The FX Network is rounding out its fall lineup with the return of last year's freshman comedy hit The League, which will kick off its second season with Vegas Draft on Thursday, September 16 at 10:30 PM ET on FX, right after the Season 6 premiere of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (You can CLICK HERE to read what Charlie Day told me about his new season). The cast and crew of The League, which revolves around an irreverent fantasy football league and the men (and woman) who play in it, were in full force at Arclight Hollywood last night and I had the chance to speak with the main players of this new comedy hit series.
While waiting for my turn with husband-and-wife creators Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, I overheard that they shot each episode in an astonishing three and a half days. Most shows film an episode in seven or eight days and I had to ask the creators what kind of people shot each episode in half the time a normal show would take. Here's what Jackie Marcus Schaffer had to say:
"People who have a brilliant cast, and get overconfident with how fabulous their cast is, do it. They're so amazing that we figure, 'Why not?' We can do anything with them."
Jeff Schaffer elaborated on the process even further:
"Stupid people do it. If you're dumb enough to think that you can do it, you do it. You have to do a lot of cross-boarding and there's a lot of racing and there's a lot of long days. That's the thing. When they said we had to do each episode in three and a half days, they didn't say how long those days had to be. It's been quite a challenge but it's been a fun challenge."
Since this show revolves around a fantasy football league, this season will provide some cameos from real NFL players. Controversial Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad Ochocinco appears as a guest star in the Season 2 premiere, where the league members hold their draft in Las Vegas. Other NFL players such as Josh Cribbs from the Cleveland Browns and Terrell Suggs from the Baltimore Ravens will be appearing as guest stars this season as well. I asked if NFL players had been contacting them about being in the show, and it seems that the NFL has surely taken notice of The League. Here's what Jackie Marcus Schaffer told me:
"I've been getting a bunch of tweets from NFL players asking for DVD's, telling me they love the show. There have been a lot of phone calls rolling in from people who are top 5 fantasy draft picks. I would say two or three of the top 5 have called in the past few weeks.
"Here's the thing about The League. To enjoy it, you don't have to know anything about football, you don't have to know anything about fantasy football. You just have to have friends that you hate."
"How can I say this without giving it away. I think Ruxin finally gets what he deserves, and he hates it. That's the theme of Ruxin's year and it's really truthful for him. He's got a hot wife, she doesn't want to have sex with him. He gets all the players he wants, they don't perform for him. He gets his brother-in-law in The League and his brother-in-law is a nightmare. It's kind of the beauty and the sadness of Ruxin."
The cast and creators are also in their own real fantasy football league between each other. I asked Nick Kroll how competitive that league gets:
"We just had our first game this week, obviously. Jeff gives us our notes over a walkie-talkie. He's giving us notes and he goes, 'OK, Nick, do it again, try it this way, oh, and you're welcome. I trounced you this week.' Yeah, he beat me. We all get into it. Last year, Paul Scheer, on his honeymoon in the middle of the season. No calls, no emails, no anything. The only thing he did was set his lineup. It's pretty wild."
"The Boz, Brian Bosworth. Let's get Bosworth. He's got acting experience. Let's work on it. That's the next move. I think we get Brian Bosworth for Season 3."
"That will be revealed. We're very excited to have her in The League. I'm not psyched, my character, because I could really use her helping me out, but, overall, she's very beneficial to The League."
Stephen Rannazzisi also told us about a number of non-NFL guest stars this season, such as Lake Bell, Rob Huebel, Leslie Bibb, Jason Mantzoukas, Nadine Velazquez and Ike Barinholtz. He said that since most of these guest stars are friends of the cast, it makes for a great environment on the set:
"It's great because all of us are friends and we have a lot of friends in the business. It's like, 'Hey, we have this kind of character. Who do you think would be right for that?' Oh, I'll call up Ike or I'll call up so-and-so."
"Here's what you're going to see this year. Pete, uber-confident as usual, unflappable Pete, he starts to get flapped. Pete still knows what he's doing. He still has the best knowledge in The League, although it's arguable next to Kevin and Jenny, but he's also got some personal stuff going on. He's trying to date for the first time so as confident as he is, the single life is eating into his confidence. It's patches of strength and big patches of weakness with Pete."
Mark Duplass also told me that since their own fantasy league has gotten more cutthroat this year, that plays a factor on the set while filming the show, to a certain extent:
"I can't say for sure, because we've all had a nice camaraderie. People can get sensitive, particularly actors with egos. You sling some shit at them, some of them don't like that. It's not only welcomed on our set, but it's encouraged. I think it helps. We're kind of living it."
"Here's the deal. What none of the guys will tell you is that Jenny knows more than all these other douchebags. She can bury all of them. Her goal, every day, is just to bury them. Not this season, not last season, every day."
She also told me a hilarious story of some fantasy football drama in their real league, when I asked her if she had Ochocinco on her team:
"No! Because Mark f*&^ing told me not to draft him and then he drafted him! And he played him! 22 points! He told me not to draft him and we were drafting together. Not a good guy.
Last, but most certainly not least, was funnyman Paul Scheer, who plays Andre on the series. Andre went from worst to first in The League last season, which Paul Scheer told me definitely went to Andre's head:
"Last season, Andre won the Shiva and this season we get to see what happens when the loser becomes the winner. It's essentially nothing, they still treat him with no respect, but the thing that's different is that his character starts to spiral downward. It kind of goes to his head and the first sign of that is he takes the sacred Shiva trophy and makes it in his own image. He now calls it The Dre, much to the hatred of everyone else in The League. Andre definitely gets a bit of a God complex and that starts to affect his love life, his professional life, it slowly starts to go off the rails for him."
It seems that both Paul Scheer himself and the Andre character are responsible for the appearance of Chad Ochocinco in the Season 2 premiere Episode 2.01: Vegas Draft:
"How he realistically got involved was he actually tweeted at me last season. In one of the episodes I said, 'Child, please,' and they said, 'Is that Ochocinco? You're doing it wrong.' Ochocinco actually tweeted at me and said, 'Hey, I want to be on your show.' At that point, we had already wrapped the season and we were able to say, 'Hey, if you want to be on the show we'll build a whole episode around you.' The way we get him in, on the show, is my character, a plastic surgeon, gets Ochocinco to do calf implants. Basically they're going to make a mold of his calves and sell them to people. There are two levels, Pre-Season and Playoff Push. It would basically be if you wanted the calves of an athlete, you come to me and I would give you those implants. So that's how he gets involved."
Well, that about wraps it up from The League's Season 2 premiere event in Hollywood. The new season debuts with Episode 2.01: Vegas Draft, which airs on Thursday, September 16 at 10:30 PM ET on FX.