Season 1 of Raising Hope may not have been a ratings darling, but executive producer Greg Garcia knows they have something special. And Emmy voters do, too. Last week, the show picked up two nominations — one for Best Actress in a Comedy for Martha Plimpton and another for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Cloris Leachman, who will be billed as a series regular in season 2. (Garcia jokes of the latter nomination, a result of Leachman’s week-by-week agreement to be on the show, “I congratulated her and said, ‘We loved you so much as a guest actress, we brought you back 19 times.’”)
As production on season 2 approaches, Garcia is looking at these noms as signs of good things to come. “It’s great to get any kind of recognition for our show, and certainly those two women deserve to be among the nominees,” he says.
But what exactly is to come on the gem of a show? EW called Garcia for answers…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s great to start off season 2 on this high note. What are you hoping for this season?
GREG GARCIA: We’re really proud of what we did season 1. Sometimes you sit back and say, “What did you do wrong? What did we do right?” I’ll be honest with you, we loved season 1. We thought everything really came together nicely. We liked how the season worked out. It’s kind of my attitude — and I hope it’s in the network’s and studio’s attitude, too. We’re making a really good show that not a lot of people are watching yet. And hopefully that momentum will grow. That’s why things like getting acknowledged by the Emmys for our actresses is good for making people aware of the show. But we’re going to do more of the same. We’re very proud of the show and the only thing we need to do is get more people to watch it. But we’re not making any big changes.
What’s the key to finding that audience?
I’m hoping that a combination of the reruns over the summer and the DVDs coming out in fall, that’s our sales tool right there. I’m hoping momentum builds. Maybe with The New Girl with Zooey Deschanel [as a lead-in] has a lot of our core audience and we’ll be bringing in more people from that. But that’s definitely what we’re looking at for season 2 — ratcheting it up number-wise.
That’s a great pilot.
I think she’s absolutely charming. I would watch her in anything. I’m glad we’re paired up with that show.
You had so many great guest stars last season. Anyone we can look forward to?
We’re early in the process. We start shooting Aug. 8, and we have some really cool guest roles, but we haven’t actively started courting anyone yet. There are a few giant swings that we’re going for. I’m not even going to say their names because it’s not going to happen in a million years. But, you know, I think that what we try to do is create good guest star roles and see who can do them. We’ve had a lot of luck, like with J.K. Simmons as Burt’s brother. He may or may not come back — just because of availability because he’s doing The Closer. That’s a problem, too. You get somebody great, but they have other jobs. Amy Sedaris is going to come back for an episode, so we’re looking forward to that. We’re also going to meet Burt’s parents this season, so that’ll be a fun thing to cast. Oh, and we have Greyson Chance, the kid whose YouTube video has, like, 40 million hits. He’s going to do three episodes.
Tell me about his arc.
He’s going to be playing 13-year-old Lucas [Neff] in flashbacks. So in one episode, he’s definitely a lot bigger than in the other ones. But once we have him in one and he’s established as the 13-year-old Jimmy, we’re going to put him in a couple of other episodes when we have flashbacks.
So, can one assume that Jimmy was a singer as a kid?
There was some talent there, yes. I hate to go into it too much. Everybody has a fascination with getting a bunch of information going into the season. I’m always like, “[Makes sound of hesitation] …Let’s save some stuff for the audience.” I mean, I know we’re not Lost, but at the same time, when I like a show, I won’t even watch the “Next week on…” Because I think, “I’m already going to watch next week!” I know there’s a big balance there.
I have to say, I’m ridiculously excited about this because I love this kid.
I went to see him; I went with my kids. It was at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood — he was having a listening party because he has an album coming out Aug. 2. And he played three songs on the piano and the kid’s amazing. In a world of auto-tuning — not that everybody does it — but to just sit and listen to a 13-year-old kid play the piano and belt out these songs, it’s pretty impressive.
So are we going to see any more My Name is Earl alums? At this rate, is there anyone you haven’t had on at least once?
I haven’t had Nadine [Velazquez] on yet. She’s the only major cast member. We have to find something for her. Jaime [Pressly] has her own show now, so she can’t come back. But Jason [Lee] was so funny with Smokey Floyd. It’s hard to bring back Smokey Floyd, but you never know. And we’ve set up Ethan [Suplee] as a friend for Garrett [Dillahunt's character]. We have one story now that involves Ethan and I wouldn’t mind having him on a few times. He’s always a lot of fun to have around. Oh! And Eddie Steeples, who we established last year as their gas man. Hopefully we can find some spots.
So last time we spoke you were planning on filming with Hope over the break. Did you get a chance to do that?
Yeah. We’ve been doing a little bit of that. The parents have been filming some stuff and we got some stuff with Lucas and Shannon. So I’m going to get all of that footage and hopefully be able to incorporate all of that. The plan is to [use it] in the cold open of the first episode. I think that’ll be fun for the audience to bridge the gap from the last time we saw her to now.
That’s good to hear. After Modern Family announced they were thinking of recasting Lily — and probably will — everyone was worried about Hope’s job security.
When you watch Modern Family, you can tell those little girls weren’t having fun. It just came across on screen. I think they did the right thing. Certainly you work with child actors and you know all the stories. But as a producer, you want to know that you’re doing something good by having these children on the show. And I think any time it’s so apparent they’re not enjoying their time on set, [recasting is] the right thing to do. I applaud them for acknowledging that and making a move over there. We’ve been lucky. Our kids have been having a blast and are always in great spirits and having fun and have bonded with the cast. And the parents are really enjoying the experience, so all is good over here as we head into the terrible twos. You can check with me again after season 2, but we’ll see.
Any teases as to the storylines we’re going to see this year?
The whole family is going to go to Vegas for Amy Sedaris’ wedding. And we’re also going to learn a lot about our side characters: Frank who works at the grocery store, and we’re going to investigate Barney. His ex-wife is going to come to town. We’re going to have fun with that. The first episode we shoot is a lot of flashbacks, and one of the fun things about flashbacks is that Cloris can be lucid. So it gives her different things to play. So we’re definitely going to do more this season.
Yeah. And she’s a series regular now, so you have to make her work for it.
Yes. She’s on as a series regular. So this is the last opportunity they have to give her the Guest Star Emmy. So they better seize the opportunity!