12:34pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
TCA Winter Press Tour Day 8 Quotes: 'Legion' Uniqueness, 'Fargo' Kisses and Tom Hardy's a Pig
Thursday marked another busy Television Critics Association's winter press tour day from FX.
We received updates on the status of Peak TV from John Landgraf (still lots of TV), two Noah Hawley shows (Legion and Fargo) and the latest in Ryan Murphy's endless stream of new anthology dramas (Feud). And, of course, we got a preview of a new season for The Americans, which continues to be set in the past but is all too relevant to the present.
*** Louie Anderson's supporting actor in a comedy win for Baskets was one of the highlights of last fall's Emmys, a well-deserved piece of recognition for a tremendous and tremendously odd performance in a niche-y, oddball, often tremendous show.
Fittingly, Anderson's feelings about his Emmy win and its impact were also mighty odd.
"I feel wonderful about the award, for two reasons: One, it makes people watch Baskets; two, my mom. It was her award. I stole every nuance, glance, purse of the lips. You know, all those little ticks, knicks, all those tick-tack knick knacks that my mom had. All her butter," he said. "She used to butter me as a baby. A lot of you people don’t realize. A lot of you were powdered. I was buttered. I was very slippery, but I was really a wonderful baby, and I got passed around a lot because they couldn’t hold on to me. But I love being an award winner, because the award for this show, [for] all the cast because we all worked very hard on the show. Every single person. And we loved it. We love it. I love it. I think everybody else loves it. And nobody complains. We work really hard. And I work less hard because I’m a whiner, so I get away with more, and they bring me a chair to sit it, and they know how fragile I really am."
Buttered baby Louie Anderson. Think about it for a bit.
*** Jessica Lange playing Joan Crawford in FX's Feud is pretty great.
Jessica Lange quoting an Amy Schumer comedy routine to talk about the upcoming anthology show's approach to actresses and aging may be even better.
"I think that’s a big part of this show is what Hollywood does to women as they age, which is just a microcosm of what happens to women generally as they age," the actress explained. "Whether you want to say they become invisible, or they become unattractive or they become undesirable, or whatever it is. And I think with this film, we’ve touched on that in a very profound way. Joan was 10 years younger when this takes place than I am now, and yet her career was finished because of her age. And I think what we’ve tried to do is really somehow investigate what that does to a woman when she’s no longer considered. I mean, you’ve got these great lines that Stanley [Tucci], as Jack Warner says, 'Would you f— these two broads?'"
Lange continued: "There is a great Amy Schumer thing, “Your last f—able day in Hollywood.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but what we’re talking about is — especially with Joan, who was known for her tremendous beauty — what happens when that beauty is no longer considered viable, because it’s equated with youth, you know, because a woman at a certain age can no longer be considered beautiful? And I think what we tried to do is, like, see not just in the overall view of Hollywood, but what happens to women as they age and become considered less than important."
[Our full Feud panel coverage.]
*** Not every network can afford this approach to brand-building, but if you want to know how FX has come to be such a critics' list powerhouse, chief John Landgraf explained his net's model for success.
"When I started, the network advertising was more than 50 percent of our revenue; it’s now 35," he reflected. "So, we were probably more focused on ratings when advertising revenue was a more significant part of who we were. But back when we were just starting to work together and trying to figure out what are the criteria we should use amongst an infinite number of potential criteria to decide whether to pick up a show, it was suggested — not by me, but I thought it was an interesting idea — what if the criteria was, can we imagine 20 years from now two people sitting over lunch, having a conversation about this television show? Meaning, can it affect, can it be something in the culture that survives even after its ultimate finish or cancelation? Can it be something that has some enduring purchase or value in the culture? And that’s the exciting thing about television, is it’s moved from a disposal medium that was consumed live and only designed essentially to get people there to watch commercials to something that is like movies: an art form that can create works of art that are still relevant 10, 20, 30, 40 years later."
Of course, by this standard, shouldn't we have five-plus seasons of Terriers by now?
*** Wasn't it cute when stories about Russian infiltrations into U.S. affairs were the stuff of 1980s nostalgia? The Americans has suddenly gone from period show to contemporary thriller, and showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields have mixed feelings.
"I don’t know if it’s exactly easier or harder," Weisberg said. "It’s, sort of, there’s something in a twisted way that’s kind of fun about seeing all this stuff in the headlines that we’re trafficking in all the time."
