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Denis Leary Calls Elizabeth Gillies His ‘Secret Evil Plan’ to Boost ‘Sex& Drugs’

Denis Leary delivered his usual rowdy session on Sunday in introducing his new FX comedy, “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” at Sunday’s Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Despite Leary’s salty language and blunt banter (for instance, jabbing PBS for having two days at TCA), the comedian focused the crowd’s attention on the breakout potential of the actress who plays his daughter, Elizabeth Gillies.

Gillies is best known for her starring role on Nickelodeon’s “Victorious,” which means “Sex&Drugs” marks her graduation to adult roles.

“I had to have a girl who could really sing rock ‘n’ roll, and would be willing to sing live on set because I wanted the vocals to be recorded live,” Leary said, adding that his cast of musicians had to be sexy, dramatic, comedic and have the ability to improvise. “I really wanted to capture the vocals live. Any audience at home now knows if you’re faking it.”

Leary — who created the series and stars as has-been musician Johnny Rock, who’s desperately trying to return to success in the music biz — discussed his plans to release the show’s original music on iTunes, much like Fox’s “Empire.” He’s hopeful that Gillies’ fanbase will attract listeners. (Gillies joked that her young viewers will grow up quickly.)

“My secret evil plan is that Liz Gilles has so many f—ing fans from when she was on Nickelodeon,” Leary said, of the 21-year-old actress who blew him away at her audition when she sang an Aretha Franklin song.

“She was completely f—ing unimpressed by me,” Leary quipped. “Every time I threw something at her, she threw it back in my face. She was unbelievable.”

Leary has also recruited a number of real-life rock stars for guest shots and cameos. The original music in the show also features some “satirical songs where the characters are making fun of a musician or a certain type of music.”

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” also stars John Corbett, Bobby Kelly and Elaine Hendrix. Kelly spiced up the TCA panel, offering $100 to the first journalist to ask him a question.

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