July 19, 2008
Is ‘Scrubs’ Calling It Quits? Maybe
By Scott D. Pierce Deseret News
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- "Scrubs" is moving from NBC to ABC this fall for its final season. Maybe.
"I would say that it is most likely Zach Braff's final year on the show ... Not by his choice," joked creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence.
That Braff and his character, J.D., will be leaving the show seems to be about the only thing that's certain. But the show might continue. Or it might not.
"The reason we won't say either way isn't because we know one way or the other," Lawrence said.
"It's just one of those never-say-never-type situations. We found ourselves reinvigorated this year creatively. I'm really proud of the show this year. ... I think they're as good as anything we've done."
(The show has been in production since the writers' strike ended and will wrap production by September.)
ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson was the head of the ABC/Disney television studio (which produces "Scrubs"), and when Lawrence first met with him about the show more than seven years ago, "He was really supportive when I pitched it as this show possibly being like 'ER' as a comedy, with some revolving cast members and putting new blood in."
And when "Scrubs" returns -- it's a midseason replacement for ABC -- there will be "some younger actors" who could possibly populate the show in a ninth season, while returning regulars become more the teachers.
"We cried a little when Bill said he's bringing young people out," said Sarah Chalke (who plays Elliot).
"These guys are like, 'WE'RE the young actors,"' Lawrence said. "So I said, 'Why don't you take a gander at the opening credits and look at how young you guys all look."'
"You think he's kidding, but he really said that," Braff added.
One way or another, there will be a big farewell at the end of the upcoming season. "We're certainly going to film the last one like it's young Zach Braff's exit and make a big deal out of it," Lawrence said.
And it's something he's been preparing for for a long time.
"The advantage this show has, having been on NBC, is that we thought it was our last season every year for the past five years. So the finale of the show has been written for about 4 1/2 years," Lawrence said. "We just have to change some pop culture references."
"Leaving my dead corpse. I get hit by a bus, right?" Braff said.
"I think that without giving away too much, the end of the show will be Zach leaving the hospital -- J.D. leaving the hospital," Lawrence said.
Could there be a show with Turk (Donald Faison) but not J.D.? That's part of what Lawrence called "a real conundrum."
"There's two things going on here. If Zach leaves the show, whether to go on or not," he said. "It's really tough. One of the deciding things is business. And I don't just mean making cash, because I'm fine. I'm fine ... Don't worry about me."
And while it's not so much a question of whether the actors will be able to find new jobs -- they're "all so talented they're going to work a lot" -- but there are hundreds of other people to think about.
"We've got a family there and a crew of people in a landscape right now that is not friendly to television production," Lawrence said. "And they love it there."
So he and the other writers would have to come up with a show that would be "redefined ... much like 'Frasier' was a show on its own after 'Cheers."'
Because "otherwise, we wouldn't do it."
And it sounds like they just might do it.
"I don't know if you guys know this," Lawrence said. "You can't kill this show. It's going to be on forever."
"It'll be on CBS the year after next," Braff said.
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ABC executives, unlike their NBC counterparts, actually visited the "Scrubs" set, which is in a vacated hospital in North Hollywood.
"It was a pleasant surprise to have people from the network come and visit our set, because no one's really done that in, like, six or seven years," Lawrence said. "But it was just because Courteney Cox was there. I thought it was to see me. I'm like, 'Hey, it's good to see you guys.'
"And then they were talking to Courteney."
(The ex-"Friends" star will play the new hospital chief of staff in three "Scrubs" episodes.)
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