Hollywood Notebook: Barr goes far, Van Der Beek leaves 'Creek' and Rajskub is back on '24'

The Fresno BeeMay 4, 2014 

Like her or not, Roseanne Barr opened a lot of doors for comedians — especially female stand-ups.

The success of "Roseanne" showed that audiences would eagerly watch a TV comedy where the matriarch was the exact opposite of the perfect TV moms from the 1950s and '60s.

She perfected her brand of humor through comedy clubs across the country. Comedians taking that route today — with fewer comedy clubs — are having to work harder.

"There was a lot more comedy clubs, I think, back in the day when I started in the early '80s, and people could go around and make a fair living. You had to travel a lot, but there was a lot of clubs," Barr says during an interview for the NBC reality competition series, "Last Comic Standing."

Barr will be one of the judges when the competition begins May 22.

"Television, cable, that kind of killed a lot of clubs, so I think it's harder now. But it created a different kind of comedy, which I'm seeing on this show. People have to  be  much  more succinct  in  their writing and in their delivery, too, because you only have one or two really good outlets."

Barr is excited about being on the competition show because, when she was starting out, the only real big break was landing a spot on "The  Tonight  Show  with  Johnny Carson."

That's what happened to her. She sees the NBC series as the kind of program that could provide the same big break.

Up a 'Creek'

It looked like having played Dawson Leery on "Dawson's Creek" for so many years had sent James Van Der Beek up a creek without a career. He bounced around in TV series and made a few movies after the teen-angst drama ended in 2003. Nothing seemed to give him as much attention as his "Creek" days.

Then he made the bold move of playing a weird version of himself on the short-lived ABC comedy "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23." It was a hilarious move that gave Van Der Beek the opportunity to put Dawson to rest.

Now, Van Der Beek is on "Friends With Better Lives" — a show that is destined to be the next go-to series for CBS now that "Rules of Engagement" is done. He is the best thing on the show, playing a recently divorced man who struggles with dating and owns way too many bicycle shorts.

After years of starring in one-camera drama and comedy TV programs — where there was no audience — Van Der Beek is having fun working in front of a studio audience to tape the new CBS comedy.

"The last thing I did was I played a completely bizarro human being who happened to share my name and four or five things on my resumé," Van Der Beek says. "But the great thing about this is the live audience aspect. That's really the big difference and fun thing for me.

"I started out in theater, so it's a lot of fun. So I feel like the audience kind of keeps you honest. It's old school. It's an old school sitcom. You either get a laugh or you don't. So it's a great place for all of us to learn how to kind of do that kind of comedy."

Tech support

As soon as it was announced there would be another day for "24," social media exploded with those who said that if the character of Chloe O'Brian — played by Mary Lynn Rajskub — didn't come back to help Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), they wouldn't watch.

Those fans don't have to worry. O'Brian is back providing support — a little of it forced — for Bauer in the new short-run series "24 Live Another Day."

This time around, the team will be out to save the world, but while it will take a full day, the events will unfold in 12 episodes. Face it. Nothing really happens at 3 a.m.

For many of her fans, it sounded like they would rather watch a show without Bauer than O'Brian. Rajskub appreciates the support, but she knows who's the boss.

"There's no Chloe without Jack. Let's start right there. Right? Thank you. Yeah, it was pretty surprising to me. It was a strange two month or so period where it was every day on Twitter and me waiting to see if I was going to be included," Rajskub says. "I called Kiefer when I first found out and he was, like, 'Mary Lynn who?' I'm kidding. But he did say, 'Yeah, I'll try. I'll try to put in a good word for you.' '

She's kidding again.

Rajskub had a good idea how popular the character of O'Brian was before the social media explosion. There are a lot of people who refused to call her anything but Chloe. Now there's another season of "24" — that she never expected to happen — for her character to earn even more fans.

"It's interesting because I never thought that '24' would come back, and I never thought it would come back in this format. So I had just started getting away from Chloe and I'm ready for it to start back up again," Rajskub says.


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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