“Stay for the couple” says Happy Together’s Tim McAuliffe

Happy Together stars (l-r): Felix Mallard, Amber Stevens West and Damon Wayans,, Jr. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Here is something you never hear a showrunner of a new network TV series talk about: their fears about how audiences might take their new show.

Leave it to a Canadian, then, to break the barrier.

“My fear is that people are not going to give it a shot,” says Tim McAuliffe. “I personally wouldn’t.”

Showrunner Tim McAuliffe

McAuliffe’s credits include writing and producing stints on 22 Minutes, Corner Gas, The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Office and Last Man on Earth. He explained over the phone that he’s worried people will look at the photo, above, and hear about the premise — young couple in their 30s (Damon Wayans, Jr., and Amber Stevens West) take in a young pop star as a boarder (Felix Mallard) — and reject it as a Nickelodeon show.

“That sounds like a silly concept,” explains McAuliffe, “but it’s actually a heartwarming, fun, nice show.”

McAuliffe and his co-showrunner, Austen Earl, made sure to steer the series more towards the “couple who love each other, not a kid playing an electric guitar.”

Just based on Monday night’s pilot (8:30 pm on CBS and Global), there’s no denying that Wayans, Jr., and Stevens West have great chemistry.

That only grows tighter, according to Wayans, who had plenty of evidence by the time I spoke with him two weeks ago. The cast was in the middle of episode eight then, working on a hurry-up schedule to bank shows before co-star Stevens West welcomes her first child.

Stevens West, by the way, is the daughter of Shadoe Stevens, a former America’s Top 40 radio host who went on the co-star in Dave’s World in the ’90s and later was the announcer on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I’ll always think of him, however, as “Fred Rated.” Way back when I lived in LA in the mid-’80s, he was the ubiquitous face and voice of a series of weekly TV ads for a now defunct west coast electronics chain called Federated.

McAuliffe says Shadoe Stevens will join his daughter in an upcoming episode; Damon Wayans Sr. — currently starring in Lethal Weapon — will be in the same episode.

For more on McAuliffe, Wayans and Happy Together, follow this link to the feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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