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Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer star in Franklin & Bash

Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer

Having Fun With the Law

by Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: May 29, 2011. 

A few months ago, while I was talking with legendary actor Malcolm McDowell, he was excitedly telling me about Franklin and Bash Ė an upcoming TV series that he was co-starring in. 

ďThatís a terrific show,Ē McDowell said. ďItís about a law firm in LA and Iím the sort of a renaissance man who is the head of it Ė and rather an eccentric character who is lovely and hires these two thirty-somethings to come in and give the law firm a kind of thinking outside the box, because they are sort of ambulance chasers. Itís great.Ē 

Those two thirty-somethings are Jared Franklin and Peter Bash Ė played by grown-up former child stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell, NYPD Blue, Raising the Bar) and Breckin Meyer (Clueless, Road Trip, Garfield)

The series is a smart and funny mix of legal procedural and buddy comedy. Now, as the show is about to premiere on June 1, we were lucky enough to be one of a few websites to recently get to talk in conference calls to the two jocular stars about what to expect from the soon-to-air series.

I was wondering how you got involved with Franklin & Bash.

Breckin Meyer: I got this script by Jamie Tarses, who is a friend of mine and the producer of the show. I havenít done a series, I think, in six years, and she sent it to me, with the subject line, ďI think I found your next gig.Ē I always told her, ďIf I was going to do TV, it had to be something different than what I did last time.Ē I hadnít done an hour long, and I definitely hadnít done a legal drama, or dramedy, as weíve been calling it. So, I sat down with Bill Chais and Kevin Falls, the creators of the show, and talked about where they see the characters going.

You two have a great chemistry and Iím wondering did that come instantly, was there something that you guys did to try and make that work...

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, we tried dating and that was a bit awkward. Weíve known each other for a while. We never hung out, we werenít friends, but weíve known about each other. Weíve grown up in this industry together and Iíve always respected his work. Iíve always heard good things about Breckin. His work ethic and mine are very much alike. We both have families. Those are important to us. Thereís a lot of mutual qualities that we have that are in synch.

Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar star in Franklin & BashBreckin Meyer: They said they had Mark-Paul Gosselaar, as Peter Bash, and I had met Mark-Paul for about ten minutes ten years ago in an airport, so I really didnít know him. We did a screen test together for Sony and Turner and right from the get-go I just thought, ďOh, well, this guy and I seem to work well together. Thisíll be fun.Ē We have similar backgrounds, similar work ethic, and take the work seriously, but not each other, as he can tell you, because of the numerous Saved by the Bell references I made on set. It seemed to go well. I like Jared. I mean, I think in the pilot they said it best: ďF. Lee Bailey meets Barnum & Bailey,Ē which is really how Iíve been described my whole life.

Obviously, the series relies on the friendship between Jared and Peter, so howís the chemistry off-screen?

Breckin Meyer: With the guy from that show with the bell?

Yes, that dude.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: One of the things that helped expand [our] relationship was when we filmed this pilot. The show takes place in Los Angeles, but we filmed in Atlanta, just for the pilot, and it was just him and I. We left our families at home and we were sort of forced to be with each other, you know, on the set and off the set for a good two and a half weeks. I think that really solidified this relationship with us and helped the product that you have in the pilot.

Breckin Meyer: We didnít really know each other beforehand. And when we were shooting the pilot in Atlanta we were kind of locked in confinement and we would basically go to work, come home, eat dinner in one of our rooms, and work. We got to know each other real well and we felt really good when we finished the pilot, and we ended up taking a trip to Hawaii together, (laughs) solidifying more of the romantic getaway there. We get along real well and we both show up the same way, which is knowing our lines, ready to play, we take the job seriously but not each other, and itís fun.

I just spoke with Malcolm McDowell a few months ago and he was raving about the series. I thought it was cool that in the pilot episode, you guys had a Clockwork Orange poster in your characterís office. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yes. 

