Maintaining The Pace: The Showtime Winter 2010 TCA Press Tour – Feature
In creating new content, Showtime has shown its implementation of different original programming incarnations with surprising accuracy. But with HBO gaining speed with new material, Showtime needs to up its ante in order to maintain competitiveness.
Executive Briefing: Robert Greenblatt The possibilities of these advancements always reside at the exec level from the distance out. With “The Tudors” ending, the key was to maintain that audience without sacrificing the storylines. In doing so “The Borgias” starring Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo was greenlighted with a first season of 10 episodes. The creator of the series is Neil Jordan, the director behind “The Crying Game” and “Interview With A Vampire”, who will also direct the first two episodes. Greenblatt calls the series “pretty dynamic” with production starting in early summer for first airing in Spring 2011.
Another series Greenblatt recent greenlighted in “The Big C” starring Laura Linney about a woman diagnosed with the illness who instead plans to live life to the fullest. Bill Condon, the director of “Dreamgirls, helmed the pilot. Oliver Platt co-stars as Laura’s husband while Gabrielle Sidoube, the breakout star from last year’s “Precious” also plays a role. The series will commence production in Aptil with the first episodes airing in late summer.
In addition Greenblatt announced that their “Inside NASCAR” series will begin airing in February and “The Real L Word: Los Angeles” will premiere in the summer.
Nurse Jackie The implementation of this new series seemed a risk at first because of its borderline subject matter about a nurse addicted to drugs but seems to have found a balance of stride.
Edie Falco, “Jackie” to many now instead of “Carmela”, says that “I can only speak for myself in that I don’t have my finger on the pulse of anything”. She says she reads the scripts immediately and always feels some sort of visceral connection. For her, it is intensely important to see the internal journey. She relates that she sees alot of these addicts around Manhattan that motivate themselves to “get up every morning”. In Edie’s perception, Jackie’s condition is “not the pressure of the work but the pressure of her mind”. She said Jackie would “be this same woman no matter where she was”. Falco, for her safety, says “I would go nowhere near her” but says “the fun factor is large” in playing the performance because Jackie “has one goal in mind: to help people” and that “she spends very little time [worrying] about what other people think”. Falco says that Jackie’s attitude is “part of getting older in that it is fine to say things as they are”.
Liz Brixius, one of the exec producers, says that in this season “we wanted to tighten the noose around Jackie”. “The bromance” in play, she says, was created “to keep Jackie in peril”. She finds in essence that in terms of story “less taste, more filling works” in that they “get an hour’s worth of storytelling in 26 minutes”. She finds with writing for Jackie it “is easier trying to get her to stay awake as well as calming herself down”. Linda Wallem, her co-exec who works hand-in-hand, by comparison, sees Jackie as “flawed…really flawed” but adds that “people are complicated” and that Jackie specifically is “profoundly human” with a life “like a rollercoaster [regardless if it is] good or bad”.
Peter Facinelli, who has had recent success as the head of the Cullen Clan in the “Twilight” films, plays Dr. Cooper, who has a love/hate relationship with Jackie. He says that “it was good for me to do such a contrasting role” specifying that “Carlyle [in “Twilight”] is a calming presence while Cooper [in “Nurse Jackie”] acts like he did alot of Red Bulls”. He adds that “there was a whole month where I was shooting ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Nurse Jackie’ at the same time” but that “Liz and Linda are everywhere” which allows “the characters to run and play”. The interesting angle for him is that “when you go see a doctor…you see the white coat…but you don’t know what they do in the back room”. When he was shooting “Twilight” in anticipation of this role in “Jackie”, he “met a doctor who was very different when I went to dinner with him than what he was like at the hospital”. As for his character’s approach, he says “Cooper tries” but “he doesn’t have the confidence [to pull it off] so he tries to put on a persona to cover it up…and Jackie sees right through it”.
United States Of Tara Showtime’s other powerhouse continues to evolve through the award winning performance of Toni Collette as a housewife with multiple personalities that comes in intensive varieties.
Collette herself jokes about it being “another day at the office” but says the new season is “a little more raunchy”. She is amazed that she got through the first season saying “I was breastfeeding and hormonally challenged”. She admits that “all the alters are getting a bit easier” because “in speaking of co-consciousness, there is alot of acting with myself”. As far as her perception of her character’s kids and their psychological maintenance, she says “it is all they’ve ever known” and “that they have dealt with them in completely different ways”.
John Corbett, who plays her aloof and suffering husband on the show, calls his character “a very difficult role”. He does not like to read the scripts before rather likes to “be surprised”. “Most of the time,” he admits, “it is about trying to keep the family together”.
Diablo Cody, the Oscar winning screenwriter of “Juno” who created the show, says that “at the end of Season One, we were in a crisis situation” and says the beginning of the new season shows Tara “still dealing with it”. Cody admits that “realistically things cannot be a bowl of cherries for her all of a sudden”. One of the liberating elements, she says, going into Season Two is that “we were able to show the alters in a more realistic manner” making the situation “a little more fluid”. An example she gives is that Buck is a “more pared down version”. She explains in terms of the success of the show that “in this market, nothing is a sure thing” but “ordinarily it is tough”. She speaks of a new alter called Shoshana who is close to Tara’s actually personality calling her “a mentor of sorts”. This character, Cody states, is “very resourceful” and will pop up in Episode 4 this season. The intention is to have Shoshana be the main co-consciousness and to have her communicating with the other alters. The phrase she proudly proclaims they claimed for Tara is “traum-com [traumatic comedy] because “we walk the line in tone which makes it unique”.