Interview with Christopher Meloni

TV Interview!

Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: Organized Crime" on NBC

Interview with Christopher Meloni of “Law & Order: Organized Crime” on NBC by Suzanne 9/13/21

We had a chat via Zoom with NBC stars for the TCA panels. This particular panel was supposed to feature Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson) as well as Christopher Meloni (Elliot Stabler), but she was held up due to a change in her shooting schedule. That was a real shame because we would have all loved to see her with him. He didn’t seem as if he was in a great mood, but he gave each question serious thought and consideration.

If you’re reading this, you probably know already that he played the same character on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for 11 years. He left at the end of season 11 because of a contract dispute. Last April he returned to SVU and then premiered this new show, OC, but with plenty of crossover between the two shows (especially with Hargitay).

I asked him the question that everyone wants to know… I knew that he probably couldn’t answer it, but I was interested in how he would handle the question, either way. I said, “I’m on a lot of “Law & Order” Facebook groups, and most of them seem to want your characters to have a real love affair. Should they stay hopeful on that score? Anything you can tell us. I know you can’t give spoilers.” He replied, “Sure. Hope springs eternal. I mean, why  not? I think it’s going to be a collaborative effort between both showrunners for “SVU” and “OC,” and I believe, with Mariska and I, to kind of figure it all out. It’s a complicated relationship. So, we’ll see.”  That was actually a lot more positive answer than I expected. It was very diplomatic, for sure.

Here are more questions from the panel.  This was the next question:  Elliot goes undercover this season, so he was asked whether this would affect his relationship with his former partner, Benson (Hargitay), since they were close last season. He mentioned that he had spoken to real-life undercover cops, and they had confirmed that they do tend to lose themselves in their jobs.  He thinks Elliot is doing that, as well as still dealing with the stress of losing his wife and all that he went through last season, and not sure how Benson fits into his life (both personally and professionally). Benson sees that he might be going through all this.  He and Benson do engage with each other professional quite a bit, and ” and a little bit from the personal side.”

He was also asked whether he’d learned anything about himself from his years of playing Elliot. He responded, “I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s been a wonderful journey. I think because, you know, to play this character for as long as I have, or I guess any character, but I always thought of him as a man under pressure, and has maybe examined how I engage the world, how I deal with personal relationships, how maybe certain blind spots that I have, and I’ve had to work on. You know, you really do grow with the character. Because as you mature as a human being, I think you bring those lessons to bear to your character. So, you know, you march hand—in—hand with the thing that you’ve created. And it’s been very rewarding. So, I’ve learned more than I could speak of in this short of time.”

Someone else asked why Dick Wolf decided (possibly in collaboration with him or other writers) to put Elliot in Organized Crime rather than in other possibly detective groups. He asserted that it was Wolf’s idea from the beginning. He feels that it was because there was so much rich storytelling that could be told about the crime families and how they work, and that one crime family investigation would fit well into an 8-episode format. He was also asked whether there might be a possibility of any mention of his cop character in Syfy’s “Happy,” but he didn’t think they would do that because they were in two different universes. He compared it to having a crossover between “Grey’s Anatomy” and a Marvel Universe show.

Another person from the press asked him about “the most emotional and challenging story lines to play on a personal level, something that was difficult” for him to play. He gave an interesting answer, “Well, you know, anytime I’ve had to deal with children and traumas inflicted upon children, those are always — those always strike a very deep chord. I’ve always found those very difficult, but oddly enough, kind of the easiest to play, because there’s no searching for the emotional content within myself. You know, I know exactly how I feel. I’m very — there’s such clarity in my place in this world when children are involved.”

I’m sure he’s been asked this question many times: whether he ever had the itch to go back and play Stabler after he left SVU back in 2011. He asserted that he never looked back. Once he was done, that was it. He enjoyed acting in other projects and traveling. He added, “I think to Dick’s credit, he — I don’t know — maybe he sensed I wasn’t as interested in revisiting how, you know, the “SVU” tells a story, which is great, and they do it so wonderfully. So, when he pitched this more serialized expression of his latest idea of a “Law & Order” show, the “OC,” I really thought it was kind of a stroke of genius. I didn’t think that was even kind of anything he was thinking about. So, I was pleasantly pleased and surprised and excited when I got the pitch. And it was just on the basis of the type of storytelling that the “OC” allows us. And I just think it just allows for a little more in—depth analysis of characters and relationships and that kind of stuff. So, I appreciated that. And I think with Ilene Chaiken running the show, it’s really lived up to what Dick had hoped for.”

He was asked if he’d ever binge-watched “Law & Order” SVU,” but he admitted that he never had. He was there when it was filmed, and that was enough. The same journalist also asked him if he would tell us about the “four new recurring characters” on the second season. He seemed taken aback by that question. He named three – “Dash Mihok, Vinnie Jones, Lolita Davidovich and Michael Raymond-James.”  He said that some of the cast are part of their task force and some are from the new crime family they’ll be going after.  He elaborated, “We’re dealing with an Albanian crime family. You get to see a little bit of the hierarchy. It’s very much a family organization. And there’s a kind of Shakespearean intrigue that surrounds it.” That sounds interesting!

