On October 9 – 11 I attended a Disney Press Event. My hotel and airfare and meals were taken care of while I was in L.A. Opinions and observations as well as recaps and such are all my own. This post may contain some affiliate links to Amazon.com.
On the second day of my trip I went to a few places including the ABC Studios. There we had a group interview and screening with two cast members of the new ABC comedy, The Mayor. We met with Bernard David Jones (“Jermaine Leforge”) and Marcel Spears (“T.K. Clifton”). Marcel is to my right and Bernard is to my left in the photo above. Immediately upon walking into the room these two guys put us all at ease. They were shaking hands and giving out hugs to everyone. They were as excited as we were to watch an episode of the show. I think that they were more excited. The Mayor is the only new Fall comedy that ABC picked up this year and that has to be a lot of pressure for a freshman show.
We settled in to watch the Episode titled “The Filibuster”. That episode was airing that very night and so we were doing a lot of tweeting about the show. I had watched the pilot episode and it was funny enough. However, I really liked the second episode. I saw that the characters were beginning to change and develop a bit. These three young men were now in charge of the well being of their city and you could tell that they love the city and would do what they need to do to bring it the best that they could. Watching a show or a movie with the people who made it is always interesting. There is an energy that is hard to match. You could tell that these guys put so much hard work into their characters. When the episode was finished we were able to interview the guys and it was a fun one.
Both of the guys went to a casting call. Marcel originally read for the part of the main character, Courtney Rose. That role went to Brandon Micheal Hall. The casting director liked Marcel so much that they needed to find a place for him on the show. That place was the role of T.K. Clifton, Courtney’s friend who is very enthusiastic but not all the way the smartest guy around. But he does have a lot of heart.
Speaking of heart the next question that was asked was about how the guys felt about taking on a politically flavored show at this time in the current political climate.
Bernard – As artists, it’s kind of our duty, our job to be able to hold a mirror up to our country, our world and say, “Hey, this is what’s going on. How do we fix it? What can we do to fix it?” Our show is an awesome representation of what happens when somebody that has a heart for people, that understands community and unity, and love, who leads with love. How that can affect a community and you know, this guy, he has no political experience. He didn’t mean to win. But he didn’t stray away from the responsibility. He took it head on and I think that’s a good lesson for all of us. You know, all of America. If there’s something going on in your neighborhood that you want to change, take leadership. Take ownership of your community, so I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to be a catalyst in your communities for some type of change.
Marcel – Yeah, I agree. It’s an opportunity for us as artists to provoke change and to inspire people. When I was kid, people wanted to be the President – even if you didn’t want to be the President, that was the go-to answer if a teacher or somebody asked you and you want to give the answer that’s going to make your mom go, “Awww!” It was like, “I want to be the President of the United States of America.” You say that and people are like, aw, yeah, it can happen for you, kid. And politics was a thing that you didn’t shy away from. Like, it’s always been a topic that you don’t talk about at dinner, but it’s something that people weren’t afraid of and now, I feel like people are so exhausted with it because you have to pick a side, pick a side, pick a side and it’s become so divided that we forgot that it’s a part of what makes this country great and I feel like us doing the show gives us a chance, in a fun way, in an approachable way to really talk about politics in a way that I feel like can reach people so that people aren’t afraid of politics anymore. So that people aren’t exhausted with it so much and they can really get down to what it’s about and what it’s about is taking care of the people around you. Like, really taking care of your community and making sure that you’re looking out for the next person. Whether you disagree on how to go about doing that, the end goal is always the betterment of the community.
Bernard – And I think what’s also special about our show is that we come from a non-partisan standpoint, so there’s no, “you have to be a Democrat” or “you have to be a Republican.” We don’t choose sides. We present the opposition, we present what’s going on these communities and we offer solutions on how to fix it.
Bernard and Marcel’s characters are the best friends of the guy who is elected Mayor, Courtney Rose. They are there to support him in whatever he is doing. He went originally ran in the election in order to get noticed and increase his followers on social media for his rap career. The guys handle things like they are still promoting his rap career at first. But they begin to learn that they can do more good in their roles as advisers to The Mayor.
At the heart this is a comedy show. There are elements of politics and there may be some of the larger issues facing this country addressed in the show but they will be addressed in a humorous way. The creator of the show, Jeremy Bronson doesn’t want this to be an issue-driven show. Marcel explained that even though Jeremy does not want this to be an issue driven show he does want to talk about everything. He wants to be honest about it. He also is realistic in that he knows that he’s a white Jewish man and he cannot imagine putting himself in the place of a Black woman who had a kid when she was sixteen or in the place of three twenty-something black men. So, the writer’s room is very diverse so that the stories can come from a real place of experience.
The show is a very family friendly show. Bernard stated, “It’s definitely a family show and I think that’s what’s important about our show and is special is that you can gather the family together, sit down and watch a show and then maybe discuss some of the issues that are happening. It’s those issues like going to a music program and saying, ‘hey, my kid is a part of that and it works well for him, we need to keep that.’ Just having a safe space for children in our episodes, I think is amazing. The show has been very family oriented, but we do talk about real stuff and we don’t shy away from the real stuff. But we do it in a way that’s copacetic to a family environment.”
