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The ‘The Goldbergs’ and Norman Lear at TCA Press Tour
August 9, 2017  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment

Culver City, CA -- Jeff Garlin (top) regaled, Wendi McClendon-Covey (top) embraced ("You're gonna get a hug") and the kids were all right, too.

This is how you do a set visit, as the cast, crew and publicists for ABC's The Goldbergs demonstrated in full Monday morning. Picture-taking was encouraged and the stars seemed ready and eager to talk from their home away from home at Sony Pictures Studios.

Garlin, interacting with rotating groups of TV critics in the family "basement," riffed on subjects ranging from carefully filming his underwear shots (let's leave it at that); to the music of the 1980s; to his major disdain for overblown billboards; to film director Michael Bay's reputation for yelling. His stint on Season 9 of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm (launching on Oct. 1) also came up, of course.

"Larry (David) never yells," said Garlin, whose regular speaking voice tends to be a sonic boom. "If someone yelled on the set of Curb Your Enthusiasm, he would then start yelling, 'Why would you yell?' "

Garlin's deal with The Goldbergs, on which he plays nominal family patriarch Murray Goldberg, allowed him a "dispensation" from the show if it ever conflicted with filming of Curb. But to his regret, Garlin failed to take full advantage.

"I made a mistake this past year," he said. "I filmed both at the same time. It took away a lot of the joy. If I wasn't here, I was there. It was exhausting." So if a Season 10 of "Curb" somehow materializes, "I'll never do it that way again," Garlin said.

He then turned to the 1980s music of The Goldbergs, which is set in that decade and drawn from the boyhood experiences of series creator Adam F. Goldberg (played by Sean Giambrone).

For the most part, "I hate the music on the show. It's just the lamest music," Garlin volunteered. He makes exceptions for The Clash and Whitney Houston, but those are the only two artists who come to mind, Garlin said.

A publicist then tried to rotate one group of critics out of the basement to make room for another gaggle.

"You're lovely, but you work in a corporate environment," Garlin said good naturedly before segueing to what he thinks of billboards.

"We're the billboard capital of the United States," he said of Hollywood and its immediate surroundings. "At least half of the billboards, I don't know what they're for."

On the other hand, "there's a bunch of Emmy stuff. And I want to talk about that."

One billboard urges Emmy voters to support Amazon's Transparent because it's "Courageous."

"It's not courageous!" Garlin thundered. "A man becoming a woman in real life -- that's courageous. Actors on a set getting a lot of money -- there's a craft services table! -- there's nothing courageous about it. They've got good salaries! It's air-conditioned!"

And how about that billboard for Amazon's Mozart of the Jungle, which is touted as "Iconic."

"No!" Garlin exclaimed, taking it up a notch. "Bob Dylan -- iconic. Mozart -- iconic. Ella Fitzgerald -- iconic. A show that comes out on a place where you buy napkins -- no, that's not iconic! Someone at Amazon doesn't know what iconic means. Seinfeld -- iconic. What the hell, man!"

Oh, we're having way too much fun. But McClendon-Covey proved to be a solid follow up act while holding court in the show's "living room" before later agreeably posing with a "Hot Set" sign after reclining on one of the kids' beds.

"Listen," she said, "If my parents were raising me during the era of social media, they would have ended up in the nut house," McClendon-Covey said.

She wore a black, one-piece outfit with blue and pink trim in keeping with the show's wardrobe options.

"This is how mothers dressed. This is Rayon. It doesn't breathe. But dammit, if it was August and they had it, they were wearing it. Your face was 'done' all the time, your hair was done all the time. You would NOT just go out in a baseball cap and yoga pants. You had to be 'done.' "

McClendon-Covey plays doting matriarch Beverly Goldberg, who's modeled after Adam's real-life mother. The real Bev recently tweeted -- "so it must be true" -- that she once brought 40 sweaters on a vacation trip to Florida. So that's what she's up against, the actress said.

TVWorthWatching wondered what it's like to work with the free-form Garlin.

"We are holy terrors," McClendon-Covey said. "But I'm a little better at staying on task. At some point, we gotta quit screwing around. It's a pleasure, but we're in our fifth season and right before we're doing something emotional, he still tries to make me laugh and we have to stop and start all over again."

The Season 5 premiere of The Goldbergs, coming on Wed., Sept. 26, will be an homage to the feature film Weird Science, she said. "You're going to see George Segal ("Pops" Goldberg) being very game with a bra on his head," McClendon-Covey promised.

She then asked, "Would you guys like to see the kids' bedrooms? They're like museums to '80s toys."

And indeed they were, on a set visit that never disappointed.


Later on the Sony lot, critics were herded en masse into a theater to interview the cast and producers of Netflix's One Day At a Time reboot, whose Season 2 begins streaming sometime in 2018.

Norman Lear (left), who created the original CBS version in 1975, was among the press conference participants. Newly announced as a Kennedy Center honoree, Lear already has said he won't be attending an earlier White House reception traditionally hosted by the President. But TVWW probed for more details after first noting that the new One Day At a Time is headed by Rita Moreno, who already has her Kennedy Center medal from the 2015 festivities.

Moreno affirmed that she had no reservations whatsoever about going to the White House during the Obama administration. It was then Lear's turn to elaborate, if he would, on his intention to boycott the Trump White House portion of the Kennedy Center Honors.

He did so.

"I think of it as a very simple decision," Lear said. "The Kennedy Center is about the arts and humanities. I'm somebody who believes that when the world is safe for everybody, the arts will play a large part in that.

"And a presidency that refuses to fund the arts and humanities -- I can't imagine wishing to go there. That's entirely the basis . . . I understand everything else that's going on, and you can imagine how I feel about the individual (President Trump). But it's the turning of the presidency's back on the arts and humanities that I can't honor with a visit."

The Sony Studios session came just a few days after Lear's 95th birthday. Replicas of his trademark floppy hat were distributed to attendees, who had no qualms about singing a closing chorus of "Happy Birthday" to television's reigning grand old man.

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Mark Isenberg
Lots of folks gave the Goldbergs a few months when it began but the ensemble cast and guests have made this consistently funny and charming even if little Adam is now a little old for the role.
Aug 9, 2017   |  Reply
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