Since he mentioned leaving SVU earlier, he was asked about Mariska, “What has been the greatest joy of working with her? What
qualities does she have that has made the journey a real joy for you? And what have been some of the challenges?” He gave a very long answer. Basically, he said that they were two strong personalities that worked well together. The characters were, “finding each
other’s dance steps. And I would argue we found those dance steps 80 percent of the time, but 20 percent of the time we didn’t. And, you know, that’s where — I don’t know — just stuff happens. And it can be creatively wonderful stuff, and it can be challenging stuff. And it’s just stuff. Because at the end of the day, I think we see each other and know each other at our cores, and we love and honor and respect each other’s gifts. We have forgiven each other’s trespasses.” He said that they grew up together on the show . They both built their own separate families at the same time and both had each other’s best interests at heart.  He was quite effusive in his praise of her: “She’s open and honest and trustworthy and a ball of light. She radiates a goodness and a warmth and an inclusiveness. You know, she’s just a wonderful energy to be around. And she’s a hard worker. ” He praised her for how she carried on after he left the show.” They like working together and look forward to it. He never really answered the question about any challenges.

Next he was asked whether any parts of Elliot had rubbed off on him, or vice versa. He didn’t think so. He compared Elliot to himself, saying that Elliot was both more flawed and more heroic than he. He went on, “I think we both strive for the same sense of justice that, you know — I mean, I think this is life, right? And it’s difficult if you have a sense of right and wrong, and the world makes it difficult for one who has a sense of honor and justice, and you see reality is at times difficult in that regard. So, I would like to — I would strive to be as honorable as Elliott is, as flawed as he is. But no. We both have the same kind of walk, and that’s about it, I think.”

He was asked whether he thought all of the spinoffs were a good thing or not. He thinks that they’re both good and bad as it’s part of their business. It’s expensive to “It’s expensive to launch a show, very expensive to maintain a show, and very expensive to get eyeballs to the show, to your product. So, I just kind of think those pressures lend itself to that kind of programming.” He thinks the audience doesn’t mind as long as the product is a good one.

He was also asked why he thinks fans are so crazy about a Benson-Stabler relationship. He thinks that part of the reason is because their parting in 2011 was so abrupt, and they had so much chemistry for years before that. There was never any kind of answer as to the will-they-or-won’t-they question.

Another writer asked how his working with Mariska different this time than it was the first time around. He answered that they were young and didn’t know each other the first time around. It was all new, fresh and exciting. This time, when he returned, it felt both important and comfortable. “And I haven’t examined it beyond that… “I don’t have that relationship with any other actor walking the earth, because I’ve never worked with anyone for as long as I had with Mariska.” They were revisiting their relationship. “all of that in a package of grief, because of the circumstances under which I was reintroduced. So, it was a completely different dynamic, and yet I think the cornerstone of it all was a playfulness, a humor that we just always have with each other, and a camaraderie. Love and camaraderie.”

He was asked a good storyline question about whether Stabler would still be working with the team or whether he’ll be more in charge this season.  He responded that Sgt. Bell is definitely still in command, not Elliot. He went on, “I find it a very interesting dynamic. I was surprised by it all, and I loved it. I thought it was a very good idea. Danielle Moné Truitt is wonderful to work with. Yeah. So, yeah. Elliott is more on the outside in the first series of eight from the unit. They’re kind of more of the, you know — they’re HQ to whom I report, and they do the logistical hard work while Elliott tries to get intel and is on the inside.”

The last person pointed out that Meloni is also great at comedy. He asked which he would like to do next, after he leaves OC? He instantly replied without hesitation that it would be comedy.  “I’m in one swimming pool and I want to go try the other, see how the other water — how refreshing the other water is.”  Well, let’s hope that’s not for a long time…at least not until we see how he and Olivia are able to really connect, finally.

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Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: Organized Crime" on NBC“LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME”

“THE MAN WITH NO IDENTITY”

ORIGINAL

09/23/2021 (10:00PM – 11:00PM) (Thursday) : SEASON PREMIERE – After taking down Wheatley’s (Dylan McDermott) drug empire and discovering his wife’s killer, Det. Stabler (Christopher Meloni) must infiltrate a notorious crime family aiming to take over New York City’s cocaine trade. Sgt. Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) is forced to work with a rival colleague when their investigations collide. Also starring Ainsley Seiger.

TV-14

The series stars Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott, Danielle Moné Truitt, Tamara Taylor and Ainsley Seiger.

Dick Wolf, Ilene Chaiken, Fred Berner, Terry Miller, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski serve as executive producers. “Law & Order: Organized Crime” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Wolf Entertainment.

Christopher Meloni

Elliot Stabler, “Law & Order: Organized Crime”

Christopher Meloni returns to his iconic character, Elliot Stabler, in the new NBC drama series “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”

Meloni was last seen starring on the Hulu British comedy “Maxxx.”

