Netflix TCA Panel Recap: Jamie Dornan Is Not a Sadist, Ellie Kemper’s a Modern Day Mary Tyler Moore, Ben Mendelsohn’s a Dangerous Man, and Other Highlights

     January 7, 2015

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Earlier today Netflix presented a series of panels at the TCA Winter Press tour to highlight some of their upcoming programming.  Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos opened the day with a number of announcements before the casts and creators of The Fall, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Bloodline took the stage to talk about their shows.

Among those in attendance were Tina Fey, Ellie Kemper, Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Sam Shepard, Kyle Chandler, and Sissy Spacek.  Find out what we learned about Netflix’s upcoming slate after the jump.

Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, Kicked off the presentation with a slew of announcements including a second season renewal for Marco Polo and a number of upcomming premiere dates, which included the first of their Marvel projects, Daredevil:

He then opened the floor to questions. I’ve summed up the highlights for you below

  • jessica-jones-netflix-marvelWe won’t necessarily see Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones in 2015.  On the subject of future Marvel projects Sarandos declined to say specifically when we should expect A.K.A. Jessica Jones, but generally speaking the Marvel shows will debut approximately a year apart.  While the show has a proposed 2015 premiere date he emphasized that they “want to give them enough room and enough time to make a great show…but you should expect them about a year apart.”
  • Netflix won’t be revealing their viewership numbers any time soon, and it’s not because they’re hiding anything.  Naturally the ever mysterious Netflix numbers were foremost on the crowd’s mind, and once again Sarandos was quick to shut down reporters’ complaints on the network’s secrecy and emphasized that they’re going to stay away from reporting those numbers as long as they can.  “The biggest [reason] is that most of the business reasons why you would publish ratings is you would use it to justify ad rates and we don’t sell advertising, and you might use it to justify carriage fees to cable operators and we don’t have those relationships with cable operators.  So there’s no real business reason for us to internally or externally report those numbers.”  When a reporter speculated that Netflix might hesitant to release their data because of low viewership Sarandos replied sardonically, “I think you know better than that.  You don’t have shows that penetrate the culture at the level these shows have without having a lot of people watching them.”
  • We’re probably going to see more Arrested Development at some point.  Sarandos is “very optimistic” about the prospect of more episodes and the biggest obstacle is scheduling the show’s extremely popular cast.  “As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly complicated show to do considering how busy the entire cast is, trying arrested-development-season-4-david-cross-jason-batemanto line up schedules and trying to line up the talent to do it.  Everyone is trying to to make it happen and we’re trying to make it happen on a time schedule that works for everybody.”  He declined to comment on if there was an existing storyline.
  • Netflix wants to make films on a major studio level.  On the subject of Netflix’s collaboration with Adam Sandler and their transition into feature films, Sarandos said, “Our intention here is that these are to be the movies that would be similar to the movies you would see in the theater.  So this is not a TV movie strategy or an art house movie strategy.”
  • The Pee-wee Herman project is not going to be a sequel or reboot, but a “new adventure”.  Sarandos expressed Netflix’s enthusiasm for Judd Apatow’s involvement in the project saying, “ It’s based on the same material, of course, but what we’re very excited about is not just the Pee‐wee character, but also Judd Apatow and what he’s going to bring to this with his own unique stamp.  He’s a super fan of Pee‐wee and has been intimately involved in developing the script and developing the project, and it will be every bit a Judd Apatow project.
  • Think of Netflix as opportunistic resurrectionists.  While Netflix recently made it clear that they’re not in the resurrection business, Sarandos clarified the companies MO a bit while talking about Longmire.  “I think you should think about it as opportunistic.”  He continued, “There are times that we can uniquely and efficiently aggregate audience for a show sometimes even more effectively than its originating network, where they represent a certain area of programming that we don’t have enough of on Netflix.  Longmire is a good example of that, where the show had a very loyal, strong base..” So what makes a show worthy of a Netflix resurrection?  Basically exactly what you’d expect, there has to be an audience that will watch it.  Sarandos said they ask themeselves, “Does the show have an enduring audience? Are people anxious for it to come back?”
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 is in post-production with a planned August release date. 
  • Sarandos declined to comment on Wet Hot American SummerLilyhammer, and Netflix’s decision not to pick up The Interview

 The Fall

Next up Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, and series creator Allan Cubitt took the stage to talk about season two of The Fall, premiering on Netflix January 16th.

