Where the Jet Set Goes to Refuel

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Editor's Note: This series was unavailable for preview at press time

"Do Not Disturb"

Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox

Jerry O'Connell sounds happy -- and relieved. His character on the new sitcom "Do Not Disturb" has been rewritten to turn him from stuffy to "a little Sam Malone-y."

"A cooler character is more fun to play than an uptight character," he said. "My clothes are a lot cooler, my hair is a lot cooler and the women I get to drape my arms over are a lot prettier."

Time will tell whether O'Connell earns an 11-year run like Ted Danson recorded on "Cheers" playing Sam Malone. But so far he likes being Neal, manager of a hip lower Manhattan boutique hotel called The Inn.

Neal's colleagues include a down-to-earth human resources director (Niecy Nash) who becomes a mother figure to the staff of quirky 20-somethings; a surly bellman (Dave Franco) with undeservedly high self-esteem; a gay reservations agent (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who is the only married person on the staff; and a neurotic beauty (Molly Stanton) whose dreams of modeling are dying hard.

Abraham Higginbotham, the show's creator, executive producer and head writer, said the series will revolve around the lives of the hotel staff. It'll also include a cool cameo or two, such as reality star Audrina Patridge ("The Hills") requesting a room.

Higginbotham knows this world. He once worked at the Paramount Hotel in New York, where he refused to give Courtney Love the key to Kurt Cobain's room because he didn't know who she was. In "Do Not Disturb," he's out to create an atmosphere where Neal "feels like he's throwing the best party in town that everyone wants to get in on.

"A huge part of what makes a show fun to watch is watching people who are in it having a good time," he said. "And we're having a good time right now."

-- Marc D. Allan

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