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Things started with a bang during the “Psych” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The audience was shown a convention-exclusive clip by the cast, and one special guest.
In the video, four cast members — James Roday (Shawn Spencer), Dulé Hill (Burton “Gus” Guster), Maggie Lawson (Juliet O’Hara) and Tim Omundson (Carlton Lassiter) — are seen chatting, near a slumbering Curt Smith, from the band Tears for Fears. Omundson explains to Roday and Hill that he heard Smith loved seeing them perform “Shout” on the show last season, and encourages them to wake up Smith and perform the song for him.
Thinking that’s a fine idea, they disturb the sleeping Smith, who says, “You’re the guys from ‘Scrubs,’ right?” Meanwhile, Lawson asks Omundson why he’s being cruel to the pair. Ombudson explains, “Look, just because I’m not in character doesn’t mean I don’t hate those guys.” Roday and Hill begin to perform their rendition of “Shout” for Smith, who, upon discovering they used his song on “Psych” without his permission, leaves to call his attorney.
At the conclusion of the clip, the real Smith entered the stage, and performed a short version of “Shout” with Roday and Hill.
And with that, Andy Berman, an executive producer and writer, enthusiastically introduced the rest of the panel. In addition to the four previously mentioned, the group included Kirsten Nelson (Chief Karen Vick), Corbin Bernsen (Henry Spencer), Steve Franks (creator and executive producer), Kelly Kulchak (executive producer) and Chris Henze (executive producer).
The audience was then shown a compilation of funny clips from previous seasons and a preview of an upcoming episode. The latter featured a brief scene of Shawn and Gus entering a secret lab containing a variety of cherished geek TV and film props, including Admiral Adama’s Battlestar Galactica helmet from the original series and a Geordi La Forge visor from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Berman finally turned to the panel members with some questions.
The first question was announced as a question submitted by Steve Franks, and intended for Steve Franks. It asked, in part, “Why is ‘Psych’ the most awesomist show ever?” Franks responded, “I think it’s because of our fans? Is that sucking up too much?” to loud applause.
Berman then asked Franks, “What is the secret to keeping a show fresh after five years, and also what is the secret to keeping produce fresh?”
“If I may take the second part of the question first, Sprinkle Fresh is a product you can put on your produce to help with that, and also don’t put an onion next to a banana in the refrigerator, because that speeds up the ripening process,” Franks said with a deadpan look, to further laughter. “As for the show … it’s all about wish fulfillment. If we want to make a kung-fu episode, we make a kung0fu episode. We just finished a Curt Smith episode, from Tears for Fears. We just do what we think is fun.”
Asked what will be different in season five, Kulchak answered, “Kung fu, UFOs, Dulé tap-dancing … it’s 85-percent cooler than last season.”
On the topic of guest stars, which are a frequent occurrence on the show, Henze answered, “Adam Rodriguez from ‘CSI,’ Kirsten Nelson, an episode called ‘Viagra Falls’ with William Devane and Carl Weathers sort of playing the older Shawn and Gus, Nestor [Carbonell] from ‘Lost,’ Chi McBride, and Franka [Potente] from the ‘Bourne’ movies.”
Asked what the top 16 things are that come to mind that Hill and Roday do not like about the other, Hill said, “He has very good hair.” Roday offered, “I’ve always admired how Dulé can always keep a tan without working on it. I always have to work on it.”
Berman asked Roday, “You, Simon Baker and Nathan Fillion [actors from the show ‘Castle’] are heading into dinner. What would be the first course, and the topic of conversation?”
“Start with something gentlemanly, maybe cigars, and martinis,” Roday said. “And the topic of conversation would, of course, be hair. Maybe rank each other’s hair.”
Asked what the best advice Bernsen has for actors, he said, “When you’re working as an actor, stage, screen, television or even at a convention, you must do this: Never wear underwear when you work. You must always be pretty, and comfortable. So just think of that when you watch ‘Psych.’ Even when I am wearing a suit, there’s no underwear,” he said to groans from the rest of the panelists.
