The cast and crew talk The League Season 4, debuting October 11th on FX
The League continues to be one of the best sitcoms currently on the air, with all-new episodes set to debut October 11th at 10:30 pm. Fans are in for a treat with the Season 4 premiere, Training Camp, which finds Jenny (Katie Aselton) and Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) in the midst of delivering their baby during the chaos that is the annual draft. In the meantime, Taco's latest business venture sees him getting invited to the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.
We recently hit up the red carpet for The League Season 4 premiere, where we found out more about the impending episodes from series creators Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, along with cast members Stephen Rannazzisi (Kevin), Jonathan Lajoie (Taco), and the ever illusive Mark Duplass (Pete).
First up was Stephen Rannazzisi, who relishes the fact that Kevin's newborn son means that we will never see Kev and Jen's precious dog ever again.
Kevin has a son! What does this mean for the dog?
Stephen Rannazzisi: He gets swept under the rug. I don't know what happens to him.
How are you guys going to explain this?
Stephen Rannazzisi: We have a baby! I think people are going to forget about that dog.
I'll never forget!
Stephen Rannazzisi: I haven't seen the dog, yet, this season. Animals can be tough to work with.
The dynamic amongst The League changed at the end of last season. We saw a complete 360. How does that bleed over into this new season?
Stephen Rannazzisi: The dynamic picks up around where it has been. I am awarded the Shiva. It does come with an asterisk. So they now call me Kevin MacAsterisk. Which isn't a lot of fun. Ruxin is now handed the reigns of commissioner, so there is a power struggle within. And he is learning about how hard it is to be the commissioner of the league. It's not an easy job. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and decision making that he is not comfortable with. He is going to have a fun time figuring this out.
What about Pete and his new tattoo? Is that addressed? Or is that also swept under the rug?
Stephen Rannazzisi: It is addressed in the first new episode. You will see how he has dealt with said tattoo. It comes in an interesting way.
You guys pack so much into one episode, I imagine a lot of great material literally gets swept under the rug. Over the course of the past couple of seasons, what are some of the best moments that we haven't seen?
Stephen Rannazzisi: It's so tough, because we shoot so much stuff. Trying to remember what we shot verses what makes it in...There is a funny thing that happens this year that didn't make it in. There is a birthday party that Andre attends as a magician. He has a magic trick that I thought was hysterical. It just goes awful. But because the trick ran long, they had to cut the entire magic trick. But it was an hysterical, awful, David Blaine type magic style, and we couldn't use it!
Do you have a favorite word or quote, or euphemism that we will be hearing this year that you think will take off with fans?
Stephen Rannazzisi: Um...I am trying to think...Friend-off! You'll understand. You'll get it when you see it!
Up next, we talked with Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, who assured us that Kevin and Jenny's dog is NOT getting swept under the rug.
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: Look, Kevin and Jenny's dog will reappear again.
Jeff Schaffer: Here's what happened with the dog. They realized they couldn't take care of their new baby and the dog at the same time. So they got rid of the dog. It went to live with Kevin and Taco's mom. You will see the dog again.
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: The real reason the dog disappeared is because Jeff and I are terrible show runners. We are completely insensitive to our cast's medical needs. We cast the dog, we brought the dog into the kitchen, and only then did the very flexible, fabulous actress Katie Aselton say, "I'm allergic." Last year was also very difficult, because the poor girl was also pregnant, so she couldn't take allergy medication, or be around the dog. So the dog will be back, but only on those days where she is feeling that it is appropriate for us to torture her.
How has the dynamic changed amongst the characters this season, especially in light of what happened during the season 3 finale?
Jeff Schaffer: Essentially, Pete is sporting a Sacko scar tattoo. It's a Sacko tramp stamp...
Are you going to be offering the Sacko brand on the FX merch website?
Jeff Schaffer: Oh, I wish! Here is what we are going to do. We are going to offer the brand and some fire. What you do with them is up to you. Look, Kevin won, but that is in doubt. Because everyone cheated with Ruxin. As The League Season 4 begins, just as it is with the replacement refs, he has an asterisk by his name. In fact, they are calling him Kevin MacAsterisk.
You guys are bringing the baby in this season. That sometimes hurts a sitcom more than it helps. What are you guys doing to make sure this works for the show instead of against it?
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: The baby will change the dynamic of the show in the same way that the baby has changed the dynamic of our lives, since we just had a baby twelve weeks ago...
Twelve weeks ago?
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: Yes, we had a baby July 9th. Right in the middle of pre-production...
Jeff Schaffer: I am still in my fourth trimester. I think I am going to have a ham. We had a baby right before we started shooting.
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: The chaos we are experiencing at home will definitely reflect itself on the show.
