TCA 2015-6: HBO Is Sure You'll Want To See Vinyl And Westworld And Three More Seasons Of Game Of Thrones, And They're Probably Right
But you have to wait until 2016.
Sure, the biggest headline from HBO's press day is that the plan is for at least eight seasons of Game Of Thrones -- that is, three more yet to come. But there were other panels! HBO would like you to care about them too!
This looks amazeballs, people. It's a project from Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese set in the music industry circa 1972, so it's lots of polyester and feathered hair. And music. And drugs. Bobby Cannavale is the head coke-snorting dirtbag at a record company where "acts go to die" and their roster "looks like a Chinese menu: it's all over the place."
But when the girl who brings in the sandwiches starts plugging this punk band she's into, everything changes. There's a lot of quick cutting in the trailer, but there's guns, and sex, and more sex, and violence, and what looks like some awesome, dirty, New York Dolls-type band rocking out in a shitty club, and it feels very Scorsese, which is perfect. And I will watch it, even though I have to wait until 2016.
I haven't seen the original Westworld movie, but I find that when J.J. Abrams has some source material, he's pretty good (Star Trek vs. that mess that was Lost). He's also working with Jonathan Nolan (Person Of Interest, which I'm kinda meh on). Though HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo says the only real connection this project has to the film is the name, I'll give this a flyer because the trailer? So good.
Confusing if you don't know the premise (it's about a futuristic theme park, if that helps at all), the Kubrickian trailer was intense, fast-paced, and an intriguing mash-up of old West hijinks and futuristic sci-fi stuff. The cast is pretty impressive -- Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, and Ed Harris are just a few names. It doesn't look cheap, either. And yes, it's another thing you have to wait until 2016 to see.
Back On Board: Greg Louganis
If you're under the age of thirty...well, first of all, enjoy that skin (wear sunscreen!). Second, you probably don't know Greg Louganis, or at least that's what producer/director Chery Furjanic said today, so don't flame me, millennials.
Anyway, if she's right and you don't, you should: Louganis is a diver who won gold medals in 1984 and 1988, and he's also known for being a gay man who's been HIV-positive for more than twenty years. He isn't rich (he's had to sell off most of his belongings to stay afloat), he didn't get on a Wheaties box ("The advertisers just rallied around Mary Lou [Retton]," he said today), and he's led a life he didn't think he'd get to live. Remember, in the late '80s and early '90s, HIV was a death sentence. "I never thought I'd see thirty. Then thirty goes by and forty goes by and fifty goes by, and I thought, oh shit I've got to get a job. I am so blessed and honored that HBO chose to show Back On Board." This documentary might be hard for you to watch, and you will cry (unless you have no soul) but put it in your DVR when it airs August 4.
Doll & Em
This reality-based show about an actress (Emily Mortimer) who hires her real-life best friend (Dolly Wells) as her assistant is cute and improvised and a little exhausting. If you liked the first season, you can look forward to six more episodes starting September 13.
Anyway, in Season 2, Doll and Em will write an off-Broadway play together in an effort to have equal footing in a creative project. Emily will also kiss Ewan McGregor in a toilet stall; other guest stars include Olivia Wilde, Evan Rachel Wood, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. "It's just crazier. It's very jolly," says Mortimer of Season 2. "This season our mothers are both in it, my mother-in-law is in it, our husbands are in it, kids...work is usually very separate from family, and they're all in it. They're all very invested and they're really good."
I'm torn. I love Dwayne Johnson and I love Rob Corddry, but sI hate sports. The show has been on since June 21 and I haven't been all that inspired to watch naked strippers, athletes, and weight lifting. This is all testosterone and I just don't care.
Show Me A Hero
The rest of the quote, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is "and I'll write you a tragedy." So, you know, this six-episode mini is sort of spinachy viewing. It's all about the real-life mayor of Yonkers, Nick Wasicsko, who committed suicide at age thirty-four in 1993. Not really so uplifting! Did I mention it's about subsidized housing and racial conflict? No? Well, you should watch this. You should also floss.
Because only massive heavyweight creatives could push this through production, you should know David Simon (The Wire) is an executive producer and Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby) is the director. And Oscar Isaac, who's doing all that Star Wars and X-Men stuff but also starred in Inside Llewyn Davis, is poor Wasicsko. "It happened not so far ago and not so far away...and when I started reading about everything that went down with the real Nick Wasicsko, I wanted to tell that story," Isaac said via satellite. "I think he was naïve and he got chewed up. As he went on, as he came to understand the reality of the situation, and he grew into the leader he wanted to be. He didn't realize he was sacrificing himself." Sounds super-fun!
So, what's new for Season 2? The leftovers are still left over. Regina King is joining the cast, and Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) moves his family to Miracle, Texas, only to learn there are actually no miracles there. If you found the first season to be a great big drag, guess what? You're not alone.
"We make no apologies for it. We wanted to ground the world. Some people may have found it bleak and depressing; we felt it grounded the show. This family wouldn't want to stay in the place where they were, either emotionally or geographically. [Moving them to Texas] opened up the show in interesting ways," says creator/executive producer/writer Damon Lindelof. "We're not subbing out plot for character development. There are no departures from this place. So that's interesting. In the normal world, you think they were a victim of foul play or they ran away. But in this world, there's a third possibility."
"Season 1 is about how a family fell apart, and Season 2 is about a family coming back together," added Tom Perrotta, creator/executive producer/writer.
Oh, and Regina King's character is Erika Murphy, who seems like a lovely new neighbor for Garvey when he and his "family" move to Texas. "I am a mother, I am a doctor who works in the clinic in town, she's light, she's bright, as in smart and as in full of life, and there are some things you get to learn about that are behind that smile," King says. So, there.
As for Theroux: he says of Season 2 Kevin, "He ends up coming up against himself and this woman he doesn't really even know that well. It forces you to confront what happens when you get all those grand wishes for yourself." So, in short, be careful what you wish for. I think.