  • Jamie Dornan is not a sadist.  Despite his dual roles playing one, first as serial killer Paul Spector on The Fall and next up as the BDSM connoisseur Christian Grey in the highly-anticipated 50 Shades of Grey adaptation, Dornan spoke about the difficulties of filming his intense scenes depicting violence against women, saying he relies on apologies and professionalism to get through them.  “If I’m doing something particularly heinous to an actress, I will apologize in advance and say that, you know, ‘I’m probably not going to derive a huge amount of pleasure out of this.  I want you to know that.  I  hope it all works on screen and it makes sense and it’s all there, but it doesn’t come easy to me.'”
  • the-fall-jamie-dornanWe were almost subjected to an American remake.  There was interest for an American remake of The Fall, but the deal fell through.  And thank goodness for that, but it seems we’re not yet out of the clear as Cubitt followed up by saying, “I think there’s probably still sort of interest out there.  I think maybe after the second season, there might be more.”
  • Stella Gibson was written with Gillian Anderson in mind.   According to Cubitt she was always first choice in the role, and they met after he’d written the first three episodes of the series, so everything from there out was written specifically for her.
  • The Fall was originally envisioned as a twelve episode arc.  Cubitt did not go into the show expecting two seasons, rather he hoped to tell the story in a single twelve episode arc.  When he found out there was only going to be a five episode first season, he left the series on a cliffhanger hoping to get renewed.
  • Gillian Anderson prefers working on British TV.  While she didn’t say as much outright, she made her thoughts very clear on the differences between working on British and American television, saying that British TV “feels more human being‐to‐human being and, I would have to say, to be honest, more respect – a great deal more respect.  I think there’s a lot of - there’s a little bit of cattle‐ranching over here. And that’s certainly been my experience.  And it’s a shame because it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Series creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock joined castmembers Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, and Tituss Burgess to talk about the upcoming Netflix comedy.

  • Season two might get a little more risque, but don’t expect a major tonal shift. Unbreakable Kimmy Scmidt was originally created for a broadcast network and is appropriately tame, so knowing that they’re bringing a second season to Netflix, Fey mused that they might incorporate swearing and joked that “season 2 is going to be mostly shower sex.”  Realistically, the show will remain in the same tone and Carlock later commented that they would likely have written the show exactly the same, even if they knew they were writing it for Netflix from the beginning.
  • ellie-kemper-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidtThere’s no bad blood over NBC’s decision to pass on the show.  Carlock explained how it all went down.  “We were just having conversations with NBC about scheduling, and about where we could go and where they could launch us, and it was just a really honest and productive conversation we were having with them about the larger landscape of comedy right now.  And we just said, ‘Could we explore other options?  [They] were just completely supportive of finding the best place for it to live.  It was really kind of an amazing thing.”  Fey agreed and added that “the show is made by NBC, it’s in NBC’s best interests for the show to have its best home.  And rather than trying to stick it on NBC between a multicam and a drama, they agreed that this would be the right place for it.”  She later went on to add that the show would have been on NBC if the Netflix deal didn’t come together.
  • Kimmy Schmidt was created specifically for Ellie Kemper as an attempt to do “Mary Tyler Moore in a new way”.  Carlock explained, “We were fans of hers for a long time.  I liked her face on camera, and Tina and I sat down and sort of reverse‐engineered from her.  There is this wonderful, I think, combination of strength and openness that she projects that’s rare.”
  • There will be A-list cameos on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a la 30 Rock, but Tina Fey isn’t about to spoil them for you.  After declining to name any she quipped, ” but March 6th, you’ll see them all the same night.”

Bloodline

For Netflix’s final panel of the day Sam Shepard, Ben Mendelsohn, Kyle Chandler, Sissy SpacekLinda Cardellini, and Norbert Leo Butz took the stage alongside series creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler to talk about the new family drama Bloodline.

  • Daniel Zelman and The Kesslers created Bloodline specifically for the Neflix model.  Todd Kessler noted that the show recieved a direct-to-series order, so they knew from the start that they would have thirteen episodes to tell the first season.  Glenn Kessler said it’s a thrill to write for “an audience is engaged, to know that you can tell densely sophisticated story and character nuance and story nuance, and that people are hungry to absorb as much of what they’re seeing as they can.”  The show is written knowing that audiences will watch the episodes quickly and in order.
  • bloodline-ben-mendelsohn-linda-cardelliniDon’t expect a Damages redux.  Zelman was very clear that they wanted to do something different with Bloodline, “This isn’t the same as Damages.  It doesn’t operate the same way.  We are trying different things, and we wanted to make it feel like a new challenge for us.”  They also explained that if Damages was about their experience in the professional world, Bloodline is about their experience with family.
  • Consider Florida a supporting character in the show.  When asked why they chose Florida as the setting Zelman explained they “wanted to put something on television that isn’t on television, a visual landscape that you can’t see anywhere else.”  He added that the “island nature” and “small world” feel lend to the thriller aspect of the story where the family is well known within their community and can’t hide from their past.
  • Ben Mendelsohn is a dangerous man.  Or at least his character is.  When asked if he was playing a dangerous guy Mendelsohn replied, “I think, in the setup that’s going on in this family, yeah, he’s dangerous.  Yeah, he’s their dynamite, I think, and he’s an unstable dynamite.”  When asked if he, himself, was dangerous Mendelsohn replied succinctly, “In context.”
  • Sissey Spacek said she feels television is now on the level of film in terms of appeal and that for she was interested in Bloodline because she’s ” a fool for a good story.”  She went on to speak about being new to the serialized format.  “I’m like a kindergartener.  Some of the people on this panel have done this before, and I was a real newbie, so I was trying to figure out what in my film history prepared me for this.  It’s been exciting and it’s been challenging.”

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