Behind the Scenes
'Rules of Engagement' in the Family Way
In real life, Warburton, Price, Hudson and Kajlich are married, and Spade is their single pal.
Says executive producer Tom Hertz, "Russell, the character, and David, they're both aware that they're not successful at committing and having a monogamous, long-term relationship. I guess they're sort of all right with it, but there's got to be a part where they wish they could.
"A big part of the show is the grass is always greener. The single people envy the stable married people, and the married people envy the free and wild single people. No one thing is better than the other; it's just different."
As to how he feels about being surrounded by married folk, Spade says, "Yeah, it's kind of like real life."
Tabloids have linked Spade romantically with Heather Locklear (both say they are only friends), and while he admits it's "tricky" to be single in Los Angeles, he says, "it's harder to be married. Being single out here is tough. On the show it's actually easier, funnier. Sometimes in life, it's complicated. Everyone around me is married. It's just like the show."
Spade's life and "Rules" merged again when Locklear signed on for two episodes as Audrey's sister, Barbara. Her first show aired Oct. 1, and Hertz says the second will likely air in November.
"We found something that made sense for her to come on," Spade says, "and some way for us, she and I, to be in the same vicinity, because it would be fun." Hertz says, "She exits the first episode trying to work out marriage problems and returns separated from her husband, so she's free and available to hang out with David Spade."
When "Rules" premiered in February 2007, it aired only seven episodes, but good ratings earned it a fall berth. Airing after "Two and a Half Men," it had to have some edge, but essentially the couples on the show have solid relationships -- even if Jeff and Audrey get a bit cranky after 12 years of wedded bliss.
"I'd say, cranky but happy," Warburton says, "cranky but content. They do really enjoy each other's company. It's not a prison cell, but Jeff's got to gripe. He's got to gripe about everything.
"I sort of refer to Jeff as Patrick Lite, because he's only been married for 12 years. I've been married for 17. I've got four kids and four dogs. I'm in a little bit deeper than he is."
The happily wed wife of an ER physician -- she describes it as "a marriage that's a sick fairy tale" -- Price thinks one secret to the show's success is that the couples have a strong foundation.
"We work really hard," she says, "to make sure that by the end of the episode, everyone at least still believes that we would be together. You can fight as mean as you want to fight in an episode, but you need to have an underlying layer of truth, and there needs to be some love.
"You have to see that Audrey gets a kick out of Jeff when he's being a dope."
Warburton says, "It's interesting to see how great comedy directors and writers on a show can always make altercations funny. I don't find that they're always that humorous in real life, but they do have great ways of bantering with each other."
According to Hertz, Adam and Jennifer aren't marrying anytime soon, but neither have they run up on the romantic rocks. But that doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing.
"Our imperfection is a big one," says Hudson (who had a baby boy with wife Erinn in late August), "because we've only really known each other for seven or eight months, so there's still lots to learn. We're still talking about ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends ... there's still jealousies there. There's some uncertainty there.
"But what's fun about seeing these people together, is they don't know each other's next move yet. Keeps us on edge."
On Dec. 31, 2006, Kajlich married soccer player Landon Donovan in what she describes as "Narnia"-themed ceremony in Santa Barbara, fake snow and all. Having planned her real wedding before she was even engaged, Kajlich is ready to leap in again.
"I think that [Adam and Jennifer] are going to be hanging in engagement land for a long time," she says. "Hey, don't get me wrong. I would love nothing better than going to wedding-dress fittings. Even though I just got married, I'd do it again in a heartbeat."