it’s, like, Patrick’s a different kind of husband. He’s a big, tough, burly husband.
BE: When I talked to him, he said that we would know “Rules of Engagement” had officially jumped the shark if the two of you ever got pregnant on the show.
MP: Oh, God, every time we read even hints of that, we’re, like, “That can’t happen.” It’s not going to happen. Our writers have addressed it this season. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but…they hinted that I’m getting a surrogate. That’s how much they don’t want us to be pregnant. It might be the first sitcom ever with a surrogate. It’s crazy. Yeah, I’m, like, “Forget it, dude, I’m not wearing the fat suit.” I’m not doing it. We’re not going to have a baby. It wouldn’t work.
BE: Well, that answers my question of how the dynamic is going to change this season.
MP: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you what: those writers, any time they get access to a computer and they get to write a script, it’s nudity, nudity, nudity. It’s their favorite thing. I swear, there was a script where the writers actually, after we read the script out loud, they came to me with that look, like, “Are you going to hit me? Are you going to hit me?” There’s so much nudity. I’m, like, “You guys, I’m not 16. What are we doing with all of these nude things?” They’re, like, “What? We like it. We think you look good.” Okay, so I’m naked on camera all the time. It’s terrible.
BE: Hey, you were the one who just told me you were working out, so it seems like you’re going to be set.
MP: I know, right? As the wardrobe girls said, “You know, those guys would have written it whether you were working out or not, so you’re just lucky that you’re actually in good shape.”
BE: So who would you say is the person that you get to work with the least within the ensemble that you would like to work with more?
MP: Oliver (Hudson). We’re great friends in real life, and our kids are the same age and we hang out. And every time we come to work, we’re, like, “Hey, why don’t we ever get to be in scenes together?” Then Oliver says, “there would be too much chemistry. They just wouldn’t believe that we’re only neighbors.” (Laughs) It’s our joke. Yeah. He’s the one. I’m never in scenes with Oliver, and he’s one of my favorite people. I can’t say he’s my favorite because, you know, that would sound bad.
BE: Well, sure.
MP: But he’s my favorite person that I work with, and we never have scenes together.
BE: Will there be more Audrey / Jennifer episodes?
MP: You know it’s strange, because I feel like the dynamic with the women and the men separately is much better than the women together. Like, I feel like when Audrey and Jennifer are in the same room, we’re kind of, like, “Yeah, I know, me, too.” You know, there’s not a lot of conflict with those two. I mean, occasionally there is, but I feel like the conflict which is more funny to watch comes from the male characters with the female characters. There’s such a disconnect between the logic. II feel like when Jennifer and Audrey are in the same room, it’s just, “Yeah, I know.” You know what I mean? There’s not a lot of conflict, so I don’t really like those scenes as much as I thought I would. I mean, I love Bianca (Kajlich), I think that we are very good friends, but I feel like those characters are written to be buddies rather than to have, you know, sort of a snipey relationship. Like, the guys have a snipey relationship amongst themselves, but I like the girl/guy things better. Also, when we’re in a group, I think that’s always really fun. When we have diner scenes where it’s all of us, that’s always the most fun… (Laughs)…jamming us all into those booths and then all of us attacking each other.
BE: I love the episodes when Audrey and Russell team up, particularly the episode where we find out that he loves musicals.
MP: Absolutely. I think that was probably my favorite episode to shoot. There’s another one this season that, again, it’s so brilliantly written. It’s written like a play, in that everything happens kind of on two different sides of the stage. It’s, like, there’s rapid fire lying…it’s between Jeff and Audrey, of course. We’re lying to each other for no personal gain…just, you know, lying because that’s how they are. (Laughs) And it snowballs and it is just quick, quick cuts. And David is, I think the funniest he has ever been in his entire life. I mean, to the point where we had to do so many retakes from all of us cracking up. And it’s basically Jeff lies about going to a bachelor party that was canceled. And I know that he’s lied, and then I lie about something else that was canceled, and he knows that I’m lying. And we all kind of know the other one is lying, but we never give it up. Up to the end, with this insane…me smoking four cigarettes at the same time, trying to prove that someone who smokes had been in the room. It’s insanity. And it is so fun and silly and…I feel like it is old school Broadway, the kind that doesn’t even exist anymore, you know? But it’s been so much fun, I can’t even believe it’s my job, you know? That they pay me to show up.
