DONNA J. PLESH
The Return of
MATTHEW PERRY...now in NBC's "Go On."
'Friends' star hopes same lightning will strike again
By DONNA J. PLESH
Finding success as an actor is not easy. But sometimes, if an actor is very, very lucky, he hits the jackpot.
Matthew Perry did just that with his role as Chandler Bing in the hit NBC comedy series Friends that ran on the network from 1994-2004. Since then Perry has not had much success in finding that TV series magic again.
For example, he starred in the Aaron Sorkin-created NBC drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip that lasted one season. In 2011 he was back in the comedy Mr. Sunshine on ABC. Perry was the creator and star of the series, which was canceled without a full season run.
This fall Perry is back on NBC in the Tuesday night comedy Go On, playing Ryan King, a widowed sports talk radio host whose boss has mandated that he attend group grief counseling sessions before returning to the air.
The series reunites Perry with NBC and with Scott Silveri, who was an executive producer of Friends.
In an interview, Perry said there was good news and bad news, creatively, that he learned from the short-lived Mr. Sunshine.
The bad news for me," Perry explained, "is that Scott created a TV show for me better than the one I created for myself, so this show--its just better. I gravitate towards sort of broken characters who try to be better people, and that setup is just much better here. That guy (his Sunshine character) was sort of in a bad mood and no one really knew why. And this guy (his Go On character) has some very dramatic things happen to him and hes in denial when you meet him. So its sort of a built-in excuse to be really funny.
Perry said people seem to want a character that he plays to be nicer. I dont know why that is. But you certainly want to play a guy that people can get behind and root for, and I think that this character does have that.
The Ryan King character, Perry says, is loosely based on a few sports talk personalities. Rich Eisen, Jim Rome, Colin Cowherd whos sort of an opinionated sports guy on the radio. So hes (Ryan King) successful at his job, but theres always sort of upward, you know, national hopes potentially. But in what hes doing right now hes definitely good at his job and successful.
Producer Silveri stresses that the show will not focus totally on the counseling group.
Theres going to be some cross pollination because these are all characters who are important to Matthews character," says Silveri. "In terms of percentage, thats going to shift from week to week. We love the work world. We love the support group world. We love Matthews Ryan character off on his own."
Others in the cast include Laura Benanti ("The Playboy Club) as the grief counselor, and support group members Julie White (Transformers), Tyler James Williams (Chris on Everybody Hates Chris), Suzy Nakamura (Dodgeball) and Brett Gelman (30 Minutes or Less").
Though this new series is a comedy, its not a laugh-a-minute show; it is more of a subdued comedy. So what does Perry prefer comedy or drama?
I really like doing comedy and I really like doing drama, and this is a really funny show, he said.
An interview with Perry would not be complete without a question about Friends. So, what did he learn from that show?
Friends-- it was just great chemistry. It had great writing. It had great directing. And it had really, really great acting. So a little bit of magic happened there. And you never know when and how thats going to happen, he added.
Meanwhile, Perry is hoping that Go On will have that same kind of magic.
©2012 by Donna J. Plesh. This column first posted Sept. 17, 2012.
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