Last year Fox strengthened its Animation Domination Sunday night lineup with the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, which just premiered its second season this past Sunday night at 8:30 PM ET. I was invited to a very special event to promote the second season and The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One, which hits DVD shelves on September 28. I ventured down to Beverly Hills at The Paley Center for Media where the cast of The Cleveland Show participated in a live, uncensored table read, which was incredibly fun. Before the hilarity of this table read, though, the cast and creators hit the red carpet to talk about this hit series.
Co-creator and the voice of Cleveland Brown himself, Mike Henry, told us a bit more about the return of their enigmatic guest star Kanye West in the Season 2 premiere as local Stoolbend rapper Kenny, and how he's a joy to work with:
"Kanye will definitely poke fun at himself in a couple of our jokes. I've got to say, he's been great to work with. He shows up early, shows up prepared, he appreciates what we're doing, and that's my take on Kanye. He's a funny guy, he gets the timing of the jokes and, of course, he can nail these raps we write for him. We have a great rap in the first episode called "Be-Cleve In Yourself." Basically, Kenny is down on his luck and Cleveland gets Kenny to start "Be-Cleve In Yourself."
The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One also features something you don't see too often on network TV DVD sets: uncensored dialogue. I asked Mike Henry why they decided to throw that intriguing extra onto this new DVD set:
"We let the dirty jokes survive as long as they can through the process. You know you're going to be able to get some and not others and the ones that you can't get on the air, you get on the DVD. We grew out of Family Guy, so I think we started out a lot raunchier than we've ended up. A lot of that just got trimmed as we found our voice, but it's definitely funny stuff that's worth being seen on the DVD."
"Will i Am and T-Pain are going to be Rollo's new buddies, along with Carl Reiner, so we have 35-year-old African-Americans and a 90-year-old Jewish man hanging out. Justin Timberlake is a singing booger, as Rollo is trying to kick the booger-eating habit. There's a big good-bye ballad called "I've Gotta Flick You Goodbye," so that's coming up. We have a bunch of NBA guys, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Rodriguez appears as himself, David Lynch returns as Gus the Bartender, Arianna Huffington, Jamie Kennedy, Glenn Howerton, Will Forte, Craig Robinson all continuing to give us great laughs. We have musicians, director's, athletes, non-athletes, and, of course, actors."
The topic of guest stars also was brought up when we spoke with the show's other co-creator, Richard Appel. The co-creator/executive producer is aiming very high for the guest star he most wants on the show, who they haven't landed yet:
"I'll be honest, Meryl Streep. When I was at The Simpsons she did an episode and when I was at King of the Hill she did an episode. Here's what you don't know about Meryl Streep: she's a very good actress (Laughs). Unfortunately, her schedule is insane and I don't have any idea if she'd want to do the show, but I would love to get her. She is so funny."
Richard Appel also spoke about the extensive special features on The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One, which includes a live table read video of the Season 1 episode which featured the first appearance of Kanye West, and much more:
"There's a table read on the DVD of the Kanye and Taraji P. Henson episode, which was a great, fun episode. There are some other fun, behind-the-scenes stuff and there are always deleted scenes which are painful to cut. You have 21 minutes and 30 seconds and sometimes there's stuff where, it's not so much censored, but we're told things aren't going to fly. That's all on there too."
Sanaa Lathan, who portrays the voice of Cleveland's significant other, Donna Tubbs, and she told us that the writing helps set the show apart from other animated programs:
"I think the writing is really exceptional. I think it has that perfect combination of humor and shock value. Every week when I read the script, I laugh out loud, in my house, by myself. It's doubly funny when you see it animated with these characters doing all these things."
After the red carpet was over, we all went inside for the live table read and all I can say is if you ever have the opportunity to attend a table read in your life, you really should go. It's hilarious watching all of these talented actors speak in character (and uncensored to boot), with Richard Appel reading the screen actions. Mike Henry even treated the audience to a live version of The Cleveland Show theme song, which was quite a hit with the audience. All in all, it was a tremendously fun night and, since they put a live table read on The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One DVD set, I wouldn't be surprised to find this Paley Center table read on the Season 2 DVD set.
That's all I have from The Cleveland Show event at the Paley Center for Media. The Cleveland Show airs on Sunday nights at 8:30 PM ET on Fox and The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One will be available on DVD on September 28.