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truTV TACOMA FD Q&A Interview w Creators & Cast Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme + Episode Guide, Photos

Maj Canton - March 27, 2019

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On March 28, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT, truTV premieres the zany sitcom TACOMA FD. On the heels of the breakout theatrical release of SUPER TROOPERS 2, co-creator and stars Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme are now donning new uniforms in this new half-hour comedy set in a firehouse in one of America’s rainiest cities. The series captures the same comedic wit hijinks and chemistry that their millions of fans have come to love and expect. Light on blazes that need extinguishing, they are fire fighters who are always ready to fight fires… but in this wet city, they find themselves tackling the less glamorous elements of the job (rescuing a spitting Llama stuck in playground equipment) but when there is real danger they are all business. Leading the firehouse shenanigans are Chief Terry O’Malley (Heffernan) and Captain Eddie Penisi (Lemme), who are joined by an eclectic crew that include Eugene Cordero, Marcus Henderson, Gabriel Hogan, Hassie Harrison and Suzy Nakamura

 

 


 


This February 2019 TV Tango attended the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, where truTV presented a panel that included TACOMA FD creators and cast: Kevin Heffernan Creator /Chief McConky, Steve Lemme Creator/ Captain Penisi, Eugene Cordero as Andy Myawani, Marcus Henderson as Granny Smith, Gabriel Hogan as Ike Crystal, Hassie Harrison as Lucy. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.

 

Cast and EPs of TACOMA FD at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour in February 2019 at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena.

Left to right: Eugene Cordero, Hassie Harrison, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Marcus Henderson, and Gabriel Hogan

 


Cast of TACOMA FD. From left to right: Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Eugene Cordero, Gabriel Hogan, and Marcus Henderson.

Question: Firemen, by logic, spend most of their time waiting for calls, so is that an ideal thing for you to have lots of time to be stupid while waiting?


Steve Lemme: Yeah. Every firefighter we spoke to, even the firefighters who were at the station where we filmed the pilot, every one of them has a million stories about the downtime because they're all spending 24 hours in the station together. They basically said it's the same clowns, different circus.


Eugene Cordero: So we ripped off all their stories. We don’t even need that much time to be stupid.



Steve Lemme (left), Gabriel Hogan (middle), and Hassie Harrison (right) on TACOMA FD.

Question: When did you realize that you really needed a woman firefighter?


Kevin Heffernan: Originally when we conceived of the show, one of the ideas was kind of exploring the gender issues that are in the fire station in a funny way. As we talked to firefighters we found out that about 3% of all firefighters in the U.S. are women, and if you do the math that means 97% are men. And so, it's a world that's still kind of a boys club, and the idea was that we would have some fun exploring that. I think when we originally made the pilot it was the story of Lucy joining the fire station, and then the idea was, if we're going to have to puncture the boys club why don't we do an episode or two where we establish the boys club, so you see what it's like to puncture it. So that was the idea.


Marcus Henderson (left), Eugene Cordero (middle), and Gabriel Hogan (right) on TACOMA FD.

Question: Do guys tend to get goofier, sillier, odder when there are no women around?


Kevin Heffernan: I don't think so. I think part of our goal here was to show that when Lucy enters that world she's as much a part of the goofiness as anybody else, and that's kind of important for us to show. We come from making these movies like SUPER TROOPERS and, you know, we're trying to break out of the boys club a little bit.


Steve Lemme: But I think that was part of the casting process for the character of Lucy. Ultimately, we did chemistry reads. We had actresses come in with the rest of the guys who had already been cast just to see who could hold their own among all the noise that was being made by all these guys, and Hassie was the loudest of all of them. Hassie came in, put her foot up on a stool and started swearing at us and just took over the room, and we're like, “that's the girl.”


 

Question: Are there any shows, other comedies that served as inspiration for TACOMA FD?


Kevin Heffernan: We always love that kind of old school, kind of workplace comedy. I was a huge fan of TAXI, for example, and I think the idea was to have a group of characters like that in that workspace in their downtime having fun, and I think that that was certainly a model in my mind.


Steve Lemme: We just basically took the idea of SUPER TROOPERS and put it in a fire station. And that was what we were thinking. We were like, “what do people really like about what we do?” They want SUPER TROOPERS. Let’s do SUPER TROOPERS in a fire station, and that’s pretty much how we arrived at the idea. The difference is that with SUPER TROOPERS, those are bumbling state troopers, bumbling highway patrolmen, and that’s something we didn’t want to do with this show because we do have respect for the firefighters and what they do. The message for us internally, the difference was clear, it has to be about firefighters that are great at their job. We want to focus on the downtime that they have between some of those calls, which you were talking about. The fact that they’re on 24-hour shifts and they’re living with each other, and what kind of a workplace that would be.


