Christina Milian as Vanessa, Josh Peck as Gerald, John Stamos as Jimmy, Paget Brewster as Sara, Ravi Patel as Ken and Kelly Jenrette as Annelise in GRANDFATHERED - Season 1 | ©2015 Fox/Robert Trachtenberg

Christina Milian as Vanessa, Josh Peck as Gerald, John Stamos as Jimmy, Paget Brewster as Sara, Ravi Patel as Ken and Kelly Jenrette as Annelise in GRANDFATHERED - Season 1 | ©2015 Fox/Robert Trachtenberg

In Fox Network’s new half-hour comedy GRANDFATHERED, premiering Tuesday at 8 PM, John Stamos plays a wealthy, handsome Los Angeles restauranteur who is shocked to find out that not only does he have a grown son, portrayed by Josh Peck, from his one serious girlfriend (played by Paget Brewster) way back when, but the son has a baby daughter of his own. Instant parent and grandparenthood!

Dan Fogelman is one of the executive producers on GRANDFATHERED alongside Chris Koch, series creator Daniel Chun and star Stamos. Fogelman previously created the alien half-hour comedy THE NEIGHBORS and his medieval musical GALAVANT will be back for a second season on ABC in early 2016. In the feature arena, Fogelman also wrote and/or co-wrote the screenplays for CARS, TANGLED and CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. The last one Fogelman cites as a particular touchstone for his work on GRANDFATHERED.

ASSIGNMENT X: What appeals to you as an executive producer about GRANDFATHERED?

DAN FOGELMAN: It’s the human stuff. I mean, occasionally I like to take big leaps with stuff, like we did with GALAVANT. But when it’s dealing with present-day, modern, not high-concept stuff, it’s that kind of old Jim Brooks/Cameron Crowe movie type of feeling that I’ve been chasing. CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE was a reference point for this show an awful lot. I like the stuff which maybe isn’t always as in vogue any more as it used to be, but KRAMER VS. KRAMER is a big reference point for this TV show. We used it a lot in the show.

AX: Because of the single father aspect?

FOGELMAN: Yeah, a guy meeting a child that he has no real connection with and learning to form a bond, even though we’re dealing with a big twenty years later on each side of the equation, those movies that studios used to put out more of twenty-five years ago, those movies are just about characters and they made you laugh and, if they did it right, they made you cheer often at the end. That’s what I’m chasing in television, a little bit. In this show, it’s really funny. John’s a star. TV stars don’t grow on trees any more. I’ve done things with iconic, iconic movie stars and television stars. The reaction John gets on the street from multiple generations – he belongs in people’s living rooms and bedrooms on TV. He’s a TV star. And so that’s a real opportunity. A built-in audience is going to come.

[As for Josh Peck], Al Pacino, when we were doing our last movie, Josh is in it briefly, I would be bringing up some of the biggest movie stars in the world [for that role], and Pacino knows everybody, he goes, “Eh, I don’t know, I love them, but I’ve worked with them before,” but I was like, “I have this kid I want to use from L.A., Josh,” and he goes, “From DRAKE & JOSH? I love that show! Let’s cast him,” because he would watch it with his young kids, and he’s like, “That kid’s a tremendous young comedic actor.”

AX: Does it help that John Stamos is not only famous from television, but famous specifically for this subgenre of multi-generational family comedy with FULL HOUSE and now FULLER HOUSE?

FOGELMAN: Yeah, I think so. It’s what the guys are talking about a lot is – listen, I want to go direct a Marty Scorsese movie, and I’m sure John in his dark moments wants to play a serial killer with scars all over his face, but also, John has a gift, and it’s a gift – he’s a handsome, charismatic guy who’s really funny, and he’s good in family stuff and people like him, both in real life and on camera. And so rather than running from that, we’re learning into it, and we’ve tried to create a vehicle for him that flexes all his muscles. My sweet spot is somewhere sweeter [than making Scorsese films], and I think my fight in life is to always push against the schmaltz and make sure I don’t go too far with it, but yeah.

AX: GRANDFATHERED is paired in an hour block on Fox with THE GRINDER, the new comedy starring Rob Lowe, who first was getting famous at about the same time that John Stamos was becoming famous. Do you know if Fox was looking for two comedies that fit together in a specific way?

