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TVWW Ponders Larry David, The Death of "McDreamy" and Cross-Dressing at TCA
August 5, 2015  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment

It's just past the midway point of the summer Television Critics Association "press tour." Which also is far enough along for a second collection of quotes generated solely from questions by your friendly tvworthwatching.com correspondent.

Some of them caused the Twitter-verse to go all atwitter Tuesday. Particularly when Jeff Garlin, co-star of ABC's The Goldbergs, talked about Larry David's inclination/disinclination to do another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And when Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes detailed why she killed off Patrick Dempsey's Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd during the soapy medical drama's recently ended 11th season. That news really got ABC's Good Morning America lathered up Wednesday. Then again, so did a video of a misbehaving dog with a seemingly guilty look on his face.

OK, let's roll 'em.

*** Garlin, who plays Larry David's manager on HBO's Curb, said he's "in touch with him all the time." So naturally they usually get around to talking about whether they'll ever work together again. Garlin said he agreed to do The Goldbergs only if he had a "non-negotiable" clause in his contract that permitted him to do more Curb episodes if David ever got the itch again.

"I held out till the end because you know, you don't want to be the one that kills it (by being unavailable). I'm hoping we do more. And I'd say there's a decent chance. Not good. Not great. Decent. Fifty-one percent."

There are two steps in the process, Garlin said. If David (top) writes six or seven episodes, he'll go the distance and write a full season of 10. But "if he writes two and he's not pleased, it's not going to happen. Curb Your Enthusiasm is the only show that I know of in the history of television that only moves forward because the creator is basing his decision entirely on creativity. Larry David (who co-created Seinfeld) is so goddamn rich that he doesn't have to do anything unless it's good. He doesn't want to embarrass himself. So it's pretty pure.

Curb Your Enthusiasm's eighth season ran from July 10 to Sept. 11, 2011 on HBO. Eighty episodes have been filmed to date.

***Rhimes was the focal point of a "TGIT" (Thank God It's Thursday) panel in which Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Ellen Pompeo (respectively the stars of How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal and Grey's Anatomy) joined her onstage.

Grey's, which enters its 12th season this fall, used to have TV's hottest heartthrob in "McDreamy," but Dempsey wanted to leave that character behind and Rhimes accommodated him by making it a permanent exit. Pompeo's Dr. Meredith Grey married McDreamy during the long and winding course of the series and they eventually adopted a child.

The decision to deep-six McDreamy "was not a difficult one in the sense of what were the options?" Rhimes said. If he left her "high and dry, what was that going to mean? That was going to suggest that the love was not true, the thing that we had said for 11 years was a lie, and McDreamy wasn't McDreamy.

"So for me, that was untenable. As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, the only way to preserve what felt true to me was that Derek was going to have to die in order for that love to remain honest. To me it felt like that was the only way to make Meredith's and Derek's magic remain true and sort of frozen in time."

***Jeffrey Tambor and Bradley Whitford wear women's clothes for a living in Amazon's Transparent, which received 11 Emmy nominations last month.

So how's that going? Is it second nature at this point?

Whitford, best known for the role of mercurial White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman on NBC's The West Wing, said he'd never worn a dress before -- on- or off-screen.

"And it was thrilling. I loved it," he said. "Has it become part of my life away from the show? Is that what you're asking?"

Well, no. Pause one-two. Whitford (with Tambor, seated right)  then continued. "At the costume fitting it's so alarming -- the pain of the heels. And then I immediately realized they made my legs look better, and I wanted the skirt to go up. So you like immediately click into a female ego, which was fun and a little frightening for me . . . I was shocked that my nephews and nieces felt I looked exactly like my mother, which was a little daunting to process."

Tambor said that wearing women's clothes turned out to be "the easiest part of the journey."

"I loved all of it," said the former Arrested Development star. "The mani/pedi and the clothes. I had no blockage there. Nothing. The real journey is interior. I found that's where the work had to be done to access more of Jeffrey than Jeffrey's ever been allowed to in his acting. So the external part was the easiest part. The internal was daunting."

*** PBS' long-running American Masters series will fete TV pathfinder Norman Lear on a still-to-be-announced date next year. Lear's creations include All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons and One Day at a Time.

His last prime-time series, 1994's short-lived 704 Hauser, starred Good Times alumnus John Amos as Ernie Cumberbatch, whose family moved into the former Queens home of the Bunkers.

At age 93, Lear said he's still game to helm another TV series and has one in mind.

"We're talking about a Latino version of One Day at a Time," he said. "Not in Spanish but in English. That could happen."

The odds seem very long, though, especially in an industry where older artists and shows with little appeal for 18-to-49-year-olds are seen as almost automatic turnoffs. So in reality, does ageism work against Lear ever working in television again?

"I'm sure it does," Lear said. "But nobody shakes my hand and says, 'You're too old.' No one shakes my hand and says, 'We're afraid you're going to croak.' "
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Jeffrey Tambor is no stranger to wearing women's clothes. In a story arc from "Hill Street Blues", his recurring character, attorney Alan Wachtel, dresses in drag as part of his "therapy". That caused cops Neal Washington and J.D. LaRue to laugh uncontrollably. The next time we see Tambor as Wachtel, his character is a judge.
Aug 12, 2015   |  Reply
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