Meloni starred in SYFY’s dark comedy “Happy!” based on Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel. In addition to his starring role as Nick Sax, he directed an episode as well as executive produced the series. Meloni also co-starred in the third season of the critically acclaimed Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Commander Winslow, a powerful and magnetic commander who hosts the Waterfords on an important trip.

Meloni had a guest arc on the breakout FX series “Pose,” from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. He also appeared in the landmark historical series “Underground,” executive produced by John Legend, and directed an episode.

Following his breakout role on “NYPD Blue,” Meloni was cast in HBO’s gritty prison drama “Oz” and then moved on to “Law & Order: SVU,” where he received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Following his 12 seasons on “SVU,” Meloni returned to HBO in Alan Ball’s wildly popular drama “True Blood” and the Julie Louis-Dreyfus-starrer “Veep.”

On the film side, Meloni’s credits include “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “White Bird in a Blizzard,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” “Man of Steel,” “42,” “They Came Together,” the Terry Gilliam films “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Twelve Monkeys,” “Bound,” “Runaway Bride,”  “Nights in Rodanthe,” and the cult favorites “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and its first sequel, “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: Organized Crime" on NBC

Interview with cast of “Prodigal Son” TCA Panel

TV Interview!

"Prodigal Son" cast at the FOX Spring TCAs.

Interview with actors of “Prodigal Son” on FOX by Suzanne 3/2/21

Today I went to the TCA panel (virtual presentation) with most of the actors from “Prodigal Son” and the executive producers, Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver.

The actors were newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Vivian Capshaw); star Tom Payne (Malcolm Bright); Lou Diamond Phillips (Gil); Bellamy Young (Jessica); Halston Sage (Ainsley); Aurora Perrineau (Dani); Frank Harts (JT); and Keiko Agena (Edrisa).

First they had an introduction, where they talked about some of the upcoming FOX shows, and they showed us a video.

I didn’t get to ask a question, but it was still fun to be there, and to see the actors on the panel. Most of my questions were asked by other journalists, anyway.

Tom Payne (Bright) was dressed in a suit, and Bellamy Young (Jessica) was dressed in a very nice lace white top. Halston Sage also had a nice white top. The rest were not particularly dressed up. From the banter during the interview, it was clear that this cast is not only amazingly talented but gets along really well.

The first question was, “What made PRODIGAL SON the right choice for this TV renaissance? And how will Dr. Capshaw change things up at Claremont?” Catherine Zeta-Jones answered this question with a very long speech. (By the way, I had no idea that “Zeta” is pronounced like “cheetah.” I thought it was like “beta.” Who knew? Not me.)

Catherine Zeta JonesShe replied, “Well, I was a fan of the show, and I gravitate to the kind of nuance of what I think was so different and powerful about PRODIGAL SON. It’s pretty good family drama with a twist of danger and, you know, kind of it’s a dark family, and I gravitate to, kind of, darker material and, also, you know, with Michael Sheen, who is literally from my hometown, who I’ve never met before, I’ve admired from a distance. We actually have childhood friends that went to school, and we know we were part of the Dylan Thomas Theatre and Dance. But he did theater. And I was in contemporary dance, and I was doing amateur dramatics at the Catholic church, and he was doing it somewhere else. And, so, I left Wales expecting to go to the theater in London. And so even though we are the same age and we have all of these mutual friends, we’ve never crossed. My mom and dad know his parents know his dad. They’ve eventually gone out. It’s, like, bizarre. So that was, of course, a huge pull for me. And the character itself, to play Dr. Vivian Capshaw was a character that was intriguing to me. And when I spoke, I spoke about coming into a very a great show that has been, you know, both critically acclaimed and has a great following. So, I said, ‘Okay. What am I going to add?’ And then, when I read the draft of the script, it drew me in. It pulled me in. This character was exciting of where and I didn’t know where I was going to go with it, but I knew that there was a fundamental interest, intrigue, and that this doctor, who I’m playing, is why is she in the Claremont Psychiatric facility? What got her there? She should have surely known who The Surgeon was, admired him from afar, the Michael Sheen character and Martin Whitly, and now she’s sequestered in the bowels of this facility with that very person, and it was intriguing to me.”

The next question was a bit lengthy: “Yeah. Catherine, if you could continue that, a little bit more about working with Michael, because all the time you saw him in the past. Sometimes he’s playing, like, these buttoned down characters, Tony Blair and so forth. Now, all of a sudden, you are working with him, and he’s this wild man with these wild eyes and the hair everywhere and so forth. So, what’s it like when you are suddenly with him and working with him? And your character at first seems very calm. I assume she’s got a lot of hidden secrets but talk a little bit about the inner relationship between the two of you there.”

