Chatting HANK with Kelsey Grammer and Melinda McGraw

HankEarlier this morning, I had the chance to spend 5 minutes chatting with the stars of ABC’s HANK about why they found the show and why they love it.  They know that they have their work cut out for them, in trying to get the viewers tuned in, but they promise you’ll be rewarded if you spend some time with the Pryor family!

It’s a nice return to family comedies on ABC Wednesdays!
Kelsey: Mmhmm.  We’re trying to bring back the family comedy! [laughs]
Melinda: We’re trying! [laughs]

What drew you to these roles, at this time; what was it about HANK?
Kelsey: You wanna go first?
Melinda: No you go first!
Kelsey: All right! It was kind of a symbiosis.  I had an idea a few years back that family television was kind of dead and it would be a neat experiment to bring it back in a traditional format.  I may be proved wrong, and then I may be proved right, but it has to have a little time to breathe [laughs].  The American family, as a rule, that sits down and watches television with their kids doesn’t really exist as it used to.  I don’t think it’s because they aren’t interested in that.  I think it’s honestly because Hollywood stopped doing it.  They turned their back on that demographic, you might say.  It’s a phenomenon that was part of my youth growing up. We always sat around together and watched television, and I think there’s still a longing to do that.  There’s sort of economic overlay, on our society.  Families are kind of being pulled back together, either reluctantly or otherwise [laughs].  Not as much disposable cash.  They might actually be spending more time together.  So it was my hope that a family show, that you could sit down and watch with your 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 year old, if you wanted to, was a timely idea.   It takes people a little time to warm up to the idea that I’m playing somebody other than Frasier, and it happened with the Chuck Darling role as well.  This guy, if people stick with it a little bit, will turn out to be a charming and familiar clown for everyone.  That’s our hope – help people get a giggle out of what we’re all going through.

And Melinda what about you?
Melinda: [laughs]  Well, I already knew he was playing it, so the voice of Hank got me right away.  I loved telling the story of a family that had an awful lot of wealth having to downsize to what is not really hardship, let’s face it, because they do have savings, but for them, is a whole new world order.  Particularly, noticing as well with my own daughter who just turned 7, there was nothing that we could watch together.  I agree with Kelsey that it was really timely, we have a really funny smart and broad family sitcom.  When I say that, it’s something with a broad appeal.  There is some traditional sitcom, but it also has a lot of intelligence to it.  I love the multi-camera format.  I think it’s an art form, it’s very specific.  I got very excited about the notion of doing that again.  It was a very exciting opportunity.

You say smart and broad, and I think that’s definitely true.  There is smart adult humor, but then there’s stuff that your 7 year old would get.
Kelsey: Uh huh
Melinda: Absolutely.  There’s physical stuff.  One of the things that I love about Kelsey and what we all love about what Kelsey can do is that, one of my friends asked me what it was like watching him work.  I said working with Kelsey Grammer is like every day he approaches it like it’s King Lear, and to me, that’s the art form of it, really.  It’s art, and I don’t want to lose it.  Kelsey is TV royalty and he really knows how to do that.  A lot of half hours took a long time to warm up. We were just talking about EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND the other day, it wasn’t a bona fide hit for years, but it had the room to grow, to breathe, to really find its rhythm.  This is a show that if we get to stick around, we’re going to be able to find rhythms, and I hope, a really great balance of farce and reality that is not really prevalent.
Kelsey: Not any more, you’re right.
Melinda: That’s really exciting.
Kelsey: Also, it’s the idea, too, that there really hasn’t been a show about a mom and a dad and a couple of kids that all live in the same house, under the same roof, and don’t actually talk about body parts all the time.  This is actually a clean show! [laughs]

What’s coming up on tonight’s episode?
Kelsey: Tonight’s episode, “Drag Your Daughter to Work Day”.  Basically, Hank makes a big proclamation about the value of taking on a job as a youngster, as a young teen, and declares that his daughter should take a job.  They find one in an ice cream store, and as she bridles at dad, he says, How dare you have an attitude about work?  It’s the most noble thing you can do, and of course, then the manager turns and offers Hank a job.  He’s reluctant to take it, and his daughter shames him into it, so they end up working together behind an ice cream counter.

It sounds very funny – I know I could never work with my dad!
Kelsey: There’s some silliness there.  It’s pretty charming!
Check out some sneak peeks into tonight’s all new episode of HANK, airing at 8PM on ABC:

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