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HBO Gets Raunchy In New Drama Series!

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HBO Gets Raunchy In New Drama Series!

Old 07-15-07, 03:19 AM
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HBO Gets Raunchy In New Drama Series!

Looks like HBO is taking a page from their sister channel Cinemax. From today's LA Times:

HBO gets raw -- or is it raunchy? -- with sexually explicit 'Tell Me You Love Me'
SCOTT COLLINS
July 14, 2007



Trash or art? LARRY DAVID doesn't fall in love easily — he's not that kind of guy — but this week he may have found a TV show to swoon over.

At the semiannual television press tour in Beverly Hills, a reporter asked the tetchy, misanthropic comic what he thought of HBO's upcoming series about the amorous travails of three middle-class couples, "Tell Me You Love Me," which already has critics buzzing over its super-explicit sex scenes. David looked perplexed until Jeff Garlin, the beefy and unctuous Sancho Panza to David's ectomorphic and prickly Quixote on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," turned to his costar onstage and explained that "Tell Me" would be chockablock with "bosoms and things."

David brightened. "I'm in favor of that!" he announced.

Bosoms and things: That's not exactly a plot summary of "Tell Me," but it's not a bad place to start. Because that's where many viewers will start. Whatever else it may or may not be, "Tell Me," at least in its current form, will set a new precedent for prime-time TV when it has its premiere Sept. 9: No previous series, on pay cable or anywhere else, has dared show anything even close to this much skin; the climax, if you will, of the first episode finds a woman (Sonya Walger) in her 30s masturbating her husband (Adam Scott) to orgasm, with the entire act and all relevant body parts plainly visible. Even Jane Alexander — yes, that Jane Alexander, the snow-domed, regally poised 67-year-old former chief of the National Endowment for the Arts — drops trousers for some frisky senior sex.

Really, it brings a smile to one's face: What enchantment is in store for Larry David!

But in going, um, all the way with its latest highly touted drama, HBO had better hope there are lots and lots of viewers in the market for bosoms and things. Because in most other ways, this is not the sexiest of times for America's most-watched pay cable outlet.

"The Sopranos," by far the network's top-rated show, is history. "John From Cincinnati," a mystical surfing drama that's left many viewers scratching their heads, has sunk like an anchor, ratings-wise. The hip musical-comedy "Flight of the Conchords" has achieved only cult status so far. Meanwhile, a rejiggered HBO management team is still adjusting to the bright lights after the sudden exit of longtime Chief Executive Chris Albrecht, a savvy and charismatic programmer who was busted in a domestic abuse incident in May. It now looks as if the company won't even be able to deliver the made-for-TV movies that execs promised would wrap up the loose plot strands of its unceremoniously dumped neo-Western, "Deadwood."

Rumors abound in Hollywood that the departure of "The Sopranos" has signaled to subscribers that it's time to bail, threatening as a result the network's much-vaunted profits and cushy production budgets, which have for many years been the envy of rival executives.

But HBO officials insist this is not the case. They say that people don't sign up just for shows like "The Sopranos" (to which I say: the heck they don't). New Co-President Richard Plepler, who was formerly the PR czar, told reporters this week that the network has 30 million subscribers, which translates into a modest 6% gain compared with what the network reported 18 months ago (although it should be noted that HBO subscriber metrics are notoriously difficult to parse, and I found the same 30 million figure in some news stories dating to at least 2001, although other reports used lower numbers).

"This year, we probably spent more on series programming than any year in the past," HBO programming President Michael Lombardo told the critics, without supplying specifics.

Free from the government-mandated content restrictions that bind broadcasters, not to mention the advertiser queasiness that keeps basic cable networks reasonably well-behaved, HBO's stock in trade is letting it all hang out. Its original programming got famous by pushing at the boundaries on the old eros-thanatos axis; what you're promised is either naughtier ("Sex and the City") or bloodier ("The Sopranos") than what those old fogies at CBS, or anywhere else, will give you.

