Ed aired from October 2000 until February 2004 on NBC.
Ed ( Tom Cavanaugh), was a tall, goofy New York attorney who, after being fired and finding his wife cheating on him-both on the same day-decided it was time to start over. He moved to his small hometown of Stuckeyville, Ohio, to pursue the pretty girl he had adored in High School, but whom he had always been to shy to ask out.. Carol ( Julie Bowen), a teacher and an aspiring writer, was romantically involved with someone else and wasn't interested. But Ed hung around, buying the local bowling alley, The Stuckeybowl , on a whim and setting up his practice there. He reunited with his school chum Mike ( Josh Randall), now a doctor married to busy Nancy ( Jana Marie Hupp), and met the staff of his new business: ever-scamming manager Phil ( Michael Ian Black), slightly dense Shirley ( Rachel Cronlin), who tended the food and beverage counter, and amiable Kenny ( Mike Starr), the handyman. Molly ( Leslie Boone ), was Carol's chubby, brassy best friend and fellow teacher, Warren ( Justin Long), an awkward student who reminded Ed of his own younger self, and Dr. Jerome (Marvin Chatinover), the bossy older doctor with whom Mike shared his practice ( and who it seemed, was never going to retire). Mark ( Michael R. Genadry), was a chubby student who competed with Warren for the affections of Diane ( Ginnifer Goodwin).
Stories involved Ed's offbeat cases, the town's eccentric citizens, life at the Stuckeybowl ( ' I'm done bowling, Lets redo my will") and Ed's continuing pursuit of Carol. Sometimes they would start to get together, then break up and date others. During 2002 she became engaged to Denise ( John Slattery), the school principal, and in the fall they made it all the way to the alter before the ceremony was canceled. Ed and Carol continued their mating dance, with Ed taking up with young law school grad Frankie ( Sabrina Lloyd), making Carol jealous. Also during the 2002-2003 season, Kenny left Stuckeyville ( after bowling a perfect game) and Ed hired a " supervising manager" a black man confined to a wheelchair named Eli ( Daryl " Chill" Mitchell).
In the final season Eli fell in love with an attractive pie-maker named Jennifer ( Marcy Harriell) and started a career as a radio talk show host. Ed and Carol finally got together, but she received an offer to write for Bridge & Tunnel Magazine in New York that was too good to refuse. Ed then sold the Stuckeybowl to the staff so he and Carol could be together. After many false starts ( including a planned circus wedding), they were married in the final episode -at the Bowl.
An Article from The New York Times
ON TELEVISION; It's Not a Back Lot, It's Northvale
By ROBERT STRAUSS
Published: October 1, 2000
Considering its occupant has a big title, the office doesn't have much of a view.
Rob Burnett looks from his ground-floor window at a cinderblock wall painted several shades of dirty beige. It's certainly not Broadway, where Mr. Burnett has worked the last four years as executive producer of ''Late Show with David Letterman.''
But Mr. Burnett is a Jersey guy and that beige wall is indeed Jersey. Taking leave from his daily Letterman duties, he is the creator and executive producer of ''Ed,'' an hourlong comedy-drama that will be broadcast Sunday nights on NBC starting in October. ''Ed'' is the first major network series in recent memory to be shot primarily in Bergen County.
''I am not scared to be quoted saying that I love New Jersey,'' Mr. Burnett said, in almost Lettermanic deadpan. He is sitting in his spare office, dotted mostly with videotapes, scripts and an array of relatively healthy snacks: Diet Coke, Diet A&W Root Beer, Fiber One cereal. He said, though, that he is becoming partial to the doughnuts from Trautwein's farm market in Closter. ''Yes, I love New Jersey.''
''Ed'' provides for a sort of homecoming for Mr. Burnett, who grew up in North Caldwell and attended West Essex High School. He wanted to produce a TV series, but most of them are shot in southern California, far from his Manhattan home. He searched for producing partners that would allow him to do the show in the East, and Viacom offered to team up with Worldwide Pants.
