A Most Engaging Story

So we're all on the New York street on the CBS Radford lot in Studio City shooting a How I Met Your Mother promo that's a parody of CSI, which they tell me is a popular show. We're all exhausted and not quite sure what we're doing. My sense is that on an hourlong procedural show, the hours are much worse but your face never has to change its expression. So that's a big up. Changing facial expressions is exhausting and overrated. They're setting up a shot of a corpse's feet right now. We're all pretty exhausted - the night's supposed to go very late and we have an early call. We haven't been officially picked up for a third season yet, but we're all seeing it as a good sign that CBS is having us do this. I'm going to have each cast member say something... get a little guest-blogging going.

Me: Hey, guys. Give me a quote for my blog.

[ Everybody thinks]

Neil Patrick Harris: "I'm in a constant state of squint. And I like it. I like it a lot. It feels right, you know?"

Alyson Hannigan: "I have to go fingerprint a dead body. I feel like I'm back on the Buffy set."

Jason Segel: "Neil Patrick Harris is in a constant state of squint. And I like it. I like it a lot. It feels right, you know?"

Cobie [Smulders] didn't like her quote. I told her there was nothing wrong with, "I've had about four Tums because the smoke is making me nauseous," but she thought she could do better. I asked her if we could do an interview instead. She agreed. [The following are excerpts from an interview with How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders.]

Me: Do you watch hourlong procedural crime shows?
Cobie: No.
Me: Why not?
Cobie: 'Cause I don't watch a lot of TV.
Me: Do you just sit around and read Jane Austen novels?
Cobie: Exactly.
Me: How do you feel about the season ending?
Cobie: Well, I'm sad I don't get to go to work every day, but happy I get to sleep as late as I want.
Jason Segel: Being sad you don't get to go to work every day is a great thing to be able to say.
Me: Jason, this is an interview with Cobie. Go stand by the police tape.
Jason: Yes, Mr. Radnor.
Me: Cobie, tell America your full birth name 'cause it's awesome.
Cobie: Jacoba Fransisca Maria Smulders.

[Am I wrong? That's a serious name.]

Me: Hey, one of our great writers, Chris Harris, is here, sitting next to me. Say something, Chris....
Chris Harris: Why don't you tell them who the not-great writers are?

Damn, Chris. So it's like that. Chris Harris is very smart. He could have really done something great with his life. Instead, he writes for our show. Happily, he's awesome at it. Chris wrote one of my favorite episodes this year, "Arrivaderce, Fiero," where we all bid (bade?) farewell to Marshall's car and reminisced about our favorite memories in said car. "500 Miles" by The Proclaimers made a most memorable appearance. (Actually it made about 15 appearances, including an orchestral version towards the end.) It's strange to look back over a full season. Our characters have accrued all these memories, but so have we, the actors. And sometimes the character memories and the actor memories bleed into each other. Like, I kind of feel like Jason and I actually drove from Connecticut to Ohio in that Fiero. Of course, we didn't, but we did spend an awful long time in that car together. And we're good friends. The whole thing is confusing. Does this make any sense?

[ My Boys'] Jordana Spiro and [ Brothers & Sisters executive producer] Robbie Baitz told me that doing this blog would be a lot of work. They were right. (It came up at the last Celebrity Bloggers meeting.) I'm happy to do it, I just feel terrible in a way I haven't felt since high school, like I have to keep asking for yet another extension on my paper. (Actually, no one's really hassled me about this at all. Any pressure is self-imposed. I guess I just still have a good-student complex.) I was asked to do this back, I think, in early February. The deal was one blog a week to correspond with each week's episode. I'm so off-schedule, it's ridiculous. In fact, it's early April and I have zero idea what episode is on this Monday. Uh-oh. This is Blog #2.

Something amazingly cool happened. We had an actual marriage proposal on the set of How I Met Your Mother. I just e-mailed Matt Kuhn to get the details 'cause he's the one who set the whole thing up. Matt is a writer's assistant and one of the masterminds behind Barney's Blog. He also wrote the episode "Columns" this year. Rather than condense, I'm just gonna reprint part of Matt's e-mail. (I'm sure he won't mind. And direct quotes seem to be the theme of this blog.):

"The couple was Tim [Russo] and Jana [Rugan]. They live in Brooklyn. I'm friends with Tim's brother. He called me up and said his brother and his girlfriend were huge fans of the show and wanted to know if they could visit the set, etc. I said, 'Sure.' Then he asked if Tim could propose to Jana on the set. I went to [cocreators] Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas] to see if they were cool with it, and then we all realized we could actually work them into the finale. (They're such romantics.... And by 'they,' I mean Carter.)"

Here's the gist (and this is me, Josh, by the way, not Matt): In a rare romantic gesture (I kid), Ted takes Robin out to dinner for their one-year anniversary at the same restaurant where they had their first date, the place where Ted stole the blue French horn for Robin in the pilot. Two glasses of champagne are delivered to the table and at the bottom of Robin's glass is an engagement ring. Well, it turns out the champagne (and ring) were supposed to go to another table where a guy really was intending to propose to his girlfriend. (Was that a terrible sentence? I'm having trouble writing.) Anyway, so we shot a bunch of takes of this scene. Tim and Jana were extras in the restaurant, and everyone on set knew there was this couple who were about to really get engaged. (Everyone except Jana, of course, who's just trying not to make any noise as an extra.) So Pam Fryman, our unbelievably great director, calls "second pass," which was the code, but I was totally confused about what we were supposed to do and actually got scared I was going to ruin the whole thing. Anyway, our prop guys stealthily switched out the prop ring with the actual engagement ring, and we started the scene. At the moment when the other guy was supposed to stand up and announce the ring was his (as he'd done the previous eight or nine takes) Tim stood up and said, "It's mine." He came over to us, retrieved the ring, walked back to the table, got down on bended knee, and said, "Jana, will you marry me?" ( Spoiler alert) She said, "Yes." She was sobbing. Actually, pretty much everyone started to cry. Not me, though. I'm tough. Well, maybe I got a little misty. But Stage 22 is pretty dusty, and as I'd mentioned in Blog #1, I have allergies. Damn dust.

CBS' How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 pm/ET. Behind-the-scenes photos from the show's CSI -themed promo shoot appear in the April 16 issue of TV Guide.
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