I spoke with MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR about his new series, FRANKLIN & BASH, which is premiering on TNT June 1st. It was such an honor to speak with him and I will admit, I’ve had a crush on him since his “Saved by the Bell” days but seriously, who didn’t have a crush on Zack Morris? I am happy to report that I have watched the first five episodes of FRANKLIN & BASH and I love it. Mark-Paul does an amazing job bringing Peter Bash to life. The pilot is incredible, witty and let me tell you, Mark-Paul fans, you will be more than thrilled. He flexes his music muscles and then some. A few of my favorite Mark-Paul guest starring roles have been in “Weeds”, “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”. Do not miss the series premiere of FRANKLIN & BASH on June 1st at 9 PM EST only on TNT.
Lena Lamoray: Hi, Mark-Paul. It’s an honor to speak with you.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Hi, Lena. I see your Tweets every once in a while.
Lena Lamoray: Okay. Now the pilot is so strong and you certainly steal the show with your performance of I’m Not in Love and your hot tub scene, so can you talk about what it was like filming those scenes and if we are going to see more musical numbers throughout the season?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I do carry the guitar with me throughout the whole season. I do carry my ass with me through the whole season as well, except I don’t expose either after the pilot episode. Thankfully they have not, you know – they haven’t forced me to drop my pants more than once throughout the season. That was actually a very uncomfortable scene for me to shoot. I mean, I’ve done some things in the past, you know, on NPYD Blue I just recently had something on Weeds, but to be standing on a set in front of 100 extras, you know, in a hot tub naked is, you know, not something that I look forward to going to work to do. The musical aspect, I really enjoyed. I’m glad that Peter plays the guitar. I’m sort of a fiddler with a guitar as well and I think it’s a good character trait of Peters. But, you know, the 10cc’s, I’m Not in Love on the pilot episode was unfortunately the only sort of song that we could use. I think we blew through our budget actually, to be honest with you. I mean, that song probably cost us $40,000 just to do. So, if the show becomes more successful maybe we’ll do some more musical numbers, but I think, you know, we need success to pay for that 10cc song.
More Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q: You just came from Raising the Bar in which your character wasn’t too far off from Bash, and Jerry was a little more serious, obviously. What was it about Franklin & Bash that made you really want to continue in the courtroom?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I don’t think there are any similarities between the two characters other than the fact that they may look alike, and even that is questionable with the hair. You know, Peter Bash is an attorney who is confident, who, you know, is great in a courtroom, he’s an assassin in the courtroom, he’s – you know, he knows how to be surgeon with the jury. Jerry was, you know, a public defender who wore his heart on his sleeve, was righteous, and he needed to be that way because of the environment that he was up against. You know, the cases that he was up against he was always the underdog, and in an environment where he thought the cards were stacked against him. Where I think Peter enjoys the process. I think he – he doesn’t see that the tables are uneven. He feels that because he is a defense attorney that he can find those loopholes and kind of stick it to the man. But, yes, I think – and one of things that, you know, right off the bat that differentiated this show from Raising the Bar was the element of humor. That stood out immediately reading this, as well as the relationship, the comedy, the bromance, if you will, of the two main characters, Jared and Peter. I think that those were – all those elements together made it, for me, was – easy for me to pull the trigger as – knowing that this was not the same show that I had come from.
Q: Franklin & Bash is packed with clever one-liners.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: There are some clever one-liners, and that is – that – I have to say that that’s – we have some great writers. And a lot of those one-liners though come from Breckin and myself, you know, bantering and just having a good time with the material.
Q: You and Breckin Meyer have a great chemistry. Did that come instantly or was there something that you guys did to try and make that work?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, we tried dating and that was a bit awkward. It was – I mean, so – it’s – it we’ve known each other for a while. Not – you know, we never hung out, we weren’t friends, but we’ve known about each other. We’ve grown up in this industry together and I’ve always respected his work. I’ve always heard good things about Breckin. His work ethic and mine are very much alike. Our – you know, we both have families. We’re very – those are important to us. There’s a lot of mutual qualities that we have that are – that were – we’re in sync. And one of the things that helped sort of expand that relationship was when we filmed this pilot. The show takes place in Los Angeles, but we filmed in Atlanta, just for the pilot, and it was just him and I. We left our families at home and we were sort of forced to be with each other, you know, on the set and off the set for a good 2-1/2 weeks. And I think that really solidified this sort of relationship with us and helped, you know, the – sort of the product that you have in the pilot.