While Mr. Letterman, whose Worldwide Pants production company produces ''Ed,'' wears high-end suits in front of the cameras, Mr. Burnett is comfortable in the ''Ed'' offices and on the set across Paris Avenue in a Jerseyfied shorts-and-T-shirt ensemble.
The outfit is one that the show's title character would most likely wear. Ed is a New York lawyer who gets fired for omitting a comma in a brief, costing his firm nearly $2 million. On top of that, his wife leaves him for another man. So Ed (played by Tom Cavanaugh) heads back to a more casual life in Stuckeyville, his small hometown where he spent the best years of his life. He tries, unsuccessfully, to woo his former girlfriend; but he finds joy in buying the town's old bowling alley, and he moves in with his best friend, who is a doctor, and his wife.
To create all this, Mr. Burnett and his crew have taken over the defunct Country Club Lanes on Paris Avenue, just off the main shopping strip in this village south of the New York State border. Sixteen of the old AMF automatic lanes in the vintage 1950's alley are now the Stuckey Bowl, and the rest of the building is outfitted for stage sets.
Outdoor scenes are being shot in the nearby towns of Westwood, Ridgewood, Norwood and Old Tappan in Bergen County and at Montclair High School in Essex County. The Runcible Spoon restaurant in nearby Nyack, N.Y., doubles as the pie shop where Ed and his buddies hang out, and Joel's in Ridgewood plays their favorite coffeehouse.
But for the next several months -- and pending success in the ratings -- Northvale and the old bowling alley, with its kitschy light-turquoise-and-off-white interior, will be the primary ''Ed'' home.
''I think this will mean great things for the Greek restaurant around the corner,'' Mr. Burnett said, rubbing his stomach as he spoke of the Greek Village on Livingston Street. ''Especially if they keep filling me up with their souvlaki.''
Mayor John E. Rooney misses Country Club Lanes, where he used to bowl, but he is pleased at the way the ''Ed'' crew has dressed up the place.
''They have made all the space really usable and maybe, even when the show is finished, we'll be able to have that rented out as a studio,'' said Mr. Rooney, who is also a Republican State Assemblyman from the district. ''We love good, clean industry here and they have been very good to us, buying from local businesses and hiring local tradespeople.''
Mr. Rooney's daughter is a stage manager for ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,'' so he said he is well aware of the needs of the TV business. But he nonetheless declined to take a small part in ''Ed.''
''I was in Providence recently and the mayor there has appeared in 'Providence,' '' he said, referring to the NBC drama. ''He loves it, but I don't think it's for me.'' So much for his chance to throw out the first bowling ball when the ''Ed'' set opened. He was on vacation.
Most shows in the East are filmed in Manhattan (''Spin City,'' ''Law and Order'') or on sound stages in Queens (''The Cosby Show,'' ''Sesame Street''). But Mr. Burnett wanted a feel he couldn't get in the city, especially since Stuckeyville is Anytown, U.S.A.
''Ironically, many of the towns in North Jersey have that Midwestern look we were looking for,'' said Kathy Ciric, ''Ed's'' location manager. ''Northvale especially has a lot of buildings from the 1920's and a little later, which is great for us. There are no Kmarts and, on the other hand, not all that many Victorians.''
Outside Northvale, Ms. Ciric has found other venues she loves. Ridgewood's town square has a Midwestern feel, said Ms. Ciric, and ''Montclair High School has a gorgeous campus.''
''It looks like an idealized 1950's, which is important since Ed wants to drift back to his idealized past,'' she said. But the house Ed lives in with his friend is actually in the nearby town of Old Tappan.
''It has a lemonade porch with a wonderful overhang and a rail around it,'' she enthused. ''You just can't resist sitting on that porch and rocking the day away.''
Of course, HBO's ''The Sopranos'' has put its own spin on North Jersey scenery, which the ''Ed'' folks appreciate, but will not emulate.
''We are not looking for gritty, like 'Sopranos,' '' Mr. Burnett said. ''We'll have that other New Jersey, the one no one seems to know.''
It is important for the ''Ed'' crew to stay within 30 miles of Manhattan, said the show's supervising producer, Kathy McGill, since union rules require extra travel payments if shooting is farther away.
