Women Take The Lead At Fox’s Girls Night Out

It was standing room only for those eager to hear the women of Fox speak during “Girl’s Night Out.” (photo credit: GP Productions)

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

A night out is always fun, but a Girl’s Night Out is something special. Fox celebrated a number of their female stars and producers on June 9th at Fox Girls’s Night Out at the Television Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theater to a standing room only crowd.

Moderated by Stacey Wilson, senior reporter at The Hollywood Reporter, the panel featured Mindy Kaling (writer/actor – The Mindy Project), Jane Lynch (actor – Glee), Chelsea Peretti (actress – Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Alex Borstein (voice artist – Family Guy), Yeardley Smith (voice over artist – The Simpsons), Liz Meriwether (executive producer/writer – New Girl) and Heather Kadin (executive producer – Sleepy Hollow). Cat Deeley, host of “So You Think You Can Dance” was unable to attend but did kick off the presentation with an amusing video smash-up combining the work of each panelist with her onstage presence on SYTYCD.

See Also: Ten Minutes With: Executive Producer Michael Spiller

Wilson kicked off the event by asking Lynch how it felt to be heading into the final season of “Glee.” Lynch reflected on the early days of the show when it was uncertain if they would make it past a first season but was quickly embraced by fans.

“It’s had a natural life and then some,” laughed Lynch.

She enjoyed creating the sweat suit-wearing Sue Sylvester and particularly enjoyed the episode that brought her character (along with glee club director Will Schuester played by Matthew Morrison) to New York City. She had just completed a run in Broadway’s “Annie” and felt the episode, which featured Sue Sylvester singing and dancing, brought her home.

Chelsea Peretti admitted she had a huge crush on Andy Samberg as a girl. The two attended the same high school and later would run into each other in New York as they focused on building their respective comedy careers.

“We went to elementary school together and I thought he was dreamy,” said Peretti. “I would call his house and then hang up a lot on his mom.”

Peretti was excited to reconnect with her childhood dreamboat as a cast member on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” after a writing stint on “Parks and Recreation.” While she still writes, she’s happiest devoting her time to performing: when on hiatus between seasons, she has been touring with her stand-up routine.

While Peretti is happy to keep her focus on acting for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Mindy Kaling has split her focus between starring in and writing “The Mindy Project.” Jokingly stating the best thing about acting on her own show was kissing lots of “hot men,” Kaling reflected upon the first season and the treacherous road it traveled in obtaining viewer loyalty.

“I stand by the work done in the first season. I think the show was a lot better than most people give it credit for,” said Kaling. “Working with writerly actors and performing writers is very exciting and ads a great energy. Everyone on the cast and crew give their all, and I’m happy to see fans embrace everyone’s fantastic work.”

Kaling did confide that the secret to the second season was learning to embrace the gifts the actors bring to their characters, instead of presenting characters they have to morph and conform to.
“Our energies bounce together well, and we’ve established a natural rhythm,” said Kaling. “When you can make the gift the actors bring shine, you create something really special.”

“New Girl” producer Liz Meriwether empathized with the challenges that encircle the growth of a new show during its first season. They lost co-star Damon Wayans Jr. to “Happy Endings” prior to the show’s second episode. After a bit of head-scratching, the writers decided the character should simply move to “Santa Monica”, a fortuitous choice seeing Wayans Jr. was able to return to the show in season three when “Happy Endings” was canceled.

“Sometimes when someone moves to the west side, you don’t see them for several years,” said Meriwether. “Then they get sick of it and they return. That really happens!”

Meriwether also shared her pursuit of obtaining Prince as a guest actor. While an original idea that had Cece (Hannah Simone) lose her virginity to Prince didn’t jive with the performer, he reached out directly to Meriwether and committed to an episode she positioned to air after the Super Bowl in season three. Her fondest memory of the episode was meeting Prince in a dark bathroom with nothing but a lighter the musician was using to pitch an idea.

Heather Kadin had no production experience when she moved to Hollywood in 1996, but quickly moved up the ladder and within ten years was recognized as a THR “35 under 35” feature. She credits the success of “Sleepy Hollow” with taking the time to work through production challenges and find solutions that are true to the show and entertaining.

“There was an episode where the Headless Horseman is captured and interrogated. Obviously that provided a number of challenges. How would he communicate? A disembodied voice? A white board?” said Kadin. “In the end he spoke through Andy Brooks (John Cho). For something that could have been really stupid, it turned out well.”

Yeardley Smith confessed she had zero interest in becoming a voice over artist. Having just come off a failed stage play and needing a job, she auditioned for “The Simpsons” not knowing what the audition was for. She recalled receiving no reaction from Matt Groaning, and was surprised when she got the part. While the initial job was minimal – “The Simpsons” began as snippets featured in “The Tracy Ullman Show” – the series was expanded to a 30 minute mid-season replacement series in January, 1990.

“James L. Brooks said he would do the show as long as there were no network notes. They gave it to him because no one expected it to live,” said Smith. “That still holds true; there are no network notes. I think the show has survived this long because there are not too many chefs spoiling the stew.”

Like Kaling, Alex Borstein got her start as a writer on “MadTV” and moved into acting out her skits. With seventeen years of performing and writing on assorted Fox shows, Borstein has become a Seth McFarlane regular, voicing wife Lois on “Family Guy” and appearing in his features “Ted” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

“Working with Seth is very frustrating, because he’s like Mozart; he can see the animation in his head and hear the lines and make tiny adjustments that make the episode perfect,” said Borstein. “We are all just Salieri’s to his Mozart.”

To learn more about Fox shows and the talented women on this panel, visit: www.fox.com