TV Land's new situation comedy "Kirstie" premiered Dec. 4. Starring Kirstie Alley, Rhea Pearlman, Michael Richards and Eric Petersen, the show follows Maddie (Alley), a Broadway star who is unexpectedly reunited with Arlo (Petersen), the son she gave up for adoption almost 30 years ago.
Upon meeting Maddie, Arlo is plunged into the glamorous world of Broadway, complete with opening-night parties, red carpets and Tony Awards. While these experiences are new to Arlo, they are not as foreign to Petersen, who counts Broadway's Peter and the Starcatcher and Shrek the Musical among his theatrical credits, as well as the national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. While auditioning for "Kirstie," Petersen frequently traveled between New York and Los Angeles, sometimes within the span of 24 hours.
The actor, who loved watching sitcoms while growing up, chatted with Playbill.com about his cross-country tryout for the pilot and sharing the screen with comedic giants.
How did you learn about the show?
Eric Petersen: It's funny because I think the reason they sent me a script is there was a line in the original pilot that ended up getting cut where Kirstie is like, "This kid can't be mine" — because I play kind of a frumpy, schlubby guy. "He looks like Shrek!" I think that line is what caught my agent's eye. They were like, "Oh, yeah, Eric looks like Shrek. He was Shrek!"
We sent [an audition tape] to LA and they loved it, and Kirstie saw it and thought I was totally right. So they flew me out to LA for my network and studio audition, and I was only out there for literally a day. Starcatcher gave me one day off to fly out there. I flew out there in the morning, I did my audition in the afternoon, they called me a few minutes after I left and were like, "Hey, you got it. You're the star of a new TV show." I went to my agent's office in LA, had a glass of champagne, flew back to New York and was in the matinee of Starcatcher the next day.
So how many frequent flier miles do you have?
EP: There's a lot! I definitely have quite a few from my back and forth travel. Once I got [the role], which was amazing, I flew back in December to do the actual pilot. We shot the pilot for a week, but we had three days of rehearsal the week before the pilot, but they weren't going to do anything on the weekend. We would rehearse Tuesday-Thursday, and we were given Friday-Sunday off, and then we were going to start shooting the pilot on a Monday.
I felt bad because I was in Peter and the Starcatcher at the time. And it was very exciting to be doing a TV show, but I felt an obligation to the theatre show that I was in. So I flew out for the three days of rehearsal, flew back to New York for the weekend of shows at Starcatcher, then flew back to LA for the week of the pilot, then flew back to New York after that.
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