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July 16, 2008

'Scrubs' to debut webisodes; Lawrence talks network switch

TCA -- "I'm conflicted talking about NBC," "Scrubs" showrunner Bill Lawrence says.

"To sit up here ... after having spent seven years on that network, had somebody offered us that seven years ago I would have taken it. On the other hand, there's a trend in television right now if you're on a show for six or Bill_lawrence_2 seven years and you make them millions of dollars you should get to end the show. What was frustrating was my desire to end the show in a nice way. We're supposed to do eight more episodes, and I said, 'I'd wrap it up in three and you'd make a lot of money off it,' and there wasn’t a lot of interest. If I had a chance to do that phone call over again, knowing we'd be on ABC, I would have said 'thank you.' "

For its debut ABC season, "Scrubs" will be shot in high definition for the first time, and Lawrence is producing a series of webisodes to run online leading up to the network debut. Lawrence repeated expressed gratitude at the support ABC has shown compared to NBC.

"It was a pleasant surprise to have people from the network visit the set because nobody has done that six or seven years," he says. "I don't think that's NBC dropping the ball; I think it's the difference doing a show for a network that also produces you."

Lawrence and Zach Braff both indicated that it's likely the star's last year on the show.

"My sense is this is my last year," Braff says.

"I would say it is most likely Zach Braff's last year on the show," Lawrence concurs. "We're going to film the last one like it's young Zach Braff's exit. [McPherson] was supportive of the idea that it's like 'ER' as a comedy ...  we brought in some younger people into the show."

Whether Braff's exit means the show will end is still not clear. Lawrence says the Braff-less version will need to make creative sense as a stand-alone show, like "Frasier" after "Cheers" ended.

As for any changes for the ABC version, Lawrence says, "We're going to deliver the same show we have for eight years.  ... The finale of the show has been written for about four years and we just have to change some pop culture references. When you hear janitor's name, the show's over."

Previous: "Scrubs" could continue with different cast.

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