Jeff Schaffer: There is a whole new set of horrible parenting skills that Kevin and Jenny can show with an infant that they couldn't show with a five year old. So there are some very fun episodes coming up that have to do with the baby.
Are you guys pulling this stuff from your own lives?
Jackie Marcus Schaffer: Oh, yeah.
Next up, we have Jonathan Lajoie, who plays Taco. The character started out as a Kelly Bundy-esque dim bulb, but as the show has progressed, we've come to realize that he may be the smartest man in The League.
Jonathan Lajoie: I always knew that deep down Taco was a genius. He lives in a Zen world. He is not affected by opinions, society, the outside world...He follows his gut, as we all should. I think he is wise beyond his years, and anything people give him credit for. This year, he just so happened to have a really good idea, and he makes a little money doing so. I think things are looking up for Taco this year.
The ideas that Taco has are so great, and they could definitely exist in the outside world. In fact, I think someone even launched a real Neckflix tie service. Where do these ideas come from? Is it a collaborative process?
Jonathan Lajoie: These ideas come from Jeff and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, who create the show. And run it. I am constantly surprised when I read those scripts. The Neckflix, Taco's first ever off-line social network, My Face. He is always up to interesting things. I am not sure where they do get the ideas, because the are quite good. One of the ideas in The League Season 4...I'm not sure how good this idea is, but it leads to better things. Taco hires Cowboys to deliver bad news in song to people. So if you have to tell someone that you are not going to pay back their money, or that their parents are ill, or that someone had an accident, you hire a cowboy to do it, and they sing a song, so everything sounds better coming from a cowboy. That will lead to bigger and better things for Taco. I am not sure if that's his Facebook.
Taco seems like he makes for great uncle material. What is Uncle Taco like?
Jonathan Lajoie: Well, he has done a great job of raising Ellie so far. He has taught her every swear word she knows. He has taught her which drugs are good and which drugs are still good, just don't tell your parents about them...
Kevin and Jenny have a boy, this time, right?
Jonathan Lajoie: Yes, they had a boy, and it will be a little different. I think Taco is a wise man. His brother fears Taco's input into this tiny little child's life. But it's inevitable. If you have Taco in a room, he is a force. That child will pick up just by observing. If you observe the master, the child will follow.
Stephen tells me that he thinks Friend-Off will take off amongst the fans this season. You guys always have such great catch phrases, what do you think will be the one that resonates with audiences the most this year?
Jonathan Lajoie: There is one term, it's called an anchor baby. I won't get into what that means. But I think anchor baby is one. Friend-off is another one. The Seed. Seeding someone is also going to be one. There are a lot. From the past seasons, we've heard vinegar strokes, fear boner, Eskimo brothers, all those things. It's a testament to Jeff and Jackie Marcus Schaffer's skills. I am constantly amazed by how many ideas they can channel into one script at a time.
Finally, we caught up with director and sometimes actor Mark Duplass, who plays Pete. He doesn't usually make the red carpet premiers for The League, so it was a real treat chatting with him about the series.
Pete finally got a bit of a comeuppance there at the end of last season. How is that going to resonate throughout this year?
Mark Duplass: Pete has actually lost a bit of his traction in the league in the last couple of years. You will notice that he had the trophy in the first season. Pete had won quite a few seasons. He hasn't won anything since. And now, his job as the Sacko commissioner has been taken away from him. His ability to brandish the other members with punishment has been taken away. So know he has to find new and interesting ways to wreck havoc on the league. I also do a lot of douchey dating. A lot of that going on for me. Yeah.
This has brought you down to underdog status. Fans of the show always root for the underdog. We root for Andre, we root for Ruxin...
Mark Duplass: Yes, I want them to win, man!
This is the first time we've seen you in this position. Do you think the fans are going to be rooting for you? And are you going to give the fans something to root for, in terms of the character?
Mark Duplass: Yeah, yeah, yeah...Listen, I let Jeff and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, our show runners, curate the characters. For me, my goal in these scenes is to create someone who is a B- at everything in his life. He has B- looks, car, intellect, everything. But he thinks he is an A. That is a hard character to like at first, but ultimately, I think it's a very winning thing. I am going for the long haul of audience appreciation.
For an actor that is an incredibly hard thing to pull off. And you do it extremely well. The fans love Pete, you are one of my favorites...Well, I can't say that. I like all of these characters. My favorite oner rotates, which is unique for a show like this...
Mark Duplass: It's tricky. The thing is, its not that heavily curetted, you know? Because we are improvising so much. What happens on set is this weird cascading waterfall. It becomes, "Oops, that just happened! Let's go with it..." A lot of times, Nick Kroll will come up with a joke, and he will go, "This isn't right for me, this is right for Pete! You should take it." There is this creative communism that happens there. And it works!