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Interview: Connor Buckley

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Hopes where high when FOX announced that it had picked up family comedy Surviving Jack as a mid-season show for the network. After only a handful of episodes, the network decided to cancel its freshman comedy. Almost instantly, fans created online petitions, videos and went to social media to express their anger over the cancellation of the show. One of the stars of Surviving Jack, Connor Buckley is also one of the thousands who is pushing for the show to get a second life.

Connor sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about Surviving Jack, his thoughts on why the show was cancelled and what fans can do to help spread the word to bring Surviving Jack back.

Pop Culture Principle – For those who still haven’t seen Surviving Jack, can you tell us what the show is about?

Connor Buckley – Surviving Jack takes place in the 90s. I think it’s the first show of its kind that focuses on the 90s. It has all the great music and clothes from the 90s and it’s a really nice throwback to that time. The show centers on a family in San Diego. The father is an oncologist and the mother was formerly a stay at home mom, but now she is going to law school. So the father, Jack, is now in charge of parenting us and his style of parenting is a lot more act first, ask questions later; which is what a lot of the comedy centers around.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about your character Frankie?

Connor Buckley – My character Frankie is a freshman in high school and he is kind of coming into his own as a young man. He shot up 10 inches over the summer so he is kind of figuring out the mechanics of his new body. He’s also trying to learn how to talk with girls; the classic high school stuff. I have two best friends Mikey and George. Mikey is my little Mexican friend and George has been held back a few times and is the one who guides us when it comes to breaking the rules.

The whole thing is just us adjusting to this new dynamic of our father taking a leading role in our lives and hilarity ensues.

Pop Culture Principle – Did you also deal with that awkwardness while you where in high school?

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Connor Buckley – Oh hell yea man! When I was filming, I was still pretty much living it. It was really nice to have an outlet for my life. It’s kind of trippy sometimes when the roles you get are usually where you are at in your life. I’m not sure if it is that way for everyone, but that’s how it has been for me. Playing Frankie kind of helped me grow up a lot. It was weird being on set working on a scene with Chris and he would be doing one of his parenting things and out of the dialogue, it would hit me and I would get cold chills because it was the truth and the writers where so smart.

That’s why I am so adamant about bringing the show back because there is nothing out there right now like this show: it’s the truth. Everything I’ve been hearing from parents and kids who have been watching the show, it’s been bringing them together and it’s a light hearted way of guiding people through this modern age of general confusion.

Pop Culture Principle – Chris Meloni is mainly known for his dramatic work. What was it like working with him on the show?

Connor Buckley – Chris is a gangster! He’s been doing this a long time. Many people don’t know, but I think he started out in comedy and he is theatrically trained. He’s very animated and extremely lively and really kept the show rolling. He put a lot of his ideas into that character and a lot of what people see is him along with the original concept of the writers, but he played a very big role in developing his character.

Pop Culture Principle – Do the actors have to stick to the script or can you do any improvised lines?

Connor Buckley – We get to play plenty. Basically, the way it went, we would give them what they wanted originally. Once they had it, every take after that could be whatever we wanted to do. It was pretty cool to see if our takes made the final cut and some of them did. We all came together to make it and it wasn’t just FOX’s vision, but everyone there.

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Pop Culture Principle – How quickly did the cast bond?

Connor Buckley – Basically immediately! From the first table read, I’m pretty sure myself, Tyler and Kevin started hanging out. Everyone was really cool and there where no rotten apples on that show. It’s weird, you always hear about people being miserable on a show. When you have to be with a group of people every day, it’s really important to have good chemistry. Everyone on set from the cast and the crew where great. The producers had a no asshole policy and that was absolutely true.

Pop Culture Principle – FOX recently announced that it would not be picking up the show for a second season. When did you and the cast find out it was cancelled?

Connor Buckley – We found out right before the last episode. I wasn’t too salty about it because I sort of saw it coming. There was so little advertising for the show that it seemed to me that they were trying to sink the ship. I had just created a Twitter account and didn’t realize how huge that Twitter was as far as the business goes. My first instinct was to Tweet RIP Surviving Jack and people started to freak out. I realized that we had one more episode left, so I had to delete it immediately. Shows like Community have to deal with this every season and every year the fans brought it back and it’s pretty cool. Right now it just makes me appreciate our fans even more who are trying to help us get picked up again.

Pop Culture Principle – What do you think where some of the reasons the series was cancelled? Could it have been a bit edgy in some aspects?

Connor Buckley – It’s definitely not an edgy show in terms of vulgarity or anything like that. You have television shows like The Following or any crime or cop show where it’s all about murder and shock value and a lot of people like that. Our show is very uplifting and empowering. It’s about a family coming together as a unit and I don’t think the powers that be want the family unit to stay together because there isn’t a lot of money in that. It isn’t in style and it doesn’t keep people fearful; it uplifts them and I don’t know if it is as lucrative as the opposite. That’s why I am going to crazy over the cancellation. Just hearing how the show affects people I am going nuts over it and I am not going to stop.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you know if the creators of the show Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern are looking at talking with other networks about picking up the show?

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Connor Buckley – I don’t know why they wouldn’t. They are smart guys so I am sure they are doing something. If they are, I don’t know about it, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t be. I am sure they are.

Pop Culture Principle – What networks do you think would be a good fit for Surviving jack?

Connor Buckley – Well, obviously TBS or I also heard USA could be a good home, but cable networks may not have the budget to hold someone like Chris Meloni. I really can’t see it on ABC or CBS, but if they see dollar signs, I am sure they will do anything.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans do to help spread the word about Surviving Jack and getting it picked up by FOX or another network?

Connor Buckley – Just keep the buzz going! We have people doing all the regular stuff, tweeting and getting more folks to sign the online petitions. People are mailing tennis balls to FOX and emailing them. We also have a website called SaveSurvivingJack.com and that will have all the information fans will need to help save the show. Right now, just keep blowing up social media, talk to your friends and get the numbers up. That way we can show a solid fan base and we can take that to any network and show them X amount of people are crazy about the show.

Also, I make it really clear that anyone who says anything negative I shut it down immediately. That’s not what we are doing here. We are keeping it positive. No dissing FOX or calling executives stupid because they make the decisions. I try and keep it really cool wherever I have control.

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Pop Culture Principle – If the show doesn’t come back, what are you most proud of about the show?

Connor Buckley – I just have to be happy that we got 8 episodes out there and that it’s on sites like Hulu where people can continue to watch them and enjoy them. Each episode of the show has something to teach and the show made people happy which doesn’t happen a lot on TV today. I would just be happy about what we did, but if we could do more episodes that would be great.

Pop Culture Principle – Any final thoughts or comments to the fans about the show?

Connor Buckley – I want to thank the fans for being really cool. It’s an exciting thing for me because I have never led a bunch of people like this and it’s been a cool experience for me to watch people get really hyped about this show. Everyone is bringing their skills to the table designing websites, making memes and just getting the word out there about saving the show. It started out with people asking me what they could do and from there they just took over and started doing their own thing to help support the show. It’s just empowering and that is part of what the show was about.

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