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Encore Presentation: Cast of "8 Simple Rules" on Life After John Ritter

Aired January 17, 2004 - 21:00   ET


JOHN RITTER: Kyle, what are you doing here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came by to see Kerry.

RITTER: First Bridget, now Kerry? Kyle, what are your intentions with my daughters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell you that!


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, four months after John Ritter's shocking death on the set of the hit show "8 Simple Rules," his fellow cast members remember their co-star and friend and reveal what it's been like to pick up the pieces, forging ahead without him.

Joining us, Katey Sagal -- Caty Hennessy -- she's Kate Hennessy, John Ritter's wife and now his widow on "8 Simple Rules." She'd worked with him before this show, and she pulled the cast together to keep "8 Simple Rules" going. Kaley Cuoco -- she is Bridget, the oldest child in the TV family. At first, she rebelled against the idea of the show going on without Ritter. Amy Davidson, the middle child, Kerry, on "8 Simple Rules." Martin Spanjers -- he plays Rory, the only Hennessy boy. And the brilliant James Garner, Emmy Award winner, who stepped into the cast as Grandpa Jim after John Ritter's tragic death. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

One quick advance note. Dr. Andrew Weil returns tomorrow night. And next Monday night, the night of the Iowa caucuses, we'll do two live shows at 9:00 and midnight Eastern, and Bob Woodward will be aboard as special guest, the brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Washington Post." Bob Woodward will be with us next Monday night following the run-up of the Iowa caucuses. And we'll have Wolf Blitzer and the whole gang with us, as well.

We begin the show tonight with Katey Sagal. She plays Kate Hennessy on "8 Simple Rules."

Let's go back to that day. What happened that terrible day?

KATEY SAGAL, JOHN RITTER'S CO-STAR IN "8 SIMPLE RULES": Well, what happened that day was we went to work, as usual, and...

KING: This was what day of the week? SAGAL: It was a Thursday.

KING: And you tape on a Friday, right?

SAGAL: Thursdays, we usually do some pre-taping and -- yes, we shoot the actual show in front of an audience on a Friday. This particular Thursday, we were doing promos, which we did a lot, and we camera-blocked, which means we put our show up in front of the cameras, so they can practice their moves -- and you know, just a normal day. Everything was fun, as usual, and funny, as usual...

KING: Always around him, it was fun, right?

SAGAL: Always around him, it was fun, yes.

KING: And was he apparently OK?

SAGAL: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Definitely OK. We had no indication that anything was going on with him until he said his stomach was upset and wanted to go to lay down for a minute, which none of us thought anything unusual at all. He took naps a lot. He was a very high-energy guy, and he just needed to stop for a minute here and there. So no, it didn't seem like anything was going on.

KING: Was there then a commotion, or take him to the hospital? I mean...

SAGAL: It wasn't -- it wasn't what the papers seemed to make it sound like he collapsed. He didn't collapse. He went to his room and he wasn't feeling well, and he started to vomit. And so they decided to call the nurse, and we really...

KING: Was the nurse there?

SAGAL: On the lot, there's a nurse there. And we thought it was possibly food poisoning. The rest of us cast members went on with the rest of the day. I left early. Amy went somewhere else. Kaley went somewhere else. And you know, none of us thought anything unusual was happening.

KING: Then how did Katey Sagal get the news?

SAGAL: I got a phone call at 10:00 o'clock at night on my cell phone, which I never answer my cell phone at night. I had been at a function for my kids' school and came home and looked at my cell phone and decided to check the message. And there was a message from our producer saying John was in the hospital and I needed to call him. And I called him and...

KING: The producer.

SAGAL: I called the producer. And at this point, they thought it was his heart, and he was going into surgery. I said, Do I need to be there? He said, I don't think so. I think it's OK. And he called me back in five minutes and said, You need to get here. So...

KING: What hospital?

SAGAL: We were at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, right near the studio, right across the street from the studio, yes.

KING: And were you there when he died?

SAGAL: He had already passed by the time I got there.

KING: Stupid to ask how shocking was it, but this had to be out of the blue.

SAGAL: This was, you know -- yes, this was one of those completely -- I mean, it's still shocking, Larry. I don't -- I still -- you know, we still come to work sometimes and we -- it's weird. You know, it's a little bit -- it's, like, What? But yes, this was completely out of the blue and kind of just took our breath away.

KING: You're working actors. You're friends. What's the first things that go through you? You have to think...

SAGAL: When you lose a friend?

KING: Yes.

SAGAL: Well, I think it's what goes through you when you lose anybody. I think the first thing is the horribleness and the sadness, and then I think it's that reminder of how fragile life is and how precious every moment is.

KING: Was the whole cast there that night?

SAGAL: Yes. We eventually -- everybody got there. I mean, our producers are very really amazing people and they delicately handled it with the kids, making sure that they knew when somebody else was around. And you know, it's been an interesting experience because we were his TV family. I mean, we loved and adored him, but his family was there. And you know, it's -- it was a bigger shock for them.