Is it fun to be able to play with little in-jokes like that? 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yes, I think so. We try to get Malcolm to sing ďSinging in the RainĒ (a song he was notorious for singing in A Clockwork Orange while beating and raping a couple) in one episode too, and we didnít know if that was pushing it a little too far. But, weíre all on the same page in terms of our humor and weíre just trying to have a good time, and thatís very apparent when you watch the show. You have a bunch of individuals who are like-minded that enjoy being on the set together, and you see it in the product. You see it in the finished product. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Malcolm McDowell and Breckin Meyer star in Franklin & BashWhatís it like to work with the great Malcolm McDowell? 

Breckin Meyer: I think I was one of the only people who had never worked with Malcolm McDowell, because heís done 400 movies, but Iíd never worked with Malcolm and didnít know what to expect. He is absolutely a living legend and if anyone has earned the right to be a diva, itís Malcolm. I did not know what to expect and he came on the set and he was just unbelievable. I mean he was just awesome. He showed up knowing his lines and ready to play, which is really everything you want in an actor and a co-star. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, Malcolm is a legend, so the minute he walked on the setÖ he demands that respect, but he is such a genuine guy who is open and approachable, and really a team player. He is a great actor to work opposite. Heís extremely funny. I think thatíll become very apparent when you watch our shows, heís got great timing and heís just a joy to watch and to be around.

Breckin Meyer: He was riffing with me. He was, pardon my French, he would fuck with me during takes, just to keep it fresh and to keep it exciting. He is such a renegade. He has been in this business so long and heís seen every jackass thing you can see, and he stayed on top and he stayed busy and he stayed great. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Iím very happy that heís a part of our show. I think he brings a great quality to the show, especially for the side that weíre [now on] We got to work for Infeld Daniels. We never wanted Franklin & Bash to become a firm like Infeld Daniels. We always wanted to represent the underdog. The people that canít afford these high-powered, high priced attorneys. But also, we wanted to do cases that were fun and not your typical legal case. But, working for Infeld Daniels those were the things that Franklin and Bash wanted to stay true [to]. If weíre going to work for a white-shoe firm we still want to stay true to our roots, and I think they were able to do that. 

Breckin Meyer: Weíve had such a good time playing with Malcolm. I cannot say enough good things about him. It sounds so hokey, but Iím legitimately proud to say heís friend of mine. I donít think heíd know my name if you put a gun to his head, but still I like him very much. 

Iíve always been a really big fan of Reed Diamondís work, ever since Homicide. Obviously, he plays the uptight enemy-type to your character, but whatís he like to work with and whatís he like in real life? 

Breckin Meyer: Reedís great. Reed has to take so much shit from Mark-Paul and I. (laughs) It is based on who is character is. Iíd never met Reed Diamond before and everyone kept saying, ďWell, you know, he was on 24,Ē and I expected this very serious guy. And Reed is like this cool, suave hippie. Heís always got his guitar with him and heís just cool and heís all organic and doesnít anything that casts a shadow. Things like that. But his character, when weíre on set, not that weíre in character, so to speak, all the time, but we do dance around a lot and we do mess around with messing with his character Karp. And a lot of things that we like to mess with is stuff off camera before we start filming. Weíll just be kind of shadowboxing with Reed, so he has to take a lot of crap from us, just in order to ramp up to what we do on camera. But, heís a lovely individual. 

Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar star in Franklin & BashWhat sets this show apart from other legal dramas that are on TV these days? 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: We havenít seen comedy in the courtroom in a while. Boston Legal is probably the last one. Ally McBeal is another one. LA Law was a brilliant legal drama with elements of comedy, so I think thatís what sets it apart from whatís currently on television, as well as the relationship between the two guys. You go home with these characters at the end of the day, so I think that thatís a very important element that isnít on television on your typical legal dramas at the moment. 

