Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were growing up? Someone or something that kept you company? Well Alice did…and now she’s back!!! Alice is under some new stress in her life and her imaginary friend, Mary, is here to help her! Imaginary Mary premieres TONIGHT at 9:30|8:30c on ABC!
I had the opportunity to interview Jenna Elfman (“Alice”), Stephen Schneider (“Ben”) and Executive Producers David Guarascio & Doug Robinson.
Where did the idea of Imaginary Mary come from?
Doug Robinson initiated a conversation with animator Patrick Osborne, who won an Academy Award for a short film called Feast. After juggling around a few ideas, Patrick said he always wanted to do a show about somebody who had an imaginary friend. Doug produced the Goldbergs with Adam Goldberg, “and there’s no one in touch with his inner child more than Adam, so I was like that’s the perfect guy, and Adam is busy running a show. So he said, I know the exact story that we should do, and David was a writer on The Goldbergs, and we’ve both known him for a long time, and a lot of this mirrors David’s life, so we brought David in, and that’s sort of where, where it all came together.”
David Guarascio chimed in, “So then basically a divorced dad with kids; started dating a- just like Alice- a single career woman who really did not plan to have family in her life, and I was just too damned charming, basically, [we all laughed] so broke through all that. You’ll realize that as we continue to talk. I would then sort of- Adam and I had worked together previously, and I would just tell these stories about my wife, what she sort of like did with sort of trying to slowly get integrated into life with my kids and we just thought it’d be a great idea for a TV show. So that’s sort of where it came from.”
Jenna Elfman originally didn’t want to do another network show, because she had just become so frustrated with her experiences over the last several years with network television. However, she hadn’t been on ABC since Dharma and Greg. Her agents gave her the script…and Jenna said, “I read it and went, oh, that’s just so interesting because I love that there’s the romantic part as the leading lady, and then there’s, like, the fish out of water aspect with the kids because she’s just has no point of reference for dealing with children at all, and has no plan for it, and has a negative point of reference of childrearing. And then she’s super accomplished; she’s a woman on her own, which I liked, and then as, like, an actor dealing with comedy, I have to now also deal with something that doesn’t exist but that I see, but that they don’t see, and then do physical comedy, and fish out of water, and it was just like, oh my god, that’s, like, a lot of balls to juggle. And I felt like I can take that on, and it felt like the next new level of challenge for me. And then everyone involved is so great, and I was like, it was really hard to say no to. I just couldn’t find a reason not to do it, so that’s how I came into it.”
Jenna brings a little bit of her quirky personality to Alice, but she really “thought it was fun to play something in terms of, like, she’s super not a mom and has no idea what she’s doing.” As a mom, she knows how to juggle life, but she had to have a conversation with herself and say, “Okay, how am I gonna play someone who doesn’t know anything about this when I’ve been doing this for nine and a half years, like, in real life?”
“Laughter, and joy and, and entertainment, and feeling better about the lives they’re living.” ~ Jenna Elfman
The banter between the cast and directors was hysterical. Doug joked about how they got “stuck” with Stephen…and he quickly replied, “Nobody else would take the part, and I still had to audition twenty times for the role.” You could tell how much they all liked to work together.
Stephen was telling us that because they were taping in Vancouver, they didn’t know anybody there…so they just had their families and the people they were working with…so they became a very close knit group…building a chemistry that is palpable on the screen.
ALICE IS ON MOM DUTY FOR THE FIRST TIME, ON THE SEASON PREMIERE OF ABC’S ‘IMAGINARY MARY’
We got a sneak peek at the season premiere: “The Mom Seal.” I laughed through the entire episode!
Alice needed a friend growing up and so Imaginary Mary came into her life. As Alice grew up, she didn’t need Mary anymore…BUT when Alice’s relationship goes to the next level with Ben, Mary reappears and is ready to help.
When Ben asks Alice to help him with her first mom-like task to pick up Bunny from dance class, Mary quickly discovers the simplest parental tasks are fraught with difficulty. Afterwards, Ben is disappointed when Alice tells him she can’t help with the kids anymore, but things change when Andy enlists Alice’s help to overcome his fear of taking a driving test, on the season premiere of “Imaginary Mary,” TUESDAY, APRIL 4 (9:30–10:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network.
“Imaginary Mary” stars Jenna Elfman as Alice, Stephen Schneider as Ben, Rachel Dratch as Mary (VO), Nicholas Coombe as Andy, Matreya Scarrwener as Dora and Erica Tremblay as Bunny.
Guest starring is Diana Bang as Gigi, Dave Peniuk as Doctor, Nathan Jean as Man, Bronwen Smith as Megan, Aaron Hutchinson as Paramedic, Gabriel Vill as Waiter, Bethany Brown as Uninformed Millenial and Roberta Gardoni as Frazzled Mom.
“The Mom Seal” was written by Sarah Haskins & Emily Halpern and directed by Shawn Levy.
The live action/CGI hybrid comes from “The Goldbergs” team Adam F. Goldberg (writer/executive producer), David Guarascio (writer/executive producer) and Doug Robinson (executive producer). Mary CG animation is designed by Patrick Osborne (creator of Academy Award-winning animated short, “The Feast”), who is also executive producer. The pilot was directed by Shawn Levy (“Arrival,” “Night at the Museum,” “Cheaper by the Dozen”), who is also executive producer.
The series is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison and ABC Studios.
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Disclosure: I was invited by Disney to attend an all expenses paid trip to cover the #BeOurGuestEvent & other fun adventures in LA on 3/4-3/7. All opinions are my own.