Kevin Heffernan (left) and Steve Lemme (right) on TACOMA FD.

Question: Can you talk about the significance of the mustache?


Kevin Heffernan: I have a serious problem growing a mustache. It really takes me like eight months. You have to get some augmentation on this mustache. When we did it for SUPER TROOPERS we realized TV’s different. Like SUPER TROOPERS, you grew a mustache and then you shaved it after a couple weeks. I’m stuck with this sucker now. I’m stuck with this thing for a while, and my kids don’t like it, and my wife doesn’t like it, and now it’s become part of me.


Steve Lemme: When we wrapped we were like, “we’re going to shave these mustaches off,” and then TruTV was, like, “No, no, no. We’re going to shoot the poster and the spots in about six weeks.” We shot that, then we’re, like, “Now we’re going to shave the mustaches off.” And they’re, like, “No, no. You got the TCAs coming.” So these are your mustaches today.

Kevin Heffernan: I think when you go just the mustache it says something about someone.


Hassie Harrison: I do think that they will make the mustache trendy again. It won’t be funny and then they will shave them, I suppose. But I love the mustache. I think they look way cooler with a mustache.


Steve Lemme: But it definitely brings out a whole other level of competition amongst the guys. Like, for instance, Sam Elliot, from his nose to his upper lip is about two-and-a-half inches, and that’s a mustache. But then you meet some dudes who have a half an inch between their nose and their upper lip and you’re like, “You’re fucking pathetic.”


Steve Lemme (left) and Kevin Heffernan (right) on TACOMA FD.

Question: Could the cast describe what it’s like working with Kevin and Steve?


Hassie Harrison: I knew going in when I booked the job that this was going to be a really fun gig and that they were going to be awesome guys, but I didn't know that they were going to be as cool as they are and what a loving, safe environment it is to be weird and be a goon. And Steve said something to me in the beginning and it’s brought me more comfort and it’s something I repeat in my head a lot. But he was like, “First of all, just know that we can only use one take and we'll protect you in the editing room.” And that alone has given me the confidence to, once I feel like I've done what I've wanted for my character, then I can just go and really get weird with it. And I think that is super helpful in the comedic realm.


Eugene Cordero: That's strange because they told me do it a bunch of times because we're not getting there yet. So, you know we all learn different things. We're digital now so we can’t run out of tape, so keep going because that one didn't work, that kind of stuff. Very supportive.

Marcus Henderson: I knew that we were in a very safe space when Steve decided to feed me like a bird.


Gabriel Hogan: It was beautiful to watch. My answer is quick: I did it for the money. I didn’t know too much about them. And I didn’t do any research.


Steve Lemme: It’s great synergy because we had this one part where we needed a hot hunk of meat fire fighter. That’s all we wanted out of Gabe and he showed up.


EPISODE GUIDE


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by truTV, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.


"In the Hot Seat" (Premieres Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
FD’s newest chief, Terry McConky, is under scrutiny by the city council to get serious about his station’s ratings. Meanwhile, his crew inadvertently puts his job in jeopardy by engaging in a ridiculous firehouse competition for a super sawft prize.

"Cop Wars" (Premieres Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
Andy and Ike’s misstep on a call to a police officer’s house fans the flames of the TACOMA FD’s long-standing feud with the Tacoma PD. Chief McConky desperately tries to keep a lid on the dispute as he awaits funding for a new fire truck, but all goes awry as his crew slips into an all-out, tit-for-tat war with the cops.

"A New Hope" (Premieres Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
The crew is assigned their first ever female firefighter, Lucy, sending the firehouse into a gender confused tailspin. When Chief puts the clamp on rookie hazing, the guys try to engage in their old traditions anyway only to find that Lucy is a force to be reckoned with.

"Training Day" (Premieres Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
The Tacoma FD's negligence during a firehouse school trip makes Councilwoman Price angry, so she orders the guys to complete a training recertification with an old nemesis who's just itching to fail them.

"The B-Team" (Premieres Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
Andy's big welcome from a different team of firefighters has him questioning his place within his own crew. Meanwhile, Eddie spars with a new top chef at the station to win the annual pancake cook-off! Guest starring JD Pardo and Nat Faxon.

"Full Moon Fever" (Premieres Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 10:30pm ET/PT)
TFD braces for a night of insane full moon rescue calls. Plus, Eddie and Granny go on active appendage duty and Ike gets bitten into an altered state. Guest starring Martin Starr, Brian Quinn, Kevin Pereira and Will Sasso.