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Sarah Hyland liked light work load

For a few seconds earlier this season, it looked like Sarah Hyland’s character of Haley Dunphy was being written out of the popular ABC comedy “Modern Family.” Haley had left home to go to college, which is not always a good sign. On the classic TV show “Happy Days,” Richie Cunnigham’s older brother went upstairs to his room in one episode and never came back down.

There’s no need to worry about the petite actress who’s destined to play the younger sister of Mila Kunis one day. After a few episodes where she was Skyped into the scenes, Haley was sent home after she fell on a police officer.

During an interview with Hyland to talk about her work in the movie “Struck By Lightning” — starring and written by Clovis East graduate Chris Colfer — Hyland says her days of being connected via computer to her TV family were really the easiest work days she’s every had. And despite only being 22 years old, she’s got a long list of work experience to compare to the “Modern Family” work she’s currently doing.

“It was great. They had me in a fake dorm room set,” Hyland says. “All I had to do was sit there and talk.”

Despite not actually being on the same set as her co-stars, like any good actress, Hyland memorized her lines. She soon realized that was a waste of time.

“There was one line of dialogue I just kept having trouble with so I taped the script pages to the side of the computer,” Hyland says. “That’s when I realized that I could just put all my lines up there and read them.”

She didn’t get to resort to that tactic as Haley came home and now she shares her scenes with fellow actors on the same set.

On TV tonight: ‘Modern Family’

117060_D_0264.JPG “Modern Family,” 9 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): If you were unfortunate enough to watch Tuesday night’s series opener of the putrid ABC series “Work It,” you might need a good comedy to help get the bad taste out of your mouth.

“Modern Family” has become the most consistently funny comedy on television. It may not obliterate the bad memories of “Work It,” but it will help.

Tonight’s episode features a visit by Manny’s real father – played by Benjamin Bratt – who wants to take his son to the racetrack as a belated birthday gift. Maybe all the strip joints were closed.

On TV tonight: ‘Modern Family’

117060_D_1361.JPG “Modern Family,” 9 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): When a show is this good, there really isn’t any need to do anything like stunt casting to get people to watch. But, that’s exactly what “Modern Family” has done tonight.

Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly, Leslie Mann and Kevin Hart all make guest appearances. That’s a lot of guest stars for a 30 minute show.

The danger of bringing in so many guest stars is that it can take time away from the series regulars. This is one show that is so solid from top to bottom that the series regulars are really all you need. An occasional guest star – such as Nathan Lane – works. The producers just need to be careful with booking this many guest stars.

Even with too many guest actors, “Modern Family” is one of the best shows on TV.

Did they just say Fresno … sort of?

In last night’s episode of the sitcom smash “Modern Family,” Phil (the father) takes his oldest daughter to visit his alma mater, which appears to be Fresno State — though the university is never mentioned by name. Beehive reader Cliff Nitschke writes:

Did you see “Modern Family” tonight? Phil took his daughter to his Alma Mater Fresno State, but it was filmed at UCLA. They even mention street names where the Frat Houses are located. Interesting…one of the writers must have a connection to CSUF. Nice Fresno reference although it isn’t directly mentioned.

How do we know it’s Fresno State in the episode? The clues:

  • In the opening scene we see Phil wearing a red “Bulldog” sweatshirt, and there’s a running gag between him and Claire (his wife) about whether the mascot is the Bulldogs or the Bullfrogs.
  • Claire mentions that she has a free night because her husband is “upstate” with her daughter.
  • And the clincher: When Phil uses GPS to track his daughter, he learns her location is at “Cedar and Los Alamos” at a fraternity house. (I couldn’t find a Los Alamos on Mapquest, but there is indeed a Fresno intersection of Cedar and Alamos right by campus.)

By the way, it’s one of the funniest “Modern Family” episodes I’ve seen recently.

On TV tonight: Mother’s Day comedies

modern.JPG ABC comedies, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m., KFSN (Channel 30.1): All three of the series feature Mother’s Day storylines. Not only does this set up the potential for funny moments, the programs should be a reminder to all of you who need to do some shopping before Sunday.

Here’s what you’ll see.

“The Middle”: You know things won’t go as planned when Mike and the kids decide to give Frankie a day without the family as a Mother’s Day gift.

“Better With You”: Joel tries to get Mia the baby stroller of her dreams.

Modern Family”: Gloria and Claire plan a Mother’s Day hike with the kids while Phil catches Jay in a moment of weakness.

Happy early Mother’s Day.

ABC renews six series

118554_685.JPG Paul Lee, President, ABC Entertainment Group, has just announced at the TV critics meetings that the comedies “Cougar Town,” “The Middle” and “Modern Family” have been renewed and will be back next year. The dramas “Castle,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” also will be back.

He says these shows fall under the ABC brand that “combines smart with heart.”

He’s right about five of the shows. But, “Cougar Town” has not been a ratings hit.

Lee says the reason the Wednesday night comedy will be back is that ” ‘Cougar Town’ has found a distinct voice. We are pleased with it.’”

No decision has been made on other shows including “Detroit 187.” Lee’s a fan of the series but wishes it had generated more viewing numbers. It will be two or three months before all of the decisions are made. Look for more comedies as Lee would like to eventually expand to two or three nights for the shows.

On TV tonight: ‘Modern Family’

118554_685.JPG “Modern Family,” 9 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): This ABC comedy series isn’t suffering from a sophomore slump as it continues to be one of the best programs on network television.

What makes it so strong is that there’s not a single weak character in the cast. No matter which part of the large family is being featured, you can be sure there will be laughs. Even the children – who is other sitcoms have been either overly annoying or little more that props – are funny.

In tonight’s episode, there are two major events.

When an earthquake hits it opens the door – except for Claire (Julie Bowen) who gets stuck in the bathroom with the plumber – for loads of comedy.

Then there is Nathan Lane who is a guest stars. You know a show is a hit when actors like Lane and Edward Norton want to make quest appearances.

How much do I love ‘Modern Family’?

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So much that I sat through the dribbled-out, promo-heavy, mostly-content-free world of ABC’s “Good Morning America” (oh, how I hate those morning network “news” shows) just so I could watch the cast of this hit comedy do a plug for tonight’s “Modern Family” season finale.

It’s a great show — and thanks to my friends Robbie and Samantha for getting me hooked on it. Truth be told, it’s been a couple of years since I developed anything resembling a crush on a new sitcom. The writing is so smart, the acting great and the characters a treat. Can’t wait for tonight’s show. Any fellow fans out there? What was your favorite episode from this season? (I loved the one in which Cameron and Gloria go out for dinner in her old neighborhood and he brazenly tries to keep up with her eating spicy food: “I feel like I ate the sun!” he cries.)