The Rough Cut: Getting Schooled by the Editors of “Abbott Elementary”

The Abbott Elementary editing team of Richie Edelson and Sarah Zeitlin walked similar but separate paths in the early stages of their careers. Each cut their editorial teeth in the world of unscripted, and both took a turn at the same mockumentary sitcom format that they would employ in the show that finally united them as co-editors.

Abbott Elementary is a mockumentary sitcom created by Quinta Brunson for ABC. It stars Brunson as Janine Teagues, an optimistic second-grade teacher at the poorly funded Willard R. Abbott Elementary School; a predominantly Black Philadelphia public school where a documentary crew is recording the lives of teachers working in underfunded, mismanaged schools.  Although conditions at the school are harsh and most teachers don’t last more than two years, Teagues is determined to help her students despite the circumstances.

Read on to learn about:

  • The hidden benefits of commercial breaks
  • The anatomy of a mockumentary sitcom
  • The truth of building a character through comedy
  • The sound of silence or just a bad speaker?
  • Lovely parting gifts

Listen while you read…

Editing Abbott Elementary

Matt Feury: It’s funny, I’ve covered a lot of different types of shows and movies in the four years I’ve been doing this, but not a lot of network comedies. I think this is a great place to start, considering it’s such a critically acclaimed show.

Richie, you go back the longest. You actually started Abbott Elementary. Tell me about how you got on that show and about developing the pilot for the show.

Richie Edelson: I was brought in by my friend Randall Einhorn. He’s the producing director on the show. He’s an executive producer. He called me and said “I’m going to do this pilot and have you heard of Quinta Brunson?” At the time I had not and he sent me a bunch of her web videos and the script. I started watching the videos and they were really funny! I thought the script was solid too. You get a lot of pilot scripts where you can tell that they could eventually be something, but this was already formed. It was there.

Randall told me “Quinta is the real deal. She’s got it. I’d love for you to do this with me.” I was all-in after I read the script, so I met with Quinta and the two other executive producers, Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern. We hit it off really well. I came away from that meeting thinking “This is a team that I would love to work with!”

We did the pilot remotely. It was during that weird phase of the pandemic where things were starting to ease off. We were wondering “Should we go back to working in-person? Should we not?” We wound up doing it remotely.

It was the smoothest pilot I’ve ever done. Everything just clicked. Everybody was so easy to work with and they were really clear about what their vision was. They were open to my collaboration and my ideas, too. We really approached the show as a team. It would be me, Randall, Quinta, Patrick, and Justin hashing out all the ideas and trying out different things.

I never say pilots are fun, but it was really fun! It couldn’t have gone any smoother. When I finished my editor’s cut, Randall said “Oh, man, this is good. This is a show!” It was a great experience.

MF: Sarah, you joined the show in the second season. Tell me about what it was that brought you to Abbott Elementary.

Sarah Zeitlin: I was a big fan of different mockumentary shows. I was a diehard The Office and Parks and Recreation fan, and I got to work with the editors from The Office.

At one point, I assisted Dean Holland on the Up All Night pilot. Then I assisted him on Parks and Rec and on a pilot called Friday Night Dinner. After that, I assisted David Rogers, ACE on The Mindy Project. So, I had already been in the world of a lot of the people that worked on Abbott.

I’d heard of Randall Einhorn before. I worked with him when he came into Modern Family to direct, but I hadn’t spent a lot of time with him. With Richie, we both worked within reality TV and I’m just a big fan. I’ve always been a big fan of both of them.

I was really taken with the show. I was surprised by it. When I heard it was good, I watched it. I couldn’t believe all the elements that it includes, like the fun, the heart, and the realism.

MF: There’s got to be some kind of onboarding process when you’re joining a show that’s in progress. What did you have to do to become a fully-functioning part of the team?

Sarah Zeitlin: When you join a team, you really have to listen and pay attention. I would reach out to Richie if there was ever a question about “Is this the show? Is this the tone? Can I get away with this?” I would always check with Richie and Randall to make sure I was going in the right direction.

