PASADENA, Calif. — Bill Lawrence is one of my favorite comedy producers of all time. Not only do I love his work ("Scrubs," "Cougar Town"), but he's hilarious and a great interview.
He tells us the truth, even if it embarrasses him.
Like the story about how he and his wife, Christa Miller — who was, at that time, starring as Jordan on "Scrubs" — were vacationing in Hawaii.
"Someone came up (to Miller) and said, 'Hey, I just want to tell you — you are in my favorite show," Lawrence said. "And they seemed like sharp, hip people. They were young.
"And I'm, like, 'Hey, you know, I'm actually the head writer of that show.' Because I'm an (expletive)," he joked.
The tourists replied, "Really? You are the head writer of 'The Drew Carey Show?' "
Miller played Kate on "Drew Carey" before "Scrubs." And, no, Lawrence had nothing to do with "Drew."
When Lawrence told the tourists he was the head writer of "Scrubs," their response?
AGENT PROVOCATEUR: Never shy about sticking it to network and studio executives, it was Lawrence who raised the irony of the Fox Television Network scheduling one of its weekly "American Idol" episodes on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. MT — directly opposite ABC's "Modern Family."
Yes, "Modern Family" is on a competing network. But it's produced by Fox.
"What about the (expletive) of Fox scheduling 'Idol" against its own show? … Why does a network start trying to attack its own assets, man?" he asked.
"Modern Family" executive producer Steve Levitan tried to laugh it off. "I'm not that upset about it because I kind of feel like it's really more your issue since nothing happens (on the 'Idol' results show) until the last five minutes," he said.
"Dude, that is a gut punch," said Lawrence, whose "Cougar Town" airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
He was clearly incredulous about the thought that Fox might damage "Modern Family" — one of the season's surprise hits.
"Does nobody raise their hand in that (Fox) meeting and go, 'Hey, if "Modern Family" works, we make hundreds of millions of dollars?' " Lawrence said.
(That's not an exaggeration. A hit sitcom sold into syndication literally can make that much money.)
"Many hands were raised," Levitan replied. "And, yeah, we are not happy about that. But it is what it is."
"That was a nice diplomatic answer," Lawrence said. "That's horrible."