Turns out Matthew Perry knows a thing or two about handling the press—even when asked a pretty cringe-worthy question regarding one of his former Friends costars.
The artist formerly known as Chandler Bing faced a roomful of TV critics today to promote his new ABC comedy Mr. Sunshine—and killed it. But things got a little awwwkward during the panel Q&A, with this question from a newspaper critic:
Reporter: "All the Friends are sort of cooking along pretty well these days except, it seems, for David [Schwimmer]."
Matthew: "If he were here, would you say, 'Except for Matthew?' "
Reporter: "It seems as if you and Matt and certainly Lisa and Courteney are all pretty darn successful on TV…and maybe I'm missing something with David…"
Matthew: "Are we anywhere near a question?"
Reporter: "Do you ever see David, and has he talked to you about his goals?"
Matthew: "I have not seen David for a while but I would assume he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing. He loves directing and he loves the theater, so he's probably doing a bunch of that lame stuff."
Big laughs all around for that, and throughout the panel today as Matthew met with reporters at the Telvision Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills, along with his Mr. Sunshine co-stars Andrea Anders (Better Off Ted) and Allison Janney (The West Wing, OG "Jacob").
Matthew revealed that he came up with the idea for this new show—about a 40-year-old sports-arena manager who realizes how alarmingly selfish he is—from his own personal life experience. "I'm sorry, is there anyone else in the room?" he joked at the start of the panel.
When asked for more details on his former, self-proclaimed "selfish" self, Matthew quipped: "I will say if you want the answer to that just pick up any newspaper from 1996. Look at any magazine cover. They say 'write what you know' so that's an interesting road for someone to go on, to changing your behavior to being a better guy."
As for the challenges of shedding the skin of Chandler Bing in movies and on TV, Matthew joked: "You can tell how successful my movies are by the fact that I'm here. It's an interesting dilemma. You want to do a lot of some of the old stuff ‘cause that was me too, but we want to expand on it somehow. I don't think people want to see a character that's night and day different than Chandler, but we want to do some different things."
So will any of his Friends costars show up on Sunshine? Matthew reveals, "I think ultimately yes, but in the very beginning we want to convey to people that this is something new…When we're in the third seaon and we're all excited then yes, but I don't want to use that as a launching pad."
Mr. Sunshine is slated for January on ABC, and based on the pilot, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what's next. Janney's pill-popping, child-tossing (you'll have to see it) character (she plays Matthew's boss) steals many a scene, while Perry is as charming and funny as ever, and you gotta love ABC bringing back Andrea Anders of Better Off Ted, who plays Matthew's love interest. You may remember she also starred with another friend, Matt LeBlanc on Joey.
"Friends started when I started college," Andrea replied when asked if she watched the Central Perk gang, "and it was perfect for where I was in my life so I was a big fan. I just really want to be a Friend. I'm just a really good stalker."
My kinda girl.
What do you think of Perry's candor with the press? Are you excited to see Mr. Sunshine? Hit up our comments section.
(Originally published Aug. 1, 2010, at 12:40 p.m. PT)
Follow me on Twitter for TV scoop updates!