Breckin Meyer: I donít watch a ton of procedurals, but when I read this script, what I liked is that we went home with the characters. I donít believe that happens all the time on other shows. What I hadnít seen before was going home with these characters that first of all they live together, and really getting to know them. Half of their time is spent at home because thatís where their team is. Thatís where Carmen and Pindar or where the guys who were doing things that you canít necessarily get away with at the office. So, I liked that we followed them. I liked that we are two single street lawyers who have lives outside of the courtroom and have lives outside of their suits. I like that we get to see that. 

Mark-Paul, you just came from Raising the Bar in which your character wasnít too far off from Bash. Jerry was a little more seriously, obviously, but you could almost look at this as kind of a spin-off of sorts. What was it about Franklin & Bash that made you really want to continue in the courtroom?

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, Iíve got to disagree with you, I donít think thereís any similarities between the two characters other than the fact that they may look alike, and even that is questionable with the hair. Peter Bash is an attorney who is confident, who is great in a courtroom. Heís an assassin in the courtroom. He knows how to be surgeon with the jury. Jerry was a public defender who wore his heart on his sleeve, was righteous and he needed to be that way because of the environment that he was up against. [In] the cases he was always the underdog, and in an environment where he thought the cards were stacked against him. I think Peter enjoys the process. He doesnít see that the tables are uneven. He feels that because he is a defense attorney that he can find those loopholes and stick it to the man.  

Breckin Meyer: The good thing is with Franklin and Bash; you get both Franklin and Bash. Jaredís a kid who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was and still is a high powered litigator. He rebelled against that by not wanting to be a lawyer, but eventually had to accept that it was his calling. But if heís going to do it heís going to do it on his own terms. Youíd definitely get lawyering like you hadnít seen before. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: But, yes, one of things that right off the bat that differentiated this show from Raising the Bar was the element of humor. That stood out immediately reading this, as well as the relationship, the comedy Ė the bromance, if you will Ė of the two main characters, Jared and Peter. All those elements together made it easy for me to pull the trigger, knowing that this was not the same show that I had come from. 

Breckin Meyer stars in Franklin & BashFranklin has some of the best lines in the show. A couple of my favorites from the pilot were about him loving the law and the lumberjack comments. So, can you talk about your favorite scene or lines from the pilot and what we can expect? 

Breckin Meyer: Loving the law, Iím actually pretty proud of that one. I think we came up with that on the day. I really had a good time making the pilot. It really just felt like when it was done the first think Mark-Paul and I said to each other was we want to see what else these guys are going to do. We want to do more. Jared has a really nice freedom with his words and he doesnít worry about what people are going to say. Maybe sometimes he should, but he doesnít. Iíve been describing Mark-Paulís character as very suave and you swim in his blue eyes and heíll take the jury where he needs them to go. Jaredís more like a dog going after a tennis ball in a bush, which is heíll go head first and deal with the thorns later. My favorite scenes are always the scenes with Mark-Paul. Anytime he and I get to duel and dance with each other, itís fun. 

Right, and plus itís packed with these clever one-liners. There are so many of them in every episode. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: There are some clever one-liners, and I have to say that we have some great writers. A lot of those one-liners though come from Breckin and myself, you know, bantering and just having a good time with the material. 

Breckin, when you talk about that you definitely bring this kind of jocular comedy to the role of Jared that makes it so enjoyable. I mean, how much of that role is ad-libbed? Were you at a 100% of your personality to it? 

Breckin Meyer: No, itís definitely not me. I mean Jaredís definitely got moreÖ oh, Iíll just say, moxieÖ than I do. But, Kevin and Bill, the creators, have been very, very cool about letting meÖ whether you want to call it, adlibbing, riffing, improvising a little bit. Once they knew that Mark-Paul and I really got the characters and were looking to enhance anything, not change it, but just enhance it or find a more fun way of saying things, theyíve been really cool. Theyíve also been great about reining me in when I get a little too wild, but I think itís what makes it for a funny show is that you have that freedom to try anything and fail. 

