Showbiz Secret Number Three: There is no Showbiz Secret Number Three
Nina Colman (DR. DOOLITTLE 3) is writing the pilot for BOOK CLUB, the CW’s adaptation of Hope Harman’s documentary about a young woman who starts a book club in New York (because the CW thinks its teen audience will go gaga over reading? What?).
Peter Calloway (BROTHERS & SISTERS) is writing the pilot for MTV’s adaptation of Gwenda Bond’s novel Blackwood, about a bunch of supernatural weirdness (because Kelsey Grammer’s company is producing and supernatural anything is hot now, don’tcha know?).
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (ZOMBIELAND) are writing the pilot for HBO’s OUR FATHER, a drama about a “powerful pastor” who “fights to rediscover faith and connect with his family” (because God always opens well in middle America, where HBO’s audience is weakest, so…).
Ryan Murphy’s (LAST RESORT) adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart has died as a feature film project but is now at HBO as a miniseries (because dead big screen projects by writers whose most recent series was just cancelled just say “Big Winner” all over ’em, right?).
Farhad Safinia, creator/executive producer of BOSS, and some guy named Kelsey Grammer talk about what they’re learning. And as writers we find it…impressive:
‘Boss’ Season 2: Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia on Exploring ‘Original Sin – by Lesley Goldberg
THR sat down with the star and executive producer to discuss how Kane’s illness will impact the pace of the story, how long they envision the series running and the shocking story line that kicks off in Friday’s premiere.
The Hollywood Reporter: How does Season 2 compare to the first run? What did you learn?
Farhad Safinia: The storytelling is taking on a new shape. Season 1 was focused in terms of its structure; I told it like a movie. The eight hours had a beginning, middle and end and you had to be patient to wait for the plots that we put in the first few episodes to pay off. It’s a risky endeavor for a TV show. We are not like The Sopranos or The Wire or Mad Men in a way in which we’re looking at a window into a particular life that is open for the moment and then is going to get shut. In our case, we have an arc of change in our storytelling because we promised the audience that we’re watching the final few years of this man’s life. So from season to season we either have to keep to that promise or the audience is going to get upset with us. I couldn’t go back in Season 2 and repeat the same tone and vibe of the first season in a way in which shows like ER can without people getting upset.
Kelsey Grammer: It’s specific to what has gone on in [Kane’s] mind. I think you’ll find that in the latter half of the season there’s another shift. A lot of what felt like the old show you started to see again in the last two or three [episodes] of last season.
Safinia: The plot structure and plotting that we’re following is very much a mirror of Kane’s state of mind in a way. I think that worked for us very well. Even in Season 1 there was some shift. I remember during the course of the season people were asking us, “My God, Kane doesn’t seem to have even suffered from any illness for two or three episodes; is [his disease] going away, is it coming back?” I think that’s because that is the nature of the disease: where you can have a long run with nothing and then suddenly it comes back and looks like it’s going to take you out there and then. When we start Season 2, we’re in a place where [Kane] had effectively decimated his inner circle. He is seemingly in control again because of the radical moves that he pulled in terms of what he did with Ezra Stone [Martin Donovan], what he did with his daughter [Hannah Ware], what he did with Kitty [Kathleen Robertson], and so on. But his mind is nowhere good. He is desperate in a way. That desperation we are marrying with a structure of storytelling that’s more hectic. That will change midseason again for a plot point that we can’t quite tell you why. But hopefully the pace will shift again, as the pace of his disease shifts and changes.
The disease is moving a lot quicker than anticipated, was the decision to speed things up based at all on the underperforming ratings? Safinia: Not at all. The network and the studio have been behind what we want to do and have never once said anything about any of those things. We don’t have shifts in storytelling tone to reflect the fact that our story is changing fundamentally because our central character is changing. Tony Soprano ends The Sopranos effectively unchanged in my view. That’s why they can just cut to black. In our case, we’re not like that. We are watching a five-year drop. So, we have to have those changes reflected in our how we’re telling our story. There is a bigger fragmented nature in Season 2. The story lines seem to spin out of a gravitational control. Things that seem to be irrelevant at first suddenly become relevant in a horrific way. That aspect is exactly what’s going on in Kane’s mind, too. We didn’t have the right numbers but we had critical acclaim for Season 1. They think the formula works, let’s just try to build an audience. We opened it up, telling you that Kane’s dying and that you can’t go into Season 2 and repeat what you did because people need to see something new.
According to Deadline.Com, the series premise boils down to this:
[T]he Mayor of San Diego appoints a rogue academic with no law enforcement background to run a task force using Freakonomics-inspired alternative methods of policing. This causes an uproar within the police department as the morally conflicted, conspiracy-minded academic solves crimes by conducting his controversial experiments on citizens of the city.
You don’t get it? Neither do we, but think about that for a moment. How wonderful is it that a broadcast network is actually considering a series so out there that even we, the hippest of the hip, are scratching our heads? You got it.Very wonderful indeed.
We’ll definitely be talking about this one in weeks to come. (Unless Bob Greenblatt or some other genius at NBC wakes up in a cold sweat and kills PARIAH before it gets started.)