It's the decade of the quirky girl on TV, and Zooey Deschanel is one of the eccentric (and adorable) heroines leading the charge with the Fox hit comedy "New Girl." Only two seasons in, this silly, charming, and oh-so-current series has proved it has staying power. In fact, "New Girl" has already been renewed for a third season. Deschanel (who plays the new girl, Jess) anchors the show, but its ensemble cast has comedic chops to rival the talent in many long-running comedies. In fact, Deschanel has already been nominated for two Golden Globes and an Emmy for her role as Jess (she won a Critics' Choice Television Award), and co-star Max Greenfield (who plays Schmidt) has been nominated for an Emmy, a Critics' Choice Television Award, and a Golden Globe.
Deschanel and Greenfield gathered at PaleyFest 2013 with their co-stars -- Hannah Simone (Cece), Lamorne Morris (Winston), and Jake Johnson (Nick) -- to discuss the popular series and what's in store for the gang. Also on the panel dishing about the "New Girl" world were Katherine Pope, executive producer; Jake Kasdan, executive producer and director; Brett Baer, executive producer; Dave Finkel, executive producer; and Elizabeth Meriwether, creator and executive producer.
1. The Nick-and-Jess kiss was a last-minute decision.
Meriwether, Baer, and Finkel all confirmed that Nick and Jess's relationship will continue to grow! And it all got going with the serious smooch at the end of Season 2 episode "Cooler." Meriwether had to push for that kiss to be filmed; Baer and Finkel initially thought it was too soon, but they eventually agreed that the move to get Nick and Jess together was for the best.
A testament to the creator's gut instinct, Deschanel and Johnson didn't even know the kiss was going to happen until a few days before filming; it wasn't included in the initial script or performed during the table read.
Meriwether said that she didn't want a "Moonlighting" scenario, in which the romantic tension became unnatural. It's best to stay true to the characters and do what feels right, she said, adding that there are benefits to doing what feels right in the moment. Baer and Finkel later confessed that Nick has, in fact, been in love with Jess since the first episode.
2. Greenfield doesn't know how the Internet works.
Johnson and Greenfield got into a playful skirmish because, apparently, Greenfield doesn't know how the Internet works. Greenfield insisted that he's proficient at all things Web, but Johnson called him out at every turn: "You don't get the Internet, pal. That's one thing I know for sure." When Deschanel tried to get Johnson to let it go, he teasingly continued, "He does not understand the Internet; I will not let him have that!"
When asked about Cece and Schmidt's relationship, the cast and execs wouldn't divulge any secrets about their future, but Schmidt blew the whole crew away with his thoughtful, poignant, and honest analysis of their relationship. "I really think what we started to do with them is we realized that both these characters kind of needed to grow up themselves before they could be together," Greenfield said. "And I think, especially on Schmidt's end, there's a lot of room between where he is and where he needs to be in order to be in a real relationship. ... I think he had a taste of what love is, and I think, obviously, you hold on to that moving forward, and it definitely informs every relationship you would then have after that."
After the applause subsided, he said, "Hashtag articulate." Maybe he does know something about the Web!
4. Off to the Windy City!
The "New Girl" gang is heading to Chicago in a few weeks! Why? For Nick's con-man dad's funeral. While that sounds like a downer of an episode, the cast ensured fans that it's a hoot as well as heartfelt.
It also has a great guest cast, which includes Margo Martindale as Nick's mom, Nick Kroll as Nick's brother, and Bill Burr as Nick's cousin. Kasdan said that the episode is so unique that it feels like a pilot for a different show. Another bonus: Zooey dresses up as Elvis, which she said is a dream come true.
5. Speaking of parents ...
Rob Reiner -- who intimidated Deschanel on the set because he's "whoa," as she put it -- will be back this season as Jess's dad!
6. A full flashback episode is being filmed now.
"New Girl" has dabbled in flashbacks since the beginning, and now, the cast and execs revealed that they are currently filming a full flashback episode. Meriwether wrote the upcoming installment, a story about how the main characters lost their virginity. "I couldn't help myself!" Meriwether added.
As for Schmidt's scene (he'll be in his Schmidt fat suit) ... let's just say that he gets a little overzealous with the lube.
7. "The Three Stooges" with boobs
Deschanel and Simone both agreed that the boob-slapping fight was the "weirdest experience ever," as Deschanel put it, saying that it was "like 'The Three Stooges' with boobs."
The best part: Meriwether had notes from the network that told them to "watch the jiggle."
8. Old Nick coming back?
Meriwether admitted that her favorite happening from Season 2 is the "old Nick" storyline, where Nick encounters a man who seems to be his older self sent back from the future. In fact, Meriwether, Baer, and Finkel confessed that they were just talking about old Nick and hinted at bringing him back -- particularly around the prophecy old Nick shared with young Nick: that he'll hurt Jess's feelings.
9. Nick's zombie detective novel is a thing.
All the executive producers agreed that they'll pursue the storyline of Nick's zombie detective novel that's in the works. Meriwether jokingly added, "It's fun watching Nick's writing career blossom."
10. Schmidt's first name?
Baer admitted that the writers had written Schmidt's first name into an episode but then cut it out. Now it's down to two name choices, and the execs joked that they plan to build it up longer than Nick and Jess's romance.
"I don't ever want to know what it is," Max teased, suggesting it stays in the spirit of Cher, Prince, and Seal. Let's just hope it's not Cosmo!
11. There are actual rules to True American?
Moderator Rob Moynihan called True American the "hottest game sweeping the nation," and he might not be far off, with so many iterations of the fictional drinking game cropping up on the Web.
Amazingly, it turns out there are rules to it, but there weren't at first. Deschanel said that the first time the game was written into the show, the cast was just making up the most cryptic rules possible on the spot, but the second time, the writers did impose rules. She also added that they are not responsible for any injuries that occur to fans who are playing the game at home. Apparently tweeps reach out to her, complaining that they got hurt.
Morris added these words of wisdom: "Drink responsibly under the supervision of your parents. 'True American' ages 5 and up."
"New Girl" airs on Tuesdays at 9 PM on Fox.
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