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Bill Lawrence: Judy Reyes won't appear in season nine, and other Scrubs news

Scrubs: My FinaleFigured today was going to be a good day to publish the Scrubs-centric part of my conversation with Bill Lawrence last month. Here we talk about what's going to happen during the first episode or two of the new season of Scrubs.

The biggest piece of information? That Judy Reyes, who played Carla during the first eight seasons, won't appear at all in this new-direction ninth season. She's the only regular of Scrubs Classic (my name for it) who won't appear at least once during the upcoming season. "I think she was either going to be a regular on this show or looking to go do other things with her career," Lawrence told me, citing that he "totally respect(s)" her decision.

Of course, with the new med-school-centric direction of the show, there's less of a need for some of the other semi-regulars; Sam Lloyd (Ted) has already shot his last episode, for instance.

Other info from Bill: How the season premiere will open, how the transition from Zach Braff's voiceover to another voiceover is going to work, and more about the new character directions for Classic regulars John C. McGinley, Donald Faison and Eliza Coupe.

Hey, Bill, how are you doing today?
Hey man, I exist. (chuckles) I'm sorry man, it's taking longer than I would've liked (to do an interview) just because I've been getting (in a high voice) hammered...

Yeah, that's the idea I've gotten. For someone who says they're not going to be as involved in one of his two shows, you seem to be pretty heavily involved in both of them.
Well, you know what I figure? If I can just bury myself at the beginning in both of them, and they're both within 10 feet of each other, then it'll get really moving. And the Scrubs pilot was so...the table read was really good and fun. So it kinda got me psyched about it. So we're out there shooting stuff now.

How did that whole process go? Because the casting obviously you did a week or so after we talked in Pasadena, and I saw a couple sites that had little rumors of what was going on for the pilot. I don't know who does those sites necessarily, but...
Yeah, not me. But the, look, on the Scrubs thing, the casting went great. It's like the original Scrubs: new faces, but also people that are really strong comedically with improv and stuff, like James Franco's little brother Dave is super funny, and faces you probably won't recognize and you haven't seen before, which is cool.

But the other thing that kind of came together was that we were able to work out deals with every regular except Judy Reyes. Sarah's in the pilot, and Neil Flynn, and Ken Jenkins, and Sarah and Ken are doing multiple episodes. You know, Zach's here for a long while, and the show worked. It didn't feel like a retread.

Why did it not work out with Judy?
I think she was either going to be a regular on this show or looking to go do other things with her career. Totally respect it. Totally get it. Still holding out hope that she eventually does it again.

Is this going to be structured kind of like the way you mentioned it was going to be when we talked in Pasadena, where some of these people are just going to do like pieces of episodes?
Well yeah, what we kind of pulled off in this first one and we'll see if it keeps working is... this is amazing, they're outside shooting on the college campus right now and JD's back as a teacher, and (John C.) McGinley and Donald (Faison) as teachers have been really funny. And Eliza Coupe (as Denise) is a student advisor. And (they're) still going over to the hospital.

But when they go over to the hospital, you know, Elliot's there because she still works there. And right now, it has that feel of a show that you know, nothing has changed other than a year has passed and we're telling a different story. You know, we're telling almost a prequel, how you end up working there. And hopefully, it'll work. You know, Ken Jenkins has been really fun because, he's going to be around a lot, because we were able to make it work, and he's very funny as just not as a doctor anymore, as an old med school professor who teaches one class every week to get him out of the house, you know. Keep him from being weird at home. (chuckles)

Not hanging in the coffee shop anymore...
No. In fact, the only difference is, you know, his wife has passed on in the last year, and he is every know, it's a different character...he's still McGinley's friend, but he's every kid's favorite teacher and out drinking with them constantly.

As opposed to the guy everybody was scared of?
Yes. (Cox) was back to being Dr. Cox, because you know, with young kids, with especially the 21-year old med students, (Cox) sees them all as murders and assassins wandering the halls of his hospital.

The students will be even more scared than the interns would be.
Yeah. I've just been watching that. Because you know, as characters aged, we weren't able to do that as much. And we watched a scene shoot yesterday, on the first day, that one of the new med students is an Australian girl. And just to torture her, Johnny C.'s pretending that he can't understand anything she says. He says I can teach anybody, you just have to speak English. And she speaks English barely with an Australian accent.

Because it's a new direction, are you guys are kind of reenergized a little bit?
We are. Man, look, I don't know what's ever going to come of this. It's cracking me up. And you and I can talk later after you see it, you know, I'll send you an early copy. And I am confident that this will be one of the best comedies on ABC, and one of the better comedies... Because writing-wise, the first couple really work.

And it feels different. I mean, I feel so old Joel. All these fucking kids are like 21 and 23, and it feels like a college show a bit with heavier stakes. Because people dying and stuff (like that) still sneaks into it. And one of the things that was interesting was talking to the real JD (John Dorris, the show's technical consultant) about how when you just get out of med school, you're just not ready for it at all. And that's the kind of cool thing to an extent.

Everybody's sleeping with everybody, so it has a little bit more of a kind of Greek type (of vibe). You know, when you're at college, you know, these guys are all eight weeks removed from their senior year of college.

Right, right. And now they're all just still sobering up, yeah. But the whole dynamic of the school being moved on campus... I mean the hospital...
It went away in the opening line of the pilot. I can tell you as a spoiler, but it was funny, was it starts on the Sacred Heart Hospital you know, and JD says 'ah, Sacred Heart, so many memories, this place will live forever.' And then the camera pulls back and you realize that that's a picture of the old hospital that two workers are throwing into a dumpster, and right behind it is the new hospital. And his voiceover just says, yeah I wasn't surprised that they tore that crappy old building down and built the new hospital right here on campus. And then it's done. And then we got a new hospital, when we'd always implied on the show that there was a med school affiliation.

And then JD's still going to do voiceover? I thought one of the new actors was going to do it.
Well, the next thing is he said, 'You know, still, even though I'd never been in this building, it felt so familiar,' then -- this is a fourth-wall shout out to the fans -- he says, 'I just hope that there's something here that just makes this fucking place feel new.' And then the camera whips over to a young girl walking into med school for the first day. Where she's like 'oh my god, the first day of med school, everything feels so new.' So while he's, you know, we didn't want to take away from Zach. While he's here, you'll still get to hear his voiceover once in a while because the jokes are too funny, you know. But she is our way in.

The one network note I got is: 'Aren't people going to be confused when JD has voiceovers and this new character also has voiceovers?' I'm like ah, the show's been on for eight years. I think people can mentally process that. As long as it's never in the same scene, you know.

I think people realize what might be going on at this point.
Exactly. I think they'll be...they're not going to go like 'Oh my god, does Zach suddenly have a girl's voice? What's happening?' Everybody'll be fine.

[Watch clips and full episodes of Scrubs on SlashControl.]

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