BE: Now that Adhir is going to be in the cast also, is he going to be interacting more with other characters besides just David?
MP: Yeah, actually, Adhir and I got to do a really fun episode last year that was…he and I were in a car, and it was, like, this very tightly shot scene where it seems like it’s entirely sexual and…it’s not. I don’t mean at all what he thinks I mean. It’s another case of just brilliant writing. He is such a good actor. You know, he’s a crazy actor. I’m sure we’re going to see him in a Merchant Ivory film in between sitcoms. He’s so specific in what he does, and he has this whole method that he uses. He’s really a fascinating guy.
BE: So who can we expect for guest stars? I read somewhere that Jaime Pressly was popping up.
MP: She is. Once again we hearken back to the old surrogate idea. It’s frightening. Alan Ruck shows up as our marital counselor, which was so fun. He’s, again, just such a historically hilarious actor. I mean, he’s iconic. He walks in the room and everyone’s, like, “Oh, my God, it’s Cameron from ‘Ferris Bueller’! Oh, my God!” (Laughs) So, yeah, he shows up, and…I’m trying to remember all of our other guest stars. I feel like they did so much with our core cast that we really got to explore that group a lot. I go back to my office which, again, involves me getting in trouble and a lot of nudity. Beth Littleford came back, and so did Susan Yeagley, who played the funny girl in my office from last season. But I’m trying to think if we had any other guest stars…
BE: Did anyone’s parents or siblings return?
MP: No, and that makes me sad. I’m dying to see who my mother is. I keep hearing it thrown around that it’s going to be Oliver’s actual mom, that it’s going to be Goldie Hawn who’s going to play my mom.
BE: Oh, wow.
MP: Which to me would be a dream come true, because she has to be my favorite actress, really, of my whole life. I mean, really, it was a little weird when I met her. I’m, like, “Oh, my God!” (Laughs) I think my first movie in the theater was “Foul Play,” and, I mean, my mother raised me from the time I was four years old watching Goldie Hawn. So, yeah, I would love for her to play my mom. That would be great.
BE: I wanted to ask you about a couple of other sitcoms you have been on. First off, I’m a huge fan of “Grounded For Life.”
MP: Oh, thank you! Me, too, actually. I don’t think I realized how funny it was until I watched it in rerun.
BE: I’ve always described it to people as being almost like a “Memento” of sitcoms, because of the structure.
MP: Oh, yeah, completely.
BE: That must have been somewhat hellish to film as a result, though, because of the structure.
MP: The funniest thing about that crazy show is that I had…well, they didn’t cast me until 15 minutes before the first table read because they thought I was too young. So they kept saying, “She’s too you, she’s too young,” and then they kept saying, “But she’s funny!” “But she’s too young, she’s too young.” So whatever, I was only ten years older than my 16 year old daughter on the show, you know, whatever. It’s TV, it’s magic. (Laughs) So I was cast…literally, they called me up, I was in my pajamas, playing the piano, and they said, “Get in your car and come over here; you got the job.” What? What? Okay, so I show up and that day is when they say, “Well, tomorrow morning you have a six AM call, and we’re starting the shooting for the…” I said, “Wait, no, no, no. This is a sitcom. We don’t do film shooting. What are you talking about?” I had no idea. So, yeah, we shot film two or three days a week, and then we also shot a full audience show, where they would play back everything that we had shot on film earlier. So, yeah, it was crazy. It was so fun, but it was nuts.
BE: Has there ever been any talk of bringing any of the cast members of “Grounded” on for guest appearances on “Rules of Engagement”?
MP: We have talked about Kevin Corrigan, who I actually got to have lunch with last week, he’s shooting a movie in L.A. And I think Kevin has to be beaten over the head and dragged into Los Angeles, because he’s really a New York guy. And, you know, Donal Logue is always working. He’s in Vancouver right now shooting something. So it’s kind of rough to get my peeps back. Although I have pitched a couple of times Richard Riehle, who played the father-in-law from “Grounded.” He had worked with Tom Hertz, our creator, on another show. He’s such a fantastic actor. So I pitched him to play my dad, it just hasn’t come up yet, that I’ve had any parents. But that was such a joy, to do that, to do “Grounded” because, I mean, as actors, we’re such great actors. It was just so incredibly fun. And talk about being married, I mean, Donal and I were basically married for five years. (Laughs)
BE: I’m also the proud owner of “LateLine: The Complete series.”
