'The New Normal': Top 11 Revelations and Highlights From PaleyFest 2013
Emmy Award-winning creator, director, and producer Ryan Murphy has never shied away from a gay-centric story line, whether it be in the terrifying context of "American Horror Story" or the fun, vibrant musical juggernaut "Glee." But Murphy has never tackled the subject with as much poignant charm and outrageous humor as the initially controversial freshman series "The New Normal," which 18 episodes in, has hit its stride after a rocky critical and ratings start.
The series's message, "A family is a family and love is love," is a point driven home in each moral-based episode as recently engaged couple Bryan Collins and David Murray (Grammy-winning Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha) await the birth of their son by surrogate Goldie Clemmons (Georgia King). Goldie is now a chosen member of their family, as is her wise-beyond-her-years daughter Shania Clemmons (Bebe Wood).
Murphy, Rannells, Bartha, King, and Wood gathered at PaleyFest 2013, along with two other cast members: "Real Housewife" NeNe Leakes, who plays Bryan's protégé Rocky; and Jayson Blair, who plays Goldie's simpleminded ex-husband and Shania's dad Clay Clemmons. Ali Adler, co-creator and executive producer, and Dante Di Loreto, executive producer, also joined the panel, which was moderated by John Stamos, who has had a recent story arc as Jane Forrest's love interest. (Emmy Award-winning Ellen Barkin, who plays Goldie's bigoted and opinionated mom Forrest was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.)
Here are the most awesome revelations shared by the panel and some of the wackiest moments of the night.
1. The stars aligned for Ryan Murphy's real life and the show
It's no surprise that "The New Normal" is based on creator Murphy's life (he and his husband, David Miller, welcomed a baby boy, Logan, through a surrogate on Christmas Eve), but what is surprising is how the stars aligned for the new father and his new series. The day "The New Normal" was picked up was the day Murphy and Miller found out they had a baby on the way.
2. Bebe Wood's Little Edie Beale impression was not learned for "The New Normal"
Who can forget Bebe Wood amazingly spot-on impression of Little Edie Beale from "Grey Gardens" in the episode "Sofa's Choice." What's even more amazing is that Wood didn't learn that impression for the show! Adler heard Wood doing the impersonation and ran her over to Murphy, who made her do it for hours. "She's such a great mimic," Murphy said of Wood, "and she does, in fact, love Maggie Smith." Wood impersonated the "Downton Abbey" star in a later episode.
See Wood's impression of Little Edie:
Wood's Maggie Smith impressions:
The only impression she had to learn was Cher, and Rannells gave her great advice: "Don't watch Cher. Watch drag queens doing Cher." Good thing Wood's favorite show is "RuPaul's Drag Race."