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When Television Needs A Specialist : Enter John C. McGinley

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John C. McGinley has been involved with some spectacular films and television shows; from Platoon to Scrubs. He was classically trained in theater with a range of talent from dramatic to eccentrically comedic and is now involved in the final season of the hit NBC comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

John joins the cast playing the NYPD union head, Frank O’Sullivan, who has a penchant for the beat cops in blue. McGinley was brought in to handle some very tough issues as the comic foil for Diaz, Peralta and Holt in the nine nine.

courtesy NBC Universal

 

 

 

 

 

TME: Thank you so much for making time today. I absolutely loved watching you. Four years of big and small screens. Of course, when I think back on Scrubs, I mostly think of Dr. Cox and the heart of the show, walking an amazing line of drama and comedy. I feel Scrubs walked that and showed a depth of writing and a trust, plus a solidness of the ensemble.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine carries that same kind of thing forward. Can you talk a little bit about joining such a tight cast? Do you feel when you would watch guest stars like Michael J. Fox come aboard Scrubs and think, well, you better bring your A game, buddy?

JCM: Well, I think both shows are so well drawn on the page.  With Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dan Goor is the executive producer and he’s responsible for the words on the page… with Scrubs, it was Billy Lawrence, who now has another hit for Ted Lasso.

And with TV, because there’s so little time and everything is is such a 10000 pounds of pressure on your back, if it’s not on the page at the beginning of the day, it’s not going to work out, because if you presuppose that someone’s going to walk on the set and be able to pull rabbits out of the hat like Jonathan Winters or or Robin Williams or Jim Carrey, those people don’t exist. They’re those three people. So unless there’s a road map every morning that that can be provided to the actors, which is the script, you don’t have a ghost of a chance.

And so what Billy and Dan did respectively with their shows is they put that mix of heart and comedy on the page, which is so rare and so impossible. And when it comes across your desk, you just want to jump on it.

That’s what happened with me with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Not that my character has even a shred of heart, but will show does my dignity. Frank Sullivan, who’s the head of the policemen’s union in in Brooklyn, nine nine.

And in this in this time of BLM and George Floyd’s horrible, horrible travesty, I think Dan had to straddle a tricky line. So much so that I think that prior to my coming on for the eighth season, I think they shot a bunch of shows and then threw them out because I I could only speculate that something must have been a little slippery and I wouldn’t pretend to know what it was. So when this was sent to me in the middle of February, when we were shoulder deep in the pandemic, I was thrilled.  I was absolutely thrilled. But Dan was so concerned with straddling and being sensitive to the different challenges and awareness that are present today. I think he re-shot about four episodes, and that’s the only reason I was brought on. I think they were going on a certain track that certainly didn’t include me. And when they retooled, I was provided with an opportunity to participate.

courtesy of NBC Universal

TME: If Dr. Cox was harsh, but with a heart of gold, Frank is harsh with the heart of symmetrically weird.

JCM: No, he’s he’s harsh with a heart of blue, always blue. And the way Dan wrote him; he doesn’t see men or women, black or white. He doesn’t see any religion. He sees blue as in the police union in New York, as specifically the rank and file, which are cops, not detectives.

Courtesy of NBC Universal

When someone like Andre’s character or Andy’s character or any of them in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, they’re all detectives… they’re fair game. That’s where that conflict starts to pay dividends, because I’m looking out for blue.  And they’re in pursuit of other things. And I could care less what they’re in pursuit of. All I care about is delivering for blue.

Courtesy of NBC Universal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TME: You’ve famously played a corrupt cop over on Chicago PD.

JCM: Yeah. Kelton was very different. Kelton was an exercise in ambition. And  I don’t know if that’s Frank O’Sullivan’s thing, because  I talked to my friend Kevin McCabe, who was a deputy mayor under David Dinkins and is an unbelievable resource for all things New York cops and politics.  When you’ve become the head of the the PBA, the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, or the policemen’s union, you’ve reached the peak years.

That’s as good as it gets. No one has gone on to become mayor. No one. This is it. You’ve reached it. Whatever your ambition was, you’ve achieved it. Now, with Kelton on on Chicago PD, I think this was a guy who obviously on the page, he had set his sights on being mayor and then had to set his sights on probably being governor, maybe senator. This was a this was an exercise in ambition. That goalpost was going to move.