She also answered again: Well, as Martin Whitly, he looks more like the Welsh men that I grew up with than the other characters he’s played, you know. Tony Blair would not hang around our village, but people who look like Martin Whitly did very much so. But, you know, my character does. I mean, she’s I have this, kind of she’s still waters run deep. There’s a complexity to her that is really, really starting to unfold now as I’m part of this fantastic array of great actors. I have to say that. All of them who are assembled here today, it’s their great work that drew me in. But to play with Michael is well, first of all, for example, Lou, it was so wonderful to have Lou direct my first episode and my introduction into this great show. As soon as Lou shouted ‘cut,’ Michael and I were, like (makes a chitchat sound). ‘Welsh, Welsh, Welsh, Welsh.’ You know, it was, like, inside jokes that nobody knows and doing Tommy Cooper impressions. And what was great coming into this show was that I was welcomed so lovely, so nicely. And there’s a familiarity to working with Michael that is just inherent, which is very comforting when you walk onto the set for the first time and the cast and crew all know each other. I know that, as our story unfolds, I’m going to be introduced to this wonderful cast here more than being in this, kind of, grayed and very, very intense situation with Martin Whitly.”The Whitlys in "Prodigal Son" on FOX

I was starting to feel bad for the other actors there because they weren’t getting much of a chance to answer any questions.

The next question asked, “Just to flip the previous questions, I’d like to ask any of the actors who would like to answer in their own words. Catherine Zeta Jones is a big guest for an ongoing series, no question about that. For any of you who would like to answer, what was your first response, reaction? And for Lou, the added question, to direct her into the series, how was that for you?”

Several of the actors answered. First was Halston Sage, who said she was excited. Then Tom Payne answered next. (He has a wonderful British accent. I wish he used that on the show.) “I was super excited, happy and excited that someone like Catherine would want to join our little gang, really. And watching the premiere that they showed just before this, I often get so overwhelmed by everything that happens on this show that it’s difficult for me to sit back and see it as the entertainment that it is. And it’s just so fun when we have, like, these fun, flashy characters come in and join us like Alan Cumming’s character who came in. And then, Catherine, she’s come in to join us for a much longer stint. And, for me, it takes just a moment to sit back and go, ‘Yeah, we are making this product, which is attracting people.’ And that makes me very proud and very happy, and I’m excited for where our story line goes in the show. “Alan Cumming

Keiko Agena then said, “Yeah. I’ll just say my jaw dropped, and I think it’s still dropped. So, at some point, I’ll pick it up and go on.”  Everyone giggled at that.

Then Lou Diamond Philips said, “So, I’ve got to say, when I started prepping Episode 207 at face value, I didn’t know it was going to be the midseason finale, and I didn’t know who my guest stars were going to be. And it’s like a frog getting boiled in water. The heat just kept getting turned up. It was, like, this is the finale. Okay. That’s a big deal. Catherine Zeta Jones? Oh, my God. And the sphincter tightens more on top of that. So, the ship began as something brilliant and beautiful with beautiful story lines for Halston and for Bellamy. And we are glad to have Rachel York, an old Broadway buddy of mine. It just became this overwhelming wealth of riches for me. And knowing that I was going to be the one to welcome Hera down from Mount Olympus when Catherine stepped on set, you don’t always know what you are going to get. And what you are seeing today is emblematic of who she is, so gracious and so warm and so inclusive of everyone. And, I mean, from the moment she stepped on set, it was as if she’d been a part of the ensemble from the beginning. She came like a team player. She came to play. She I don’t know. It was seamless. It was effortless. I mean, Sam was there for that first rehearsal, and we just, kind of, looked at each other and went (hand gesture), and just to quote Keiko Agena’s character, ‘Well, that went well.'”

EP Sklaver chimed in with, “And Catherine is not lying. The second rehearsal, she was, like, ‘Do you remember Margaret?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I know Margaret.’ It was nonstop. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Which led to Catherine Zeta-Jones replying, “I know. I was, like, ‘Do you know’… I must say, it was so funny because the day that I told my agent that I wanted to join the cast of PRODIGAL SON, I was watching ‘The View,’ and then Whoopi Goldberg just randomly gives it this incredible, kind of, thumbs up. And I’m lying there, going, ‘That’s what I’m talking about. She knows what I’m talking about.’ Yes. Michael was there. He went, ‘Did you know? Was that recorded? Did you know they were going to say that?’ I went, ‘No.’ Great minds think alike, baby. No. That was, like, the stamp of approval that came from nowhere. It was, like, ‘Okay. Whoopi has been binge watching PRODIGAL SON. I’m in. I’m loving this.'”

Frank Harts was very funny when he added in his two cents, which were meant in a sarcastic (but hilarious) way: “Yeah. I was excited about the Whoopi thing, too, and Catherine joining. I was also a little scared because I was thinking, like, ‘How am I going to hang with Catherine in all of these one-on-one scenes that we are going to hit?’ I’m trained. I come from the theater. There’s a lot there. But, you know, that’s Hollywood royalty. She’s a Titan, man. So, I just had to wrap my brain around that, but welcome, Catherine.” Catherine Zeta-Jones thanked him for this.

The next question was, “I’m just curious, why are we seeing more serial killer kind of projects now? Is it something about these times? Is it something about the kind of life we’ve been going through the last year, or what is that?”

