Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's not porn. It's HBO.

This morning's column goes a little more in depth in looking at the fun, sexy time (or not) that is HBO's upcoming "Tell Me You Love Me":
"For the actors, did anybody actually, uh, do it?"

The question hangs in the air of the ballroom -- site of a July press conference to discuss HBO's "Tell Me You Love Me," easily the most sexually explicit drama in American TV history -- like a clumsy pick-up line. Yet contained within its Beavis & Butt-head phrasing are many of the emotions associated with sex: anticipation, discomfort, anger, relief, even disappointment.

The reporters cringe at the wording, but they've all been buzzing for weeks about the show's sex scenes -- many of them shot in a way that makes it hard to imagine how the actors didn't, uh, do it -- and they crane their necks forward for an answer. The "Tell Me" producers and actors shift uncomfortably in their seats, irritated and eager to deny the crowd the satisfaction it seeks.

"Next question," snaps creator Cynthia Mort.

"I know I didn't," quips actress Ally Walker.

The reporter presses on, "I'm assuming it was fake, but how did you go about making it look so authentic, and why did you have to do that?"

Finally, "Tell Me" co-star Michelle Borth -- participant in a number of the series' rawest moments -- loses her patience.

"We are not porn stars," she says, testy. "We're actors. And I think part of our job in any scene, whether it's a sex scene or, you know, a fight scene or, you know, an emotional scene, you do the best that you can to do it authentically and honest. So, you know, we were doing the sex scenes. We were doing them to make you ask that question, basically."

That question has enveloped discussion of "Tell Me You Love Me" (which debuts Sept. 9 at 9 p.m.) to the point where it's hard to consider the non-sexual aspects. Even when the characters are fully clothed and not touching, this is a painfully intimate look at the problems that can plague a relationship, but the word "intimate" connotes sex. It may not even matter that most of the sex scenes, usually born less of lust than desperation and fear, almost work as an advertisement for celibacy.

To read the full thing, click here. (Or here for the printer-friendly version. It's longer than usual, so you may be better off going straight to the latter version.)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of bs. The actors and producer insist it wasn't real and act offended when people think so, but also refuse to say how the scenes were actually done. They're trying to make it seem like the sex is no big deal and shame the the audience for wanting to know how it was done, but won't say because they know everyone's curiousity about the sex scenes is what will get people to tune in and don't want to destroy the illusion and risk having people lose interest.

Steven said...

Obviously not having seen the show yet, I wonder if the show would work with out the graphic sex scenes.

I hate to be so cynical, but this whole "did they really have sex or not" thing seems be a too clever by half ploy to get people to watch in order to see if it really does, indeed, look like the actors are really having intercourse.

dez said...

Steven, it seems like a ploy to me as well. Except it's working on me because I will watch at the least the first ep to see what all the hubbub's about.

Andrew Dignan said...

I'm more or less repeating what's been voiced already, but I find Mort's comments to be either annoyingly disingenuous or embarrassingly naive, which would, incidentally, place her alongside most people who write for television. We live in a country where less than ten years ago we impeached our commander in chief for lying about using a woman as a humidor and less than four years ago the discussion of two men marrying one another was enough to sway a presidential election and she registers shock (SHOCK!) at people focusing on the show's sex? I can only go on what Alan's written about the show, but my gut tells me the show is another "Thirtysomething" knock-off that actually sounds really familiar to an old Showtime show called "Bedtime" which was a series of 5 min-long one-act scenes involving couples of varying ages, ethnicities, orientations, economic standing, etc... There are probably half a dozen "relationship shows" either set to premiere this fall or are far along in the pipeline and yet this is the one that's getting a write-up a full month before it goes on the air? This is pure Barnum if you ask me.