Straight from the Mouths of the Stars and Developers: Overheard @ Viacom TCA 2014

by Neena Koyen, Viacom

Viacom Summer TCA 2014

Viacom took the stage at the Television Critics Association press tour last week with five brand new shows from MTV and VH1.  The critics were served up a healthy mix of scripted fare including MTV’s “Finding Carter” and “Happyland”; reality shows, with MTV’s “Virgin Territory” and VH1’s “Leann & Eddie”; and the very special hybrid reality-sketch show from VH1, “Candidly Nicole,” which started out as an AOL web series.  Here’s the short version of what the stars and development teams behind each of the shows had to say.

FINDING CARTER, MTV’s new family drama centers on Carter, a teenage girl who thinks she has the perfect life until she’s told that the woman who she believes to be her biological mother actually abducted her as a toddler.

  • Executive Producer Deb Spera: “The thing that really interested us about this show was that duality in character is the promise of a good drama, and all of these characters had duality of them that makes them compelling.”
  • Executive Producer Terry Minsky on adapting the script: “It was like this incredible gift from the universe just to say, “Do you want to write a mother/daughter show?  Okay.  How about if you have two mothers?””
  • Star Milena Govich (Abductor/mother, “Lori”): “Just like what Deb was saying about the duality of all of these characters, it’s one of my favorite things about this job is that all of us have a black and a white side and a whole lot of gray in the middle, and you will start seeing all those shades of gray in Lori as the season progresses.”
  • Executive Producer Deb Spera on working on a scripted show with strong female leads that was also developed and executive produced by a team of women: “We do think about it, actually.  It’s something that I am really proud of.  I think [EP] Maria [Grasso] and myself and Terri talked about it when we began production.  Our DP [Director of Photography] is a woman.  You don’t see that very often.”
  • Star Kathryn Presscott (“Carter”): “You don’t often see women’s relationships with each other as central …  and I think that’s what’s great about this is that you see Carter and you see her two mothers and her sister, and it’s very much about her relationship to them.”

Viacom Summer TCA 2014

HAPPYLAND, MTV’s new soapy teen comedy that goes behind the scenes at a theme park to reveal the not so magical reality of the park workers.

  • Executive Producer Craig Zadan: “It’s very rare to find a unique world, you know?  We’re so used to seeing the standard, typical world.  And the idea of seeing a group of people working, playing, having relationships — that’s sexy and interesting.  And the behind the scenes look at a theme park just seemed like a really unique and fun show to do.”
  • Star Bianca Santos (“Lucy”): “Everything gets really, really fun‑ly twisted.  Fun‑ly twisted, that’s a word, right?  We can say that.  We can say fun‑ly.”
  • Star Katharine Macnamara (“Harper”):I think there’s really something special about walking through the gates of a theme park and entering this complete other world … what our show captures, is transporting people to this world where things appear happy on the surface, but behind the scenes, there’s lots going on.”

Viacom Summer TCA 2014

VIRGIN TERRITORY, MTV’s new docu-series exploring the real-life stories of young adults navigating the complexities of relationships and one of the most complicated and emotional decisions of their young adult lives:  whether to have sex or remain a virgin.

  • Cast member Dominique Sullivan: “I decided to be a part of Virgin Territory because I am a virgin and I am 22 years old.  And in the media you really don’t see virgins that old.  We don’t get a lot of sunshine, and we get a lot of slack.  And I felt like this is our time to tell our story and to tell it with confidence, that we can be virgins in today’s society.”
  • Cast member Alec Melger: “I think you’re going to be very surprised by the show because we are kind of socialized to think that women don’t want sex and that men do.  And you’re going to be very surprised. … It’s going to change the way that we look at how each gender wants sex, because we’re taught to believe differently.”
  • Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: “As you would expect in a big, complicated country, there’s a lot going on.  Lots of different reasons to wait, to postpone.  Some people wanting sex can’t find it yet.  Some people being pressured and resisting.  It’s all of the above, which I think makes for fantastic storytelling, especially because it’s real.”
  • Dominique Sullivan: “When I lose it, I want to make sure I do it under the right circumstances, it’s with someone I truly love and someone I admire.  And I want to be protected by that person.  I don’t want to hit it and quit it.”
  • Sarah Brown: “The way we often say it is that sex has meaning, and sex has consequences.  And I think that’s become a little more widely shared in the culture.”

Viacom Summer TCA 2014

LEANN & EDDIE, VH1’s reality show featuring Grammy winning singer Leann Rimes and actor Eddie Cibrian promises to bring the truth and make fun of all the gossip.

  • LeAnn Rimes:  “I think that we definitely hit on the tabloid fodder because that’s what’s surrounded our lives so much in the last five years … everyone’s used our lives as entertainment, and so we wanted to actually kind of take our life back and have fun with our story, with where we are now.”
  • Eddie Cibrian:  We’ve never done this process before.  So it’s all a learning experience for us as well.  And what we found was that we thought, originally, we were going to be more protective of, you know, the final product, and we’ve kind of let the final product breathe on its own.”
  • LeAnn Rimes: “We’ve both gone through a lot of, you know, very private things with the public eyes watching, and it felt like ‑‑ Eddie and I really have, kind of, coped with all of it by laughing.  And we are both very much smart-asses.”
  • LeAnn Rimes: “My dad always knew that I’d end up with a pretty boy from California.”

In CANDIDLY NICOLE, Nicole Richie brings her unfiltered sense of humor and unique ability to infiltrate any environment to a new VH1 series based on her entertaining tweets.

  • Star Nicole Richie: “It’s a ‘tongue firmly planted in cheek,’ very fun type of show.”
  • “You will see fashion.  My kids are not in the show.  My husband is not in the show.  My dad’s on the show because he’s desperate and a celebrity and cannot stay away from the camera.”
  • “I created the show.  I’m producing the show.  So, yeah, I mean, I have control in that way, but I’m definitely still the butt of every joke.”

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