Bill Lawrence is one of the true good guys at press tour. The still-boyish-at-40 Scrubs executive producer is always friendly and accessible after each session, as he was again on Saturday when he was promoting his new series, Cougar Town.
A number of publicists spent press tour yanking talent away after 60-second scrums. Lawrence resisted three attempts to pry him away from print media and stood his ground to give us all we wanted. Then he cheerfully made himself available later at ABC's press tour party.
So watch his new show Cougar Town, okay? It stars Courteney Cox-Arquette and is pretty damn funny. Look for it in September on ABC and Citytv.
Lawrence is a hero at my house and not because of Scrubs. It is for his one season wonder, the uproariously funny animated gem Clone High. The 2002-03 MTV series cracks up both my kids and cracks me up, too. The premise of the show is simple: a group of famous people throughout history--JFK, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and Mahatma Gandhi--are cloned and brought up together at a wacky high school. Plenty of Mad-TV and Scrubs stars provided the voices, including Will Forte, Phil Lord, Nicole Sullivan, Michael Mcdonald and Lawrence's wife Christa Miller (formerly on Drew Carey, now on Cougar Town). Andy Dick, Jack Black, Michael J. Fox and Marilyn Manson also did voices.
Lawrence has been able to resurrect Scrubs for yet another season, it's ninth (and second on ABC). It's to be re-christianed Scrubs Meds and be more about the teaching hospital, with Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke appearing in six episodes.
If he can resurrect Scrubs, how about Clone High, I asked. Lawrence laughed, shook his head and told me the real story behind the 'toons demise. Get your head around this:
When word reached India that their iconic leader Gandhi was being portrayed as a randy party teen, or, as Lawrence described him, "a guy who drinks and fucks," it almost led to an international incident. Many Indian members of parliament took part in a hunger strike until the series was withdrawn worldwide. "MTV has a huge international presence and they started making us pull all his scenes and that's when it all fell apart," says Lawrence.
The other thing that killed the show--low ratings. It just never caught on in the States. Protests aside, "if it was a hit, it would still be on," says Lawrence.
To this day, the complete DVD set of the Nelvana series is only available in a Canadian release (through the network that carried it here, Teletoon). Two of the 13 episodes never aired in the U.S. It is one of the smartest, funniest animated comedies ever made.