EP Fedak answered with, “I think serial killer… I think that it speaks to the age we live in. We live in dark and seemingly scary times. But I think, for our show, the way we come at it is we look at it as a family show. We also have a sense of humor. We have this incredible cast that’s really charming and fun, and so, deep down, it’s also a comedy. So, in some ways, it’s a bunch of different things coming together.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones chimed in, “You know, what’s really interesting is where this I think it comes from the work and obviously the script. What’s on the page is what we work with, but it’s admirable when the characters that are darker than the regular folk can be as charming and interesting. For me, it’s like it takes a great actor to play a serial killer who you actually like. I’ve always been fascinated with mob families. Historically, I mean, we are still obsessed with the mob, ‘The Godfather,’ sequels and sequels and sequels. There’s something intriguing because it has a reflection of the fundamental family, which we all can relate to, and it lends itself to being able to bring in a serial killer that you actually like and a family intrigue that’s so intertwined. It’s not as bad as my family, but I would, kind of, get that. Do you know what I mean? That was one of the attractions of this show is that you like these people, but there’s nothing I mean, historically in history of film and TV, great family dramas are very powerful because we can relate. Every family can relate to something in there. ”

Bellamy Young shared her thoughts on that question, “Going on from there, I’ll just say that we could not have known, I don’t think, but I really do believe that we are the right show for the right time because all of us as a world have been going through some of the hardest chapters of our lives within the last year. And what this show does so well, it laughs through the horror and laughs through the pain and reminds you that, at the end of the day, family is what you have no matter how screwed up or messed up they are. Our show wound up coming along right at the right moment for this page in history.”

Zeta-Jones agreed that this was true.

Frank Harts answered in a serious way: “Yeah. Just to piggyback on what Bellamy was saying, I remember, after the George Floyd incident last summer, freaking out, sort of, like, waking up in a bit of a cold sweat the next day. I said to my wife, ‘Babe, this is insane, man. I’m going to be going back into a show in a different world now as a Black man and the world, playing a Black cop on television,’ knowing that I have a great team like Sam and Chris who will listen, but I wasn’t sure which direction it was going to go in. I remember talking with Chris and Sam shortly after that happened, and we had such a great conversation. And they assured me that we weren’t going to solve racism in one season of television but that they were truly interested in having the conversation on screen in front of the audience. And as we can see from what actually happened, that came through. And so, as Bellamy said, it’s an honor to be a part of a show that can do the funny, can do the big, but can also keep it real and grounded, which is a testament not only to the writing but to the folks that we see in these boxes right here that you get to go to work with every day, who come ready to play their A game.”

Zeta-Jones added, “And kudos to FOX because they do something that is very, very important to us as actors who are in front of the camera. This show has a fantastic diversity behind the camera. Our crew represents all of us, you know, women, race, everything, and that’s really nice to be walking onto a set where it represents us all. I mean, people from other countries coming in are working full focus on, first of all, doing good work but being gracious and respectful to everybody else who is making the show work. So, I really noticed that when I first walked onto the PRODIGAL SON set.”

The next question was, “Hey, Chris and Sam, I have a question for you regarding Dani and Malcolm’s relationship, which was heavily teased in the dream episode, but we did not get the reality of that played out. But we heard Dani pick up on his flirting with her and talking about how pretty she is in a recent episode. So, I want to know where the future of that is. And I’m going to get into a second question, which is, when are we going to replace the LeMans?”

This led to some funny answers. Fedak replied, “The LeMans? We destroyed the LeMans in Episode 13 last season, if I’m not mistaken.”

Sklaver confirmed, “The LeMans will not be coming back, but the car that Jessica destroyed will actually be making a resurgence very soon. I think there’s a nice ‘Gil working under the hood of the car’ scene that also involves Jessica, no double entendre there. ”

Lou Diamond Phillips pointed out, “I just said, ‘No Whitleys are supposed to get near my car.'”

“Don’t let them,” said Frank Harts.

Sklaver continued: “That’s the rule. But I don’t know with Bright and Dani. How do you keep those two apart? Right, Chris? They are just so much fun on screen. I don’t know what to say.”

Fedak continued, seriously: “It’s unfortunate when you have someone with such great chemistry. And we have such an amazing cast. It’s, like, there’s obviously something there. And I think the one thing from Episode 6 is we went into Bright’s subconscious. So, obviously, even, overtly, he might not be thinking this every day and every minute, but his mind is saying there’s a relationship there. There’s something percolating. So, we can’t it’s, like, we are really interested in exploring that, and we love all of the relationships on our show. And it’s something that, like, when you have a cast like this, you just want to, kind of, explore those relationships. And I think that’s also doubly so with the new relationship between Martin and Dr. Capshaw in the infirmary. It’s, like, we are working on episodes now where we are just seeing I don’t know if it’s the Welsh component or it’s just that they have incredible energy together, and it’s only going to go to really bad and really entertaining places.”

