When “Downwardly Mobile,” a Roseanne Barr TV pilot for NBC, didn’t get picked up, the cast created their own show, “Bitter Party of Five,” a very funny (and very adults-only) interview series where five moderately successful actors interview their much more successful friends. And they’re not happy about it. The “face looks familiar but I don’t know if I saw them on television or at my kids’ school on parent night” cast is, Jason Antoon (“Minority Report”), Mary Birdsong (“The Descendants”), Greg Cromer (the upcoming Jason Bateman film “Bad Words”), Tricia O’Kelley “(“Secret Life of an American Teenager”), and Romy Rosemont (“Glee”) got together and began their own series “Bitter, Party of Five.” They sit around a table drinking some pretty potent cocktails and play exaggerated versions of themselves, actors who work pretty steadily and are always trying to get bigger and better parts. And they have enticed a remarkable assortment of very funny stars to join them, including Alfred Molina, Rachael Harris, Stephen Root, Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Martha Plimpton, Wayne Knight, Missy Pyle, Martin Short, and Tony Hale, all of whom they pelt with the most outrageous questions. It was a lot of fun to turn the tables and get them to answer mine.
Who came up with the idea for the web series?
Birdsong: In a sense, NBC did, but unknowingly. We all met doing a tv pilot for them that starred Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. And by not picking up that pilot, they left us no choice. So… thanks NBC.
Cromer: I came up with the idea for the series. They all balked…I pressed…they acquiesced. I win, they lose.
Rosemont: It was a group effort for sure…the germ of the idea was one of our producers Adam Rosenblatt.
Antoon: It was already there before we even met on the set of the failed Roseanne Barr pilot. The idea was waiting for the five of us to be bitter.
O’Kelley: Let’s just say me.
What do you tell your guests to get them to agree to be on the show?
Birdsong: We tell them that if they DON’T come on the show as a guest, Tricia will cook for them.
Cromer: We don’t tell the guests anything. We do ask them to watch the show first so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. All they need to do is show up and be ready to roll with whatever goes down.
Rosemont: There will be booze and it will be quick!
Antoon: I say “listen if there is one reason I have been your friend this whole time this favor would be it.”
O’Kelley: Free booze, and the cast member of your choice will make out with you.
What did it feel like to hold Martha Plimpton’s Emmy?
Birdsong: It felt a lot like chicken.
Cromer: Martha Plimpton’s emmy was cold….and wet…for some reason.
Rosemont: It felt like it had finally found a home….in my hands.
Antoon: It felt important and heavy unlike when I held all my little league trophies as a kid.
O’Kelley: Thrilling. The best 30 seconds of my life.
What are you guys all drinking?
Birdsong: I like to go with a milk-tini® , which is one part skim milk served in a martini glass (no vermouth) and garnished with a chocolate chip cookie.
Cromer: I generally enjoy a nice glass of scotch. Mary guzzles milk-tinis like water. Romy fires down gluten-free water. Triv delights in a nice chardonnay and Jason drinks angry juice.
Rosemont: Anything and everything that gives us a personality.
Antoon: I’m drinking Absinthe in a plastic cup.
O’Kelley: I’m drinking Chardonnay, Greg’s got some scotch, Romy & Jason are enjoying Coke Zero, and Mary’s drinking milk & cookies.
Are you following Alfred Molina’s [highly unprintable] advice? Or Allison Janney’s [equally so]?
Birdsong: Definitely Fred’s (Unless Allison is reading this.)
Cromer: I follow both, Alfred’s and Janney’s advice. I’ll let you do the math on that one.
Rosemont: Did they give us advice?
Antoon: Neither. Advice from other actors means nothing. Take it from me, don’t listen to other actors.
O’Kelley: Luckily Allison’s advice actually helps me take Alfred’s advice. So yes. And yes.
Which guest surprised you the most?
Birdsong: Laura Benanti — she rocked it. Hard. I’m now her biggest fan. And by biggest I mean I probably weigh about 220 now.
Cromer: How can I NOT say that Janney surprised me the most? She swallowed my trachea.
Rosemont: All of them….We were just surprised they showed up.
O’Kelley: Laura Benanti. She was so quick and so funny, I thought she should replace me at the round table permanently.
Come on, you can tell me, who was your favorite guest?
Birdsong: Guests? Listen up. Mama loves you ALLLLLLLTHE SAME. That said, I did take my top off for Martha Plimpton. So… ya know. Do the math.
Cromer: How can I NOT say that my favorite guest was Janney? She swallowed my trachea.
Rosemont: Mary Birdsong… Love her…No wait….Greg Cromer…Couldn’t be funnier….No that’s not right…Tricia O’kelley….She’s pretty…What?…Jason Antoon…He’s down right creepy…Yes, him.
Antoon: My fav would be Laura Benanti because I’m her spirit animal and she’s secretly in love with me. Not!