The new 8-episode series, written by Richard LaGravenese (Behind The Candelabra) and co-created by LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn (Conviction), does not resemble that AMC drama’s story line or midcentury setting in any way. Rather, the contemporary series explores the personal cost of morality, ambition, ethics, politics, and race in today’s justice system through the eyes of Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland), an impassioned case worker with The Innocence Initiative, and Adam Page (Damon Gupton), an equally passionate district attorney and rising political star.
But at today’s TCA panel, producers explained that when they pitched their story to AMC Networks, it was suggested that The Divide could become what Mad Men was for AMC: sibling network WE tv’s first scripted show.
Both producers insist that they did not change the series in any way to accommodate WE tv (formerly targeted at women, the network said in June that it would revamp to be more inclusive of men going forward).
LaGravenese said changes were made from the original pilot — not to accommodate WE tv but because it “wasn’t baked fully, it was not strong enough.” Show producer AMC, he said, was wise enough “to say no to the first version but keep everybody on contract including the actors” to reinvent the project with an 8-episode arc.
The producers — appearing on the panel with actors Ireland, Gupton, Nia Long, Joe Anderson and Clarke Peters — said they did no deliberate borrowing from Shonda Rhimes’ hit drama Scandal, which stars Goldwyn as the president of the United States. Any Scandal influence is “only by osmosis,” Goldwyn said. “What we referred to sometimes in our discussions is that [as in Scandal] everyone is good and bad. The other thing is that Shonda is very bold in the way she makes story decisions. That appealed to us in not being timid and going for it.”
Ireland joked that the Scandal influence also is apparent in “how we shoot sex scenes … in full flex,” she said, playfully pumping up her arm muscles.