Category: Weeds

New DGA survey highlights TV's continuing struggle with diversity


The continuing lack of diversity in prime-time television was highlighted with the release of a Directors Guild of America survey that cites a troubling trend in the hiring of minority and female directors.

The survey conducted by the DGA of more than 2,600 episodes of 170 scripted series on broadcast and cable during the 2010-11 season found that white males directed 77% of all episodes, and white females directed 11% of all episodes. Minority males directed 11% of all episodes, and minority females directed 1% of all episodes. 

Leaders of the guild, which has traditionally pushed for more inclusion of women and minorities, expressed disappointment with the findings,  which show little change from a similar survey of the 2009-2010 season.

As Company Town notes, Nine shows singled out by the DGA as shutting out minority and female directors include HBO's "Bored to Death," Showtime's "Weeds" and FX's "Justified." Sixteen other shows hired women and minorities for fewer than 15% percent of episodes.

The survey comes a few weeks after the revelation of claims by advocates who say there are indications that NBCUniversal, which pledged to increase diversity in front of and behind the camera, has fallen short of those pledges that were made during the process of merging NBCUniversal and Comcast.


DGA gives TV producers failing grade on hiring women, minorities

Concerns about lack of minorites in NBC's family

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman in HBO's "Bored To Death," one of the series cited by the Directors Guild of America as hiring no minority or female directors. Credit: Paul Schiraldi


TCA 2011: New shows bring Showtime into the real world

Showtime's Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Jeannie Van de Hooven, Don Cheadle, Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz of 'House of LIes.' Credit: Showtime.

"Dexter," "The Borgias," "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" are among the popular Showtime series that revolve around high concepts of serial killers, corrupt royalty, pot-selling soccer moms and pill-popping nurses. But upcoming series on the premium cable network will be more grounded in the so-called real world.

Showtime's president of entertainment, David Nevins, said the network is gradually evolving into a renewed sensibility with series such as "Homeland," about a former prisoner of war who may or may not be a terrorist, and "House of Lies," about a self-loathing management consultant.

"We're getting into shows that have scope and bigness and are relevant to the world we live in," Nevins said. "We believe in real diversity of programming. We will be sophisticated and adult but can also be bigger and edgy."

Photos: Which veteran actors are returning to TV this fall?

"Homeland," which stars Claire Danes and Damian Harris, will premiere in October, while "House of Lies," which stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, is scheduled to premiere Jan. 8.

Upcoming on the Showtime schedule is "Laughing Stock," a new series that will feature interviews with top comedians as they explain their art and the state of comedy. Steve Carell ("The Office") and David Steinberg ("Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg") are executive producers, and Chris Rock, Tina Fey and Ellen Degeneres wil be among the comedians participating.

Nevins said he was also proud of Showtime's reliance on its veteran slate, which he categorized as "renewable resources" that keep growing in creativity, attracting bigger audiences.


Mandy Patinkin returns to TV in 'Homeland'

Showtime's 'Homeland' has 'fortuitous' timing

Fall TV: A video guide to what's new on television

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Jeannie Van de Hooven, Don Cheadle, Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz of "House of LIes." Photo credit: Showtime.

TCA 2011: NBC Entertainment chief looks to inject 'creative vitality'

TCA 2011: NBC Entertainment chief looks to inject 'creative vitality'

It's been a half-century since the hopes of a television network were pinned to one "lovable redhead," comedian Joel McHale said. Lucille Ball once propelled the fortunes of CBS, and now NBC is banking on Bob Greenblatt to be its modern-day savior.

Monday was Greenblatt's coming-out party at the Television Critics Assn. summer 2011 press tour. The last time this group of writers met, in mid-January, was during the waning days of the previous administration -- a decade-long period punctuated by NBC executives who made big promises -- but failed to deliver as NBC slipped farther behind in the ratings.

Greenblatt's performance Monday was, perhaps purposely, understated.

"It's been a very challenging six months for us," Greenblatt, the recently installed chairman of NBC Entertainment, told about 150 writers clustered in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. "It's no secret that NBC is in fourth place and we are working very hard, and very aggressively, to turn that around."

Repopulating NBC's executive ranks has been one of Greenblatt's primary assignments.  Last month, the former Showtime programming head hired Jennifer Salke, a respected executive from Fox, to be his chief deputy as the new NBC Entertainment president.  Greenblatt  also recruited his press chief from Showtime, Richard Licata, to run NBC's communications.

Monday, Greenblatt announced that he had hired an accomplished CBS executive, Bela Bajaria, to help him oversee the company's television production studio, a unit that was gutted to save money when General Electric Co. owned the media company.

