Show Us the ‘Dirty Sexy Money’
March 27, 2008 6:11 AM
So you thought “Dirty Sexy Money” was all about shallow, brainless rich people? Think again, Darling.
Series creator Craig Wright has grander ambitions, and he shared them with the audience at Tuesday’s PaleyFest tribute to the ABC series. After a selection of clips from the first season, he described the montage and the show as being about “deeply flawed people who are forced to deal with the ways in which money has contorted or misshapen their consciousness”—highfalutin’ stuff for a series often compared to the prime-time soaps of days gone by.
However, Wright said he “totally” embraces the soap label, calling the show “a ‘Dallas’ or ‘Dynasty’ for the new millennium, with an added dash of the self-awareness that we have in our society at this point.”
He also discussed how he feels “a sociological commitment to use network television as an influence for change” and is trying to transmit “the normalizing influences of diversity,” which is easier thanks to the show’s huge cast.
Moderator Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly got the crowd a little riled up by pressing for spoilers, of which she didn’t get many. “People always say they want to know the secret of ‘Lost,’” Wright said, referring to one of his previous jobs, “but they don’t want to know—they want to enjoy watching ‘Lost.’” The audience wholeheartedly agreed.
Speaking of spoilers: Where were series stars Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh? They were on the list of those supposed to be on the Paley panel, but apparently they got a last-minute itch to go promote “Dirty Sexy Money’s” launch in the U.K.
Present to discuss the show, in addition to Wright, were executive producer Greg Berlanti and cast members Peter Krause, Blair Underwood, William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Seth Gabel, Glenn Fitzgerald and Zoe McLellan.
The cast members were thrilled to be reunited, as they hadn’t really been together since the writers strike interrupted production. They start production on the second season May 1.
Asked about the strike, Zea declared, “It sucked! We shot three episodes writer-free, and it was hilarious. It was total chaos trying to figure everything out” without the writers to help out. “I guess we need the writers—that’s what we all learned from that!”
There also were some continuity issues: “They had me losing my virginity three times!” she said.
Wright said those three episodes “present some producerial challenges” and might require some reshoots, but that audiences would see them at some point. They shot 13 episodes in the first season, and aired 10. For the second season, ABC ordered 13 episodes plus three scripts, and then there are the three leftover episodes.
Uttering the “S” word—Spitzer, as in the disgraced New York governor—Baldwin, who plays a politician on “DSM,” said the strike “pulled the carpet out from under us to a certain extent” as far as being able to build in material about the current U.S. elections. Baldwin’s character is running for re-election, but the show’s timing will not follow the real election because there wouldn’t be enough time to develop that storyline, Wright said.
Asked about the series’ budget, Wright quipped, “We spend billions!” Berlanti expanded a bit: “I’d venture to say last year was the most expensive first-year show ever on network television.” Between the large and starry cast, and the sense of reality required to show an immensely wealthy clan, that’s no surprise.
Rice introduced the panel by saying, “‘Dirty Sexy Money’ had me at the title.” Wright gave credit for that to the network, of all things. Originally titled “The Ruins,” after the tabloid nickname of its central family, the Rooneys, the show morphed into “The Darlings” after Wright changed the family’s name in response to a suggestion that they needed some underlying sweetness to leaven their nefarious doings. But that was too precious, so the network offered its suggestion, “and I think it’s the best title ever and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Wright enthused.
Other revelations from the evening at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood:
—Zea’s character was wearing more than $1 million in diamonds in the series pilot. She initially thought they were from Forever 21, she confessed, but realized that if “some guy is following me to the bathroom, they’re real!”
--“Tripp Darling is all about the ambivalence of progress,” Wright declared of Sutherland’s character.
--The show has a “hair Nazi” in producer Matt Gross. After Gabel mentioned how Gross spoke to him about his hair, and Krause confessed he’d been talked to about his sideburns, Baldwin asked, “How many people here has Matt spoken to about their hair?” All of the actors except Fitzgerald, who has a crew cut, raised their hands.
--Audiences will find out who killed Krause’s character’s father at some point. “We probably would have had it solved by the end of the first season if not for the strike,” Wright confessed. “I think the audience will get a great sense of satisfaction from watching this next season,” Berlanti added.
Class clown Baldwin, however, created an air of uncertainty by asking, “Have you seen a body?”
--Wright knows exactly where the story is going and how it will end. “I just hope that when they cancel us—and they will cancel us, it is a business, after all—that they give us enough warning to tell the story to the end,” Wright said. However, for Rice and anyone else dying to know how it will all turn out, he said, “I’ll just say, for anyone who’s read ‘The Divine Comedy’ all the way to the end, they won’t be that far off.”
— Lisa D. Horowitz