TONIGHT!!!! SEASON PREMIERE Dr. Ken 8:30p/7:30c on ABC
TONIGHT!!!! SEASON PREMIERE Dr. Ken 8:30p/7:30c on ABC
ABC has added to its comedy roster for the 2016-17 season by renewing first-year Ken Jeong comedy “Dr. Ken” for a second season.
“Dr. Ken” has been a solid performer for ABC on Fridays this season, averaging a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates. In both categories, this is the network’s best delivery in three years.
ABC has yet to make a decision on veteran comedy “Last Man Standing,” which has served as a lead-in to “Dr. Ken.”
“Dr. Ken” stars Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken, Suzy Nakamura as Allison, Tisha Campbell Martin as Damona, Dave Foley as Pat, Jonathan Slavin as Clark, Kate Simses as Julie, Albert Tsai as Dave and Krista Marie Yu as Molly.
The show, which hails from Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios, is executive produced by Mike Sikowitz, Ken Jeong, John Davis and John Fox.
Ken Jeong describes his role in the 2009 blockbuster The Hangover as “the most obscene love letter to a spouse one could ever have.” He peppered his dialogue with bits of Vietnamese as an inside joke with his wife Tran.
Ken met his wife while they were both practicing medicine at the same hospital in Los Angeles. Ken had always done comedy on the side. He even performed midnight improv while he was working up to 100 hours a week during his medical residency. But after he and Tran married, he quit medicine to pursue acting full-time. Then, a year later, Tran was diagnosed with aggressive stage III breast cancer. They had twins who were a year old. And Ken had just gotten an offer to play an Asian mobster in a Las Vegas buddy movie.
Tran encouraged him to take the part. “You’re kind of burning out right now,” she told him. And he channeled his anger about her illness into his character’s comedic rage.
Seven years later, he talked to me about raising a family in the shadow of cancer and how his careers in comedy and medicine have converged in unexpected ways.
Allison (wife) – Suzy Nakamura (“Go On”)
Molly (daughter) – Krista Marie Yu (“The Thundermans”)
Dave (son) – Albert Tsai (Bert on “Trophy Wife”)
Hector (HMO nurse) – Jonathan Slavin (“Better Off Ted”)
Damona (HMO receptionist) – Tisha Campbell-Martin (Gina on “Martin”)
Pat Hein (HMO boss) – Dave Foley (“Newsradio”, “Kids in the Hall”)
A quirky, true-to-herself protagonist, a hot boy next door and an evil popular girl compose the roller coaster ride of humor that is The DUFF.
When Bianca (Mae Whitman, Parenthood) a senior who coasted through high school with two close friends, realizes that those friends only used her to better their reputations by having her as their DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), she begins a quest to un-DUFF herself with the help of her popular football player neighbor, Wesley (Robbie Amell.)
While the basic storyline is a good one, the overly witty dialogue and strange product placement (social networks like Instagram and Snapchat are mentioned several times) make The DUFF seem like a kitschy attempt to relate to its audience.
The film has genuine bits of humor, however, thanks to Whitman and her awkward attempts to talk to boys at the mall. Whitman’s performance is fantastic; her character was genuine and relatable, and the choices she makes throughout the film are reflective of the modern teenage girl.
The real star of The DUFF is Ken Jeong (The Hangover), who plays Bianca’s newspaper adviser. He adds a different level of humor that ultimately lifts the film from the basic teen comedy to one that people of all ages can enjoy. Madison, the stereotypical mean girl prototype (Bella Thorne, Shake It Up) doesn’t have much depth, but she contributes to the drama in the movie.
While The DUFF has some authentic moments, it won’t be immortalized as a teen classic. The movie’s underlying message, however, is one that should be celebrated across Hollywood and beyond – while there will always be those who are prettier and smarter than you, you should never let that discourage you.
More ‘The DUFF’ reviews:
The best of the lot is Ken Jeong as Mr. Arthur, her favorite teacher, who gives her an assignment to write about what prom means to her. Ugh.
Jeong is so much more likable here than the screeching, profane Jeong of “The Hangover.” Toned down, he is actually funnier.
—The L.A. Times
A remarkably restrained Ken Jeong as the school’s most inspirational teacher. Restrained, yes, but the unpredictable and outrageous Jeong still tosses in a few naughty asides to juice things up.
—The Toronto Sun
It’s Ken Jeong who stands out. Jeong, who has made a sort of cottage industry for himself playing twisted characters in already deviant comedies, tones it down a notch here as an affable, goofy editor at the school paper.
–The Associated Press
From The Hollywood Reporter:
The semi-autobiographical comedy was previously developed at NBC.
ABC has picked up to pilot Dr. Ken, a semi-autobiographical comedy starring the Hangover and Community star. The comedy stars Jeong as a frustrated HMO doctor juggling medicine, marriage and parenting — and succeeding at none of them.
