1:08pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
TCA Winter Press Tour Day 13 Quotes: 'The Arrangement' Isn't About Tom Cruise and More
NBCUniversal kicked off the closing days of the Television Critics Association winter press tour Tuesday (Jan. 17) morning with a selection of NBCU cable properties.
We learned that E!'s The Arrangement definitely isn't about the thing it's pretty clearly about.
We learned that Andy Cohen is perfectly happy being famous, thank you very much.
And I think there was something about flipping houses that we learned from the gang on CNBC's The Deed.
A few highlight quotes.
*** The Arrangement, a new E! drama about a young actress who gets "hired" to be the girlfriend and potential wife to a secret-keeping Hollywood star who's part of a shady money-hungry empowerment cult, isn't based on the real-life story of a certain A-list movie star in a shady money-hungry empowerment cult whose marriage to a former TV star was shadowed in rumors that their relationship was an arrangement.
Knowing that this would be the party line, I began the panel for The Arrangement by asking creator Jonathan Abrahams, "In anticipation of the panel in which you tell us repeatedly that this show absolutely, positively isn’t about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Scientology, could you legally tell us if it were?"
This was not the version of the question he'd been expecting.
"[C]ertainly it’s clear to me that even if I could say that I could legally do it, I don’t have the authority to say that. Do you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know, but it’s an easy I mean, it doesn’t really matter because it really isn’t, if that answers your question," he replied helpfully.
As the panel continued, more and more assurances were offered that The Arrangement has nothing to do with Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Scientology.
"I kind of just saw this as for what we feel is a truly unique story that takes place in Hollywood, and our characters are very unique in their own right," said star Josh Henderson.
Of the show's main religion-type-thing, Abrahams added, "I’ve had experiences second- and third-hand in self help organizations. There are many of them: Lifespring, Landmark Forum, EST. So my exposure to that was sort of inspirational to me. I have a lot of friends in 12-step programs. That was inspirational to me."
So definitely not Scientology.
Michael Vartan, who plays a character who clearly is nothing like David Miscavige, emphasized, "[W]e’re talking about the backdrop and Tom and Katie and all these and surely there are parallels that are inevitably going to be drawn. But this show to me is really about these characters and their relationships. I don’t know about you guys, but any show I’ve ever watched that I ever liked is really about the characters. I mean, Seinfeld was about absolutely nothing, but you love those characters and the way they interacted. And the thing I love about the show and obviously I’m up here promoting it, but I really feel this and I saw it when I read the pilot, is that these relationships between the characters go far beyond the Hollywood backdrop."
[Please note: It's entirely possible that The Arrangement isn't based on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Scientology. It's also entirely impossible to watch it without imagining it is.]
[Our full The Arrangement panel coverage.]
*** Once upon a time, Andy Cohen was a TV producer who had become a high-level Bravo programming executive, a man of some power and success, but general anonymity. Now, of course, Cohen is the star of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen and a veritable brand in and of himself, no longer necessarily tied to Bravo.
Does he miss anything about not being famous?
"What do I miss about it? No. Everything is good," he laughed. "Not really. I mean, the great thing about my life right now is that I never gave up being a producer, which is what I loved about being a network executive, and developing. I have a production company. I’m a very active executive producer of this show and a few others. So, when I left Bravo as my day job, I certainly didn’t want to sever my connection with the Housewives, and so we worked out an arrangement where I could continue as an EP of those shows, too. I love producing TV, and I will always do that.
*** "Mazel tov!"
That was Israeli actress Inbar Lavi's response to my question about the Jewish family backdrop to The Imposters, which simultaneously isn't an overwhelming part of the show, but also offers a welcome specificity.
"[I]t’s … something that, in television, you can do now, is that you don’t have to pretend about have a gloss over of who you’re writing about," said writer Adam Brooks. "And because we both come from very similar backgrounds that way, we just decided that, for Ezra, we would write it specifically to what we knew in terms of overbearing fathers and a certain type of claustrophobic family."
[Our full coverage of the panel for The Imposters.]
*** Just as The Arrangement definitely isn't about the things that it's really probably about, Bravo's upcoming dramedy Imposters isn't like any other con man/con woman show on TV now, even though there are plenty of them.
"[I]t’s about the characters and the comedy and the kind of rhythm and pop to the dialogue and just a sense that we always wanted to be surprised by the characters, and so it’s not just the cons are happening within the story, that we wanted to con the audience whenever possible, in terms of the pleasure of not getting it right and then thinking backwards," promised Brooks. "So it’s a show full of twists and turns, as I’m sure many of these other shows are, but we decided just to keep that out of our heads."
Brooks and EP Paul Adelstein listed Something Wild, Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight and Lady Eve among their inspirations.
*** On E!'s So Cosmo, it sure looks like the cast spends a lot of time drinking and taking off their clothes. We asked if that's an accurate description of how things work.
"We need the alcohol to get through," laughed Joanna Coles, chief content officer for Hearst Magazines. "I think the interesting thing about Cosmo is that it is peopled with editors who are expected, and who want to, bring their life to the magazine. It’s unusual in that the editors of Cosmo very much have the same ambitions, the same dreams, and similar lifestyle to a lot of the readers. So there’s great synergy between these guys’ lives and what they write about and how we put it in the magazine. So the drinks are just literally a coping mechanism, because it’s so busy."
One more day! NBC quotes tomorrow!