Tag: sabrina wind

False Profits (ABC) pilot preview: Flashback to ABC’s Glory Days

Written and executive produced by Kayla Alpert (Code Black, Ally McBeal, Sweet Valley High). Also produced by Sabrina Wind (Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives, Reba) & Jason Reed (The Crossing, Ninja Turtles). Directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock, Devious Maids, Designated Survivor, The Family). For ABCABC Studios & Jason T. Reed Productions. 63 pages. Network draft 1/18/2018.

Description: Laura, Parvun and Hilary, three down-and-out women who live in suburban Arizona, fight their way to the top of the cutthroat world of a multi-level marketing cosmetics business, forming their own tribe, each wanting a better life for themselves. Little do they know what will happen in a year…

With Bellamy Young (Scandal, Dirty Sexy Money, Scrubs), Kosha Patel (Mary+Jane, The Newsroom), Shelley Hennig (Teen Wolf, Ouija, Unfriended, The Secret Circle), Vanessa Williams (Daytime Divas, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty), Ben Lawson (Designated Survivor, Doubt, Love Child), Mark L. Young (Ten Days in the Valley, The Comeback, The Inbetweeners US), Marcus Coloma (Major Crimes, Make It or Break It, South BeachTapil Talwalkar

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Good Girls, Devious Maids, Ugly Betty…

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9, Wednesday at 10

 

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” says Sun Tzu in The Art of War. “The best revenge is massive success” said Frank Sinatra. It’s with those quotes that False Profits‘ script starts and they say a lot about what this show is really about. The intention of it all. Yes, the logline looks like yet another desperate attempt for a “new Desperate Housewives” with working women this time, but it’s much more than that. Not that it’s a better show than DH. It’s not. And not that ABC won’t try to market it as one if it’s picked-up. With an executive producer -Sabrina Wind- who was Marc Cherry’s “eyes and ears” (that’s what he said) during DH glory, it will be too tempting for them. But I feel like False Profits tries to dig deeper and looks like a great show for the #MeToo #TimesUp era. Also, it fits perfectly with ABC’s new ambition to tell stories that are “less dark, less edgy, more hopeful, more joyful” and that reflect the true realities of what life is like for everyday Americans, especially for american women, without losing what made them successful 15 years ago.

False Profits -this title isn’t appealing at all, it needs to change- is an update on the sacred American dream, on the female side this time; which is not that ordinary. It lightens the mood in these uncertain times but not without substance when Desperate Housewives was an exciting and incredibly entertaining show but pointless most of the time. Not trying to pit them against each others. But since they will be compared a lot, I want to make things clear. Yes, it’s often comical, and bitchy, and full of twists; it’s an unapologetic soap which aims to be entertaining and exciting as well. The added value here is its hopefulness, the positive message it sends to women, the inclusiveness. That’s where it deviates from NBC’s Good Girls, for instance. They both show women fighting together and not against each others, pursuing their dreams, the “girl power” in full force, but in False Profits they launch their business, they don’t rob a supermarket. And that’s way more powerful. Even though the world of comestics is very specific, which may make it harder for viewers to relate to -and for the show to find an audience that will look beyond that- it’s still something that’s part of every women’s lives, whether they like it or not. And False Profits doesn’t show it with naiveté. On the contrary, it’s quite cynical sometimes. At least, that’s how I read it.

It starts with a big joyous cold open set in Las Vegas during 2018’s Brava Natural (the fictive brand of the show) cosmetics national sales training with women from different ethnicities, ages and religions, like they’re all members of a cult, but a million-dollar extravaganza cult with cocktails, dancers, acrobats, and even two of the original Spice Girls (Mel B & Gerri Halliwell) on stage! It’s crazy. But things quickly go south when a woman in her pink stilettos emerge from the shadows and shoots Brava‘s CEO Kirsten Odelfet. And then we flashback to one year earlier. So the show is not all positive and fun, it’s also dark. Of course, we don’t know who the female shooter is, we don’t even see her face. It’s an efficient hook, in the “who shot X?” fashion that always works. The only problem is: as of now, we don’t care about this Kirsten. And we don’t see her again in the pilot by the way. But we want to. Definitely.