''And, God willing, we will still be shooting in the winter,'' Ms. McGill said. ''There is a richness to that you don't find in sunny California. And we think that will enhance the show.''
Mr. Burnett said the scripts, too, should give knowing viewers a New Jersey feeling, even if Stuckeyville is not in any particular state.
''When I write, I'm thinking of the North Caldwell of my teenage years,'' he said. ''It's a New Jersey that is good-looking, that is a great place to be. Those people who think otherwise, well, they have probably just been on the Turnpike, so they just don't know. It's a place where you can smell the trees at night and listen to the cicadas.''
And eat some really good souvlaki and doughnuts.
A Review From The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; A Bowler Briefed in Torts, Not Retorts
By JULIE SALAMON
Published: October 7, 2000
On NBC's ''Providence,'' Tom Cavanagh played a recurring character called Dog Boy, a man who identifies with dogs. Maybe it's coincidental, but on NBC's new romantic comedy series, ''Ed,'' Mr. Cavanagh gets doggy again, playing a man with many canine qualities: his puppyish Ed Stevens is loyal, affectionate and eager to be loved.
All that palpable eagerness could be sloppy and annoying, but Mr. Cavanagh makes it so engaging and likable that his show's loopy premise becomes believable enough. In his cute, capable hands, Ed does seem like the kind of fellow who would name the freckles on his wife's face after the Three Stooges and then, upon finding this wife in bed with another man, would flee rather than confront. He even seems like the kind of guy who, after he has been fired from his corporate law job in New York, would buy a bowling alley in his Ohio hometown -- after he finally kisses the girl he had a crush on in high school a dozen years before.
Ed is a throwback, a hopeful, pixilated Capra character who wants to believe that things will work out as they should and is genuinely baffled and disappointed when they don't. Yet ''Ed'' the show doesn't seem creaky because Ed the character has also been endowed with ironic self-awareness, as might be expected on a series created by the men behind ''The Late Show With David Letterman.'' He does wonders for both lawyers and bowling.
In keeping with Hollywood tradition, Ed's quaint hometown, Stuckeyville, is populated with more eccentrics than you could find wandering around Greenwich Village these gentrified days. The Midwestern folks in Stuckeyville aren't warm and fuzzy, but neurotic and spiky, like the old country doc who can't be sarcastic enough to his young partner, Ed's best friend, Mike (Josh Randall).
There's also Mike's wife, Nancy (Jana Marie Hupp), and their new baby, for domestic humor, and Molly, friend to both Ed and Carol, played by Lesley Boone, who brings likable good humor to the thankless part of go-between.
Ed's main neurosis is his determined niceness. ''You are very, very nice,'' says Carol, the cheerleader he pined for as a teenager and finally gets to kiss as a grown-up. But Ed is also funny and maybe even a little dark, in a nice sort of way, and that's why Carol finds herself wanting to kiss him even though she has been dating a more selfish, roguish type for many years.
Carol, who has matured from a cool, pretty cheerleader into a cool, pretty high school English teacher, is still fending off schoolboy crushes -- from both grown men and high school students. She could be hard to like, but the actress, Julie Bowen, has a sweet nervous intelligence that manages to overcome Carol's obvious advantages and make the character's problems with relationships sympathetic.
Certainly the series can't survive only on the back-and-forthing between Ed and Carol, though they do carry the first two episodes nicely. So Ed has been given a complicated professional situation to generate stories outside the budding romance. He sets up a law practice inside the bowling alley -- sort of like a Starbucks inside a bookstore, he explains. He compares the three peculiar people who make up his staff to the irregulars rack at a department store.
This promising start makes you want to pat Mr. Cavanagh on the head. And if you're a lawyer or a bowler, you might feel like scratching him behind the ears, too.
NBC, tomorrow night at 8
(Channel 4 in New York)
Created by Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman; Richard Davis, pilot producer; Andrea Newman, series producer; James Frawley, pilot director; Kathleen McGill, line producer; Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, story editors; Patricia Goldstein, production designer; Rob Draper, director of photography; Marc Buckland, co-executive producer. Produced by Viacom Productions in association with Worldwide Pants and NBC Studios. Mr. Burnett, Mr. Beckerman and David Letterman, executive producers.
