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Cherry Pop

Kevin Ruf   ('Halfway Home') Kevin Ruf ('Halfway Home')

'Another Ruf Day At The Office!'

They're out of jail -- but they're not home yet! Supervised by rehab counselor Kenny Carlisle, the housemates of the Crenshaw halfway house are slowly making that transition from incarceration to freedom. What are they in for? Carly Barzac was convicted of drug trafficking; Serenity Johnson, robbery and assault; Eulogio Pla prostitution; Alan Shepard, arson; and Sebastian "C-Bass" Yates, identity theft. Together, they're making Crenshaw House their home - because legally they have to.

COMEDY CENTRAL now gives us 'Halfway Home,' an improvised half-hour narrative following the lives of a dysfunctional group of parolees living in a halfway house.

The cast includes Kevin Ruf ('Fun with Dick and Jane'), the house supervisor who is attempting to rehabilitate the misfits. Oscar Nunez ('The Office'), a male prostitute who uses sex to get what he desires and Jessica Makinson ('Joe Schmo 2'), a drug trafficker who can't give up her old habits. Regan Burns ('Oblivious') is the house narc who has an uncontrollable obsession with fire. Octavia Spencer ('Coach Carter'), an armed robbery convict and Jordan Black ('Punk'd'), a wanna-be terrorist who is really just a rich kid from California.

The 'Halfway Home' pilot was executive produced by Jay Martel, Damon Jones, who also directed, Ruf and Nunez.

Questions for: 'House Supervisor Kenny'

Taking it from the top and what was it about this supervisory position within Halfway House that made you choose it in the first place? And with regard this new bunch of dysfunctional parolees it seems that perhaps you have your work cut out for you this time! "Yes, you're right, these "kids" need a LOT of help. (You should know, going forward, that I refer to all of my residents as "kids." It is somewhat demeening, I know, but it makes ME feel good and, guess what, that's part of the equation.) I wanted to work at Crenshaw precisely because it's known to have the worst of the worst offenders (plus, a great water heater)."

From what I've seen your one-on-one sessions of psychobabble don't seem to be getting through. As we progress will you change your approach, perhaps? "It's funny you say that. I mean, it's TRULY FUNNY to me when anyone tries to "shoe trade" with me (see things from my perspective). You see, these kids ARE getting better, but the untrained just don't see it. Don't know what I mean? Look at that clock on the wall. Is it moving? Well, guess what? It is."

Out of all the new parolees, which one do you already feel is going to be the hardest to get through to ... and why? "Kenny Carlyle has a tough time getting through to Serenity. I think the problem is based primarily on my lack of ability to empathize with the experiences of a black woman in modern America. Several years ago, I rehabilitated a much older black woman with ease. I realize that I could have been a black woman in the 1960s or 70s, or even 80s but it seems I would fail as a black woman after 1993 for some reason and, thus, my trouble with Serenity. Just my opinion."

It seems that you and (already) the house narc 'Alan' have formed this unusual bond. Do you feel an affiliation toward him in such a manner that perhaps you are beginning to mentor him at the same time? "I am gratified that you have used my favorite rehab word -- no, not "mentor," but "affiliation." That's the kind of clinical, distant term that one uses to discuss membership in a club, or a business relationship, and that is precisely how I would choose to characterize my connection to Alan. We are not friends. No, I am not his mentor. I am affiliated with Alan. This distance is what draws him to me. I am like a school girl and as long as I can keep him pulling my hair, he will slowly get better. Possibly."

Already we've seen you keep the air conditioning to yourself, set up a narc system, and be overwhelmed by impotency ... what else have you in store to enable you to continue to try and rehabilitate these misfits?! "It's hard to say. Life throws these things at you. I sense, however, that I will be chased by a bear shortly."

Questions for: Kevin Ruff / Executive Producer

Being that this is an improvised half-hour narrative, in truth just how much is scripted and how much is by the seat of the pants?! "We have very tight outlines and we go into each episode knowing what will happen. We then let the characters find their own way to express it. Basically: our plot, their words."

Please explain to us more about your role of 'House Supervisor' and to what lengths he will go to bring order and compliance to his Halfway House? "Kenny is a confident guy with no basis for it. He actually thinks he's good at rehab. The combination of Kenny's ego and his bad judgment means he will do some really stupid things in the weeks to come."

Please tell us a nice, juicy behind-the-scenes secret about the show that will then allow our readers to watch it in a whole new way!! "Our director and co-creator, Damon Jones (who is white, by the way) has a skin condition that requires him to work in the nude. Many times, we are looking quite uncomfortable not because of something going on in the show, but because Damon is nude and probably kind of close."

Assuming that Halfway Homes like this exist all over America, did you guys check any of them out for real in preparation for this new TV show? And if so, were any as manic as the one portrayed in the opening three episodes?! "We met with some house supervisors and they had lived through situations that were too crazy even for our show. Basically, we're watering it down. No sh*t."

And, finally ........... Exclusive Magazine love Penguins! Do you?! "I have never not loved Penguins, and even puffins (notice, though, I only capitalize Penguins)."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

'Halfway Home' Website

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