Let’s meet our three central characters now, who are all smartly introduced and already relatable and moving on the page. First, there’s Laura Hazelton, a single mother of two struggling to get by. it will be interesting to see Bellamy Young in a very different role than Scandal‘s Melly Grant. Tired of being ten steps behind, Laura signs up for a multi-level marketing scheme for selling cosmetics. it’s through her that it all starts. Then there’s her friend and colleague Hilary Jenkel (Shelley Hennig), a sharp-tongued, hot-tempered former beauty queen whose glory days were cut short by a nasty drug habit. Now in recovery and single mother of a 6 year-old, she hopes to reignite the flame between her and Clark, Lila’s father. But when he sues for full custody of their daughter, Hilary needs to whip her life and bank account into shape. She joins Laura in the business, using her pageant know-how as the underdog’s team secret sales weapon. The third Musketeer is indian-american Parvun Chattoraj, a soft-spoken, whip-smart young woman, who’s much more sophisticated about computers than most people. Her very traditional parents want her married but it’s not her priority.

Finally, on the other side of the spectrum is Suzanne (Vanessa Williams), chief of a highly successful “tribe” of Brava Natural saleswomen, who become Laura, Hilary and Parvun’s best enemy when they decide to become her direct competition. At a bridal convention, they get creative in selling products, outsmarting Suzanne and her extravagant booth. So the war is on! Bellamy Young vs Vanessa Williams is the most promising thing this show can provide, by far! What if Suzanne was the shooter? Unless it’s one of our girls? See. It works! We’re dying to know what happened. Let’s just hope we will be as much invested in the little details of their everyday lives than in the bigger picture. Also that the men characters will become more interesting and complex. I get that those women don’t need men to become who they want to be, but it doesn’t mean that the ones who are in their lives should be useless. They need to exist too.

False Profits is a fun soap, mostly comical, darker at times, that takes us back to ABC’s glory days when Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters & Ugly Betty were all on the air at the same time. Does it belong to the past or does it have a future on a network that changed a lot since then? Crossing my fingers so it can find a place in the schedule and in the audience’s heart. It’s not revolutionary but it sends the right message at the right time.

Bluegrass/Blood Red (ABC) pilot preview: Desperate Cop in soapy smalltown America

Written and produced by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, The Golden Girls). Also produced by Reba McEntre, Sabrina Wind (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Reba), Mindy Schultheis & Michael Hanel (Malibu Country, Reba, Rita Rocks). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Longmire). 54 Pages. 2nd revised network draft (01/05/17). For ABC Studios, Cherry-Wind Productions & Acme Productions.

Description: Ruby Adair, the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, Kentucky, finds her red state outlook challenged when Tag Fayad, a young FBI special agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime that happened during the 4th of July parade. Together they form an uneasy alliance as Ruby takes Tag behind the lace curtains of this southern gothic community to meet an assortment of bizarre characters, each with a secret of their own…

With Reba McEntire (Reba, Malibu Country, Tremors), Jack Coleman (Heroes, Scandal, The Office, Dynasty), Amanda Detmer (What About Brian, Private Practice), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, Devious Maids), Ben Esler (Hell On Weels), Emily Rose (Haven, ER, Graceland), Natalie Hall (Star-Crossed, All My Children), Saidah Ekulona (Impastor)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, True Blood

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9 (the old Desperate Housewives slot) or Monday at 10 (right after old-skewing Dancing With the Stars).

 

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. And in their drama department, ABC is in a desperate situation. They found no new hit this season, except Designated Survivor that is doing okay, while older dramas that are not Grey’s Anatomy are dying. So they asked Marc Cherry, one of their last hit maker, responsible for the rise and fall of the iconic Desperate Housewives, to give them something. Anything. And here we are.

I am thrilled to be coming back home to ABC. What makes it all the sweeter is Reba McEntire is coming with me. And we can’t wait to share with our fans this wonderful Southern Gothic soap opera we’ve been cooking up for them” Cherry said in an official statement. I find it amusing that he considers having fans of his own. Reba McEntire has fans. Of course, she’s a legendary country music star (who wants to be an actress too for some reason). But Marc Cherry? I’m not sure. I mean, there are fans of Desperate Housewives all over the world. There must have fans of Devious Maids too. I am one of them. Don’t judge me. But fans of him? Anyway. It’s just PR after all. So, will those said fans be happy with his new project? Possibly. But not as much as they would have anticipated I’m afraid.

