Hey, kids, remember “The Goode Family”? You don’t…? Boy, that’s funny. You’d think you’d remember an animated series created under the watchful eye of Mike Judge, the man behind “Beavis & Butthead” and “King of the Hill,” not to mention such cult-classic films as “Office Space,” “Idiocracy,” and “Extract.”
Oh, wait, I know why you don’t remember it: because it only ran for 13 episodes in the summer of 2009 before ABC axed it.
Thankfully, however, the fine folks at Shout Factory have come through for “Goode Family” fans in the same way they’ve come through for fans of so many other too-quickly-canceled series over the years, offering up a complete-series set which features all of the episodes, including audio commentary from executive producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky on several of them, as well as deleted scenes and premises for unproduced episodes. Even better, the aforementioned Mr. Altschuler was kind enough to spend a few minutes on the phone with Bullz-Eye to discuss the series, not to mention some of the other projects he’s worked on over the course of his career.
John Altschuler: So, Will, what can I do you for?
Bullz-Eye: Well, sir, I do this TV column for Bullz-Eye, I’ve more or less got carte blanche to cover what I want, and, dammit, I want to cover the DVD release of The Goode Family: The Complete Series.
JA: [Laughs.] Well, great…I hope!
BE: It is absolutely great. I was a fan for the all-too-few episodes that aired, so it’s been nice not only to revisit the series as a whole but also to listen to the commentaries that you and Dave recorded for the set.
JA: Excellent, excellent. Well, I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, personally, but I hope it wasn’t too bad for you.
BE: No, no, not painful at all.
JA: Well, good!
BE: So to begin at the beginning, as it were, you and Dave actually knew each other well before you first met up with Mike Judge on “King of the Hill.”
JA: That’s right. Dave Krinsky and I go back to…we went to the University of North Carolina together and moved out to L.A…wow, back in ’87! And we just did movies and TV for, y’know, forever, and got hired on “King of the Hill” in its first season, and that’s how we met Mike Judge.
The watching of one’s favorite programs has increasingly stretched beyond the TV set and onto the internet, with various online viewing outlets providing exclusive programming for its subscribers. In the case of Hulu, Stateside viewers suffering from Anglophilia have been particularly excited about seeing a flurry of programming from the UK turning up, but now they’re starting to bring us a few treats from down under as well.
The crime-family drama “The Straits,” starring Brian Cox, who you probably know from “Manhunter” or “Braveheart” or possibly even “Super Troopers,” premiered on Hulu a few days back and will be doling out a new episode every week, but once you’ve started watching, between the dialogue, the action, the humor, and, sure, the sex and violence, too, you’ll find that a week will seem like a bloody lifetime.
Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to chat with Cox about his new endeavor, not to mention a few other highlights from his none-too-shabby back catalog, but be forewarned: he’s been talking about “The Straits” in the past tense for awhile now – it premiered in Australia back in February – so you’ll see that he has a tendency to slip up and offer spoilers on occasion. Not that they’ll stop your overall enjoyment of the series, but just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Bullz-Eye: Well, I didn’t have enough lead time to absorb all 10 episodes of “The Straits,” but I’ve knocked out three of them thus far, and I’m really enjoying it.
Brian Cox: Well, good! Good, good, good. [Laughs.] It’s a good show!
BE: It is. A nice blend of drama, a bit of humor here and there, and certainly some darkness.
BC: Yeah, it’s got a black-comedy effect about it.
BE: So how did “The Straits” fall into your lap? Did they approach you directly?
BC: They did! They got in touch. I was doing “That Championship Season” on Broadway, and I just got this call from my English agent…because I have agents here and I’ve got agents in England…and they said, “How do you feel about going to Australia?” And the irony was that I’d been trying to get Australia for about the last four or five years, and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s only ever gonna be a job that gets me out there.” So when I got this call, I said, “I’ll do it! I don’t care what it is. I’m desperate to go to Australia!” [Laughs.] Then they said, “Well, hang on, read the script!” And I read the script, and I said, “Well, this is even better: a great job, a great role, and I get to go to Australia! This is a must!” So my wife came and my kids came, and it was a fantastic opportunity, one which I cherish. And I’m very sad that we’re not going to do some more of it, because I do think we were just…you know, the potential of it is enormous. But they’re a little nervous about it, because it’s about a crime family. But what I love about this show and what I love about Australia…
According to Mayan prophecy, the world is set to expire on December 21, 2012. With only 4 1/2 weeks (and counting) to the end of the world, Old Spice has recruited arguably the best defender of all-time – NBA legend and global ambassador Dikembe Mutombo – to save the planet from its impending peril!