It’s also about watching the show and seeing who I believe these characters are, and trying to represent their truth.

MF: Richie, what do you try to do when you’re bringing on a new editor? What did you two talk about while working on Abbott Elementary?

Richie Edelson: When you’re bringing in someone new, it’s a matter of making sure the show stays consistent and keeps the same tone and feel.

We had a lot of conversations and sessions where I would sit in with Sarah and give her my thoughts on cuts and make sure that everyone was on the same page. Also, having worked with Randall for twenty-something years, I know what he’s looking for. He’s the first eyes after us and I know what is going to speed things along. I know what he wants.

Having worked with Randall for twenty-something years, I know what he’s looking for.

A lot of times, I would watch Sarah’s cut and give her ideas. I would say things like “This works, but Randall will probably want this.” That kept things not only consistent but efficient and moving along.

We had very quick turnarounds, so we were just trying to keep the train moving. We also didn’t have a lot of time with Quinta. Obviously, she’s busy writing and acting, so getting her cuts when she could watch them was important.

I think incorporating Sarah into the mix was just about collaboration and watching cuts and discussing.

Sarah Zeitlin: Richie was always open and available. Generally, the whole team was, too. I could call anybody in and ask “Hey, what do you think of this?” They really tried to be available and not make things about me. They made it about the show.

MF: You’ve mentioned The Office, Modern Family, Parks and Rec. There is a template that exists already for these mockumentary-style shows. In developing this show, did you discuss how you wanted to depart from that template or the things that you wanted to embrace?

Richie Edelson: That’s a good question. I remember The Office being referenced a lot while we were doing the pilot. Quinta is a big fan and obviously Randall comes from that world.

I actually did a season of Parks and Rec as well, so we all had those reference points in mind. As far as putting our own stamp on it, I don’t remember having any overt discussions about that.

Nobody ever asked “How are we going to make this different?” It just felt different. Some things are going to stand out as being components of the genre, like the talking heads and the camera movement. But to me, Abbott stands on its own in the performances and in the writing.

Sarah Zeitlin: I totally agree. It’s not necessarily a reference to how other people have done it before. As an editor, you follow Quinta’s voice and Randall’s vision and it’s there. You just do your best to make it sing. I mean, it does sing. You just try not to get in the way.

MF: Sarah, as a fan of the show and ultimately a key contributor, do you see any ways the show has evolved in terms of tone or just the process over the two seasons of the show?

Sarah Zeitlin: I think it’s a pretty tight process. The people from season one were pretty in sync and you come in and get up to speed. It’s very quick.

Something that’s interesting about working with Quinta and Randall is they’re both very decisive. They both instinctively know what they want. They don’t ask “Oh, is this better?” They’re not questioning. They know what their vision is and you trust that.

Richie Edelson: Quinta is one of the best creator-slash-showrunners that I’ve worked with in the edit bay. I wish we could get her in there more often. Not only does she know exactly what she wants and what she’s looking for, but she also understands editing. She understands the process. She knows when you tell her “this is why this cutting pattern works better” or “this is why I would rather do it this way.” She totally gets it. She’s so open to collaboration and hearing your ideas.

There are plenty of times where I’ll show her something and say “I like the way that this works” and she’ll understand why I did it a certain way. But then she’ll ask “Can we do it this way instead?” She’s really special in that regard.

Sarah Zeitlin: I agree. She’s really special.

Richie Edelson: A lot of times you get into editing with people who come from more of a writing background. They haven’t spent a lot of time in post-production, so you spend a lot of time just going over all the options. It wears everybody out a little bit.

Sarah Zeitlin: Quinta definitely trusts in her team. There’s a trust in listening and in making the best product, not being the loudest voice.

There’s a trust in listening and in making the best product, not being the loudest voice.

MF: How about the element of her actually being an actor on the show? Do you notice anything different in her commentary when she’s in a scene or not in a scene? Does being an actor come into play at all in the notes that she gives you?