So many times actors are trained to look for what is  the redemption in the character… what grounds, the character and some good. And with Kelton, it was about ambition. It wasn’t reconciling those which gave us license to just go…  just an ambition driven political beast.  And he was grounded in that with no apologies. O’Sullivan is a totally different character, totally different and grounded in comedy.

TME: So in going from from reading him on the page in February to to working out the real physical man in front of the camera, can you talk a little bit about the growth; the back and forth of that?

JCM: Well, I worked with Dan Goor a lot, and he allowed me to provide most of the input I just shared with you in shaping this character.

The first thing I sent him was a picture on one page of of my notebooks of Archie Bunker and Yosemite Sam. I use these notebooks for my homework. Every film I’ve ever done down in the rehearsal space.There’s about eight of these four movies and about 400 episodes of TV.  And they function as both work tablets and  as diaries. And in that one, the first thing I sent him was Archie Bunker meets Yosemite Sam, and he fell off his chair on the zoom call. We went from there and it was just a very classically drawn comic foil for Andy’s character and Andre’s character.  Remember, they weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. In a in a newly found picked up Season eight. The show was canceled.  Billy did the opposite with Scrubs.  He did reinvent the wheel. And it didn’t quite yield the dividends he was looking for, but it was a brave attempt. With Brooklyn Nine-Nine, what Dan did, I thought, brilliantly played to the ensemble’s strength.

So he did not try to exorcise any ghosts or demons that had been in the background, out of frame for seven seasons. He went solidly into each character strength and wrote to those strengths and to bring me in to get in the way of those strengths, at least for Andre.

And Andy’s character was just so solid. It was like a metronome. It was great on rhythm. That’s what I got ready to do. I’m very much a rhythm player. Billy Lawrence and Oliver Stone have written the best for my for my mouth, and Dan wrote beautifully for the way I  approach the script. When somebody called action, I was fully loaded and ready to go. Plus, I haven’t had that much time to get ready for something in forever. I mean, I had about a month to get ready for this thing.

Because my episodes were spread out, I got all these genius rewrites. And if you give me time, I can pretty much do the phone book. I then get rid of it. But I had time on this to just create an enormous amount of chaos.

TME: So often you embody a character so completely that they just become iconic for me and I can never tell when something was written for you or when, you know, there’s something written fo another guy that could have been it.  Was this an audition process or did Dan have your voice in mind to start with?

 JCM: (laugs) There was no audition.  This was just sent to me and it was a straight offer. When I read it, I didn’t want to play a not fun role. O’Sullivan is the exact opposite. He’s a  banquet of eccentricities. I feel like with O’Sullivan,  the writers had a closet on a in the writers room at a Brooklyn Nine-Nine with all the different eccentricities that that they’d never been able to imbue with, with different characters in the ensemble and guest stars over the years. They took it out and they shook it into a glass and it was Frank O’Sullivan. How do you get a Billy Joel fanatic when you see what a fanatic is? You’re not going to believe it. It’s genius…  who lives in his mother’s basement,  who hosts an NHL podcast about the islanders, global islanders talk and only serves one thing.

He serves the men and women of his union… And he’s good at it, which is really fun. The worst thing that happens is he gets in his own way, which is always genius. But there are times when you’re paying  ping pong or tennis and it’s all just volleys right at the net. There are scenes with Andre and myself and Andy or just with Andre and I, where it’s just volleys at the net. And it’s that syncopation that someone as skilled as Andre can execute without verbal static like  “ummm” or a’s and “I mean”, or a “you know”, or the things that drive me insane.

Just the clean text and…  that’s thrilling. On most sets, it’s hard to find a thrill. And when you can just volley at net, just that syncopation of of really choppy balls and everyone’s talking as fast  as Marty Scorsese… it’s just flying. And you already know you’re going to see how the editors are going to cut it. To be able to do that with Andre and Andy, to some extent, that was thrilling.

TME: I loved the  comeback on the steps with Diaz and Peralta when Frank says my mom, lives with me in her house and just moves right at it kind of quickness back and forth is brilliant. And  the projects that you’ve picked, you can see that love of language.

