Tag Archives: Showtime

Things are Getting Even More ‘Shameless’ for Steve Howey

howeyWith Season 6 of “Shameless” just launched, the wild Showtime show’s Steve Howey predicts that “fans are going to love it or hate it — which I think is great. There’s something about art — you either love it or hate it. When something is mediocre, People say, ‘Yeah, that’s fine,’” he says with a shrug.

Things are definitely not middle of the road when it comes to the storyline heating up between Steve’s bartender character, Kev, Kev’s wife Veronica (Shanola Hampton), and their Russian prostitute neighbor, Svetlana (Isadora Goresher).  (Brace yourselves for the Jan. 24 episode.) “We’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Isadora is a great actress,” notes Howey.

As for himself, “I really like this season.  I think it’s some of my best work. The stuff I have to play in the Alibi Room I really enjoy. We have this threesome going with my wife and Svetlana — she moves in and then we have to trick the immigration services guy.  We all start dating each other and you think that’s going to be great, but…” complications ensue.

There were complaints over last season’s “Shameless,” that the show, about an impoverished and criminally inclined South Side Chicago family led by William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum, had gotten darker and less funny, and lost its heart.

Howey is quick to say “I think the writers this year have done a really good job of getting back to the core, the roots of what makes ‘Shameless’ what it was. It was less character driven and more story driven. The humor is a lot more this year.”

Still, “We have huge fan bases for different characters, and fans of specific characters aren’t going to like to see what happens — like Mickey (Noel Fisher), who is only in the first episode.”

As for the future of “Shameless”?

“I think we have one more year for sure,” Howey says. “Beyond that we get into other actors’ contracts and contract negotiations, I don’t know what Warner Brothers [which produces the show] and Showtime want to do. I have a feeling there are some actors who want it to go longer and others who just want to be done, but I would love for it to go on. It is so much fun you have no idea.

“Being an actor now, doing television for 14 years, this is like lightning in a bottle. The writing is so good, it’s really next level. And these are amazing actors to work with. There are times we annoy the @#!$ out of each other just like any family does, but with the dynamics put into place by John Wells, no one is in direct competition with each other. We’re just working toward a common goal and it’s really sweet.”

Right now, Steve and wife Sarah Shahi are focused on enjoying time together as a family unit with their six-year-old son and 10 month old twins. For six months last year, while he was busy shooting “Shameless” in Los Angeles and Chicago, his wife was in New York filming “Person of Interest,” he reports.

“She had the babies with her and I had our oldest son with me. So now that we’re all in the same city, we’re just kind of laying low. We were not happy to be separated that long. It was really sad.”

The one-time “Reba” costar was also up in San Francisco to make the forthcoming indie comedy “Unleashed” in which Kate Micucci plays an app designer whose pet dog and cat are transformed into men who want to date her. Howey’s the dog and fellow “Shameless” actor Justin Chatwin is the kitty.

Steve recalls, “I was l talking to one of my friends and I said, ‘I’m shooting a movie. I bleached my hair, I’m wearing a dog collar, and I’m running around naked.’ And he goes, ‘Are you really shooting a movie or are you living out a fantasy up there?’”

A line worthy of “Shameless,” for sure.

