Welcome to TV Top 5 , The Hollywood Reporter’s TV podcast.
Weekly, hosted by Lesley Goldberg (West Coast Television Editor) and Daniel Fienberg (Chief TV Critic) analyzes the latest TV news from a business and critical perspective, welcomes showrunners, executives and other guests, and offers to watch (or skip An important guide to the content of ), as the case may be).
you are the worst creator Stephen Falk joins the podcast this week to discuss hiring entertainers and his new show, Billy Crudup of Apple starrer Hello Tomorrow, That’s what he does. Falk also touches on larger themes in the retro-futuristic comedy and what’s front and center as the Writers Guild prepares to finalize a new deal with the studio. Falk also shared an update on his WeWork TV series with Nicholas Braun of Succession, and teased a few other things in the works.
Other topics in this week’s TV’s Top 5 include Top Stories of the Week (starring JJ Abrams), Showtime layoffs and rate hikes at Paramount Global. Additionally, Dan reviewed ABC’s The Company You Keep, Showtime’s The Victim of , Netflix’s In full swing, Fox’s Animal Control and Apple’s Hello Tomorrow in the corner section of the critic.
But first, read on for a condensed portion of our interview with Falk.
and Hello Tomorrow, original screenplay by Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jason. What drew you to this property? I was on board around June 202. They brought this fully realized retro-futuristic world that lives in our imaginations. It’s such a fascinating, amazing world. Billy Crudup is also an important drawing point, I have not worked at Apple.
One of the first shows you created, NBC’s Dane Cook Comedy Next Caller, which was canceled before its premiere. You wrote a Incredibly candid post about the whole experience, This is probably one of the most upcoming things I’ve read from a showrunner. How do you deal with what’s happening to more creators now?
Now that you say it, and it does, it strikes me that these things are happening in real time: People are learning Their show is being pulled from the streamer’s library, or their $20 The million million movies they make will never be seen because it’s more valuable as a tax write-off. At that moment, social media in its true sense was in its infancy and gaining power as a direct voice for the artist and, if you will, the audience. …For me, it solidified my desire not to try to be overly cute or adopt a voice that wasn’t mine. There is a level of transparency and candor that works when talking to or discussing a show with people like you, people want to hear about the industry. Hopefully I can provide it without too much trouble.
Did that post affect your career?
Never heard of it. I’m sure a lot has been said beyond the reach of my ears. But around the same time, it did generate rules [on social media] when you were on the show: “Please don’t write this.” “You can’t tweet from the set.” Soon, I had my own The show; no one can really tell the showrunners what to do. I have rules and talking points in front of me, God bless the streamer who gave me these, I won’t watch. But I understand why they do it – because they spend a lot of money and they want to control the narrative.
Hello Tomorrow is a difficult show to sum up. What was your lift pitch for the series?
This is a visual show. It exists in our collective imagination. It’s an unholy marriage between The Jetsons and Mad Men. It’s a throwback show about what happened to hope, imagination, and optimism in the face of late capitalism. It’s about the ways technology fails us. Essentially, it’s a show about a group of traveling salesmen who, at a time, represented the American dream, and people didn’t immediately close their doors on them.
What are some of the bigger themes that you want viewers to take away from the show?
There is something lovely about Pollyanna thoughts. I recently chatted with Jenji Kohan and she told me why she wants to work in the field of optimism and put optimism out there and why she doesn’t Eleventh Station or The Last of Us Because of this notion that when you paint a world, it ends up becoming reality for the viewer and somehow infects the future. Hello Tomorrow is perfect for that. Yes, Jack [Crudup’s character] may or may not be shady. But he actually believed that what he was selling, whether it was true or not, would improve the lives of the buyers. Just the act of saying “yes”—opening yourself up to another possibility—has a lot of power in it. I’m inclined to agree, even though I’m a pretty cynic. Even you are the worst, at its core is a belief in trying, even if only for a day. I hope the audience sticks with that, because if we picture a different end point, we can start to get to that end point — or at least think that’s a possibility.
in whether There is an inflection point At what point does the show’s world go one way and our world go another? Between Mad Men and The Jetsons , how did the show get this far?
As one tries to ascertain – the Man in the High Castle Is there another universe? – It is not. It’s a world of pure imagination, where Cadillacs hover in the air and people use jetpacks to go to work after kissing their wives goodbye. Ask viewers to accept that this is the world, not baseball, we have squirt balls, we have a robot umpire kicking dirt, not some guy I’m still mad at. It’s an imagined world that still somehow resonates and feels familiar, as retro-futurism in the ’10s. One longs to imagine a world like ours, but also better and different in a post-war world. We wanted to imagine something that would take us away and make cooking dinner easy.
