Josh Cooke is one of Four Kings
Four Kings, the new NBC comedy (premiering Thursday at 8:30 pm/ET) from Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, treads Friends-ly territory with the story of four lifelong buds — Barry (Seth Green, the Austin Powers movies; Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ben (Josh Cooke, Committed), Bobby (Shane McRae) and Jason (Todd Grinnell) — who inherit an improbably fantastic New York City apartment when Ben's grandmother passes away. With a quartet of young actors onboard, the backstage shenanigans probably rival what you'll see on screen. "One of the games we play, involving a blue fuzzy pillow being winged at each other full speed, actually has been written into an episode," shares Cooke. Says Green, "It's pretty bad — Shane once had to go to the chiropractor." OK, we hope he's kidding. Right?

Kings marks but the latest small-screen foray for Green, who, in addition to his run as Buffy's Oz, has done voices for Family Guy, appeared on Greg the Bunny and coexecutive produces Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken. As such, he knows to keep his expectations in check. "I've been through this kind of thing a bunch of times, and you always hope for the best," he says. "This is the most fun I've had on a sitcom, so you just hope that people get in on the fun that you're having."

Acknowledging the plum piece of prime-time real estate that they have been awarded — sandwiched between Will & Grace and the just-relocated freshman hit My Name Is Earl — Cooke says, "We have a great opportunity, and it's nice to have NBC put their weight behind us in that matter. It's a real compliment." As for any comparisons to that other Must-See sitcom about friends in a Big Apple apartment, he says, "What [will set us apart is what] makes any good show stand out — the chemistry between the cast. We all get along well and that comes across, which makes the show very comfortable for people to watch in the same way that people liked to be around the characters from Cheers."

Interestingly, Cooke almost didn't make the final Four, committed as he was at the time of the pilot's casting to the short-lived NBC sitcom Committed (opposite Close to Home's Jennifer Finnigan). Fortunately, as it were, "it had pretty much been hinted that [Committed] wasn't going to come back [in fall 2005]," he shares. At that point, "there had been a couple other actors cast on Four Kings who didn't work for one reason or another, so I literally came in about three days before we taped [the pilot]. Strangely enough, my character suits me very well."

But will Four Kings suit the discriminating Thursday night audience's tastes? "You can't plan for success," offers Green. "We're about to finish our initial [episode] order, and we're hoping that we get to do some more."