NATPE: Early call for “House” trio

Hugh “Droll” Laurie has that “what am I doing here” look on his face as the 8 am gabfest with him and “House” exec producers David Shore and Katie Jacobs.
He warms up as he talks about directing his first seg, which he wrapped this week. He joked that he was now “in the three day’s grace before they see it,” Laurie said, referring to Shore and Jacobs. “And then our relationship may change.”
Good question from moderator Chris Harrison. How was Laurie the actor like to work for Laurie the director?
“I was nearly impossible,” he said. “I’m still in my trailer.”
Laurie added that he was fortunate to have for formidable David Strathairn in the episode.
Laurie recalled the process of getting cast in the NBC Universal-produced Fox drama. When he first met with Bryan Singer, who helmed the pilot, “he was eating a tuna sandwich…and he didn’t stop eating the sandwich.”
The subject of the show’s strong success internationally came up. Laurie admits he’s surprised by it, because it’s such a wordy and character-dense show with “a very particular verbal tone,” he said.
“We don’t have that many car chases, ticking bombs or exploding elevators,” he said. “We’re very grateful to somebody somewhere with a large dictionary and thesaurus” who handles the translations.
Other tidbits:
** “House” was chased after by ABC and Fox when it was first in development.

** Then-Fox programming chief Gail Berman convinced Jacobs that the Dr. Gregory House character should not be in a wheelchair, as originally envisioned. The sight of him walking with a cane was much more powerful.

** About that American accent, Laurie admits he does work at it, though when he’s on camera he tries not to think about working at it. “It doesn’t get easier.” While he was directing it was funny for him to switch back and forth, Shore noted.

** They tried the character with a British accent “for about a minute,” Shore said. Laurie got through two sentences and that was it. House remained a true-blue Yankee.

** The question of the death of Kal Penn’s character comes up. Laurie sounds like he’d vote for Penn for president. (Penn left the show to work for the Obama administration.) “Kal Penn is a ferociously intelligent, kind and funny person,” Laurie said, “exactly the sort of bloke you would hope would wind up working for the president.”

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