The first question I ask myself when I’m finished reading a pilot script from a renowned writer is not was it good or not but would it have been picked-up if it was not written by this particular talent that has a value for obvious marketing reasons (“from the writer that brought you Desperate Housewives“)? In this case, Marc Cherry has such a special voice that there is no doubt it’s him and there is no doubt it would have been picked up even written by someone else or written by a young and unproven Marc Cherry. Even though it’s clearly not his best work, it’s exactly what ABC needs: something heavily serialized but with a crime and an investigation at the center since there’s still a craving for this kind of shows; something fun and soapy, but not too dark since ABC had too many of those the past few years; and finally something that has the potential to stay on the air for years to come since you know, it’s a business.

Plus, it is believed to be part of the network’s push for more programming that reflects Middle America. On this, I’m not really sold. Yes, it is set in the traditionally Republican state of Kentucky -as both Marc Cherry and Reba McEntire are proud Republicans- but those people living in Oxblood are way too quirky for real americans to recognize themselves in them, apart, maybe, in our heroine and her family. For example, there’s the character of Miss Bo. She will probably be the funniest part of the show. But she runs the local brothel with “the ugliest whores in Kentucky”. I don’t think my mother or yours will recognize themselves in her. Except if your mother is “a Madam”. And that’s okay. I’m also thinking about the Winemiller sisters, black and colorful church ladies. They run a Bed & Breakfast and they talk a lot. Often at the same time. Not your regular neighbours. But anyway, that’s where the fun is. That’s Marc Cherry at his best. Bitchy comments, dialogues to die for. He still got it, my friends. If they find the right cast, magic will happen.

In case you’re wondering, Cherry isn’t offering here a celebration of Donald Trump and his digusting ideas, especially about immigration. But I had my doubts while I was reading the teaser. A brown-skinned woman that is supposed to be a terrorist after she plowed into crowd during a 4th of July parade, killing people (it reminded me of the Nice attack during Bastille Day last summer, which was probably his inspiration)… a detective who is described (in bold letters) as “Middle eastern decent”… but without revealing too much, it’s not what you think. It’s about looking beyond the appearrances for both the townspeople and the stranger coming to town. Like Cherry did with Desperate Housewives and even a bit with Devious Maids: there are no good or bad people in the end, there are only crazy people. It’s not life, it’s soap. And it’s not deep but it’s irreverent.

What I’m less fond of in the show is the investigation part. It’s not used as a distraction from time to time. It’s at the center of it all. And it’s Marc Cherry. The ones in Desperate Housewives were always kinda ridiculous. I’m afraid it’s still the case. It’s not yet, but it could become quickly. Especially if there are planning 22-episode seasons. Just don’t expect The Killing. Thankfully, the dynamic between Ruby and Tag looks different than what we’re used to. It’s not about them falling in love in the near future. She’s 55 (Reba is 61 but she has a “good” surgeon). He’s in his thirties. Well, it would be bold to make them fall in love but I don’t feel like it’s in the cards. It’s more of a mother/son relationship and I don’t recall such a duet in crime dramas. She’s a tough woman with a temper (who has every reason to be angry – her ex-husband Deke is now married to her ex-best friend, plus her junkie daughter left, leaving her 7 year-old son behind); he’s a sex-addict and rude and vegan FBI agent who doesn’t believe in love, monogamy or marriage. Definitely an interesting pair.

I don’t know if it’s because Twin Peaks is coming back or because networks suddenly remembered that America is not only made of big overcrowded cities, but quirky little towns are back in the game this year (Riverdale is another example) and the Marc Cherry Project is apparently ABC’s way of saying: “Middle America, we heard you. Let’s have some fun together!”. Fun, there is. It’s an exciting soap a little more grounded than usual mixed with a crime drama, that has enough potential to be considered as a frontrunner in this pilot season. It isn’t revolutionnary. It won’t be a game-changer show for the network but it could turn into a solid performer that will primarily resonate with older viewers (it lacks teenager/ young adult characters so far).