In a new digital campaign launched last week promoting its Champion scent, “Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World” is a real-time, embeddable digital video game where Mutombo will embark on weekly globe-saving missions based on current news happening and events (featured in the narrative and gameplay) that could be considered signs that the Apocalypse is coming.
Bullz-Eye: Tell us about the game. According to the site you have 4 1/2 weeks to save the world before the end of the Mayan calendar, correct?
Dikembe Mutombo: I team up with Old Spice to promote the computer game and we have to save the world in 4 1/2 weeks. Also to promote Champion scent from Old Spice. It’s a wonderful game for everybody to play.
Bullz-Eye: The concept is you’re going to defeat your rivals and save the world. Is there any way you could save everyone on Earth except for my ex-wife?
DM: (Laughing) We have to save the entire world. We’re going to save the world because the Mayan calendar says it will end in four and a half weeks. And we’re going to do our best to stay alive.
BE: If you could just reject her head to like the 10th row, I’d really appreciate it. Just like you’re blocking Shaq.
DM: (Laughing) You’re funny man. It’s like blocking a shot and if I could, I’d send it all the way to the 10th row, no problem.
BE: Let’s talk about Georgetown. You played there with Alonzo Mourning and a lot of other great players. Why couldn’t you and Zo win a national title?
DM: Man, that is a major question that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. We had a chance and ultimately went to the NBA to become dominant centers and we had opportunities to win in college. The opportunity was there, and we just didn’t do it.
DM: That story is not true. I don’t know who came up with that story. Nobody ever said who was there at the party with me, who was out with me. First of all, when I came to Georgetown, I didn’t know English. So why would my mind come across like that? Plus, playing for Coach Thompson, one of the most disciplined coaches in college, he was very strict and knew where we were every night. Somebody asked me about it once and I said it was a made-up story. When you’re awesome, beautiful, tall, whatever, people will try to make up stories about you.
BE: How did the finger wave come to be your signature move?
DM: It happened after my 3rd year, just before we beat the Seattle Supersonics in the 1994 NBA playoffs. I was having such a great year and blocking shots and I was moving up in the league. I used to block the shot and then I would shake my hand and no one said nothing. One day, I decided shaking the hand doesn’t really mean nothing, maybe the best way not to come into the House of Mutombo is to wave my finger, so it worked out very cool. But it ended up getting me a lot of technicals.
BE: How did the NBA come to ban that? Did Does David Stern call you personally?
DM: It came from the players. You would hear from someone like Phil Jackson or something, that maybe you better stop what you’re doing it’s costing a lot of money. It was good for me to do in the players face, but if I could face the fans and wave my finger away from the players face, it would be great. That’s why you see in the last 5 years you can see I started doing it away from the players face. So I don’t have to lose a couple of thousand dollars.
BE: Was there anybody you loved to do it to where it was worth losing a couple thousand bucks?
DM: There were a lot of players who did it to me. Yes, a few players who had a chance to dunk on me. Like Michael Jordan in the playoffs, he had a big dunk and waved his finger at me. But he got a technical foul.
BE: Who was your favorite NBA player to block?
DM: That’s a good question. To me, not just one particular player. But I think playing against Shawn Kemp… he was such a high jumping, athletic player.
DM: (Laughing) Come on man! I don’t know what new Shawn Kemp looks like now, because I haven’t seen him in a while, but old Shawn Kemp!
BE: How gratifying was it to be the first eight-seed to beat a one-seed when your Nuggets beat Kemp’s Sonics in 1994?
DM: One of my proudest successes of my career. But I’m happy to promote the Old Spice game now. I want everyone to go to the website and play the game to save the world. We only have four and a half weeks, so we better do it.
Old Spice’s fans and casual video gamers will also play a major role in helping save the universe. All points earned and submitted over the duration of the 4 1/2-week game will power a wood carver engineered to draw additional rings on the Mayan Calendar.