Richie Edelson: She’s pretty good about looking at the show objectively. I don’t really come up against anything where she’s making decisions based on that. Obviously, she knows her performance and whether she did something better or different, or things like that. But I don’t feel like it shapes anything.

Sarah Zeitlin: No, not at all. I was actually surprised how little it shaped things. I’ve been on other shows where a specific person gives notes on themselves quite a bit. That’s not what she’s here for. She’s here for the story, the characters, the show.

One thing I did notice, though, in my first episode, is that she bopped her head in a certain way, and I didn’t put it in the cut. Her note was “Find my head bop and put it in!” I realized “Oh, I need to notice everything. She remembers and sees everything.”

MF: How do you determine who cuts which episode? It looks like for season two you are pretty much alternating, but there’s a few times where you’re both doing concurrent blocks.

Richie Edelson: The concurrent block thing isn’t typical. Typically, we’re alternating episodes. What happened was, they wanted to switch the airing order, so even though we were alternating, the episodes wound up airing in a different order.

We aren’t editing shows back-to-back. There was one point in the season where we switched from odd-numbered episodes to even, and I had to edit a couple of episodes back-to-back. But overall, we were just alternating.

I came on first, so I wound up doing the premiere and, because we switched somewhere in the middle, I wound up doing the finale as well.

Sarah Zeitlin: Also, there were some problems with the schedule around the holidays. One of the kids got sick and had to be recast. Different things like that made the shooting around the holidays very bizarre.

MF: Do you ever work on more than one episode at a time? Or is it very much locked-off?

Richie Edelson: No, there’s plenty of overlap. You’re working on your editor’s cut of one episode while the studio is giving you notes on another. You have at least two, sometimes three episodes that are open. Because it was hard to always get a sign-off from Quinta, sometimes episodes would stay open longer so she could weigh in.

Sarah Zeitlin: We would generally have about three open episodes at a time. But you’re getting it done. I’d also say that Randall is very efficient. He knows when and what to push and he’s on it.

Richie Edelson: Randall is absolutely the most efficient director I’ve ever worked with. He’s super efficient on set. He doesn’t overshoot. He knows when he’s got something. He’s very confident in what he does.

That also translates into the cutting room because he’s the first line. He was the executive producer that spent the most time in post. He knows exactly what he wants. You don’t wind up sitting there going over a million takes. It all comes together pretty quickly, I think.

After twenty years, we definitely argue about stuff. I’ll dig my heels in and want to drag other people into it and get on my side. Sometimes that will grind things down a little bit. But overall, I’d say it’s a very smooth and efficient process.

Sarah Zeitlin: Absolutely. He’s quick and he’s sharp.

MF: Does Randall leave the door open for any kind of improv, considering that Quinta is a creator of the show and also acting in it?

Sarah Zeitlin: There’s not a ton of improv but if the joke is funnier, we go with the funnier joke. There’s never a rule that says you have to stick to what this was. If this joke is funnier, it’s just funnier. He’s on board.

Richie Edelson: Like Sarah said, there’s not a ton of improv. But there are a couple of people who are very good at improv. Zack Fox, who plays Janine’s ex boyfriend Tariq, always drops funny stuff in. He will just come up with something and it cracks everybody up. His stuff will end up in there a lot.

But nine times out of ten, improv is not going to be as funny as what was written. It’s just the nature of it. The writers have spent time crafting this stuff. There are a few individuals who can just sometimes drop things out of the blue and it’s funny. That’s got to stay in.

Sarah Zeitlin: Quinta will do that. Quinta will give you alternate lines and then I’ll have to say “Oh God, these are all great. Which one do I use?” She’s very good, very quick. I think Patrick Schumacker is also on set giving them funny alts.

MF: Sarah, you said that if the joke is funnier, then we’re going with the funnier joke. But there are times where comedy and character are diametrically opposed. If you’re always going for the funny, sometimes it’s not so easy to develop the character.

In a show like this, at some point you need to start developing a little bit more drama. I think that really pays off in an episode you did called Mom. Do you have any tone meetings? Do you talk about things like that?

