Fox is attempting to dominate Tuesday nights this fall, lining up two hours of comedy with established hits like "New Girl" and "Raising Hope" paired with freshman series "The Mindy Project" and "Ben and Kate."
Over the weekend, cast members from all four shows -- Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield of "New Girl," Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt of "Raising Hope," Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson of "Ben and Kate," and Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina of "The Mindy Project" -- took part in a Q&A and pilot screening event to promote their new Tuesday night foursome; an ambitious endeavor that was simulcast to movie theaters in a number of major U.S. cities and livestreamed on Fox's website and EW.com.
Questions came courtesy of fans at the theater in Santa Monica where the event was being held, as well as those attending screenings in 10 other cities, plus via Facebook and Twitter.
A few pearls of wisdom did emerge from the panel so we've rounded up the best answers below. "New Girl's" Jake Johnson suffered most of the abuse, with some fan messages questioning his fashion sense and his dancing skills, and it was wildly entertaining to watch the rest of the panel alternately pile on the mockery or rush to his defense.
Here's what we learned:
Fictional Mindy and real-life Mindy aren't so different
When a fan asked Kaling how similar her "Mindy Project" character (a rom-com obsessed OB/GYN) is to her real personality, she said, "I think the character on the on the show, there's a bigger overlap than I [like] to admit ... The character thinks that she's going to end up marrying Chris Evans and I think that I'm going to end up marrying Chris Evans. I'm a lot more boring; I don't go on dates with Ed Helms and Bill Hader."
Never work with children, since they're harder to train than actors
When asked about working with the twins who play baby Hope on "Raising Hope," Plimpton and Dillahunt admitted that the casting has its challenges. "She doesn't take orders like the rest of us have been trained to do," Plimpton said. "Sometimes we get in there and try to encourage her to do stuff, but her mom's the best at it."
"You could be reading about them in a few years. You might see them on Biography," Dillahunt joked. "But there's two of them, so if one's cranky ..."
"We just throw her out and use the other one," Plimpton agreed.
Max Greenfield is just as douchey as Schmidt in reality (according to Jake Johnson)
A fan wanted to know whether Johnson or Greenfield had similar personalities to their on-screen counterparts. "I think they got the right guys for the right roles," Greenfield laughed.
"When the show starts, it's one thing, and then as it progresses, you become more like your character and/or vice versa," Johnson mused, adding, "That's a really smart thing I just said. So yeah, I think it's a blurry line. I don't know what I'm talking about -- I got so confident with my first line that I blew it on my second."
Kaling took that opportunity to interject, since she's friends with both actors. "I know Max pretty well and he's such a gentlemanly, normal guy, who plays this character really well," she insisted. Johnson disagreed. "I'm gonna go the other way -- I work with Max, one of my closest pals and I think he's pretty close to the character," he teased.
Greenfield took it all in stride, joking, "I think what happens is, I wake up very early in the morning and I have to go to set, and I just kind of unleash there ... I'm working out a lot of things on that set. [Laughs.] And it's all good. I don't know. But Jake Johnson is exactly like Nick Miller."
Writing, acting and directing are equally difficult
Oscar winner Nat Faxon, one half of the titular "Ben and Kate" and co-writer of "The Descendants," was asked about his experiences with the many different facets of creating films and TV shows. "It's fun to do different things. It services your brain in different ways," he explained. "Writing is great and creative, and then there are times when you feel like, 'OK, I need to be around other people instead of just my writing partner ["Community's" Jim Rash].' In terms of directing, the same thing, it's just a different creative muscle, and acting, same kind of thing."
Johnson asked if Faxon intended to do any writing on "Ben and Kate," but he had a very diplomatic answer: "Not at the moment. We have a fantastic writing staff, and they do a phenomenal job. I really enjoy acting and performing and what they do for me."
Expect a love triangle on "The Mindy Project"
One fan noticed the chemistry between Kaling's character and the two eligible men in her life during "The Mindy Project" pilot, so s/he asked about the possibility of a love triangle between Kaling's, Messina's and Ed Weeks' characters. "Yeah, in the pilot there is that love triangle energy," Kaling teased.
Messina's answer consisted of, "I hope so, I hope so, I hope so ... I hope so," with a meaningful look at Kaling, which the audience seemed to appreciate -- as did she.
"Look at this guy, he's so cute -- he's irresistible," she teased. "There's lots of romances -- I think Chris' and my relationship on the show is really fun, and we do a lot of stuff together. There is a love triangle but there's lots of other people; he has love interests and people he dates."
"Raising Hope" has some "fantastic" guest stars this season
When asked about their experiences working with guest stars Melanie Griffith and Tippi Hedren, Plimpton and Dillahunt had nothing but praise for the actresses (and not just because Griffith and Hedren are the mother and grandmother respectively of fellow panelist Dakota Johnson).
"They were fantastic!" Dillahunt enthused.
"Tippi spends most of the episode in a coffin," Plimpton teased. Dillahunt reassured the audience, "But it's really funny. We have some great guest stars coming up -- Melanie has five or six episodes. She plays Sabrina's (Shannon Woodward) mom on the show. She's very funny. Chris Klein is coming on. Wilmer Valderrama ... I was nervous to say his name!"
"Has anyone seen that film, 'Marcel The Shell With Shoes On?'" Plimpton asked. "The woman who created 'Marcel the Shell,' she came on our show for a couple episodes, Jenny Slate. She's very sweet and very funny. We have a lot of great people ... I think they feel we're not enough [on our own]!"
Jake Johnson is rooting for Nick and Jess (but also not)
A "New Girl" fan asked Johnson if Nick would finally realize that Jess (Zooey Deschanel) is The One next season, but he didn't have a particularly concrete answer to give. "I don't know, they don't tell us anything -- I know the episode we're starting tomorrow morning, there's a lot of Nick/Jess stuff and the characters discuss where they're at, at this moment. I don't really know, to be honest. We'll find out ... Tune in, Tuesday night for the comedy block!"
Plugging the lineup aside, Johnson admitted that he doesn't worry about the writers getting Nick and Jess together too soon. "I think it'd be fun if they got together, see what happens," he shrugged. "But if they don't, that'll be fun too. I'm excited to see what the writers come up with."
Of Johnson's breezy attitude, Kaling joked, "Jake, you just roll with everything."
"Mindy, I have no idea where I am. I'll just tell you I'm excited to be doing 'New Girl,' and there's a Tuesday block with four shows! Starting September 25th!" Johnson enthused.
"Are you stoned right now?" Kaling deadpanned, much to the amusement of the audience.
"Yes," Johnson insisted. "Thank you so much, great to see everybody. Why are you guys in my living room?"
Seriously, wouldn't you watch a crossover?
The new Fox comedy lineup debuts Tues., Sept. 25 with "New Girl" at 8 p.m. ET and 9 p.m., "Ben and Kate" at 8:30 p.m. and "The Mindy Project" at 9:30 p.m.. "Raising Hope" joins the lineup Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. ET.
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