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Post-Super Bowl: Prince in 'New Girl,' 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' 'MasterChef Canada'

Hannah Simone arrives at the Academy's screening and Q and A the television series

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Hannah Simone arrives at the Academy's screening and Q and A the television series "New Girl" on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in Los Angeles. Simone had a Prince of a time shooting Sunday's post-Super Bowl episode of "New Girl." That's because rock star Prince guests on the episode - as himself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Hannah Simone had a Prince of a time shooting Sunday's post-Super Bowl episode of "New Girl."

That's because rock star Prince guests on the episode — as himself.

"He was lovely to work with," says Simone, a former MuchMusic VJ. "He was so funny. We had a great time."

The episode, "Party Time," was shot in December. It finds best friends Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Cece (Simone) invited to a mansion party thrown by the diminutive singer-songwriter.

Naturally, Jess's goofy roommates — Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) — all try to crash the party.

Prince once lived in Toronto "on the Bridle Path," says Simone, referring to one of the city's wealthier neighbourhoods. "He said he really enjoyed it." At the time he was married to Toronto-born Manuela Testolini.

His mansion on the episode was just a set on the studio lot. "We didn't go to Minnesota," says Simone, referring to Prince's hometown and current residence.

During the party, Prince puts on a concert featuring his band, 3rd Eye Girl. "In one take we went up on stage. That's actually when I first met him," says Simone. "I was like, 'I'm at a private Prince show, and I'm dancing on stage with Prince.'"

She quickly discovered that the 55-year-old rock star "really does have a great sense of humour, so it was really cool to see it used in the show and to see him embrace it."

Prince headlined a memorable half-time set at Super Bowl XLI in 2007, performing "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy" among other hits.

Simone says she doesn't have a favourite team in this year's Super Bowl, saying she's a CFL fan.

"My first-ever football game was in Vancouver, so I have a soft spot for the Lions," says Simone, born in London, England, and raised in various Canadian cities, including Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.

Simone did her undergraduate degree in political science at the University of British Columbia. After that, she studied radio and television arts at Ryerson University in Toronto.

The later experience, however, did not impact her West Coast sports loyalties.

"I couldn't even switch over to the Raptors when they (Vancouver) let go of the Grizzlies and gave them to Memphis," she says.

Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters attending the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., that he wanted to give a Super Bowl boost to "New Girl" as well as freshman sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," which will follow Sunday on Fox.

While both shows have been generally welcomed by critics, viewership remains lower than the network had hoped.

"We wanted to grow the comedies," he said. "They felt like the ones that could benefit from the additional sampling."

The recent surprise best performance Golden Globe win by "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Andy Samberg can't hurt either, suggested Reilly.

Samberg and co-star Melissa Fumero (Amy) team in their post-Super Bowl episode as the two Brooklyn cops investigate a string of hotel robberies. Dean Winters, Samberg's old "Saturday Night Live" mate Fred Armisen and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann guest star.

Samberg was still in the glow of his Golden Globe win when he spoke with critics on the press tour. The series was also singled out as TV's best comedy by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

"I thought there was a 100 per cent chance I would not win," says Samberg, still kicking himself for not having prepared an acceptance speech and not thanking his parents, the Foreign Press or "SNL" mentor Lorne Michaels.

"I was really excited about the Super Bowl slot, but the Golden Globe thing was pretty crazy," says Samberg. "The best part about both is it just draws attention to the show, and when you're a new show that's all you want, for people to watch."

CTV will air the Fox feed of Super Bowl XLVIII — minus the American commercials — live from East Rutherford, N.J., beginning Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Seattle Seahawks play the Denver Broncos. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform in this year's half-time show.

CTV will switch to their new reality/cooking show, "MasterChef Canada," immediately following the Super Bowl.

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Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

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