KING: Sure. How did the wife handle it?

SAGAL: You know...

KING: She's quite a woman.

SAGAL: Amy's quite a woman, yes. I love Amy. How -- you know...

KING: Because she was extraordinarily brave. I spoke to her on the phone a few days later, right before the memorial service.

SAGAL: Well, you know, you could really see why John and Amy were John and Amy and soulmates. They were so much alike. She's quick-witted. She's bright. She's hysterically funny. And you know, I mean, what I observed from Amy was Amy was taking care of Stella (ph). Amy's a mom. So you know, in that situation, you do what your instinct tells you, which is... KING: Was everyone together at the hospital?

SAGAL: No, Stella was not at the hospital.

KING: I mean, but the rest were -- you were all -- you were together with Amy and...

SAGAL: You mean the cast of the show? No. Actually, I was there, and then the kids -- we all met at Martin's house, who lives right near the hospital. So no, they didn't actually come to the hospital.

KING: When it all set in, when did you start thinking, What happens to me?

SAGAL: I don't know that I thought that for a while. I mean, you think so many things. I think -- you mean in terms of business- wise?

KING: Show -- sure. I mean, you're actors. Your career.

SAGAL: Yes. I think that...

KING: It's logical.

SAGAL: Well, the next day, it was pretty amazing. We all met at the set and before -- we all congregated there by noon. And it was a call from the producers for to us all meet. And suddenly, there were hundreds of people there from the lot. This was a guy that was loved by everybody. This was a guy that, if you met him in the elevator once, you were in love with him and he was in love with you in a genuine way.

KING: Absolutely.

SAGAL: He was incredibly unusual that way with an enormous spark. So I think that -- I think probably, all of us -- I know for me, I thought, Well, this is -- this -- we don't go forward right now. Now we don't -- I don't know what we do. I know that the producers had to immediately think, like, Well, what do we do? And...

KING: Of course. How many shows were in the can?

SAGAL: We had just done three of the new season, and we were in the middle of shooting our -- we were about to shoot the fourth.

KING: Was part of the decision-making maybe not to show any of them? Was that part of the discussion?

SAGAL: You know, I wasn't privy to all those discussions. I believe that -- I'm sure all of those discussions were had. I think the choices were either we don't do any of it or we continue. I think, ultimately, those were the decisions, the choices.

KING: Did they ask for your input?

SAGAL: Did they ask my input?

KING: Well, you're the star now.

SAGAL: Yes. Well, first I think -- they handled it great. I'll tell you the first thing they did, is they asked the Ritter family their input, which was the most respectful thing ABC could have done. They handled the whole thing beautifully. And I think nothing would have happened if Amy or Stella or the kids...

KING: Said no?

SAGAL: ... or anybody said no. So that was their first move. And then I think it was probably presented to the producers and it's -- it's -- the whole thing has been very organically, by the gut, How do we feel? I mean, from network on down. I mean, I had intimate conversations with network people that maybe I wouldn't have had, just because everybody wanted to do the right thing.

KING: So there was no, like, suit activity here with demographics and money and...

SAGAL: It didn't feel that way. Well, you know, they don't tell me that stuff, Larry.


KING: But you aren't aware of any of that?

SAGAL: No. I mean, I'm sure those conversations were going on. You know, I'm sure they were -- you know, from a business standpoint, I'm sure they're weighing things, you know? But it seemed much more humanistic, all the decisions.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll talk about John Ritter, the man, and the show continuing. The entire cast is with us. They'll be joining us later. We're with Katey Sagal. Don't go away.


RITTER: You're teaching sex education?

SAGAL: Oh, yes. The school needed a nurse to fill in because Miss Callahan got the flu.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? I heard she got knocked up.

KALEY CUOCO: So you just say yes without totally considering how it can completely ruin my life?

RITTER: Bridget, I think it's an honor your mother is going to teach you sexual education. After all, she taught me.





SAGAL: What we're trying to say is that sex is a big step for all of us.

RITTER: And we in no way want you to have sex. We are not giving you permission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you talking about?

RITTER: Fine. You want me to say it? I'll say it. Safe sex, condoms. You know the drill.


KING: I love it. You're laughing out loud right here.

SAGAL: Oh, you can't not laugh when you think about John!

KING: Yes. He was a natural around comedy, right?

SAGAL: He was a naturally funny person. He was one of those people that -- you know, he can make anything funny. If he's just having a conversation with you, he's suddenly funny.

KING: How good an actor was he?

SAGAL: Oh, he was a great actor. He was a wonderful actor. And the way that I know is because he -- he was a giving actor. He understood about working with, which to me always makes a great actor. It's because they know how to give.

KING: Easy to be around, too, right?

SAGAL: So, so easy to be around and loving and kind. I mean, truly, like, a joyful person. You know, I used to -- when I first met John, I thought, OK, so where's the -- you know, Where's the dark side?

KING: You worked with him before, right?

