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ABC (ended 2006)

Let's start a discussion on Lurie's commentary on the pilot on the DVD

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    [1]Sep 26, 2006
    • member since: 08/12/05
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    • rank: Weatherman
    • posts: 17
    On Disc 4 in Part 2 of the DVD set, Rod Lurie
    does a commentary on the pilot. I watched it for the first time a few
    days ago. Here’s my take on it. I’m basing what I’m writing on memory:
    no, I can’t provide you with a link. Most importantly, what do you
    Anyway, here’s my little commentary.

    LURIE: “The first I went to was, in fact, Geena Davis.”

    ME: I read several times a year ago that his first choice was Joan
    Allen, that he was desperate to have his star from “The Contender” as
    the star. That’s why he named the character after her (Allen) when he
    couldn’t get her. This is one of a few times during this commentary
    that he seemed to be saying what was not true, but rather what he
    thought the audience wanted to hear.

    LURIE: Geena was under contract with another studio and another
    network and couldn’t even speak to us…well, she was under contract
    somewhere else, and that was that.

    ME: It was public knowledge in early 2005 that that network was
    CBS. CBS was supposed to be developing a TV series for her to star in,
    and it was listed as “Untitled Geena Davis Project” on IMDB. The
    message board for “Untitled Geena Davis Project” later became the
    message board for “Commander in Chief.” Anyway, just think: if that
    contract with CBS had worked out, Geena wouldn’t have ended up playing
    the first female president, but she’d most likely be playing some
    strong female character on a CBS series (a detective or cop or lawyer
    perhaps - something like Mariska Hargitay’s character). That series
    would now be in its second season (and we’d get to enjoy it), because
    CBS actually stands by and supports its series (unlike ABC) and renewed
    most of them from last year. If the CiC TV movie or any new episodes
    they make fail to get the ratings they need and CiC gets completely
    scrapped, Geena should have no problem entering a similar contract to
    the one she was under in early 2005 for the following reasons:

    1. Geena’s good friend/college roommate is CBS president Nina Tassler.

    2. She won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for CiC this past year.

    3. She has gained new popularity because of CiC

    4. She’s well respected because of CiC

    5. The networks (and most people who follow TV) know that it’s not
    HER fault that CiC failed and was canceled. Rather it was ABC’s fault,
    due to mismanagement. They know they can make a hit with her name
    attached to a series, because CiC was a hit in the beginning.

    I predict that if CiC fails to be relaunched in series form, Geena
    will be attached to a new project very shortly after that happens.

    LURIE: I’m gonna let you in on a secret. Matt Lanter, who plays
    Horace there, he was not her son in the original pilot. We had another
    young man, a very fine young actor. I won’t mention his name of course.

    That was Andrew James Allen. Various websites, including IMDB, confirmed that he was the original Horace.

    (Regarding the Nigerian woman in the pilot) Some people have
    accused me and the show of having some level of simplicity, but
    simplicity is actually pretty important, I think, as the show was
    launched. You know, I wanted Mackenzie Allen to be an absolute
    categorical hero. You know, a little bit like when I was a youth I used
    to love watching ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ and pretending
    to be them, right? And, you know, Jerry Seinfeld once said that when we
    pretended to be those guys, that was not fantasies – those were options
    when we were kids. And I want young girls to look at Mackenzie Allen
    and say, “I wanna be her.” And so for the very first few episodes, I
    didn’t want there to be too many shadings. In other words, I didn’t
    want to see too much darkness from her. In fact, the darkness would
    really have to come from her family life, from her alter ego: the
    mother, the wife. Just like when we saw problems with those
    superheroes, they really existed more when they were Bruce Wayne or
    Peter Parker or Clark Kent. So really, you know, Mackenzie Allen was
    meant to be some sort of superwoman, and you know, we were criticized a
    little bit for that, but you know what? That’s what America wanted to
    see, and that’s what I wanted America to see. I wanted America to
    accept her as a president, to be comfortable with her as a president
    before we started getting into the dark stuff, before we got into the
    world of her making decisions that were based on her, say,
    electability, or decisions that were based on her ego, or decisions
    that were based on her doing something for maybe the wrong reasons.
    That darkness would come in later. Maybe it would even come in in the
    second season.