Writers and producers have internalized all this, and it's ammunition for their efforts to tiptoe ever further: C'mon, HBO! Don't wimp out now! Cynthia Mort, a former "Roseanne" writer who is "Tell Me's" creator and executive producer, said to me that when HBO executives threw up warning flags about the intensity of the sex scenes, she rebutted them by wondering why it was OK to show rapes and other mayhem on "The Sopranos" but not intimate relations between a married couple. (The tactic proved effective, she added.) When screening the series internally, officials rendered the premises harassment-litigation-proof by dividing attendees according to gender.

Now faced with promoting the series, the network is doing a 180, pretending that the sex doesn't matter, as if only perverts and rich, aging comedy writers won't be able to see that "Tell Me" is not about smokin' sex but rather intimacy and trust and other topics familiar to anyone who's ever endured couples therapy.

As HBO Entertainment President Carolyn Strauss said in an interview, "The point isn't to be prurient. The point is to show the language of intimacy."

Or, as Mort told me: "I didn't realize people would be so focused on the sex." (An experiment: Try to read that quote aloud in the mirror without breaking a smile.)

From a marketing standpoint, HBO's tack might prove a miscalculation. Of course it remains to be seen whether viewers will find the relationships on "Tell Me" utterly addictive, or whether they'll just turn up for the TV equivalent of a booty call (the network is already comparing the series with the talky and difficult films of cult director John Cassavetes, which doesn't exactly scream mainstream hit).

But Hype 101 says that HBO should be embracing its inner slut, not running away from it. One can only imagine how a true genius of promotional hokum, like a Harvey Weinstein or a David Merrick, say, might mold this very raw material: Walger's magic fingers adorning bus ads nationwide, perhaps?

Then again, it's entirely understandable if beleaguered HBO execs are feeling a bit squeamish. You can push boundaries only so far before they begin to push back, and maybe imprison. A TV network should be known for putting the best shows on the air, and that quest can get obscured when performers are reduced to telling reporters, as "Tell Me's" Michelle Borth did this week, "We're actors, not porn stars!"

"It's not TV. It's HBO" is a good slogan. "Bosoms and things"? Well, not so much.

--


Well, the show stars Sonya Walger, who plays Desmond's great love Penny on "Lost" and Sherry Stringfield, who I had an early-90s crush on during the early days of NYPD Blue and ER. So I'm watching this even if I do have to see Jane Alexander's nether region and some guy's unit.
Old 07-15-07, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Decker
the climax, if you will, of the first episode finds a woman (Sonya Walger) in her 30s masturbating her husband (Adam Scott) to orgasm, with the entire act and all relevant body parts plainly visible.
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I too like the cast, but this is all hype. No way will HBO show hard-core sex scenes like they allude to in this article. Even as much as they push it in "Cathouse" they obscure it enough that you dont really see anything. Maybe they are inspired somewhat by something like "shortbus" but they just will not show a hard core sex scene like they are hyping above. Explicit, but not that.
Old 07-15-07, 05:52 AM
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Lost fans will be interested to know that Sonya Walger is Penelope Widmore. And Penny Widmore is hot. So here's to Penny Widmore in the nud!
Old 07-15-07, 02:15 PM
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Sonya Walger is quickly becoming the go-to girl for shows with women talking bluntly about sexuality. Maybe this will have better success than Mind of the Married Man and Coupling.

das
Old 07-15-07, 03:15 PM
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Pic?
Old 07-15-07, 09:05 PM
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From the preview I saw I can tell why they added the sex scenes. Without them it wouldn't last 2 episodes, while with them it might make it 5. It couldn't look or sound more boring.
Old 07-15-07, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Decker
At the semiannual television press tour in Beverly Hills, a reporter asked the tetchy, misanthropic comic what he thought of HBO's upcoming series about the amorous travails of three middle-class couples, "Tell Me You Love Me," which already has critics buzzing over its super-explicit sex scenes. David looked perplexed until Jeff Garlin, the beefy and unctuous Sancho Panza to David's ectomorphic and prickly Quixote on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," turned to his costar onstage and explained that "Tell Me" would be chockablock with "bosoms and things."
What pompous jerk wrote this article? There are probably 6 words in that first paragraph I've never even heard of
Old 07-15-07, 09:46 PM
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Well, someone's a little tetchy today?



