The Muppets, Transparent and More: What We've Learned at the TCA Summer Press Tour So Far

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We’re at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California all week, but in just two short days of attending panels we’ve already got plenty of information on all things TV to share. Check out the highlights—including a major scoop on the status of America’s favorite pig-frog relationship—below, and stay tuned for our continued coverage from the TCAs throughout the week.

Kermit and Miss Piggy have broken up
Kermit the Frog and his longtime lover Miss Piggy made an appearance to promote their new ABC series (The Muppets, an Office-style mockumentary that will follow the behind-the-scenes action on Piggy’s late-night talk show, Up Late with Miss Piggy) and they took the opportunity to announce their split. “Piggy and I have gone our separate ways romantically,” Kermit told the room of critics. “People change. So do frogs and pigs.” Piggy, on the other hand, was less diplomatic: “I’m glad we’re broken up. This is gonna be great for moi’s stardom,” she said. “Dating moi is like flying too close to the sun. It is inevitable that Kermit would drop to the ground while I stayed close to the heavens.” But Kermit appears to have already moved on, announcing that he’s in a new relationship already, dating a pig named Denise who works in marketing. He and Piggy will continue their professional relationship—Kermit serves as executive producer on Up Late with Miss Piggy. No word on whether Piggy knows about Denise yet, but given that the latter hasn’t been karate-chopped yet, we can assume no. After the panel, Kermit and Piggy issued a joint statement about their separation. Read it below.

Andre Royo, concerned about being typecast after The Wire, made sure his Hand of God character wouldn’t take drugs
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The actor best known as Bubbles on from The Wire said his only apprehension about portraying the mayor on Amazon’s Hand of God (which will premiere on Sept. 4) was the possibility that he’d once again be portraying a drug addict: “I only had one question, and my question was to make sure that I didn’t end up on drugs,” he said, laughing. “Because I just got a little history of being on drugs on TV. And most mayors have a history of ending up on drugs. So I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t end up on drugs…I guess I played a junkie really, really, really well. So I mean I can’t knock that. I just I just have to you know—Sam Jackson was a real cool mentor of mine when I did have that rabbit hole feeling of ‘I’m stuck in this one particular box.’ You know, Sam said, ‘You know, you just gotta do what you’re doing. Be as good as you were with every character. And sooner or later, you’ll break through.’ And this was an amazing year where all of a sudden, Ben Watkins and Marc Forster were the first ones to come in and say, ‘I can see you do this.’ A lot of people weren’t saying that, ‘I can see you do it.’ And I appreciated that.

Red Oaks could be Amazon’s next great comedy
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Amazon announced at the TCAs that a full season of Red Oaks will premiere on Oct. 9, and based on the pilot, it looks like a funny, sharp show about coming of age. Set in the ‘80s, Red Oaks follows young David Meyers (Craig Roberts, of Submarine fame), an NYU student who takes a summer job as a tennis pro at a country club. Jennifer Grey (who has her fair share of experience with both country clubs and ‘80s coming-of-age tales thanks to Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) plays his mother, Richard Kind (Curb Your Enthusiasm) plays his father, Paul Reiser is his overbearing boss and Steven Soderbergh (yeah, that Steven Soderbergh) serves as executive producer. The Graduate came up several times during the panel, and Grey even went so far as to compare Roberts to a young Dustin Hoffman: “He’s so spectacular,” she said. “Reminded me so much of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and like a little bit like Matthew from Ferris Bueller...I’m very excited for you guys to see the kind of work that this kid’s doing. It’s beautiful.”

