If you love all that behind-the-scenes, Hollywood stuff—especially when it involves watching the famous hit a few rough, but funny, bumps along the way—you’ll want to tune in to POP TV channel when Impress Me debuts tonight at 10:30 PM ET.
This is the same half-hour scripted comedy by writer-director Ben Shelton that made a big splash on executive producer Rainn Wilson’s Soul Pancake channel. The six episodes that aired online will be shown on POP, followed by seven more filled with the same heart, laughs and inside jokes delivered by leads Ross Marquand (The Walking Dead, Mad Men) and Jim Meskimen (Parks and Recreation), who are supplemented by an A-list group of support and guest stars.
“This show is about more than two talented celebrity impressionists,” said Wilson of the path that “Ross” and “Jim” (now where’d they get those character names?) are hoping will lead them away from comedy and into dramatic roles. “It’s about how hard (and hilarious) it can be to follow your heart, even when the cards are stacked against you.”
Paste caught up with Ben Shelton to talk about tonight’s premiere. Here are five reasons you’ll want to watch.
When Marquand and Meskimen filmed Shelton’s show FlipSide, they talked about their own Sisyphus-like struggles to move from funny guy impersonators to dramatic actors. “I kept thinking, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done a show about this?’” Shelton says. I was in awe of their sketch comedy, but wanted to do a more scripted show, and… these are struggles they deal with in their normal lives.”
The actors are constantly doing impressions. “They just slip into them and I have to say, ‘You are doing Ricky Gervais or Woody Allen or Al Pacino again.’ Let’s bring it back to you,’” Shelton explains. “But that’s what is so great. Everyone is always making everyone else laugh.”
Ross and Jim support each other emotionally and literally—Ross sleeps on Jim’s couch, and Jim has to go to his nemesis to try to break into drama. Then we have Jim’s wife, brilliantly played by Angela Kinsey (The Office). Ah, it’s such a merry road. And wait until you see the cliffhanger in episode six.
In the show Jim’s nemesis is Piotr (played by Piotr Michael). No matter what Jim does, Piotr receive the credit. “While we were filming, Piotr had a couple videos go viral and he was on the Today show,” Shelton points out. “Life imitates art imitates life.”
Seth Rogen, Kevin Spacey, Barack Obama and other people who are kind of a big deal will pop in throughout the seven final episodes of the first season… or, will they? Shelton tells us, “There are so many funny people, it’s tough to just fit them all in.”