Note: I had to look up tetchy, unctuous, and ectomorphic.
Old 07-15-07, 10:40 PM
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Just for the record, I didn't write it. I admit to not knowing tetchy. If tetchy means testy, well then why not just write "Testy". Anyways, I knew the rest, but ectromorphic is a medical term, so that's a little easier for me.
Old 07-16-07, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by j123vt_99
What pompous jerk wrote this article? There are probably 6 words in that first paragraph I've never even heard of
It's chockablock with big words! We can even picture the writer sitting at his desk with a thesaurus right next to him.
Old 07-16-07, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Decker
Just for the record, I didn't write it. I admit to not knowing tetchy. If tetchy means testy, well then why not just write "Testy". Anyways, I knew the rest, but ectromorphic is a medical term, so that's a little easier for me.

Oh I know you didn't write it.. These words threw me off:
tetchy
misanthropic (kind of know what it means)
travails (kind of know what it means)
unctuous
ectomorphic
chockablock

Oh, and I was an English major
Old 07-16-07, 12:23 PM
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Then you should know what dictionaries are for.
Old 07-28-07, 09:43 AM
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I have the unique distinction of being the only person in the entire world who created the wikipedia article for this show!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tell_Me_You_Love_Me
Old 07-28-07, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by j123vt_99
What pompous jerk wrote this article? There are probably 6 words in that first paragraph I've never even heard of
Here's the americanized version of the article:

"HBO will show teh BOOBIES!!1!"
Old 07-28-07, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
Here's the americanized version of the article:

"HBO will show teh BOOBIES!!1!"


I'll be checking it out... If only because HBO hasn't disappointed me yet... And who doesn't love tits?
Old 09-13-07, 12:30 PM
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Hey, this is already playing on HBO! Is anyone watching it? I watched episode 1 last night, and it was interesting enough, I guess.

As far as explicit sex, I did see some balls flopping around during sex, which is usually a no-no on skinemax. Plus there's that hand job, which, it was pretty dark, so I'm going to assume it was just a dildo.

The show is about 3 different couples, and their relationship problems.
Couple 1 doesn't have sex, Couple 2 can't get pregnant, and Couple 3 are about to get married, but the dude is having monogomy difficulties. Couples 1 and 2 are seeing the same sex therapist, which I'm sure couple 3 will end up seeing soon to tie it all together. It's not a particularly uplifting show. But if you like to watch other people be miserable in their marriages so you feel better about yours, then you might enjoy this.

Last edited by joeblow69; 09-13-07 at 12:34 PM.
Old 09-13-07, 12:35 PM
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I watched an episode and it was pretty boring.

They definitely show vag and balls, though.
Old 09-13-07, 12:41 PM
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how long has this been on? I'm wondering if I missed any eps.
Old 09-13-07, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisHicks
how long has this been on? I'm wondering if I missed any eps.
I think you've missed one, but I'm not 100% sure. I canceled HBO when they canceled John From Cincinnati.
Old 09-13-07, 12:44 PM
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There's been 2 episodes so far, that I know of.
Old 09-13-07, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisHicks
how long has this been on? I'm wondering if I missed any eps.
I watched it on demand, and I thought they had a couple episodes available. I'll double check, some of those might have been behind the scenes crap...
Old 09-13-07, 12:45 PM
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It's very rare that, once I start, I won't watch a show to the end. No matter how bad. So the fact that I gave up on this effing turkey about half way through says a lot.

This show is complete unadulterated crap (even with the sex scenes -- and I'm hardly one to shy away from sex scenes).
Old 09-13-07, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
Here's the americanized version of the article:

"HBO will show teh BOOBIES!!1!"
oh come on, when has HBO not shown the boobies - uh, Real Sex.

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