WITH: Tom Cavanagh (Ed Stevens), Josh Randall (Dr. Mike Burton), Jana Marie Hupp (Nancy Burton), Julie Bowen (Carol Vessey) and Lesley Boone (Molly Hudson).
Correction: October 14, 2000, Saturday A listing of credits last Saturday with a television review of the new romantic comedy series ''Ed,'' on NBC, included an erroneous identification from the network. The production designer is Chris Shriver, not Patricia Goldstein.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
Ken Tucker's fave new show, Ed, bowls you over with its screwball romance, its heartfelt tone, and its strikingly quirky cast
A By Ken Tucker
There are many ways in which Ed, the best new show of the season, could have been perfectly awful. The premise is hokey: Ed Stevens (Tom Cavanagh, a string bean with lots of teeth) is a big-city lawyer who gets fired from his job just as he discovers that his wife is being unfaithful to him. With the mailman. So a hangdog Ed slinks back to his teensy, fictitious hometown of Stuckeyville because he's decided that the woman he's really in love with is a high school crush who'd never given him the time of day, Carol Vessey (Julie Bowen), now a Stuckeyville schoolteacher.
On a whim, in a show that might have drowned in whimsy, Ed buys the local bowling alley, which is staffed by a gaggle of oddballs, and sets up a law office on the site: how cute. He runs the alley, takes the occasional court case, and pursues Carol, who's intrigued by him but constrained by the fact that she's been dating a novelist pretty seriously for the past seven years. (Gregory Harrison uses his pretty-boy looks to play a self-absorbed jerk.)
As I say: Man, oh man, this could have stunk as badly as an old pair of bowling shoes. At best, we might have ended up with a piece of popular piffle like Providence, which shares both Ed's basic idea -- thirtysomething achiever goes back to his/her hometown -- and its star. Cavanagh, in a multi-episode Providence arc, played a guy referred to as ''dog boy,'' who thought he could talk to animals. But rather than settle for this sort of shaggy whimsicality, Ed possesses all the bright romantic magic and tart humor of a first-rate screwball film comedy. This series is a perfect example of why you should never judge a TV show by its premise.
Ed is overseen by three executive producers: Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman (both of whom worked on David Letterman's talk show for many years) and Letterman himself. Like other productions by Letterman's Worldwide Pants, such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Bonnie Hunt's two superlative, low-rated '90s sitcoms, Ed is meticulously unsentimental about subjects most prone to sentimentality: love and friendship (Ed has a hometown buddy in the person of Mike, a jock-ish doctor played with low-key charm by Josh Randall). An hour-long comedy with no laugh track and plenty of lovey-doveyness, Ed benefits immensely from its air of understatement, and from its fondness for the bowling-alley supporting characters, like the lumbering, garrulous Kenny (Mike Starr, from Dumb & Dumber) and the flamboyantly goofy Phil (Michael Ian Black, from the comedy troupe The State).
The show's writing -- much of it by Burnett himself in the early episodes -- makes the potentially awkward bowling alley-law office combo seem like an example of clever American enterprise. If Ed is a somewhat tentative boss, unsure of his role in this tenpins-'n'-beer atmosphere, he is a delightfully confident lawyer, coming up with clever strategies for clients such as an old local magician who's suing a competitor for revealing the secrets of his act. (The elderly prestidigitator is played by Eddie Bracken, once the young star of great Preston Sturges films like The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero -- dazzling, moonstruck comedies similar in spirit to Ed.)
Above all, however, Ed benefits from its two stars. Cavanagh has a gulping sincerity that can remind you of a young Jimmy Stewart, but he also radiates a deceptively all-smiles shrewdness, like a young Andy Griffith. Cavanagh's originality lies in the way he makes his geniality seem both sincere and intelligent, never doofy -- which is of crucial help when Ed has to lose his grin to romance Carol convincingly.