Lisa Kudrow Talks ‘Web Therapy’s’ Prescient Presentations

Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy” returns to the Showtime lineup July 2 for its second season — with a story arc in which Kip (Victor Garber), the closeted gay Republican husband of Lisa’s self-absorbed therapist character, Fiona, is running for congress.  Kip has gone through “reparative” therapy via a consultant — Meryl Streep — brought in by his political handlers.  If it all sounds particularly pointed in this election year, well, part of that is a coincidence, according to Lisa.
“We shot this so long ago, we didn’t know when Showtime was going to put it on,” she tells us.  “We didn’t know about Michelle Bachmann’s husband when we shot this,” she adds, referring to the congresswoman who formerly had a bid in for the Republican nomination — and whose therapist husband, Marcus, last year denied media reports that his clinic practiced the controversial “reparative” therapy meant to turn gay people straight. 
Streep shot her prescient episodes in 2010, in fact.  As Lisa acknowledges, “The timing is remarkable.” 
This coming season of the decidedly offbeat, mostly improvised show — in which Fiona conducts three-minute therapy sessions online via iChat — also features names including Conan O’Brien, Selma Blair, Minnie Driver, Molly Shannon, Alan Cumming, Lily Tomlin, and Lisa’s former “Friends” cast mate, David Schwimmer
His “Web Therapy” character might stun “Friends” fans, since he is different from the lovable Ross Geller — “very different,” stresses Lisa.  “He got so dark.  When Schwimmer makes a choice and a commitment, he goes all the way.”
She hopes “we’ll meet Fiona’s father.”  That would be the previously mentioned Christopher Walken?  Is he going to do that show?  “No,” she replies.  Then adds, “I’ll ask again.  Doing the Meryl Streep [episodes], I said I’d look more like Christopher Walken if he was my father.  It just came out.”  But her on-camera dad doesn’t have to be Walken.  As Lisa points out, “We have a long list of people who want to do the show that would really be fun.”
But first, Lisa is busy prepping the Season 2 episodes — which began life on the web — for their Showtime showing.  The first season of “Web Therapy” is just out on DVD. 
She has other projects in the works — a possible role in a big screen ensemble comedy, another film she might produce.  On the personal side, her son is now getting pretty grown up. 
“Yeah, that’s working out well,” she says lightly.  “He’s 14 and fantastic.” 
Any chance he’ll go into show business?      
“There’s a chance, yeah.  He does acting and improv and all that stuff.  But he might become a filmmaker.  He has a weird gift.  He knows how to shoot for exactly how he plans to edit.”

Josephina Lopez

THE PLAY’S THE THING:  Renowned playwright Josefina Lopez has been fielding inquiries about her Trio Los Machos comedic play with music that’s been winning kudos in its premiere engagement at East L.A.’s Casa 0101 Theater. 

“We’re considering making it into a film,” she tells us.  Her “Real Women Have Curves” certainly became a success onscreen, and helped launch America Ferrara into stardom. 
Trio Los Machos has to do with three old Latino musicians, together for 50-some years, who first came to the U.S. as braceros, then made it big with their hit songs.  Lopez tells us she happened to be receiving an award at Los Angeles’ City Hall one day when 100 former braceros were there as part of a class action suit against the U.S. government for promised wages never paid them.  Their stories captured her interest, especially since her own father was a bracero – a “guest worker” brought from Mexico to work in the United States during World War II.  Though he never spoke of his experience during her youth, when she talked to him about it later, it was heartbreaking “to hear the sadness in his voice as he talked about the humiliation he went through, being taken in the nude to be disinfected, being mistreated.”
Interestingly, Lopez chose to tell that story within the context of a comedy.  “I don’t like to write tragic drama,” she explains.  “People don’t come.”  Amid the humor, she says, she strives “to give characters dignity and show them trying their best.” 
Making plans for a “Trio Los Machos’ movie will have to wait.  Lopez has actually just started work on another movie – “Detained in the Desert” – that tackles “anti-immigrant laws.  Talk about being extremely timely!  It’s another project I’m passionate about,” she says.  Trio Los Machos runs ‘til July 8.
HELL-O:  Just in time for summer travel fun, Fox has decided to foist Gordon Ramsay’s “Hotel Hell” upon viewers with a two-night series premiere Aug. 13 and 14.  You may recall Ramsay talking about the disgusting things found in hotels — the icky realities of substances left behind that are revealed in black light searches of honeymoon suites, etc.  Here is a man used to the most luxurious of places, showing us bed bugs.  Does he feel like a split personality between his five star lifestyle and…this?  “Oh, I never get carried away,” he replies.  “I’m from a very humble background and a normal upbringing, so I’m very appreciative of everything I’ve worked for.”  That, he adds, makes him especially “frustrated to see what hotels charge and what they don’t offer.”

Sarandon Aimed to Avoid Health Guru Caricature on ‘Big C’

Susan Sarandon has been going from project to project to project over the last year or so, and says she was on the verge of taking a little work break when “The Big C” came her way. “I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do it until I read it, and knew what was going to happen at the end. That convinced me,” she tells us.

Sundays on the Showtime dark comedy, Sarandon’s self-help guru – Joy, the self-named and titled Joyologist — is a cancer survivor who leads others in finding their paths to true happiness via lectures, retreats, the gamut. Laura Linney’s and Oliver Platt’s characters fall under her charismatic spell.

“The only thing I was concerned about was making sure she was treated sincerely, you know?” notes the revered Oscar-winning actress. “I was trying to not be a caricature of those people that are in that business. And I think she really believes it, and you know, I felt she should actually help people even though other things happen later that maybe make you think of her in a different way. At least you start off, I think, believing she’s really sincere and has turned her cancer experience into something that is really positive, and that’s great.”

