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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

ABC’s ‘Cougar Town’ holds screening party in Atlanta

"Cougar Town" writer Kate Purdy and actor Dan Byrd at Dantanna's with fans of the show. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

"Cougar Town" writer Kate Purdy and actor Dan Byrd at Dantanna's with fans of the show. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

“Cougar Town” creator Bill Lawrence knows a thing or two about survival on TV.

He managed to keep his quirky comedy “Scrubs” alive for nine season on two different networks and endless numbers of time slots.  “Scrubs” never became a big hit but it developed a small, loyal fan base that helped keep the show alive year in and year out.

Lawrence seems to be re-living that fate with “Cougar Town,’” starring Courteney Cox.

The show, which has aired after “Modern Family,” struggled to hold on to that huge audience last season in its sophomore year. But it too has developed a fervent fan base that enjoys the show’s wine-induced irreverence and light-hearted humor.

ABC, however, didn’t place “Cougar Town” in its fall lineup – or its official mid-season lineup either. The show was then cut from 22 episodes to 15. It appears ABC is basically holding “Cougar Town” in its back pocket awaiting how other comedies fare first, particularly “Work It,” a new “Bosom Buddies”-style sitcom set to debut Jan. 3. A publicist said ABC will announce a launch date for “Cougar Town” soon.

But ABC may pair “Cougar Town,” after Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing,” an odd couple to say the least.

Lawrence, worried about his show and the fact it hasn’t been on since May, decided out of his own pocket to fund several screening parties in cities across the country.

A couple weeks ago, he tweeted about the parties and within minutes, they were filled. The first few parties were held this week and the cities were chosen less for demographic reasons than for convenience. He picked locales where actors from the show were visiting relatives over the holidays.

That’s how Atlanta ended up with one of the first screening parties for about 50 fans in a back room at Dantanna’s. Dan Byrd, who plays Courteney Cox’s character’s son Travis, harks from  Marietta and has friends and family here. Writer Kate Purdy, whose husband’s family lives in metro Atlanta, also joined the festivities. (I saw the bill: Lawrence spent more than $1,300 for this particular party.)

“Cougar Town” regulars love to play a game called “penny can.” So Purdy and Byrd held a “penny can”/trivia contest.

dan byrd zack

The winner of the Penny Can contest, Zach McMillian of Cumming, with Byrd.

He picked two episodes for the fans to watch.  The first episode of season three focuses on Jules’ predictability. There are cracks about her mouth guard and a green screen as a chick magnet at Travis’ frat house. (Yes, Travis is back at college after running off to Hawaii briefly last season.).

Lawrence then gave us episode five, which brings back a very well-known “Scrubs” alum to play Bobby’s new girlfriend. The episode is pretty darn funny with a running Tom Cruise/”Mission Impossible” joke, an a capella group featuring another “Scrubs” alum, crabs jokes and improper usage of a bread soup bowl.

Not surprisingly, many “Cougar Town” fans were also fans of “Scrubs.”

Lawrence himself is not shy to acknowledge the similarities between the two shows. In the “Cougar Town” for episode five, he noted, smirkingly that “Cougar Town is not at all like Scrubs in Florida with lots of wine.” Two “Scrubs” regulars are also regulars on “Cougar Town” and others pop up along the way.

“Get out there on Twitter and Facebook and talk about the show,” writer Purdy told the crowd. “Get friends to watch it.”

“We just want people to know we’re still out there,” Byrd said.

Purdy noted that ABC tends to promote newer shows more and now that “Cougar Town” is in its third season, it won’t be as much of a priority. “It’s such a competitive market,” she said. “A tenth of a point means the difference between cancellation and a fourth season.”

In a later interview, Byrd said he loves how Lawrence embraces the show’s “underdog” status. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “He has knowledge and strategy for this type of thing. I trust him.”

“In this situation,” he added, “you have to live each day like it’s your last. It’s the mindset we have to stay in. Every day is a gift. We have to fight and push. In a way, if it works and we get picked up for another season, it’s more rewarding that way.”

He really feels the show is hitting its stride season three. (The show has now taped about 10 of 15 episodes to date.) But will his character Travis and Busy Phillips’ older character Laurie ever get it together after periodic flirtation? “It seems more interesting having them apart,” Byrd said. It is the closest thing to a “cougar” sensibility on the show, he noted wryly.

(Yes, for those who don’t follow the show closely, the whole “cougar” idea was ditched in the first season but the awful show title itself stuck, for better or worse.)

Rachel Jacoby of Woodstock calls “Cougar Town” a simple escape: “I almost wish they were my friends, hanging out in that cul de sac drinking wine.”

Nathanial Hutchinson, a cashier at Whole Foods in Atlanta who is also fans of NBC’s “Community,” said he just loves how the characters interact, that the chemistry and the writing works.

Ricky Rothschild, a 28-year-old office manager from Kennesaw, plays Penny Can all the time. “We get drunk, come back from Blake’s or Burkhart’s and do drunk penny can,” he said. He said he aspires to be like many of the “Cougar Town” characters when he gets older. “It’s be a dream come true,” he said, seemingly sincerely but possibly with tongue partially in cheek.

