Tuned In: 'Sullivan & Son' returns with re-introductions
June 9, 2013 8:00 AM
There's plenty of cheering for Pittsburgh teams from Valerie Azlynn, Owen Benjamin, Roy Wood Jr., Steve Byrne and Ahmed Ahmedon "Sullivan & Son."
By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There's a curious title for the second-season premiere of TBS's "Sullivan & Son": It's called "The Pilot, One More Time" (10 p.m. Thursday).
Set in a Pittsburgh bar and starring former Pittsburgher Steve Byrne, a 1992 graduate of Hampton High School, the season two "Sullivan" premiere restates its premise for viewers who missed the show's 10-episode first season.
"We're on in the middle of summer and we only get 10 episodes, so we're gone for 42 weeks of the year," Mr. Byrne said in a recent phone interview. "We have to reintroduce ourselves. We wanted to redo the pilot one more time for folks to understand it's about having those things in life that matter. It's always about being with family and friends."
Mr. Byrne stars as Steve Sullivan, a successful corporate attorney in New York who returns home to Pittsburgh to run the family bar and spend time with his mom (Jodi Long), dad (Dan Lauria) and a gang of friends who are bar regulars.
'Sullivan & Son'
When: 10 p.m. Thursday, TBS.
Starring: Steve Byrne.
As is often the case in TV shows, the first season of "Sullivan" proved to be a shakedown cruise. The show also featured 11 regular or semi-regular characters in its first season. For season two, one barfly, Doug (Brian Scolaro), has been dropped while the rest have been added to the opening credit sequence.
"Over the course of those first 10 episodes we would try things out and see what worked and what didn't work," Mr. Byrne said. "Toward the end of the first season we figured out what works for each character and each actor and I think when we came back into the second season we had clear-cut, definitive voices for each character."
In addition, "Sullivan" has its guest cast to consider. In season one that included Pittsburgh native Billy Gardell ("Mike & Molly"), who will return in a season two episode.
"I felt like we never did him justice. He was just a facilitator," Mr. Byrne said. "We brought Billy in the writer's room [before season two] and hammered out something that I think will be pretty darn funny. He and I will be adversaries in this episode."
Mr. Byrne is also trying to arrange for WDVE-FM morning hosts Randy Baumann and Bill Crawford to appear in the episode with Mr. Gardell.
"Community" and "Hangover" star Ken Jeong guest stars in the second-season premiere as Steve's brother-in-law. Mr. Byrne and Mr. Jeong had actually been collaborating on "an 'Entourage' for nerds that took place in Silicon Valley" when Mr. Jeong became an overnight star thanks to "The Hangover."
The show's Pittsburgh references continue unabated in the second season, including characters chanting "Let's go Pens!" while watching TV. In the second episode, Steve's former love interest Melanie (Valerie Azlynn) declares, "There's nobody datable in Pittsburgh!"
Mr. Byrne said the bar's exterior is a building on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank but, "We had a crew go out to Pittsburgh and film a bunch of exterior shots of the city itself.
"That's one of the things I'm really proud of about out show," he continued. "We didn't make it a traditional NewYork-Los Angeles-Chicago kind of sitcom. I love the fact that it takes place in Pittsburgh. Working on the show makes me miss it even more."
He'll be back Aug. 9 when the "Sullivan & Son" Comedy Tour returns for a show at the Byham Theater with co-stars Ahmed Ahmed, Owen Benjamin and Roy Wood Jr.
Eagle-eyed viewers might spot a new Pittsburgh sports jersey in the background. It belongs to Lee Mazzilli, who played for the Pirates from 1983 to 1986.
On the day of our chat, Mr. Byrne was still recovering from an incident that delayed production for six weeks. Three episodes had been filmed when he was "attacked by a cab driver" in Los Angeles. Mr. Byrne's jaw was broken and wired shut and he was on a liquid diet for the duration. His jaw was broken the same day Penguins star Sidney Crosby suffered the same injury in late March.
"I was almost judging my own recovery time line by his," Mr. Byrne said. "He got back a week earlier than I did."
Mr. Byrne could not discuss specifics of the incident, calling it "a pending legal matter."
Rob Owen writes this Sunday TV column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook. First Published June 9, 2013 4:00 AM