TV Talk: CMU grad plays executive in TV comedy on Hulu’s ‘Reboot’

Trib Total Media TV writer Rob Owen offers a viewing tip for the week ahead.

With all the sequel series and reboots on TV and streaming services in recent years (see NBC’s “Quantum Leap,” premiering at 10 p.m. Monday), it’s no surprise that some writers/producers of television want to criticize the phenomenon.

Writer/executive producer Steve Levitan, who co-created “Modern Family” and Pittsburgh, the short-lived Fox comedy “Back to You,” said he got the idea for Hulu’s “Reboot,” at About Hulu rebooting an early 2000s sitcom, after seeing ABC’s “Roseanne” revival train wreck.

“I just remember thinking, well, this is the show I want to see: what’s going on on this set?” said Levitan, a fraternity brother of KDKA-TV news anchor Ken Rice during their days at the University of Wisconsin. “For me, the reboot is also metaphorical, that these people have a second chance to restart their lives. One of the themes of the show is when life gives you one of those rare second chances, do your best not to waste it.

“Reboot,” which airs on Hulu Tuesday, stars Keegan-Michael Key (“Schmigadoon!”) as a serious actor (think: Robert Reed) who agrees to star in a sitcom revival, “Step Right Up! ” (think: “Step by Step”) because he’s impressed with a gritty script from a new showrunner with indie experience (Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”).

“Reboot” boasts a great cast — Judy Greer and Paul Reiser are among series regulars — and some fun moments. But sometimes it feels like something is missing.

“You know how on the old show they always did the right thing?” says the Bloom writer. “I want them to always do the wrong thing (when rebooting).”

As often happens in Hollywood, its approach is watered down, and in the first three episodes, viewers never see the show’s cast in “Reboot” do the wrong thing. Or if they do, it’s fixed too quickly and “Reboot” crosses the line into the kind of sentiment the show poked fun at moments earlier. Still, “Reboot” is successful enough that I’ll stick around to see how it develops in later episodes.

Carnegie Mellon University graduate Krista Marie Yu stars in “Reboot.” Brendon Ford

2011 Carnegie Mellon University graduate Krista Marie Yu (“Dr. Ken,” “Last Man Standing”) stars as Elaine Kim, a Hulu executive loosely inspired by the former “Modern Family” writer. “, Elaine Ko.

“My character wears 6-inch heels because Elaine Ko wore 6-inch heels,” Yu said in a phone interview in late August, “In episode four, when Elaine Kim is riding a bicycle, it’s a homage to how (Elaine Ko) learned to ride a bike on the Fox lot.

During his time as an acting major at CMU, Yu, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, didn’t necessarily see his career path unfold the way he did with several multicam sitcoms ( the genre with a laugh track) on his resume.

“I never thought of myself as a funny person, so I think at school I had a lot of trust issues,” and coming out of school, she had no expectations or expectations. ego about what kind of job she could get. Yu cites hard work, a bit of luck, and gratitude for the opportunities that followed.

“In terms of comedy, I’ve learned a tremendous amount and that stems from ‘Dr. Ken.’ Every person I’ve worked with, from Ken Jeong to Suzy Nakamura to Jonathan Slavin to Tisha Campbell and Dave Foley to Albert Tsai, they’ve all been very bold in their choices Now sometimes when I don’t know what what I’m going to do, I channel them, like, ‘That’s something that Jonathan taught me, like, in pearl clutching.’ These are things that I might not have thought of on my own, but grew from how wild and hilarious people are on ‘Dr. Ken.'”

When she joined the multicam comedy “Last Man Standing” for its final seasons as foreign student Jen, Yu worked alongside Wilkinsburg native Jonathan Adams (“The most handsome man, the best laugh,” a said Yu) and exchanged notes about their time in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always very exciting to meet someone who is from Pittsburgh or who has gone through the CMU program, like Ming Na Wen,” Yu said. ‘one I looked up to on the ‘Last Man Standing’ set because he really understood how to stand up for himself as a black actor. He just did. He wasn’t showing me how to do anything, but just being who he was, I learned a lot from him.

While “Reboot” is a single-camera comedy about a multicam sitcom reboot — with Yu’s Elaine being more of a part of the single-camera element and not a performer on the multicam show within the show — Yu was literally surrounded by familiar walls.

“The actual set (“Step Right Up”) is taken from “Last Man Standing”. The back of the (walls) will say things from “The Last Man Standing” like “Mike Baxter’s Office”. is our ‘Last Man Standing’ lounge. There’s a lot of meta going on,” Yu said. back of one of the walls, and his name is there.”

Other than returning to film a role in the 2015 holiday comedy “Love the Coopers,” Yu doesn’t return to Pittsburgh or the CMU campus much — if she did, she says, she’d return to Girasole in Shadyside and Rose Tea Café and Ali Baba in Oakland – but she takes on a “little sister” who comes out of the CMU drama program every year. She is particularly keen to help them move from the highly structured environment of conservatory training at CMU to the real world where each graduate “tells their own story”.

“It’s a big step for anyone who’s 21,” Yu said. “I had an amazing big sister named Angela Lin. for Love’ with Ray Romano, and she really put her heart into it and helped me navigate not just industry and agent issues, business issues, but life issues, like What do you do when you feel a little out of it I also have a big brother from Carnegie Mellon Lea Coco who just wrapped “Queen Sugar” He got me my first job at the Midtown Bar and Kitchen as a hostess. Both of them still give me life advice, boyfriend advice – all kinds of advice – and I aspire to be the kind of older influence that they have been for me. .

You can reach TV editor Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or facebook. Ask questions about TV via email or phone. Please include your first name and location.

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