Lawson, whom Berman said was in a personal relationship with Roday outside of the show, was asked what was the difference between the real-life Roday, and the character he played “Psych.” “The character Shawn Spencer is an extrovert, while the real Roday is a bit more of an introvert,” she said. “I’d say Spencer is a boy, and Roday is a man.”
Turning the attention to writer-director Franks, Berman asked what he’s learned from directing. “It’s taught me more about writing than any class I’ve ever taken or all the experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “Knowing that you have to make the day with a crew of 50 people, you don’t overwrite, you try to make it as tight as possible. I became much more efficient. And, most importantly, the directing process. We have a room in Manhattan Beach, but it’s directed in Canada, and … it was kinda like we would shoot scripts off and then magically they would appear on television months later. Now I get to be there.”
Continuing with some rapid-fire questions from the moderator, the cast was asked who did the best Ukranian accent. “Dat would be me,” Omundson said with a reasonably good accent. And Swedish? “That goes something like dis,” said Nelson, sounding as if it were a practiced speech pattern.
Berman turned to questions from the audience, starting with “Who is the biggest culprit when it comes to breaking character during filming?” Nost of the cast pointed at Omundson. “I laugh like a little girl on the show,” he said. “I can’t help it, I am the worst actor in the world,” he said.
“And once I hear him start to go, I go,” Lawson said. “Whenever he’s grinning, he’s actually laughing.”
The cast was asked whether days on the set are as fun as they look on television. “The days are as fun as they seem, we have so much fun,” Hill said. “We pretty much spend 13 hours a day laughing.”
Roday was then asked why he raises his hand to the top of his head so often on the show, and if he does that in real life. A seemingly perplexed Roday responded, “If I do, I am doing it subconsciously.” Lawson asked, “Like, in your sleep?” garnering a quick response from Hill, “Naw, he doesn’t do it in his sleep, I see him asleep all the time!”
One audience member asked how many of the nicknames for Gus are improvised. “I think they started off being improv,” Roday said, “and everyone on our writing staff were thinking, ‘Well this is fun’ and now they’re mostly scripted. One from this upcoming season is ‘This is my partner Imhotep, he comes in peace’.”
Asked why the look of the show seemed different in the previous season, Franks explained “We moved to HD, because when we started we were shooting in Super 16. We also made a camera change.”
The cast was asked what costume they would choose if they could wear a disguise to walk the Comic-Con convention floor.
“A Pineapple,” said Bernsen. “Alf,” answered Roday. “Papa Smurf,” replied Hill. “Wonder Woman,” Lawson said. “Hit Girl,” said Nelson, to applause.
The panelists were asked about the inspiration for the running gag of have a pineapple hidden somewhere in the background of each episode. “I think we all like pineapple, it’s tough for any other fruit to compare” Roday joked. For the serious answer, Franks said, “I happened to work as the foreman at the enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, and that is where the pineapple thing comes from.”
Asked if there are any plans for any characters to marry on the show, Franks replied, “No. We haven’t even gotten them to kiss yet. For God’s sake, slow down!”
Will there ever be a “Psych” movie? “Every year we bring it up to Jeff .” Franks said. “Jeff is here please stand up. By the way, would anyone see a ‘Psyche’ movie?” “Wooo!” responded the audience.
“We’ve long had a desire at the end of a season to do a ‘Psych’ movie,” he continued. “If the demand were there and we could do it for the right price, yes we would. If we could.”
Asked about pranks on the set, Roday answered, “Dulé is very protective of his food. He specifically loves his PB&J’s. His good friend of many years knows this to be true. We swiped Dulé’s freshly made PB&J, took a big old bite out of it, and put it back on his chair while he wasn’t looking … which resulted in a fight that lasted for hours. No, seriously, it lasted for hours. ‘Who took a bite of my PB&J?'”
“PB&J’s are serious business,” Dulé said.
Asked how much input the actors have in the creative process, Hill answered, “Roday writes some of the episodes, so I talk to Roday, Roday talks to Steve, so we can add things.”
The panel closed with a special guest, described as an “amazing tap dancer and chorographer, Jason Samuel Smith!” Followed by Smith performing a tap-dance number, eventually joined by Hill as they danced to music near a stuffed pineapple.
As the presentation wrapped up, the departing audience was treated to a short blooper reel.