SAGAL: I'd worked with him before. And you know, I genuinely don't -- I never saw one, really. I never saw, like, a bad mood. I'm sure he had them. But he just had such joy for what he was doing. He was so grateful to be doing what he was doing.

KING: Very involved in the show, ratings and how they were doing or not?

SAGAL: Well, in a -- not in a businessy sort of...


KING: I think he was more interested in the kids on the show, how the storylines were going on the show. I mean, of course, we all -- you know, when you start one of these things, you want it to be successful, and it's so rare that you find good writing and a good bunch of people and the chemistry works. And so you know, it's very exciting when the public catches on.

KING: And you've had a few of them.

SAGAL: Well, I had one other one, yes, and now this one is really -- this one really feels good. And so he was genuinely excited about all that. You know, it was every time they'd ask us to show up somewhere to promote, he was -- you know, he was like a cheerleader.

KING: All right, what was it like to come back? First, when the decision was made, were you happy?

SAGAL: Yes, I believed that it was the right decision. I believed it on many different levels. I thought that for us, as people, and his friends, it was a better a better choice than abruptly ending it. I think that for people that had invested in our show and realized that our show was a family show and that families go through transition and they go through horrible transitions sometimes, things that you think you'll never get through -- and to be a part of a group that is able to show a family that gets through, I thought that was the right choice to make. And they said to me, We're going to deal with it in real time. We're going to deal with it like...

KING: He died.

SAGAL: ... it actually happened. And I thought, OK, that's the right choice, too.

KING: The idea to bring Jim Garner in?

SAGAL: That was a great decision. I mean, you know...

KING: Great.

SAGAL: ... we took about four weeks off before we came back, and the writers had an opportunity to write that -- the wonderful return that we did. And in that process, there was lots of talk about which relative they'd bring in.

KING: Was that return show tough to do?

SAGAL: It was -- yes, it was tough to do.

KING: Same set, and he ain't there.

SAGAL: It was hard to do. We're a very tight unit on "8 Simple Rules." We have a lot of love and support. And we knew we wouldn't be just -- being judged. It felt safe over there, so -- but it was hard and odd because there you are -- as an actor, you're looking for things to draw on, so you didn't have to look very far because we were there, playing his make-believe family, and yet we felt like he was really our family.

KING: How about that thin line between that first script back, Are we maudlin or are we funny or what?

SAGAL: Well, this is what I salute our writers. We have wonderful writers, and they really walked that line gracefully.

KING: A tough line.

SAGAL: And -- yes, a really tough line, and it could have gone either way. I never -- I knew they could do it. I just think they're wonderful. And then by adding Jim Garner, which to me was the perfect...

KING: Stroke.

SAGAL: ... you know, the perfect stroke because he just needs to sort of be there and it brings reality and it's -- he's just such a presence.

KING: They'll meet us in a couple of minutes. How do you like working with kids?

SAGAL: Well, the kids...

KING: W.C. Fields said don't.

SAGAL: Well, we worked with the dogs last week. I'll let go of that.


SAGAL: No, no. I don't mean to offend! But these kids are great. I mean, this is -- and I've worked with a -- actually, I've had great experiences with kids. I've never worked with little, little ones. I raised little, little ones. But these kids are incredibly professional, very experienced.

KING: Has Mrs. Ritter been to the set?

SAGAL: Amy has not come to the set yet. She's very supportive of what we're doing, and we were in touch with her a lot during the break before we first came back.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll take some calls for Katey Sagal. And then at the bottom of the hour, the rest of the cast will join us, the three youngsters. And then in the final two segments, James Garner will join us. We'll be right back.


RITTER: So not pregnant?

SAGAL: Nope.

RITTER: How do you feel?

SAGAL: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You little twerp! You, like, totally scuffed my shoe!


RITTER: So, not pregnant!




RITTER: Yes, I did, you know, except it was weird. You know, my father was a country music singer and...

KING: One of the best.

RITTER: ... a motion picture actor, Tex Ritter. And I sort of had a normal upbringing, except Dad would come down in full regalia, with the boots and the guns and the hats. And the horse would eat with us. But other than that, it was pretty normal.




KING: That's John Ritter, who was great in that play in New York, "The Dinner Party," by the way.


KING: He was fantastic. Katey Sagal is our guest. She plays Kate Hennessy on "8 Simple Rules." We'll take some calls. The rest of the cast is coming.

Syracuse, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I was -- I have a question for Katey Sagal.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I was wondering if down the road, if you would -- your character would remarry?

SAGAL: Well, there has been talk about a possible love interest, not this season but maybe next season. We're sort of -- as we've started this process, we're kind of going in order. Now we're introducing some family members that are coming in. I think that, ultimately, she may meet somebody, but as it would be in life, it's too soon. You know, she's just lost her husband and the kids are adjusting.

KING: Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Katey, what is your best memory of John during practice on the show?

