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Interview: Bitter Party of Five Talks Show’s Origin, Best Moments, And Famous Guest Selections

Bitter Party of Five cast members

Whether you’re looking for some a new discovery to brag and tweet about online or you’re the type who’s genuinely interested in learning miscellaneous things about famous actors and actresses, this new web series Bitter Party of Five is an episodic comedy with candor and spice that’s set around a round dinner table with five friends and one guest who they maliciously yet funnily role play and interview all for your viewing pleasure. Amongst the cast members are the talented Jason Antoon (Contact), Tricia O’Kelley (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Greg Cromer (Happy Endings) and Romy Rosemont (Glee).

Whose bright idea is this?

“In a general way, it was everybody’s idea. We were doing the TV pilot, where we met, we all sort of agreed that if the show for some crazy reason didn’t get picked up we should do something together anyway because we were obsessed with each other,” Mary vocalized.

Jason shouted, “Mine, fuck those other guys!”

“Mine… I’ve never met these people before. Clearly, they are just trying to ride my coattails,” Rosemont insisted.

Tricia rationalized, “Depends on who you ask. Mary says it was Jason’s. Jason says it was Romy’s. Romy says it was Greg’s. Greg says it was mine. I say he’s probably right. But Adam our director can take some credit, too. And God, probably.”

“It was originally called ‘Passed Over’. For like a minute. The idea was to have a glass of wine on the table and leave the door ajar for our celebrity guest to arrive. We ended up retooling the idea so as not to isolate such a large percentage of the population,” Tricia recalled.

As you can imagine, I laughed really hard.

“It’s just funny because, I can barely make time for the friends I’ve had since I was like 18. The last thing I wanted was more friends but I was like, “You know what? I can’t help myself. I’ve got some new friends.” Which is really rare. So, we all knew we wanted to work with each other somehow, whether we had NBC’s blessing or not. Once the show looked like it wasn’t getting picked up, we just kind of met at Tricia O’Kelley’s house, and mostly, I think it was producer Adam Rosenblatt who came up with it.

Was it originally called Bitter Party of Five or did it have another name?

“We were going back and forth, but I think originally it was going to be called “Passed Over”. I could be wrong. I think it may have been around the time of Passover or something,” she laughed.

Romy exclaimed, “It was originally called Please Give Us A Job… but we didn’t want to appear needy.”

Jason interjected, “It was originally called “Jason’s ______ Giant Suck House” but I got out voted.”

On why NBC possibly didn’t pick it up

“It wasn’t our baby originally. it was Eric Gilliland and Roseanne Barr’s [sort of] brain child. We were just [sort of] the hired help, you know? So, it hurt a little less that it didn’t get picked up in that, it wasn’t like they were rejecting our show. You know what I mean? It was their show. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this because usually I’m the first to be like ‘Ugh, we’ve made so many mistakes’ but I really thought it was pretty amazing. I don’t have any idea for sure why NBC didn’t choose to pick it up. My gut is telling me that the sponsors, the advertising execs may have gotten notice, at the time, Roseanne was a little more political than she usually was… Running for president. So, I think they may have gotten a little bit nervous but I could be wrong about that. We’ll never really know, I guess.”

What’s your favourite part about the show?

I really love what they call “the cold read” where we make the actors perform the scenes, usually famous scenes. I love the train wrecks. I love it when — It’s just awkward. I just… I live for that,” she laughs.

I love the part where Jason Antoon is doing the Scarface scene, and not pronouncing all of the letters, and I really like the quick jabs like the one about Arabs being intense. It’s really funny. Watch the scene at 7:04.

How do you get your guests to appear or agree on the episodes? Are they friends that you’ve had or worked with before? What’s the connection?

“We beg. We beg. We blackmail. Blackmail is very useful,” Birdsong kids. “At this point so far, it is all people we’ve worked with in our various shows we’ve done. I mean, and it is amazing when we think we kind of set ourselves in as the ‘lovable losers’, it’s pretty amazing when you think about all of the amazing people we’ve gotten to work with. So, we’re very lucky in that way. and even after working with us, they’re still willing.”

Tricia joked, “We’re easy on the eyes.”

“Because they want to recapture that feeling of being next to a bitter actor who can barely get SAG’s plan 1 insurance,” Jason finalizes. “Nothing’s real – we live in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves is the best actor in the world.”

And when I asked “How much of their actions are real? Are the behaviors scripted or are they kind of loose?” They all responded in a similar way:

Mary answered first, “Before we have a guest on the show, we’ll all do research on them because usually the guest is good friends with one of the cast members and the rest of us know their work obviously but might have to do a little homework to find out some information about them that not the average person would know. So, we definitely do homework and we’ll think of funny questions to ask them. We have an episode coming up with Tony Hale (Arrested Development) who just won an Emmy for Veep, and I discovered online that he met his wife at a bible camp and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve gotta do something with that.’ But we don’t know exactly or necessarily word for word what that will be. We’ll kind of have a general idea of what we’re going to ask them and then, the fun is we don’t know how they’re going to respond. It is totally improvised, in that regard but we just kind of start out with a general outline of what we’re going to do and see how it plays out. We had no idea Allison Janney and Greg Cromer were going to have a huge makeout party. That wasn’t scripted at all.”

Romy authenticated, “The Bitter Gang writes the questions and picks the cold reads… The guests know nothing! They react truthfully. It is their choice if they want to treat it like a “regular” interview show or climb on the crazy bus with us.”

“Guests have no idea what questions are going to be asked. We tell them they can react in whatever way they want. We see a lot of horror and disdain,” says Tricia.

What? Wow. Impromptu, that just put a whole different. spin on it. I really like the guest, and everything because I feel like they give back the bitterness that you guys give them, so it shows them in a different vain.

“Oh yeah, they’re good. They’re genuinely friends of ours, but we’re just being total dicks. I mean, they can stick up for themselves,” she laughs.

*We’re not exactly sure how soon that episode with hot and married Tony Hale will be available, but you can watch Bitter Party of Fives’ latest episode with Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) right under this thick block of text. Birdsong revealed that they were able to get Ms. Brown on the show because they’ve all (with the exception Tricia O’Kelley) have worked with her in the past. Also slated to make us laugh until we cry is legendary Canadian actor comedian Martin Short and famed British actor Alfred Molina. We’ve been told Molina’s role is along the lines of Allison Janey’s episode in terms of how it played out. That’s all we can share for now.


For more about Bitter Party of Five, just click here.

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.