At the time this interview with Jonathan Silverman was set up, tonight at 9:30 pm/ET was supposed to present the season finale of ABC's In Case of Emergency. But just before Silverman called, ABC extended his sitcom's run, pushing its freshman finale to April 18. Regardless, TVGuide.com wasn't about to pass on the chance to chat up the funnyman who in addition to his role as ICE's Harry, is about to visit fiancée Jennifer Finnigan's Close to Home.
TVGuide.com: Just to be clear, I'm speaking to Jonathan Silverman and not Jason Schwartzman, right? I get your names confused.
Jonathan Silverman: It could be Jason Schwartzman, it could be Ben Silverman... but no, I think you've got me.
TVGuide.com: You and Jason — go figure, two nice Jewish boys making it big in this business called show.
Silverman: Isn't that sweet? I remember meeting Jason when he was probably 11 or 12. I was shooting a movie with his mom [Talia Shire] and Jack Lemmon, and Talia was playing my mom, so she would have me over for dinner every day. Weekend at Bernie's had just come out and Jason was obsessed with it, doing all the stunts and quoting all the lines. [Laughs] And now he's a big movie star!
TVGuide.com: But being Jonathan Silverman means you're betrothed to the lovely and talented Jennifer Finnigan.
Silverman: That's the best part of my life! She's amazing....
TVGuide.com: You're guesting on Close to Home starting this Friday?
Silverman: I guess it pays to be engaged to the lead of a Bruckheimer show! I'm doing a handful of episodes, yeah. They actually wanted me to do four episodes to finish off the season, but [ICE's producers] would only grant me three. Apparently it's standard in contracts nowadays that if you're on a show, you're entitled to do up to three guest-spot roles on three different shows, so we had to beg and plead to allow them to do three spots on one show.
TVGuide.com: Brothers & Sisters' Patricia Wettig bumped up against that with Prison Break. ABC allowed her to return for three episodes, but only appear on camera in one of them.
TVGuide.com: Purposely, I understand, you're not playing a possible love interest for Jen's Annabeth?
Silverman: Since Jen started [Close to Home], the producers have been asking me to come on, just as the producers of In Case of Emergency have asked Jen to come on. Her schedule, of course, is so insane that we just couldn't figure out a way to make it work, but I finished shooting [ICE] a couple of months ago. As they were trying to come up with a role that I could play, Jen and I both thought it would be bizarre and perhaps uncomfortable if we had too many scenes together — or, god forbid, had to do any love scenes. So I play the campaign manager for David James Elliott's character, who's on this quest to be attorney general. It's a fun role. Peter is a seemingly nice, good person, but he's got a dark, shady, frightening past that comes to a fascinating conclusion toward the end of the season.
TVGuide.com: Will we at least get a little "in" joke line of dialogue between you and Jen? Like, "I could never marry a person like you"?
Silverman: Oh, yes. We're shooting a scene later today where after a brief little exchange between us, she says to David James Elliott's character, "I don't know, there's something about that guy I don't trust." [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You and I were supposed to be talking for the season finale of In Case of Emergency, but the show has since had its run extended a few weeks. What are we calling that, a "reprieve"?
Silverman: Perhaps, perhaps.... I haven't been on a television series in a regular capacity in a decade, so when this opportunity came my way last year, I believe it already had a six-episode commitment attached to it, and I was so excited. I would tell friends and family, "If I could just get on for two episodes before they cancel, honestly, that would be a major achievement for me." So the fact that we now get to air all 13 of the ones we shot, I'm thrilled. Of course, this is all dependent on that juggernaut, that lovely "karaoke singing competition." [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: I think that it's a vote of confidence that with all the schedule changes ABC has made this week, ICE has weathered the storm.
Silverman: They're still with us, yeah. It's one of these shows that has built steam, not only in critics' minds but also people I run into on the street are saying it's become this little cult show that's gaining a following. I know one of the positives of going against American Idol is the expectation levels are so low. Not only are we reaching those expectations, we're surpassing them in terms of our key 18-to-49 demographic. So yeah, ABC seems to be happy, and they've talked about the possibility of bringing us back next season. It's all a matter of how the pilot season works out.
TVGuide.com: The night that this Q&A publishes, "Harry and Sherman (Greg Germann) go to a spa." What zany misadventures ensue?
Silverman: [Laughs] In Case of Emergency is a lot of things — it's very funny, it's very irreverent, it's very offensive, it's very clever, it's a joy to do — but at its heart it seems to be a sex farce. There are not a lot of shows I can recall where the leading lady is a hooker and the former valedictorian of her high school. But Greg Germann, who has become a very dear friend, and I, as we read each week's episode, are like, "All right, who are we naked with this week? Who do I have to do a shower scene with this week?" Before the table read of this particular episode, Greg and I looked at each other and said, "Everyone's been naked except you and me" — and lo and behold, Greg and I are naked in a mud bath.
TVGuide.com: Is he still wearing the "fatter" suit at this point?
Silverman: Sherman has lost weight. He has been on an exercise and diet regimen, and he's back in shape.
TVGuide.com: Because just last week Sherman was still a bit heavy....
Silverman: That episode was supposed to air about a month and a half ago! When the folks at ABC decided they were only going to air 11 out of our 13, they ended up airing them out of order. The Jane Seymour arc, which was so successful and talked about... ABC decided to run her episodes all together. This episode was supposed to be No. 7, so those following the story line are probably a bit confused.
TVGuide.com: I had a fun Q&A with Jane Seymour about ICE. Sum her up in three words.
Silverman: Gorgeous. Intelligent. A gamer. She came ready to play. I've always admired her as this very distinguished, stunning, poised British actress, and she came to the set to play this Mrs. Robinson type and it was just instantaneous. She started talking like a truck driver and loosened up the set so that by the time we actually had to remove our clothes and maul each other, it seemed second nature.
TVGuide.com: Did they ever make up the T-shirts with her famous line?
Silverman: They did! Those were our gifts form the producers, these shirts that on the front have, in Korean, the name of our show with an anime drawing of Kelly Hu giving a massage, and on the back it says, "Be good to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone!" [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: How has the half-hour comedy changed since your first time around the block?
Silverman: I think that due to the brilliance of HBO and Showtime, especially series like Weeds, it's improved immensely. It's far more intelligent, far more graphic, and far more interesting than the sitcoms we grew up with — which certainly are funny and I am not putting them down, but the longevity of a lot of shows these days isn't very long. I'm thrilled that NBC has shown patience with shows like The Office, which in any other season might've been canceled four or five episodes in. They're doing the same thing with 30 Rock....
TVGuide.com: 30 Rock is awesome.
Silverman: Isn't it? It's one of the three or four shows that Jen and I TiVo.
TVGuide.com: That was my next question: What TV do Jon and Jen curl up on the sofa to watch?
Silverman: Well, definitely 30 Rock. It's probably cliché, but we always TiVo and watch Saturday Night Live at some point during the weekend. And we're our own best and worst critics, so we watch each other's shows together. [Laughs] Hey, we're actors at heart, we're vain, and we help each other with our lines at night, so it's nice to actually see the finished product, to see how it all comes together.
TVGuide.com: Does she do a good Kelly Hu?
Silverman: She does a very good Kelly Hu! And I do a very good Kimberly Elise, let me tell you.