About five years ago, the Universal television studio was busy cranking out such hits as "Law & Order,"  "The Office," "House," and "Heroes." 

However, in the last three years, Universal Media Studios has been a bit of a shell with a tiny staff that primarily serviced shows for NBC. Big-name producers bypassed the operation, instead preferring to do business with the more prominent Warner Bros. Television, Sony Pictures Television or 20th Century Fox Television.   

"To me, that's not the place to save money," Steve Burke, chief executive of NBCUniversal, said after Greenblatt's session. "Hopefully people will know that is the place to go with good ideas."

Comcast Corp., which took control of NBCUniversal in late January, has identified NBC as its top priority and the unit desperate for a dramatic overhaul. Greenblatt, one of Burke's first hires, opened NBC's session by saying that he has spent the last six months convincing his new boss to raise NBC's debt ceiling --  something of a joke because Burke has said Comcast was more than willing to write big checks to buy quality projects and attract big names to NBC.

Greenblatt said the studio had signed development deals with several notable producers, including Greg Daniels who developed "The Office" for NBC and "Parks and Recreation."  Greenblatt said he wanted Daniels, who made his fortunes with the cartoon comedy "King of the Hill," to experiment with animation.

The NBC studio also signed a development deal with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions Television. Greenblatt said he is hoping to launch a comedy starring Sean Hayes of "Will & Grace" fame. 

Greenblatt acknowledged that his challenge will be to find hits that appeal to broad audiences.  That wasn't his concern at Showtime.  The premium channel has thrived on the offbeat and often dark "Dexter," "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie," programs with small audiences that would not necessarily pull the freight on a broadcast network. 

"I certainly don't want to turn NBC into Showtime but I would love to bring to NBC some of the creative vitality that we had at Showtime," Greenblatt said. "Broadcast is more difficult. We just have to do it in a way that's really broad and commercial."

Burke was sitting in the wings during the session.  How did he grade Greenblatt's performance? 

"Great," Burke said. "He's got a nice quiet way about himself and he doesn't over-promise."


More about upcoming shows from the TCA Press Tour

TCA 2011: 'The Playboy Club' more 'fun' than racy, Greenblatt says

NBC, Bob Greenblatt have much to prove ahead of the tall TV season

-- Meg James 

Photo: Bob Greenblatt. Credit: Carolyn Cole

'Weeds' creator Jenji Kohan talks about whether Season 7 is the last and life as a showrunner

Jenji_Kohan_weeds "Weeds" begins its seventh season Monday night, and rumor has it that it may be the show's last. Jenji Kohan, who created the series, says she doesn't know yet if this will be the last gasp for drug dealer Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) -- newly out of prison -- who flees California this season for the anonymity of New York City.

Kohan is a child of showbiz. Her father, Buz Kohan, was an Emmy-winning TV writer and her brother David co-created "Will & Grace." But she says she hasn't always had the easiest time making her way in the industry.  She took time from writing and filming the rest of the season to discuss the dark dramedy and her career as a showrunner.

Is this the final season of "Weeds"?

I don’t know. My deal’s up in January and I haven’t heard anything yet from the network or the studio, so I honestly couldn’t tell you.

Are you writing as if it's the end?
I’ve got two plans [laughs]. My favorite thing is having options.

So you're creating two sets of endings depending on whether it gets renewed?

It is not easy. But I don’t want to get caught with my pants down, I want to do [the ending] right.

Did you start out wanting to be a TV writer?

My impetus was vengeance, initially. I had an ex-boyfriend who said I had a better chance of getting elected to Congress than getting on the staff of a television show. I don't like to be told I can't do something. So I quit my day jobs -- I had three -- and I moved in with a friend studying for her medical boards. I'd watch tapes of shows and write my spec scripts and she would study anatomy. Now she heals people ... and I'm still doing the exact same thing.

What shows were you watching then?

At that time, it was "Roseanne" and "Seinfeld." I’d grown up on comedies like "Cheers" and "Cosby" and "The Life and Times of Molly Dodd." ... I really was influenced by ["Molly Dodd"]. I found it whimsical and smart, it was one of my favorite shows. And one of my first internships was with Jay Tarses [creator of "Molly Dodd"]. I thought, 'I'm going to sit at his knee and learn the secrets of brilliant television. But instead I was mixing dressing into salads and buying capuccinos for a crew -- this was before Starbucks!

What was your first writing job?

My first job was "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." ... My ex-sister-in-law's father gave my specs in an elevator to an agent who lived in his building. I got very lucky. I came from a family that worked in this business, but when I expressed my interest they were like, "Go to law school."

