My Freelance Work

  • Anthologies like ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’ may soothe viewers’ cancellation angst

    L.A. Times Envelope6/05/19

    Alexandra Cunningham, showrunner on Bravo’s “Dirty John,” is a little upset these days. As she’s recently learned, her favorite show, “Counterpart,” has been canceled over at Starz after just two seasons. “It’s just been torn away from me,” she says. “I’m so invested. I lived in fear that this was going to happen.”

    Cunningham is not alone. For all the discussion about the Golden Age of television, networks have not exactly stopped canceling shows, often abruptly and without warning. That’s hardly new. But a change in modern television viewing may offer a solution to that heartbreak when it happens.

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  • TV Production Designers Overcome Limited Budgets With Imagination

    Variety5/30/19

    Sets crafted for television have not traditionally been known for their glamour, says “Fosse/Verdon” (FX) production designer Alex DiGerlando.
    “TV was always about characters interacting, and sets were something to fill the background,” he notes. “You got close-up and medium shots and you needed some kind of background to make it feel not random. To ground the action.”

    But as the action has ramped up, so have expectations for production design, even though networks don’t always make extra room in their below-the-line budgets, leaving the art department with the same funds whether a show is contemporary or period.

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  • Hair and Makeup Teams Put Their Best Faces Forward on Shows Like ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Pose’

    Variety5/30/19

    TV has no shortage of series that rely on massive explosions, fire-breathing dragons and mystical creatures. But many of the most impressive special effects on TV today are happening in the hair and makeup departments of shows such as “Pose,” “This Is Us” and “The Man in the High Castle.”

    “When you create a fantasy character, you’re telling the audience what they look like,” says “This Is Us” makeup department head Zoe Hay. “But when you create age makeup, everyone knows someone old. We have to be able to withstand incredible scrutiny.”

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  • Small-Screen Outfits Burst at Seams With Big Ambition

    Variety - 5/30/19

    It isn’t often that costumes get a direct shout-out in a TV show title. But then there’s Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” a singing competition series in which contestants all wore mascot-sized creature costumes, including full headpieces, to disguise themselves in front of a panel of judges.
    “Singer” became broadcast’s biggest mid-season hit.

    So all due credit to costume designer Marina Toybina, who translated the Korean concept series for American audiences — turning her costumes into the real stars of the show, at least until their occupants were revealed. “It’s go big or go home,” Toybina says. “Everyone’s trying to experiment with different ways of building costumes, going back to big pictures, big fabrics.”

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  • ‘Good Omens,’ ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘Russian Doll’: Odd pairings creating compelling TV

    L.A. Times Envelope - 5/30/19

    As author Neil Gaiman recalls, when he and the late Terry Pratchett joined forces to write their 1990 novel “Good Omens,” they made one critical decision that changed everything: They split up.

    Rather, they split a character up. “The best and smartest thing he did was to make one character into two,” says Gaiman of Pratchett, who died in 2015. “We ended up with a worldly demon and an angel. The joy of that was it gave us conversations in which they could each take different sides, and persuade one another. Once you have that — you have drama,” adds Gaiman, now showrunner on the Amazon Prime adaptation of “Omens,” which drops Friday.

    Across television, no matter what the platform, the basic theory when constructing a show seems to be that two heads are better than one — and two leads are often an instant shortcut to telling a great story. Even better is when those two characters are natural opposites but have commonalities that join them as friends, partners, or even just grudging allies.

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  • Everyone has issues, but Anthony Anderson and ‘Black-ish’ put them on TV

    L.A. Times Envelope - 5/29/19

    For six seasons, Anthony Anderson’s “black-ish” has been both hilarious and fearless in its tackling of major societal issues. That’s helped Anderson earn four Emmy nominations for his portrayal of dad Dre (a character inspired by show creator Kenya Barris) and landed him a slew of other projects – including ABC’s recent “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons,” a revisiting of two classic sitcoms that were also simultaneously funny and pointed. The Envelope chatted with Anderson over lunch in New York City to talk about opening a dialogue, what inspired him — and, well, issues.

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  • The magic of Hollywood can transport you anywhere, but sometimes nothing beats the real thing

    L.A. Times Envelope - 5/23/19

    When TV show creators use that oft-quoted phrase: “The city is like another character,” they rarely toss it off lightly. Expertly turning practical locations for a series shot in the same city in which it takes place requires a special touch, a feel for the bones of a town and a willingness to engage with the messy real world while simultaneously trying to tell a fictional story. We took a short trip around the U.S. to visit three cities and a “town” to find out just why these locations deserve top billing, right alongside the human stars who populate them.

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  • For the ‘This Is Us’ women, it’s all about striving to be better

    L.A. Times Envelope - 5/23/19

    NBC’s “This Is Us” takes its audience on an emotional roller coaster weekly and, as we learned earlier this month, that ride has been extended for three more seasons. But one of the key reasons its stories feel so incredibly heartfelt and human is its stellar trio of female leads: Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson), Chrissy Metz (Kate Pearson) and Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth Pearson). All three ladies took a break recently from the network’s presentation to advertisers in New York City to sit with The Envelope to talk about handling babies, learning from TV shows — and their series not getting all the credit it deserves.

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  • Goodbye, ‘House of Cards: Its ‘journey of reckoning’ comes to a close

    L.A. Times Envelope - 5/15/19

    In most cases, calling the arc of a recently ended series Shakespearean might be an overreach. But not for “House of Cards.” Over the course of six seasons, Netflix’s first foray into original programming gave us dark comedy and darker tragedy, transformed how we imagine the American political system, boosted the fortunes of its streaming network, introduced the concept of the first-run TV binge — and ended with a classic real-world
    twist that sent its lead actor down in flames, while its lead actress rose like a phoenix from the ashes.

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  • How Food Stylists Find the Right Recipe for TV Show Meals

    Variety - 5/01/19

    Tamara Reynolds’ first gig as a food stylist was no small job. Tasked with creating around 200 plates that, as she recalls, “would look Wolfgang Puck-y” for a wedding scene on the now-defunct USA Network series “Royal Pains,” her dishes included red kale and a zucchini cup filled with mashed potatoes and topped with cherry tomatoes. So far, so delicious.

    “It was tall and colorful and looked great,” she says. “And it was sitting out all day in the summertime, when it was hot as balls.” Late in the day, an extra ate the potatoes and … well, the result wasn’t pretty.

    “Trial by fire,” says Reynolds. “Welcome to food styling.”

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