Thursday, August 7, 2008
Mark-Paul Gosselaar in TNT's Raising the Bar
I just got off the phone from a conference call with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, one of the stars of TNT's promising new series, Raising the Bar.
Gracious and extremely forthcoming, the actor spoke about his role in the series, working with Steven Bochco and the great ensemble cast, and how he juggles being a Dad with working long days and nights in a new series. Here are some highlights of the call.
About his role on Raising the Bar:
Gosselaar plays Jerry Kellerman, an idealistic and passionate public defender determined to help those caught in the system. As Mark-Paul tells it, "Jerry believes the system is screwed, so he is going to do his best to screw the system to get back at it." He goes on to explain that although Jerry's clients could be seen as the bad guys, "It's not the system that needs protection from Jerry's clients, it's the clients that need protection from the system."
What's different about Raising the Bar is that both sides of the system, the public defenders and the district attorneys, are given equal time, and viewers can really get a feel for what the justice system is like.
Joel Amos, from She Knows, asked about Mark-Paul's working relationship with Steven Bochco, the Emmy-award winning producer of iconic shows like L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, Gosselaar's last series. Gosselaar answered candidly,"Don't fuck with Steven!"
Bochco, Gosselaar explains, is passionate about what he does. "You have to trust him, he knows what he is doing. He's not on the set every day micro-managing...he allows people to do their work." As an actor, he counts himself fortunate to, "Have that person in your corner that is going to give you all the tools you would ever want to make your creative product."
After a rather bizarre seque' into Gosselaar's new hair-style (his wife hates it), Real Mommy asked the question I really wanted to ask (and kudos to her!): how does Gosselar, a father of two, find family time working such long hours?
I loved this question, because almost every woman hears, "How do you balance your family life with your work?" But rarely do men in the workplace face the same scrutiny. And Gosselaar rolled with it, explaining how he used the weekends to catch up, and that although his daughter, at two years old, really wasn't aware of the difference in their schedule, his son was not used to him working such long hours and was having a hard time dealing with the change. So his son would come visit the set about once a week. And, although Gosselaar swears he is not the kind of person to ask for special treatment, one thing he absolutely demanded was that, "The Slurpee machine HAD to work when my son came to the set!"
With my question taken, I asked if Mark (I had heard that he prefers being called Mark-Paul to Mark, but everyone on the conference call referred to him that way, so I followed suit) had learned anything specific, or passed any tips on to, the fantastic ensemble cast he is working with on Raising the Bar, from Jane Kaczmarek of Malcolm in the Middle to Gloria Reuben (ER).
Gosselaar explained that it would be a little presumptuous for one actor to tell another actor how to play his part (which, of course, makes perfect sense), but that he loved the passion the other cast members brought to their roles, as it allowed him to, "Feed off of their energy...I challenge myself every day; have a passion to be better." He also extolled the fantastic line-up of guest stars coming up and how they all "bring something new" to the series every week, which keeps him on his toes.
TNT already has a winning combination with Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer and Holly Hunter in Saving Grace, and with Raising the Bar joining the lineup this fall, the network looks hard to beat.
You can watch the season premiere of Raising the Bar, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, on Monday, September 1st at 10:00 PM on .
at 5:26 PM