Before creating "Weeds," you worked on several shows with women at their center, including "Tracey Takes On," starring Tracey Ullman, and "Gilmore Girls."

"Tracey" was a huge turning point for me. What I learned on "Tracey" was how to run a healthy show, where everyone was good at what they do and kind to one another and when they're done, they go home. Not to mention that I had someone running the room who I could hand a piece off to who would immediately perform it and let me know how it was. I also learned I am not a performer. We'd turn in our drafts and the whole room would take parts and read them out and perform them for Tracey -- but I was quickly relegated to reading stage directions. I was the joke slayer. I hear it all in my head but it just doesn't come out of my mouth right.

Continue reading »

'Weeds' finale preview: Tips for flying this holiday season

The "Weeds" sixth-season finale is quickly approaching — like, really quickly (it airs at 10 p.m. Monday on Showtime). Time sure does fly when Jack (Mark Paul Gosselaar) takes unorthodox measures to keep patrons from smoking in his bar. 

In the airport-set finale, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) must free herself from Esteban (Demián Bichir) to flee the country along with her family.

In this clip from Monday's episode, Warren Schiff (Richard Dreyfuss) offers tips on how to avoid pesky air travelers looking to take a seat next to you — sure to come in handy this holiday season.

— Yvonne Villarreal

Showtime renews 'Weeds' and 'The Big C'

Laura_linney Over at Showtime, marijuana and terminal illness are a match made in heaven.

The network announced Monday that it was picking up its hit comedies “The Big C” and “Weeds” for new seasons.  Both will return in 2011.

“The unprecedented viewership for both "The Big C" and "Weeds" proves that audiences love these shows as much as we do,“ said David Nevins, Showtime president of entertainment, in a statement. “There are definitely more comedic adventures in store for these fascinating, complex women."

“The Big C,” which stars Laura Linney as a suburban housewife diagnosed with cancer, debuted in August with 1.154 million viewers, just behind “Weeds,” which brought in 1.232 million viewers.

Season finales for both shows will air Nov. 15.

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Laura Linney. Credit: Getty Images.

Mary Louise Parker will pass on actual weed, thank you very much

Weeds_gal6_0getaway_group So what if Mary-Louise Parker doesn’t indulge in a little bit of the green stuff?

For fans of Parker’s role as Nancy, the pot-peddling desperate housewife on Showtime’s “Weeds,” that little dose of reality might come as a surprise – even though she’s walked in her shoes for five years now. 

But just because Parker, 46, doesn’t toke, doesn’t mean she’s judging you -- she also doesn’t think her hit show has lighted any sparks in the ongoing medical marijuana debate.

“I don’t know that I’m the best judge of that,” she says flatly. Marijuana "doesn’t seem quite as contraband. I don’t have that reefer madness, but so many people do it. I don’t know why they bother doing it. There’s nothing even remotely naughty about it. It’s like Sudafed. I was never interested in it. I just feel honestly, people make a really big deal about it.”

But that’s enough talk about Parker’s real life in pot.  The fictional hemptress is back in the sixth season of the show, which premiered in August.

Continue reading »

Richard Dreyfuss to guest star on 'Weeds'

Dreyfuss The weeds continue to grow over on Showtime.

Richard Dreyfuss is slated to appear in at least four episodes of "Weeds," the network announced Wednesday.

He’ll play an unexpected character from Nancy’s (Mary-Louise Parker) past. The "Jaws" actor joins previously announced guest stars Peter Stormare and Linda Hamilton, and returning guest stars Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The sixth season premieres Aug. 16.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Richard Dreyfuss. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

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Linda Hamilton to guest star on 'Weeds'

Linda_Hamilton Former "Terminator" heroine Linda Hamilton will join Showtime’s “Weeds” for a two-episode arc when the show returns for its sixth season, the network confirmed Monday.

The new season picks up with Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and her kooky family on the run after Shane (Alexander Gould) wallopped Pilar (Kate del Castillo) with a croquet mallet -- which we can only assume was simply payback for the time Pilar unsuccessfully tried killing Nancy but instead hit Shane with the bullet.

Hamilton will play an “eco-conscious marijuana grower who, along with her life partner Fiona, helps Nancy’s endeavors in Seattle take bloom," which was first reported on

Those endeavors will be sans a vital family member: conniving mom Celia (Elizabeth Perkins); Perkins ended her five-season, Emmy-nominated run on the series last season.

In addition to Hamilton, Peter Stormare (“Prison Break”) joins the mix. He'll play a cranky German chef who isn't too keen on his new dishwasher, Andy (Justin Kirk).