SAGAL: My best memory of John? Well, I have about a zillion. You know, he just did -- anything -- any time there was a break, we would go into a bit, a funny bit. I mean, I have never laughed on a job so hard as I've laughed working with John Ritter. So I can't pick one. He was always a joy.

KING: Attleboro, Massachusetts. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I'm wondering -- Larry, are you there?

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Yes. I'm wondering how Amy Yasbeck and Stella are doing.

SAGAL: Oh, me? Well...

KING: Yes. You're the guest.


SAGAL: I thought she said to you.

KING: I know.

SAGAL: Amy and Stella are, you know, hanging in there. Stella's in school, and they're doing as well as can be expected.

KING: They had the toughest time, didn't they, the youngsters, handling this?

SAGAL: And he's got amazing kids, Stella and the three grown ones and -- I mean, he has an amazing family.

KING: The son is an actor, right?

SAGAL: Well, Jason's on "Joan of Arcadia." And Carly's (ph) in school and Tyler's in school and -- you know, they're fabulous -- he was a fabulous dad.

KING: New Orleans. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Katey. Larry?


CALLER: Katey, I would like to say that, you know, this is one of the best shows to come along since the '80s. I never thought they'd make another show that would be so terrific. And I absolutely love all of y'all and John Ritter. And I'd like to say that keeping his character alive every week is so wonderful. And do you think ever that maybe possibly Amy would make some kind of guest appearance when she's, like, maybe a few months down the line, feeling, you know, like, a little bit different and -- you know, you have to move on and things get better for you. Do you think she'll ever appear on the show?

SAGAL: I'm not sure. I think that would be wonderful. But I just wanted to say thank you for recognizing our show in that way because what I love about our show is that it's funny, and then it also sort of -- and it makes a point. And I think that given the circumstances, I think that that ability has really served us well.

KING: How did you get the role?

SAGAL: I went and auditioned.

KING: You did?

SAGAL: Oh, I had to beg to get in because it was a small part and they thought I wouldn't want it, and Would I read? I mean, people have this odd concept that once you're at a certain -- you know, you've done a show for a while that you don't want to audition and -- no, no, no, no. I wanted to work with John. I didn't read the script, actually, until -- first I wanted to work with John, then we called them, then I read the script.

KING: Did he work on your audition?

SAGAL: He was there, yes, and then he would come out in the hallway -- you do these auditions, these big, scary auditions with all the network people. And he'd come out in the hallway and tell me that I was his favorite choice. And he was rooting for me. And then -- oh, I remember. At my final audition, they wanted him to leave the room and he wouldn't leave.


SAGAL: He said, No, I'm staying. So he was...

KING: North Bay, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Katey. Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I'm just wondering -- I loved John Ritter, and I was just wondering, was he really a practical joker on the set? And was there any practical jokes that was made to you on the set?

SAGAL: Oh, let's see. Well, he -- he made practical jokes all the tile. Once the kids get out here, they'll imitate him. They do it all the time.

KING: They do?

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh. We're at work, and they go into bits and -- you know, John is so with us. I mean, and -- you know, we go to work, and like I said, you know, he's joyous. So the kids -- you know, we all riff on him.

KING: Because he's still around, in a sense. SAGAL: Oh, yes. He's there.

KING: Evansville, Indiana. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I wanted to ask Katey what her favorite episode was with John Ritter.

SAGAL: The favorite episode? Well, I sort of liked -- oh, gosh. I like so many of them. I liked the Halloween episode, where we all sat in the treehouse. And then I liked where he wore the little axe in his hat.

KING: How did you keep from laughing?

SAGAL: Oh, well, I didn't. If you ever watch our outtake reel, I used to bust up all the time. He made all of us laugh.

KING: Because he had that...

SAGAL: But eventually -- see, he had that fine line. I mean, he could just kick in. John -- you know, it was one -- he was one of those guys that you didn't know what he was doing, and then it was time cameras roll and we're on the mark, and he was the money.

KING: By the way, did you see "Bad Santa," his last movie?

SAGAL: Oh, hysterical.

KING: What a movie.

SAGAL: What a movie.

KING: That is raucous but funny.

SAGAL: That's really -- yes.

KING: And he was great.

SAGAL: He was great.

KING: He had that guy down.

SAGAL: Yes. He was -- he was great.

KING: Yes. He was -- he -- he's missed.

SAGAL: He's missed, and I -- and I -- I'm so happy, though, that he, at this time, that this was -- that he was where he was, that we all got to see him, that he was...

KING: Happy.

SAGAL: He was happy. He was so happy.

KING: Life was good.

SAGAL: Life was good.

KING: Life ain't fair.




KING: All right, we'll take a break, and when we come back, we'll meet Katey Cooco -- Katey Cuoco, right, Cuoco...

SAGAL: Kaley Cuoco.

KING: ... Kaley Cuoco, who plays the oldest Hennessy child, Bridget, Amy Davidson, who plays Kerry, and Martin Spanjers, who plays Rory. And then in the final two segments, the wonderful James Garner. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


RITTER: Your mother is the most wonderful woman on the planet. She kills herself for this family. She is the salt of the earth!