Although it’s not unreasonable to suggest that just about everyone knows Patricia Heaton best for her work in front of the camera, but she’s been known to step into the role of producer on occasion, including the 2006 film “Amazing Grace.” Her most recent procedural credit, however, can be seen throughout the month of December on the Hallmark Channel, and as is only appropriate for a holiday film, it’s a family affair: not only did Heaton co-produce the film with her husband, David Hunt, but it’s written by her brother, Michael Heaton. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Ms. Heaton during the summer TCA tour, and although “The Christmas Heart” was the reason for our conversation, I was able to split our time evenly between the film and her current full-time gig: playing Frankie Heck on “The Middle.” By the way, “Middle” fans, please note that, given the date of our conversation, I had no way of knowing that my theory about Frankie departing from her job at the car dealership really was in the cards. I’m like freaking Nostradamus over here!
Bullz-Eye: As someone who has a sister myself, how weird is it to work with your brother on a project like this?
Patricia Heaton: Not as weird as working with my husband on it. [Laughs.] Too many relatives spoil the soup! No, it was great. You know, my brother and I have… Once he stopped torturing me and pinning me down and spitting on me and things like that when we were younger, we both lived and struggled in New York together at the same time. At one point we were both working at People Magazine: he was writing and I was a copy clerk. So we’ve been down the road together, and…he’s a great story guy. He has tons of stories, partly because he’s a journalist himself and he talks to people all day long, every day, and it just generates these stories in his mind. So this movie, “The Christmas Heart,” he had in his head for many years, and we’ve been trying to get it made. We’re so grateful that Hallmark gave it a home.
It’s an unusual Christmas movie, in that it’s very dramatic and there’s very serious themes in it. So it’s a little bit unusual, but I think that’s what’s going to be great about it. You’ll want to have popcorn on one hand and a box of tissues on the other. But it was great to have my brother having written it and my husband (David Hunt) and I producing it, and seeing the whole thing come off the page…we spent hours and hours and hours on the script, so when you start watching the dailies and you see it come alive, it’s so thrilling. And that’s what makes it addictive, ’cause it’s really one of the hardest things you can do, to take something from an idea to the screen. It’s a lot of hard work, but when you see it… It’s the kind of thing that really sort of lives forever.
I can still remember the first time I watched “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,” about the so-called West Memphis Three, a trio of teenagers – Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley – who in 1993 were accused of the murder and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Maybe Baldwin, Echols, and Misskelley weren’t the most clean-cut teens imaginable, but watching the sad but undeniably enthralling “Paradise Lost,” it’s pretty easy to believe that their imprisonment was unjust, a case of the justice system gone horribly wrong.
Indeed, I was sufficiently affected by it that I continued to keep tabs on the case over the years, right up through when Baldwin, Echols, and Misskelley were finally released after almost 20 years behind bars. Similarly, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, the gentlemen behind the camera for “Paradise Lost,” continued to follow the saga of the West Memphis Three, resulting in two sequels, “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations” and “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.”
The whole trilogy has just been released in a four-disc set – one for each film, plus an extra disc of bonus material – and upon receiving a review copy, I was pitched an interview with Berlinger. At first, I hesitated, thinking, “Geez, do I have any place to run this?” Then I realized, “Hello, technicality: all three films made their debut on HBO, so I’m calling in a loophole and putting this baby in ‘The Light from the TV Shows’!” The next thing you know, I’m on the phone with Mr. Berlinger, having the chat that sits before you now. Read on…
Bullz-Eye: I should probably start by telling you that I’ve just spent a fair amount of the preceding 24 hours plowing through the new “Paradise Lost Trilogy” set.
Joe Berlinger: Oh, my God. Watching it in one fell swoop…
BE: Yeah, I said on Facebook, “This is a whole lot of depressing footage to watch and know that you’re only going to get a semi-happy ending in the end.”
JB: Yeah, I know. Imagine me living it! [Laughs.] At least I spread it out over two decades. But to pile it all on like that…I’m actually curious: how does it feel watching one after another? Does it feel repetitive?
BE: No, it doesn’t. [Hesitates.] Well, okay, there are moments, I guess. But they’re acceptable knowing the fact that each one was made several years after the next.
JB: Okay, so it holds up as a trilogy, watching one after another?