Mark-Paul, you sort of alluded to one of my questions a bit back, but all of the shows youíve done in recent years, like Raising the Bar and NYPD Blue, have been a lot more dramatic. When did you decide it was sort of time to take on a lighter role again? 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I donít think there was a moment where I said, ďI need to make a switch here.Ē I had done Raising the Bar, so Iíve basically done a drama for the past decade. In the end of í09, I went to New York to do a play [The Understudy]. It was a comedy and I really enjoyed myself. It was a muscle that I hadnít used in a while. Coming back at the beginning of 2010, I got a script from TNT and they asked me to take a look at it, and it was a comedy. I thought, ďWell, this would be a good opportunity, but Iím not sure if I want to do something with the structure of a legal drama,Ē [but] this was different. The structure of a legal drama is still intact and it has the elements of humor that I think that enlighten and embellish the show, and that was attractive to me. I would never say to my representation, ďI donít want to do drama or I donít want to do comedy.Ē If something is good and something looks like itís going to be challenge and I believe in it, then Iíll do it. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar stars in Franklin & BashIíve got a friend, heís a District Attorney and heís got to prosecute some pretty heavy cases. Obviously law in the real world is not something thatís usually associated with comedy of this nature, but you guys make it work with both the humor and the serious outcomes to the cases. Can you talk about having that balance that has to come in pulling off a show like this where it could just be just be out-of-control humor, but also has to have a little respect for the legal system?

Breckin Meyer: Yes, I mean it has to dance the line. Bill Chais, one of our co-creators of the show, was a public defender for many years, and we lean to Bill often when I say, ďLook, I understand that this is fun and this is good for the show and it moves the story along, but can this happen?Ē Thereís a lot of, ďCan this happen?Ē For example, in the pilot, the girl taking off her shirt and revealing her bra Ė I said, ďBill, can it happen,Ē and he says, ďYes, absolutely.Ē I said, ďWell, what would happen to me,Ē and he goes, ďExactly whatís happening. Youíd be thrown in jail.Ē So, as long there are consequences, repercussions to our actions, Iím happy to have us take the unorthodox approach to the legal system. I think that Mark-Paulís character, Peter Bash, is fantastic with a jury. They love to swim in his baby blues and heíll take them down whatever path he wants them to, and Jared tends to be a little more unorthodox and unleashed in the court. 

Breckin. Itís nice talking with you again. I interviewed you when you were doing Blue State. 

Breckin Meyer: Oh, really? I like that movie. 

Yes, that was a good movie. Now, you touched on this before, but the showís really funny, but some of your characters acts in court could clearly get you guys in trouble... 

Breckin Meyer: Yes. 

...how far do you guys think that youíll be able to push that boundary? 

Breckin Meyer: Getting disbarred, I think, would be too far. I think Jared and Peterís philosophy is they will do anything possible to get their client off, and it means getting sent to jail, so be it. Itís also the good of the case. They used to say about the TV show M*A*S*H that everythingís funny but the war and with Jared and Peter, I think everythingís funny and fair game, except the case, Everything has a reason to it. Itís not just being silly in court because itís fun. Everything has a reason behind it, everything leads to getting our client exonerated. 

What are some of the upcoming cases that are some your favorites Franklin and Bash get to try? 

Breckin Meyer: There are three that come to mind. One is that we represent a Madoff-like character (played by Seinfeldís Jason Alexander), which is a challenge for Franklin and Bash, in the sense that theyíre used to fighting for the little man, fighting for the underdog and here they are representing, the man, so speak. We represent two strippers, which I think was just a matter of time, and one of my favorites is an episode called ďFranklin vs. BashĒ where we actually have to go up against each other. 

Wow, didnít take long to get to that in the first season. 

Breckin Meyer: No, I think we had to get that out of the way real quick. It was a Ross and Rachel thing. We didnít want to keep it going. 

