British actors, comedians and writers Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry have been friends and colleagues for many years. As the comedy team of Fry and Laurie, they appeared in the British TV shows “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and “Jeeves and Wooster.”
So when Laurie came to America to star as misanthropic diagnostician Dr. Gregory House in the Fox medical drama “House,” it seemed only a matter of time before Fry followed.
And so he did, playing the character of psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Wyatt in three 2007 episodes of a Fox drama - only it wasn’t “House,” it was the forensic procedural “Bones.”
Both shows shoot on the 20th Century Fox lot (although “House” is not a Fox Studios production, but instead comes from NBC Universal) and currently air back-to-back on Monday night.
Both shows also have their season finales on May 19. “House’s” is a two-parter and started on May 12.
“Yes, very strange,” says Laurie of Fry’s “Bones” guest shot. “Not only on the same network, but the same lot. We were shooting 100 yards away from each other. It was very strange.”
So, how did this happen? “Bones” executive producer Hart Hanson says that he wrote the character first then needed an actor of sufficient presence and stature to “go toe to toe with David Boreanaz,” who plays FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth.
Already a fan of Fry’s novels, Hanson says, “It was on a lark. We thought, `Hey, Hugh Laurie’s doing a TV show, maybe Stephen Fry would like to come over and see his friend.’ In essence, that’s how it happened.
“And we checked into it, and lo and behold, he did come over.”
Due in part to his busy schedule, Fry hasn’t returned to “Bones.” Neither has he yet appeared on “House.” But it’s not like “House” executive producer David Shore hasn’t thought about it.
“`Bones’ scooped us on that,” says Shore. “It’s one of those things that there is so much excitement built up around it, without it even happening, that I always want to make sure I’ve got the right role for somebody before I bring them in.
“But it’s doubly true with Stephen. I don’t want to just do that, but I want it to be right. And we don’t have the right idea to do it yet.
“God, I hope it happens, but we’ve got to figure out a story that makes it work.”
Despite their different studios, there’s no obvious creative reason why “Bones” and “House” couldn’t do a crossover.
They’re both procedurals; they shoot close by; they’re both set on the East Coast, with “Bones” in Washington, D.C., and “House” in New Jersey; and, at least for now (Fox announces its fall schedule Thursday), they air on the same night.
So, conceivably, Fry’s Dr. Wyatt could somehow meet up with Laurie’s Dr. House.
“I think Hart Hanson wouldn’t mind that at all,” Shore says. “He does mention that to me. It’s never been seriously discussed. It’s been casually discussed. ... It’s complicated. It is something we can talk about.”
Says Hanson, “I can see David going, `Oh, I don’t want to get this wrong.’ It would be different having Fry and Laurie on than just having Stephen Fry on, because we had an idea for the character first and had to fill it.
“David would have the added pain of having both of these genius guys having to agree with what he did. Boy, that would be tough.”
Regarding a possible crossover, Hanson says, “David Shore, I love in a manly, Viking way. He is my countryman” - both are Canadian by birth - “and the best writer I know. That `House’ show, that’s a damn fine show.
“If he wanted to abscond with one of our characters, I would only take it as a compliment.”
Asked if he’d be offended if Fry appeared on “House” with no crossover element, Hanson says, “No. I’d love that, too. That would be second best. Then I could call David and say, `I think we did a much, much better job with him than you did.’”
Whether or not Fry returns to “Bones” in any capacity, Hanson and team are getting their Brit fix.
At the end of June, stars Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, who plays anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, head to England to shoot a two-parter that Hanson says is currently planned to air in late August.
“Booth and Brennan,” he says, “it’s just them, get called over to take part in, let’s call it, an upstairs-downstairs case. It’s going to be really cool. We’re looking at London and Oxford.”