Transparent will be back Dec. 4 and won’t focus as heavily on Maura
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Season two of Transparent will debut on Dec. 4, and Jeffrey Tambor told critics that this year, Maura is less of a central character: “What’s brilliant about this year is Maura is more not the central figure, but sort of the gateway figure now for so many stories that are evolving from this decision to be authentic,” he said. “And I think that’s kind of what where we’re throwing down and saying, ‘Will you still love me if I change?’ Gender, people, education, religion, you name it. And that’s where I think we’re throwing down in a very, very wonderful, wonderful way. So we get to see, this year, so many stories going out through this gateway. And so it’s becoming more than more than just a story about a trans parent or transitioning. It’s about people seeking their freedom, all of us.” Tambor also discussed ways the show has challenged him as an actor. “I am very aware of the onus and the pressure of being a cisgender male, of taking on this thing. And that had my knees knocking pretty good. But this is truly one of the most supportive casts I’ve ever been with, and genius, you know, all the way. And then with Jill, you have the safest set in the world….Maura is young in her education, but is solid that she must be herself. I am young in my education of this whole area, but I am solid that I must be myself. And the actor is stuck with the part, and the part is stuck with the actor. And I’ve been told that to be a good actor, you have to act as if your life depends on. And that’s what these people have taught me to do, and that’s what she insists in the throw down. And it’s thrilling. So I’m glad that my hands are shaking. I mean, it’s been a while.”

Ken Jeong isn’t sure about the future of Community, but he’s all-in on Dr. Ken
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News of Community’s possible cancellation broke on the same day of ABC’s Dr. Ken panel, so it makes sense that Ken Jeong (who played Chang on Community) would have to answer a few questions about the status of that show. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a direct answer. “As always with that show, I’m completely in the dark,” he said. However, he said he’d love to be involved with a Community movie should one happen. “I’m always down for anything Community-related. Fingers crossed for a movie at this point.” However, it’s full-speed ahead with Dr. Ken (a multicam sitcom based on Jeong’s former career as a doctor) for now. “I’ve been in the writers’ room every day in preproduction, and it really is important for me to kind of get my own specific sensibility,” he says. “I have unprecedented creative input. And to me, it’s just so important to make it as specific to what I think is germane in my life, or at least building off of that platform.”

Jeff Garlin says there could be more Curb Your Enthusiasm
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During his panel for The Goldbergs, Jeff Garlin was asked the inevitable “will there ever be more Curb Your Enthusiasm?” question, and his answer was somewhat encouraging. “I can do Curb if it comes back. And he [Larry David] and I have talked about that. That’s about the extent of it. There’s not been any ‘We’re going to do it.’ You know what I mean? There’s nothing like that.” Garlin explained that the only thing preventing a new season is David’s perfectionism. “There’s the ‘Uhh, I got an idea. Here it is. Do you like that?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘I think I’m going to write the show.’ That’s Step 1,” he said. “Step 2 is when he’s about six or seven episodes in and goes, ‘Yeah, I’ll finish it.’ Because if he writes two and he’s not pleased, it’s not going to happen. Curb Your Enthusiasm is the only show that I know of in the history of television that only moves forward because the creator is basing his decision entirely on creativity…Larry David is so goddamn rich that he doesn’t have to do anything unless it’s good. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself. So it’s pretty pure.” He also added that it’s in his contract with The Goldbergs that, should more Curb happen, he’ll be able to do it. “That was the thing that I was like ‘it’s nonnegotiable. I have to be able to do more Curb,’” he said. “I held out till the end, because it has to. You know, you don’t want to be the one that kills it. And I’m hoping we do more. And I’d say decent chance. Not good. Not great. Decent. 51 percent.”

No one shuts down a dumb question quite like Shonda Rhimes
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ABC closed their day with a panel devoted to their “TGIT” lineup (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder), and showrunner Shonda Rhimes spent much of the panel expertly deflecting some less-than-inspired questions. When asked who she’d cast in a biopic about her life, she simply responded, “There’s not going to be a biopic about my life.” When a particularly pushy journalist tried to put words in her mouth, she called him out: “You are trying to make me say something that you want me to say.” And, most importantly, when a critic asked about the future of Grey’s Anatomy now that Meredith’s husband is dead and she’s no longer “defined by her relationship to a man,” Rhimes leaned forward and set things straight: “Meredith Grey has never been defined by her relationship with a man.” Ellen Pompeo (who plays Meredith) picked it up from there: “I don’t think in ShondaLand, I don’t think any female characters are ever defined by a man.” Amen to that.

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