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Old 01-28-2012, 07:22 AM   #1
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Thought Marla Gibbs Talks About 'The Jeffersons' & Her Spin-Off 'Checking In'

AVC: What was it like walking into a sitcom that, by virtue of being a spinoff of All In The Family, was instantly high-profile?

MG: I guess it was. But I didn’t know any of that stuff. [Laughs.] I went over to meet with the casting person, and I had been over to their office for an audition before, but it seemed as though she didn’t pay any attention to me, as if I wasn’t even in the room. But this time she paid attention to me, and I think that was because my agent had written an open letter to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that her clients weren’t being seen. So everybody was trying to make sure that they were seeing them. [Laughs.] So she liked what I did and took me over to the producers, where I did the same thing. And when I got home, I had a call saying that I’d gotten the part. So that was exciting.

AVC: You and Sherman Hemsley had a great chemistry on the show…

MG: Yes, we did. [Laughs.]

AVC: How long did it take to build and hone that chemistry?

MG: That was something that just kind of evolved gradually. Mother Jefferson—Zara Cully—was the nemesis for Isabel [Sanford], so she worked more than I did, because our characters were pretty much the same. But as time went on, my character caught on, and then of course Zara was beginning to age, and as she became ill and declined, so they started using me more and more. It started out that I was in seven out of 13, then 10 out of 13, and then I was doing all the shows. Sherman’s character, actually, was the one who hired me. Not Isabel’s, the way everybody thinks. Mrs. Jefferson did not want me as the maid. She didn’t want a maid at all. She felt it was too pretentious. Mr. Jefferson, of course, wanted a maid because the Willises had a maid. And everything I said, she was trying to say, “No, see there, she won’t do it,” and he was saying, “No, she’s wonderful!” Everybody thinks it was the other way around. But as time went on and the character started to evolve, he began to grow more obnoxious, and I began to put him in his place. [Laughs.]

AVC: Did you draw from any particular influences when you were playing the part?

MG: My grandmother and my aunt, and the different people that were around them. Some were maids. And my mother, she wasn’t a maid, she was a cleaning woman, but the way she acted, she acted like it was her house. She got on my nerves, really. [Laughs.] So I took my lead from them.

AVC: Do you have any particular favorite episodes from the series that stand out for you?

MG: Oh, I have too many. [Laughs.] One where Ralph the Doorman—played by Ned Wertimer, who’s still a close friend of mine—and I were playing the Willises, because another interracial couple was coming. Mr. Jefferson had gotten into an argument with the Willises, so he got Ralph and I to pretend we were them because he wanted to impress the couple and make it seem like he was good friends with the Willises. And then, of course, the real Willises come down. [Laughs.] It was a very funny episode.

AVC: Was it ever an issue with the rest of the cast that Florence got so many of the good punchlines?

MG: No. And if it ever threatened to be, I would always defuse it. Isabel would look at me sometimes and say, “Is that what you’re gonna say?” I’d say, “Not if you don’t want me to.” And she’d fall out laughing. Because I was very comfortable with her being the star of the show, and we did not try to usurp her. Everybody called her “Her Liege.” I called her “Her Ledgie.” [Laughs.] It was just such a family. It was just wonderful.

Isabel and Sherman loved to eat, and they’d get little snacks and hide them around the set. And I’d see where they hid them, and I’d go move them. [Laughs.] And then I’d look all innocent. Isabel would be, like, “I had a cookie! I had a cookie right there! Who moved my cookie?” And I just looked at her, and I’d try to help her find it. Sherman would hide his in the kitchen, and when he left, I’d hide them in the drawer. And he’d be reaching through the swing door, trying to grab it between takes, but since I’d moved it, he’d near about fall into the kitchen reaching for it. [Laughs.] We all played jokes like that on each other.

AVC: What are your thoughts on Checking In, where they tried to spin Florence off into her own series?

MG: I never wanted to leave The Jeffersons in the first place. They kept trying to get me to leave, and I just didn’t want to do it. I said, “I’d rather be No. 9 on a hit than No. 1 on a flop.” [Laughs.] And they were trying to tell me how great it would be for Florence to be the head of housekeeping at a hotel, and I said, “I don’t even know who that person is! When I get to a hotel I see the doorman, I see the desk clerk, the cashier, the maid. But I do not see the head of housekeeping. So who is she, and what does she do? I have to go see who she is.” So they said, “Well, we can’t fly you to New York.” I said, “They have hotels in Los Angeles!”