RITTER: And all of us -- and all of us have been horrible to her these past 24 hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're right, dad.

RITTER: So I was thinking -- I'm right? You never say I'm right. So anyway, I got her these presents. Bridge, you're the chocolates. You're the teddy bear. You're the pencil with the fuzzy eraser. What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gee, dad, you must have gathered all the change from one of the car seats for this stuff.

RITTER: Don't worry about it, I'm giving her the big one.




RITTER: Kyle, what are you doing here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came by to see Kerry.

RITTER: First Bridget now Kerry? Kyle, what are your intentions with my daughters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell that you. You're the father!

OK, OK, not by the belt. I'm going commando.


KING: OK, let's meet more of the cast of "8 Simple Rules," the hit show. Katey Sagal remains with us. She plays Cate Hennessy on ABC's "8 Simple Rules." Kaley Cuoco who plays the oldest Hennessy child, Bridget. Amy Davidson who plays the middle child, Kerry, and Martin Spanjers, who is the baby of the family, the youngest, he plays Rory, and by the way, I have to ask Amy first, you are 24?


KING: I mean, come on, you are 24. You play a girl 15, right?


KING: Is that not supposed to be revealed.

SAGAL: She's younger than 24.

KING: We're not supposed to reveal it?

DAVIDSON: I will be forever 18.

KING: Because you look amazingly young.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

KING: How did you get the part, Kaley?

KALEY CUOCO, ACTRESS: How did I get the part? At a crazy pilot season, like every other girl my age did, auditioned for a million pilots and "8 Simple Rules" came as one of the last ones I had to audition for that season and I didn't want to go. I was so frustrated with life and my career, and I went, and it was like a bunch of callbacks and networks and I was a nervous wreck in a scary room with a bunch of people.

KING: Has it been an enjoyable experience?

CUOCO: It's been incredible. I've never experienced anything like this.

KING: Amy, how did you get it? The same thing?

DAVIDSON: Kind of the same thing. My story is a little different. I had never gotten that far in the process before. I had never screen-tested. So it was my first screen test and I booked that, which was...

KING: Wow!

CUOCO: Super exciting. But the same thing, crazy pilot season, just another one and you feel good about it or you don't. KING: How did you get it, Martin?

MARTIN SPANJERS: Went through the same line of auditions as them but the week before I had been in the same rooms and stuff for another pilot testing.

KING: Another show?


KING: Did you want that one?

SPANJERS: I did at that time. I didn't know about this one.

KING: Did the show ever get on?

SPANJERS: No, it did not. I'm happy to be here.

KING: What's it been like, girls? Did you think, Kaley, it would be canceled?


KING: You wanted it canceled?

CUOCO: I actually did. I was the one who was resilient and upset and just mean about the whole thing.

KING: Didn't want to work without him.

CUOCO: I didn't. When this all happened I was like it's over. I wasn't even thinking about the show. And then when I heard we were possibly going to go back I was kind of angry. I didn't want to be on the stage without John. We all went through our process of getting back on the show.

KING: What do you think now?

CUOCO: I cannot believe what's happened. I'm so happy I didn't walk away. It's just been a miracle. I don't think any other show's experienced what we have, and we're something different.

KING: How do you feel about coming back, Amy?

DAVIDSON: Initially, I thought it was over. I thought, well, that was fun. I'm proud that we came back. I'm proud that we're fighting.

KING: Proud?

DAVIDSON: Proud, yes. It goes along with what Kaley said. I think that hopefully we're a voice for, you know, almost probably every family in the U.S. or in the world. You know, everybody's lost somebody so if we can help in any way, I think that's awesome.

KING: How did you react to coming back, Martin? SPANJERS: My initial reaction the morning after was it's not going to go anywhere, go back to Arizona, but then we met up, and I think as soon as we were together, it kind of clicked for me. We got to do this for the people out there, help somebody out.

KING: What's magic about these young people, Katey?

SAGAL: Oh, they're just amazing.

KING: What's magic about them? Well, you know, they're actors but they're not all show-bizzed (sic) out. They're normal people, and they're also great actors. They're not all celebritied-out (sic). They don't necessarily think they're all that. And that's a refreshing quality. They're really good actors. Really good.

KING: Let's go round. Marty, what was John like to work with for a youngster?

SPANJERS: An amazing person. One time, we were at a benefit in Chicago, and he got to speak, and he talked about being a celebrity, and he said, he compared it to being in the sun. Sometimes it feels nice to be in the sun and you get warm and cozy, but then it takes you away from what's important and isolates you, takes you away from being normal, helping people out, and that's what John was about, you know? And, then he went on to say when you stay in the sun too long you get burned, and as we all know, the sun can kill you, is what he said.

KING: Good tip. What was he like for you, Amy?