If there’s any question as to whether actress Eden Sher possesses any of the delightful awkwardness of Sue Heck, her character on “The Middle,” it was answered at the precise moment I picked up the phone when she called me for our interview. At first, there is silence, which is quickly followed by an odd muffled sound which can only be described as a high-pitched grunt. Then, a breathless Sher suddenly announces herself and explains apologetically that she’d taken a sip of water the moment before the call connected and was struggling to hurriedly swallow it without choking. (“I’m, like, ‘No, no, I’m not a mute!’”) With her throat no longer parched, Sher discussed the experience of playing one of TV’s geekiest, gawkiest teenagers, getting her big break on “Weeds,” and sharing a tender yet awkward moment with Ryan Hansen on “Party Down.”
Bullz-Eye: With your performance on “The Middle,” you’re quickly developing a reputation as one of the most fearless comediennes on television.
Eden Sher: Wow, thank you! I appreciate that. I’ll try to limit the growth of my head after a compliment like that. [Laughs.] When people say that, though, I’m not sure how to take it, because it doesn’t seem…I feel like if you’re not going big, if there’s any sort of fear in the way or if there’s any thought process that gets in the way of being funny, you’re not going to be funny. So I don’t really consider it to be a special thing. I’m just doing my job!
BE: Well, you’re certainly not afraid to “Sue it up” as far as your appearance goes, but you also seem to be game for any and all physical comedy gags.
ES: Yes! Yes, I am, because I say the sweatier I am, the more bruised I am, the dirtier I get, the funnier it probably will be! [Laughs.] Because, I mean, you know the scene when I’m practicing to be the mascot, with the cardboard box on my head? I have realized this: falling or hitting something or physically hurting yourself is always funny. In real life or TV. Always is.
BE: So do you have any formal training as far as physical comedy goes?
ES: Uh, you mean aside from being clumsy and accidentally hurting myself? [Laughs.] No! I mean, I’ve taken acting classes forever, but I’ve actually never even taken a class that’s strictly comedy. I’ve taken improv classes before, but not a comedy class, per se. Do they offer physical comedy classes? Is that actually something they do?
BE: Not being an actor myself, let’s say, “Sure, they do!”
ES: [Laughs.] Well, either way, I’ve never actually taken one.
BE: DeAnn Heline has confirmed that it was actually you who went careening across the countertop in “The Test” last season, but did you do the swing set face-plant in this year’s season premiere (“The Last Whiff of Summer”)?
ES: That was not. I tried to do it, and I just…it was too dangerous. But it did take awhile, because it’s actually the stunt girl you see walking to do it, too, and it was quite an ordeal having to help her master my walk. [Laughs.] I had to show her how to walk like Sue! But I will say, because this is something you don’t even see my face for, that the mascot face-plant…? That was me in the suit. That was actually me.
BE: Is that a regular occurrence? How much of what we see the mascot doing is you inside the suit?
ES: Anytime I’m doing anything physical other than standing, it’s me. All of the dancing stuff, that’s all me.
BE: Regarding to the physical transformation, what’s involved in the process of turning Eden Sher into Sue Heck?
ES: Well, first of all, I appreciate you noting that there is actually a transformation required! But it’s actually helped me to retain my anonymity a lot, because either people aren’t expecting it, or…I usually get, “You know, you look a lot like that girl on that show? Have you seen it?” It’s not actually that extensive of a process, because it’s mostly a case of coming in with dirty hair…oh, but I’m revealing too much. [Laughs.] Seriously, though, what happens is that I usually don’t wash my hair, because they have to flatten it out and make it a little stringy-ish. Or stringier than it usually is, anyway. And then they don’t put any makeup on me. They kind of fill in my eyebrows to make ‘em a little bushier. And then they just put the braces in, and that’s pretty much it.
If you’re a regular viewer of the National Geographic Channel, then you might be familiar with Todd Carmichael for his Antarctic travelogue, “Race to the Bottom of the Earth,” but if you’re a connoisseur of all things caffeinated, then it’s more likely that you’ll know him for La Colombe, a business endeavor which has allowed the entrepreneur to dedicate his life to finding, selling, and – in a few select cities around the world – serving up some of the world’s best coffees. Now, Travel Channel is giving Carmichael the opportunity to show their viewers just how hard he’s willing to work to provide people with the beans to make the finest possible cup o’ joe.
