January 10, 2014
Lifetime at TCA - Tim Gunn, Devious Domestics & Creepy Attics
By Seth Arenstein
Based on a sizzle reel shown at TCA, critics initially were skeptical about whether Tim Gunn’s upcoming fashion-contest series “Under the Gunn” (premieres Jan 16, 9p, Lifetime) is much different from his other show, the hit “Project Runway.” Gunn responded that Under will be “an extension of who I am” mixed with “the parts that I love about Project Runway.” Who Gunn is, he stressed, is a veteran teacher, having spent 29 years in a classroom. The series will emphasize “me being sort of a big daddy mentoring mentors who are mentoring designer in the work room.” On Runway, Gunn continued, “I’m the only mentor, so I can’t leave the workroom.... [On Under, 3 mentors] are constantly huddling and talking…[about] how the designers are doing, so you get to hear this inner dialogue….”
It takes a confident person to admit their mistakes. “Devious Maids” (Apr 20, Lifetime) creator/exec prod Marc Cherry is such a person, and viewers of Lifetime’s top-rated drama will reap the benefits of his experience. The creator of “Desperate Housewives,” Cherry said he was lost at the start of Desperate’s second season, “I didn’t know what was going on.” From that he learned “know what your second season is before you write your first season.” With Devious, “I very much plotted everything with an eye to what I was going to do in the second season.” Cherry also gave a big assist to cable’s 13-episode season, as opposed to broadcast’s 23. There’s more rehearsal and planning time and “it’s easier to have the vision and kind of set it in stone.” Cherry’s experience should benefit Eva Longoria, who will making her directing debut on Devious this season.
The buzz for Lifetime film “Flowers in the Attic” (Jan 18 premiere) has been so positive the net already is developing the second book in V.C. Andrews’s series, “Petals in the Wind.” Fortunately, screenwriter Kayla Alpert stuck closely to Andrews’s book, using dialogue lifted from the book that many teens read surreptitiously, including Alpert. The cast includes Kiernan Shipka of “Mad Men,” Heather Graham and as the evil mother and grand-mother Ellen Burstyn, who could not attend the TCA panel, but should receive an Emmy nomination. Alpert noted one of the few diversions from the novel was adding more mother-daughter material. “I really tried to flesh that out and add more of a backstory so you’d have more colors to those characters and explain why they had…this cruel symbiotic relationship.”