This weekend was almost too much for our entertainment-obsessed selves to handle: From the Oscars to the premiere of Fuller House, there was pretty much no good reason to leave the house, much less your couch (props if it was a blue, checkered sofa with a golden retriever to keep you company). You might have shed a few tears watching the legacy cast of Fuller House reunite in the pilot, laughed as Kimmy and DJ tried to re-create the Dirty Dancing lift with Maks and Val from Dancing With the Stars, and ooh’d and aww’d as Steve tried to win back his high school sweetheart.
But what about the secrets behind the scenes? Whose idea was it to have the cast re-create iconic moments from the original series? And speaking of the original series, why was there such a major shift in storytelling the last few years? There was only one person who could answer all these questions and more, and that’s none other than the man who created Full House (and executive produces Fuller House), Jeff Franklin. He was the guy who discovered a precocious DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle; he was the guy who kept the cast together even after the show ended, and he’s the guy who made our sitcom dreams come true again after all these years. Listen in as we uncover never-before-told secrets, stories, and more.
Glamour: Out of the three guys—Danny, Joey, and Jesse—who are you most like?
Jeff Franklin: Wow, I haven’t gotten that question in 28 years! [Laughs] I have a little bit of all three of them in me, but I like to think I’m a little more like John Stamos than Dave Coulier or Bob Saget. In real life, I’ll leave that to other people to make that decision.
Glamour: Before we get to Fuller House, what was your favorite episode of Full House? Maybe one that made you a little more sentimental than the rest?
Jeff: Well, probably the pilot because that was the one that started it. There was so much magic that happened, and I just sort of knew this was something special. You never know if the audience is gonna find you or come along, but that one and the 100th episode. That was when [Jesse and Becky’s] babies were born. I also directed that episode, and that was such a milestone for me. That’s the dream, when it happened.
Glamour: What about a scene that really touched you the most?
Jeff: Well, there was a scene that we did very early on, with Michelle. I think it was season two with Michelle and Jesse, where she was upset because her little pal Howie was leaving. John and I talked about the scene, and it was one of the first times…I was always just in awe of what the Olsen twins were able to deliver, and it was just the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. We said, “Alright, let us see if we can shoot the scene and have her stay in character and be sad and then get cheered up, and then be sad at the end.” She really had to act. I think that was Ashley, and they were probably less than two years old and nailed it. The scene was beautiful, and the song we came up with was great.
Glamour: Who came up with ‘You got it, dude,’?
Jeff: Uh, I’ll just take credit for it, how ’bout that? I don’t remember. Well, if I didn’t say it first, I put it in the script.
Glamour: So it wasn’t something the Olsen twins said on their own that you incorporated.
Jeff: No, it was in the script. And then it got a big laugh, and we used it again, and it got another big laugh, and so…
Glamour: The rest is history. Who’s decision was it to change Jesse’s last name from Cochran to Katsopolis?
Jeff: That was John Stamos’ idea. He wanted his character to be Greek, and it would have been great if he had expressed that in the beginning, so we didn’t have to change the name in the middle of the show, but I thought it was fine. You know, so what? So we changed his name. It was John’s request. Between the two of us, we came up with Katsopolis some how.
Glamour: What about Vicki (Gail Edwards), Danny’s girlfriend? She seemed to be a fan favorite, and then kind of just left and moved away.
Jeff: Honestly, I did not do the last three seasons [of Full House]. I was not involved. So, that was one of many extremely bizarre plot decisions that were made in my absence.
Glamour: Is that because you went on to do Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper?
Jeff: I went on to Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and actually can’t really discuss the circumstances…
Glamour: The nature of the business.
Jeff: There were some terrible decisions made. The audience was really invested in Danny and Vicki. That was a relationship that I had started and invested time in, and I think the audience really liked that relationship. In essence, what became a tease, [because] years and years we’re building something, and then you just end it for no reason. That was one of many terrible decisions.
Glamour: What else didn’t you like?
Jeff: The other relationship that began under my years as a show-runner was DJ and Steve, and then they also decided to break them up and replace him with a little Richie Rich kid
Jeff: Who’s rooting for a nerdy rich kid? And then you had a tattooed guitar player
Jeff: Yeah, it was just terrible storytelling. I was appalled, honestly. That’s one of the great things about this series is that I get to go back, and, I mean, those shows [that I wasn’t a part of] are never going to go away, but at least that’s not the end of the series now. I mean, they never even bothered to do a last episode.
Glamour: I have the first four seasons on DVD. After around season five, it just changed a bit. I still loved it, but it was different.
Jeff: The show jumped the shark almost immediately.
Glamour: How would you have liked to end the show since you didn’t get to write a series finale?