Carmichael chatted with Bullz-Eye about the origins of his series – the cleverly-titled “Dangerous Grounds,” which debuts on November 5 at 10 PM – and how his coffee-hunting adventures have changed since he’s had to start traveling with a cameraman by his side, also offering up a few suggestions of where casual coffee fans can start the process of expanding their palate to more unique tastes. By the way, for the record, Carmichael admitted to being “a little juiced up on caffeine” during our conversation, having just come off a lengthy coffee-tasting session, but as someone who’s perpetually hopped up on caffeine myself, he sounded perfectly normal to me.
Bullz-Eye: First of all, I was able to check out the first episode of “Dangerous Grounds” before our chat, and I really enjoyed it.
Todd Carmichael: Oh, great! That was Haiti, right?
BE: Yep, sure was.
TC: Oh, excellent. Yeah, that was a great adventure.
BE: Well, to jump way back to the very beginning, when did your love of / addiction to caffeine first begin?
TC: [Laughs.] Oh, you know, it’s just like any other addiction: it’s hard to tell the actual moment. But I definitely really remember the first time I said, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do.” But I did it for a different purpose. I was 15 years old, and I was just one of these obsessed little distance runners. It was really distance running that got me to college, to the University of Washington. And I read this article in Runner’s World Magazine at the time, and there was a guy named Bill Rogers, he was kind of like the reigning champion of the Boston Marathon, and he wrote an article about his use of caffeine and coffee and how it affected his running. And, you know, at that time, everyone kind of thought of coffee as a dangerous thing, as if it was like cigarettes or something like that. Needless to say, the next morning I brewed my very first pot…and drank the whole thing. [Laughs.] And I haven’t really stopped doing that since.
Although the History Channel has done an admirable job of trying to bring “Top Gear” to America, there are many viewers who still view the U.S.’s take on the series as a pale imitation of the original UK version…and, yes, if you’re wondering, I am one of those viewers, thank you very much. Not that there’s anything wrong with Adam Ferrera, Tanner Foust, and Rutledge Wood in principle, but to my way of thinking, they can’t hold a candle to Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. I mean, I’m not even a car person (and, boy, is that an understatement), but I’ve been enthralled by the adventures of Clarkson, Hammond, and May ever since I first discovered the series a few years back.
Indeed, I’ve found their presences so uniformly enjoyable that I’ve even followed them over to their various solo exploits. For instance, if you’ve never seen “James May’s Toy Stories,” head over to Hulu and check it out post haste…but, hang on, before doing that, perhaps you’d better watch “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course,” which actually makes its debut this evening on BBC America. I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with Mr. Hammond during this summer TCA press tour, and we chatted about this new series as well as the one which made him a household name amongst automobile enthusiasts, not to mention various and sundry other topics.
Bullz-Eye: You’re all but ubiquitous on UK television nowadays, but how did you find your way onto TV in the first place?
Richard Hammond: I started as a radio host 24 years ago, in 1988. Local radio, a small station in the UK. I stuck with that for the better part of 10 years and eventually started doing TV. Car-related TV, because that was always my passion. And that opened into other types of TV, but I stuck with the cars as well, and then eventually auditioned for and got “Top Gear” when they re-launched it.
BE: Being a re-launch, I guess it was both a proven commodity as well as an unproven one, since it was all new.
RH: Yeah, it’d become quite old-fashioned and, as happened, it was taken off air because viewers had dwindled, but then it came back as an entirely new thing.
BE: Presumably you were pleasantly surprised when it took off as well as it did.
RH: Weren’t we, though? [Laughs.] Yes, but it wasn’t immediate. We were very lucky. We were afforded the opportunity to grow organically over time, because it was only a small show, so we could be allowed to evolve. We never set out to create the monster we created. We set out to make the best car show we could. That, honestly, is all we ever set out to do. And it was what it was, and it grew to what it became, and it found the appeal it found. We were just lucky. It was a perfect storm. The perfect combination of event, context, characters, appetite…it all came together.
BE: It’s very much a car show for people who aren’t even car aficionados.
RH: Well, we kind of do that to save the viewer the bother. We’re car geeks. I mean, I collect cars. I’ve got…oh, God, dozens of them at home, ranging from pre-war to immediate. But it has to have that at heart. We occasionally…not in recent years, but there was a time when we’d be asked quite regularly, “Are you really a car guy, or is it all put on?” You couldn’t pretend! But you don’t have to be a car fan to watch it, because cars, generally speaking, are fascinating to everyone because they affect all of us. Even if all you ever do is get in one to get a ride to school, they’re still part of your life, be it as a symbol, a means of communication, a means of transport, even as self-expression.