Working on set must be a lot of fun. The guys were asked about this and they had some wonderful things to say about Yvette Nicole Brown who plays Courtney Rose’s mother, Dina or rather Miss Dina, to the guys. Bernard went on to say, “I mean, we have Yvette Nicole Brown. If you’ve ever met her, you’ve ever talked to her, you’ve ever seen her in anything… people are like ‘Yvette, we love you. We love you. We love you.’ And I always say, Yvette, you know what, I hope that people love me the way that they love you and respect you, and she said, ‘just be yourself and have a heart for people.’ That’s been some of the best advice that she’s given, but she is literally like Big Sis. She’s like, ‘Don’t do that. Do that. Stay away from that. That right there, uh-unh.’ Yvette even helped Marcel find an apartment when he moved from New York to L.A. for the show. She’s go to the apartments and Facetime with Marcel to help him choose. Yvette even helped pay for Bernard to come out to L.A. and when he tried to pay her back she wouldn’t hear of it. They both had glowing things to say about her. It kinda made me a little sad that we didn’t get to meet her, too. I loved her on Community and she is a wonderful person on The Mayor.
The guys went on to talk about Brandon, the lead actor in the show, and how he is a leader on the show but also off screen as well. Brandon is Julliard trained and the guys hand out outside of filming. Marcel went on to say, “We actually hang and Brandon is one of those people like – I’ve been knowing Brandon for three years now. He’s the one who called me and told me that I got this job. It’s one of those situations, too, where I’m watching this young man grow into himself and taking on the position of being the number one and being the star of the show and really learning as he goes, and being a servant leader and making sure that we’re all okay and taking care of us. I’m proud. It’s weird. I’ve only known him three years, but I feel like I’’ve known him forever.”
The guys also had nice things to say about Lea Michele is like the sister of the group. “She got three new brothers that she loves, but also doesn’t know if she wanted.” They went on to say that the show is very much like a family and so is the cast on set. already they have worked with each other for a while but the guys then talked about if the show gets picked up for multiple seasons then they could very well see people get married and have kids along the way, major milestones in life would be shared with these other actors and actresses that are now part of your family. The way that families are made in television as opposed to theater, where the guys came from, is vastly different. In theater the relationships develop very quickly and could last a few months but in television things are much more long term.
The question was asked, “Are there any episodes coming up that you feel personally connected?”
Bernard – For me, the episode that I connected to, that we’ve shot already, dealt with the boys having some sort of conflict and it just shows that even in the best friendships, or families, there may be times when you just don’t agree or you don’t like the way people handle things or you end up in a situation that’s not conducive to your friendship and you have to figure out a way to still love that person, but check them at the same time. I feel like that’s life, you know. I’m excited for you to see that episode because it’s a different side of my character. It’s a different side of T.K. and Courtney.
Marcel – That episode talks a lot about respectability politics. Courtney is faced with a decision to either help his career or help his community and I feel like, as an actor, especially coming from, coming from the hood in New Orleans and going to Ivy League school like Columbia, I found myself in situations a lot where I felt like I had to choose between the people I loved and the people ho knew me and what seemed to be the best thing for my career as an actor. Having that survivor’s remorse, that survivor’s guilt where you’re like, I’m in a position now to educate my family. I’m in a position now to help my family. I have a degree that nobody in my family has had before. What do I do with that information? He (Courtney) is faced with honoring his family or helping further his career which could initially help his family, but it doesn’t always feel like that at first.
Someone asked if there was any music for the show that could be purchased. You actually can purchase the music through Spotify and iTunes. A new song will drop each week and the songs are produced by Daveed Diggs and his band. Brandon raps on those songs. I love how the show takes the music and makes it available. That pulls you further into the show and you can experience more about the show. Here is how you can get some of the existing songs from the show.
Listen: “Right Here” [from “Pilot” aired Tuesday, October 3]
Spotify / Apple
Listen: “Brokenomics” [from “The Filibuster” aired, Tuesday, October 10]
Spotify / Apple
Speaking of music, will there be some singing and dancing from Lea Michele? The guys were a bit coy on this one. I can’t imagine that she not sing and dance on the show at some point because she is so phenomenal. Apparently everyone in the show has some singing and dancing ability so I can’t imagine that a musical type episode or more signing and dancing from the characters will not be happening.
I got a chance to ask a question and it was about social media. The guys are always recording things and posting to social media to increase Courtney’s exposure. I asked if the characters would have their own social media accounts. I’ve seen other shows where characters were heavy into social media. Some shows have bought URLs and things like that. the guys did think that was a fun idea, though. I look forward to seeing much more from these guys. They are so tuned in to how important it is be part of a show where Black men are lifting each other up and supporting each other. It is important to show them having joy in their lives and are thriving and challenging the images that they see in the media. I would encourage you to take a look at this show and make it part of your Tuesday night watch. More information on the show can be found below.
THE MAYOR – “Buyer’s Remorse” – As Courtney settles into his new role as mayor, he’s faced with a dismal approval rating as the citizens of Fort Grey express their lack of confidence in his ability to lead, as well as those on his own staff. He realizes that he needs to take an unconventional approach when dealing with Councilman Ed Gunt (David Spade) and comes up with a plan to quickly turn public opinion in his favor, on “The Mayor,” TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17 (9:30-10:00 p.m. EDT).
About “The Mayor”
Young rapper Courtney Rose needs his big break. For years, he’s toiled away in a small inner-city apartment, making music in his junk-filled bedroom closet. Tired of waiting for opportunity to knock, Courtney cooks up the publicity stunt of the century – running for mayor of his California hometown, Fort Grey, to generate buzz for his music career. But his master plan goes wildly awry, ending in the most terrifying of outcomes: an election victory.
The series stars Brandon Micheal Hall as Courtney Rose, Lea Michele as Valentina Barella, Bernard David Jones as Jermaine Leforge, Marcel Spears as T.K. Clifton and Yvette Nicole Brown as Dina Rose.
Executive producers of the series are Daveed Diggs, Jeremy Bronson, Jamie Tarses and James Griffiths. “The Mayor” is produced by ABC Studios.
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