Recently, David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik took time out of their hectic schedules to conduct an exclusive interview with BuddyTV about the pair's new show, The Class
. David Crane was a co-creator, writer and executive producer on a little show called "Friends". Klarik has written for a number of hit shows including "Mad About You" and "Dream On"
is about a group of 3rd grade classmates who reconnect in their mid-twenties. It airs on CBS every Monday at 8:30 PM ET/PT.
How did you guys come up with the idea for The Class?
Jeffrey: We were actually cleaning out our basement (laughs) and we found a big box of old photographs that had belonged to David and we were looking through them and they were a whole bunch of pictures from his old 3rd grade class...
David: And we were looking at one of those pictures that has all the different pictures of all the little kids, and Jeffrey said to me, don't you wonder who all these kids are today? I mean, they're all in the picture and they're all 8 year olds with smiling faces and now they're all in their late 40's, and it's like, "Who did they turn into and who's happy?" And that basically turned into what the show became which sort of asks the question, "OK, who were you in 3rd grade and who are you now, and who gets to be happy?"
When you guys wrote the pilot, how was selling the idea to the networks?
David: They were open to anything. They loved the idea, they loved the concept that it wasn't a traditional sitcom, per se, that we'd have a much bigger canvas and a lot more characters, we have 12 characters all together counting Duncan's mother and Holly's husband and Kyle's boyfriend...so it was a really big canvas and they were excited about trying something a little different.
I heard the networks got into a bidding war with you guys. How good does that feel?
David: Actually, it made us more anxious than anything else...and the nice thing was that we, rather than pitching the idea, which you do very often, we actual just wrote the script we wanted to write. We didn't tell anyone our ideas, we just wrote the script and then we showed them the script and we said, this is the show we wanna do and if you wanna do it then great. And, fortunately, they wanted to do it.
Are you guys at all surprised that The Class didn't air on NBC given your previous relationships with them?
David: Surprised? It was really Warner Brother's decision, so it was out of our hands. We would have been happy either place. We have a history with Les Moonves at CBS and we have a nice relationship with NBC, and both of them, as well as FOX, they were all very anxious and willing to accommodate us in any way they cold.
Jeffrey: Very positive about the show.
David: But ultimately it was Warner Brothers who had to decide, which made it easier for us.
During the casting process did you, David, follow your Friends template and target unknown actors for the roles?
David: We did. Jeffrey and I talked about it at the outset and there's something very exciting about not seeing the same old faces that you've seen in a million other TV shows, and that you're meeting these actors for the first time. And in some ways it's easier to believe that the actor is the character, if you haven't seen them play lots of other parts. We also made a real effort to go to New York and see a lot of Broadway people and that's how we found a lot of our cast.
Is there a lot of pressure involved, following your massive successes of Mad About You, Friends, Dream On? Or does it make things easier?
David: You know what's interesting is we kind of work in a bubble and we just come here everyday and we're here for like 17-18 hours a day and we do the work and try not to pay attention to what's going on outside of our little world.
Jeffrey: Yeah, I think also, it very quickly becomes about solving problems. Even if you start out by going, "Wow, what's the big picture?", within minutes we're going, "OK, how do we make this joke work? How do we like this character more? Why isn't this story working yet?" And it's really about, "OK, what's the thing this week that's gonna really make us laugh?"...and you really stop thinking about the larger picture.
You have a cast of 12, easily the biggest cast of characters either of you have worked with before. How difficult has it become to juggle each of their story lines?
David: What's kind of fun is we're actually doing episodes now, like 10,11,12 - where there are combinations of characters together that we never imagined happening. Right now we have got Ethan and Kyle becoming very close friends and Lynna is becoming friends with Nicole and Yank who's Nicole husband is sort of taking Richie under his wing. So there are combinations that are pleasant surprises to the both of us, and they yield unexpected comedy. And that's what so fun about the whole process is the characters are now taking us places.
Part 1 / Part 2
This interview is the first in a series of BuddyTV interviews with the creators, writers, and producers behind many of TV's hit shows. Next week, check back to BuddyTV for an exclusive interview with Hank Steinberg, creator of The Nine and Without a Trace.