Actror and Creator discuss moving the show to Thursday night, what the Sixth Season has in store for fans, and Zach Braff's new movie Open Hearts.
Recently moved to Thursday nights, the ever popular TV show Scrubs hit's the ground running November 30 at 9 p.m. for it's sixth season.
Focusing on the interesting life of J.D. (Zach Braff), a medical resident, we see him continue his healing career in a surreal hospital, crammed full of unpredictable staffers and patients -- where humor and tragedy can collide at any time. J.D. is joined at Sacred Heart Hospital by fellow residents Chris Turk (Donald Faison) -- J.D.'s college buddy who is part of the elite surgical group -- and the beautiful, but socially awkward, Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke).
What would a show like this be without bumbling authority figures? Watching over the medical team is chief of medicine, Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), the abrasive, but caring, Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley), and Turk's wife and no-nonsense nurse, Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes).
Recently Zach Braff and the show's creator Bill Lawrence (both fighting colds) sat down to discuss the show's past, present and future.
Which of the characters on the show would benefit from the lessons learned in your film The Last Kiss?
Zach Braff: I don't know I think we all can learn lessons about fidelity. One of the things about Scrubs is that it's about great friendships and... as broad and as serious as we get it's always really about friendship. It's about getting through the challenging parts of your life with the help of your friends.
Bill Lawrence: We've been talking about how in the sixth year Zach plays a man boy. One of the things we like about the show is that the friends and the people around him are basically forcibly dragging him into adulthood. His best friend is married and has a kid. His former mentor, who has two children... even his ex-girlfriend, his best friend has moved in with a guy. We very intentionally kept Zach's character as a guy that might not completely grasp that it's time to put his feet in the water.
Since you guys are now competing against Grey's Anatomy how are you going to change up the show to do that?
Zach Braff: I keep telling Bill to put more sex on the show.
Bill Lawrence: We're gonna nickname Zach's character "McWeenie"! I've got to be honest those guys have cornered the late night, romantic, soap opera, love triangle. They do it really well and we're not gonna participate. We're first and foremost a comedy that has occasional dramatic moments... and I think they're first and foremost a drama that has a lot of romantic soap opera intrigue.
What about the music on the show?
Zach Braff: I just love music. It started on Scrubs, a lot of the writers are into music and picking songs. It's a really fun hobby to set imagery to music, and finding the right songs for that. Your favorite song in the world might not work at all... for one reason or another. When I made Garden State, I even wrote in what some of the songs should be in the script. It's not like I know more about music than the average person, it's just something I like to do.
Bill Lawrence: Zach's being modest because one of the cool things... it's a power you have to wield responsibly. The internet community has changed music. We realized that during the early years of Scrubs. Zach did especially, that if you feature a song by an unknown artist, you could look at the fansites and 80% of the initial posts... would be "Who is that singing that?" We found out that we would pick these obscure songs, which is so much more fun than picking a band like Coldplay, who I love, but they don't need us. You put them on and suddenly you get calls from these artists saying, "5000 more people showed up at my next show." Or, "I just got signed." You realize that all the media is tied together and someone like Zach gets to be a king maker.
What about guest stars for this year?
Bill Lawrence: Friends and family... Thom Cavanaugh, Freddy Rodriguez, Elizabeth Banks.
Zach Braff: Michael Weston.
Bill Lawrence: These are all people that are friends of the cast and crew and the writers. They've been established on the show and we'll probably stick with them. Guest stars this year are going to be friends and family. The one I am hoping to get back is Scott Foley. The other one we're gonna sneak in his Masi from Heroes.
Zach Braff: We're gonna have him have his same special power.
What is your favorite Masi story because he used to be on Scrubs?
Bill Lawrence: First of all, he's funny. Secondly, we were doing one where the a capella band was singing, this is when I realized this guy was a multi-hyphenate. He was like, "I was part of an a capella band..." at Yale or Princeton, so he told me that he was an actor/a capella singer/Industrial Light and Magic... I'm like this guy has a much more full life than I do.
Zach Braff: I remember when you talked to that guy about all the stuff that he's doing, I was like, "I need to do more in my life."
You guys started earlier this year...
Bill Lawrence: It's a nightmare of editing. That's what I do all day. We were geared up to start airing shows in January... we're gonna be fine but it's a product of when it's your turn at the bottom, which is NBC right now, it's ruthless. One of the things that Kevin is doing, which I understand, is that 30 Rock is a show he had to move to at least give it a chance. You know me, I am really candid about shows I think work and don't work, and that show, Alec Baldwin consistently makes me laugh out loud. He's really funny.
Zach Braff: He's so funny. I was over Bill's house and we were TiVoing to all Alec Baldwin's scenes.
Bill Lawrence: Kevin called me up, he said it's something we need to do to try and make that show stay alive. I'm like, "Alright, whatever." I totally care about the quality of the show, but to care about when they put us on... I'm a little past that.
What else is on tap for the Sixth Season?
Bill Lawrence: One of the things we pride ourselves on in Scrubs, is once you've come to six years there's virtually no possibility that you can avoid... there's stories in every show that have been done before. We got caught in that because we've been building toward certain characters having a kid for a year or so. Then my wife got pregnant in real life, so we had to write that into the show. Suddenly, we had two characters having babies so we said "Screw it," lets let Zach get his girlfriend pregnant who he's only been on one date with.
Zach Braff: And he's not had sex with.
Bill Lawrence: That's explained midseason. That was the finale of last year and we're not gonna cop out of all these things. Everybody always says, "You get kids on the show it's a completely different show." No, it's not. It is a great device for changing characters, so Zach, he's definitely going down the road with a girl... it enables us to address things like abortion, and whether or not to have the child.
Zach, are you looking at any projects to direct?
Zach Braff: If everything goes as planned, my next movie will be shot in Northern New Jersey. It's called Open Hearts. I really like shooting in Jersey. Obviously, I'm loyal to the state but I love the New York crews and actors from New York. I think it's a great place to make movies and I'd like to keep making them there as long as people let me.
Is doing Scrubs easier because now you can cater the show toward your fans?
Bill Lawrence: We love to panic out here in Hollywood. More people are watching TV than ever, the problem is that less people are watching Network Television than ever. As producers, if you're going to put something on the network... you have to make shows cheap. NBC said no more scripted programs, if I just accepted that and moved forward I would be defeated. What I think it means is that NBC won't be doing... Studio 60 is a show that costs 3 million bucks an episode to make. The Bob Saget Game Show, which is doing better than that show in the ratings costs $800,000 to make. It just means that we have to adapt and be more fiscally responsible.
Zach Braff: Our core demographic are college kids and there's not a single Nielsen Box on any college campus in the country.
Scrubs airs from 9-9:30m p.m. ET, Thursday nights on NBC.