CULVER CITY, Calif. -- It's not easy to surprise Philadelphia-area fans of ABC's The Goldbergs, who know by now that when creator Adam F. Goldberg writes about his 1980s childhood in Jenkintown, he'll be naming names.
Recent fourth-season shout-outs have included Philadelphia talent manager Edie Robb (played by Susie Essman) and photographer Paul Sirochman (played, not so coincidentally, by RD Robb, Edie's son).
In January, I visited Stage 21 on the Sony Pictures lot to watch them film part of Wednesday's episode, "Deadheads," and found these 15 things you might not know about The Goldbergs:
- Matt Bush, who plays Andy Cogan, a member of Barry Goldberg’s Jenkintown Posse -- the JTP -- is from Cherry Hill. Bush (Glory Daze) attended Cherry Hill East (and did theater) with Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother, Fargo), and got his start assisting his father, a professional magician. He's probably the only member of the on-air JTP who knows what a Wawa is. “Hanging out at the Wawa ... that’s what the JTP do pretty regularly.”
- Not everyone from Goldberg’s Jenkintown past wants to be immortalized on the show. Until they do. Take Matt Bradley, played by Shayne Topp, whose character first appeared in the Feb. 22 episode and in Wednesday's joins the JTP. Goldberg had run into the real JTP members, friends of his brother, Barry (played by Troy Gentile), "and I asked them all, ‘Can I do a show about you guys?' " he said. "And everyone said yes but this guy Matt, [who] said, ‘Nah, I have kids. I don’t want you to embarrass me.' " But after the JTP debuted, Goldberg said, Bradley emailed him, "like, ‘Please put me on. I made the biggest mistake of my life. My kids are so angry with me.' "
- The bedspread in Adam's parents' room is a replica of the one that was on the bed of the creator's parents when he was growing up. Not that he's compulsive or anything.
- Tucked among the pictures in the living room set are a few of the real Adam as a baby and a youngster, including at least one with his late father, Murray.
- In the hallway outside the bedrooms sits a leather chair that belonged to Murray Goldberg, sent to the show by Adam's mother, Beverly. "Every week, we’ll get [something]. She has so much stuff, it’s insane," her son said.
- Goldberg family hoarding tendencies may not have skipped a generation.“I do have a lot of toys in my office,” Goldberg acknowledged. "A lot of them are on the set. The ones that if they broke, I’d be OK with it."
- Sean Giambrone, who plays Adam on the show, is still nervous around the real Adam's toys. "There are like three or four toys in there that are like his exact ones and I wouldn’t play with those. I’m sure he’d be fine with it, but I just wouldn’t trust myself. Because I’m kind of a klutz,” Giambrone said. He does go into Barry's room to play with his Wrestlemania dolls, though. "They're kind of fun."
- Giambrone, like the real Adam, makes movies with his older brother.“We make a lot of movies where the main character has an Afro ... because that’s one of the only wigs we have,” he said. "We’ve done action movies, we’ve done mystery movies." What got him hired, though, said his boss, was that "in his audition he talked about his love of video games. … No other kid who auditioned gave any kind of normal story.”
- When it’s not the exterior of William Penn Academy -- based on the creator’s alma mater, Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School -- the sign over that building reads Columbia Pictures.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey, who plays Beverly Goldberg, has a healthy respect for her real-life counterpart, who visits the set at least twice a season. "I never want Beverly mad at me. ... But I want to tell a good story and I want to be truthful to that. And sometimes I say to Adam, ‘C’mon, this is over the top.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s what happened,' " McLendon-Covey said. "I do feel pressure to make sure Bev is not mad at me. ... Luckily, she has not been."
- McLendon-Covey follows the real Beverly -- @goldilocks405 -- on Twitter. “What’s hilarious is when she gets all of Twitter involved in, ‘Yeah, everybody, make Adam call me, pester him until he calls me.’ She proves us right [about her character] every time she tweets.”
- Jeff Garlin, who plays Murray, is a big fan of Instagram, where he has more than 46,000 followers. On the day I visited, he was doing a live feed from behind the scenes. “Instagram is really cool, because you have to take a picture to do something," Garlin said. "It’s not just people spewing their negative opinions.” Another sign Garlin may not have much in common with his character: His on-set snack of goat-milk yogurt and gluten-free granola.
- It takes longer to do hair and makeup for Hayley Orrantia, who plays teenage Erica, than for anyone else. Orrantia, whose character is named after Adam's brother, Eric, said, "It takes an hour and a half to do hair and makeup, which it never should, but it just does. So I end up getting here at 5:30 [a.m.] on Mondays," she said. (McLendon-Covey gets to arrive a little later because Beverly's hair is a wig, "and I do my own makeup.")
- McLendon-Covey grew up with a father who had at least one thing in common with Murray. “I don’t even notice it anymore” when Garlin isn't wearing pants in a scene, she said. “My dad was pantsless most of the time, so it doesn’t faze me at all.”
- The real Beverly lives in the same Boca Raton, Fla., community as the stepmother of writer Dan Fogelman (This Is Us, Pitch). Goldberg said he and Fogelman go way back -- "he helped me on my first movie, Fanboys, and there's no better writer in this business" -- but that when he saw Fogelman last year, "Dan was like, ‘No matter how many shows I get on the air, my [stepmother] says, 'Can you do a show about our family so you can make me a character like Beverly?' "
This report has been corrected to reflect that it is Fogelman's stepmother who lives in Boca Raton.