Tag Archives: The Big C

New Major Name to Join ‘The Big C’ in Season of Bargaining

Laura Linney Showtime photo by Ken Regan

Sounds like Laura Linney’s “The Big C” will have another attention-getting attribute in its new season that launches April 8.  According to Executive Producer Jenny Bicks, the “Big C” team is awaiting word any minute from a major name likely to come aboard the Showtime dramedy in which Linney plays a woman dealing with cancer.  They go back into production this week.

This year, Linney’s Cathy Jamison will be at the Bargaining stage of response to her illness.  “It’s going to be all about Cathy looking for joy and really kind of embracing life.  She’s been through a lot last season with Paul,” says Bicks, referring to Linney’s series husband Oliver Platt, last seen being worked on by EMTs and flatlining after ingesting cocaine.  (Series creator Darlene Hunt refused to confirm that the character died, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Paul will be back, some way, in Season 3.)

Jenny Bicks

“She’s going to get a better prognosis, so she’s going to feel for the first time like, ‘Maybe I have more time, and what the hell now am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ — which becomes a whole separate issue,” says Bicks.  “So, she’s really going to go after what makes her happy and she’s going to come in contact with a joyologist, which is a real term, who is going to kind of be her mentor.”

That’s the role in which they’re expecting their exciting name star.  Cathy will “get together with this woman and go on a journey and do some crazy things outside her box,” according to Bicks.

Will this season finally put the critically-hailed, top-talent-filled series over the top in terms of popularity and recognition?  “I think we’d all like to think that, especially because of where we’re going to be airing this year,” says Bicks, referring to their first springtime seasonal launch.  “We’re going to get a lot of viewers who’ve never even seen the show on televsion.  A lot of people catch up on DVDs.”

Then there’s the fact that Laura Linney, Emmy nominated for her work on the show last year, was up for Golden Globe honors this month as well.  And costar John Benjamin Hickey, who won a Tony for The Normal Heart last year, is also being increasingly recognized for his portrayal of Linney’s bipolar brother, Sean.  Says Bicks, “I feel that people are starting to take in this show that we love and it can only be bigger because of that.”

John Benjamin Hickey Showtime photo

AND:  Speaking of Hickey and his Sean character, Bicks reveals that this year, he’s going to have “a gay phone sex line.  What?!  What?!  How does that happen?”  She laughs.  “He inherits a phone number from somebody whose phone has been cut off and he ends up with this enterprise, and it turns out that he actually has quite a knack for phone sex, so he’s going to kind of go back on the grid and make some good money, and because of that have some very interesting relationships in his life.  He’s going to have a lot of fun.”

John Benjamin Hickey: ‘The Big C’ to End Season With ‘Shockers’

John Benjamin Hickey Showtime photo

“The Big C” has its second season finale Monday (9/26) — with a third season already guaranteed for the acclaimed, risk-taking dramedy that stars Laura Linney as cancer patient Cathy.  They’re winding on a note of tragedy and of hope, with the latest episode (SPOILER — SKIP TO NEXT GRAPH IF YOU’VE YET TO SEE THE SEPT. 19 EPISODE) having included the death of Cathy’s beloved Lee (Hugh Dancy) and the return of her bipolar brother Shawn (John Benjamin Hickey). 

“I can’t say what’s coming at the end.  There are shockers,” Hickey tells us.  “And it’s too early to be meditating on what is in store for Cathy and her merry band of dysfunctional family members in Season 3.”  He does admit, however, that considering its weighty storylines, “There’s a real challenge ahead in the next year or two in keeping the funny.”

Hickey’s certainly had his share of laugh-inducing moments.  “It’s been such a blast to play a character as original and as unexpected as Shawn,” he says.  “I’ve heard from a lot of bipolar people and their families, and the thing I get so much is that they love that he’s a funny character.  His illness is very real and very, very serious and causes a lot of problems and concerns.  But this is a show that dares to have a sense of humor about disease and tries to find the funny in the human condition.” 

Hickey is also amused by the fact that “though it’s born out of his illness and instability, lot of what Shawn espouses — about veganism and environmental problems, for instance — isn’t so crazy after all.  He makes a lot of sense.  And he is weirdly, deeply moral.  In many ways, he’s a very conventional guy, but he’s got this wildly unconventional way he lives his life.  I love that contradictory aspect of him.

