Homeland producers grumbled about their 2014 Emmy nomination snub for drama series at today’s TCA, but Jon Voight seemed happy to carry the Emmy nom flag for Showtime at today’s panel on his second-season series, Ray Donovan. The supporting actor nominee appeared on the panel with stars Liev Schreiber, who plays the title character, a Hollywood fixer, Paula Malcomson, Season 2 guest stars Hank Azaria and Wendell Pierce, creator/EP Ann Biderman and EP Bryan Zuriff.
For Zuriff, this marks a return to the executive producer ranks of the series following his high profile arrest and subsequent indictment for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation this time last year that prompted his temporary exit from the show. Zuriff actually touched upon his history when the cast and producers were asked to attest to the accuracy of some of the crazy storylines on the show. “We’ve all had a little bit of a past, so there’s stuff that we can draw on in the writers’ room that we can have some fun with,” he said.
Earlier this year, Voight won a Golden Globe for his performance (star Schrieber got a nom for lead actor in a drama). When asked about Emmy, Voight could have been rehearsing his Emmy speech. The abridged version of his reply: “Let me just say, I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have had so many wonderful experiences as an actor. I am really enjoying this family that’s making Ray Donovan. It’s almost like I earned this role over years of struggling and failing and experimenting and succeeding…” He praised the “wonderful artists” he works with on Ray Donovan and reached back into the past to praise earlier collaborators John Schlesinger, Dustin Hoffman, Hal Ashby and Andrei Konchalovsky.
Schreiber was equally effusive about his colleagues as he talked about directing a Season 2 episode of the show. “It was relly intense. I didn’t know how difficult it would be to acting at the same time I was directing,” said Schreiber.
He added that the job of the director is to deal with scene transitions, and it’s hard to see transitions while performing. “The cast and crew came to my rescue. I never felt so supported, so appreciated and so lucky as I did during that week and a half working with the cast and crew,” he said.
Biderman was asked if introducing the character of a therapist, as well as the story line, is an homage to The Sopranos. Nope. “No one’s in therapy for very long in this show, it’ s not a conceit we’ve carried for any length of time”, she said. Crime and family, well, that’s universal. “Any time you do a story about a family relationship and marriage and crime, there’s going to be complicity on some level,” she said. “I’m flattered by the comparison. It’s not a bad thing”.
Biderman said her process includes writing at least the first and last episodes of any TV season and usually a few in between. “I’m not Aaron Sorkin,” who writes every episode, but “the way I run the room is so specific my voice is in them, certainly. It’s not a total democracy. I’m very clear about what I want”.
Biderman sounded a little like one of her characters-of-few-words when asked how she manages to create a gritty, male-dominated world. “I think men write women and women write men. Thank you, I guess. Go figure,” she said.
Azaria offered the non sequitur of the session by adding, brightly: “I think we can reveal that most of the story is based on the life of David Schwimmer.”