So they sent me to the Ambassador, and I followed their head of housekeeping around. Then they sent me to the Century Plaza, which was one of my favorite hotels, a corporate hotel, and I followed their head of housekeeping around. And finally I said, “Okay.” So then we did the series, and we did absolutely nothing that I saw. [Laughs.] They didn’t want to focus on that. They wanted to construct and develop a relationship like Sherman and I had, and they wanted to do that with the manager of the hotel, who was always trying to fire me but couldn’t, because the owner of the hotel hired me. But they couldn’t build that same relationship like the one I had with Sherman, because if he said certain things, then it’d sound like he was being racist rather than authoritative.

AVC: The spinoff only lasted for four episodes. How did they manage to bring Florence back?

MG: They said the hotel burned down. [Laughs.] And I had it in my contract, since I didn’t want to leave in the first place, that they had to bring me back, they had to pay me my same salary, and they had to pay me for any episodes that I missed while they were trying to bring me back on. So they got me back on in a hurry. [Laughs.] I did that because I remembered that when Whitman Mayo went off to do his spinoff from Sanford And Son [Grady], he told me the horror story about when he came back and the different cuts they wanted to do. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me!



http://www.avclub.com/articles/marla-gibbs,68142/
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Brian Damage
AVC: What was it like walking into a sitcom that, by virtue of being a spinoff of All In The Family, was instantly high-profile?

MG: I guess it was. But I didn’t know any of that stuff. [Laughs.] I went over to meet with the casting person, and I had been over to their office for an audition before, but it seemed as though she didn’t pay any attention to me, as if I wasn’t even in the room. But this time she paid attention to me, and I think that was because my agent had written an open letter to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that her clients weren’t being seen. So everybody was trying to make sure that they were seeing them. [Laughs.] So she liked what I did and took me over to the producers, where I did the same thing. And when I got home, I had a call saying that I’d gotten the part. So that was exciting.

AVC: You and Sherman Hemsley had a great chemistry on the show…

MG: Yes, we did. [Laughs.]

AVC: How long did it take to build and hone that chemistry?

MG: That was something that just kind of evolved gradually. Mother Jefferson—Zara Cully—was the nemesis for Isabel [Sanford], so she worked more than I did, because our characters were pretty much the same. But as time went on, my character caught on, and then of course Zara was beginning to age, and as she became ill and declined, so they started using me more and more. It started out that I was in seven out of 13, then 10 out of 13, and then I was doing all the shows. Sherman’s character, actually, was the one who hired me. Not Isabel’s, the way everybody thinks. Mrs. Jefferson did not want me as the maid. She didn’t want a maid at all. She felt it was too pretentious. Mr. Jefferson, of course, wanted a maid because the Willises had a maid. And everything I said, she was trying to say, “No, see there, she won’t do it,” and he was saying, “No, she’s wonderful!” Everybody thinks it was the other way around. But as time went on and the character started to evolve, he began to grow more obnoxious, and I began to put him in his place. [Laughs.]

AVC: Did you draw from any particular influences when you were playing the part?

MG: My grandmother and my aunt, and the different people that were around them. Some were maids. And my mother, she wasn’t a maid, she was a cleaning woman, but the way she acted, she acted like it was her house. She got on my nerves, really. [Laughs.] So I took my lead from them.

AVC: Do you have any particular favorite episodes from the series that stand out for you?

MG: Oh, I have too many. [Laughs.] One where Ralph the Doorman—played by Ned Wertimer, who’s still a close friend of mine—and I were playing the Willises, because another interracial couple was coming. Mr. Jefferson had gotten into an argument with the Willises, so he got Ralph and I to pretend we were them because he wanted to impress the couple and make it seem like he was good friends with the Willises. And then, of course, the real Willises come down. [Laughs.] It was a very funny episode.

AVC: Was it ever an issue with the rest of the cast that Florence got so many of the good punchlines?

