Pasadena, Calif. — The Slap has all the makings of your standard contemporary cable drama. Based on an Australian series, the eight-episode miniseries stars big-name actors whose lives change after a child is slapped.
Except The Slap is airing on NBC.
“In cable, someone would have shot somebody else’s child,” joked Peter Sarsgaard Friday at a panel for the show at the TCA winter press tour.
Sarsgaard was joined on stage by costars Thomas Sadoski, Thandie Newton, Uma Thurman, Zachary Quinto and Melissa George, in addition to executive producers Jon Robin Baitz, Lisa Cholodenko and Walter F. Parkes.
Parkes said that NBC “saw this as an opportunity to do the kind of event we usually associate with cable.”
George, who starred in the Australian version as well, said that actors like getting cable scripts because there are fewer notes and no pressure from advertisers, but broadcast networks have more viewers.
“We always say, ‘If we could get this script on a network,’” she said. “For the first time, we have this luxurious, poetic dialogue ... and we’re on network TV.”
Each hour is something of a short story about each of the characters, according to Parkes, who called the slap a “catalyst.”
Quinto said the series is not really about the slap but rather the internal conflict within the characters. “What you’re going to see is very little black and white and a lot of grey,” he said.
Newton said that in some ways the actors have to “dig deeper” into their performances on a broadcast network. She added that on cable, there is often a tendency “to be more gratuitous than it needs to be because that’s what people are expecting.”
The Slap premieres Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.
Other highlights from the panel included:
—Even though George has played the part before on the Australian version, she said it is completely different. “I’ve never felt for a second like I’m repeating something or scenes are the same,” she said. “I’ve done the Commonwealth version, now I’m doing the American version.”