The idea behind “The Guest Book” has become almost the stuff of TV legend by now. It all started when Greg Garcia — the Emmy-winning creator behind hits like “My Name Is Earl” and “Raising Hope” – began writing fictitious stories in the guest books of various rental cabins. What was originally meant as a creative exercise, and also as a side benefit to freak out the next renters, quickly became something more.
“I saw a guest book and began to read it,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to write a story in this guest book that blows peoples minds!'”
Eventually, he became addicted to the idea, and would even rent houses just to write in the guest book – “which my wife thought was insane,” he said. “Then I had 15 of these stories and, lucky for me, TBS wanted to do it.”
Each episode of The Guest Book features a new cast of renters, each with their own unique story. But Garcia is known for his small town worlds, in which innocent characters find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. And eventually, “The Guest Book” becomes as much about those people as it is about the guests.
Turn It On recently met up with Garcia and star Kellie Martin, who plays the lovelorn Officer Kimberly Leahy.
Anthology series are making a comeback on TV, but Garcia knew it would still be a tough sell. “So I began to think, let me populate this town,” he said. “I want it to feel relatable but also quirky at the same time.”
That’s where Martin – who happens to also be Garcia’s neighbor – comes in. “I dont do comedy so I didn’t take him seriously at all” when Garcia offered her the part, she said.
As for Garcia, this is his first cable show, and an opportunity to push the envelope. So yes, there are some dirty jokes. But because he knows Martin’s family, he hesitated to give her any blue material. Which was fine by her.
“Nobody wants to see me get naked and say bad words,” she said. “People feel like they know me in a strange way, like they grew up with me or they went to high school with me!”
As for what’s next, “The Guest Book” hasn’t yet been renewed, but Garcia already has written two more episodes. The anthology structure will remain, even though by the end of Season 1, the focus is on the small town regulars.
“I’m writing fan fiction for my own show!”
“The Guest Book” premieres Thursday, Aug. 3, with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now in TV – no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.