HBO Introduces ‘Togetherness,’ ‘The Brink,’ ‘Bessie,’ and More [TCA 2015]

hbo tca winter 2015

To end Day Two of the Televisions Critics Association Winter 2015 Press Tour, HBO presented quite a few panels of their upcoming programming.


Real Time with Bill Maher was picked up for an additional 2 years. We will get season 14 in 2016 and season 15 in 2017.

Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley would return on Sunday, April 12th starting at 9pm.

– A new season Vice will premiere on March 6th.

‘Togetherness’ Panel

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From Jay and Mark Duplass, Togetherness is a new HBO half hour series following two couples living under the same roof in Los Angeles. We see them struggle to keep their marriage alive, follow their dreams, find meanings to their lives, all while still remaining friends, siblings and spouses to each other.

Here are a few highlights from the panel:

– Mark Duplass explained that it is the first time that they have four equal protagonists and they wanted to write the women as best they could. He shared that Melanie Lynskey and Amanda Peet were a great help in them achieving that.

– Jay Duplass shared that Amanda Peet is “the most spastic and hilarious human being on the planet” and that when they had to shoot a scene in which she flashes her breasts, she was shouting out “who wants to see 40 year-old boobs?”

– Amanda Peet also said that it is important to keep the comedy in a scene when you’re going to take your clothes off.

– The Duplass Brothers asked Amanda Peet to read with Steve Zissis before casting her and within a few minutes she was dragging him on the floor and screaming at him, but they were also laughing, which then resulted in the Brothers doing a lot of rewriting based on the relationship forged between the two.

– Improvisation is used to get some of the intimacy and realism of the show.

– Mark Duplass explained that even though the series takes place in Eagle Rock, California, location is not really important to the show, the characters and their lives are. Jay Duplass added that their stories are not told in visuals and places, but they are told in the faces of their characters.

– Mark Duplass explained that they wanted to make a show that reflected the way him and his brother see the world.

Togetherness premieres on January 11th, 2015.

‘The Brink’ Panel

HBO’s new series, The Brink, is a dark comedy that focuses on a geopolitical crisis and its effect on three different men: the US Secretary of State (Tim Robbins), a Foreign Service officer (Jack Black) and an ace Navy fighter pilot (Pablo Schreiber). Oh and did I mention that they must find a way to save the world from World War Three?!

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– When asked what inspired them to make the show, executive producer Roberto Benabib explained that he and co-executive producer Kim Benabib had gone to go see a Stanley Kubrick exhibit and when they got into the Dr. Strangelove part, they realized that nothing like that existed at the moment.

– They decided to do a comedy based on a more real world, so didn’t go as extreme in the silliness as Dr. Strangelove.

– Tim Robbins finds satire a very satisfying form of entertainment. He likes that it has to be funny but also deal with important issues.

– Jack Black said he was drawn to the material because he hadn’t seen anything like that before on television. He added, “it was very fresh and exciting and I wanted to party with these guys.”

– Jay Roach directed the first episode and Tim Robbins directed the second episode.

The Brink premieres this Summer 2015.

‘Bessie’ Panel

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Staring Queen Latifah, Bessie, is a new HBO film following the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith.

The panel for the movie featured Queen Latifah, who plays Bessie and director/writer Dee Rees.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– If there was a Bessie record out right now, Latifah thinks she would blow everyone out of the water with her voice.

– “They had a small amount of time to capture so much,” Queen Latifah explained about capturing the life of Bessie in a two-hour movie.

– Rees said that on set Queen Latifah was Bessie. “She took over,” Queen Latifah explained.

– Experiencing how Bessie’s hair, shoes and clothes changed helped Queen Latifah see how Bessie was growing as a character.

The movie will premiere in Spring 2015.

‘Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All’ Panel

Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All is a two-night, four-hour documentary looking at the life of Frank Sinatra told using hours of archived interviews and commentary from friends and family.

The interesting thing about the documentary is that they didn’t shoot any video interviews for the documentary, but instead only recorded audio interviews, which allowed them to put the audio on top of archive footage and give the documentary a different feel.

Executive producer/director Alex Gibney explained that the structure for the documentary is not purely chronological. However, there is a “rough chronology” to it but there is also a focus on aspects of his life that were really meaningful, for example him winning an Oscar.

The documentary will premiere in 2015.

‘The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst’ Panel

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HBO’s six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, directed by Andrew Jarecki and produced and shot by Marc Smerling, features the first time Robert Durst speaks publicly on camera. Durst has been accused of three murders over the past 30 years, but was never convicted. The documentary is a result of the filmmakers’ seven-year investigation and the relationship that evolved between them and Durst.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– Director Andrew Jarecki got in contact with Durst because he directed a movie about him starring Ryan Gosling titled All Good Things, which led Durst to contact him. Jarecki was able to record that first phone call which makes it into the documentary.

– Jarecki shared that when he met Durst and shook his hand, he couldn’t shake the feeling that Durst had admitted to dismembering his neighbor.

– Jarecki talked about watching All Good Things with Durst and specifically a scene in which Ryan Gosling (playing Durst) drags Kristen Dunst (playing Durst’s wife) by the hair. Durst reaction was that he had heard the story told two ways: the first one is what is portrayed in the film, the second one involved a bunch of hair being pulled out. He admitted that either way was pretty close to what had happened.

– Jarecki promised that by the end of the series you wouldn’t be left “scratching your head” but you would have a clear view of Durst.

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst premieres February 8, 2015 at 8pm.