In January, AT&T announced that DirecTV’s Audience Network was shutting down, transforming itself into an HBO Max Preview Channel. While not surprising, the move threw in limbo three original series on the channel: comedy Loudermilk and dramas Condor and Mr. Mercedes.
While David E. Kelley’s Mr. Mercedes had just wrapped its Season 3 run on Audience, with its future beyond that in serious doubt, Loudermilk and Condor both had completed new seasons in the can that had not yet been scheduled by the network. As Audience ceased to exist n May 22, the rights to its original series were handed back to their producers.
The three existing seasons of Mr. Mercedes were recently acquired by NBCUniversal’s Peacock, while Netflix picked up another Audience drama, Kingdom, which aired on the network from 2014-2017.
Skydance has been shopping thriller Condor, starring Max Irons and William Hurt, which I hear remains in play and could lock in a new home by the end of the year. (Its second season already has launched internationally.)
Loudermilk, created by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Mort, is produced by Big Branch Productions and distributed by Sony Pictures TV. It stars Ron Livingston as Sam Loudermilk, a rehab counselor running therapy sessions for a group of misfits and who is a recovering alcoholic himself. Will Sasso, Anja Savcic and Laura Mennell co-star in the series, which will be taken to potential buyers shortly. Flying under the radar, it has earned 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and counts Bill Murray among its fans. (watch a trailer below.)
“No one really saw seasons one or two,” said Farrelly, who directs the series alongside his brother Bobby Farrelly. “We love that show. I stand by that show. I think it is as good as any show on TV.”
While most shows about sobriety focus predominantly on the pain associated with the struggle to overcome addiction, Loudermilk is taking a different approach.
“It’s about people in the program trying to be sober, so we wanted to play it straight because it’s a serious thing,” Peter Farrelly said. “But there are a lot of laughs in sobriety and in these programs. It’s not just pain. There is a lot of camaraderie and there is a love in the room and there is hope.”
Farrelly said that he loves all three seasons but is particularly proud of Season 3.
“It goes places that are extremely heavy,” he said. “There is still comedy within the show but there is also some moments. It’s as good as anything I’ve done.”
One of the reasons Farrelly is so proud of Season 3 and wants people to see it is the performance of comedian Brian Regan, whose character Mugsy comes to the forefront in the new season.
“The performance he gives this year is the best performance on television this year,” Farrelly said.
Mugsy is an alcoholic with eight kids, none of whom was speaking to him.
“He gets sober with the program for three seasons and finally, gradually, one by one the kids are starting to come back into his life. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming thing,” Farrelly said. “And then he falls off the wagon. It is one of the most realistic, heartbreaking arcs on TV.”
Contributing to show’s authenticity is the blurred line between fiction and real life.
Farrelly spoke of Danny Wattley, a member of Loudermilk‘s recurring cast who was prominent in Season 1.
“He fell off the wagon in real life, and we didn’t use him in seasons 2 and 3,” Farrelly said. “And then he got sober again, went through the program, went through rehab, and we are taking him back in Season 4.”
As Loudermilk is looking for a new home, Farrelly and Mort already have mapped out a fourth season.
“It is the year Loudermilk gets his mojo back,” Farrelly said. “He writes a book at end of Season 3, it’s all about the music world. It becomes a huge smash hit in Season 4. And all of a sudden, he is back in the game, people are inviting him to parties, and he is hanging out with real musicians. Now the question is, will he have time for that sad, sad group he has been babysitting for the last three years? Will he be able to maintain the sobriety now that he is back in the fast lane?”
While the cast of the series was released awhile ago, there will be no problem to reassemble it should the show get picked up by another network and an additional season ordered. “Everybody wants to come back and do Season 4,” Farrelly said. “We are going to get them back, we are going to do it, we just need to find the right home for it.”
He does not plan to stop at Season 4.
“We want to do Season 4, Season 5, Season 6, Season 7,” he said. “I want to keep going because I know where it is going, where I want it to be in 6-7 years.”
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