The multicamera comedy was previously developed at NBC in 2013 and hails from The Internship writer Jared Stern, ABC Studios and Sony Pictures Television — which has a history of finding new homes for its programming, including Community. The comedy will be produced by studio-based Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox (The Blacklist), marking the duo’s second pilot order of the season. (They also have NBC drama Endgame.) Jeong, a licensed physician, will star and co-executive produce. Mike O’Connell and Jeong will also write and co-exec produce. Mike Sikowitz will also exec produce.
Dr. Ken marks a return for Jeong to ABC, where last he co-starred in comedy pilot Spy two years ago. Additionally, Jeong currently stars in MTV’s comedy pilot Ken Jeong Made Me Do It, which remains in contention.
For ABC, Dr. Ken marks its 13th comedy pilot order of the season, off one from a year ago. It’s also the second pilot to land at ABC after being developed for a previous network (joining drama Runner from Fox).
Semi-autobiographical fare continues to be in high demand as broadcast networks look to proven voices with a strong sense of direction. For its part, ABC also has Detour, based on Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo’s life, as well as its Johnny Knoxville entry; Fox has Studio City (writer Krista Vernoff); NBC has Go Jerrod Go (Jerrod Carmichael) and Heart Matters (Dr. Kathy Magliato); and CBS has its Tommy Johnagin comedy.
Medical programming was one of the biggest trends this past development season. Dr. Ken joins other medical-themed fare this pilot season including ABC’s The Advocate, CBS’ Code Black and LFE as well as NBC’s Heart Matters, all dramas.
Community, meanwhile, will return to Yahoo Screen in March. Its future beyond its upcoming sixth season remains unclear. Jeong becomes the latest member of the Community family to book a follow-up role and second at ABC, which also has Chev & Bev, a comedy pilot starring former regular Chevy Chase. Meanwhile, co-star Yvette Nicole Brown exited in a bid to care for her father and, because of its regular filming schedule, joined CBS’ The Odd Couple; Donald Glover, who exited two years ago, is shooting a pilot for FX; and Gillian Jacobs will star in Netflix’s Judd Apatow comedy Love, which landed at the streamer with a two-season order.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision was presented by Winona Ryder to:
Advantageous / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) — In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.
Senior Film and Media Reporter @BrentALang
“Advantageous,” a brainy new science-fiction film that debuted this week at the Sundance Film Festival, represents a major departure for Ken Jeong.
The comic actor best known for letting it all hang out in “The Hangover,” reveals himself in a whole different way. Jeong plays Han, a restaurant owner who is plagued by guilt after his affair with his wife’s sister results in a child. It’s a small, but pivotal role, and one he plays straight.
“I’m in exploration mode,” said Jeong, who did double duty as a producer on “Advantageous.” “Comedy will also be my first love, but it’s natural for every comedic actor to want to expand their range and see if they can do it.”
Jeong isn’t turning back on the roles that made famous. He’ll return to Greendale Community College as Señor Ben Chang, a former Spanish teacher with a tenuous grip on reality, in “Community.” The cult hit was cancelled by NBC last year, but was given a reprieve when Yahoo opted to produce a sixth season of the critically adored, but low rated series. It debuts on March 17.
“‘Community’ is such a miracle show,” said Jeong. “This is actually my favorite season we’ve ever shot, I think maybe because of some of the subtext. We’re survivors and we’re doing this again and that’s a part of it.”
Just because the series is free of broadcast censors, don’t expect a major overhaul to the absurdist formula that made it a favorite with the Twitter set. There will still be pop culture and meta-references aplenty.
“Just because we’re on Yahoo, it’s not like it’s a raunchy comedy now,” said Jeong. Creator Dan Harmon had some interesting advice for the cast and their new backers, Jeong reports, “He said, ‘I want it to be exactly what it was. Almost the same length. Maybe more British.’”
It wasn’t Jeong’s work on the small-screen that landed him his “Advantageous” role. Co-star Jacqueline Kim said she recommended Jeong to director Jennifer Phang after seeing him play demented and frequently naked gangster Leslie Chow in “The Hangover” while on a plane trip. Given his talent for making people laugh, she knew he’d be up to the challenge.
“That’s the hardest acting to do — comedy,” said Kim. “To be funny, you have to be a master of so many things, and have a deep understanding of human beings.”
For his part, Jeong said he was impressed by the way that “Advantageous” used its futuristic setting to explore topics of gender disparity and body image issues. The film focuses on a woman who undergoes a dicey cosmetic procedure in order to provide for her young daughter.
“As a parent of twin girls, I’m intimately aware of the pressures of having them thrive in society and in school right now,” said Jeong. “They’re universal themes.”
“Advantageous” is a work of almost daunting ambition. The futuristic world that director and writer Jennifer Phang and Kim, who co-wrote the script in addition to starring in the film, create is positively Darwinian. The one percent are still doing just fine, but the rest of society is rocked by bombings, political unrest and crippling unemployment levels.
“I’m looking at a future where the economy is more fractured,” said Phang. “The class divide is growing wider and the diminishment of the middle class has continued. It’s a time when there are more desperate people and more affluent people than ever before.”
Parallels to this current era of uncertainty are clearly intentional.