DAVIDSON: Just everything that makes you smile. I think I could speak for all of us when I say like we went to work probably mostly to see John. You know, to laugh. We would, Kaley and I especially we'd sit and mimic everything he would say.

KING: We understand you can do that.

CUOCO: Laughter. Just cry laughing.

KING: Let's hear it, Kaley.

CUOCO: Oh, Larry, don't do that to me. Thank you for that, Amy.

DAVIDSON: She does do it.

CUOCO: No, just during the day, every day at work we're always mimicking. His faces.

DAVIDSON: He'd say something and the rest of the day, Kaley, and watch, I'll do it.

CUOCO: He was the funniest person I've ever met. We just laughed.

SAGAL: He was really great with them too. He was really supportive. He would talk to all young people.

CUOCO: He didn't treat us like we were teenagers.

SAGAL: He never talked down to kids. He talked to you right on your level. He was amazing that way. I think that's why he was such a great dad.

KING: Did you break up a lot martin?

SPANJERS: I think he got me once or twice, yes. I tried to hold it in as much as possible. He might have gotten me one or twice?

KING: Did he help you, Amy? Actors can help or not help other actors.

DAVIDSON: Some of my favorite work ever was with John, you know, and you sit across from this person and he just gives off this energy. I always felt safe. I always felt loved and comfortable. My audition scene was a scene with him. Of course, I didn't get to audition with him, but when that came to life, I went, oh, my God this is what it's all about.

KING: The death had to rock you, Kaley. It had to rock you.

CUOCO: I have never experienced death in my family. I had a grandmother died that was older, but never. This was the most shocking experience of my life personally just talking about me. I was absolutely unbelievable. It still sometimes doesn't feel very real.

KING: Amy, tough?

DAVIDSON: Yes, the worst thing that I think I've ever experienced.

KING: You, too, Martin.

SPANJERS: Hope it always will be.

KING: We're going to take a break and come back and meet the man that came to this cast and kind of molded things together and get what they think about one of my favorite people, James Garner. He'll be with us when we come back. Don't go away.


RITTER: Care bear, I hear you're interested in seeing the new French movie.

DAVIDSON: How long were you standing there?

RITTER: Don't worry. I had a chair. What might be fun is if we saw that movie together tonight, a father-daughter foreign film night?

DAVIDSON: I'd rather stay home.

RITTER: Oh, good, we can have a father-daughter stay-at-home dance night. Get your groove on. DAVIDSON: OK, we'll go to the movie. Stop doing that.

RITTER: Works every time!




JAMES GARNER, ACTOR: Bridget, you are not going back to that job.

CUOCO: You're not my parent. You're my grandparent. You're supposed to give me money presents and be cute.

GARNER: Cute? Cute?

Do you know who you're talking to?

I was...

CUOCO: Oh, Ted Williams, I know.

GARNER: I did. I did.

SAGAL: All right!


KING: And we welcome to our panel of Katey Sagal and Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers one of my favorite people on the planet. A great actor and a great guy, the Emmy Award winning Oscar nominated James Garner, who joined the cast as Grandpa Jim.

How did they get you, Jim?

GARNER: They called.

KING: One of those great Garner (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GARNER: And I was ready. I knew what had happened with John, and you know, I knew a little about the show. I knew what the writers did. I did a little background on that and of course I knew Katey's work. I didn't know the other young people's work. I want to say something now. Everybody's referring to them as kids. They are not kids, kids are goats. These are young people.

KING: OK, they're young people. And you're a professional and you have the age standard here.

How good are they?

GARNER: They're wonderful. I was so surprised when I got there, and I found out that these young people know what they're doing. They're there on time. They know their work, and they're so pleasant, and the thing about it is, they're all so loving and giving, and they made me feel at ease when I got there.

KING: Katey, when they told you it was James Garner. They were going to write in a role and that he would have a father, and it would be James Garner, you remember your first thoughts?

SAGAL: I was stunned that they got James Garner. Because they told me they had written in a dad and looking to cast that part. And when they said James Garner, it was like oh, my god, you mean he'll do it?

He's going to do that?

I was so, you know, in awe of James Garner.

KING: He's a great actor.

SAGAL: The greatest.

KING: And a great guy.

SAGAL: And a great guy. So nice. Really, you're a nice guy.

KING: Yes, you're a nice guy, Jim.

GARNER: You just haven't seen me yet.

SAGAL: He is a little cranky sometimes.


KING: Are you comfortable in comedy?

GARNER: Yes, I've always been comfortable in comedy. You don't remember the Doris Day movies and all that stuff?

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). No, and "Maverick" was funny.

GARNER: I've always enjoyed comedy probably more than drama. Because in comedy, you can't -- drama, you can do it with cameras, with the lights, you can do it with sound. In comedy, the joke's got to be right.

KING: Better be funny.

GARNER: Times got to be...

KING: What's he like to work with, Kaley -- Mr. Garner?

CUOCO: Be careful.

KING: Be truthful.

