Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs are two of the three creators of the Emmy-nominated comedy series “Hacks.” The HBO Max show features Jean Smart as a veteran comedian fighting to hold onto her long-running Las Vegas gig. In real life, Smart also wanted the show to go on — even when her husband died unexpectedly with a week of shooting left. Downs tells KCRW, “We knew from working with [Smart] that she is all in, she is fully committed. And so in that way, we looked to her in this time as well.”
More episodes from "The Business"
‘Tinderbox’: HBO has drama on and off the screen
28:32For his exhaustive new book on HBO, James Andrew Miller talked to 600 people about the network that brought us “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Veep.” Behind the scenes, executives were playing their own “Game of Thrones.” In the first of a two-part conversation, Miller tells KCRW about his new HBO oral history, “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers.”
Netflix’s ‘Procession’ is a therapeutic experiment, using drama to ease past trauma
28:32The new Netflix documentary “Procession” follows Dan Laurine and five other victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, as they use drama to ease the burden of their traumatic childhoods. They write and re-enact scenes from their past — scenes that are not at all graphic but still carry a powerful emotional charge. Laurine and “Procession” director Robert Greene tell KCRW how they hope their film can help facilitate change for other survivors.
Kieran Culkin on why his edgy ‘Succession’ persona sometimes follows him off-screen
28:32Kieran Culkin has found a defining role playing Roman Roy, the snarkiest of the siblings on HBO’s “Succession.” Culkin tells KCRW about acting from an early age, facing his fears while fulfilling a dream as host of “Saturday Night Live,” and how he sometimes finds it hard to turn off that very snarky Roman Roy persona.
Netflix’s ‘Found’: International adoption, uncovering complicated family histories in China
28:32The Netflix documentary “Found” follows three Chinese cousins, adopted as babies by very different American families. Thanks to DNA, the teen girls found each other. Then they travelled to China seeking clues about their past, and got the help of a young Chinese genealogist with her own complicated family history. Director Amanda Lipitz and producer Anita Gou tell us how their emotional film “Found” benefitted from a big helping of kismet from start to finish.
What went wrong on the set of ‘Rust?’
28:32Bryan Carpenter has worked as an armorer — the person responsible for overseeing weapons — on series such as “Queen of the South” and “Cloak & Dagger.” He has a lot of thoughts about what appears to have gone wrong on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie “Rust.” The biggest issue of all? The apparent presence of live ammunition. “That never should occur,” Carpenter says. “That would be the worst case scenario — to introduce a live round onto a movie set that’s using firearms.”Carpenter details the circumstances that contributed to the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and he shares his hope that this nightmare will lead to more standardized gun safety training across the film industry.
How Edgar Wright makes original movies in an industry obsessed with franchises
28:32KCRW revisits its conversation with filmmaker Edgar Wright. His music documentary “The Sparks Brothers” celebrates two musicians whose work he loves. Ron and Russell Mael are brothers who make up the band Sparks, and they’re a pair of complete originals. Wright is an original, too. His hit movie “Baby Driver” and upcoming thriller “Last Night in Soho” are based on ideas he made up. And he can’t help but wonder why movie studios aren’t willing to take a few more chances on fresh ideas. Plus, KCRW has fresh banter about internal strife at Netflix, HBO Max numbers, and IATSE. The below-the-line Hollywood union has a contract, but will its members ratify it?
The return of HBO’s ‘Succession’
28:31The third season of HBO’s award-winning black comedy “Succession” was supposed to premiere a year ago, but the pandemic halted production for many months. Series creator Jesse Armstrong says despite the delay, the cast was soon back in the zone when they finally reunited. Armstrong tells KCRW how the road to “Succession” began with a script about an imagined Murdoch family dinner, and explains why he re-writes his scripts — full of lacerating insults — throughout the production process.
Writer Danny Strong on his quest to make Hulu’s ‘Dopesick’
28:32Before he co-created the hit show “Empire,” writer Danny Strong won accolades for two HBO movies based on real events. So when he wanted to make a series about the opioid epidemic based on Beth Macy’s book “Dopesick,” he thought he’d be met with open arms. Instead, he found no one was much interested in his pitch. He tells KCRW about his quest to make a limited series version of “Dopesick,” which eventually found a home on Hulu.
As the Academy Museum opens, Los Angeles finally has a grand space devoted to movies
28:32After budget blowups, a leadership change and many delays, the long-awaited Academy Museum is finally open. KCRW takes a whirlwind tour with museum president Bill Kramer to hear how exhibits cover all aspects of the movie business. And there are lots of fun sightings, including ruby red slippers, the typewriter used to write “Psycho,” Leo’s “Revenant” body cast, and even the famous Rosebud.
IATSE behind-the-camera workers make movies and TV shows happen. They may soon authorize a strike
28:32For the first time in decades, the crew members who make movies and TV shows are threatening to strike. Members of IATSE — the union that covers cinematographers, editors, costumers and many more behind-the-camera jobs — say they’ve had enough of low wages and long hours without sufficient breaks. Script coordinator and IATSE member Shawn Waugh tells KCRW why he will vote to authorize a historic strike.