JCM: I mean, getting to do Mamet on stage, a greatest experience of my life.

TME:When when you look at things you’re enjoying right now, I always feel like you have a great year for projects and talent. I remember seeing the the Jack Bull or so.  I remember watching that on HBO at the time and just falling in love with it. When you’re looking around at things now, you’d said you liked Brooklyn. Is there anything else that that just really catches? Anybody else writing right now that’s just blowing you away?

JCM: I think what Billy’s doing with Ted Lasso is fantastic. I’m a TV junkie and of course, now I’m not to remember anything. Fauda !

In Fauda, you found out about cops and robbers in Israel and Palestine with that Israeli ensemble. I can’t recommend it highly enough to you. Lior Raz is abulldog of a of an actor who’s just fantastic…  Which is a heck of a thing to say. Brooklyn Nine Nine just feels like the rock stars of of comedy right now, getting to watch them take a victory lap eighth season. To wonder for a year how they were going to handle things and now get to be so involved in it is just absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to see the season unfold.

I thought the second episode, which I had not seen… I haven’t seen a frame of the thing. So I only saw what I saw last week because I didn’t do any looping. It was thrilling to watch it last Thursday. And then to see those guys go out to that cabin, the second episode of that ensemble, so watertight.

TME:   I had a similar feeling in Ted Lasso. Every time I get to watch a little bit more Brooklyn Nine-Nine you’re just glad to see these players be in a room together. And I agree.  You’re an absolutely brilliant choice to add as a foil for this. Thank you so much for making time to talk about it with me.

Brooklyn Nine Nine airs Thursdays on NBC 8pm/7 central

You can tag them and live tweet them on twitter using #B99 #Brooklyn99 or #NineNine or #Brooklyn 99

You can also follow the show on their social media on IG,Facebook and Twitter @nbcbrooklyn99

You can follow John on twitter @JohnCMcGinley and follow his fanclub

@jcmfanclub on Twitter

@johncmcginleyfanclub on IG and Facebook

 

 

 

 

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‘Abigail’: Bite Me Harder Tiny Dancer

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A gang of misfit kidnappers find their tiny target far more bloodthirsty than they bargained for! 

So, unfortunately, the trailers gave it away and let’s be real that’s why most of us are here, the knowledge that the kidnap victim Abigail (Alisha Weir), codenamed by the would-be kidnappers appropriately as ‘tiny dancer’, is in fact, a vampire. Not a spoiler, point of fact, one of the film’s actual great selling points. And the reactions from the misfit club when faced with a real actual f*cking vampire, range hilariously from the blunt “no such thing as vampires” all the way to, “Are we talking True Blood or Twilight rules or what?” all while covered in buckets and buckets of blood. 

Anyway, the gang manages to subdue and abscond with the aforementioned Abigail, in a pre-prepared duffle bag, like you do, and converge to a new location, a house oddly similar to the one she was just taken from. Welcomed and given codenames by a man who introduces himself as Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our misfit club is told to simply hold down the fort in this strange old house with the girl chained up in a room and one person to attend her, for twenty-four hours, and they’ll all get paid. 

As inevitable as the tides, the dopey druggie Dean (Angus Cloud) is the first to die, and we’re going to give that death-style points for inspiring terror right off the bat. The very controlling Frank (Dan Stevens, holy crap yes that is the guy from FXs Legion) is also of course the most suspicious – of everyone around him, sure, but also he himself is totes sus. We don’t learn terribly much about the musclebound tank who gets dubbed Peter (Kevin Durand), he’s your pretty typical little-brains-heart-of-gold muscle-for-hire any proper gang needs, right down to the bottle problem. Sammy (Kathryn Newton), well, even for being a purported hacker-type, she has, like, reality issues. Rickles (William Catlett), he’s arguably the most dangerous among them, ex-military and yet somehow here and involved in kidnapping for a few mills. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our Final Girl, and though she has the inevitable problems in her recent past, she seems more capable of doing the hard thing and still somehow empathizing at the end of the day. Must be her burning desire to get back with her son. 