MP: Are you really?
BE: I am, yeah.
MP: You know that show almost made me quit acting?
BE: Really? I liked it.
MP: No, I mean, when they canceled that show.
BE: Oh, okay. That I can believe.
MP: Oh, I just said forget it. It made no sense to me. I really have a hard time even talking about the show without getting weepy. I still think it’s great. One of my best friends is the creator of that show. It was so brilliantly done. I think it was so ahead of its time, too.
BE: I loved it. I mean, going in, I obviously loved Al Franken, but I’d been a big Miguel Ferrer ever since I had seen him on “Twin Peaks”.
MP: Who’s also one of my dear, dear friends. It was just such an amazing experience, too, to shoot that. And we shot it in New York. Yeah, it was incredible, and it was incredibly exciting, too, to work with…I mean, talk about great actors. I think Robert Foxworth is a legend; Miguel is a legend. You know, Al is hysterically Al. I mean, everyone from that show has just gone on to just work, work, work. Oh, that’s so sweet that you have that. I love that you have the complete series!
BE: Well, keep in mind that I am a TV critic. But, still, I actually paid money for that set (Laughs)
MP: Well, yeah, but you’re a TV critic. That means a lot.
BE: Well, thanks. But, y’know, then again, you were also in “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.”
MP: (Laughs) Well, that’s how I got out of doing another sitcom that they wanted me to do. I didn’t want to do this other sitcom when they kept offering me more money, and it was getting ugly. So I was, like, “I’m going to do a movie.” And I’m telling you, Larry the Cable Guy, that guy, he is the greatest human being. I mean, I know his comedy is a little rough and whatever, but he is such a great guy! That was, again, such a joy. We shot in Florida, in August. It couldn’t have been more disgusting, and I couldn’t have had more fun. (Laughs) I really just couldn’t have had more fun. Those people were just great people.
BE: Oh, yeah, he’s one of those guys…I mean, I would not begin to claim that I’m a fan of his comedy, but from what I’ve read, he definitely seems like a heck of a nice guy.
MP: Do you know…there was this show that he did in, heck, I can’t remember, some city in Florida, that we all went to when we were shooting. And he stayed after…he did a two and a half hour show, and then he stayed for three hours after his show signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Who does that? He sold out a stadium and then hung around for three hours afterwards, just so his fans could say “hi.” I mean, he’s such a nice guy. He’s over and above the call of duty, that guy. He’s so not a star, you know? Meanwhile, we’re all making jokes about, “Can I have the ten million dollars? That wouldn’t hurt ya, right? Can I have a check?” (Laughs) “Can I have a plane? Hey, Dan, can I have a plane?” (Writer’s note: Larry the Cable Guy’s real name is Dan Whitney.)
BE: Well, obviously, I mentioned talking to you at the TCA tour when you were talking to Drew. Had you been friends with him since you appeared on his show? It was a small role, I guess, but…
MP: He’s another guy who…I mean, I’m telling you, since day one, that guy…I had a tiny role on his show, and he treated me like I was his long lost sister, you know? He was just…all of those guys on that show, Ryan (Stiles) and Diedrich (Bader), they were just so kind. And it was, again, such a fun set to work on. And that was my first sitcom, really. I mean that was, like, I just got that role, it was just “Waitress.” There was nothing else to it. But, yeah, he’s such a great guy. Drew is also a guy who I think is so genuine. And, I mean, you know that from talking to him.
BE: Oh, yeah, definitely.
MP: He’s so what you see is what you get. I just love that. I think I’ve been really lucky, too, in my career, because I have worked pretty much nonstop since I started. And I really never worked with jerks, you know? I’ve really always worked with great people, and I don’t know if that’s because I choose well or if I’m just a regular girl and I’m not really attracted to divas, but I really have been so lucky. No one wants to hear those stories, though. They always want to hear the diva stories.