And what a gal to romance. Bowen did a variation on this role as Adam Sandler's girlfriend in Happy Gilmore, but her performance was obscured by the necessity of Sandler's scene-dominating clowning; she raised her profile a bit by being bravely unsympathetic as Noah Wyle's hardheaded insurance-agent girlfriend for a round of 1998 ER episodes. But nothing she's done prepares us for the bright-eyed braininess and fragile romanticism that Bowen brings to Carol. The way Bowen plays her, you can understand why this woman would stay with a commitment-phobe stud like Harrison's Nick -- he's the best hunk in a small town, and a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. But Bowen also makes utterly convincing how susceptible Carol is to Ed's halting, often stunned reaction to her beauty and smarts: She wants to be adored -- swept off her feet -- and this is the guy who'll do it.
If it seems odd to be talking in such serious terms about what is essentially a droll comedy, it's just a measure of the emotions Ed can tap into; it's why this is likely to be the show that will keep you toasty-warm all fall and winter.
An Article from The New York Times
COVER STORY; Likable Lawyer Buys Local Bowling Alley
By CRAIG TOMASHOFF
Published: October 8, 2000
A couple of years ago, Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman decided they wanted to create a television show that deconstructed an Everyman's life. They wanted it to capture that moment when he looked at where he'd been and where he was heading, in order to make a midcourse correction and get back on track. They wanted the man to move back to his hometown to regain some real feeling in his life.
So where else to set their new NBC series, ''Ed,'' than in a bowling alley?
''There's just something about a bowling alley that everybody can relate to,'' says Mr. Burnett, executive producer of both ''Ed'' and ''Late Show With David Letterman.'' ''We all grew up with them. They've always seemed like a happy place.''
The lanes and pins in question are owned by the show's title character, played by Thomas Cavanagh, a Manhattan lawyer who comes home one day to find his wife in bed with the mailman. This discovery prompts him to move back to Stuckeyville, his tiny hometown, where he gets a kiss from his high school crush and buys the local bowling alley. All in the first couple of minutes of the first episode.
Considering this off-kilter premise and the fact that David Letterman is one of the executive producers, it's logical to assume ''Ed'' is yet another situation comedy. And one with the same sort of cynical edge that figures in every moment of Mr. Letterman's talk show. However, the series is actually a one-hour drama that strives to combine low-key humor and sympathetic characters.
''Part of the thing that I think surprises people about the show is that given the source, it has more heart and depth than anyone might expect,'' says Mr. Cavanagh.
Its creators are more than happy to alter people's expectations.
''This style of comedy with big laughs and hard jokes in an hour format has not really been done before,'' says Mr. Beckerman, also an executive producer and a former ''Late Show'' writer.
Mr. Burnett adds: ''Other shows take issues and just chat about them in clever ways. We're going to be really grounded in issues, but deal with them in comedic ways. It's a very different kind of comedy, with serious undertones.''
He has always wondered why television drama hasn't had many characters like the sort Tom Hanks has been known to play, men who are casually funny and sweetly sensitive at the same time. The pilot episode balances goofy moments with sentimental scenes. For instance, Ed shows up in a suit of armor to court the love of his life. Later he seems near tears when he walks her home, realizing it's too soon to accept her invitation to come inside. And by the end of that first show, Ed is both running Stuckey Bowl and practicing law.
''I think a guy like Ed could exist in the real world, but the world is more cynical than Ed is,'' says Mr. Burnett, who is also head. of Mr. Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants. ''Cynicism is not a good place for us to get comedy on this show.''
This isn't the first hourlong show that has tried to combine dramatic situations with quirky characters, but any similarities between ''Ed'' and shows like ''Picket Fences'' and ''Northern Exposure'' are purely accidental. '' 'Northern Exposure' was funny and real, but it didn't take place in a world you felt like you'd ever been,'' explains Mr. Cavanagh. ''You see shows on television that don't mirror what you go through in your own life, but hopefully that's what we'll be doing. We want to write about things that could happen to people, and that have happened to people.''