BE: What would you say has been the most fascinating aspect of “Top Gear”? You’ve been to so many countries, done so many things…
RH: Well, I’ve grown up there! I was 30 when we started, I’m 40 now. That’s a big period in a chap’s life! [Laughs.] Both my daughters have arrived since then. Lots has happened. It’s been a part of my life for a long, long time. That’s probably the big surprise. No, the bigger surprise is what’s happened to it! It still takes our breath away how big it’s gotten. We can’t believe it.
Those with a soft spot for Australian soap operas may forever think of Melissa George as Angel from “Home and Away,” but they’re doing both her and themselves a disservice by maintaining that mindset, because George has handily proven over and over again that she’s a far cry from being just another soap opera actress, be it by her Golden Globe nominated performance on HBO’s “In Treatment,” her work with David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”) and Steven Soderbergh (“The Limey”), or her despicable turn as Lauren Reed on ABC’s “Alias.” With her latest small-screen endeavor, Cinemax’s “Hunted,” George is returning to the spy side of things, but trust Bullz-Eye when we tell you that “Hunted” is on a completely different level of television than “Alias.” We talked to her in conjunction with the series’ premiere – 10 PM tonight and every Friday night for the next several weeks – while also quizzing her about a few other past endeavors, including working with Heath Ledger on “Roar,” getting the shaft on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and just barely missing out on being part of one of the most notorious sitcom flops in NBC history.
Bullz-Eye: To begin at the beginning, how did you find your way into “Hunted”? Was it an audition situation, or did they come looking for you specifically?
Melissa George: They were very strict about making people read. Some jobs, not so much, they know who they want. But “Hunted” is (being produced by) HBO and BBC together, and they were both having to choose and decide, so we had the English with the Americans, so that’s why the audition process was so long.
I was walking on the West Side Highway in New York, and my phone rang. It was my agent saying, “I’ve just read the most dynamic role for a woman, it’s as complex as what you played on ‘In Treatment,’ with a bit of action, which you’ve done before. It’s shooting in Europe, it’s really good, it’s written by Frank Spotnitz, it’s an English and American production…you’ve got to get it.” That’s kind of what he said. And I hate when they say that, ‘cause that means no sleep for me. Because, y’know, of course if it’s that great I want to play it. And I was then shooting a movie with Julia Stiles in Los Angeles (“Between Us”) and I was busy with that, and I had a video camera set up in the hotel room, and I put together a scene. They asked me to do three scenes, but I just did one. It was the one where she confronts her ex in the apartment. Very emotional. And I remember I was just so choked up…and I was recording myself, not speaking to anybody, because I didn’t have an actor reading with me. And I was, like, “Oh, my God, I really love this part…” And I cut, printed, and sent it. I couldn’t do any more scenes because I was really upset. I felt really strongly about this woman. And I waited. I didn’t care, because I was shooting a movie.
Then I got a call saying, “They want you to meet with Frank and read a scene.” I was, like, “Oh, my God…” There were so many freaking people in this room. [Laughs.] So many people! I thought it was just going to be me. Every actor thinks that when you’re asked to read, it’s just gonna be you. But it was a lot of people, and I was on my own. But I met Frank, and he said to me later on, once I’d gotten the role, that he knew from when I put myself on tape, and when I went in to read, he said, “I just feel really connected to her.” But that was it. I didn’t hear for awhile after that, so I was, like, “Ugh, this is gonna be one of those jobs…” And then S.J. (Clarkson), who’s directing, got onboard, and…the director has a big say, so Frank’s got his choice made, BBC and HBO made theirs, but now I have to wait for S.J. to make hers. So I had to meet her. They fly me from New York to L.A. to have lunch, and all we do is talk about film, and then…I was the only girl, but I had to read with lots of guys. And none of the guys I read with got it. [Laughs.] But I was the only girl they were using, and yet still hadn’t told me that I’d got it! And I was, like, “What’s going on here?”
