Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
'My Boys' star talks beer, poker, blogging, Madonna
"My Boys," the TBS sitcom about a fictional Chicago sportswriter who never seems to work and spends much of her time hanging out with guy friends, returns for its third season Tuesday night.
I have seen the first two episodes, and the only reference to work is when the lead character pretends (!) to get an urgent message about the Cubs signing a free agent. Sigh.
I've written extensively about the show in the past, but this is a first: a conversation earlier this month with Jordana Spiro, the actress who plays P.J. Franklin.
She came prepared. She buttered me up with a WatchDog reference!
Click below for the Q&A, in which Ms. Spiro, 31 - who grew up in Manhattan and attended Riverdale Country School in the Bronx - discusses beer, poker, Madonna, sportswriting and other important matters.On the show's focus more on relationships than the work environment:
"Well, I think when Betsy [Thomas] was creating the show she had to decide, do I want this to be an office sitcom or a friendship sitcom? Do I want this person to be a sportswriter who happens to have this group of guy friends or a person who has this group of guy friends who happens to be a sportswriter?
"Because you have such a short time in which to tell a story. But this season P.J. does get a significant promotion where she becomes a columnist. And then the last episode, I dont know the story yet, but we are going to be going to Arizona to watch the Cubs spring training. So there is a little bit of work-life references, but not to the degree that would be super-realistic. We keep it focused on the friendships."
On one of her friends on the show being a rival beat writer:
"I thought that would be very interesting. And also, what are the dynamics of a relationship when one is a beat writer and one is a columnist and what being a beat writer means right now? From the columnists I spoke to they seem to be a little happy to blog but at the same time frustrated because it pulls them away from their column and its sort of a necessary evil right now.
"How do you keep up with it? I know, youre the WatchDog."
Umm . . . are you a regular reader of the blog? "Not a regular reader, but I do my homework."
On preparing for the role of a sportswriter:
"When we started the show I didnt know the direction it was going to go in so I was prepared for it go in a more work atmosphere direction. So I shadowed a lot of sportswriters and was reading every baseball book I could get my hands on in preparation for if the show did go in that direction I wouldnt feel like an idiot because Im not in real life the biggest sports fanatic. But I did know my way around. And now that Ive noticed the show is more about the friendships I havent had to put my focus there as much as I originally had."
On which teams she rooted for growing up in Manhattan:
"I have to say I was much more into Madonna than the Mets."
On whether she is surprised the show has lasted into a third season:
"I'm pleasantly surprised. Not that I didnt think we had something really fun and unique. There just seems to be no rhyme or reason to why a show lasts and what doesnt. Every next order we get is always a nice surprise."
On whether given the ensemble nature of the show, it is important the actors all get along:
"Yeah, absolutely. While were not enrolled in any knitting classes together we do like to hang out. Kellee [Stewart] dragged me to a Taekwondo class that did not go well but it was funny. And we all got together to have dinner.
"We work together 15 hours a day every day and were looking at each other saying, 'OK, why are we all hanging out together on Saturday? Is it because we actually like each other or because weve lost all of our friends?'"
On whether she likes beer and poker as much as P.J. does:
"I do. Im not the strongest poker player, but what I lack in poker I make up for in my like of beer."
On her impression of sportswriting after shadowing writers before the show started:
"Something that is seemingly obvious but was interesting to me was how deadline-pressured it was. Of course thats obvious, and also to see that beat reporting is not like what it was because you can watch the game on your phone now, so we dont really need a written play by play anymore.
"So you need to come into every game with some kind of angle and almost have like three stories going in your mind and then you find out as the game takes place which angle you want to take, which one plays out. That was interesting to me.
"And then two hours after the game you have to have a full article written and ready to go. That was impressive to me, the pressure on that side."
On how long she thinks the show can run:
"We shoot three months out of the year so it feels like this summer camp we all go to. It's a great job. Id certainly love to see it go on. I dont know if we need to see the beer exchanged for Ensure. I dont know if it needs to go that long. Or she takes dentures out to kiss one of her poker players. I dont know if it needs to go that far. But I would like it to go a few more years."
On whether the audience skews female or male:
"It's probably more the case that women bring the men into the show, but then when they do watch it they find there's enough male-dominated banter to keep them there, and you have a female character who is very male in the way she thinks. She is solution oriented. She doesnt like to sit and dwell on things.
"She doesnt like to have too many feelings about stuff. She wants to find the solution, move on and get to the poker game. Thats a very male attitude, I think. Shes not forever upset that theyre not listening."
On why P.J. never seems to work despite being a baseball beat writer, arguably the most demanding job in sportswriting:
"You know youre at the bar every day drinking and playing poker, c'mon! You [sportswriters] were our toughest critics. Its a TV show! Were sorry! I do always have a great blow dry for someone who never does her hair. But well ignore that, too."