Pity poor Zach Braff. No, not because of that egregious Emmy snub. Or that unfortunate "male Paris Hilton" label that the tabs have slapped on him. Heck, forget the fact that he recently had the displeasure of hearing his vocally impaired Scrubs costar Sarah Chalke miscarry a tune (more on that later). No, the reason you should feel sorry for Braff is because the poor guy spent all day today holed up at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan doing hundreds of interviews on behalf of The Last Kiss (opening Sept. 15). Yes, it's the dreaded press junket, and Braff is calling me right in the thick of it to discuss his latest big-screen venture (which I loved), reports that he's bolting Scrubs, and the Arrested Development crossover he's hell-bent on pulling off.

Ausiello: How's your big press day going?
Zach Braff:
It's delicious.

Ausiello: Are you getting asked the same questions over and over?
Braff:
Yes, the same four every single round. I think you'd be creative if you didn't hit the same four.

Ausiello: Oh, the pressure.
Braff:
I'll make a buzzer sound if you hit one of them.

Ausiello: Well, my first one's more of a statement than a question. Thanks to your little movie, I'm obsessed with Snow Patrol.
Braff:
Aren't they awesome? They have a new album out, too.

Ausiello: I'm embarrassed to admit I had never heard of them before.
Braff:
It's not embarrassing, a lot of people haven't. Hopefully this soundtrack and their new album will [get the word out].

Ausiello: I think a lot of people are expecting The Last Kiss to be like Garden State. They're in for a rude awakening.
Braff:
It's quite different. It has some similar things, in that it has a great soundtrack and it has me in it, but that's about it. [ Laughs] It's much more of a drama than Garden State. Garden State had some dramatic things, but it was also very light at times. This is a really brutal, honest movie about relationships. It gets pretty gritty.

Ausiello: Were you looking to do something darker?
Braff:
I just wanted to do the kind of movie that I would go see. This was the first script after doing Garden State that I said, "Wow, I would really like this movie."

Ausiello: Jacinda Barrett was a revelation. Who knew? Did she surprise you?
Braff:
I was shocked. I obviously knew her from Real World, because I thought she was so hot when I was a kid. I knew she had made a couple of movies [since then] and I knew she was really pretty, but I had no concept of how good [an actress] she was. She came in and so blew us out of the water with her audition. Me and [director] Tony Goldwyn hugged each other when she left. We were so happy we found her.

Ausiello: I loved the ending, but I suspect others will hate it. It's not your traditional Hollywood ending.
Braff:
Unfortunately, some people are so conditioned to the studio template for how a movie should go. This happens, this happens, there's a conflict, they work it out, there's a little bit more of a conflict, then it all gets worked out. Ninety-nine percent of movies follow that. People who are conditioned to that might be disappointed in the ending, but I think the movie is, in fact, really respectful to the audience. It lets you think for yourself. It creates a discussion.

Ausiello: I heard that you tweaked Paul Haggis' script a little.
Braff:
Paul Haggis' script did not need tweaking; he's Paul Haggis. The only thing I did was ask, since I'm [the same age as the character] and I like to write dialogue, if I could custom-fit some of the dialogue specifically to me. Which I did do. I wanted to put my own stamp on it.

Ausiello: Switching gears to Scrubs, are you brushing up on your singing for the musical episode?
Braff:
I can sing a little bit. Donald [Faison] has a really good voice and Judy [Reyes] has a good voice, but Sarah Chalke will break windows; she's tone-deaf.

Ausiello: You're going around saying this is your last season. Is that your story and you're stickin' to it?
Braff:
That was [taken] a little bit out of context. What I said was that this is the first year where it'll be up to me. I'm not necessarily leaving. It's all up in the air; nothing's decided.

Ausiello: You'd be open to continuing for another season?
Braff:
Yeah. There's a bunch of variables that would need to be in place, but yeah.

Ausiello: I spoke to Bill Lawrence and he said if you do leave, he might replace you with a new actor or promote Donald Faison to lead (Ask Ausiello 8/30). Your reaction?
Braff:
I think it's great. The show is so much fun and employs a whole lot of people, and I would love it if it kept going.

Ausiello: What's this I hear about David Cross coming on as his Arrested Development character?
Braff:
That's what I'm trying to broker. I'm a huge fan of his and so is Bill, and our idea was that he would play Tobias in an episode. Obviously, we have to get that cleared by a lot of people, like [ Arrested creator] Mitch [Hurwitz] and Fox, but that was my pitch. David wants to do it.

Ausiello: Is it your goal to get the entire Arrested Development cast on Scrubs?
Braff:
[ Laughs] Yeah, one by one. I was such a fan.

Ausiello: What's happening with the big-screen Fletch remake?
Braff:
Bill's gonna write and direct it. I'm the one who told Harvey [ Weinstein] to hire him, because not only is Bill so funny, but he's a huge Fletch fan. So he just seemed like the perfect person.

Ausiello: And are you gonna play Fletch?
Braff:
We're talking about it. Again, it's something that's up in the air right now.

Ausiello: You told David Letterman that you stopped going out at night after the media labeled you the "male Paris Hilton." Still in hiding?
Braff:
[ Laughs] No, I'm out and about again. You can't win with those people, so I'm just gonna live my life.

Ausiello: Those are all my questions. How'd I do?
Braff:
You did perfect. You didn't ask any of the old staples.

Ausiello: What were the old staples? Throw one at me.
Braff:
Something like, "What's it like to go from directing to being directed by somebody else?"

Ausiello: Oh, that's awful. I would never go there.
Braff:
Good.