MG: No. And if it ever threatened to be, I would always defuse it. Isabel would look at me sometimes and say, “Is that what you’re gonna say?” I’d say, “Not if you don’t want me to.” And she’d fall out laughing. Because I was very comfortable with her being the star of the show, and we did not try to usurp her. Everybody called her “Her Liege.” I called her “Her Ledgie.” [Laughs.] It was just such a family. It was just wonderful.

Isabel and Sherman loved to eat, and they’d get little snacks and hide them around the set. And I’d see where they hid them, and I’d go move them. [Laughs.] And then I’d look all innocent. Isabel would be, like, “I had a cookie! I had a cookie right there! Who moved my cookie?” And I just looked at her, and I’d try to help her find it. Sherman would hide his in the kitchen, and when he left, I’d hide them in the drawer. And he’d be reaching through the swing door, trying to grab it between takes, but since I’d moved it, he’d near about fall into the kitchen reaching for it. [Laughs.] We all played jokes like that on each other.

AVC: What are your thoughts on Checking In, where they tried to spin Florence off into her own series?

MG: I never wanted to leave The Jeffersons in the first place. They kept trying to get me to leave, and I just didn’t want to do it. I said, “I’d rather be No. 9 on a hit than No. 1 on a flop.” [Laughs.] And they were trying to tell me how great it would be for Florence to be the head of housekeeping at a hotel, and I said, “I don’t even know who that person is! When I get to a hotel I see the doorman, I see the desk clerk, the cashier, the maid. But I do not see the head of housekeeping. So who is she, and what does she do? I have to go see who she is.” So they said, “Well, we can’t fly you to New York.” I said, “They have hotels in Los Angeles!”

So they sent me to the Ambassador, and I followed their head of housekeeping around. Then they sent me to the Century Plaza, which was one of my favorite hotels, a corporate hotel, and I followed their head of housekeeping around. And finally I said, “Okay.” So then we did the series, and we did absolutely nothing that I saw. [Laughs.] They didn’t want to focus on that. They wanted to construct and develop a relationship like Sherman and I had, and they wanted to do that with the manager of the hotel, who was always trying to fire me but couldn’t, because the owner of the hotel hired me. But they couldn’t build that same relationship like the one I had with Sherman, because if he said certain things, then it’d sound like he was being racist rather than authoritative.

AVC: The spinoff only lasted for four episodes. How did they manage to bring Florence back?

MG: They said the hotel burned down. [Laughs.] And I had it in my contract, since I didn’t want to leave in the first place, that they had to bring me back, they had to pay me my same salary, and they had to pay me for any episodes that I missed while they were trying to bring me back on. So they got me back on in a hurry. [Laughs.] I did that because I remembered that when Whitman Mayo went off to do his spinoff from Sanford And Son [Grady], he told me the horror story about when he came back and the different cuts they wanted to do. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me!



http://www.avclub.com/articles/marla-gibbs,68142/



CBS was the reason Checking failed, not the show. Stupid scheduling and poor casting
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:48 PM   #3
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CBS was the reason Checking failed, not the show. Stupid scheduling and poor casting


But how could a show really succeed if the star wants no part of it???
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brian Damage
But how could a show really succeed if the star wants no part of it???


Very good point, I didn't think of that. She probably didn't put her all in it since she was crazy about the idea from the start.
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:52 PM   #5
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Very good point, I didn't think of that. She probably didn't put her all in it since she was crazy about the idea from the start.


Exactly, something tells me Marla Gibbs was the reason for Checking In's failure more than anything else.
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Brian Damage
Exactly, something tells me Marla Gibbs was the reason for Checking In's failure more than anything else.


And we can't even sample the show to find out for sure if she was not into it.


DAMM!!!!!!!
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:01 PM   #7
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Sadly, I think you are right, but judging solely from the backdoor pilot, it didn't look too good anyway. lol
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brian Damage
Sadly, I think you are right, but judging solely from the backdoor pilot, it didn't look too good anyway. lol


we can't judge from the pilot because George was still involved
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Old 01-28-2012, 07:48 PM   #9
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we can't judge from the pilot because George was still involved


I know, but aside from George Jefferson, the episode wasn't all that good.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:03 PM   #10
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I know, but aside from George Jefferson, the episode wasn't all that good.


but it still a jeffersons episode with jefferson writers. lol
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:07 AM   #11
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Looks like they tried too hard.
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