At tonight’s Awardsline Emmy screening for Horace and Pete, creator-star Louis C.K. spoke about the possibility of a season 2 for his self-financed web streaming series, and also added that the show, despite prior reports, is actually financially stable. C.K., who has been on a stand-up comedy tour, took time out of his schedule to make his sole Los Angeles appearance tonight during the Emmy nom voting period.
“I have ideas on how to continue this series,” C.K. told Deadline’s Dominic Patten, “but the test is always — does it write? I did this myself without a network because I didn’t want to (be committed to) do it again. I only want to do it if it’s really compelling.” C.K. didn’t expound specifically on which direction season 2 would head, but teased “I could do another decade” in regards to the series’ setting.
The dialogue-driven show follows Horace (C.K.), a 50-year-old owner of a 100-year-old Brooklyn dive, his erratic business owner Pete (Steve Buscemi), and the comings-and-goings of their eclectic customers. The series, which taps into the agita that occurs with family-run businesses, dropped on January 30th on C.K.’s website at the price of $5 an episode. For $31, consumers can own the entire series.
C.K. said he’ll take the summer to break the season 2 storyline, “but if it doesn’t write, I’ll leave it alone. There’s no reason to go back.”
Meanwhile the Horace and Pete set, which was inspired by the near 200-year-old family-run McSorley’s Old Ale House on 15 E. 7th Street in New York City, remains in storage, awaiting its second go-round. “It’s costing me to keep the bar in storage, it’s so much money,” said C.K.
Speaking of money, both C.K. and Horace and Pete are doing just fine. Earlier this year, the comedian told Howard Stern that he was “millions of dollars in debt” after bankrolling his Eugene O’Neill-like show.
“Yeah, it’s making money,” C.K. told Patten, “and there’s a couple of offers to put it on other platforms. I’m just waiting. Everyday I make money on the show. If I take one of the offers, I’ll make a profit right away.” C.K. said that after hitting the road to promote Horace and Pete, sales promptly spiked. In fact, every week since January there’s been an improvement. “The mandate was never to make money,” explained C.K. who owns his own comedy specials and sells them to foreign buyers. “When you own (your own projects), you can sell them over and over again,” said the Emmy-winner.
Essentially, Horace and Pete was an experiment for C.K. It wasn’t about snubbing the networks, but rather to discover if an offbeat project, intended specifically for a group of people (C.K. fans) could organically find an audience without any sense of spoon-feeding promotion. In a world where TV networks call dibs on specific leading talent who star in their shows, working outside the network system enabled C.K. to land top-notch actors like Steve Buscemi, Jessica Lange, and Edie Falco; performers who may already be committed to another network. Another bonus for the Horace and Pete cast in addition to a short work week: None of them were contractually committed to promote the series, which is always a must for any TV show.
“The success for a TV show is so different now. I didn’t want it to matter if it (Horace and Pete) hit or not. Some shows are cancelled the day after they air just because they didn’t meet their expectations in regards to how much was spent promoting it,” explained C.K.
Given the unprecedented dramatic twists and turns and guest stars on Horace and Pete, C.K. mentioned that a TV audience wouldn’t necessarily have discovered that based on its first episode. He likened his Horace and Pete experiment to John Waters’ road films; how the filmmaker would make a movie and tour it, making money back from a few midnight shows.
C.K. remains ecstatic about working with FX and rattled off the projects he’s involved with at the cable network. In addition to Baskets, the comedy series he co-created with Zach Galifianakis and Jonathan Krisel, C.K. has Better Things which he co-created with Louie star and scribe Pamela Adlon. The series follows a single mother who is a working class actress. There’s also the animated series C.K. has written with Albert Brooks for FX and then there’s Tig Notaro’s Amazon series One Mississippi on which C.K. serves as EP. C.K. is also working on a feature script, the details of which he kept under wraps tonight. “I like producing and creating opportunities for other people,” he said.
For now, Horace and Pete “was a data collector” which C.K. compared to the Dorothy tornado monitoring system in the 1996 film Twister. How far could an indie-produced series with zero promotion and solid of word of mouth get?
“People look for their own stuff now,” said C.K. about the changing trend in TV viewers’ habits, “We can’t control an audience.”