    ME: This is one of a few instances where he seemed to be making
    excuses for what the show was criticized for. I don’t care what the
    original intention was or what your motives were for doing it. All I
    care is that you give the American viewing public what they want, so
    that they will tune in, so that the show will get high ratings, so that
    the series gets renewed, so that I get to see my favorite actress of 14
    years, Geena Davis, on iTunes once a week for the next several years.
    If something as crazy or farfetched as dressing the actors in green
    hats and pink polka-dot suits is what it takes to get the American
    public to watch this show, then so be it. Do it.

    LURIE: A lot of people have said that ‘Commander in Chief’ was
    really some sort of a Trojan horse for Hillary Clinton…that’s complete
    nonsense. I’m not even that big a fan of Hillary Clinton. I would love
    to see a female president. I think it’s important that we have a female
    president. I might very well vote for somebody just because she is a
    woman, in order that we may start the dominoes falling on females
    having an opportunity to become President of the United States.
    ME: Ditto on the excuses, but he makes an interesting point about
    not being a big fan of Hillary and voting for someone just because
    she’s a woman.

    (Regarding Donald Sutherland’s role as Nathan Templeton) We
    were really holding out for some sort of movie actor who had never done
    television before, again, to give some oomph to the show as it was
    being launched, and that’s where we thought we would find our best
    actor. My producing partner, Mark Frydman, came up with the idea of
    Donald Sutherland. And we all said, “Well, he’s never done one episode
    of television, ever.”

    ME: According to IMDB, he was in a lot of TV episodes in the 60s.

    LURIE: Donald told me that he would play the role, but he would
    play it only for one year, because he didn’t think he could play a
    Republican for 5 or 6 years. He even said things like, “Look, I’m at
    the end of my life.” He was really morose about it, I think, sort of in
    a playful way. And he didn’t want to go off necessarily this way. He
    didn’t know that he had the stomach to play this guy for that many
    years. Well, that’s what happens on TV. You know, you make a contract
    for 5 or 6 years, which is the real reason, I think, why we don’t see
    more movie actors on TV. It’s not that they think it’s a diminishment
    of their stature, just that they don’t want to commit like that. Well,
    I don’t want to say necessarily what we did. I don’t think I’m allowed
    to, but we were able to work out something special with Donald where he
    agreed to play the role.

    ME: This surprised me, because it indicates that they could really
    do away with the character of Nathan Templeton after Mac beats him in
    the election. He’ll disappear into oblivion, just like real-life losing
    Presidential candidates. There isn’t the possibility that the show
    could take the direction of Nathan winning the election, as a few
    people on IMDB have suggested. This is disappointing, because I thought
    Nathan was one of the best characters, and if they do relaunch the
    series from the TV movie, I’ll be sad to see him go. Lurie seemed to be
    telling those who like Nathan Templeton to buy the first season on DVD
    and tune in to the TV movie and new episodes and enjoy them for what
    they’re worth, because Nathan will soon be gone.

    LURIE: By the way, the character Rod here is obviously gonna be
    very emasculated as those of you who’ve seen the show know, and that’s
    my first name, obviously, and I lost a poker bet where I had to name
    the emasculated husband after myself. You know, my three tens didn’t
    hold up against a straight. So, here I am.

    ME: Wow. For the past year everyone’s been saying that he named the
    First Gentleman after himself because he’s such an egomaniac. He must
    have been addressing this with that comment. Has anyone else heard this
    poker story before? It’s the first time I’ve heard it, and for that
    reason I suspect it might not be entirely true. Correct me if I’m
    wrong, though. Was he just making this up for the commentary to make it
    look like he doesn’t have a huge ego? It’s surprising that he has such
    a negative attitude towards the character of Rod Calloway.

    LURIE: That’s what the show is really about. It’s about family and
    conflict. You know, it’s not necessarily about the issues that a
    President faces. West Wing has done that very beautifully. We don’t
    need to compete there.

    ME: Ditto my rant about excuses and “I don’t care what the original
    intention was or what your motives were for doing it. All I care is….”

    LURIE: It is a show that is deep, deep in all of our hearts. Most
    of us who’ve worked on it probably will never work on anything as
    important ever again. You know, I love it, I love the show, and I thank
    you guys for watching.

    ME: I noticed this in the interview with Geena on the DVD: they
    both spoke as though CiC was finished, and it’s time to move on to
    other projects, and the TV movie isn’t a possibility. That irked me.
    Edited on 09/26/2006 2:22am
    Edited 2 total times.
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