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When TVWorthWatching Asks at Press Tour, They Answer
August 1, 2015  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment
 

Beverly Hills, CA -- At this point in these proceedings, the elongated summer Television Critics Association "press tour" still seems to be stretching from here to eternity.

Even so, it's now one-quarter of the way in the past. Which seems like an apt time to roll out our first batch of material generated solely by tvworthwatching.com questions lobbed from a third row seat in a crowded hotel ballroom.

***

Starz's 10-episode Blunt Talk series, premiering on Aug. 22, stars Patrick Stewart (top) as Brit Walter Blunt, a bombastic, self-destructive cable news personality who works for America's UBS network. Yes, UBS, which also is where Howard ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!") Beale fulminated in the classic 1976 film Network.

This is no coincidence, says creator and showrunner Jonathan Ames. Before writing Blunt Talk, he rewatched Network and thought, "Wait, I want more Howard Beale. At some point the movie switched to the William Holden-Faye Dunaway story. I'm like, 'Wait, let's get behind the scenes with Howard Beale.' So I kind of saw this as a continuation of Howard if Network had continued."

Blunt is "slightly less mad" than Beale, he says. But Ames' shorthand for Blunt Talk is a "cross between Network and P.G. Wodehouse. That's my kind of Hollywood mash-up."

Stewart says he sees parallels between Blunt and Beale in "one specific way. Howard blended his professional life and his personal idiosyncrasies and commitments to causes. That became an integral part of his presentation of his show. What Jonathan has given me is something very, very similar. Although there is chaos in his life, he sees that as a metaphor for the world in general. And this is the world he's committed to improving, especially the United States. You know, start from the top and then work your way down from there."

After the session, a little research turned up an additional and decidedly eerie connection. The late Peter Finch, who played Beale and won a posthumous Oscar for his performance, collapsed and died of a heart attack in 1977 at the age of 60. Where did this happen? In the lobby of the Beverly Hilton hotel, home base for the ongoing press tour. The lobby is immediately adjacent to the International Ballroom, where most press tour panels are held. But a careful search of the area turned up no ghost or ghosts.

***

At age 57, Bruce Campbell (left, Burn Notice) retains his leading man looks and shock of thick hair. But you'll seldom see him in a straight-ahead role. Beginning on Halloween night, Campbell will very happily be reprising his most famous role in Starz's Ash vs. Evil

Dead series. The blood-spewing, comedically bent franchise dawned in 1981 with the first of three Sam Raimi-directed feature films.

Campbell's many credits also include Attack of the Helping Hand, Maniac Cop, The Dead Next Door and Lunatics: A Love Story. Think chainsaws.

"I'm attracted to weird material. I'm not attracted to normal, generic stuff," he says. "I find it too boring. And I don't mind being in cheese ball, exploitation movies. Because B-movies can do things that are way more interesting sometimes than A-movies, because you don't have the restrictions. You don't have to please 100 million people. If your movie only costs half a million dollars, you only have to please, like, eight people.

"I'll go to the ends of the earth to work on material that is interesting and different. And thank God for Starz, because they don't have that clamp. We're not imploding because we can't do stuff. We can do whatever we need to do. The pressure is on us just to entertain in the best way that we can. It's very liberating."

Campbell also despises commercial breaks, which Starz doesn't have.

"You're not cutting away to Chevy commercials," he says. "It affects the structure of TV shows. 'Dum, dum, dum, your father's the murderer.' They have to put that crap in at the end of each act to get you back after the Chevy commercial. We can just tell the story. None of it is affected by some bogus structure that serves an advertising purpose."

***

Season 1 of HBO's The Leftovers (right, Justin Theroux) took major liberties with the superb Tom Perrotta novel before ending more or less the way the book did. Season 2, scheduled to start on Oct. 4, is being shot in Austin, TX and in part will originate from the fictional town of Jarden, TX. It's based on all-new material, but Perrotta remains as a co-executive producer with Damon Lindelof of Lost fame. Which prompts the question, "Are you a true collaborator and really co-writing scripts with Damon, or are you along for the ride?"

Lindelof intercedes by telling Perrotta, "This is why we give you the briefcase and money, Tom. Answer correctly."

Perrotta, who's very definitely taking the money, first notes that he and Lindelof have co-written two scripts for Season 2. Otherwise, "it's actually a pretty exciting thing for me to just see where this story goes," he says. "You have to surrender control. Sometimes I feel like I'm a passenger in the car and sometimes I get to drive . . . It's been an experiment in storytelling and I think it's a really cool one."

All right then, but "isn't it kind of weird for the original author to say it's fun to see where the story goes?"

"Well, that's the interesting thing," Perrotta replies. "I don't think it's my story anymore. My novel -- every word of that is mine. I decided to bring a story into this medium where it becomes a very collaborative venture. And if you collaborate with the right people, it's a very exciting venture."       

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Thad Moore
I use Digg for my rss feed and since your website went down, I have not be able to see TVWW feeds
Aug 2, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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