The fit hits the shan pretty quickly, and Abigail morphs from tiny dancer to tiny monster, though honestly, the way Abigail spoke the entire time in the film, if the ‘nappers had been paying close enough attention, would have been a solid clue. The performance from Alisha Weir as Abigail is incredible, as she literally dances a fine line between comedy, tragedy, and outright monstrosity. With a face full of makeup and the force of a tiny tornado to back it up, Weir brings to mind the great performances of the vampires in 30 Days of Night who saw the practicality in the need to trap their food, but also, play with it a bit first before feasting! Anything else would give away the absolute fun time that is Abigail, so you should go see it, out in theaters now!

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together

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Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Rebellion with a cause

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The story of the rise of Coriolanus Snow, from teenage Capital City pawn to rising Dictator of the Hunger Games! 

Apparently no one out here in post-apocalyptic Panem has heard of irony and so they name their children things like Coriolanus (Tom Blyth), Tigress, and further off in Hunger Games lore, after swamp plants like Katniss. Corio’s father was a legendary general and that is pretty much the only reason young Snow and his meager family of grandmother called Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister Tigress (Hunter Schafer) are tolerated here in the Capital City at all. 

Most of the snotty youngsters at the academy won’t let Snow forget how far his family has fallen, but he’s generally not concerned with them. What is concerning is the strong disapproval of the drugged-up Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) and the creepy attention of Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) as she lurks in the classroom sniffing out talent. The Dean feels very strongly the annual Hunger Games should end, while Gaul is violently adamant that not only do the Games continue, but that they get as much more attention as possible. And young Snow is stuck in the middle, when the yearly prize money normally awarded to the academy student with the best grades gets switched out for, you guessed it, the student that can make this years’ Hunger Games as entertaining as possible. 

Whilst the students are protesting this sudden change, the annual Reaping is about to commence, and big shock and surprise, Corio’s candidate from District 12 Lucy Grey Baird (Rachel Zegler) is chosen as a Tribute. This is where the film begins to really take off on musical wings, for as it turns out, Lucy Grey can sing. Boy, can that gal sing! She can sing, she can play guitar, she can work a crowd, she can calm things down, she can fire ‘em up too! And Corio, being no dummy himself, instantly plots ways to use his Tributes amazing voice to draw attention to her, and admittedly his own, plight! 

Though far too many people sneer at the idea, Corio takes his position as Mentor to his Tribute seriously enough to sneak onto the tram taking the Tributes to their habitat, which turns out to be a completely appropriate moniker, as this year the Tributes are held before the Hunger Games in a large zoo habitat so the weatherman ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), host of this years games, can MC the hell out of everything up close and personal! 

What happens at this years Hunger Games and the subsequent consequences to both Corio and Lucy Grey is actually only half the story, and the movie. Coriolanus has always had to be opportunistic, but learning to be absolutely ruthless when necessary under the tutelage of Dr. Gaul, who basically thinks it’s always best to be merciless, is an eye-opening education indeed.  Even after they’ve both been consigned to military service and his friend Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) decides to finally rebel, Corio and Sejanus continue to deceive each other and themselves, to accomplish their separate goals. Not even the love Corio swears he feels for Lucy Grey can save him, or them, from the adamant absolute necessity of the Hunger Games continuing. And after all that’s happened, Coriolanus Snow has gotten a terrific education in the best way to be the absolutely ruthless next Hunger Games advocate, and oh yeah, President of Panem. 

The movie does itself no favors by trying to stuff not one but two major storylines and a bunch of side storylines sadly introduced and then ignored, into the film. It would have been entirely possible to turn Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes into two different movies, separated between feathers and scales if you like, and do justice to the major storylines in both. Blyth gives a fine  performance as a young Coriolanus Snow, but the fact that President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in all three of the Hunger Games films means Blyth has incredibly large shoes to fill. Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey is absolute fire, and yes the actress did sing the songs in the film herself, including the Hunger Games franchise epic song, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Every time Lucy Grey opens her mouth and sheer soul-searing music comes out, it provides a distinct counterpoint to the soul-crushing ambition of Coriolanus Snow and further demonstrates the District and Caste separation Hunger Games is known for. And if, by the end of the film, Coriolanus Snow has come to agree that the Hunger Games must continue but perhaps under his own auspices, he has no one but himself to blame when another younger but still rebellious female blows it all up in his face! 

Choose rebellion or conformity for yourself in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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