Producers of Amazon’s adaptation of Mad Dogs toyed with the idea of having the killer wear a Donald Trump mask. In the original British series, the killer wears a Tony Blair mask. “We thought about who it could be and went through various machinations and various ideas we realized would get us into terrible trouble,” original Brit series creator Chris Cole told TV critics this morning at TCA. “It was going to be a mini Michael Jackson, but that was taken off the table immediately. ”

“We discussed Donald Trump at one point” before he became the GOP front-runner, executive producer Shawn Ryan chimed in. But depicting politicians, even as masks, “is hard to clear legally” in this country, he said.

mad-dogs-lead“Politicians seem to be fair game [in the UK] which is why Tony Blair worked. It’s dicier here,” Ryan said, while also insisting that using a cat head instead of a politician “offered opportunities to diverge more from the British series.” Cole came up with the cat head that was cast. “I found that mask in a Halloween store in L.A. and it was so grotesque and cute and horrible at the same time,” he explained.

Robert Crumb's Biggest
6 months
"We thought about doing something controversial, and then we didn't do it." How stunning and brave!

Amazon’s iteration of Mad Dogs is an hourlong dark comedy/drama from Cole (The Good Times Are Killing Me), and Ryan (The Shield). It follows the reunion of a group of fortysomething guy pals at a Belizean villa, during which grudges emerge, secrets are revealed and their trip becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of deception and murder.

Ryan insisted this morning he’s “not in the business of remaking something that works” for television, but the British series was relatively short, so after the first four episodes “it could become its own unique thing.” Besides, he said. “There is a difference between American men and British men.” He did not elaborate but, when pressed, mentioned the “surface politeness that exists in British culture.” Resentments buried by British men surface more quicker with Americans, he said. He added, “But to me this show is about the uselessness of the American middle-aged man. American men are raised with idea of American exceptionalism.” Middle age, he said, is “more crushing for American men,” and the men in the series “have hit a ceiling” and realize their will never achieve the goals they had as 25-year-olds.  “They have all sorts of crushing disappointments in their lives.” British men “just expect things to be shitty,” Ryan theorized.

“We don’t dream,” British actor Ben Chaplin snarked when asked to weigh in. Chaplin has starring roles in both the British and U.S. versions of the project. When a TV critic asked him, he agreed with Ryan’s position in re the enormous difference between men in the two countries. “There is an enormous difference between British and American men, which you can see right now,” he said of the all-male panel onstage. “It’s very apparent.” Amazon’s pilot stars Steve Zahn, Billy Zane, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli (who was not in attendance this morning due to illness) and Chaplin.