Q: Would you talk a little bit about what’s it like to work with the great Malcolm McDowell?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, Malcolm is a legend, so the minute he walked on the set, you know, he demands that respect, but he is such a genuine guy who is open and approachable, and really a team player. He is a great actor to work opposite, he’s extremely funny, and I think that’ll become very apparent when you watch our shows, is that he’s got great timing and he just – he’s just a joy to watch and to be around. So, I’m very happy that he’s a part of our show and I think he brings a great quality to the show, especially for, you know, the side that we’re – we got to work for Infeld Daniels, which is sort of the – where we never – we didn’t want Franklin & Bash – we never wanted Franklin & Bash to become a firm like Infeld Daniels. We always wanted to represent the underdog, the – sort of the people that can’t afford these high powered, high priced attorneys. But also, we wanted to do cases that were fun and, you know, not your typical legal case. But, working for Infeld Daniels that was the things that Franklin and Bash wanted to stay true. If we’re going to work for a white shoe firm we still want to stay true to our – you know, our roots, and I think they were able to do that.
Q: All the shows you’ve done in recent years, like Raising the Bar and NYPD Blue, have been more dramatic. When did you decide it was time to take on a lighter role again?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: You know, there – I don’t think there was a moment where I said, “This is – I need to make a switch here.” I had come back – I had done Raising the Bar, so I’ve basically done a drama for the past decade and I went in ’09, end of ’09 I went to New York to do a film – a film, I went to go do a play, and it was a comedy and I really enjoyed myself. I really hadn’t – you know, it was a muscle that I hadn’t used in a while. Coming back at the beginning of ’10, or 2010 and I got a script from TNT and they asked me to take a look at it, and it was a comedy. And I thought, “Well, this would be a good opportunity, but I’m not sure if I want to do something with a – you know, the structure of a legal drama,” and this was different. I mean, this was just – you know, the structure of a legal drama is still intact and I just has, you know, the elements of humor that I think that sort of (enlighten and embellished-type) of show, and that was attractive to me. I mean, I would never say to my representation, “I don’t want to do drama or I don’t want to do comedy.” If something is good and something looks like it’s going to be challenge and I believe in it, then I’ll do it.
Q: Malcolm McDowell has been raving about the series. It’s cool that in the pilot episode, you have a Clockwork Orange poster in your character’s office. Is it fun to be able to (pull) at old things like that?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yes, I think so. I mean, we try to get Malcolm to sing Singing in the Rain in one episode too, and we didn’t know if that was pushing it a little too far. But, I think we all – we’re all on the same page in terms of our humor and we’re just trying to have a good time, and that’s very apparent, I think, when you watch the show is that, you know, you have a bunch of individuals who are like-minded that enjoy being on the set together, and it’s – you see it in the product, you see it in the finished product.
Q: What sets this show apart from other legal dramas that are on TV these days?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, I think – you know, we haven’t seen comedy in the courtroom in a while. I mean, Boston Legal is probably the last one, Ally McBeal is another one, L.A. Law was a brilliant legal drama with elements of comedy, so I think that’s what sets it apart from what’s currently on television, as well as sort of the relationship between the two guys. You know, you go home with these characters at the end of the day, so I think that that’s a very important element that isn’t on television on your typical legal dramas at the moment.
Q: You and Breckin have joined Twitter. What brought you to it and how has it affected you, as far as the promotion of the show?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, we recently went to a media boot-camp that TNT put us in. I think that they’ve told me that this year they’re finally on board with media promoting, or online – what would it be called? Social media, and they see the importance of it. I think that one thing that Twitter gives us a chance to do is connect with the fans and the fans connect with people that they watch on television or on film, and it think it’s a – that’s a pretty cool – I think that’s pretty cool. You know, there’s questions on – I’m online right now and I’m reading Tweets from people, and it’s just a nice sort of vehicle to get in touch with the fans. And I think – I don’t know, we’ll see what the outcome is. This is the first time I’ve ever done this. We didn’t use this sort of campaign with Raising the Bar, but I’m interested to see how this works with Franklin & Bash. But, I think it’s nice to connect with the fans.
Q: I know that you’ve played lawyers in the past, but what, if anything did you do to prepare for this role?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I got a tan. That’s basically it. You know, I mean, I – you know, I’d had my legal fill when I did Raising the Bar. Thankfully, you know, I was able to go with David Feige, who was the creator of that show, and my character was loosely based on him. You know, I went with him and was an intern at the Bronx Defenders for about a week and sort of got my legal, you know, insight during that week, and for the last two seasons. So no, there wasn’t much that I had to question. But if I did have a question, one of our producers and writers, one of our head writers, Bill Chais we as defense attorney and a lot of the stories that we deal with on the show are from his background. So, if we ever have questions we have people that we can go to, and that’s always important. And well, I think we’re pretty true to – I mean obviously it’s television, you take some liberties, but I think we’re pretty true to staying true to the sort of legal, call it, the legal frame.