Breckin, your characterís been described as quick-witted and scrappy. Do you have anything to add to that description? 

Breckin Meyer: Really kind of almost off the chart remarkably good looking. (laughs) Thatís not me, thatís what Iíve heard. 

Thatís obvious. 

Breckin Meyer: Yes, so thatís how Iíd describe it. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar stars in Franklin & BashThe pilot is so strong and you certainly steal the show with your performance of ďIím Not in LoveĒ in your hot tub scenes, so can you talk about what itís like filming those scenes and if we are going to see more musical numbers throughout the season? 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I do carry the guitar with me throughout the whole season. I do carry my ass with me through the whole season as well, except I donít expose either after the pilot episode. Thankfully they have not forced me to drop my pants more than once throughout the season. That was actually a very uncomfortable scene for me to shoot. Iíve done some things in the past, on NPYD Blue. I just recently had something on Weeds, but to be standing on a set in front of 100 extras in a hot tub naked is not something that I look forward to going to work to do. The musical aspect, I really enjoyed. IĎm glad that Peter plays the guitar. Iím sort of a fiddler with a guitar as well and I think itís a good character trait of Peterís. But 10ccís ďIím Not in LoveĒ on the pilot episode was unfortunately the only sort of song that we could use. I think we blew through our budget actually, to be honest with you. That song probably cost us $40,000 just to do. So, if the show becomes more successful maybe weíll do some more musical numbers, but we need success to pay for that 10cc song. 

In what ways is Jared like you, in what ways is he more difficult for you to relate to? 

Breckin Meyer: Jared is ballsier that I am. Jared has more moxie than I do, but I think we have similar sense of humors. Heís a little sillier than I am, just wanting to play and something to play with. Iíve know guys like Jared growing up. 

I want to first follow-up on one of the first things you said earlier, what were the burning Saved by the Bell questions that you finally got answered after all these years? 

Breckin Meyer: There were so many. Many of them revolved around Dustin Diamond. I think the one question I had was, ďWhat really was in the jar of pep pills that Jessie was taking that made her miss the audition?Ē I recommend that episode. Itís a really good episode. 

I know the episode, were you satisfied with the answer? 

Breckin Meyer: Yes. I was definitely satisfied with the answer. I think what the answer was is Mark-Paul pushed me really hard. 

You and Breckin have joined Twitter. What brought you to it and how has it affected you, as far as the promotion of the show? 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, recently we went to a media boot-camp that TNT put us in. What theyíve told me is that this year theyíre finally on board with media promoting, or onlineÖ what would it be called? Social media. They see the importance of it. 

Breckin Meyer: I actually donít think Iíve ever mentioned the show on Twitter, so it appears that I suck at it. 

Breckin Meyer stars in Franklin & BashSo much for the boot camp. 

Breckin Meyer: Yes, so much for the boot camp. But, I learned a lot of things at the boot camp. I learned what a hash mark was, because I thought a hash mark was a totally different thing until then. I guess the publicity department could help you out better as far as why itís important. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: One thing that Twitter gives us a chance to do is connect with the fans and the fans connect with people that they watch on television or on film, and I think thatís pretty cool. Iím online right now and Iím reading Tweets from people, and itís just a nice vehicle to get in touch with the fans. 

Breckin Meyer: Iím sure in the way it is now thereís so many different social media networks and websites and Twitter, and all these things that are just different avenues to reach out and tell people about something youíre proud of, and Iím absolutely proud of this show. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Weíll see what the outcome is. This is the first time Iíve ever done this. We didnít use this sort of campaign with Raising the Bar, but Iím interested to see how this works with Franklin & Bash. But, I think itís nice to connect with the fans. 

Breckin Meyer: I guess Iíve got to mention Franklin & Bash on that Twitter account, huh? 

I guess you do, otherwise TNT will take it away from you. 

