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Ken Marino and Adam Scott on How ‘Party Down’ Made Them Realize They Deserve Better TV Shows

Ken Marino credits his pal Adam Scott for making the unlikely and unexpected “Party Down” revival a reality. “Adam helped guide this and make this happen in a real way,” he tells Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast. “I think everybody in that cast recognized how special it was, and to just kind of go back and to get to do some more, to be with these people again, creatively, it’s a real gift.”

The first two seasons of “Party Down” aired on Starz in 2009 and 2010; the revival takes place a decade after the show’s last episode and features the returns of Marino as Ron, the slightly clueless catering manager who now owns the business — well, running it out of his van — and Scott as Henry, the sardonic failed actor who’s now a teacher and working on the side with Party Down to help pay for his alimony.

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Also back is showrunner John Enbom, who’s executive producing along with fellow “Party Down” alyms Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”), Paul Rudd (“Ant-Man”), Dan Etheridge (“iZombie”) and Scott.

Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast recently sat down with Scott and Marino to talk about the revival, including whether we’ll get more episodes beyond this bonus six. But we also went in several directions with the conversation – including Marino’s side musical project, the story behind how these two pals met, scoop on the new season of Scott’s current series, “Severance” (spoiler alert: there’s no scoop) and so much more.

Also on this episode: the Awards Circuit Roundtable looks at what has happened so far with the writers strike, and how it has already impacted Emmy season. Listen below!

“It was hard to believe it was actually happening,” Scott says of the return of “Party Down.” “And we had a bunch of COVID close calls where it almost didn’t., we had like a case and then another case. And if we had one more positive case come in, the whole thing was going to be canceled, because we were going to run out of time with the cast. We had a six-week window with this particular group of people. When we were finally on set, me and Ken started doing a Ron/Henry scene, where he’s showing me his van. That was the first thing we shot and I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re doing this.’ It was great. And the same vibe. That’s something that I love about the revival is it looks and feels the same.”

Scott said “Party Down” was the first show he starred in that he felt was something special — and it led to his string of success after that, including “Parks and Recreation,” “Big Little Lies” and “Severance.” “I think that when you have an experience like that, you’re sort of chasing that for the rest of time,” he says. “I hadn’t had an experience like that before. It’s rare. But it also sets a new standard for yourself. Not only ‘this is what I should be doing,’ but that ‘this is what I deserve. I can contribute to something that’s really good.’ It’s so easy to sell yourself short after being kind of swatted down for 15 or so years in showbiz. To sort of start believing that you don’t deserve quality things, that you should take whatever you can get. For me, [‘Party Down’] certainly showed me that I should be seeking out things that make me feel good.”

Marino and Scott also reminisced about how they first met:

MARINO: This might be the one of the first times we met. We met through Paul [Rudd]. I think we went to some costume parties back in the day. Rob Thomas’s Halloween parties.

SCOTT: That was like, 2001, 2002.

MARINO: And I had I just bought my first home. I had no furniture in the place. And you and Paul and Joe Lo Truglio came over and watched the Super Bowl. And I remember that.

SCOTT: That was 2003. Super Bowl January 2003. My wife Naomi was working at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live.’ So [you and I] drove down to the Kimmel show for his first show. That’s the first time we really hung out. That Super Bowl Sunday.

MARINO: My personal headline is I met my wife at Kimmel, at that premiere show. We started dating, I met her and we hung out that night and we watched Coldplay together. We sat on the front little steps there because they played on Hollywood Boulevard.

And the duo recall the origins story of “Party Down,” which happened after “Veronica Mars” was canceled, and Thomas decided to pursue the “Party Down” script that he had been developing with Enbom and the others.

”Veronica Mars’ got canceled, so Rob was like, ‘I want to just make the pilot,'” Scott recalls. “He got Ken, me, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen and there were some people in other roles, like Andrea Savage was playing Lizzy [Caplan’s]  role. And we just made a homemade pilot in Rob’s backyard. And then it was a year and a half, two years later, that Starz picked it up. But that first homemade pilot, which I have not seen since, we just made this homemade thing. And then Starz was interested and picked it up.”

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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