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Interview with Dule Hill and Steve Franks of Psych

I was lucky enough to spend a pretty hilarious 45 minutes on a conference call with Dule Hill (Gus) and Steve Franks (showrunner, creator, writer, and director) of Psych. Both were absolutely sincere in their love of and appreciation for their fans. What follows is my attempt to capture the answers to most of the questions. A complete transcript will be posted when it becomes available. I urge you to come back and read that as there were some really hilarious exchanges and stories that I wasn’t able to capture.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of social media associated with the show?

Dule: Interacting with fans. I like the engagement and being able to tweet in real time.

Q. Steve, do you get to learn more about the fans? I know you aren’t on Twitter yourself.

Steve: I’m not on Twitter, but I get a sneak peak over others’ shoulders. Everyone has been bugging me to join. I will do it this year.

We get great feedback from those who love the show. We pay a lot of attention to what our fans like. Our fans are just good people. They’re nice people. We draw such a positive group of people.

Q. You’ve already been renewed for season 8, but it’s a short episode count. Can you say what’s coming up in season 8?

Steve: We asked for the quick pick up. We didn’t want to lose the great crew we have. We aren’t even in the writers’ room yet! It was a tremendous leap of faith by the network. We’re very grateful they’ve allowed us to run with the ball. In season 8, we want to push the envelop even further than we have so far.

We can’t wait for people to see season 7. The quality of the show has gone up again.

We wanted to make sure we got an early pick up because Maggie Lawson is also doing a pilot. We know that once the show ends, everyone on Psych is going to go on and do great things.

We are hoping to get more episodes for season 8 and hoping to be back at Comic Con.

Q. Dule, you finally get a girlfriend. How would you describe Gus as a boyfriend?

Dule: He’s perfect. He’s made a list and checked it twice. He’s had lots of time to do research, draw up charts on how to be the best.

Q. Any dating scenes with Gus and Rachel?

Dule: We shot this so long ago, I can’t remember... we go to a carnival or circus?

Steve: You go to a circus, miniature golfing...

Dule: Gus tries to come up with exciting things, but it doesn’t always work out the way he plans.

Q. What can you tell us about the musical episode?

Steve: We shot this all a year ago! I used the whole season so I’d be able to pull off the musical. I sued the other episodes to get a running start to give me time to work on the musical. I shut myself in my office with my acoustic guitar and came up with the songs.

I took it all in steps, so I didn’t get overwhelmed with it all. First, I came up with the songs and story, then the script, then the songs had to be orchestrated, and production.

The most fun and difficult thing was when we actually did it. There was no time for Dule or James to rehearse. They often saw the choreography on the day of shooting or maybe the weekend before. It was wonderful and life-affirming to be done with it.

Dule: The entire cast was impressed with how Steve did the job he did. He wrote the music and the scrip, he directed, and he kept things running in LA. There was no extra time for shooting this episode.

Aside: Steve revealed that he had to demonstrate some of the choreography, which he maintained looked hilarious with all 6’8” of him flailing about.

Q. Were there any surprises on the musical as to who was talented and who wasn’t as good as you thought they would be?

Steve: Dule was more talented than you could imagine!

Dule: Steve! He wrote the music and the episode and he sang! I was impressed with the entire cast: Maggie Lawson, Tim Omundson, Kurt Fuller, Kristen Nelson. And we all know James Roday can sing.

Steve: Kirsten Nelson doesn’t sing much but blows it out of the park when she does. Kurt wanted someone to dub him but we finally convinced him to sing and it’s great. It wouldn’t be as funny if it wasn’t him singing.

Q. How will Gus and Shawn’s relationship change now that Gus has a girlfriend?

Dule: You can’t throw a stone in a pond without a ripple, but they are still going to have their strong relationship.

Steve: There is at least one double date.

Q. Dule, do you and James practice your riffs and fist bump moments, or are they ad-libbed?

Dule: They are really organic. They happen and then get fine tuned through subsequent takes. The happen in the moment.

Steve: My favorites are when they start from an idea in one take and then just build on it. The most ridiculous it can get, the more happy I am. One of my favorite runs was the one about players and what player do. It started with the GPS watch and why one would have one and it just ran from there with something getting added in each take. About them taking long walks deep in the woods and getting lost and getting hypothermia.

The joy of the show is them going off on a tangent that obviously means so much to them.

Q. If Gus couldn’t drive the Blueberry, what would he drive?

Dule: I don’t understand the question. (question repeated) I don’t understand. (question repeated) I don’t understand... (laughter) It would be an alternate universe! It wouldn’t happen. Well, maybe a Cranberry or Pineapple or some other kind of berry.

Steve: What was the origin of it...

Dule: It was Tim Curry riffing on it. It wasn’t in the script.

Steve: Curry said this car makes me want to weep and then die.

Q. Do you really like pineapple?

Dule: I love pineapple! People can send me pineapple and I will eat them.

Steve: Pineapple is an international welcome symbol. We’re helping with the sales.

Q. What is your favorite non-Gus name that Shawn has given you?

Dule: “Gus-silly-pants-Jackson” from the wedding episode. It took everything I had not to break in that scene.

Steve: “Lavender-gooms”. I love when they have more than one meaning. I already have a favorite from this season, but I won’t tell you and spoil it even though you are SpoilerTv!

Q. Any plans to release a CD of the musical episode?

Steve: They’d be fools not to do that. It will be a special two-hour event after the season airs – not during the season.

We should set people up to picket outside the USA offices to demand it air during the season... Outside of Brad Bernstein’s offices...

Q. Will we ever see Chief Vick’s spouse?

Steve: We’re keeping it in our back pocket. Maybe in season 17. We’re keeping the suspense alive.

Q. Are Shawn and Juliet breaking up?

Steve: They have a giant secret that hasn’t been addressed. I won’t spoil it because it’s more fun to find out what happens. Our show is a joyous place. Nothing too awful is going to happen.

Q. Dule, do you want to direct?

Dule: No. I don’t want to hop behind the camera.

Q. Is there a single moment, episode, or theme that stands out for you?

Dule: Our 100th episode. The “Clue” episode. We have a great guest cast, the cast of Clue. It’s the icing on the cake of all the great guest stars we’ve had over the seasons.

Q. Any other surprises aside from the musical and Gus’ girlfriend?

Steve: My cameo for 3 ½ seconds – it will define the season... (laughter).

Dule: People will be surprised by what happens to Henry...

Steve: We have a lot of fun. We’re taking our characters on a journey and we’re moving the story a lot further than we have before. We’re doing a found footage episode that James directed. The Clue episode is a fast, fun episode.

The drama this season will be surprising and the comedy will slap you in the face. After seven years, it still feels like it’s getting better. We love getting up to Canada and doing this. We’re happy to do this as long as we can.

End Interview

The interview ended with Dule and Steve taking a minute to say hi to a fan who is the sister of one of the interviewers on the call. Steve then refused to hang up before the following final remarks.

Steve: We appreciate your support. We’re a grassroots show. It’s why we have such a diehard fan base.

Don’t forget to watch season seven, beginning next week, Wednesday, February 27 on USA.

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