Thursday, August 21, 2008

And Now, a Word From...

Oliver Goldstick
Executive Producer, NBC’s Lipstick Jungle

By the time I caught up with Lipstick Jungle executive producer Oliver Goldstick at the Television Critics’ Convention last month, the show already had three episodes for its second season in the can. Having recovered from the chaos wrought by last season’s writers’ strike, Goldstick and company had gotten an early summer jump on producing more Lipstick on location in New York. Now, as the seasoned writer took a break to shmooze some critics at this party in LA, it was refreshing to see how this is a show he’s obviously quite proud of.

Must-Hear TV: MHTV: At the end of last season, Lindsay Price’s character Victory shared a kiss with another woman, but the storyline ended abruptly. Was that intended to anywhere that it didn’t?

Oliver Goldstick: Due to the writers’ strike, that script was shot before the writers really got to work on it. It was a first draft. The story was supposed to be about a couple that hired Victory where they both were interested in her. It wasn’t about Victory coming out in any way, or an intention to say she was going in a different direction in her sexuality. But there is a certain fluidity in her world -- she works in fashion, so nothing should surprise us.

What we had intended for the storyline was that, on the heels of her horrible breakup with Joe Bennett [Andrew McCarthy], where she’s not feeling desired at all, we wanted two people to desire her. So we put her in a situation where she went from being invisible to suddenly being toast of the town. But with the strike, we never got to write the full storyline. We didn’t even get to hear Victory say why this all happened -- what was going on with her vulnerability and why she was open to being with a couple. We weren’t trying to play a joke or be exploitative [by introducing and then wrapping up a lesbian plotline in just one episode]. I wouldn’t do that. I have too many GLAAD awards under my belt for that one.

MHTV: Speaking of exploitative – in a good way – who’s that guy who’s always shirtless on the show?

OG: That's Kirby [Robert Buckley]. I’ve had people ask me, “Will we be seeing any more of Kirby?” And I want to say, “NBC censors won’t allow us to see any more of Kirby.” In fact, all last season, when I got to post-production, I had to do a lot of cutting thanks to Kirby. But yes, you’ll see a lot of Kirby coming up – he’s a regular now. I don’t want to tell you too much, but we’ll be exploring what it means for an older woman to be with a younger man.

MHTV: Do you think the shirtless Kirby buzz on the internet helped Lipstick Jungle’s ratings?

OG: Look, the right pecs can get you a lot of publicity I guess. I’m very fortunate for it. I guess the show’s lucky. Robert works out at the gym a lot, and just likes to take his shirt off. He’s 26 years old – wouldn’t you? He would do every scene in a towel if he could. We don’t have to ask.

MHTV: You mentioned the strike hampering your ability to tweak little details on the show last season. Now that it’s over, how has the writing process changed?

OG: We didn’t get to try to write for these actors last year, because of the strike. But now I’ve been able to stand back and watch these episodes and spend time with them. I can try to write for the individual actors and their strengths now.

MHTV: Since the show is set in New York, can we expect more gay characters to pop up? Having the New York actor pool to cast from, where there are a lot of gay theater actors available…

OG: Well, Victory’s assistant Roy [Matt Lauria] will come out in this season. Not in a big way – he just comes out. And I can’t tell you too much, but Wendy [Brooke Shields] is going to have a new colleague. But gay people are part of New York’s fabric, so why wouldn’t we have them on the show? I’ll be honest with you, one of my agendas coming in to work on the show [replacing the original executive producers] was to make it resemble New York more. Because the New York I lived in for 10 years really wasn’t represented that well earlier. We needed more people who just looked like they lived in that city.

MHTV: So you’re trying to make Lipstick Jungle more multicultural overall?

OG: Yes. We’ve added Rosie Perez [as Victory's new publicist Dahlia], and James Lesure is the new boss. You can’t work in New York City without hearing five languages when you’re standing at Starbucks in the morning. That’s just what New York is. Unlike in L.A., where you can be very insulated, the city doesn’t allow that. In New York, you are in the maelstrom of humanity when you walk out your door. So I think we’re making some changes to reflect that. And Lorraine Bracco, who appeared on the show last season, is coming back too. I remember, when the strike was over and I was able to go into the editing room and watch the show, I noticed that the minute Lorraine opens her mouth, I know where I am. You can get rid of the background, close the blinds – we still know this is New York. It’s the same way I feel with Rosie and with James. This is what I want in the show. We don’t have to feel we have to show 30 Rock to know where we are. We know where we are because Lorraine Bracco is telling somebody off.

MHTV: She’s your own one-woman establishing shot. Speaking of guest stars, how much will we see of guest star Mary Tyler Moore as Wendy’s mom?

OG: Mary’s in two episodes right now so far. We don’t commit to anything. The show was based on a novel, so we’ve been busy in the writers’ room collapsing [and condensing the source material.] And now [in season two] we have the prerogative to pick and choose what we want. That has dictated how we’re doing things this year. Some things are going to be from the book, and some things are not. We’ll still pay some allegiance to the book, but we’ll also say, “You know what, this is a series now and we need 100 episodes. I have to make some changes and make some different choices.”

Lipstick Jungle
Season 2 Premiere
Wednesday, September 24
10 PM Eastern

Lipstick Jungle - Season One
Release Date: May 27, 2008

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