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If you’re curious where TCA summer press tour quotes from our eleventh day are, Saturday was actually highlighted by the annual Television Critics Association Awards show, dominated by FX’s The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. [See all the TCA Award winners here.]
Sunday marked the return of panels, with Amazon spending the day presenting shows new (One Mississippi, Good Girls Revolt) and returning (Mozart in the Jungle, Man in the High Castle). [Read more about how High Castle is allegedly going showrunner-free this season, if you believe that.]
Some of the day’s highlight quotes:
*** The perfect storm of awfulness that had Tig Notaro battling cancer, a breakup, the death of her mother and an additional extended illness has been fodder for several comedy routines, a Sundance-toasted momentary, podcast segments and more. It also informed Notaro’s Amazon half-hour pilot One Mississippi, premiering in September. But what does One Mississippi offer for audiences who may already think they know this material?
“I think that people might tune in, especially seeing the pilot, thinking, ‘Oh, another story, or I’ve heard it,'” Notaro said, “but the fun element to the show is that we do get to go in directions that parts of my story people don’t know and fictionalize elements that enhance moments that maybe people did know or could have imagined. So it’s a way to have a little more freedom, whereas everything else has been pretty, like, ‘This is what happened. Here’s the documentary. Here’s the book. Here’s it in every different form that you can get it.’ But the TV show has been a fun freedom.”
*** As I tweeted during the Red Oaks panel, there are two kinds of people: People who love the Red Oaks body swap episode, people who hate the Red Oaks body swap episode and people who don’t know what the heck Red Oaks is. Well, Red Oaks is a reasonably appealing ‘80s-set country club comedy from Amazon, returning for its second season this fall, so now you can’t claim to be in that unnumbered third category and I personally loved the body swap episode. Unfortunately there won’t be a body swap repeat in the second season.
“No body swaps this time, but we do have a road trip. We have a sort of bachelor party road trip in an episode,” teased producer Joe Gangemi, who praised the original body swap episode as being exec producer Steven Soderbergh’s idea.
Stars Craig Roberts and Richard Kind were sarcastically enthusiastic about what they learned from playing each other for an episode.
“It was a lot of fun. Yeah. Usually, I have no range, so it was good to actually do something. Very fun,” Roberts said, though he claimed, “It resulted in me having a bad back.”
Kind countered: “I just put myself to sleep, and that was the performance. I am astounded at the stillness of his acting. It’s the furthest thing that I do. So my mouth hurt. His back hurt, my mouth hurt, because I didn’t even move my mouth.”
*** If you go back a few days, you can find Minnie Driver and Hayley Atwell talking about the power of British and American accents, so we might as well let Amazon’s Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge chime in.
“Sometimes a British accent, if you really heighten it, you can still get away with stuff in Britain [adopting a thicker accent] as long as people don’t really understand what you’re saying, you can sort of get away with anything,” she said. “It’s a well-known joke that the Americans love the British, and you can be as kind of naughty and sort of filthy as you like, and they’ll still think you’re charming, which I hope will carry this show a certain direction. But I don’t know what the equivalent is in the U.K.”
*** Jeffrey Tambor has won myriad awards for his performance in Transparent, and he also has a new understanding for what the beauty industry and Hollywood demand from women.
“I was the actor who I was the 10 minutes in makeup,” Tambor said. “I never went to hair in my life. That just was not done. And so that’s the superficial part of it, but there is that part that you do realize after you go, ‘Well, how do you do that eye? How do you?’ I go up to people, and I ask them, and things like that. And, then, I realized the whole responsibility of that, the whole judgment of that, the whole thing was very funny. I was watching a politician the other day, and I was watching what she was wearing, and I was saying something about that. And I went, ‘Oh, I’m right in the bag. I’m doing exactly what you don’t do.’ And so I’m very much aware of that.”
*** David E. Kelley has taken countless shows through the network pilot process, creating hit shows and winning Emmys. He’s also a supporter of the Amazon process in which most shows go to pilot and then are subjects to the vagaries of a multi-tiered pseudo-democratic system in which Amazon users watch, rate and vote on their favorites and participate in the series order selection. Of course, Kelley’s fall legal drama Goliath was given a straight-to-series order, skipping that more conventional process, but Kelley says he would have done things the other way, too.
“Sure. I mean, at the end of the day, you’ve got to bet on yourself,” he said from the comfort of his pre-pilot series order. “And if you don’t think you can generate a product that people will approve of or a constituency will support, then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. So we would have gone forward with this straight-to-series or that one-off. We were lucky enough to get the former.”
*** My own perception is that it feels like it has been ages since viewers decided they liked the pilots of One Mississippi and Good Girls Revolt and Amazon sent them to series, but it’s been so long since I watched them that I’m struggling to recover whatever enthusiasm I originally had. Both shows will have series premieres in the fall, and Amazon’s Roy Price says that there’s no evidence that viewer enthusiasm waxes or wanes as time passes between pilot and series.
“We haven’t seen any waning or waxing,” he said, pausing to consider. “You know, we have seen waxing. There are shows that have done better as shows than as pilots, but we have not observed a phenomenon of, like, a lot of people getting excited about a show at pilot and then, you know, they forget it. They don’t want to see it anymore when it’s a regular show. Basically, if people liked the pilot, the show comes, they like the show, and that’s what we’ve observed so far.”
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