'The Neighbors' meets 'Shark Tank': Jami Gertz and Dan Fogelman on the crossover episode

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"The Neighbors" may be as far from reality as you can get, but that doesn't stop the comedy from having a crossover episode with "Shark Tank."

This Friday (Nov. 8) in "We Jumped the Shark (Tank)," Debbie Weaver ( Jami Gertz), Larry Bird ( Simon Templeman) and Jackie Joyner Kersee ( Toks Olagundoye) will all face the scary reality waters of "Shark Tank" in an attempt to sell Debbie's brand-new invention.

It doesn't go well, as far as sales are concerned. In terms of comedy, however, this pitch is worth millions.

Want to know more? Check out this exclusive interview with Jami Gertz and executive producer Dan Fogelman to find out what happens when aliens meet sharks.**

**Not just an ABC crossover, but also a pitch for the next Syfy original movie.

Why did you want to do a crossover between "The Neighbors" and "Shark Tank"?

Dan Fogelman: Obviously, we work on the show, but we love the show and think we're doing something really fun and really charming and really different.

And the "Shark Tank" episode coming up this week, which has a huge, built-in audience already, we think, is a real opportunity to get some new eyes on the show, to see how special it is. We're excited about that, and then all the stuff we have coming up in the rest of the season.

We kind of see this as an early, halfway re-launch of the show. We've had to move timeslots. We were doing really well last year, and then we moved. So it's taking a minute to kind of re-jigger and let our audience rediscover us or find where we are. We're hoping that this is an opportunity for that to happen.

So what sort of idea is Debbie trying to sell to the Sharks?

Jami Gertz: Debbie Weaver often has to go to things with her children, and boredom can set in. Let's say, one of those movies -- not to disparage cartoon movies. They make money for many, many people. But where it's kind of boring and tough for the parents, maybe you could make a purse -- a beverage bag -- so that you could sneak wine into the movie theater. You call it the Bev Bag. And while you're sitting and your child is enamored of, let's say the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and you've seen it quite often. You could just take sips and your viewing experience might be more enjoyable and pleasurable because of the Bev Bag.

Dan Fogelman: Debbie, throughout this season has been battling a little of -- her kids are getting older, and she's looking for some sort of an entree back into the business world. And she comes up with this product. Her favorite show is "Shark Tank." And the aliens do their alien thing and pull some strings to actually get her on the show -- to sell what is ultimately a kind of terrible product.

Jami Gertz: Larry refers to it as the "wurse," which is the "wine purse." So it's a train wreck. But to see Larry Bird on "Shark Tank" is pretty extraordinary.

How does the pitch go?

Dan Fogelman: Debbie's going out onto the show and is showing what turns out to be terrible salesmanship and a lot of nerves. And so Larry -- who has no such thing -- decides to come out with her, as does Jackie. And it spirals.

Do we get to see a lot of the "Shark Tank" footage?

Dan Fogelman: What's really exciting is sometimes people do these little publicity stunts, calling it a crossover. Then there's one second of it merging it together and basically you saw it all in the commercial.

[In this crossover] they really go through a full pitch. We shot it on the "Shark Tank" stage. We shot it with all 18 gazillion of their cameras. It's as if Jami and Larry Bird actually went on "Shark Tank." And the Sharks were really great. You'll see they're really funny.

How did the Shark react to you being there?

Jami Gertz: I was really impressed with them! You know, reality television, they say what comes to their heads, so they had to follow some guidelines and have some lines. But it was really cool to see them fighting over Debbie's idea.

Dan Fogelman: We floated the idea first, because you don't want to write a whole script and then they say no. They said yes. They knew the show, they liked the show, and they were very open to it. And then we sent them the script pages as they came out. They all enjoyed it. In fact, they wanted more. They were riffing ...

Jami Gertz: By the end, they were like, "Well, let me try it again!"

Dan Fogelman: But they were very great sports and you'll see, when you see the episode, they're very funny. Barbara the Shark carries a lot of dialogue for us, because she's speaking to Debbie as a woman in the workforce. She carries a lot of dialogue and she nails it.

Are there any other big storylines in the episode?

Dan Fogelman: We also, in this episode, have a great story between Debbie's two daughters, Amber and Abby, the 16 year old and the 7 year old. And they're kind of going through her dance recital together. It's one of the sweetest things we've done.

It's my favorite thing about the show. As broad and absurdist and wacky as it can be, it always kind of has a tremendous amount of heart at the end of every episode. And the ending with these two girls is really, really sweet. And it's about sisters of two different ages. So I think it's a real opportunity when new eyes come on to this episode, for them to see things that we think we do well.

Jami Gertz: And that they've been missing!


"The Neighbors" airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. "Shark Tank" (the real show -- not the crossover) follows at 9 p.m.

Photo/Video credit: ABC