The sixth season premieres Aug. 16.

So Show Trackers, what do you think of the additions?

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Hamilton at the 70th annual Academy Awards in 1998. Credit: Los Angeles Times. 

'Weeds': Whammo!


I started watching ‘Weeds’ with the final episode of season two. I saw the pilot when it first aired, but I didn’t really start watching until the night I went to hang out with my friends and ended up watching "Pittsburgh." Remember that one? Nancy and Conrad set up to sell  weed to U-Turn and the Armenians show up after killing Nancy’s DEA husband, but Silas steals all the pot and gets caught by Celia and the police. Needless to say, I was confused, lost, and totally hooked.

To me, "Weeds" is No. 2 only to "Lost" for huge cliffhanger season finales. Season one ended with Nancy unknowingly pulling on the jacket of her DEA boyfriend. Season two finished up with the above-mentioned standoff. Season three concluded with Agrestic burning. And season four wrapped up with an ultrasound of Nancy and her Mexican politician/drug lord’s baby. Season five didn’t end with a huge bang … it more sneaked up behind you and, well, hit you with a croquet mallet.

The Botwin family starts off without its new patriarch. Esteban still hasn’t returned from campaigning, getting arrested, and then ending up on a major party ticket. (Mexican politics. So like our own.) After a stressful night of drinking and worrying, Nancy finds a masseuse setting up in her bedroom. Nice way to prepare for a stressful season finale: a rubdown, being called a warrior. But just as Nancy is lulled into peaceful relaxation, she finds out the massage is a gift from Pilar. I’m sure all her knots tightened again hearing that.

Before we get too into Nancy and Pilar’s looming battle, let’s get the B-story out of the way.

Continue reading »

‘Weeds’: Love’s tests

Weeds_511_0624 Esteban is gone. Not like gone, gone (which is what many people are thinking will happen next week). No, just a little gone, taken away by the policia last week on suspicion of conspiracy and tax evasion. Minor league charges when you think of everything Esteban has done. Goes to show you that if you’re running a drug cartel and have a tunnel to America to smuggle drugs and guns and young girls, you’d better be paying your taxes. That’s how they got Al Capone.

With her brand-new husband in custody, Nancy stops at nothing to find him. Well, first she drinks all night while waiting for Cesar to track him down, and then she stops at nothing to track him down. She rushes to Mexico, Andy in tow, and goes through a full day of bureaucratic number-taking, trying to find Esteban.

Andy comes along Gollum-style because he wants something from Nancy: the engagement ring Judah gave her. It’s a family heirloom, passed down from Botwin to Botwin as each one proposed, and it’s cheap. Wouldn’t want Andy to have to sell any of the arcade. Andy hops into Nancy’s limo heading south of the border because he’s gearing up to propose to Dr. Alanis Morissette. He’s ready to settle down and start a family. Nancy’s not so sure he’s ready. Luckily, they have the love quiz from a 35-year-old women’s magazine and endless waiting-room time to find out.

Back stateside, Casa de Reyes is under lockdown. Nancy left strict rules for Esteban’s guards that none of the kids is allowed to leave. Silas can’t even go for a jog. Instead, new stepsister Adelita decides to have a few friends over for some quick public-school bashing followed by light heroin smoking. Silas joins them mostly to drink wine and watch them make fools of themselves. For a kid who supposedly isn’t worldly enough for Adelita, Silas comes off as far more mature. When the two boys she brought over start taking advantage of the drugged-out Adelita, Silas even comes to the rescue. Though Shane ends up being the big help with a knife and the Spanish he picked up from Ignacio during their golf outings.

Celia, in the meantime, has decided she wants to be Nancy. She dresses like Nancy, talks like Nancy, opens her eyes really wide like Nancy. Honestly, she does a pretty good Nancy. Celia goes on with her Nancy imitation, trying to buy weed from Ignacio to help support her new lifestyle. Only there’s a black detective following her wherever she goes. She runs out on her deal and calls Nancy for help. Celia just needs a “What Would Nancy Do” bracelet. All the law enforcement that have come around Nancy have ended up severely beaten or dead. I don’t think Celia has that in her.

Who is the black private detective who's making Celia’s life so difficult? He’s one mean mother -- (shut your mouth). I’m just talking about Dean. Can you dig it? That’s right, Celia’s ex-husband under the disguise of several layers of “You’re Pretty” cosmetics is the one following her around. Flashing a fake badge. As far as revenge plots go, I have to say I’m impressed. Isabelle looks to have really gotten one over on her mother. Nice work.