It's not unlike the sitcom ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' which is also produced by Worldwide Pants. That having been said, it's hard to imagine many lawyers who run their practices out of their own bowling alleys. As much as it strives to create real situations, ''Ed'' has a surreal side too. Which is where Mr. Letterman himself enters the picture. According to Mr. Burnett, the ''Late Show'' host has been out to the show's Northville, N.J., set, and offers notes on every script. His wry sensibility has helped several moments in the series, like the one in the pilot in which Ed first meets the eccentric crew of employees he inherits when he buys the bowling alley.
''A lot of scenes have been polished by Dave,'' says Mr. Burnett. ''With him staying involved, we have somebody who is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the show yet whose opinion Jon and I totally trust.''
''The presence of Dave is certainly felt,'' adds Mr. Cavanagh. ''He comes on the set and makes suggestions, and when they come from a guy with his track record, he's an asset to have there.''
Even with Mr. Letterman's involvement, though, it wasn't easy getting ''Ed'' off the ground. The series was originally a pilot for CBS, the home of ''Late Show.'' At the time it was called ''Stuckeyville'' and the bulk of the 45-minute pilot revolved around Ed's life in New York and the discovery of his wife's infidelity. In other words, all the material that is now covered in the first two minutes of ''Ed.''
''CBS passed on the show, which put us in an odd position,'' says Mr. Burnett. ''The response to the series was overwhelming in the industry, and when we got the show back, NBC was interested.''
The network swap didn't surprise the star of both versions, Mr. Cavanagh, who says he never felt that it was going to go at CBS. ''It didn't seem like home there,'' he says. ''They did us a favor by not forcing the show to fit somewhere it didn't belong.''
With a few minor tweaks, like making Ed a lawyer instead of a Wall Street trader (''That way his profession could continue in his new town,'' says Mr. Burnett), the transition to NBC was relatively seamless. The only tough part was getting used to being back at NBC, the network that Mr. Letterman left in 1993 on less than cordial terms.
''It was certainly odd for us to walk down the hallways at NBC and see all those big posters of their old shows,'' says Mr. Burnett. ''But being there now has a very clean feeling. At least it's very clear that they're not putting our show on the air just because Dave hosts 'The Late Show.' ''
''Ed,'' it seems, has become something of a lucky charm so far. It's brought Mr. Letterman and NBC back together. It's garnered a lot of critical support. And its approach to one-hour drama could conceivably shake up the genre if the series is a hit. But for Mr. Burnett that's not necessarily the most exciting thing about doing this show.
''Now,'' he says, ''we get to bowl for free.''
An Article from Time Magazine
Monday, Oct. 09, 2000
By JAMES PONIEWOZIK Article
As its makers cheerfully admit, Ed (NBC, Sundays, 8 p.m. E.T.) has the quirky mooseprints of Northern Exposure all over it. Hence the yuppie Green Acres premise: man (Tom Cavanagh) is cuckolded by wife, loses Manhattan law-firm job, buys bowling alley in Stuckeyville, Ohio, opens a legal practice amid the tenpins and romances his high school love (Julie Bowen). Hence too the oddball characters: the preening slacker selling Kobe beef behind the bowling-shoe counter, the doddering magician suing a rival for revealing his secrets.
So is Ed an Exposure ripoff? Try "improvement." Instead of precious magic realism and urban condescension, it radiates a loving optimism and goodwill toward its Midwestern goofs. Surprisingly, this sweet comedy comes from the crusty David Letterman (through his company Worldwide Pants). Dave's involvement is limited, but Ed deftly captures the genial, absurd side--the sunny underbelly--of his humor, as when a friend bets Ed, apropos of nothing, that he can't meow loud enough to make an old man turn around.
A heart-melting romance with guy talk for the fellas and a mellow alt-rock sound track, Ed fits the 30-ish heterosexual-couple demographic like a comfy pair of Dockers. Maybe too much so: funny but safe, it's TV's answer to the date movie. But the laid-back Cavanagh is winning as a Quixote determined to win his love by making "a complete ass" of himself. He's the male version of the beautiful blond with glasses--a handsome guy we can pretend will have to work to get the girl. Whether you hail from Springfield or Soho, you'll want to take him home.
