“I lost my virginity – I don’t know I would want to lose it again,” Empire co-creator/EP Lee Daniels said today about working in television and whether he’d do more during. He was among the panelist at a Hollywood Radio and TV Society luncheon.
He said the transition from movies to TV was difficult for him and Danny Strong and that nothing he’d done in film had prepared him for it. “This wasn’t us fighting with [The Butler producer] Harvey Weinstein over a cut. This was a group of people with many opinions,” Daniels said about execs at the network and the studio. “So I learned to collaborate, and I’ve never done that before.” He called it a “rough experience, and I don’t know whether it’s one that I would repeat.”
Daniels insists he’s not “married” to the words in his scripts. “I trust the actors,” he said. “Sometimes they’re more aware of the truth than I am.” He marveled that British actor Alan Rickman, who played Ronald Reagan in Daniels’ movie The Butler, was “married to the words.”
British actors, Showtime’s The Affair co-creator/EP Sarah Treem agreed approvingly, “really like the text and practice the text and the’re perfect on the text.” That said, she joked that her cast member Dominic West has complained that she overwrites.
CBS’ The Good Wife co-creator/EP Michelle King said when anyone in their cast wants to change a single word of the script on the show she oversees with husband Robert, it must be discussed. The show is shot in New York, and they’re based in Los Angeles, so “we get a call … at 5 in the morning, and I’m happy to get it.”
“Shut up!” marveled Daniels.
Treem insisted that writing about infidelity on her series has proved more controversial than the subject of, say, child abuse, noting that an interview she gave to The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd on the subject resulted in loads of hate mail. “At one point I did compare love to a game of tetherball … that was a mistake,” she joked. “People are very, very threatened that true love could have an element of infidelity in it and that one doesn’t negate the other.” Treem said she recently was on the phone with someone in France and “they have this totally different perspective” on infidelity in a marriage. “It’s a great talking to the French,” she added.
Autobriographical series have the advantage of making celebrities of family members, said Transparent creator Jill Soloway. “They love it,” she said of her kin. “Everybody is just a teeny bit famous now. My mom has moved to Los Angeles. She’s a TV writer now, and she’s written a script. … Will I pass it along, and try to get it made? I’m not sure.”