March 15th, 2011
04:52 PM ET
James Franco was the one "freak" absent from Saturday's reunion of the "Freaks and Geeks" cast, but of course he ended up being one of the most-discussed.
Early on in the proceedings, Franco sent a videotaped message "explaining" that he couldn't attend because he and Anne Hathaway were preparing to host the Oscars, Variety reports.
Nevertheless, the cast remembered his time on the much-beloved-but-quickly-canceled series. The actor was known for carrying around books like Proust and "Dante's Inferno" on set, and apparently developed a backstory to his character, Daniel Desario, that included a past of having been abused as a child, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
At one point, said former co-star Busy Philipps (who had her first on-screen kiss with Franco), his "method" acting ended up with him pushing her to the ground while screaming, "Don't you f-ing touch me!" Co-star Seth Rogen, who was also in the scene, had no idea what was going on.
If the show had gone on to a second season, Judd Apatow said, Phillips' character Kim would have ended up pregnant, and Martin Starr's nerdy character, Bill, would have become a jock.
The "Freaks and Geeks" panel was the second of two put on that night by the Paley Center for Media's annual PaleyFest, and was moderated by Apatow, the show's executive producer. Earlier they paid tribute to his short-lived but also beloved Fox comedy "Undeclared."
Both series co-starred Rogen and - on a more recurring basis in "Undeclared" - Jason Segel. As Variety reported, Apatow revealed that Segel was originally supposed to play "Sorcerer's Apprentice" star Jay Baruchel's lead role in the Fox series, as a geek trying to change his image in college. Fox rejected him.
"People didn't believe that I couldn't get laid," said Segel.
Apatow quipped that he would like to do more TV, but "I don't want to see Jason get rejected again."
"I'm super-rich now," Segel responded.
But in all seriousness, Segel pointed out how many former cast members of both shows have showed up in a number of Apatow movies over the past few years: "Judd has taken amazing care of this entire group."
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