Breckin Meyer: Well, itís mine. They canít. Itís my name. Itís not Jared Franklin. Itís Breckin Meyer. 

Whatís the biggest challenge for you developing a TV character like this Ė as opposed to working on a film and having a shorter window to really get the character out? 

Breckin Meyer: The biggest challenge with me with Jared is to keep him real Ė to make it not just a wacky silly guy. Mark-Paul and I talked with the creators real early on about we didnít want it just to be The Odd Couple. We didnít want funny guy, straight guy. Itís very easy to fall into that rut of, ďOkay, well, heís a funny one, heís a serious one. He gets the ladies, heís always whining about not getting the ladies.Ē These guys are life-long friends, they have to get along. Itís not like they were just thrown together. These guys have to complement each other. They have to get along. They have to finish each otherís sentences. They have to be funny in their own right, but also funny together. For me, the challenge is to keep Jared fresh and keep him real so itís not just űber-wacky. 

I know that youíve played lawyers in the past, but I wondered what, if anything, you did to prepare for this role. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I got a tan. Thatís basically it. Iíd had my legal fill when I did Raising the Bar. Thankfully I was able to go with David Feige, who was the creator of that show, and my character was loosely based on him. I went with him and was an intern at the Bronx Defenders for about a week and got my legal insight during that week, and for the last two seasons. So no, there wasnít much that I had to question. If I did have a question, one of our head writers, Bill Chais, was defense attorney and a lot of the stories that we deal with on the show are from his background. So, if we ever have questions we have people that we can go to, and thatís always important. Obviously it is television, you take some liberties, but I think weíre pretty true to staying true to the legal frame. 

Reed Diamond, Dana Davis, Kumail Nanjiani, Garcelle Beauvais, Breckin Meyer, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Malcolm McDowell star in Franklin & BashDo you have a dream scenario that youíd love to play out for Jared? 

Breckin Meyer: I want them to branch out a little bit. Iím curious where itís going to go from here in Ė knock on wood Ė the second season. I like when they get to stick it to authority. I enjoy that. Now that theyíre at the highfalutiní law firm, I think theyíre going to get more chances to do that. I leave the stories to [writer and co-executive producer] Kevin [Falls] and Bill, but I would love to see them take on bigger and bigger corporate guys. Iíd love to see them take on a whole corporation, whether itís Enron or something like that. It would be fun. I like when they get to mess with the zombie culture, so to speak. 

Would you want to see your characters kind of get in a serious relationship? Mark-Paul wants to keep the characters single, but whatís your thought? 

Breckin Meyer: Yes, I think for right now I like keeping them single. His character is just out of a relationship and heís still smarting from the ass whipping that his ex gave him. I would like Jared to stay single for a while just because I think itís fun. I think itís fun with him crossing the line with his clients or walking that fine line, because heís a nut. Iíd like to see him single for a while, and Hanna, Garcelle [Beauvais]í character, I like that theyíre having kind of on and off again thing. 

Why will people want to tune in to watch? 

Breckin Meyer: I think itís good. It really is good. Itís exactly what I was hoping it would be.,I grew up loving, you know, dramedies. My favorite actors were guys who did both, whether itís [Richard] Dreyfuss or Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks. I like the guys who have always done drama and comedy. These are dramedies in a sense. Itís Broadcast News, it was Jerry Maquire, called romantic comedies. But I think itís pretty fun. It should be fun and I think the cases they get are interesting. Theyíre from the headline cases. Hopefully people will like it.

The promo for the show is brilliant. Who doesnít enjoy the lawyer as on TV? You took them one step further. So, would you hire Franklin & Bash to represent you? 

Breckin Meyer: Would I hire Franklin and Bash to represent me? It really depends on what I was arrested for, but I guess I absolutely would Ė probably mostly out of curiosity just to see how theyíre going to get me off. And also, what I was arrested for, Iím curious too. But yeah sure. Why not? Iíd hire them.


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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: May 29, 2011.