Sarah Zeitlin: Personally, I would disagree that comedy and character are averse to each other. I think that all the humor comes from the character and the truth. We’re relating. It’s funny because it’s true. This is how people are.

That’s part of why I like the mockumentary style, even though Abbott is a little bit different. I really find that it comes from character. It’s all about the development and the humanity of it, for me.

And yes, we have tone meetings, and everybody’s accessible. You can talk to anybody at any time, depending on availability. But everybody’s got an open door. Everybody just loves their job and loves being there and making the show better.

Richie Edelson: I think I know what you’re saying, Matt. Are you talking about when you go in for a joke, even if it crosses a character’s development?

MF: Yes. I think there are times when a person’s natural instinct is to keep reaching for that joke without ever really putting the thought into it.

Richie Edelson: Right. I would say that our cast is very tapped into their characters. I don’t think they do that a ton. A couple of them will sometimes reach for stuff that doesn’t really make sense, but for the most part this cast is really in touch with their characters.

I think that when they do go for the funny moment, they don’t reach out of their character to do it. That goes along with what Sarah was saying. They try to find the funny or deliver that funny line as their character, in the heart of their character.

MF: Well, I love that. Character comes from truth. I’m going to write that down, Sarah.

Sarah Zeitlin: I will follow up and say that you referenced Mom, and in that episode you can track Taraji P. Henson’s performance. She’s a lovable mom, but she’s also a mom that is making mistakes. She’s not necessarily being fair to our main character Janine (played by Quinta Brunson), who is just so sweet.

It was really about looking at Taraji’s performance and making sure that she was coming from a point of view and not just being mean. It was about looking at those takes and negotiating that.

MF: Richie talked about the pilot episode and being semi-remote for that. I forgot to ask, what is your actual setup now? Are you working together in a facility? Are you working at home? What is the post setup for Abbott Elementary?

Richie Edelson: I think Sarah was 100% in-person. We have a post setup on the Warner Brothers lot and everybody is there pretty much every day. I was doing some remote work. Sometimes I was cutting dailies from home.

A lot of times I’ll cut dailies from home in the morning and go in the afternoon to make sure I’m available for whatever comes up. But I’d say we’re mostly in-person now.

Sarah Zeitlin: Definitely. Because of the speed of things, Randall will come in at lunch breaks. Quinta will come in at lunch breaks. You want to be there, and you want to be available when time opens up because everybody is doing so many things at once.

MF: I would like to drill down a little bit more on the mockumentary formula. There’s an old saying that acting is reacting. Does Abbott put a lot of emphasis on different takes of reactions or looks?

Richie Edelson: It’s a mixture of things. There are times where the director will say “This would be a good time for you to look at the camera.” There’s certainly some performance coaching.

Characters frequently break the fourth wall in Abbott Elementary. Image © ABCTyler James Williams, who plays Gregory, is very adept at knowing when to punctuate things by looking at the camera. Is that what you’re specifically asking about, the looks into the camera?

MF: Yes, and you use the exact word that I would use, which is punctuation. It feels like these are beats or punctuation. In general, the actors look at the camera and it’s as if they’re saying “Can you believe what I just heard?” or “Can you believe this just happened?”

Richie Edelson: Tyler is very good at those “Can you believe this is going on?” moments. Especially with Principal Ava (played by Janelle James) hitting on him, things like that.

But Quinta is so good at the small looks when she’s feeling self-conscious or slightly ashamed. She realizes that the camera is catching her in a very vulnerable moment. There’s those looks.

There’s a lot of times, especially in the talking head interviews, where Gregory will let out feelings that he’s having towards Janine and then catch himself. There are multiple situations and the performers are so good at playing those looks.

Not only looks at the camera but reactions in general. When they give those small looks, not the big over-the-top looks, but the little ones that you barely catch, it makes you feel like it’s real.

Sarah Zeitlin: Those little ones are gold. There’s definitely nuance to the looks into the camera. You hope there will be some variety in the takes so you can choose the right moment to use it.