“As the series progresses, if we get to do a couple more years, I hope Shawn finds the right kind of medication that allows him to function and be the kind of brother he wants to be to his sister — who is his lifeline, his tether to the world.”

Hickey, as himself

Hickey still sounds surprised about having even made it through the season’s production — since he was performing eight shows a week on Broadway in The Normal Heart while shooting the Showtime series.

“It was a crazy confluence of events that made it the exact same time.  I’d be shooting all day, get in that van or train and get back, jump in the shower and then make it on stage by eight o’clock every night,” he recalls.  “Laura, who has known me forever, said, ‘You have no idea how your exhaustion is feeding you.’  There’s no time to think.  I believe there’s something to that — when you have less time to consider your options, you can only perform.”

Obviously, Hickey did something right, since he wound up winning a Tony for his work in the play this past June.  He should have been nominated for an Emmy as well.  Maybe next year.  In fact, the series warrants more Emmy love than it got — with no writing nods and nominee Linney going home empty-handed.

But Emmy night was certainly not a complete loss for Hickey, who was also on hand to cheer on his life partner, Jeffrey Richman.  Richman and Steve Levitan won writing Emmys for their “Caught in the Act” script for “Modern Family.”

“Emmys are so much bigger than Tonys.  I may have to put my Tony on a platform,” says the actor with a laugh.

Parker Posey Sad About ‘Painful’ Shape of Indie Film World, Happy About Dishy Role on ‘The Big C’

Parker Posey

 Parker Posey, who gained the title “Queen of the Indies” through her string of popular independent features in the ’90s (“Personal Velocity,” “Best in Show,”
etc.), finds what’s going on in the indie film world today “really hard” and
“really painful.”

That would include moviemaker John Waters’ decision to pull the plug on his
planned “Fruitcake” flick, to which Posey was attached, and his declaration last year that in this economy he was “going to have to do a puppet show.”

“I don’t want to lose the small stories that these independent directors create,” Posey says. “There are so many writers and directors out there who see things that would inspire and enlighten people about what it is to be a human being.”

She did make the forthcoming “Price Check” indie comedy in January, but, she says, “I felt sad at the end of each day. I had a great time working on it — but I couldn’t help thinking, ‘If this was the ’70s, it would be a real budget, and they’d have more than three weeks to do it.’ A lot of movies that get made get thrown together because they’re a certain genre. That’s where we are now.

“I feel like it’s come full circle: [Independent] movies are going back to the
low budget world, but the budgets are even smaller because of digital cameras.
The market is so oversaturated now. Anyone who thought they had something to say could go out and make a movie. But a lot of them didn’t have something to say, and their films aren’t interesting.”

But Posey herself has a lot of interesting things coming up, with projects
including the big-screen “Inside Out” and “Hemingway & Gellhorn.”  She’ll be
showing up starting Monday (Aug. 22) on Laura Linney’s brilliant “The Big C”
Showtime series. Linney’s character’s teenage son (Gabriel Basso) makes a new
friend online, in a chat space for kids of parents who have cancer. She turns
out to be a full-grown woman — Posey — who dresses, talks and acts like a
teenage slacker.

“Poppy is not your average girl next door,” Posey says of her character. “She’s
got some issues. I like her. She’s got a big heart — and she’s got a lot that
she’s covering up that comes out. I think she’s stuck at the age of 15. I want
to be like her when I’m 70 and still have all that youthful energy and sense of
play. It’s like Ruth Gordon in ‘Harold & Maude.’ I love that. Everybody’s got
their pain and sadness. How do we keep alive? How do we keep going?”

Posey says she happened to run into Laura Linney (who has a well-deserved Emmy nomination for her performance on “The Big C” as maverick cancer patient Cathy) on the streets of New York City one winter day.

“It was, you know, two New York actors, all bundled up in the cold, talking,”
Posey recalls. “I told her I’m a fan of the show, and she said, ‘You should come
on some time.'”

Not long afterward, the “Big C” producers were wondering who to cast for the
character of Poppy, and the idea of getting someone like Parker Posey came up.  “Then they said, ‘Why not get her?'”