By JUDY SLOANE
Front Row Features
PASADENA, CALIF. —What do you get when you pair a new network with a tried-and-true relationship? The comedy-driven series “Schitt’s Creek,” with longtime acting partners Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, will air on the new Pop Channel (formerly TVGN), which launched Jan. 14. Pop is dedicated to covering things “popping” in fan culture, and is a joint venture of CBS Corporation and Lionsgate.
The 13 episodes, written by Levy and his son Daniel, spotlight a video store magnate, Johnny Rose (Levy, “SCTV,” the “American Pie” movies), his soap star wife Moira (O’Hara, “SCTV,” “Best in Show”) and their two kids David and Alexis (Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy) who, after years of success find themselves broke. They are forced to live in Schitt’s Creek, a small depressing town they once bought as a joke. It premieres on Pop on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara attended the TV Critics tour to talk about their new venture together.[private]
Q: What was your reaction when your son wrote this?
Levy: My reaction, initially, was “What a great thing this will be to be working with my son?” All through school, everything that he had been associated with, every play, I would offer my help, whatever I could do for him, and he would say, “No, I got it. I’m fine.”
I always thought if he ended up in show business, “I got it,” would be the catchphrase, and I would never end up having anything to do with him in this business.
So when he came to me and said, “Do you want to work on a show together? I have an idea,” I thought it was a really fantastic thing. It started out as a nice father-son project. I didn’t know how far it was going to go, and very quickly it dawned on me that he is exceptionally talented. He’s a great writer. It went from being a lovely father-son project to “I can’t believe what a great partner I have working on this show.”
O’Hara: I’ve known Dan as a baby because I think we were doing SCTV when Daniel was born, and I remember the baby. And then I was in a hotel room in Toronto watching MTV and this guy is on, and I go, “Look at this guy. Does he look like Eugene Levy or what?” And it finally said, Dan Levy, and I went, “Oh my God, that’s Daniel?” So that’s how much (of a) relationship we had until now.
Q: Do you use the same unscripted improv process as Christopher Guest doing the show?
Levy: No, they are written. We go to the studio, and we go over the scenes in a rehearsal situation. We find there are usually changes, things that seemed to work on the page that just are not working in the reality of doing the scene with the other actors on the set. But it’s really scripted.
Q: Is “Schitt’s Creek” set in Canada?
Levy: No, You don’t know where it is.
Q: In all your travels have you ever come across a place like this?
Levy: Yes, it’s a small town. But we’re not making a joke of it being a small town. The only thing that’s being made fun of is our family has lost their money and now has to live in this town that they once bought as a joke. And now the joke backfired on them because this is the only place they can afford to live.
Q: Can each of you say what you think is unique about the other?
O’Hara: Eugene is really smart and a great writer and I think a wonderful actor. He’s so lovely to collaborate with, because he’s so open-minded. We’ve worked together for years. I feel like I’m in good hands and I feel like I’m respected (by) Eugene and that when we agree and when we disagree it’s about the work and it’s not some old crap coming up, which I don’t have with Eugene, thank God.
Levy: There’s only one Catherine O’Hara. Catherine has an amazing ability to immerse herself in characters and find the funny bone of that character. She has that knack of finding the funny moments that make the character funny without trying to be funny. And she’s just a great actress.
Q: Is doing “Schitt’s Creek” on a new cable channel, where the big networks don’t homogenize it, feel like a new era in TV, like when you did SCTV?
O’Hara: It sure felt that way on the set, it felt like we had great freedom.
Levy: Yeah, we do have enormous creative freedom doing our show. We’ve really been left to do the show the way we want to do it. And so far, thanks to my brilliant son, we’ve been able to deliver a product that the broadcasters look at and say, “Yeah, we like it.” It’s a nice feeling.[/private]