Sklaver brought Aurora into the conversation: “Aurora, I don’t know how it feels for you, but just watching the relationship between the two of you guys progress, it’s, like, we really do see you, kind of, like, become friends with this guy because, when you first meet him, it’s, like, ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ And we’ve been slowly building through all of this, which I love. It hasn’t been first to romance. It’s really been first to friendship. And Bright is a weird guy to be friends with, and he comes from a pretty weird family. I don’t know if, Aurora, you want to talk about it a little more, but it’s been magical for me to watch.”

Aurora answered, “Yeah. I agree that it’s been a really cool transition because it is very, like, human. Human nature, sometimes, right away, you are not into somebody as a person, and then, as time progresses, you learn more about them, more about their characteristics, who they really are. And I think that you guys did a really good job of making that transition really smooth and believable, and it’s really fun to play someone who is learning about somebody in an organic way.”

Fedak pointed out, “It is unfortunately, when you write someone kissing in a script this year, with COVID protocols, it does require a hazmat team. So, we do have to be careful in that regard.” Everyone on the screen was nodding their heads in agreement on this one.

Bellamy Young was asked, “Bellamy, we are seeing Jessica kind of take her narrative into her own hands this week. What can you tease about how that will play out for her and how empowering she might find it?”

Bellamy answered, “I think it will be a rocky road for Jess. You know, anytime you pack that many (inaudible) into one tiny little closet and you, like, pull the door open, an avalanche falls at you. There will be some sorting to be done. Ultimately, the truth always sets you free. Particularly the episode we are filming right now, it leads her into a very dark predicament. And I haven’t seen the scripts to follow; so, I can’t say for sure. I’m not being cagey, but I always believe, personally, that truth will get you out and get you free. So, if she can face what’s back there, then she can move forward.”

There was one last question, for Keiko: “We just got a look at her incredible fashion sense recently or at least in the episode. So, I just want to learn more about building this character, like, what are her hopes and dreams. Can we perhaps see a more Edrisa-centric episode in the future?”

Keiko answered, “Well, it’s interesting that you ask this question. We just finished an Edrisa-centric — I guess you could call it that — episode; what’s going to be 209, where Edrisa gets to do a lot of fun things. As far as, like, building this character, I have a lot of things that I want to do, and that I sent to Chris and Sam about my best wishes and biggest dreams for her, and I think I’m similar to Edrisa in that way, whether it’s realistic or not. Edrisa has a lot of hopes. So, we’ll just see how things unfold. But this last one that we got to play was very action packed. We get to meet some people outside of the precinct, outside friends of Edrisa.”

Sklaver said, jokingly, “Keiko sends us emails that I’m afraid to show my wife sometimes. I don’t know about these guys. She sends an email. There’s whips. She’s bound to do whatever. It’s the best. ”

Keiko looked at him as if to scold him, saying, “Sam.”

Zeta-Jones joined in the joking by adding, “Yeah. It changed the course of her career right there.”

Fedak added, “But as you can see, though, this is a very interactive cast. It’s, like, it’s us, and we work alongside we build this show with it’s like, with Halston last year, we were pretty much going, like, ‘We are heading in this direction. Awesome.’ We are going to put the knife in your hand at the end. So, it’s, like, we reach out, and that’s got to be that’s how you do a network TV show.”

Lou Diamond Phillips mentioned, “And I just want to jump in and say that Halston just kills me, so to speak, in the episode I directed, and we are just so thrilled because the relationship with Ainsley, that one is still up in the air. I think we are going to see some more stuff on that in the future. But Lou’s relationship with Halston is pretty wonderful, and I was so grateful for her help and for her enthusiasm throughout. I just wanted to toss that out there.”

Halston Sage was grateful, “Oh, I love you, Lou. That was so sweet. I feel the same way. It was amazing working together.”

MORE INFO:

PRODIGAL SON follows MALCOLM BRIGHT (Tom Payne), a criminal profiler with a rare talent for getting inside the minds of killers. He learned how they think because his father, DR. MARTIN WHITLY (Michael Sheen), was a notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon.” Now he’s using his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve their most puzzling murders. Bright’s team, led by his longtime mentor, NYPD Lieutenant GIL ARROYO (Lou Diamond Phillips), includes Detectives DANI POWELL (Aurora Perrineau), JT TARMEL (Frank Harts) and medical examiner DR. EDRISA TANAKA (Keiko Agena). Season Two picks up with Bright’s personal life in disarray after his sister AINSLEY’s (Halston Sage) shocking actions in the Season One finale. Now, he must “take care” of her and protect his mother JESSICA WHITLY (Bellamy Young) from a secret that could tear the family apart all over again. Meanwhile, Martin proves himself valuable in treating patients, after being assigned to infirmary duty by Claremont Psychiatric’s resident MD, DR. VIVIAN CAPSHAW (Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Chicago,” “Ocean’s 12,” “Traffic,” “Feud”), and seeks to deepen his relationship with Bright, his prodigal son, but forging this bond leads to shocking twists and revelations.

