Life has gone well for Josh Gan -- two hit Broadway musicals and (despite the huge mistake of turning down "Modern Family") a vibrant TV career. His new show, "1600 Penn," is no "Modern Familly," but it's big, broad and funny. You can catch the story on Thursday or Friday (Jan. 10-11). Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
PASADENA, Cal. – There's great
pleasure, Josh Gad said, in sitting at the presidential ddesk. “It's
an absolute ego boost.”
And there are a couple of ways to get
– Be elected president. This takes
time, money and more.
– Or help create and star in a TV
show. That's what Gad did with NBC's “1600 Penn”; he plays the
president's son, who likes sitting at his dad's desk when no one is
“Josh has … a true sense of joy,”
said Jenna Elfman, who plays his stepmother. “It's rare, in my
experience, to find actors …. who are truly joyful (and) really
Gad, 31, agrees with some of that. “I
have an unbelievable sense of joy in my life,” he said.
That includes a wife, a daughter, roles
in two hit Broadway musicals and a thriving TV career … despite one
That came when “Modern Family” was
being formed. The gay couple could have been played by Jesse Tyler
Ferguson and Gad – two people who had been in Broadway's “The
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at different
Gad turned down the role. Eric
Stonestreet took it, getting fame, fortune and (so far) two Emmys.
Rejecting the role was “probably
stupid, considering my bank account is a lot smaller now that it
could've been,” Gad grants. Then things turned out anyway.
Gad went back to Broadway, getting a
Tony nomination for “The Book of Mormon.” Matt Winer, one of the
“Modern Family” producers, talked to him about a comedy focusing
on the president's family; it soon centered on Skip, the well-meaning
but bumbling son.
“I had no intention of playing Skip,”
Gad sad. But “it came down to the fact that if I saw anybody else
play the character, I was going to be really (upset).”
Like his “Book of Mormon” role, he
said, “the character is big, very gregarious.”
And sometime very clumsy. “He has a
three-pratfall minimum per show,”joked producer Mike Royce.
Royce previously helped mold Ray
Romano's shows, “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Men of a
Certain Age.” Now he's joined Winer, John Lovett (a former White
House speech writer, not related to the former “Saturday Night
Live” star) and Gad. They've built the show around:
– The president, a widower who
re-married. Like Bill Pullman, who plays him, he's a soft-spoken guy
who has a ranch.
– His wife, a lawyer. “She's very
smart,” said Elfman, who plays her. “She's very confident”
about everything except raising kids.
– His daughter, smart, likable and,
we soon learn, pregnant.
– A younger son and daughter.
– And Skip, who's at the core . “Josh
is so good at playing the lovable idiot,” Winer said, “but giving
it dimension. As the show goes on, you realize that Skip … has a
really special wisdom.”
– “1600 Penn,” 9:30 p.m.
Thursdays on NBC.
– That starts Jan. 10, when the pilot
– which had a “sneak preview” last month – airs at 8:30, an
hour before the show settles into its regular spot.
– Both episodes rerun at 8 and 8:30