The looks to the camera give you another level of what the character is feeling. There’s a level of “I’m insecure right now, and the camera’s getting this.” There’s a level of “Are you seeing this?” There’s the level of “I wish the camera wasn’t here right now” or “I’m going to be careful with what I say because the camera is here.” Then there’s a level of ridiculousness with Ava. It’s giving you more information about the interior life of the character and it’s really cool.

Richie Edelson: It’s something that is very distinctive about the mockumentary format. You get this extra step of understanding what’s going on with the character that you don’t necessarily get from a regular show.

Sarah Zeitlin: I think Abbott specifically as a mockumentary is very good at that. It’s less of “This is what we always do.” The looks are always part of the story.

MF: I’m glad you said that. There’s a reason why I led these questions in this direction because, Sarah, I want you to break down a scene for us. How’s that sound?

Sarah Zeitlin: Uh, scary. Okay, let’s go. Let’s do it.

MF: It’ll be fine, because you edited it. How hard could it be?

The scene I want to talk about is in the episode Mom. It’s between Barbara (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph) and Vanetta (played by Taraji P. Henson), who is Janine’s mother in the show. Vanetta comes to see Janine because she needs money, and Barbara doesn’t want Vanetta hitting up Janine for money.

They’re having this conversation in private but they don’t realize that Janine is actually watching this exchange. She sees this happen and we see Vanetta react to Janine before we’re aware that Janine is there.

Why is it important for us to see Vanetta realize that Janine is there before we get to see Janine?

Sarah Zeitlin: I’m so glad you picked that scene. I call that my Western standoff scene.

Vanetta sees her first because she has the most to lose in that moment. She’s the one that is being duplicitous and she’s getting seen for what she’s trying to hide. She’s trying to say “Oh, I have a job. I need a cell phone.” But in that moment it’s her pride and her ego and Janine gets to see it. She gets to see Vanetta in this really low light.

MF: And we don’t get one of those looks. You cut to commercial or cut to black, depending on how someone’s watching it. Nobody looks into the camera in that scene. Nobody has that reaction moment. Why is that?

Sarah Zeitlin: It’s too important. They care too much about what’s happening at that moment to know that the cameras are there.

The three of them are so taken in this situation. It’s about Janine’s two moms. There’s her real mom and there’s her work mom. There’s the one that’s looking out for her and the one that’s taking advantage of her.

Then there’s Janine, who is just seeing what’s happening. Even though she suspects it, now she can’t deny it anymore. It’s a very heated moment where the cameras don’t matter anymore.

MF: That’s what I think is really cool about Abbott Elementary, the way you play back and forth with the awareness that there’s a documentary going on and then those moments where that element is dropped.

Sarah Zeitlin: It’s about the realism of the character. You’re always coming at it from a subjective point of view. You’re never the omnipresent narrator from another sitcom. It’s always about what, subjectively, is this character going through at this moment?

It’s about the realism of the character…It’s always about what, subjectively, is this character going through at this moment?

They’re really true to that in the writing and on set with the actors. You’re always following the story. You’re never manipulating it. Editing that scene, I was sitting forward in my seat, just having one of the best days of my life.

MF: I mentioned the commercial break aspect. I’m not used to talking about that. Are there restrictions working in network television that you find challenging, where you have to cut for time or cut for a specific moment?

Richie Edelson: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know how it is on the streaming services. I think they still sometimes build in act breaks.

But yes, everything is built around act breaks. Those moments that take you in and out of acts are so important in a series, especially when they’re going to be breaking for commercials at that point. You have to make sure that you’re ending on a really powerful piece. Not something that leaves you hanging, but something that builds tension. Or maybe you want it to end on something really funny.

There is the limitation of having to make sure you build in those act breaks. Sometimes, in the writing, maybe the joke isn’t landing hard enough to be an act ‘out’. Then you have to make sure to build that with reactions. Other shows might use music to do that but we don’t use music at all, unless it’s diegetic. We don’t have all of the tools available that we normally would on this show.

