During my last press trip for Disney we also spent time at the ABC Building for screenings and interviews. I am very excited about the new ABC comedy Imaginary Mary. Be sure tune in on Tuesdays at 9:30|8:30c on ABC! I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Imaginary Mary just like we did!
Watch Imaginary Mary Tuesdays at 9:30|8:30c on ABC!
When we arrived at the ABC Building we first screen the pilot and second episode of Imaginary Mary.
We then interviewed Jenna Elfman (“Alice”) and Stephen Schneider (“Ben”) as well as the Executive Producers David Guarascio & Doug Robinson.
Creating Imaginary Mary
Executive Producer, Doug Robinson, said he had a meeting with an animator, Patrick Osborne (Academy Award winner for short film Feast), and they discussed ideas for a show. Patrick had always wanted to create a show about someone with an imaginary friend.
Doug produced The Goldbergs with Adam Goldberg who Doug said is very in touch with his inner child. Executive Producer, David Guarascio, was a writer on The Goldbergs so they brought him in and it all started to come together.
Doug said they came up with the idea of a divorced dad with kids who starts dating Alice, a single career woman with no plans for family. The concept of a divorced dad dating a single career woman who never intended to have kids was based on David’s life.
They sent the script to Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg) and she instantly declared that she wouldn’t be doing another network show. But after she learned it was on ABC and read the script she instantly fell in love with the idea. She felt like it would be a great new level of challenge for her career.
Characters: Alice and Ben
Stephen Schneider, who plays Ben, had just became a dad but never played a father on television. It was a great challenge for him and to be able to have the insanity of juggling three children. The chemistry between Jenna and Stephen clicked for them which makes it the perfect romantic comedy.
Stephen said he wasn’t sure what to expect when meeting Jenna for the first time since some successful actors can be absolute monsters. She was an absolute gem from day one. She was so kind and easy for him to work with so it was very easy to show that chemistry on set.
Jenna’s character Alice is very quirky which is a lot like real life. She said her husband is always pointing it out but in a fun way. Jenna is a super successful, independent woman just like her character. She’s a mom juggling a career just like many of us. She thought it would be fun to play a character complete opposite of her that knows nothing about children.
Jenna said it’s almost like a vacation playing the role of Alice. She doesn’t have to sacrifice anything. As a mom you never get “me” time or a Sunday on the couch. Alice has time, sleep, money and so much “me” time in her life that moms don’t have.
It’s been a bit of a learning curve for Jenna juggling the long filming days while also being a mom. She often wakes up at 3:30 in the morning to get to work by 5:00am. She’ll sometimes work sixteen hours days to get home in time to put her kids in bed. Her character’s life is perfect until she meets Ben and realizes she’s in a situation where she faces what every parent faces. Her life is no longer perfect.
Stephen’s wife is really his unsung hero because she’s with their daughter. They have to sacrifice a tremendous amount of time over an extended period which can be hard on families. Stephen was often wracked with guilt when he got home because he had been away filming for so long. He went on to tell us how moms are incredible and so willing to make sacrifices for the good of all the family. He is so right!
Stephen liked the idea of being able to play a single dad which you don’t see a lot of on television. He wants it to bring more humor and reality to a single dad who has custody of his children.
Laughter and Joy
Jenna hopes we all take laughter, joy and entertainment from Imaginary Mary. Our reaction to the show was everything to Jenna and Ben. That’s why they bring us these wonderful comedies to ABC. It’s a very relatable show for families and very funny.
The cast doesn’t take themselves too seriously which really allows them to connect. They are all very nice people as well as the kids. Stephen added that it also trickles down from the top. The producing team is very nice which helps create a great atmosphere for everyone.
Character: Imaginary Mary
Animator, Patrick Osborne, came up with the design of Mary. Mary is a big defender of Alice’s independence so they felt like they could get away with Mary saying more of what she shouldn’t say the cuter she looked.
It’s the first time in prime time comedy that there’s been a CGI character with live-action. Yes, Mary is a CGI character!
It’s something new, fresh and cool. – Jenna Elfman speaking of Imaginary Mary
When they did the pilot Shawn Levy would actually jump on a table and act out Mary. A lot of energy of Mary is Shawn’s DNA which was really great to see. He brought so much energy to the character which made it easier for Jenna to act like she was talking to the character.
Once Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live) read for the character of Mary it all instantly came together. It was a very interesting process for the producers.
Imaginary Mary Airs TONIGHT on ABC
Alice is on Mom Duty for the First Time, on the Season Premiere of ABC’s ‘Imaginary Mary’
“The Mom Seal” – When Ben asks Alice to help him with her first mom-like task to pick up Bunny from dance class, Mary quickly discovers the simplest parental tasks are fraught with difficulty. Afterwards, Ben is disappointed when Alice tells him she can’t help with the kids anymore, but things change when Andy enlists Alice’s help to overcome his fear of taking a driving test, on the season premiere of “Imaginary Mary,” TUESDAY, APRIL 4 (9:30–10:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network.
“Imaginary Mary” stars Jenna Elfman as Alice, Stephen Schneider as Ben, Rachel Dratch as Mary (VO), Nicholas Coombe as Andy, Matreya Scarrwener as Dora and Erica Tremblay as Bunny.
Guest starring is Diana Bang as Gigi, Dave Peniuk as Doctor, Nathan Jean as Man, Bronwen Smith as Megan, Aaron Hutchinson as Paramedic, Gabriel Vill as Waiter, Bethany Brown as Uninformed Millenial and Roberta Gardoni as Frazzled Mom.
“The Mom Seal” was written by Sarah Haskins & Emily Halpern and directed by Shawn Levy.
The live action/CGI hybrid comes from “The Goldbergs” team Adam F. Goldberg (writer/executive producer), David Guarascio (writer/executive producer) and Doug Robinson (executive producer). Mary CG animation is designed by Patrick Osborne (creator of Academy Award-winning animated short, “The Feast”), who is also executive producer. The pilot was directed by Shawn Levy (“Arrival,” “Night at the Museum,” “Cheaper by the Dozen”), who is also executive producer.
The series is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison and ABC Studios.
Watch Imaginary Mary Tuesdays at 9:30|8:30c on ABC!