With Marisa Guthrie, Anne Becker and Ben Grossman
HBO’s 'Big Love’ Parallels Polygamist’s Plight
You can bet Mark V. Olsen and Will Sheffer were paying attention last week when polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was convicted as an accomplice to rape for performing a marriage between a 19-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.
Olsen and Sheffer, the creators of HBO’s polygamist drama Big Love, have monitored the Jeffs story all along, given how eerily it has played out alongside the series’ first two seasons.
When Jeffs became an FBI fugitive in spring 2006, just as Big Love was closing out its first season, Olsen and Sheffer decided to write in an off-camera storyline for Season 2, involving the FBI pursuit, arrest and trial of Orlean Abbot—an even creepier fundamentalist leader than the show’s Roman Grant (played by Harry Dean Stanton).
“We were worried that the [Jeffs] situation might have led to a Waco-kind of shootout, and so we wanted to somehow protect ourselves in case that came to pass,” Olsen tells B&C. “If we’re all like cotton-candy-and-caramel-corn in the suburbs and then this horrific incident happens—even if it’s a totally different scale, it’s kind of like the problems that Sex and the City faced after 9/11.”
Though Jeffs has been convicted, his story will continue to reverberate in the show’s third season, which begins production in November.
“We’re going to start out our season with Orlean Abbot having been convicted pretty much of the Warren Jeffs crimes,” says Olsen.
Thanks to that attention to detail in depicting both the seamy and sympathetic aspects of polygamy, Olsen and Sheffer say they frequently hear from polygamist fans of the show.
“Their common complaints are twofold,” says Olsen, “too much sex and not enough prayer.”
Last March, The CW asked its viewers to create promo spots for its new drama Supernatural. The network uploaded clips of the show to an FTP site and asked high-school and college students to cobble together spots for the show.
The contest wasn’t wildly popular—the network freely admits it only received about 400 submissions. But it paid off for the winner in the form of an internship at The CW.
Stacey Young, a senior at Clarke College in Washington, won for “Eerie Lullaby,” which featured her original poem and musical score. CW executives liked it so much that they invited her to intern at the network next summer.
“We’re communicating with her all the time this year and giving her tasks to do so we can work her to death when she gets here,” jokes CW marketing chief Rick Haskins.
No word on future recruitment plans, but Haskins says CW executives were impressed enough with the submissions to consider launching similar contests this year.
Tale of the Tabloid Tape
Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears may be in a race to see who can throw away a once-promising career faster. But it’s no contest when it comes to which starlet has gotten more entertainment newsmagazine coverage.
Lohan and Spears are the first two subjects of MyNetworkTV’s Celebrity Expose, a new show from the producers of Access Hollywood. After combing through Access’ archival footage, the producers counted 1,405 videotapes of Spears footage, compared to just 676 for Lohan.
Rob Silverstein, who oversees both shows, says Access has covered Spears more than any other celeb over the last decade.
Expose, which airs Monday nights beginning Oct. 1 with the Lohan episode, will feature hour-long looks into headline-making celebrities or themes. Despite the show’s inaugural subjects, Silverstein insists it won’t be “more sensationalized” than Access Hollywood: “We won’t do anything we wouldn’t do there.”
“What about Paris?” you ask? MyNetworkTV will soon announce that show No. 3 will focus on Ms. Hilton, who had 1,219 tapes in the Access vaults.
But don’t hold your breath for O.J. Simpson, whom Silverstein refuses to cover on Access: “I won’t even say the letters.”