BE: Well, I will wrap up here by telling you that, by standing around that conversation between you and Drew, it resulted in me hearing the greatest anecdote of the entire press tour.
MP: (Excitedly) What? What was it?
BE: Your story about going to see “Footloose” The Musical” with David Cross. Oh, my God, I’ve told that story to more people than I can count.
MP: (Laughs) Oh, that’s hilarious. I’m going to tell him that. Oh, that was funny. I forgot I told that story.
“David Cross and I decided that we were going to go to ‘Footloose,’ because we were, like, ‘It’s gonna be so bad that it’s gonna be fun!’ So we’re sitting in the theater, and we decided at intermission that we were just gonna do shots. We were, like, ‘It’s gonna get better, because now we’re all drunk!’ So we go back in and we sit down, and these boys in front of us, who were, like, fifteen and were clearly there under duress from their mother, turn around and say to David, ‘Hey, you’re in ‘Mr. Show.’ We thought you were cool.’ And he was so bummed for the longest time! He was, like, ‘No, no, if you’ll just let me explain…! I’m here ironically!’”
BE: Oh, man, I laughed so hard. Actually, I do have one more I wanted to ask you. What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on that didn’t get the love that you thought it deserved?
MP: Well “LateLine”, obviously.
BE: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. I thought it might fall back to that, but it’s kind of stock question of mine.
MP: It has to be “LateLine,” because I really feel, in all honesty, “LateLine” is one of those shows that could have gone on for ten years, easily. You know? It felt to me like one of those shows that was topical without being too self-aware. You can watch the reruns now and you don’t go, “Oh, wow…” You know, like, people referencing IM’ing or something. It doesn’t feel dated to me when I watch it. It still feels current. And it’s kind of one of those hybrid shows that didn’t know where it belonged and it got caught up in politics. I think it got canceled kind of through no fault of its own. There was a big change in execs at the network and, you know, the new guy doesn’t want the old guys stuff. It seemed like such a waste to cancel that show, because it was so brilliant.
BE: I know that you mentioned that there was a sitcom that you didn’t want to do, which led to “Larry the Cable Guy.” But has there ever been a pilot that you did that didn’t get picked up that you still can’t believe didn’t get picked up?
MP: No. You know, that’s the weirdest piece of trivia about me: I have never done a pilot that did not get picked up.
BE: That’s pretty impressive.
MP: Including one that I did that I didn’t do the series for. But the pilot still got picked up to series. Isn’t that crazy?
BE: What was that, just out of curiosity?
MP: The Freddy Prinze, Jr. pilot. Bruce Helford created it, and he’s the one who gave me my first job on “Drew Carey.” I was actually in New York, doing theater, and Bruce Helford called up and said, “We can’t cast this role, will you do it? Will you just do the pilot? Because you’re the pilot Buddha. Every pilot you do gets picked up. Will you help me get my pilot picked up?” And I said, “Absolutely.” So I came back on and shot it, and the pilot got picked up, but I was not signed on to do the series. And that was right after “Grounded for Life,” too. That was when I kind of needed a little bit of a break after that. But, yeah, I’ve never done a pilot that didn’t get picked up. So when pilot season comes around, there are casting directors who say, “Please, please. She’s the pilot Buddha. Please, just play a receptionist and then the pilot will get picked up.”
BE: I’m so honored to have spoken with the pilot Buddha.
MP: (Laughs) The pilot Buddha, yeah. I don’t know, it seems like a wild suspect claim to fame, but it is true. Yeah, I know lots of people who say, “Oh, whatever, just do the pilot.” I never just do the pilot. If I do a show, it’s because I think it’s a good show, you know? And the reason I did “Rules of Engagement” was it was Patrick; it was Tom Hertz, who I knew was the creator and is a great director; it was Adam Sandler’s project. You know, there were reasons. I don’t just take work for no reason. Which is probably why I don’t work all of the time, because I don’t like to just do garbage. I like to do stuff that makes me proud.
BE: Makes sense. Well, it’s been awesome actually speaking to you directly, as opposed to sharing a conversation.
MP: And as opposed to you telling my stories when I’m not around! (Laughs)
BE: (Laughs) Exactly.