“It’s nice to see a show for us folks over 40,” added Will Gara, a former radio producer who is, well, over 40. “It’s the only comedy I have on my DVR.”

The crowd of "Cougar Town" fans at Dantanna's.

The crowd of "Cougar Town" fans at Dantanna's.

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

29 comments Add your comment

Darvoset spending

December 29th, 2011
2:36 pm

Scrubs freaking sucks so I just assume that Cougar Town sucks as well

Wink

December 29th, 2011
2:48 pm

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[...] more ABC’s ‘Cougar Town’ holds screening party in Atlanta at Radio & TV Talk… /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR [...]

squirrelly mc cheesy grill pon pon pon

December 29th, 2011
6:14 pm

That dating club better not get back on these boards or there will be hell to pay!

TG

December 29th, 2011
11:55 pm

Co-sign Squirrelly. I was utterly lost when I opened that CNN thread…and even more dumbfounded that Rodney WELCOMED that madness. Folks with waaaay too much time on their hands decide to “occupy” (wth?) a totally unrelated thread? That’s just weird. I felt like I was in the Twiliight Zone.

Rodney Ho

December 30th, 2011
12:02 am

@TG The Misadventures in Dating blog was the very first AJC blog in 2004, preceding my Radio blog by a few weeks. Their crew wanted a place to camp for a couple of days while that person was on vacation. Since not many folks are commenting at this time of year, I just let them hang out. No harm, no foul on that front. We are all one big happy family at in the AJC blogosphere! I already have a community that hangs out on the “Idol” threads and they’re great fun.

squirrelly mc cheesy grill pon pon pon

December 30th, 2011
1:05 am

I am glad you are putting your feet down on this Rodney. Did you get that Dating blog? You are not welcome here. Do not come back under any circumstance. You are officially double dog dared.

Fred

December 30th, 2011
2:16 am

Good job Rodney, you showed a lot of class both on the ‘dating blog’ thread and in your response here. I found it kinda of funny that you didn’t know where those folks came from at first. You need to peruse more of the blogs you DON’T write sometimes lol.

urban redneck

December 30th, 2011
8:19 am

looks like i missed a good time………..

david

December 30th, 2011
8:50 am

no you didnt redneck

Celisea....Occupying the Ho

December 30th, 2011
10:16 am

Thanks Rodney! A gracious welcoming host you are :)

KD

December 30th, 2011
10:16 am

I have seen clips from the ” Work It ” show, and can tell you now, that show will not make it.

Rodney Ho

December 30th, 2011
10:22 am

@KD I saw the pilot. I give it three episodes tops.

Rodney Ho

December 30th, 2011
10:23 am

Some folks have posted here, very confused by your presence. I was, too, until you explained what was going on!

Leggs - Occupying the Ho Analyst

December 30th, 2011
10:31 am

@squirrelly ~ get a freaking life…threatening us not to come back is childish. WTH are you going to do through a computer. RHo, welcomed us, and THAT’s all that matters. This is HIS blog and he gave us a place to play. You should learn how to play more often…just might improve your health.

Again, thank you RHo.

no sad at all

December 30th, 2011
10:41 am

I can’t wait for it to return.. I wish I knew about the party… I would have gone… DANG…

joe

December 30th, 2011
10:53 am

Courtney Cox is annoying as heck…won’t watch.

Leggs - Occupying the Ho Analyst

December 30th, 2011
11:11 am

BTW, squirrelly, guess your “double dog dare” fell on a silent keyboard.

NH

December 30th, 2011
11:31 am

Tell’em Leggs :-)

Leggs - Occupying the Ho Analyst

December 30th, 2011
11:40 am

:lol: :lol: :lol: NH! Just crazy, isn’t it?

Rodney Ho

December 30th, 2011
11:41 am

And sorry I didn’t recognize you guys at first. As a married man, haven’t felt a need to peruse a dating site in awhile! :)

Leggs - Occupying the Ho Analyst

December 30th, 2011
11:52 am

It’s not necessarily a “dating” site, but more a site on relationships and the pitfalls and peaks of the relationship. Married folk also contribute with their insight into the mechanics of a working relationship.

Leggs - Occupying the Ho Analyst

December 30th, 2011
11:54 am

And sometimes, you can have your best laugh of the day with some of the comments.

coffeecoffee25

December 30th, 2011
12:14 pm

Re: Working It – are we supposed to believe that none of the other characters on this show can take one look at these guys and know in a red hot second that they are guys??

Lamar

December 30th, 2011
1:45 pm

This show is awful. The whole show is centered around a divorced lush and her idiot friends.

squirrelly mc cheesy grill pon pon pon

December 30th, 2011
2:10 pm

Whatever you dating fiasco girls do, do not click on the new years link, that is for real Ho fans only and don’t hit that jeopardy link either

Debbie

January 1st, 2012
1:18 am

Good to know it’s coming back. I really enjoyed it on the Wednesday line up. I hate that line up has changed. The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town line up was always a great middle of the week stress relief.

Please buy my book, 'Krying Myself to Sleep,' by K. Humphries-Kardashian

January 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Cougartown’s a decent watch. I’ve seen a few episodes via HULU.