Even though HBO’s Succession isn’t specifically about media dynasty the Murdochs, man, it surely feels that way. But there’s various reasons why the Jesse Armstrong-created series opted to wink, instead of specifically point at them, explains Adam McKay on today’s Crew Call.
McKay was Emmy nominated in the drama series category for directing the pilot episode of Succession, one of Primetime noms he counts this season in addition to best drama for the series he executive produces, as well as nods for I Love You, America; Drunk History (both in the best variety series categories), and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ (in live variety special slot).
True, Armstrong wrote the spec script Murdoch which McKay read, and which a lot of events seep into the pilot episode “Celebration”, but as McKay explains, “The breakthrough of the show was that we don’t have to just do the Murdochs.”
“When you all at these dynastic families, all these wealthy families, their families all play similar,” says McKay, “sure there’s two cups of flour in this recipe that are Murdochs, but there’s another cupe that’s the Maxwells, the Trumps and the royal families.”
In the first episode, we see how son Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) is trying to secure control of his family’s media empire as his father Logan (Brian Cox) is waning. But on the celebration of Logan’s birthday, he surprises Kendall and his siblings with the news that he wants to remain in control, and he wants his second wife Marcia to have a controlling interest after he’s long gone. The siblings are, natch, rattled.
“A lot of their dramas happen around big events,” said McKay about the internal squabbles among these prolific wealthy families.
In addition, McKay discusses ImprovOlympic improv maestro Del Close as an influence, using improv to direct actors, securing thespians like Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook for key roles on the series, as well as why comedies haven’t been working at the domestic box office lately. One person to blame? Donald Trump.
Following his adapted screenplay Oscar win for The Big Short, McKay’s Vice about Vice President Dick Cheney went on to be nominated for eight Oscars (including Best Picture and director McKay), winning for best make-up and hair. Vice grossed $76M at the global B.O., besting the results of such presidential-themed pics as W. ($29.5M) and Primary Colors ($52M).