MP: I love telling that one because it’s so good at David’s expense.
BE: Oh, man, but it’s so funny.
MP: (Laughs) Yeah, it really is.
BE: All right, well, maybe I’ll see you at the next press tour.
MP: Oh, I hope so! So let’s go over all the important stuff again before we go. (Laughs) On March 1, we’re coming back. Now, do they give you all the screeners?
BE: They do, and I’ve seen the first two episodes.
MP: I’m looking forward to seeing them myself! (Laughs) I’m telling you…and, again, I’m sure everyone says this, but…it is our best season we’ve ever done. It gets better and better. And now I’ve hyped it too much, so now you’ll be disappointed. (Laughs)
BE: I’m now officially afraid to watch.
MP: Hey, can I ask you a question?
MP: What’s your favorite show on TV?
BE: Let’s see, my favorite show at the moment…? Well, the obvious answer for a sitcom is going to be “Modern Family” or “Community,” but having just seen the opening two episodes, “Damages” is currently my favorite drama.
MP: Oh, really?
BE: Yep. I’ve just seen the first two episodes of the new season, and it’s, like, out of the box, I’m ready to tune in for the rest of the season.
MP: All right. Good to know, because I’m not…see, I never have time to watch TV, so I’ll TiVo. But I don’t even know what to TiVo, so I always…I have a friend who has totally opposite taste than mine and is always telling me what to watch, and I don’t like “Ugly Betty,” and, ah, whatever.
BE: Well, have you watched “Damages” at all?
MP: No. I haven’t at all.
BE: Well this is the third season, but usually they do a really nice recap before hand.
MP: I have Netflix, so I can do that.
BE: Okay, excellent. Yeah, you definitely should check it out. I mean, the whole run of the show is great. I’m actually revisiting season two right now because it just came out on DVD. But the new season, they’ve got Martin Short and Lily Tomlin doing dramatic stuff, and…
MP: Oh, my God, I love Lily Tomlin so much. I can’t even describe it. Did you see her on Kathy Griffin’s show? On “The D-List”?
BE: I did not.
MP: Oh, it is one of the best episodes on television, I’m telling you. Kathy Griffin goes like backstage with Lily Tomlin, and Lily Tomlin is just genius. By the way, I saw her live three years ago, and you would think…Lily Tomlin’s what, pushing 70?
BE: Got to be, yeah.
MP: Yeah, it would be like watching Phyllis Diller or Bette Midler or whatever. Lily Tomlin is unbelievable live. She’s unbelievable. Her jokes are crazy sharp. I mean, I’m sure she’s writing some and she has good writers, but she’s brilliant on stage. Even at whatever age she is, she’s just fantastic.
BE: Oh, and she’s obviously really quick too because they had the panel for “Damages,” and she was there by satellite. It was something like 11:00 in the morning, and you could see her titling a glass every once in awhile, so one of the critics was, like, “Uh, Lily, are you drinking wine this early?” She’s, like, “Oh, no, this is water. But I stopped drinking wine just a little bit ago.”
MP: Uh-huh, yeah. That was her the whole Kathy Griffin show. She’s drinking wine through the whole thing, and she’s absolutely hysterical. Talk about quick, man, she’s quicker than Kathy Griffin. I mean, she’s unreal. Yeah, she’s fantastic. We used to take pilates from the same woman and, I swear, I would bribe the pilates teacher to book me right after Lilly just so I could hang out with her for a few minutes. She studied for about seven minutes of her hour session, by the way. She would just gab and talk. (Laughs) Alright, that’s all the glamour that I have, so it’s over!
BE: (Laughs) But to answer your question, yes, absolutely, “Damages” I 100% recommend.
MP: Alright, I’m putting that on my list, because I need something good. I’m bored of TV, and I know it’s just because I don’t know the right things to watch. Cool, man, thank you!
BE: No problem. Well, again, thanks for chatting with me, and like I said, hopefully I’ll see you come this summer at the TCA tour.
MP: Absolutely. I will see you…or you should seek me out, because I’m probably easier to find.
BE: Given that crowd, yeah, probably. Alright, thanks a lot Megyn. I appreciate it.
MP: Alright, take care!