What’s new for primetime TV? Find out with this exclusive Jenna Elfman & Stephen Schneider Interview for Imaginary Mary, an all-new show on ABC. Disney & ABC invited me out to LA to interview the cast and crew of The Catch. All opinions are my own. Travel and accommodations were covered.
Jenna Elfman & Stephen Schneider Interview | Why Imaginary Mary Will Be the Most Adorable Show on Primetime #ImaginaryMary
Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual. Dealing with the everyday stresses of being a mom can be completely overwhelming. And in a first for Primetime ABC, cute and cuddly Disney-inspired CGI animation combines with modern family meets romantic comedy with amazing results. I sat down with the Imaginary Mary stars Jenna Elfman, Stephen Schneider and Executive Producers David Guarascio and Doug Robinson for a hilarious Q&A. Find out why Elfman was 100% against this show, who’s the surprising animator behind the creation of cartoon character Mary, and more.
The story concept is hilariously relateable
Single, successful and 100% me-me-me, Jenna Elfman is Alice, an adorable career-focused woman who just started dating Ben (aka Stephen Schneider), a divorced dad raising 3 kids. Faced with the anxiety of balancing love with complete child-rearing phobia, Alice manifests her childhood imaginary friend, Mary, to help her navigate through her life – in a hilarious, mischievous journey. Using humor, real-life experiences of Executive Producer David Guarascio and a cute and cuddly CGI character facade, parenthood becomes laugh-out-loud relief from the stresses of daily life.
I think in today’s day and age, when you get divorced, you really try and do it the best you possibly can. I started dating a single career woman who really did not plan to have family in her life. I was just too charming, so I broke through all that. I would just tell these stories about my wife, what she did with trying to slowly get integrated into life with my kids and we just thought it’d be a great idea for a TV show.
Loved Dharma and Greg? Jenna Elfman is back and better than ever in her starring television role. Surprisingly, Jenna Elfman had no intention on ever returning to network TV, but then Imaginary Mary gave her a new challenge.
I had said to my agents, I’m not doing another network show. Don’t even bring it to me. I’d become so frustrated with my experiences in the last several years with network television. But it hadn’t been on ABC. I hadn’t been on ABC since Dharma and Greg.
And then I read Imaginary Mary. It’s just so interesting. I love that there’s the romantic part as the leading lady, and then there’s the fish out of water aspect with the kids because she’s just has no point of reference for dealing with children at all, has no plan for it, and has a negative point of reference of child-rearing. Then she’s super accomplished; she’s a woman on her own, which I liked. Then as an actor dealing with comedy, I have to now also deal with something that doesn’t exist but that I see, but that they don’t see, and then do physical comedy, and fish out of water, and that’s a lot of balls to juggle. I felt like I can take that on, and it felt like the next new level of challenge for me. I just couldn’t find a reason not to do it.
You’re going to fall in love with Stephen Schneider
He’s cute. Single. And ready to mingle – well, with 3 kids in tow. This single dad is raising 3 kids on his own – and this mom couldn’t find him more attractive. In his first starring role, Stephen Schneider tackles single dad parenthood and love head-on. A new dad himself, I found it easy to fall in love with this dad-next-door. I think you will too.
I had just become a dad myself, and I’ve never played a father on TV. So it was a very cool challenge to have the insanity of juggling three children. I like the ability to play a single dad. You don’t see that a ton on TV, a good guy that’s just trying to do the best for his kids. When I read Imaginary Mary, I just thought it was really funny. It was grounded in a great way, yet it had this really different interesting element. It’s fun to be a part of something that’s new and this has never been done as a network comedy before where there’s an animated character.
Because Imaginary Mary is flipping adorable…in a sassy inner id sort of way
So who exactly can we thank for the round and cuddly character, Mary? He actually may be closer to your Disney heart than you thought. Patrick Osborne, the creator of the award-winning short “Feast” joins the Imaginary Mary team. But creating this imaginary friend was a lot harder than it looked according to Doug Robinson.
I had a meeting with animator Patrick Osborne, who won the Academy Award for a short film called Feast. We were sitting down talking, and I said, “Do you have any ideas that you wanna do in television?” And he said, “I’ve always wanted to do a show about somebody who has an imaginary friend.” He really came up with the design and sort worked with us on what she would look like. He wanted to do something that was loveable-looking. An important part of Mary’s character is that she’s not always saying the right thing. Mary is a defender of Alice’s independent streak and her feminist side. We felt like we could get away with Mary saying more of what she shouldn’t say if the cuter Mary looked, really. It was hard. We had a lot of different concepts, shot a pilot with one aspect, and kept tweaking it until we finally came to this look here.
It’s the comedic relief answer to parenthood that we all need
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. And finding relief from the daily stress can be really hard to come by. But Jenna Elfman hopes Imaginary Mary gives us parents just a little more “life juice.”
Personally, I just wanna make people have relief, you know? We’re all in this together. We know how hard it is. Life’s freakin’ hard. Laughter, and joy and entertainment, feeling better about the lives we’re living, that’s why I do it. Imaginary Mary removes you from the stresses of life for that moment. And in those moments, you rehabilitate a little more life juice to go on.
Ending our Beauty and the Beast press tour journey with ABC’s Imaginary Mary was the perfect way to finish on a hilarious high note. I was LOL-ing through the first episode, and honestly cannot wait to see more. Have you been following along our #BeOurGuestEvent journey? Catch up here:
- Beauty and the Beast Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
- Exclusive Emma Watson & Dan Stevens Interview
- Exclusive Josh Gad & Luke Evans Interview
- Exclusive Audra McDonald & Gugu Mbatha-Raw Interview
- Exclusive Alan Menken & Bill Condon Interview
- Beauty and the Beast Dinner Party at Williams Sonoma
- Behind-the-Scenes of Moana from the Disney Animation Building
- Tangled Before Ever After + Tangled the Series Interview
- Milo Murphy’s Law Interview with creators Dan Povenmire & Jeff Marsh
- ABC’s The Catch Interview with Sonya Walger & Allan Heinberg
- Baby Daddy Season 6 Interview
- Best Beauty and the Beast Gift Ideas for Your Little Belle
And get ready for the newest primetime show, Imaginary Mary, premiering tonight, April 4th, on ABC. Be sure to follow Imaginary Mary on Twitter at @ImaginaryMaryTV, Facebook.com/ImaginaryMary and hashtag #ImaginaryMary.
Catch the all-new hilarious and adorable show, Imaginary Mary, starring Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider TONIGHT 4/4 at 9:30/10 pm ET on ABC.
I was invited to attend an all-inclusive press trip, sponsored by Disney. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more Disney insider information, movie updates and entertainment!