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'Cougar Town': Three rounds with Courteney Cox & Bill Lawrence

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”Should we have wine?” Courteney Cox asks as she sits down at the Culver City, Calif., restaurant Akasha with Bill Lawrence, co-creator of her show Cougar Town. It’s only fitting, considering there’s rarely an episode of the ABC comedy that doesn’t feature Cox and her castmates guzzling vino. But truly, the pair deserve a strong drink: Last year Cougar Town was jettisoned from its plum time slot on ABC’s Wednesday comedy block and then failed to get a spot on the September schedule…anywhere. With the third season of the show finally set to premiere, Cox and Lawrence sat down with EW to talk about the struggle to get on air and what’s on tap (besides wine, of course) for the cul-de-sac crew.

Round 1
”Not too sweet” red wine (Cox and EW), jalapeño margarita (Lawrence)

You finally have an airdate! Was there a time you thought season 3 might never see the light of day?
Bill Lawrence We got shafted. It damaged the show that we weren’t on earlier. I looked on the Cougar Town Facebook page today, and two of the first comments said, ”I thought this was canceled.”
Courteney Cox We’re doing everything we can to get people to realize we’re coming back. It’s been nine months!

What did ABC tell you about why you weren’t on the fall schedule?
Lawrence Early on, I think they just wanted to try Happy Endings in that time slot. I didn’t necessarily think their new shows would work, but they did. Suburgatory is good, and I love Happy Endings, but it is doing the same ratings that we did.

Before the show was given an airdate, you organized screenings of the new season for fans. What did you learn about Cougar Town viewers at those events?
Cox The Cougar Town fan is really devoted. They know everything about the show.
Lawrence The cool thing about broadcast television being like cable these days is that you can essentially market your own show and maybe move the dial enough to keep it on for a long time.

You’re paired with Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing. Do you think there’s any crossover between the two audiences?
Cox I doubt it, and I bet [ABC Entertainment president] Paul Lee probably doubts it. It’s not like those go hand in hand, other than they’re comedies.
Lawrence I worry that the Last Man Standing audience doesn’t realize that Cougar Town isn’t about older women having sex with younger guys.

Round 2
Red wine continued (Cox and EW), jalapeño margarita (Lawrence)

Cougar Town can be a racy show. What jokes didn’t make it past the censors?
Lawrence We had one joke that I wanted to do about Bobby’s trick with women was to kiss everything but the naughty parts, and he called it ”nunnilingus.” They wouldn’t let us say that on TV.
Cox The other day, Bobby [actor Brian Van Holt] couldn’t say ”pecker”! You can say ”frank and beans,” you can say ”tallywacker,” but you can’t say ”pecker”?

Round 3
Water (Cox and EW), margarita continued (Lawrence)

It’s serendipitous that you’re premiering on Valentine’s Day with the proposal between Jules (Cox) and Grayson (Josh Hopkins).
Cox Bill wrote and directed this episode. It’s so beautiful and it’s funny — everything you could ever want on Valentine’s Day.

David Arquette [whom Cox separated from in 2010] appears in the season finale as a hotel concierge. Is the role tongue-in-cheek?
Lawrence There’s a line in there that turned out to be winky. He says, ”I’m sorry, it’s been a really tough year.” Did you hear it?
Cox Yes! And David added a line. He goes, ”It’s been a really tough year…” And then he pauses and adds, ”…in the hospitality business!”

If things go well this season, do you think Cougar Town will get a chance to continue?
Lawrence If we get picked up next fall, the show will be on for a few more seasons. We all sense that this is the crossroads.

Today was your last day of shooting for season 3, and it could be the last day of shooting ever. Has it been hard?
Cox It hasn’t hit me yet. But it will make me sad either way because if we get picked up, I’ll have six months off [from the cast and crew]. If we don’t get picked up, we have forever off. So, yeah, it’s rough.

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