FOGELMAN: No. I frankly wasn’t aware that the other show existed until we got picked up and I started hearing about it, but when I used to watch TV, I didn’t sit and watch a half-hour of television with my family. I would watch THE COSBY SHOW and A DIFFERENT WORLD, or FAMILY TIES and GROWING PAINS.

AX: So you sat and watched them in genre groupings.

FOGELMAN: Yeah, and I think this is a show that you can sit down with your ten-year-old kid, your fourteen-year-old kid and your husband or wife and your twenty-year-old kid, and they’ll all get something from it.

I’ll tell you that Rob Lowe and John Stamos are two guys that people like me target every year for a television show, because they’re amazing talents who are interested in the medium and are stars from the medium. So it’s no coincidence that those two guys would have pilots that turned out great. What’s a little coincidence – I don’t know that there was a Machiavellian plan to it – is, they’re on the same network. I think it makes it a valuable hour.

The cast of GALAVANT with stars Luke Youngblood, Mallory Jansen, Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinnie Jones and Karen David | © 2015 ABC/Bob D'Amico

The cast of GALAVANT with stars Luke Youngblood, Mallory Jansen, Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinnie Jones and Karen David | © 2015 ABC/Bob D'Amico

AX: How are you managing your time between GRANDFATHERED and GALAVANT?

FOGELMAN: It’s a balancing act. [On GRANDFATHERED], I work mainly on scripts and edits, and the minutia of the day-to-day running of the show is left to other people. On this, Danny has got a very strong voice, so I’m more acting as kind of a guide and a mentor for him, and we sit and I go, “Listen, something’s not feeling right here, let’s talk it through, let’s do it,” and I help him in that way. GALAVANT I have a stronger hand in.

AX: How are the Alan Menken songs coming along for second season of GALAVANT?

FOGELMAN: They’re amazing. The second season’s going to be bigger than the first season, and better. The whole cast is coming back, our guest stars are all coming back, it looks like, more are joining. It’s going to be really big and really fun.

AX: GRANDFATHERED creator Daniel Chun seems to be significantly younger than both John Stamos and his character. Are there ever generational issues with the writing?

FOGELMAN: I’m thirty-nine, Danny’s like thirty-three. He’s a young-looking boy. But Danny’s got two young twins, he’s a father of two, he’s very capable. It’s an interesting thing. We’ve filled our writers’ room smartly. There’s a nice balance of age range, men, women, straight, gay. It’s a nice, diverse writers’ room, so that’s where a lot of the material has come from. In Danny’s case – the good news about John’s character particularly – Danny isn’t going to from personal stories write a forty-six-year-old grandmother, but John’s character is a stunted character anyway, so you’re not writing a real fifty-one-year-old grandfather. It’s an interesting question – people used to ask me, because I do a lot of female-centric movies, or at least where a female audience comes to it, so I’ve written in films about moms, and they’re like, “How do you write a seventy-year-old woman?” You’re a writer, you write a character, whether or not you identify with that character.

AX: Do you think it’s true that all characters are in some way related to the writer?

FOGELMAN: A hundred percent. You write your mother. If you don’t know how to write a grandfather, you write your grandfather, and then it’s about your skill as a writer.

AX:  John Stamos has had a singing career. Is his character going to have cause to sing on the show?

FOGELMAN: I don’t know. We had talked about it. I’ve never broken a story with that yet, but there is a house band and a stage in the bar, so there is access for music. [laughs] I don’t know, we have some big stuff planned for later this season, but we have that restaurant, and that restaurant is a hot L.A. restaurant, so we can bring in huge guest stars and acts and things.

AX: In the writers’ room, do you talk about the balance between the home stuff and the restaurant stuff?

FOGELMAN: We do. We also go out a lot in the world, because there’s something fun about taking these guys to Targets and beaches and stroller shopping and that kind of stuff. But it’s a pretty nice mix between restaurants and hom

AX: What would you most like people to know about GRANDFATHERED?

FOGELMAN: I just think it’s really good. I think it’s really well-executed, elegantly executed, how it looks, how the cast is in it. To me, more than anything, if you like John Stamos, it’s a real piece for him. He gets to do everything he’s good at doing. And he’s a rare talent in our business and I think that’s hopefully the draw that sucks people in, and then they stay because it’s good.

This interview was conducted during Fox Network’s portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

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Article: Interview with GRANDFATHERED executive producer Dan Fogelman

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