Tag: nadine velasquez

“Love is a Four-Letter Word” (NBC) pilot script: The closest thing to “Empire” any network has to offer!

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Pilot “Love is a beast” written & produced by Diana Son (Blue Bloods, American Crime, SouthLAnd). Co-produced by Mikkel Bondesen, Kristen Campo (The killing US, Burn Notice), Henrik Bastin (Bosch). Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Notorious BIG, Power, Men of Honor). For 20th Century FOX Television & Fabrik Entertainment. 55 pages.

Description: Nick & Julie were the longtime married couple every of their friends admired. But then they divorced because of an affair and now, they are trying to stay friends for their kids. Julie has a girlfriend, Rebecca, who’s her bestfriend since ages. And Nick has a girlfriend too, Fiona, the woman who he cheated with. But there’s something still going on between these two, everybody can see it: what if they were still in love?

With Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, Sons Of Anarchy, The Game, Mentalist), Cynthia McWilliams (Prison Break, The Real Housewives of Hollywood), LeToya Luckett (Treme, Single Ladies), Nadine Velasquez (Earl, Major Crimes, Real Husbands of Hollywood), Colin Donnell (Arrow, The Affair), Monet Mazur (Castle), Brian Tee (Crash, Jurassic World)…

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You think the picture up above is vulgar? It is. Is it just a coincidence? No, it’s not. Is it me saying Love is a Four-Letter Word is vulgar? Sort of. On the page, it’s not. But I fear it might become once it is shot and promoted. When I looked for pictures of the cast, all I could find for the women but also for the leading man (Rockmund Dunbar) was shirtless or almost naked ones. One thing for sure: it’s gonna be hot! But hot doesn’t mean good. Can they act? Another worrying thing: two of the leading women come from… The Real Husbands of Hollywood. No, it’s not a spin-off from the reality TV series The Real Housewives of… It is a parody of it, but with men and targeted at a black audience, for the network BET. Maybe it’s just me being contemptuous but I think it sends the wrong message. If you want to create a classy and profound show, you don’t hire middling actors you will have a hard time taking seriously. Look at Empire! I wouldn’t say it’s classy and profound, but it is… something. But they have Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard as leads! And they definitely can act. It makes the whole difference!

Love is a Four-Letter Word may be this kind of project that a network put so much effort to polish that it doesn’t end up the way it was supposed to, in the creator’s mind at least. For example, the lead couple was originally conceived as caucasian. Now they are black. It’s all okay, but it feels opportunistic. It was officially announced like this: “Race, sexuality and gender roles collide when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test“. But in fact what they meant was: “Brown hot married couples are about to cheat!“. It’s a modern soap that forgot to be funny -or only at its expense- but didn’t forget to be steamy. We are about to feel guilty liking it. I won’t insist on the sex scenes any longer but there are plenty, with black men & women, interracial stuff too and icing on the cake: girl on girl action! They have all sort of modern problems of course. One couple -Mr is a white man, Mrs is a black woman- is about to have another child and they need a sperm donor but they can’t agree on the color. The donor’s color I mean, not the sperm’s color. It’s an interesting question I guess. About cultural transmission, feeling part of a community. One that has already been dealt with in Parenthood indeed. NBC, you remember Parenthood? Other subjects are: penis sizes and… well, I think I only remember this one. But there are others.

In a way, Love is a Four-Letter Word feels like this type of shows we don’t have anymore on TV and which I am fond of when they’re sharply written: the relationship/marriage/family dramedies. It goes from Thirtysomething, the first one, to Significant Others, Once & AgainWhat About Brian… It’s a little bit this and a little bit of The Game, Single Ladies… It’s all about chemistry and appealing characters. They have a nice base. We’ll see how it turns out. We can expect chemistry from Cynthia McWilliams & Rockmund Dunbar: they already played a couple in Prison Break a few years ago. The classy thing is every act starts with one the character giving a quick speech in front of a camera in a homemade video. It’s never very deep but it does the trick and gives you an idea of what’s about to come. I haven’t talked about the title of the show yet but it’s the giant elephant in the room: It is SO ridiculous! Is it gonna change? I don’t think so. If I understand correctly, every episode title will start like: “True love is…” and this something will constist of a 4 letter-word. Like “beast” in the pilot. Except it’s a 5 letter-word. Well then, I don’t get the title. Good luck writers if the show last for more than one season! Love is many things but…