--By James Poniewozik
An Article from CNN
Showbiz Today Star of Tomorrow
Tom Cavanagh of 'Ed'
November 17, 2000
By Lori Blackman
CNN Showbiz Today Correspondent
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Tom Cavanagh plays the hero/good guy lawyer who leaves the high-powered corridors of New York and returns to his hometown on Stuckeyville, Ohio, on NBC's freshman series, "Ed." There, Ed promptly buys a bowling alley and mounts a campaign to win the love of a cutie from his high-school days.
True to life? Not entirely. Cavanagh grew up in Africa, where his parents were teachers. And if he looks familiar to you but you haven't seen "Ed," that might be because he had a memorable run on "Providence" last season as the "dog boy" character.
Cavanagh beat out hundreds of actors for the new series' title role, a part that "Ed" executive producer Rob Burnett (producer of "The Late Show with David Letterman") characterized as nearly impossible to fill.
Why? The perfect Ed needed an actor who would be believable as the guy all the gals had a crush on, while simultaneously remaining someone all the guys would want to play ball with. Cavanaugh, 32, fit that bill -- and ably, apparently. The series, which debuted in October and appears on Sundays, has enjoyed positive reviews and has been picked up for a full season.
Cavanagh recently took a few minutes to expound on "Ed," life, life in Africa and -- naturally -- bowling.
CNN: Ed may have grown up in a small-town in America, but you grew up somewhere else entirely -- Africa.
Tom Cavanagh:That is correct: a little coastal fishing village called Winneba in Ghana, sandwiched between the countries of the Ivory Coast and Togo.
CNN: What brought you to Africa?
Cavanagh: I was running from the law, and now they've found me -- no, that's not true. My parents are educators, and they were over there putting in teaching systems in Africa. It is a pretty great existence over there; I didn't know how to swear, they didn't have television or film -- a really good existence, I would say.
CNN: You were cast in this show for CBS more than two years ago. How did you wind up on NBC?
Cavanagh: Well, CBS didn't pick up the pilot. I think they felt that we did a decent pilot, but that we'd be an awkward fit for their lineup. Ultimately we ended up being pretty grateful for it, because we ended up on NBC ... and they've been really supportive. It's been a great home for us.
CNN: What is the premise of "Ed"?
Cavanagh: This is the story about a gentleman -- I use that term loosely, because I play that guy. He's a ... big-time city lawyer who loses his job, goes home and finds his wife sleeping with a mailman, and decides the best thing he can do is go (to his hometown) and ask out the high-school crush that he never asked out in high school -- with mixed results. But along the way he falls back in love with the townspeople and the town of Stuckeyville, Ohio, and decides to stick around for a while.
CNN: Did you ever have any real-life interest in law?
Cavanagh: I didn't, no, but my brother is actually a bigwig lawyer in Canada. ... I think our family is well represented in that area; they don't need another one.
CNN: How much are you like Ed, who woos women by putting on the traditional medieval garb and walking down high school hallways carrying flowers?
Cavanagh: You know, I've done my fair share of embarrassing things to woo the girl, and with the same kind of results, I think -- with them hollering, "Get out of here, you punk! What are you doing in that fish outfit?"
CNN: Do you bowl?
Tom Cavanagh had a memorable turn as the dog boy in "Providence" last year
Cavanagh: I do bowl.
CNN: Are you any good?
Cavanagh: No, I am not, but I tell you what: I am better than this show's executive producer, Rob Burnett, any day of the week.
CNN: "Ed" debuted this season to extremely high ratings. Do you feel any pressure from that?
Cavanagh: This is going to sound corny, but the answer to that, honestly is no -- literally. I feel very fortunate to come and do a show where the scripts are good , where the castmates are unbelievable and the crew is great. It couldn't be a better situation.
CNN: Were you surprised at all by the way critics hailed this show as the hit of the season, even before the season began?
Cavanagh: Not surprised, given the money we paid them. Being as we're bankrupt right now, they damn well better write nice reviews.
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