Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on Frank Darabont’s new TNT series Lost Angels, Michael Wright, President, Head of Programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, said he hopes the period noir crime series will return after its 6-episode first season, but never for more than, say, 12 episodes at a time.
After the late afternoon panel at Red Studios in Hollywood, the executive joked “never say never,” but said he would like to see the series return to TNT for limited runs each December. He called the project a hybrid between an old-school miniseries and traditional longer season of episodes. He said some limited series seem perfect for summer but for this one “we would want to keep it in December.” Wright said the 6 first season episodes complete a story but “set up a beautiful Season 2.” During the session, he did not provide details but said the first 6 episodes will establish a “fantastic mystery established in the pilot that will invest you in the outcome.”
The busy Darabont arrived late to the panel, which featured Wright and the show’s mostly male cast. He was asked whether the cast makeup would attract female viewers. “Said Darabont, “I’ve discovered that women really like seeing guys, especially tough, sexy guys.”
Darabont and Wright were asked about the title change for the show, originally called L.A. Noir (the series is based on the nonfiction book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin). Although they both fought for the title, Wright said: “It was not available. It was one of those things lawyers tell you can or cannot do.”
Darabont joked that the title of the show should have been: “Joe Gets the Shit Beat Out of Him” — referring to lead character Detective Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal). Indeed, the cast appeared in costume, and Bernthal had a big bandage across his nose. Bernthal is a veteran of Darabont’s AMC series The Walking Dead.
Speaking of violence: Darabont and Wright were asked whether the type of violence called for in a realistic depiction of the mobster era would be appropriate on TNT. Wright said yes. The show will get “as dark as it needs to be to tell the story properly,” said Wright. Added Darabont: “What he really said to me was: “I want to give my Standards and Practices people sleepless nights.”
Wright added after the session that he thinks the new series further expands TNT’s commitment to what he called “smart popcorn” shows. “They’re meant to be fun, but smart fun,” he said.