Jeff: Again, I thought it was horrible. Not binge-worthy, but cringe-worthy. First of all, what eight-year-old has amnesia? The stories I did while I was there were slice-of-life stories that everybody could relate to. I mean, [the amnesia storyline] was from the moon. To do a story about amnesia for an eight-year-old kid was ridiculous. So it was a very unsatisfying ending to the series. I really hated it. It’s great to come back and give something to the fans, that’s not their last memory of Full House now. In a way, the first episode [of Fuller House] is what the last episode should have been.
Glamour: Netflix gave the press the first six episodes a few months ago. When I started watching the pilot of Fuller House, I kid you not, my first thought was, Oh, Netflix is showing us the pilot of the original series first. This is great!
Jeff: But you then saw the 29 Years Later part, right?
Glamour: Of course, yes. I just loved that you weren’t afraid of referencing the past. Immediately I thought, OK, us die-hard fans will be taken care of.
Jeff: Aww, thank you.
Glamour: Was it your decision to mimic the opening credits with the cast members from then and now?
Jeff: Yeah. [Laughs]
Glamour: Danny is married; so is Joey. Will we find out how they came to meet their spouses at all through the first season?
Jeff: Hopefully, we will have more seasons to delve into some of the legacy characters’ backstories and fill in a little more of that. There’s only so much time, so we weren’t able to really fill in everything that’s happened to them in the last 20 years. I’m hoping as time goes by, we’ll get more chances. Netflix is an extremely bright group of people, and I can’t imagine that they would somehow not pick the show up!
Glamour: How difficult was it to cast DJ’s kids and Ramona? What was that process like?
Jeff: That was the hardest part, obviously, because those little girls we found on Full House were once in a lifetime. It was magic beyond magic. The bar was raised so high. I kept really telling myself to forget that we had found such amazing kids and really just try to find the best kids for that character and hope for the best. So, we looked around a lot.
Glamour: How many kids did you go through? [Laughs] Sheesh, it sounds like they go through a car-wash. But no, how many did you read?
Jeff: [Laughs] We looked at hundreds.
Glamour: I know that Andrea (Barber) hasn’t acted in forever, but she hasn’t lost a bit of her comedic timing. You would think she’s been doing this consecutively since the series ended.
Jeff: We sold the show without a pilot, we sold the show without a script, we sold the show without putting those three girls together and letting them read two pages of dialogue and just to see what we had, so when we started on the stage, I really had no idea how it was gonna feel, what it was gonna be like. Jodie and Andrea had not been on a sitcom in 20 years or really acted in 20 years. I mean, Jodie had done a few things here and there, but not on a sitcom, and that’s its own little animal. I was nervous to see how it was gonna work, and I was blown away. Not just that they still had the timing, they’re hilarious, they have amazing chemistry together, they can rip your heart out. Just having lived with those characters for eight years, people feel like they know them, and it’s so much fun to see who they’ve become.
Glamour: I laughed so loud when Jesse says, “I’ve become music coordinator of General Hospital.” Obviously, we knew that Michelle was going to be a fashion designer because it’s been reported, but when the cast broke the fourth wall, I was dying.
Jeff: [Laughs] Well, we tried a bunch of different ways to handle that. That was something that the cast wanted to try, and I fully supported it. I looked at all the options and said, “Let’s go with that one.” The laugh was so long in the audience, and it was a seven-shot or an eight-shot, so we had no cut-aways to get out of it. We had to shoot it a couple times so we could have a reaction that didn’t go on for The first time, the laugh literally went on for three minutes. It was the longest laugh I had ever heard on a sitcom stage by far.
Glamour: How do you think Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen will react to this?
Jeff: They have a sense of humor. I think they’re gonna think it’s funny.
Glamour: They owe you guys a cameo! I’m confident you guys will get a second season, for sure. When that happens, do you think they will make a cameo at some point?
Jeff: Honestly, I get asked this all the time. I was very disappointed that they didn’t participate, and I’m still very hopeful that one of them will change their minds and decided to come play.
Mary-Kate/Ashley introduced before a taping to standing ovation; they were most popular women on TV, ahead of Roseanne pic.twitter.com/mrBPdJ2A
— jeff franklin (@fullhouseguy) October 2, 2012
Glamour: The last scene, where they’re all singing to Tommy Jr., what was it like doing that for you and the cast? It was one of the sweetest moments.
Jeff: I had edited it, I had seen it. We couldn’t do that live, the split-screen, but we ran it for the audience, and I’m looking in the audience and people are just sobbing and I’m crying, and it was just like it’s really hard to describe the feeling, but it’s one of the happiest moments in my life, being able to see that come to life. It was a picture that I had in my head eight years ago when I first decided to try to do this, and it was magic.
Fuller House is currently streaming all 13 episodes on Netflix. For more with the cast, read our interview with Lori Loughlin and Dave Coulier here, our interview with Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber here, and what happened at the Fuller House premiere, here.
Photos: Getty Images; Jeff Franklin; Michael Yarish/Netflix