Ricky Gervais, Netflix Execs and Talent Share the Love at 'Derek' Premiere
Two years ago, as Ricky Gervais was learning about Netflix getting into producing original content, he e-mailed chief content officer Ted Sarandos out of the blue, saying he thought Netflix is the future and that he'd love to do a show with them.
"I was immediately interested in anything he wanted to do because I think everything he's ever done has been phenomenal," Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter at the New York premiere of Gervais' new Netflix show Derek.
"The reach out I thought was really validating too because Ricky has always been at the cutting edge of all different things," Sarandos added. "He's so media-savvy and tech-savvy…I was really quite flattered that he thought of us as the next big thing because he's been right about that a lot."
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Gervais, whose new show features him playing the title character who works in a nursing home, is still a fan of Netflix, saying that he appreciates how the company's model of releasing an entire series at once will let people be able to watch the episodes uninterrupted if they choose.
And as Netflix plans to expand into stand-up, both Gervais and Sarandos said they'd be interested in working together on that as well, if Gervais can find the time to do it
Gervais is also a fan of Netflix show House of Cards, raving about it on the red carpet after he saw cast member Corey Stoll, who was among the Netflix stars at Thursday's event at the Museum of Modern Art.
Indeed, it was a bit of a mutual admiration society on the red carpet, with cast members from Orange is the New Black and House of Cards talking about how they loved, and binge-watched, other Netflix shows.
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House of Cards' Sakina Jaffrey even admitted she was a bit starstruck by the Orange is the New Black cast.
The talent in attendance also spoke highly about Netflix's model and the experience of working on one of their shows. Sarandos told THR he believes these public plaudits, such as those made by Kevin Spacey recently, give Netflix a competitive advantage.
"I don't ever want to get to the point where we have to put air quotes around artist-friendly because I really think it has proven very successful for us to pick the right projects and the right people and get out of their way," he said. "I feel that anything that has come off great has come off because we picked the right people and they delivered not because we had some magic that we added to it. We just facilitated their talent, facilitated their storytelling. It has so much more to do with them than us. We've been betting on that, and we'll keep betting on that."
While Netflix won't release ratings for its shows, the cast of Orange is the New Black said they're often recognized on the street and have received numerous tweets from enthusiastic fans.
"When I walk down the street and every block after block, people are like that's the girl from Orange is the New Black, it makes me think A LOT of people are watching the show," Laverne Cox told THR.
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While cast members from one of Netflix's other acclaimed shows, Arrested Development, weren't in attendance, Sarandos said the company is working on doing more with them.
"We never thought of [season four of the show] as a one-off, but it really is a very complicated thing to figure out the schedules, " he said. "Everybody is busy all the time, so trying to find that perfect window where we can get the cast together for definitely more than we were able to do in season four…We've talked about the possibility of a movie or something to bridge the gap between season four and season five, but from a talent perspective, from our perspective and from Fox's perspective, we're all trying to make that work as soon as we can."