With network TV you also have a very strict time limit, so a lot of times you have to cut extraneous jokes. It’s a balancing act of making sure that you have the story, which is obviously the most important, but you also don’t want to lose all of the comedy. Sometimes, you have to lose those extraneous funny moments that aren’t working towards the story.

Sarah Zeitlin: I would say it allows you to make the end of each act exciting. It really allows the end of each act to pop and you think “Oh, I can’t wait to come back.”

That’s one of the things about Abbott being a network show. It’s supposed to be a show that parents can watch with their kids. That’s part of the beauty and charm of it, that it can be a network show.

I love what Richie said about not relying on music for the act ‘out’. You really have to make the moment pop. I would say that was the hardest part, cutting the show to be twenty-one or thirty minutes, because you love so much of it. But it really streamlines everything. It shows you which are the important beats and which are the important jokes. You really have to choose the best.

But it does suck because you always think, “I love it all! I love it all!”

Richie Edelson: I will say it’s nice that our writers deliver scripts that aren’t crazily overwritten, because I’ve worked on shows where your editor’s cut will come in around forty minutes. Then you basically have two shows in that one episode and you have to lose half of it. That is just so painful.

MF: I’m glad you brought up the sound. I have two questions about that. The first is the music. Your show has no needle drops, no real score, it’s all just diegetic sound. Why did they go that route?

Richie Edelson: That was all Quinta, although everybody was behind it. Randall was particularly behind the decision as well.

When I cut the pilot, I used a tiny bit of music here and there for transitions and Randall had actually left it in for his cut. Once Quinta got on board, she decided “No music. I don’t want any music at all”. She said if it’s not diegetic, it takes you out of the format. It takes you out of feeling like you’re watching something real.

Once she made that decision, we were all on board. Then it was a matter of selling the studio and network on it, because obviously they put up a little bit of a fight. But no, Quinta knew from the beginning that she didn’t want it to have any music.

I’ve worked on a lot of shows that are wall-to-wall music. I’ve worked on shows that are in-between. I like the challenges that not having music adds to cutting. You really have to find creative ways to keep things alive.

One thing that keeps our show alive, because it’s taking place in a school, is all of the kids’ voices and the background noise that goes on in a school. I had an episode that took place during an open house in the evening and there were no kids in the school. There was no noise. So any time I had dead space I had to think “How are we going to keep this alive?”

MF: That’s interesting, Richie, because the note that I had was that Abbott is a very quiet show. To me, there wasn’t a ton of background noise or foley.

I was noticing scenes in the cafeteria where… Well, maybe they’re really well-behaved kids! But to me, it was very quiet. I noticed you didn’t overdo it. You’re in a school, you could go crazy with that.

Richie Edelson: It’s interesting that it comes across that way. When we’re in the mix, you hear the cafeteria. There’s plenty of chatter. The kids talking and all that stuff. It’s interesting to hear that it doesn’t come across as much.

MF: Maybe I have a speaker out.

Richie Edelson: We definitely put a lot of thought into it. I do agree, we try to keep it intimate. But we also try to keep the school alive.

In fact, when Randall shoots, he will do a take where it’s just the kids chattering and talking for a good chunk of time. We’d rather use that than have other people do it. Your other option is having adults do kid voices and looping that in. This way, it feels natural. You’re recording on the same microphones that you use on the show and you get a natural sound. We do put a lot of care into that sound.

Sarah Zeitlin: Sound is a really important part of the template that has been set in the show. It’s important to feel real and intimate.

Richie Edelson: Shout out to Ruth Adelman, our sound supervisor who does a tremendous job of overseeing all of our sound department.

Sarah Zeitlin: Also, Claire Scanlon. She only directed one episode, but I’ll just bring up that she also recorded the kids. It’s important that it’s the real kids. It’s not adults in a loop. It just needs to be authentic.

MF: Does having a background in unscripted help you as a scripted editor? Were there things you had to learn doing an unscripted series that you find pays off in the cutting room of a scripted comedy or drama?

