Keck's Exclusives: Modern Family Preps For Emmys and New Season Surprises
Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell
After vacationing in Hawaii to close out their smash, Emmy-nominated freshman season, the cast of ABC's Modern Family next heads to Colombia to meet Gloria's family. Well, at least if the stars get their wish. After producers suggested they'd be taking the family on one vacation a year, Colombia has emerged as the cast's leading destination choice.
"The family should go meet Gloria's family in Cartagena," Sofia Vergara (Gloria) told me Tuesday evening on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, where the stars performed a live table read of an upcoming episode for members of the television academy. "Colombia's very safe right now. The people there would go crazy and the government would completely help out with filming."
"Apparently this is within Sofia's realm of power," added Julie Bowen (Claire), joking, "There is probably already a Vergara Day there like once a month."
"I can just see a whole bunch of fish-out-of-water white people in her fair country," said Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell).
But Ty Burrell (Phil) has a different hope for the family's future, telling me, "I would send them all to Season 6."
With Modern Family mania sweeping the nation, all signs indicate Ty will be getting his wish.
Though series co-creator Christopher Lloyd says Colombia is not yet on the writers' map, he clued me in to several fun surprises that should keep the series popular. Guest star Nathan Lane, as flamboyant Pepper, will invite Mitch and Cam to his Oscar Wilde and Crazy Brunch. Then, arriving before Thanksgiving to visit baby Lily will be Cam's country mama, who'll get a little too comfortable in the boys' home. Dunphy daughter Haley will dump boyfriend Dylan in November, "but Phil takes it far harder than Haley does so he continues to see Dylan on the side behind Haley's back," says Lloyd, indicating actor Reid Ewing (Dylan) could return again some day.
Eric Stonestreet's (Cameron) dream to have a Halloween-themed episode is coming true. "Mitchell will be struggling to get through his day with a Spider-Man costume hidden under his suit, while Manny and Luke will dress up like each other, which leads to a fight between Jay and Gloria," offered Lloyd.
Tuesday's Modern Family event, which featured a panel discussion moderated by TV Guide Magazine editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum, was a gift to Emmy voters in advance of the August 29 ceremony, where Sofia, Julie, Ty, Jesse, and Eric are all up for their first supporting actor Emmys. The series will compete in the outstanding comedy category against Fox studio's other red-hot comedy, Glee.
In the packed Zanuck Theatre, series co-creator Steve Levitan announced that Ed O'Neill (Jay) would open the evening by performing the Glee standard "Defying Gravity" from Broadway's Wicked. Instead, Ed got a big laugh by announcing, "F--- it; we're a comedy."
"The individual nominations are awesome," said Eric, who'll be bringing his girlfriend and mother as his two Emmy dates. "But we really want to bring home best comedy because we think we're a strong contender in that category and hope Emmy voters agree. We deliver laughs on a regular basis." Added Julie: "Just to be told we belong in that club is ridiculously flattering."
Jesse, who is giving his extra ticket to his brother, said, "I have so many friends who are nominated this year, like Neil Patrick Harris [How I Met Your Mother[ and [Glee's] Matthew Morrison, so I can't wait to give them goofy looks across the aisles."
Sofia has asked her stylist helpers to find her something comfortable that will hold up throughout the long evening. "I want to make sure nothing pops out of the top of my dress because it's usually very hard for something to fit me because of my boobs," she said.
"I'm of course also worried about my boobs falling out," joked Ty.
"You need to use the double-sided tape to keep your boobs in," Julie suggested to her TV hubby.
The episode script previewed for Emmy voters, titled "Strangers on a Treadmill" (inspired by Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train), is one of four new shows producers are considering to air as their Season 2 premiere in September. "The premise of the episode is Phil and Cameron both have some qualities that aren't that desirable to Claire and Mitchell, so they plot to have each other tell the other's spouses about them," Eric previewed.
What's Mitchell's gripe? "Cam has started working out again and is wearing bicycle shorts and Mitchell's claim is that no one looks good in bicycle shorts," explained Eric, who earlier in the day had his wardrobe fitting. He told me he looked "fantastic" in his blue bicycle shorts, which will have pixels shrouding the crotch area because, according to Eric, "they don't leave anything to the imagination."
"Eric warned me that he's already asked that the shorts be even shorter than they already were," says Jesse.
Nathan Lane's episode will feature an earthquake — a familiar phenomenon to all the show's stars. Eric recalled running outside without any shoes on after an earthquake hit, while Jesse boasted that he has slept through several quakes. Ed O'Neill, who plays Jay, remembered living in the Venice Beach area of L.A. when the 1994 Northridge quake hit. "I was alone in bed and woke up thinking, 'What's wrong?' Then it felt like a freight train was coming.
In the same quake, Julie woke up on the floor of her rental unit. "I was really poor so I didn't have anything good to lose," she said.
Ty has perhaps the best earthquake memory. He was performing in a stage production in Oregon when an earthquake hit, and thought to improvise a line to his leading lady. "I said, 'Did you just feel the earth move?'"
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