CUOCO: Jim is one of my favorite people in the entire world. He's this calm river through our insanity. We come in and I get to see him every morning and say I love you and have a grandpa in my life. KING: How important was them do you think to write in the role?

CUOCO: It was hugely -- it was very important to have, you know, some sort of a father figure, male -- yes somebody and it was -- yes, the same thing that Katey did, some Garner. "Maverick" was one myself favorite movies and I still tell him that. I was absolutely thrilled I get to see him every day. It's a blessing.

KING: Martin, you're the youngest, what was it like for you?

Did you know James Garner's work?

SPANJERS: Yes, I related to YaYa-Sisterhood first. But -- we've been very lucky to work with John and now James garner, and I think the four of us and the crew have been blessed with them.

KING: Did you know John, Jim?

GARNER: No, I only met John once at a function. How do you do? Nice to see you, And he was so pleasant and very nice. But that's all I knew about John.

KING: Of course, you had a kind of funny thing to step into that. Here's a cast, they've all been together, they've lost their guiding light.

GARNER: They lost their leader.

KING: And here comes the new guy on the block.

GARNER: Well, I couldn't replace John. Nobody could replace John, but maybe we could introduce a character they could go to and have a little bit feeling of family in there with the grandfather.

KING: So, you didn't feel any extra pressure?

GARNER: You always feel pressure, Larry.

KING: Really.

GARNER: You always feel -- well, you know, they didn't know what the show was going to do after John. They didn't know kind of which way to go, and the writers did such a beautiful job on that first script with the funeral and all of that, and the service. It's just a magnificent job by the writers. It's hard to travel that fine line of comedy and reality, and they did such a great job. I felt lucky.

KING: What was it like for you, Amy, to work with Jim?

DAVIDSON: When I -- I just -- I absolutely adore him and he knows that, and I think I can get to be a little...

KING: Looks like a little crush here.

(CROSSTALK) KING: If I was that age?

SAGAL: She's red. She's blushing.

DAVIDSON: You know, what is I'm a pest. I am. And you know, make sure he eats and other things.

KING: You worry about him?

DAVIDSON: I do -- in my nature.

KING: What's he like to work with, pure acting now working.

DAVIDSON: Working -- just like Kaley said. Just like Kaley said, he's got this calmness about him. Now, John Ritter's not replaceable, but the fact that we get to work with James Garner and hear this voice, and have this -- this pro among us is awesome.

KING: You'd never worked with him, had you Katey?

SAGAL: I never had. And I just have to say that when we first came back and had to do this incredibly vulnerable work that none of us were prepared to do, and here was James, and it was so -- he's so, holds his own and I felt like I was working with somebody that could catch me if I fell. And he just really, you know, when I looked in his eyes and I was talking to him like my dad, and I mean, I could cry now. I felt like he was my dad, and it was that kind of strength that got us through.

GARNER: They were the ones that held me up. They really work...

SAGAL: What a lovely bunch we are.

CUOCO: We are so corny.


KING: They held you up.

GARNER: They held me up. I have done sitcoms. I had never worked live this way with a live audience. And they were the ones that bolstering me and whatever, and I loved what they did for me.

KING: How is your health?

GARNER: Good. Good. Oh, I fell and busted my hip -- I didn't break it. Bruised my hip the other day, but other than that, I'm fine.


KING: We'll take a break and get some calls in the rest of our show for this delightful crew that kind of likes each other. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GARNER: Well, when I said I'd fix it, maybe I'm being unnecessarily modest. I'm talking three hours at the hardware store trying out doorbells until I found the exact right well that says, "this is where the Hennessy's live."

Rory, would you do the honor.

SAGAL: Wow! You really nailed us.

GARNER: I know.




DAVIDSON: Mom, if things were normal, dad would be the one taking us to school.

CUOCO: Yeah, wearing those horrible old people slippers.

DAVIDSON: Making us healthy snack lunches that we threw out in the first available trash can.

CUOCO: You're just so lame.

DAVIDSON: What a geek. Dad.

SAGAL: Look, I know this is tough. I don't really feel like going back to work today either, but we have to. So come on. Let's do it.


KING: By the way, on tomorrow night's episode at 8:00, David Spade is on. Who does he play?

SAGAL: He's playing my nephew, his grandson, their cousin who is kind of the black sheep of the family, and he's coming to pay his respects four months late, but he kind of plays this can't quite get it together, very funny guy.

KING: Is he going to be a regular?

SAGAL: Well, he's a recurring. He's going to do three shows with us.

KING: You like working with him, guys?

CUOCO: He's so much fun. Yeah.

KING: You enjoy him?

GARNER: A bit crazy. A bit crazy.

KING: A bit crazy?

GARNER: But great fun.

KING: Big crazy but fun. It's tomorrow night, David Spade. Eastern Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry.


CALLER: Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I'm such a fan. You have no idea.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: What happened to the Suzanne Pleshette's character as the mother, Katey Sagal's mother, the grandmother? She was just so fabulous. What happened to it?

KING: Katey?

