Producers Daniel Goor And Michael Schur On Creating Brooklyn Nine-Nine
By: Marjorie Galas
Daniel Goor and Michael Schur knew by uniting forces, they’d bring something special to the people of the U.S.
“We specifically set out to change the way Americans regard themselves, their country, their history and their future,” stated Schur.
In reality, what they created was the Fox hit comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” While the show may not have rocked the foundation of American life, it has been embraced by critics and fans alike. Set in a New York police district, “Brooklyn Nine Nine” presents a diverse collection of endearing characters whose work and social interactions un-spool with hilarious results.
The history of Goor and Schur boasts an outstanding comic pedigree. Each has numerous Emmy nominations and two wins: Goor for his writing on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Daily Show with John Stewart.” Schur has one writing win for “Saturday Night Live” and a best comedy win for “The Office.” Their collaboration on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” resulted in a number of award nominations and wins, including a Golden Globe win for Best Comedy and Best Comic Actor for lead Andy Samberg. Film Independent recently celebrated Goor, Schur and the cast members at a special panel and screening of season two’s last two episodes. At a time when many television shows – especially comedies – are quickly axed if a following doesn’t develop quickly, the two men are happy to have created a show that’s been embraced.
“We only wanted to make something good, that people would really enjoy,” said Goor. “We are very happy with the show, and proud of the way it’s turned out.”
The scripts were always essential to creating a series they could truly get behind. In addition to writers they worked with on “Parks and Recreation” they brought in scribes with credits including “King of the Hill”, “Kids in the Hall”, and “American Dad.” (“We feel like we got the cream of the crop,” said Goor.) Casting was equally important in creating a reality the scripts could be based around. Having exposed his comedy chops on “Saturday Night Live” as well as dramatic acting in films such “Celeste & Jesse Forever”, they convinced Andy Samberg he “wouldn’t feel embarrassed” playing lead Jake Peralta. Filled with aspirations often greater than his talent, Jake is a lovable, positive every-man who’s earned the devotion of his team.
Peralta’s precinct is filled with personalities and individuals indicative of the neighborhood it represents. Goor and Schur selected an array of strong comic actors including Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Dirk Blocker, Joel McKinnon Miller and Stephanie Beatriz who bring personality, life and a neighborhood flair to the office. Andre Braugher, better known for his dramatic work in series including “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order” rounds out the cast as Captain Ray Holt, a role that earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination in last year’s Golden Globe race.
Finding a balance between reality and comedy is a primary concern to Goor and Schur when working on each episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” For example, Captain Holt has become increasingly more at ease with his co-workers learning about his homosexuality. The character identified the challenge of coming out in the early 80s at a time when it wasn’t accepted and has developed an increasing awareness of the traits and tics he’s adapted over the years to protect himself. While the topics covered to date have primarily focused on inter-personal relationships, Goor and Schur agree they may insert issues related to current events and police activity into the script if it fits the story and the characters.
“Our job is to do what makes sense for the show, the network and us,” said Schur. “If we feel we have something meaningful to contribute to a national discussion, and the issue is appropriate to a 21 minute episode, we’ll do it.”
Added Goor, “The simple act that it’s in a comedy show can diminish an issue. We do talk about it, but we’re careful never to short change an issue or topic.”
The final piece of the equation to creating a show they felt proud about was amassing a crew of top-notch below-the-line professionals. In addition to their trusted line producer they credit with aligning a great collection of professionals who’ve worked diligently over the past two seasons, their crew includes casting director Juel Bestrop, costume designer Kirston Leigh Mann and editor Sandra Montiel. Former detectives are also on set as technical advisors, who train the actors on everything from holding a gun correctly to correct formation when entering a room with a second officer.
“If it doesn’t look or act the way it should, people will be turned off by it,” said Andy Samberg, who relies on the support of advisors as well as stunt coordinator Norman Howell, who earned an Emmy for his work on “Brooklyn Nine Nine” last year.
“All the sets we work on we want to make the most fun place to be,” said Goor. “We’re so happy to have filled our sets with incredible, talented people.”
Added Schur, “Yes, until now, everyone else has been getting it wrong, filling the sets with the worst a**holes. No one else has tried to change the way Americans regard themselves, their country, their history and their future.”