Speaking of positive, that’s the word she uses frequently to describe Linney – “just relentlessly positive and a total pro, of course, with a very welcome sense of humor.  Laura’s very special, she has a light and she’s trying to do something unique and funny and at the same time, a little dark.” Working on the show, she notes, “is a good excuse for us to stay in touch. You know, we kept running into each other. I’ve known her for years. But now I feel like I’m part of the family, and you take advantage of that as much as possible.”

Sarandon’s current string of films ranges from “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” now in release, to the upcoming “Arbitrage” with Richard Gere and Tim Roth, “The Company You Keep” with Robert Redford and Julie Christie, “Robot and Frank” with Frank Langella and Liv Tyler, and the sci-fi flick “Cloud Atlas,” in which she cross-dresses to play a man. However, the honesty-loving star is quick to point out that they are not large roles.

“I keep saying that they’re all — you need to put them all together and maybe you have two real films to my credit,” Sarandon says. “But I don’t mind going in almost like a temp and dealing with a certain problem that needs to be solved. And if the characters are fun and the company is inspiring, and they’re trying to do something different, I’m very happy to jump in for the ride.”

Gary Owen: Audiences Get Black-White Cultural Humor

It’s hectic time for comic Gary Owen, who’s been doing “Think Like a Man” movie promotion in-between dates as one of the headliners on the Shaquille O’Neal “All-Star Comedy Jam” tour — of which Gary is the newly-named host.  In fact, when the fourth CD of the “Shaq Tour,” as he calls it, is released toward the beginning of Fall, it’ll have Gary as emcee.  But first, there’s his “True Story” Showtime comedy special coming up this Spring.

The blond-haired, blue-eyed funnyman, who gets lots of comedy mileage out of racial mingling, tells us he has yet to encounter an audience that’s taken his jokes the wrong way.  “Sometimes I’m talking about race, but I’m not.  It’s not so much a racial thing, it’s a culture thing,” he says.  And he certainly knows of what he speaks.  “I’m talking about my kid.  The visual is in the audiences’ head:  black woman, mixed kid.  I only have to bring it up one time.”

Actually, Gary and his wife have two kids, 11 and nine, a daughter and son.  “It’s hard to be away from them so much of the time,” he says.  “That’s the only negative part of all this.  When they’re in the middle of their school year, you know, you can’t interrupt them.  At least in the summer you have more flexibility.”

He took time away from touring to act in the Friday (4/20)-opening “Think Like a Man” comedy based on Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.   “The movie’s so good.  The book is a woman’s guide to how a man thinks.  What the movie’s about is how men would react if they found out their women got the book.  I love that it’s not a male-bashing movie or a woman-bashing movie.  Nobody’s dying.  There’s not an abusive husband.  Everyone’s shown in a positive light, as people really are, not playing into stereotypes.”  The ensemble cast also includes Jenifer Lewis, Chris Brown, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.

Edie Falco: ‘Nurse Jackie’ Hiatus Might Be Prime Time for Family

Edie Falco’s acclaimed “Nurse Jackie” returns to the Showtime lineup Sunday (4/8), while in real life, the actress is weighing whether to take on another role — or focus on her role as a mom during her hiatus this year.     “I’m looking at a whole bunch of stuff.  I’m sort of excited by the potential of some things coming up,” she tells us.  On the other hand, “It might not be the worst thing for me to take some time off.  It would actually be nice to be home for the kids and do some things.”

Her kids — adopted son and daughter Anderson and Macy — are now eight and four years old, respectively.  Edie has found that balancing work and motherhood, now that they’re a little older, “Is actually easier.  They come with me a lot.  They seem to enjoy themselves.  They run up and down the halls of the studio where I work. They know the people, play with the guys.  And when they don’t come with me, they understand when I say, ‘I’m going to be late tonight.’  I can actually sort of explain myself, and talk about it when they feel disappointed.”

Contrary to her real-life happy home, things are anything but healthy, smooth or fun for her pill-popping Nurse Jackie Peyton.  The beginning of the new season will find her “still fumbling around to find out exactly what her bottom is — what her last straw will be,” as Edie puts it.  As for Jackie’s work mates and loved ones, “Everybody’s tolerance for the insanity of addiction is different.”  Expect some big changes for Jackie this season.