But I was so convinced that I was onboard that I went around convincing everyone else around me that I was. I was, like, “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna be playing this role in a few months…” But I hadn’t heard anything, and I was going, “This is ridiculous! They’re going all over the world looking for this actress, every single country, and I’m, like, “Well, does she have to be from a particular place?” “No, they don’t care where she’s from, because she has to play so many nationalities, so many different languages and accents.” So I waited while they went around the globe, reading hundreds of girls, and they were losing me, because I was going, “Well, if they wait too long…” And then finally everyone was, like, “C’mon, S.J.!” So that’s the story. And it was so funny on set, because while we were filming in Morocco, S.J. would come up to me and speak French, then she’d say, “Oh, sorry, wrong actress.” Like she’d found a girl in France that she really liked. I was, like, “Shut up, I know you didn’t find anybody!” [Laughs.] It was one of those things where the joke went on forever. Like, the whole season of the show. “Sorry, what’s your name?” So I don’t quite know what happened that made it take so long to decide, but I know that when I seize on something, man, I’d better get the job. Because I was honestly delusional. I was, like, “Yes, I’m shooting London in a few months,” and everyone was, like, “But have they said ‘yes’?” “No. But I’m going to be shooting!”
Although I get plenty of opportunities to do in-person interviews when I’m out on the west coast for the Television Critics Association press tours, I very rarely get the chance while I’m here at Virginia, so when I was offered the chance to meet Kathleen Robertson for coffee, one of the stars of a show I already have a lot of love for (“Boss”), you can imagine that I didn’t have to think twice before answering, “Absolutely!” Indeed, I didn’t even blink an eye when it was casually mentioned that it might be nice if I managed to find a way to bring up Starz’s new app for Cox subscribers, Starz Play, because, what, like it’s such a bad thing to hype something that helps more people see some of my favorite series? (As you hopefully recall, I’m a big “Magic City” fan, too.) As I was assured in advance, Kathleen was a total sweetheart, and as we chatted over the course of a half-hour, the topics included the series that brought us together in the first place, of course, but also “Maniac Mansion,” “90210,” “Tin Man,” and even the hilarious-but-underrated IFC series, “The Business.” Read on…but don’t forget that the “Boss” Season 2 finale airs Friday night on Starz!
Bullz-Eye: So the second season of “Boss” is coming to a close…
Kathleen Robertson: Yep!
BE: Your character, Kitty O’Neill, had a decidedly different dynamic in Season 2 than she did in Season 1. How much forewarning did you have about how Kitty’s storyline was going to play out during this season? Did you know from the get-go, or was it only doled out to you on an episode-by-episode basis?
KR: I knew from the get-go. I sat down with the writers at the very beginning of the season, and they sort of explained to me what the storyline was for her. With the exception of the finale. They were very secretive about the finale, and I didn’t know what was going to happen until the week before we shot it and I read the script. Have you seen the finale?
BE: I have not yet.
KR: [Tries and fails to disguise her giddiness.] It’s so good. It’s so good. They kept saying to me all through the year, “Just be patient. Just be patient and wait for (episode)10.” I said, “What does that mean, though? Like, am I gonna get killed? What are you…what happens in 10?” “Just be patient.” And then they’d say, “10 is your episode, and you’re gonna be really happy with it.” So I was. And I am really happy with 10. It’s amazing.
BE: 10 may be “your episode,” but it’s arguable that you’ve had a lot of episodes. Kitty’s evolved throughout the season, at least in a certain sense. At the same time, though, she also ends up making it pretty clear that she doesn’t really know who she is unless she has someone to serve.
KR: Yeah, that’s true.
BE: Did you see that as being a part of her character from the very beginning, or was that something you discovered as time went on?
KR: Well, with Season 1… [Hesitates.] Farhad (Safinia) said to me at the beginning of the series, “For Season 1, Kitty almost has a reverse arc.” She kind of starts here… [Holds hand up and then begins lowering it.] …and ends here. And it’s kind of like that in Season 2 as well, because from the moment we meet her in this season, she’s pregnant, she’s sort of deciding if she even wants to be in politics anymore…she’s deciding who she is. So the journey for her over Season 2 was a much more internal one, and it was much more a case of asking, “Who am I without my identity?” And for her, the identity isn’t just working for Kane. It’s being in this whole world that she’s sacrificed everything for. So she sort of flirts with the idea of trying to be an alternate Kitty throughout the season, and by the end… [Smiles knowingly.] When you see the finale, I think she ends up where she belongs.