After a full day of yelling at a series of clerks who don’t speak English and getting told off by Andy the second time this season for bringing all this disaster on her family, Nancy finally finds out that Esteban had been released from custody four hours earlier. She returns home to see him on television rejoining Pilar’s ticket in his bid for higher Mexican elected office. The woman who tried to stop their wedding, threatened Nancy’s children, and send someone to shoot her has Nancy’s husband back in her grasp. Should make for a spirited season finale next week.

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin. Credit: Showtime Television

'Weeds': Love is in the air


Ah, love is in the air on "Weeds." Though the love on "Weeds" is a little different. Come to think of it, the air is probably pretty different too. This isn’t the "According to Jim" version of love. I don’t think it ever had a title card that was a textbook diagram of a vagina.

The Botwin-Reyes clan started off trying to be a family off of a Normal Rockwell painting. They were even playing lawn darts, which I think has been illegal since Rockwell’s time. One side (Nancy and Esteban) is having a blast, while the other (Silas and Shane) is annoyed. Annoyed or making extremely dark jokes about the day their father died while jogging. Wow, Shane. I’d almost be creeped out if it wasn’t funny.

Then in walks Adelita, another new member of the family. And she already has a ton of baggage. She’ll fit right in.

Shane wants to flirt with her. He invites her for a night swim, gets her to suggest some books. If I know Silas, it won’t be long before he hooks up with her, then falls way too hard for her and is emotionally destroyed when she breaks up with him. That Silas, such a player.

Nancy wants to bond with her, but instead Adelita challenges her child-rearing skills and passes on getting to know Nancy due to a lack of interest in her father’s love life. It’s hard to blame her, though. She just arrived home to find out her dad is married and her room has been transformed into a maternity ward. That’s a rough afternoon.

Nancy doesn’t really seem bothered by the young lady until Esteban, her husband, drunkenly blurts out that he doesn’t think Silas is in the same league as Adelita. Esteban specifically sent her to France to get the kind of education that would keep her away from choices like Silas. Seriously, hooking up with a hot beach guy while on your summer break looking for colleges? How French is that?

While Nancy is getting smacked down by a high school senorita, she is also getting picture texts from Guillermo. Showtime has got to release that picture for download. I would totally make it my phone’s background.

Nancy meets with Guillermo to hammer out the rest of their plan to whack Pilar. Guillermo just needs her to get his case transferred to Mexico. Then he can slip out under a door and go all David Blaine. I doubt he means he’s going to freeze himself in a giant block of ice. But you never know.

Meanwhile, on the less Mexican Mafia side of life, Andy and Dr. Morissette are getting along pretty well. I know her character’s name is Dr. Audra Kitson, but I can’t help thinking “there’s Alanis Morissette hopping in the General Lee” or “there’s Alanis Morissette naked except for a well-placed arm.” Their date starts with an ever-expanding foot rub by Andy while Audra names all the bones he’s working. That has to be a challenge for sexiest scene against Eric and Sookie this week on "True Blood." Though I think Eric and Sookie might win that battle.

Andy and Audra make a pretty good couple. The other big couple of the episode is Celia and Raylene. Raylene makes her attraction known in the middle of a restaurant, and Celia appears to want to take her up on it. She even goes to her gay daughter, Isabelle, for some advice on kissing women (I’d say it’s more soft like puppies than rotten fruit, depending on who you’re kissing). After a day of shopping, Raylene shows her what it is like to kiss a girl. That’s all for tonight, but Raylene says there’s more to come.

Doug and Dean are trying to come up with a plan to get back at Celia for all she’s done to them, but they realize that when they smoke pot, they “can’t strategize good.” They decide to smoke in shifts and write good ideas on each other. If that’s a hint at the kind of ideas they come up with when sober, I don’t think pot is their problem. Luckily, Isabelle is ready to sign up for Revenge Inc. after she learns of Celia’s dip into lesbianism. Daughter versus mother. Let the fight begin.

The emotional heart of the episode comes with Nancy in the bathroom with her boys (her two eldest, I’d better say now). She makes an attempt to change the bandages on Shane’s gunshot wound while she obviously desperately wants to talk to Silas about Adelita. Both boys storm out before she can help either of them. This and little Stevie Ray is refusing breast milk for formula. Not a good day to be Nancy’s maternal instinct.

At least she has Esteban. He’s confident. He’s on the rise in politics. He’s got a Twitter account. Heck, he’s sexier than Gavin Newsom. That’s saying something. Check this guy out. Good thing there’s no reason for police to show up and arrest him in the final seconds of the episode. Right?

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Demian Bichir as Esteban Reyes and Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin. Credit: Showtime Television


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