My second day at the TV critics’ press tour could hardly be expected to measure up to day one, but here’s a preview: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Drea de Matteo, Bonnie Hunt and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men).
First up yesterday morning was a press conference with FX’s president and general manager,
John Landgraf, who announced that Nip/Tuck just finished production on Season 5, which will premiere in January 2009 (no word on whether any "lesbian" characters will be involved, although Katee Sackhoff will be there). FX has also ordered a 19-episode final season, which will air in early 2011.
He also noted that
Marcia Gay Harden will be joining the second season of Damages, which was the first FX show to take to the stage on Tuesday. I absolutely loved Damages last year, and I can’t wait till it’s back (sadly not till early 2009). I’ve never really been a fan of lawyer shows, but this is the first lawyer show I’ve seen in which the lawyers seem both evil and totally sexy. That’s due in no small part to this amazing woman:
Close said that she actually watched the first season of Damages on TV with her family in Montana, and the TV critics seemed shocked that she wouldn’t have asked for screeners in advance. We were shown a few clips from the upcoming second season (minor spoiler alert!) and though most of it was vague, I can tell you this much: Ellen (Rose Byrne) joins a grief counseling group in the wake of her fiance’s death, and she goes undercover to investigate Close’s character, Patty Hewes.
After the panel I talked with series creator Daniel Zelman and asked him whether he and the other creators,
Todd A. Kessler and Glenn Kessler, had any particular inspiration in mind when they (three men) began writing about this struggle between two women. Zelman said that the concept "was based partly on our lives, our own experiences."
I mentioned to him that Damages happened to premiere the same year that several other TV shows debuted with powerful lead female roles, and that this year Hollywood has been all agog that female-led films such as Sex and the City can do well at the box office.
Hey, not every man in Hollywood is dumbfounded that women can lead highly successful productions!
After Damages was a panel for Sons of Anarchy, a new series premiering on FX on Sept. 3 that is set in the world of motorcycle clubs. Essentially it seems to be The Sopranos on a Harley, and one of the female characters will be played by openly bisexual actor Drea de Matteo (Prey for Rock and Roll).
Drea de Matteo
Sadly Drea wasn’t at the press conference, but series creator, Kurt Sutter, told me that Drea plays the main character’s ex-wife. They "tried to reconcile about six months ago; she got pregnant; she has a drug and alcohol problem," he elaborated. That problem led to the premature birth of her child. "That’s sort of one of the life-altering events that happens in the pilot," Sutter said. Drea is in the first three episodes of this season, and they are currently still negotiating with her to return for a three-episode arc at the end of the season.
I did try to convince Sutter that he should include some dykes on bikes in the series, but I’m not sure if he’ll take my advice.
After a press conference for The Shield, which I totally zoned out of because it’s all about men (with some cameos for their wives), we went to a lunch panel where Bonnie Hunt was shilling her new talk show, The Bonnie Hunt Show, which will debut on Sept. 8 and will likely be paired as a lead-in to The Ellen DeGeneres Show this fall. I thought Bonnie was great and quite funny, but I couldn’t quite tell why this daytime talk show would differ from the others that are constantly failing (hello, Megan Mullally). Nonetheless, I wish her the best because Bonnie did seem pretty cool.
Last but not least, we went on a set visit to AMC’s Mad Men, the show set in the early 1960s in the advertising world. As soon as I got to the set I pulled aside Christina Hendricks, who plays secretary (and office hottie) Joan Holloway, to ask her about how she approached the story line from last season when Joan’s roommate suggested that she had a crush on Joan.
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway
Joan reacted to her roommate by immediately arranging for the girls to go out on the town and meet some men.
Well, that certainly gives another meaning to "get something in your stomach"!
It was a little surreal to walk around the set of Mad Men, because it really was like going into a time warp. We walked around the offices of Sterling Cooper, where cigarette butts are all over the place, and I counted at least four kinds of Scotch (Jameson, Glenlivet, J&B, Canadian Club, in case you wanted to know). As a former anthropologist I was geekily thrilled by looking in the office break room fridge and finding prop food from the 1960s.
During the visit to the set of Don Draper’s house, series creator Matt Weiner said that they tried to resist making sophomore mistakes on the series, such as making everyone friends. When he commented that they had not made Joan and Peggy roommates, for example, one of the male reporters joked that he’d almost pay to see that. Weiner said with a laugh, "Pillow fight, right?"
Good to see that things have changed so much since 1962.
Tune in tomorrow for news on ABC’s shows!