SAGAL: Well, she'll be back, I'm sure. The storyline is that my dad, Jim, and her are separated. They're not divorced yet. So he's come on his own. So they're, you know, kind of opens it up so Jim can maybe have a love interest, maybe? I don't know.

GARNER: It gives a lot of freedom.

SAGAL: Yeah. She was great.

GARNER: And also, Suzanne, I think she does another show, Katey?


KING: "Good Morning Miami."

GARNER: "Good Morning Miami."

DAVIDSON: And "Will and Grace."

KING: And "Will and Grace?"

GARNER: Yeah. And she'll be in and out and in and out. They've got her for I don't know how many shows.

KING: She's very talented.

SAGAL: Yeah.

KING: Northampton, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi, this is for the whole entire cast.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I just want to say kudos to them. They've been doing a fabulous job, but I want to know, Ms. Sagal, you look fabulous. What is your secret?

SAGAL: What's my secret?

CUOCO: She's hot.

KING: She's hot.

SAGAL: I'm hot. That's what John used to tell us.


SAGAL: I don't know, I just -- I have two little kids, they really keep me running around. I exercise. I have a good attitude. I mean, there's lots of things. I could go on forever. But it's just not, you know, easy.

KING: Independence, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Hi, this question is for Katey.

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: I was just wondering if you know how Jason Ritter is doing, and if there's going to be any room for him on the series?

SAGAL: Well, you know, Jason is on "Joan of Arcadia," who just won a People's Choice Awards last night. Did you guys see him?


SAGAL: They were there last night. And he's an amazing kid. He actually came to the set and visited us in our first month back, and just wanted to give us his blessing, really, and John would have been proud. His boy showed up, and it was great. He's a great kid.

KING: You always wanted to be an actor, Marty? I mean, do you want to grow up and you want to stay in this profession?

SPANJERS: I want to direct.

KING: Oh, you want to direct?


KING: Amy, you have goals, you want to just remain acting?

DAVIDSON: You know, right now, I love acting. This is what I want to do.

KING: Kaley?

CUOCO: Me, too. I love what I'm doing. I hope, knock on wood, that it will keep going.

KING: What do you want to do when you grow up, Jim?

GARNER: I want to live to a ripe old age.

KING: Oceana, West Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I just wanted to say that it's very refreshing to see a cast that gets along so well, and you can tell that they work together so well and they love each other. My question is, any time you lose someone you love so unexpectedly, and you -- it's a chance to tell them maybe something you would like to, and is there anything that the cast would like to have said to John that maybe they didn't get to?

KING: Anything you would have wanted to say? Did he know how you felt about him?

SAGAL: Oh, yes, he knew how much we loved him. I don't feel anything was left unsaid. He knew how much we adored him, and we knew how much he loved us, which is important too. John is one of those guys who said "I love you" every day.

KING: Really?

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. "Hi, I love you." He was that way.

KING: You all felt that from him?


CUOCO: I knew how he felt about us. And we know how -- he knew, we told him every second of every day.

KING: Jim, you had to admit this was a rough spot to step in.

GARNER: I'll tell you...

KING: Come on, Jim.

GARNER: ... at this point in my career, it's the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, to fall in with this group of people, you know, who are very loving and giving, and they care for you. And I can't tell you how fortunate I feel to be there. You know, and I get to love these girls every day. It's fun.

KING: Boy, what a delight it must be to have him around, huh?


SPANJERS: A guy I can relate to.

GARNER: They just call me grumpy, is all. KING: Oh, by the way, how do you like working before a live audience?

GARNER: I, you know, I enjoy it. We have fun. I really enjoy it, but I've been afraid of it all my career.

KING: Never did theater?

GARNER: I started in theater, and that's what scared me to death.

KING: Really?

CUOCO: I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he was nervous on the first episode that he did in front of the audience.

GARNER: Oh, I'm still nervous.


SAGAL: ... the minute they were there. I mean, it was really like that whole thing kicked in. He just -- you were on fire, Jim. We were all like, yeah! It's so great!

KING: Because I saw John do theater, "The Dinner Party," in New York. He was brilliant on stage. John Ritter was...

SAGAL: He was a theater guy.

KING: ...a terrific stage actor. And of course, Garner is one of the great actors of all time. Don't you think? Underrated actor...

GARNER: Well, what are they going to say now? They can't sit here and say no, you know? They'll tell me later.

KING: That's right. They'll tell you later.

Thank you all very much. John would be very happy.

GARNER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Katey Sagal, who plays Cate Hennessy, Kaley Cuoco, who plays Bridget, Amy Davidson who plays Kerry, Martin Spanjers, who plays Rory and James Garner, who is grandpa on the "8 Simple Rules" show. On the next one, tomorrow night, David Spade is the guest star.

And I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Hope you enjoyed hearing from the cast of "8 Simple Rules." Quite a show that keeps on keeping on.

We'll be back tomorrow night with Kim Novak. Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on your more trusted name in news, CNN.



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