How much or how much of your method you hardly want to solve with the background 1950, is it racist or sexist, contemporary or forward-looking?
We want to live in a world where none of these isms exist. We’re not going to tackle racism in episode seven. Two of the four main salesmen are black, let’s not talk about that. It’s an effort to create this alternate world, and hopefully viewers will pick it up. The politics on the show are more about capitalism and the American Dream than anything like racism and sexism.
Most of the characters in the series are lying to themselves or to other people almost all the time. How important is it for you guys to know these characters when you’re writing them, even if it’s not actually on screen, what are those characters’ true feelings under the dialogue?
When you write characters who are either lying, lying to themselves, or being lied to, or lying in a lie , or make up new lies when defending, it is really difficult to lie. As writers, we have to deal with many different layers of complexity. It’s hard for an actor to play, “Okay, I’m lying. But I think they are thinking different lies, so I have to cover both.” A lie.”
Much of the show is based on the salesman as a liar and the salesman as a storyteller idea. How much of your current job is being a good salesman?
I think it’s false to say that, but I also think it’s true: we’re in an industry of heightened uncertainty period. You may find an article in each of the most recent releases 10 about the uncertain times we live in. Many of my projects have been affected just because one person bought it and they left. Then other people come in and need to make it their thing. Or, as we’re seeing now, there’s been a lot of overspending in the arms race, and now they’re retreating or say they’re retreating. Many times, you have to educate a new executive or seduce a new executive. Or really try to dig into what that executive really likes or doesn’t like about the script. So there’s a lot of salesmanship. I don’t hate that part of the job. I have been promoting items for 12 years. I don’t mind trying to make something sound like my best version, because I’m not lying.
Speaking of administrative changes, you are working with Greg Berlanti on the Spoonbenders for Showtime . How is this going?
If you think “Paramount+ With Showtime” isn’t a great moniker, it’s not a no go David· Golden years of Nevins and Bob Greenblatt, you’re crazy. [Laughing.] Gary Levine is delighted to be a Senior Advisor. But I don’t think we ever cracked it. I wrote about versions. There are a lot of different cooks in the kitchen, and in the end, I don’t think I made a version that everyone liked. So it was thrown away.
you alsoLog in as showrunner on the WeWork TV series starring Nicholas Braun of Succession breakout. What state is that? I wrote the pilot and the bible with Nick. We always go head-to-head with other projects who cast Anne Hathaway ( Anne Hathaway) and Jared Leto One day, ours all died. Play along with other FX libraries on Hulu. Given the uncertainty surrounding Hulu’s future, have you heard about the show’s future?
I haven’t heard anything. I’ve been looking for a deal between Comcast and Disney on Hulu going Clarification of what happened. John Landgraf is one of the smartest guys in town, and I think he’s positioned himself in a smart way to keep the FX brand intact.
We’re asking all the showrunners on the podcast about the writers’ strike when the guild’s deal with the studio expires The threat will come in May. What is the most important question for you in a new deal?
Streaming residuals and things like that. This is a whole new ecosystem. These short-term bookings and stuff. But being aware of the realities of TV right now and compensating the writers, directors, cast and crew with math that actually resembles what we’ve been promised. This is very important.
What kind of challenges does the wave of industry consolidation bring to writers?
When I pitch to FX You’re the Worst , I knew what the FX show was and what holes they had in their development schedule, I could tune that pitch and it worked. Now, when I go to promote something, I don’t know what Hulu is r what it’s going to be. I don’t necessarily know what a peacock is. I don’t know what apples are, I work for them! Traditional linear channels — and now streaming — have struggled to craft a strong identity. You can say like Paramount+ With Showtime, “Our identity is these three things, and we’re going to do these shows.” That’s not really identity. These are just the three things you like and the three buckets you put everything in and throw out the ones that don’t fit into that crap. It’s hard to know where something might best live. Returning for season two, will you stay on as showrunner or pass the torch to the creators?
I’ll pass it on. I’m working on a lot of film projects and I’m developing for a lot of different streaming and traditional networks.
Listen to the full interview with Falk for more on the showrunners hired, Crudup’s personal connection to the character, the right tone so the show doesn’t Will turn into farce, and the next step after Hello Tomorrow.
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