PRODIGAL SON is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and FOX Entertainment. Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver created the series, and are executive producers, showrunners and writers on the show. Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter also serve as executive producers.

ACADEMY AWARD AND TONY AWARD WINNER CATHERINE ZETA-JONES JOINS
FOX’S HIT DRAMA, “PRODIGAL SON,” FOR SEASON TWO

 

Zeta-Jones to Star Opposite Fellow Welsh Actor Michael Sheen,
As Claremont Psychiatric’s Resident MD, Dr. Vivian Capshaw

Season Two of PRODIGAL SON Premieres on a New Night,
Beginning Tuesday, January 12, on FOX

Academy Award, Tony Award and three-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago,” “Ocean’s 12,” “Traffic,” “Feud”) will join FOX’s hit drama, PRODIGAL SON, for Season Two of the series. Starring as a special guest star opposite fellow Welsh actor Michael Sheen, Zeta-Jones will appear in the latter half of the season as DR. VIVIAN CAPSHAW, Claremont Psychiatric’s resident MD. In Season Two, DR. MARTIN WHITLY (Sheen) is assigned to infirmary duty, and Dr. Capshaw (Zeta-Jones) revels in tasking “The Surgeon” to clean bedpans and mop the floor. But as Martin proves valuable in treating patients, Capshaw begins to see him in a new light…which is not a good thing.

“An extraordinary talent, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the perfect foil for the brilliant Michael Sheen,” said Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment, FOX Entertainment. “I can’t wait to see these two greats go head-to-head in a season that is bound to raise the bar set by an outstanding Season One.”

Season Two of PRODIGAL SON premieres on a new night, Tuesday, Jan. 12 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. PRODIGAL SON was the No. 1 new series last fall, averaging 9.3 million multi-platform viewers.

PRODIGAL SON follows MALCOLM BRIGHT (Tom Payne), a criminal profiler with a rare talent for getting inside the minds of killers. He learned how they think because his father, Martin Whitly, was a notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon.” Now he’s using his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve their most puzzling murders. Bright’s team, led by his longtime mentor, NYPD Lieutenant GIL ARROYO (Lou Diamond Phillips), includes Detectives DANI POWELL (Aurora Perrineau), JT TARMEL (Frank Harts) and medical examiner DR. EDRISATANAKA (Keiko Agena). Season Two picks up with Bright’s personal life in disarray after the shocking actions of his sister, AINSLEY (Halston Sage), in the Season One finale. Now, he must “take care” of her and protect his mother, JESSICA WHITLY (Bellamy Young), from a secret that could tear the family apart all over again! Further complicating matters, Martin seeks to deepen his relationship with Bright, his prodigal son, but forging this bond leads to shocking twists and revelations. Season Two guest stars include Christian Borle and Michael Potts.

Zeta-Jones is a multi-award-winning actress whose talents range from film to theater. She garnered an Academy Award for her portrayal of the scandalous “Velma Kelly,” in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical “Chicago.” She also was nominated for a Golden Globe and took home the Critics’ Choice Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. She won the Tony Award for Lead Actress in a Musical for her critically acclaimed Broadway debut as “Desirée Armfeldt” in Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.” Her other starring roles include Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 12,” “Side Effects,” and Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal,” opposite Tom Hanks. Zeta-Jones also starred with George Clooney in the Coen Brothers’ dark comedy, “Intolerable Cruelty.” She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of the wife of a drug-runner in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” Most recently, she starred in the telefilm “Cocaine Godmother,” based on the true-life story of the notorious drug lord Griselda Blanco. She first gained international recognition in the action-adventure film “The Mask of Zorro,” opposite Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. She then captivated audiences in “Entrapment,” opposite screen legend Sean Connery. Born in Wales, Zeta-Jones began her career on the stage in London and was then cast in the popular Yorkshire Television series, “The Darling Buds of May,” based on the novels of H.E. Bates. In 2010, she was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to the film industry and charity.

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Prodigal Son second season poster

Primetime TV Review: La Casa de Papel (AKA Money Heist)

TV Review!

La Casa de Papel on Netflix

La Casa de Papel” on Netflix – Review by Olivia 11/6/20

The most anticipated TV show, according to Netflix, is La Casa de Papel (AKA “Money Heist”)

When you’ve connected with someone on your favorite dating site and have spent some time developing the chemistry between you, the next step will always be making plans for meeting up for a proper date. Before that, it’s all about finding common ground to chat about – and flirting. Netflix is growing in popularity all the time, so focusing on the hottest shows is always a terrific icebreaker. The bonus is that this will provide the perfect agenda for that all-important first encounter. Gone are the days when singles would often consider rushing out to restaurants or movie theaters as their automatic first choice.  As the nights grow darker, a cozy night in front of Netflix, with refreshments to hand, is the perfect suggestion.

With a mind-boggling list of choices, the next question for consideration is which series to watch. How about La Casa de Papel (literally, “The House of Paper” but Netflix is calling it “Money Heist”)? This Spanish crime drama has become hugely popular, giving couples gripping plots, engaging characters, and captivating storylines that frequently flashback or jump in time.

