Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Political Animals: Greg Berlanti on the Clintons, Fiction, and More"

I talk with creator Greg Berlanti about Political Animals, which begins Sunday, about whether his characters are analogs for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and more.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Political Animals: Greg Berlanti on the Clintons, Fiction, and More," in which I talk to Berlanti about USA's new soapy political drama, whether Sigourney Weaver's Elaine Barrish and Ciaran Hinds' Bud Hammond are stand-ins for Hillary and Bill Clinton, the future of the show, and more.

It’s difficult to avoid the Bill and Hillary Clinton comparisons in Political Animals, USA’s ambitious and soapy six-episode miniseries, which begins Sunday.

Created by Greg Berlanti (Everwood), the limited-run series’ plot revolves around Sigourney Weaver’s Elaine Barrish, a former first lady who becomes the U.S. Secretary of State after a failed presidential bid, and a highly public sex scandal involving her husband, Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds). Sound familiar?

“I’m not being coy about it,” said Berlanti, over breakfast at a West Hollywood cafĂ©. “There is no doubt that Elaine’s ex-husband was the president. Those are similarities that I don’t pretend don’t exist.” But Elaine, Berlanti said, is drawn as much from Madeleine Albright as she is the former real-life first lady.

“For Bud, there is more LBJ in there,” he said of how the character deviates from the Bill Clinton model. “There is a big difference between them, even though they were both Southern Democrats. One was an academic who wore that on his sleeve; LBJ was not. He got people and he altered between being incredibly intimidating and using that intimidation and being very jocular … and he had a real, almost tragic dark side that we’re able to explore with this character as we go on.”

In fact, there’s an ambient darkness to many of the Hammond clan members throughout Political Animals, embodied by Ellen Burstyn as Elaine’s mother Margaret, and the twins, Thomas and T.J., played respectively by James Wolk and Sebastian Stan. Inasmuch as the miniseries is about “political machinations,” it’s also about the how our pasts do and don’t define our destinies—for both the Hammond clan and for a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Susan Berg (Carla Gugino), who covered the dissolution of their marriage—and flashbacks in each of the episodes to the Hammonds’ glory days underscore this further.

There is a strong sense within the show of what Berlanti calls “the halcyon days of when things were great, what the Hammonds kind of represent: weren’t we this great country in the ‘90s?” But in the Hammonds, it’s clear that both the country and the family that once served at its center, have fallen on hard times.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,