At the TCA Summer 2013 Press Tour on Monday, CBS presented a panel for its new sitcom The Crazy Ones, marking the return to network television of Sarah Michelle Gellar and, most notably, Robin Williams. Williams and Gellar play a father/daughter team who run an ad agency, with the father an unorthodox advertising genius, and the daughter a more focused and organized professional.
As most fans know, turning Robin Williams loose in the role of an “unorthodox” character can lead to plenty of improvisation and riffing (and that seems evident right from the pilot episode), and creator and executive producer of The Crazy Ones David E. Kelley explained what it was like to have such an inventive mind as part of this project.
“Once Robin was on board,” Kelley said, “I knew I’d be a fool to try and lasso him inside of my script. It was daunting because it feels like I’d been handed the keys to a car that I was ill equipped to drive. … He says my words perfectly. Then he uses his.”
When asked by a reporter about what it is like to have near-constant expectations from fans to be “on” and funny all the time, Robin Williams did offer, “I think the pressure to be funny all the time, it’s like, ‘Dance funny-man.’ I think sometimes there’s that pressure. Other times it’s like, with this room [full of critics], good luck.”
But even in that room, Williams couldn’t resist his natural instinct, and he found himself riffing and joking. Here are some of his highlights:
Robin Williams’ first remarks, spoken in a Russian accent: “We’d like to thank everyone for coming here today to raise money to send to Edward Snowden in the Kim Philby Lounge at the Moscow Airport. Thank you very much.”
After a question was raised about whether product placement is part of The Crazy Ones: “If you look under your chair, there’s a Happy Meal right now. Please. We are not afraid just to pimp it right now in front of you. There’s an Apple product somewhere in the room. There’s one.”
On how long it’s been since Robin Williams was on television: “Last time I was on TV, ‘wired’ meant a gram and a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
On similarities between himself and his The Crazy Ones character: “The idea that he’s had a kind of an interesting life, to say the least, you know, just like myself. I went to rehab in wine country just to keep my options open.”
When a reporter kind of compares funny/touching moments in The Crazy Ones to artwork of a sad clown: (fake crying) “Please don’t say that.Thank you for the cards you sent. … especially a sad clown you wake up next and go ‘Oh, my God. What are those big feet doing in the bed?!’”
After jumping up to answer a question and accidentally pulling his mic off: “I pulled my mic off. Hold on. I’m getting a text from Carlos [Danger]. That would be bringing up that right now. Do you think [Anthony Weiner] had something on his phone? Even the phone’s going ‘No more.’ Little Rubik’s Cube thing down here. That’s not the sad clown. Okay.”
The Crazy Ones premieres Sept. 26 at 9pm ET/PT on CBS.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robin Williams and executive producer Jason Winer at The Crazy Ones panel: © 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: Monty Brinton