Saturday, March 01, 2014

'Girls' won't be 'Sex and the City'

(Feb. 23, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

LONDON—“We were all in our 20s once and I don’t think we have a shortage of those stories,” said “Girls” executive producer Jenni  Konner, explaining the source of its characters’ unending pratfalls to journalists during a roundtable interview.

Apatow, Konner, and Dunham in a press event last January.
“It see seems to really strike a chord [anywhere],” she said, but  clarified that while many involved in the sex comedy show’s creation were fans of “Sex and the City,” the main characters “don’t grow up to be those girls.”

The grittier and considerably less fancy “Girls,” which recently had its third season launch here, is coexecutive-produced by filmmaker Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).

“Judd is like our Charlie, like in ‘Charlie’s Angels,’” Konner said. “He’s in LA with an incredibly clear perspective that we don’t always have, because we’re right next to it. He reads every script; he watches every cut. He calls us, ‘You have to shoot that again.’ [We’d say,] ‘Come on, we’re so tired.’ ‘No, you know you have to reshoot that.’ And we do.”

On the show’s creator, writer-director-actor Lena Dunham, Konner described her as “really truthful and candid.” Dunham, who plays the beleaguered writer Hannah, is also an executive producer. “Lena learns how to do things…If she spends 10 minutes in this room, she’s gonna know how to be a journalist tomorrow. She’s very quick!”

In a separate interview at the launch, Dunham related that the success of “Girls” could be attributed to the focus on the stories, and staying uncompromised. “These girls behave in ways that [some] people don’t want girls to behave. And so we’re always thinking about that, but at the same time we’ve chosen not to [make changes] because of what a certain audience doesn’t want to see.”

On actress Zosia Mamet, who plays the finicky student Shoshanna, Konner described her as “really different” from her character. “It’s a big, incredible stretch for her and she’s really good. I’ve seen her in ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Kids are All Right,’ two vastly different parts.  [She’s a] fine, reality-based actor.”

“I think that Shoshanna’s best feature is that she does everything sincerely, without apologizing for it,” said Mamet in another interview. The daughter of playwright-filmmaker David Mamet, however, added that her character has a weakness that she related to. “Her worse feature is, she’s just f—ing anxious all the time. I’m a worrier. I’m from a family of worriers. I’m sure that’s gonna shorten my life,” she said.

Allison Williams plays the oft-unsure but eager Marnie, whose job changes every season. “Allison is a wonderful control freak and I love her,” Konner said. “Her beauty is insane…she seems to get more beautiful by the second.”

“At this point, Marnie and I are very different,” Williams revealed during her turn. “That’s really fun for me to play. The writers thought that I could pull it off; it’s such a compliment. She has no idea why this has befallen her and who couldn’t want her. ‘Why am I working in a coffee shop, like Hannah?’ Her life is so different from what she thought it was going to be.”

Jemima Kirke, who plays the volatile eccentric Jessa, was unable to attend the launch. According to Konner, the actor can be as unpredictable as her character: “I can never anticipate what will come out of her mouth…[but] she’s very different from her character, too. She’s married and has two kids, leads a very different life, but can access that character so brilliantly. Jemima is a complete natural.”

The Brit-American Kirke proved herself a patient person, unlike the irritable Jessa, Konner said. “We have to tell our camera guys, ‘OK, we have enough of those [shots]. Because they just fall in love with her and will do 15 takes of her waking up in the morning. She’s stunning!”

(“Girls” airs Sundays, 10 p.m., on HBO Signature.)

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