Love is a Four-Letter Word may be the closest thing to Empire any network has to offer as of now. It is very different in many ways but NBC certainly has something to play with here. But they should not expect the same ratings. I feel like they will have to make a choice between this and The Curse of The Fuentes Womenthough they would have made a great pair! 

Catches of the Week: it’ all about diversity! Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox, Natalie Martinez…

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While the directors’ jobs are filled quickly, casting is tough this pilot season. Because of the increasing competition from cable and most importantly digital platforms like Netflix & Amazon, the talent pool of experienced actors is almost empty. The pressure over channels and talent agencies is higher than ever. So far, catches are not impressive. But most of them have something in common: diversity! 

NBC is very high on diversity, something they made pretty clear since their pick-ups of series Telenovela (Eva Longoria) and Shades Of Blue (Jennifer Lopez) and pilots Go, Jerrod Go!, The Curse of the Fuentes women, martial arts Warrior, and Love is a Four Letter Word. They all requires latinos, afro-americans and asian americans in lead roles.

This is how Nadine Velasquez and Cynthia McWilliams have been cast this week in the marriage drama Love is a Four Letter Word which chronicles the collision of race, sexuality and gender roles when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test. The My Name is Earl alumna will play play Rebecca, a Cuban American who is deeply in love with Julie and very happy with their marriage, but doesn’t realize her wife is actively considering getting back together with her ex, Nick. McWilliams will play Tandi, one half of a happy couple with a young son who is experiencing difficulties fulfilling her dream of having another child. Hot Adan Canto, seen in The Following and Mixology, got the part of the mysterious man who brings the Curse to the Fuentes women in the pilot from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta. Natalie Martinez, most recently seen in Under The Dome, will star in Warrior as Kai Forrester, a damaged heroine who works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord. Finally veteran S. Epatha Merkerson from Law & Order is reuniting with producer Dick Wolfe with a lead role in the Chicago Fire and Chicago PD planted spin-off Chicago Med. She will be the head of the hopistal.

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In other diversity casting news, Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives will play the bold and unapologetic new boss of Kevin Connolly (Entourage) in comedy pilot Fantasy Life for FOX, where Mitch (Connolly) lands his ultimate dream job hosting a fantasy football show, he’s forced to navigate office politics while becoming the star he never thought he could be. Asian American actor Daniel Henney has joined the Untitled Criminal Minds spin-off with Gary Sinise & Anna Gunn. Last but really not least, Laverne Cox, discovered in Orange is the new black, got the part of a transgender attorney in Reasonable Doubt for CBS. If the show is ordered to series, then she’ll become the first transgender regular character on broadcast TV, which is exciting and groundbreaking.

In other non-diversity news (!), cancelled Perception‘s star Eric McCormack, pursued for different roles, will star in musical drama pilot Studio City for FOX, where he’ll play the songwriter father of a young singer who’s trying to make it big in Hollywood, but the man turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars! Ex-Breaking Bad actress Betsy Brandt wants to prove she can be funny after the Michael J. Fox Show demise, so she accepted one of the female leads in CBS’ Life In Pieces comedy pilot, with Colin Hanks playing one of her siblings. David Lyons (Revolution, The Cape) toplines drama pilot Game Of Silence, which NBC is very high on. Sweet Zach Gildford (Friday Night Lights, Off The Map), coming off Stanistan‘s pilot USA Network sadly just decided not to pick-up to series, lands on ABC in soap pilot Flesh & Blood. Finally, excellent Annie Potts & John Carroll Lynch will play the heroine’s parents in comedy pilot Family Fortune for ABC, where the central character comes out to her family.