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Family Flees To 'Schitt's Creek' — That's 'Schitt' With A C

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Family Flees To 'Schitt's Creek' — That's 'Schitt' With A C

Television

Family Flees To 'Schitt's Creek' — That's 'Schitt' With A C

Family Flees To 'Schitt's Creek' — That's 'Schitt' With A C

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Eugene Levy and his son, Daniel Levy, star in Schitt's Creek on the CBC and Pop TV. The Levys talk with NPR's Scott Simon about the comedy, family dynamics and what it's like to work together.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Eugene Levy is back with his son wallowing in "Schitt's Creek." That's S-C-H-I-double T. Revenue agents come to the Rose family mansion to repossess everything they own.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

CATHERINE O'HARA: (As Moira Rose) (Screams) I've been gutted. John, I've been stripped of every morsel of pleasure I earned in this life.

EUGENE LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) Well, how do you think I feel, Moira? Eli was family for God's sake. Leave your finances to me, said son of a [bleep].

SIMON: Oh, that's a bleep and you heard Catherine O'Hara before that along with Eugene Levy. Every morsel, by the way, save for a small town that Mr. Rose once bought as a joke. That is "Schitt's Creek," where Mr. and Mrs. Rose and their two, more or less, grown children go from living in a mansion and jetting between posh spots to being stuck in two small rooms of a motel. "Schitt's Creek" is a CBC show that debuts next week on Pop TV in the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Rose are played by Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy, one of the most famous duos in comedy. And Mr. Levy co-produces the series with his son who is also a co-star, Daniel Levy. Eugene and Daniel Levy joined us from NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.

E. LEVY: Hello, Scott, nice to be here.

DANIEL LEVY: Thank you for having us.

SIMON: So were you looking for something for a father and son to do, and rather than play catch, you decided to do this series?

E. LEVY: Kind of, sort of.

D. LEVY: (Laughter) I guess. Yeah - no, I had this idea about a family who loses their money, you know, a few years back. And I had seen it played out on mainstream television and sitcoms, but I'd never really seen it explored through the lens of a certain style of realist comedy that my dad does so well. So I came to him and pitched the idea and asked him if he would be interested at all in just flushing it out and seeing if there was anything there. And fortunately, there was some interest and we started talking.

E. LEVY: Oh, there was a lot of interest. It was pretty exciting when he kind of came to me and asked me if I wanted to kind of work with him.

SIMON: Forgive me, have the two of you worked together before?

D. LEVY: No.

E. LEVY: No. We've never worked together before. He's very, very...

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: You do harmonize beautifully though.

E. LEVY: Yes. Yes. He's much too difficult to work with.

D. LEVY: (Laughter).

E. LEVY: I would - once - no, this is the first time we've worked together ever, and it's been a remarkable two years, needless to say.

SIMON: How much improvisation is involved in "Schitt's Creek" 'cause, of course, that's been such a signature of your career between "Second City" and "SCTV," Mr. Levy?

E. LEVY: Yeah, well, actually...

SIMON: And the movies - the Christopher Guest movies, of course.

E. LEVY: Yeah. That's true. And that's the sensibility that Daniel kind of was thinking of when he kind of approached me about his idea. You know, to have that sensibility that Chris and I kind of put into our movies, but it's true. Those movies were improvised. We wrote a very detailed outline, but what came out of people's mouths was entirely up to the, you know, very talented cast. Our show is scripted.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

E. LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) Here's a newsflash for both of you. You're not going anywhere, and we're a planning a surprise party for your mother.

D. LEVY: (As David Rose) (Laughter) No, that's not - that's not a good idea.

E. LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) That's not a good idea.

D. LEVY: (As David Rose) Where would you even throw a party like that in this town?

E. LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) I don't know...

We spent a lot of time kind of, you know, massaging everything and when we do get to the studio floor, finally, we kind of sift through...

D. LEVY: There's room to workshop once the scenes play out on the floor. And I think that's what's really helped the tone of the show in terms of just how intimate it is and how intimate the dialogue is, you know, between the characters. It's really allowing that time before we start shooting every day to go over the scenes and make sure that everything is worked out and the humor is, you know, is squeezed out of every possible moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

E. LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) Talk to the hand, son, because the ears are no longer working.

ANNIE MURPHY: (As Alexis Rose) OK, that's not at all how that works.

E. LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) Cancel your triple-Xs because the travel agent is out of the office.

MURPHY: (As Alexis Rose) So uncomfortable when he does stuff like that.

D. LEVY: (As David Rose) Absolutely not.

SIMON: This series is shot in - do I have this correct - Goodwood, Ontario.

E. LEVY: Yes.

SIMON: How do the people in Goodwood, Ontario, feel about - name aside - you know, being portrayed as a small, grimy place with very little charm?

E. LEVY: You know, here's the fine line about "Schitt's Creek" and Goodwood is that, you know, to portray that on a weekly basis on a television show - how do you show a town that's so depressing that people would actually want to watch it from week to week? So, you know, there had to be kind of a fine line of making it...

E. LEVY: Charming.

E. LEVY: Charming enough.

D. LEVY: Despite itself. And to give Goodwood credit, if anyone from Goodwood is listening, we did dingy up the town tremendously. It is a lovely town that we had turned into the town of "Schitt's Creek." But over the course of the season I think what I love most about the town is that it's not a stereotypical, you know, town with yokel dokels (ph). It's a tremendously open-minded, liberal, accepting place to live, which I thought was such a lovely thing to give this city.

E. LEVY: Yeah. They had a minor-league kind of baseball team there that actually changed their name from the Goodwood Bears to the Schitt's Creek Bears for an entire month.

SIMON: That's very accommodating.

E. LEVY: During their season.

SIMON: Yeah. Forgive me for getting a little glassy-eyed, but do the two of you know what a blessing it is for a father and son to work together?

D. LEVY: Absolutely.

E. LEVY: I think it is completely kind of a surreal thing, I mean, to be honest.

D. LEVY: And I think for me it was one of the biggest compliments I've ever received to have my dad like an idea that I came up with considering how much I respect what he's done in comedy, and more specifically what he's done with Catherine. So for the two of them to bring me into this dynamic that they have and, you know, be so loving and accepting and open-minded and trusting is a huge thing for me.

E. LEVY: Yeah. This is another surreal moment, Scott, is watching Daniel in a scene working with Catherine O'Hara - that is, like, a mind blowingly surreal...

SIMON: Oh, my gosh, to watch your son work with...

E. LEVY: Yeah, I'm sitting there - on the first couple of days I was just - I couldn't - I couldn't take my eyes off of them. I mean, I could not believe - wait a minute, that's not me. That's my son now doing a scene with Catherine and doing very well. I mean, it's really, you know, incredible.

SIMON: Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy - they are two of the stars and the producers of "Schitt's Creek," which premieres next Wednesday on Pop TV in the United States. Mr. Levy and Mr. Levy, thank you so much for being with us.

D. LEVY: Thank you for having us.

E. LEVY: Thank you, Scott. It was a pleasure.

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