This weekend, Vulture held the Vulture Festival LA, a two-day “pop culture extravaganza.” Work and life and things kept me from going to many great panels, but there was no way in hell I was going to miss out on two of today’s best showrunners, Damon Lindelof and Mike Schur, sitting down to shoot the shit for an hour. I’m gonna share some highlights with you in a couple different posts. The conversation was that rich and diverse …
Ranking The Audience Applause for Their Shows (and Movies) Based on Audience Applause from Least to Most
World War Z / Star Trek: Darkness (*crickets*)
Saturday Night Live
Parks & Recreation
The Good Place
The host neglected to mention Crossing Jordan, though Lindelof brought it up later, when the host suggested one of Lindelof’s past finales might have been a little controversial with the fans.
How Did They Meet?
Schur was a fan of Lost and a huge fan of the first season of The Leftovers:
…It just seemed like such an impressive feat of writing. And I wrote an e-mail to my agent and said “I’d like you, a grown man, to set me, a grown man, up on a play date with Damon Lindelof, ostensibly a grown man, because I’m such a fan.” And it was like a weird arranged date.
Lindelof: “We went to Jinkys and had waffles.”
Schur was also in the process of baking up The Good Place and wanted to “play the game of ‘Is This Anything’ where I tell you the idea for a TV show and you tell me if it’s anything. …Damon Lindelof saying ‘it’s something’ is the reason that show exists.”
Lindelof said that at the breakfast, Schur already had the first season fully backed, what he wanted to do, who the characters were, even the end-of-the-first season twist. The main thing he was able to do was give Schur a list of pitfalls to look out for, as he was more familiar with genre-type writing/plotting than Schur.
Later, it was noted that Lindelof no longer knows any show details and is merely watching as a fan. And, in fact, he frequently e-mails Schur “some theories, and his response is terse and polite and non-responsive”. To which Schur joked: “His theory is that they’re dead the whole time [a callback to an earlier Lindelof Lost joke]. And, well, you’re just not watching the show very closely.”
When Is It The Right Time to Leave Saturday Night Live?
Mike Schur worked on SNL for seven years. “The year I left they started booking bands I never heard of and I was like ‘this is the right time to leave,’” noting that you probably shouldn’t be on SNL anymore when you don’t know who the bands are.
What Shows are They Obsessed With Right Now?
Both absolutely love Rick & Morty, although Schur correctly pointed out:
It’s a little … male. I say that disparagingly. It’s a little, like, cranked man. And the third season they backed off of it a little bit, and then I read about how they had female writers for the first time. And yeah, the stories work better.
Lindelof, recognizing that it sounds “super pretentious,” said he was also way into the Ken Burns The Vietnam War series.
What Does Schur Think The First Line in His Obituary Will Be?
“Remember that weird guy, that weird Amish idiot from The Office?”
Ted Danson Is The Best
Cheers is one of Schur’s favorite shows and now, of course, he’s working with Ted Danson on The Good Place: “He calls me sometimes on my cell phone. …And every time I think it’s a bit, I think it’s my phone pranking me.” Schur goes on to talk about how there are plenty of Hollywood folks who are abusive jerks:
If you are a person who has worked for a long time and made a lot of people a lot of money, you can generally get away with being a jerk. …Ted Danson calls me very frequently just to tell me that he had a fun time at work today. [Audience: “Awwwwww.”] Yes, that’s the right response. “Just what fun, and the things I get to do, and I just love it so much.” He’s just the sweetest guy.
More to come on this fantastic hour of discussion …