My first meeting with Mike Schur, one of the two creators, about Ron Swanson, we almost opened the meeting by saying, “Well, this guy has a kickass mustache.” And I don’t usually wear a mustache. I think Mike had once seen me at an audition forThe Office with a mustache, so that was where we started.
There was a side of my demeanor—I’m not always stoic and expressionless like Ron, but sometimes I am. So I think Mike took that plainspoken, no-bullshit side of me, and liked that color a lot. They found it incredibly hilarious that someone would have a wood shop and make things out of wood for fun so they laced that into the character.
Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter on the surprising effect of truth in television.
He says that killing one of his key and most popular characters was “the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my career.” But he did it because he feels he owes audiences a truthful show. “First and foremost you want to be truthful as a storyteller. So I said if we are going to tell this story truthfully and not as a ‘TV show,’ then he has to die. Even though it was very inconvenient for me as a showrunner, I felt I had a duty to be real so I had to do it. Anything less would feel phony. ” In fact, just before Nucky shoots Jimmy in last season’s finale, they have this exchange:
“There are definitely fictional families that I’ve almost felt like a part of,” says Kirk Demarais, the artist responsible for a series of portraits of fictitious families plucked from pop culture. “The Brady Bunch is first to come to mind. Thanks to endless repeats of those 117 episodes, my brain was practically fooled into thinking I was growing up alongside Greg Brady and the gang.”
Scooch over Lena Dunham, all the real girls are now on Sundance:
“You haven’t seen sexy in a wheelchair,” says one of the stars of the new Sundance Channel reality show, Push Girls, about a group of telegenic best friends in Los Angeles who are paralyzed from the neck or the waist down.
Premiering June 4, the 14-part documentary series follows Angela, Auti, Mia and Tiphany, a band of struggling Hollywood dancer/model/actresses, as they doll up in high-heels and make-up, work out, drive themselves around town, talk about sex, relationships, career aspirations and personal goals, flirt with strangers, debate the pros and cons of having babies with boyfriends and husbands, and navigate the daily challenges of life in a wheelchair.
No one likes paying for cable. But the rise of the pay-TV business model led to the revolution in quality we’re currently enjoying from HBO shows like Thrones, as well as basic-cable programs like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Years ago, when channels only received revenue from advertising, they made shows to reach as many people as possible, whether viewers loved them or just tuned in because they happened to be on. Cable changed those incentives, rewarding the creation of shows viewers felt strongly enough to pay for (indirectly in the case of channels like FX and AMC). That made nuanced drama profitable on television—and the best television more sophisticated than film. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.
NO ONE LIKES PAYING FOR CABLE. BUT THE RISE OF THE PAY-TV BUSINESS MODEL LED TO THE REVOLUTION IN QUALITY WE’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING FROM HBO SHOWS LIKE THRONES.
Shows like Game of Thrones cost big bucks. Each episode of the first season reportedly had a budget of more than $5 million. Most such shows don’t attract all that many viewers compared to cheaper mainstream programs like American Idol. And if Game of Thrones sounds like easy money, remember that it has to generate enough profit to make up for Romeand John From Cincinnati. If HBO sold every show by the episode right away, it would have to charge a premium for hits to make up for its inevitable misses
“Fred Armisen and I are obsessed with the minutiae of a situation. What is fomenting the most discomfort in a relationship? It’s usually where someone’s belief system kind of goes off the rails. That’s where we want to start exploring, because that moment is where you feel almost your worst.”
For the season finale of Fox series Alcatraz, showrunners will realize a fantasy born of working in San Francisco for months: to recreate the chase scene from Steve McQueen’s 1968 film Bullitt. And they had just the partner to help pull it off: Ford.
Ford has been tied into the JJ Abrams-created show from the start. The series centers on the disappearance of 302 Alcatraz prisoners and guards in 1963, and their mysterious reappearance in present day. Ford cars have appeared in the show and the brand has worked with Fox and series producers on elaborate brand content initiatives, like the Legends of Alcatraz alternate reality game which marked the launch of the show.
And now, the Ford Mustang will play a part in the conclusion of the series’ first season.
As “Mad Men” moves further into the 1960s, Jennifer Getzinger, who directed tonight’s two-hour season premiere, hints at changes—in characters, sets, and of course, costumes—to come this season.
"We put so much time and care and love into the design of these sets and the design of these clothes and the hair and these people that the frame is going to look full and rich. You don’t have to do some fancy camera move to try to add some excitement. So we try to really let things play in very classic ways. It is about finding these great graphic frames. There are so many amazing lines in the design of the sets. Especially the office. But a lot of [our] sets have that. We shoot a little lower [than most television shows] and so we always have ceilings—fantastic ceilings—so you can get these really beautiful, graphic shots. You’d be surprised how many sets don’t have ceilings."