Richie Edelson: I’d say it helps me. One thing it has really has helped me with is figuring out how to save situations. It taught me tricks on how to make things work when they’re not necessarily working.

In unscripted work, you really have to create so much from scratch. You have to know how to build things, even down to dialogue. We do that when we’re in the edit bay sometimes, when Quinta or Randall wants to rewrite a line.

Both Randall and I worked previously on some unscripted shows. He spent a lot of years on Survivor and all kinds of other shows. We talk a lot about “Frank inviting stuff together” which is a term that we got from unscripted work.

For me, having the toolset to build a whole new line of dialogue out of syllables is pretty handy.

Sarah Zeitlin: As you two already know, I’m working in Fiji right now on Love Island (USA). I’m part of the digital team, which deals with the apps and Instagram, Facebook and those things.

I would say there’s been an attitude shift towards the footage. You never look at something and immediately say “This needs to be reshot.” You never say “I can’t” or “Oh no.” You look at it and figure it out. It’s a muscle. You know you’re going to get in there and get your hands dirty before you freak out about anything.

There’s been an attitude shift towards the footage. You never look at something and immediately say ‘This needs to be reshot.’

Richie Edelson: I agree. Randall would disagree. Randall would tell you that my immediate answer is always “No, I can’t do that.” But that’s not true. I always go that route just so I can mess with him.

But I agree with that, Sarah. Coming from unscripted, you’re constantly saying “Oh my God, how am I going to make this work?” There is almost never a situation cutting scripted where I feel like I’m never going to be able to make it work.

Personally, I think coming from an unscripted background is huge. In fact, Randall used to always say that, when I was making my transition to scripted. He would say “You basically had to create comedic scenes from nothing when you were cutting unscripted.”

Having it written already is still challenging but it’s challenging in a different way. I almost never feel like I’m not going to be able to solve this puzzle.

Sarah Zeitlin: Yeah, it’s just a muscle of “Okay, let’s tackle it.”

MF: The title sequence of Abbott Elementary features a little girl with a backpack that says “Abbott Elementary” on it, which I think is awesome. Do you have Abbott Elementary backpacks?

Richie Edelson: Not like the one in the title sequence! We got some Abbott Elementary backpacks for Christmas. Or was it for wrap gifts? I can’t remember. We don’t have the ones that they actually made. I don’t anyway.

Sarah Zeitlin: The first season crew got an amazing hat. It was black-on-black and it says Abbott Elementary. Ben Boles, one of the assistants, has his hat in his room. It’s really cool.

Richie Edelson: I’m so bummed. I gave my hat away.

Sarah Zeitlin: Oh, no.

Richie Edelson: But it was for a good cause.

MF: Throughout all the shows you’ve done, what’s the best swag you’ve ever gotten from a show?

Sarah Zeitlin: I’m easy. I like anything Patagonia. Just give me the Patagonia. I will wear that for the rest of my life.

Richie Edelson: My favorite was a Patagonia, one of those winter puffer jackets from Parks and Rec. I loved it so much because it didn’t say Parks and Rec anywhere on the jacket. It just said “Rent-A-Swag, Pawnee” on the sleeve. It was such a nice, inside thing. It didn’t hit you over the head with the title or anything.

MF: You would think you’d get something good from Project Runway.

Sarah Zeitlin: Yeah, you’d think.

Richie Edelson: I got nothing! I don’t remember getting anything. Well, I got an Emmy from Project Runway. I’ll take that swag.

MF: I can’t think of a better way to close than that! I appreciate both of you doing this. I know it wasn’t the easiest timing to do it so I’ll just congratulate you on a job well done. The show is obviously very well-received and you should both take a lot of pride in that, which I’m sure you do.

Sarah, my download numbers in Fiji have plateaued lately. If you can see what you can do about spreading the word about the podcast, I’d appreciate it.

Sarah Zeitlin: Certainly. Absolutely.

Richie Edelson: Spread the word.

Matt Feury

Matt Feury is host and producer of The Rough Cut podcast, as well as the Sr. Director, Market Solutions – Video & Post for Avid.