The series completely captures the viewer’s attention. Each of us would like to be as fearless as Tokyo, to have a lot of backbone as Nairobi, or maybe even fall in love with someone like Denver. You could try to create your own story here.

Overview

Filmed on location in several places around the world, mainly Spain but also including Italy, Panama, and Thailand by the second series, the Money Heist (to give it its English title) is all about events unfolding around a daring bank job. Initially set in Madrid, the story commences when a mysterious individual who is known only as the Professor instigates a breathtaking plan to infiltrate the Royal Mint of Spain to steal over €2 billion. To that end, he recruits an elite team of eight criminals from disparate backgrounds. Plans go awry when they are forced to barricade themselves inside the building with 67 hostages, remaining here for 11 days to print the money while police forces surround them.

Characters

The Professor is the enigmatic main character, a criminal mastermind who comes up with a devious plan to pull off the world’s greatest-ever robbery, printing billions of euros right under the noses of the Spanish police inside the Royal Mint.

His team is called named after various cities. Tokyo is his first recruit (and sometime narrator), although the problem with her is that she is somewhat unreliable. Berlin, the older brother of the professor, his lieutenant, is a jewel thief who is also terminally ill. Rio is an enthusiastic young hacker. Nairobi is an expert counterfeiter who is also adept at melting gold.

Series 1

The action commences in the aftermath of a failed bank robbery. The female behind this (Tokyo) is saved from capture by The Professor, who then suggests she participates in his ambitious plan, the likes of which has never been seen before. We then jump to the beginning of an assault on the Royal Mint in Madrid, carried out by a team of eight robbers dressed in red jumpsuits, with Salvador Dali masks.

Events are directed by The Professor from a remote location, and throughout parts one and two of the first season the months of preparation are revealed in flashbacks as we see the countryside retreat where the gang makes their plans, without being allowed to share information about themselves, or engage in personal relationships. The aim is that this heist will be carried out cleanly, without bloodshed.

From the get-go, events are plagued by difficulties as the robbers fail to stick to The Professor’s rules, hindered by uncooperative hostages. Mutiny also festers within the group.

Series 2

Commencing three years after the assault, we follow the lives of the eight they have built in different locations. The cat and mouse game between Europol and the gang continues when one member, Rio, is captured. The Professor decides to attack the Bank of Spain to give him leverage in persuading the police to release Rio unharmed. There are various other plot twists involving double-crossing, the complicated personal relationships within the group, and members being targeted by police snipers.

Conclusion

Overall, this is the perfect Netflix series to captivate you and your partner as you enjoy your leisure time and get to know each other better. The combination of the initial premise (a spectacular and ambitious bank heist the likes of which has never been seen before) and the intriguing and fully-realized characters, makes for an emotional journey.

You are never too sure what is going to happen next, guaranteeing edge-of-the-seat viewing, while the flashback and jump-forwards mean that the story can spiral off into interesting new twists just when you are least expecting this.

MORE INFORMATION:

From Wikipedia: Money Heist (Spanish: La casa de papel, “The House of Paper”) is a Spanish heist crime drama television series created by Álex Pina. The series traces two long-prepared heists led by the Professor (Álvaro Morte), one on the Royal Mint of Spain, and one on the Bank of Spain. The series was initially intended as a limited series to be told in two parts. It had its original run of 15 episodes on Spanish network Antena 3 from 2 May 2017 through 23 November 2017. Netflix acquired global streaming rights in late 2017. It re-cut the series into 22 shorter episodes and released them worldwide, beginning with the first part on 20 December 2017, followed by the second part on 6 April 2018. In April 2018, Netflix renewed the series with a significantly increased budget for 16 new episodes total. Part 3, with eight episodes, was released on 19 July 2019. Part 4, also with eight episodes, was released on 3 April 2020. A documentary involving the producers and the cast premiered on Netflix the same day, titled Money Heist: The Phenomenon (Spanish: La casa de papel: El Fenómeno). In July 2020, Netflix renewed the show for a fifth and final part.

The series was filmed in Madrid, Spain. Significant portions of part 3 and 4 were also filmed in Panama, Thailand, and Italy (Florence). The narrative is told in a real-time-like fashion and relies on flashbacks, time-jumps, hidden character motivations, and an unreliable narrator for complexity. The series subverts the heist genre by being told from the perspective of a woman, Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó), and having a strong Spanish identity, where emotional dynamics offset the perfect strategic crime.

The series received several awards including best drama series at the 46th International Emmy Awards, as well as critical acclaim for its sophisticated plot, interpersonal dramas, direction, and for trying to innovate Spanish television. The Italian anti-fascist song “Bella ciao,” which plays multiple times throughout the series, became a summer hit across Europe in 2018. By 2018, the series was the most-watched non-English language series and one of the most-watched series overall on Netflix, with a particular resonance coming from viewers from Mediterranean Europe and the Latin American world.

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La Casa de Papel