Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Peter Tolan delivered another R-rated hosting performance as the moderator of today’s Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Hitmakers luncheon featuring showrunners Graham Yost (Justified), Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) Michael Patrick King (2 Broke Girls) and Liz Meriwether (New Girl). Like Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, Tolan started off by showing more restraint than usual but that lasted about 10 seconds. “I decided this year to be polite … it’s pilot season, and I do have projects out there. I’m not going to randomly go after it,” he said before adding, presumably referring to the audience in general: “You’re a fucking cunt.”
Turning to Mazzara, he said, “I thought The Walking Dead was the viewership of CBS,” adding with a grin, “None of my pilots is at CBS.”
Tolan then proceeded to give his unsolicited reviews of all the shows represented on the panel – mostly positive, with the exception of new CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls. At last week’s TCA press tour in Pasadena, King took heat from critics for the ethnic stereotypes portrayed in the show. Tolan didn’t bring that up, but didn’t exactly let King off the hook either. “I did watch your pilot [but] after the first 10 minutes, it just didn’t hold me,” he said. Later, when talking about Justified, Tolan admitted he’d missed the Emmy-winning arc of Margo Martindale because he was “busy ignoring Michael’s show.” King appeared to take Tolan’s jabs in stride. “We’ve known each other so long that when we met, we were both straight,” the openly gay King said. Tolan, who is straight, responded with mock outrage: “How dare you out me in front of these people? By the way Michael, I have not come out in a big way. My (fear was) suicidal teens would say, that’s getting better?”
As for the other freshman comedy series with “girl” in the title, Tolan said he’s a big fan of Fox’s New Girl, although when pressed he said: “OK, there are times when I say ‘adorkable’ really means retarded.”
Mazzara talked about the pressure involved in taking over as showrunner of The Walking Dead after Frank Darabont’s exit. “I was convinced if it didn’t come together, my career was dead,” he said. “I’d be branded the guy who fucked up the show.” But he couldn’t resist a joke, either, adding: “This is the first show I’ve done that people watch. To understand my career, you really have to watch The Hurt Locker.”
The panelists also lamented restrictions imposed by the networks’ Standards and Practices departments. “What they let on TV, it seems like it doesn’t exist in any sort of logical world,” Meriwether said. “Today we were shooting a scene, and not to give away the plot, it’s OK to have condoms, and it’s OK to have bananas, but you can’t see condoms on bananas.”
The showrunners also addressed the rise of “girl” comedies. Meriwether said that on her show she is trying to show real girls, not role models. “There’s nothing less funny than a woman being portrayed in a positive light,” she said. Former Sex And The City showrunner King echoed her sentiments. “What I felt was missing for audiences was girls that were funny, not girls in an abstract, damaged way in society, but ballsy, funny girls, like Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow. There was a hole there. I think Liz speaks from her heart.”
“I speak from my hole,” Meriwether cracked, dissolving into giggles. Said Tolan, “I don’t think I can beat her. I can’t do it.”
At the panel, the showrunners were asked about their favorite show on TV. Here are their picks:
Yost: FX’s Archer
Mazarra: FX’s Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia
King: FX’s American Horror Story
Meriwether: Showtime’s Homeland, NBC’s Law & Order: SVU
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