Added Fields, "In a very twisted way."
Weisberg concluded, "But, on the other hand, as you all recall from when we sat here many years ago, the initial idea of the show was really to say, 'Hey, look — these people who we think of as enemies are really just like us,' and that was at a more peaceful time in U.S./Russian relations, and to see things have spiraled so out of control, frankly, just doesn’t feel so good."
*** Premiering in February, Legion marks a big shift for both FX and creator Noah Hawley, a dive into the Marvel Universe that immediately looks and feels like nothing else in the crowded superhero space.
On the panel, Hawley defined the uniqueness of Legion.
"[The] first thought that I had in looking at the genre was, 'Well, if we remove the genre, is there a compelling show that you would want to watch there?' Because I think that the underlying show, whatever the genre is, has to be a compelling character or story," he said. "And so that’s what attracted me to it is finding David [played by Dan Stevens], the David storyline, and then introducing Rachel [Keller]'s character and this idea of this epic love story, you know, and then putting the genre back into it and saying, 'You know, if we have a character who is not sure what’s real and what’s not real, then can we make this show that’s subjective?' Which is the opposite of what Fargo is, which is sort of objective. Even the way we shoot it is meant to sort of say this is a true story. And here it is to try to create something subjective, where at every moment you are experiencing what he’s experiencing. And so, visually, it just felt to me like it would. It’s an opportunity not to have it in present day, real world, but to say his perception of reality is that, you know, some of it feels retro, and some of it feels futuristic, and I thought it’s important to make something unique."
[Our full Legion panel coverage.]
*** Hawley sadly took ill before the panel for the third season of Fargo and had to depart, but that meant more time for actors Michael Stuhlbarg, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Carrie Coon and Ewan McGregor to enthuse about the anthology drama, which recently began production.
Producer Warren Littlefield also was there to hint at how the third season will relate to the first two seasons of the acclaimed series.
"We like the idea that, as you saw in year two, there’s this wonderful book that might say True Crimes of the Midwest, and imagine that the Coens’ movie might be a chapter, and each season of Fargo is a chapter from that book," said Littlefield. "And, yes, we will have a kiss in to season one that we think is appropriate because we we’re doing a different film each year, but, yes, they’re related geographically. There are thematic touches. And as you’ve seen, we make some character kisses as well. So we think that’s part of the DNA that Noah uses to honor where we came from, from the Coens. And then he takes off on his own original direction, and thank goodness for that."
One echo of similarity is, once again, a law enforcement figure serving as something of an oasis of decency in a tumultuous world, or at least that's what Coon suggests she's playing.
"I think she does serve that function. And don’t we need that more than ever?" the actress suggested. "She really represents a kind of small-town aesthetic, a sense of community that she feels has been eroded by forces outside of herself. And her personal life is also falling apart. I think that’s the thing that distinguishes her from characters in previous seasons that sort of had this female sheriff idea. Her personal life is kind of eroding, and she’s trying to hang on to who she is inside of that happening in a microcosm and also in the macrocosm in the world that she’s policing. And so, yeah, I think she is representing decency and ethics. And how successful she is, is, I think, what the show is asking this season."
[Our full Fargo panel coverage.]
*** To some collective disappointment, Tom Hardy didn't bring a dog to the panel for his newly premiered FX drama Taboo. He did, however, offer an explanation for the animalistic movements of his Taboo character.
"He’s a bristly pig," said the actor. "This is a man who horse rides, so he’s bowlegged. He’s a man who has probably got very achy joints, and yeah, he stomps about because it’s muddy and slippery. There’s not a lot of grip on his shoes. It’s a physical, brutal sort of terrain. He’s a man who can do things. I think he does do a fair amount of mincing around the court if he has to. Those boots didn’t allow for one to sort of soft-shoe it around in an elegant and sophisticated manner. And also, to throw up a direct flagrant and brazen disassociation with social etiquette was essential, an essential element, because he is the fly in the ointment or the embarrassment, as it were. And I know that there are many people from the kind of, inverted commas, dukedom at the time who do not fall afoul of the social etiquette of court and the politeness and the etiquette of social interaction in the polite ceremonious way, but just get the job done that needs to be done, which is often not particularly nice, but messy. Yes. The gait is somewhat brash and uggish and thug-like and primal."
Check back tomorrow for the first day from the unified cable entity we call CTAM...