Talking GCB with David James Elliott

Tonight on an all new episode of GCB, Carlene’s uncle comes to town and Gigi puts together a welcome party that has our new favorite GCB Texans dressed as their favorite Texans from history.  To celebrate what’s been a great ride so far, I had a chance to chat with GCB’s own David James Elliott – Carlene’s hubby Ripp Cockburn (seriously, cannot make that up) – about how he got involved, what he loves about the show, what’s coming up, and why everyone should be watching!

GCB is so much fun!
It is! It’s fun to shoot!

How did you get involved in the show – was it a script you read that you wanted to be a part of?
They sent me a script and they said, you know, would you  be interested in this script, in this character.  My character wasn’t really in the pilot much.  They added some scenes later, so I said, I don’t know, and they said, do you want to come and read for it, and it was like, what am I going to read, there was like, one line, no I don’t want to read for it.  Then, would you take a meeting, because they’re interested.  I think initially, I said no, there’s barely even a character, I love the name, but [laughs].  And then they called back and said, would you come in and just sit and talk with them, and I said, of course, I would do that.  I knew Darren Starr a little bit because I had a five story arc on MELROSE PLACE years and years ago, and I had met him then.  I was supposed to have been the Grant Show character, but through some mishaps, I would up not getting that role, and getting JAG instead, which wound up being a better deal ultimately. But anyway, that’s another story!  And I met them.  My concern was that Ripp not be just a piece of meat and that he was going it be a character that was going to be interesting and worth exploring and Robert Harling assured me that the character was definitely going to be explored and they had great plans for him, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I don’t even know if Carlene had been cast at that point.  It was a great meeting, and they assuaged any concerns that I had.  I went, you know what, I dig it, and they offered it to me.

So I signed on and I went to Dallas, and I sat at the read through and didn’t really know anybody in the cast.  I didn’t know who anybody was because I don’t want a great deal of television.  I’ve got a young child, and he keeps me pretty busy and by the end of the day, I have to go to bed early, because I have to get up early to get him ready for school, but anyway, I was blown away by the talent pool that they had assembled and by how funny they made the script.  I laughed my ass off!  I was shocked. I thought it was entertaining but I didn’t realize how funny it was, and these guys just took it to a whole other level.  And then to watch it unfold, when they put it on a feed, I just was constantly surprised at how funny it was.  I had the best time.  I loved it.  And Robert Harling is such a talented man at our helm, and Gretchen and Erin, the writing staff, head of our writing department.  Everybody is just so talented.  Every week, we look forward to the new scripts – we sit at the table read, and it’s like, how do you top that?  It’s just so funny!  Where do you go from here?

That brings me to my next question – where do we go from here?  We see a bit of Ripp looking for Amanda’s money.  What comes next?
We continue to deal with life’s real problems, and the problems within the community that are probably more their making, ultimately, than anything.  It’s just about how fallible can we as people get and the things that we hide behind.  Our false morality, or our hypocrisies, but really ultimately, they’re not bad people.  They’re a little confused, and they’re just trying to find their way through life.  They’ve got their problems.  Most of them are problems of excess, but they’re problems just the same, deeply emotional, spiritual problems for them, and it’s just the way they go about solving them, is kind of wacky.  These crazy, wild, strong character choices that are made not only by the players and by the writer.  It just keeps getting funnier.  Every show just gets better and better and better.  The pilot, well, pilots are tricky because we have, what, 42 minutes to tell a story, to introduce characters, and hopefully introduce them in such a way that you’ll care about them enough to tune into episode 2.  Especially in an ensemble piece like ours, to be able to do that in 42 minutes.  It’s like trying to squeeze 10 lbs of excrement into a bag. It’s a tall order, but the shows just kept getting richer, and  funnier.  Robert Harling, he’s a great comic writer but he’s also a man of enormous sensitivity and it’s displayed well in his comedy, the characters have great depth, you know?  I just love the guy.  I love Ripp, I love Robert, and I love the cast.  I couldn’t be happier.

Why should people tune into GCB?
You know what, it’s entertaining.  That’s what it really is.  We’re not out there trying to preach to anybody.  The title scared some people and there was some backlash, ultimately, because of the title, but it’s taken from a book by [Kim Gatlin], Larry’s Gatlin’s wife.  She wrote a book about Dallas high society, and she referred to her posse of friends as the Good Christian Bitches, so the title, if you don’t know that, if you haven’t opened the book to read it, and then you pass judgment based on a title, that’s what it was about.  It wasn’t about christian women are all bitches.  It wasn’t about a demeaning female term, it wasn’t about slamming Christianity.  If you don’t explore something, and you just pass judgment.  That tenant – guaranteed to keep man in everlasting ignorance is contempt prior to investigation.  Well that certainly was the case with people like Newt Gingrich and others, who have, without even seeing, or looking at the book or understanding what we are doing, to decide that’s what this was, or all us liberals were out to undermine this Christian community, which it wasn’t.  It’s not political at all.  In fact, we treat the church, certainly, I know that Kristin Chenoweth is a devout Christian and she would not have been a part of this had it been to undo anybody’s faith, because it’s certainly not.  It’s a funny romp.  It’s a great escape.  It’s well crafted, well-written, and the comedy is well delivered.  So if you want to relax, enjoy, forget about all the troubles we hvae to deal with most of our day.  It’s a great way to escape on a late Sunday night to start your next week!

GCB airs Sunday nights at 10/9c following the final season of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES on ABC.  For more information, head over to GCB’s site at for photos, video sneak peeks, and more!