Veteran journalist Charlie Rose broke some news — albeit inadvertently — during a July 28 interview of Vince Gilligan, creator of AMC’s Breaking Bad, at Long Island City, N.Y.’s Museum of the Moving Image.
Moderating the event titled “Making Bad: An Evening With Vince Gilligan,” the glib PBS and CBS host let slip a spoiler: “Who in the world gave you the idea to include me in the next-to-last episode?” (The series’ final eight installments unspool starting Aug. 11.)
Replied Gilligan, “Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler there,” adding, “Now that it’s out there, I have to say, you did a marvelous job.”
Rose’s revelation aside, Gilligan promised the resolution of the tale of Walter White’s fall from grace will wrap up the series “properly,” in a way that should satisfy fans. And don’t expect it to finish in a manner akin to The Sopranos, Gilligan said, as much as he admires the “ballsiness” of the mob drama’s inconclusive ending.
“Breaking Bad was always much more of a finite construct,” he said. “I knew creatively [that] when your self-imposed franchise is to take your protagonist and turn him into your antagonist, that is a continuum you’ve just set out for yourself, and there’s only so bad that bad can be — by its very nature, this is something that has a limited shelf life.”
Gilligan reflected on the series before a sold-out crowd at the museum’s Redstone Auditorium that spilled into a second room watching via closed-circuit. His appearance coincided with the opening of a Breaking Bad-themed exhibit, “From Mr. Chips to Scarface: Walter White’s Transformation in Breaking Bad.”
On display were such artifacts as the pair of briefs White wore when he cooked his first batch of meth; his yellow hazmat suit, apron and boots; and his “Heisenberg” black porkpie hat.
Curator of the museum and exhibitions Barbara Miller and her staff were given run of the warehouse on the Sony lot in Los Angeles where Breaking Bad’s props were stored post-production. Her most telling find? A binder that laid out the color palette for each character on the show.
She noted how, as Walter morphed from the timid chemistry teacher of season one to the drug kingpin also known as Heisenberg, his wardrobe changed from muted tans to darker, bolder colors — even though the type of clothes he wore remained pretty much the same. “It’s him,” she said. “He’s not so different.”
Replied Gilligan, “I think that’s well-put.”
“From Mr. Chips to Scarface” runs through Oct. 27.
TCA Sightings: A Piglet, A President and Mike Tyson
Unlike some summers past, there were no angry words between celebrities and TV critics or on-stage phone calls during the cable portion of the Television Critics Association 2013 Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. But there were some notable moments.
Nat Geo Wild trotted out a cute baby piglet as part of its presentation for a new reality series, Jobs That Bite, in which host Jeremy Brandt explores working with animals. But the show’s executive producer, Abby Greensfelder, found herself having to shield the pig from the approach of an augur falcon that swooped in over the critics’ heads and onto Brandt’s gloved hand. Nat Geo Wild president Geoff Daniels joked that the situation “could have been bad” had it not been for Greenfelder’s quick actions, before ushering Brant and the hawk off the stage before the pig. Shortly after the session was over, TV critics could hear the piglet squealing backstage, but Nat Geo officials told The Wire that all was well with the animals.
Rob Lowe, who stars as President Kennedy in National Geographic Channel’s Killing Kennedy, said every president since JFK has been trying to impersonate the “first telegenic president” who understood the power and influence of TV. “Every president today talks like him,” Lowe said. “They are all just … bad actors who found the greatest one who ever was and do their variation of that performance. If we were to meet in the corner, I could imitate every president’s version of imitating President Kennedy because he was the man.”
Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan said he believes viewers will be happy with the series finale, but didn’t give up any specific details on the fate of lead character Walter White: “I am very proud of the ending,” Gilligan said. “I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I am very cautious in my estimation of, in general, how people will respond to things. I hope I am not wildly wrong in my estimate that I think most folks are going to dig the ending.”
Filmmaker Spike Lee, who will bring former heavyweight Mike Tyson’s one-man stage show to HBO later this year, joked that Tyson nearly killed him in their first encounter on the streets of Brooklyn in the mid-1980s. Tyson, known for his poor driving skills, was driving his Rolls-Royce when he nearly ran Lee over trying to get his attention. “I didn’t have my license then,” Tyson said to the laughs of the TV critics. “But I had a really nice car.”
TV One personality Roland Martin held court with several TV writers 30 minutes after the network’s TCA presentation touting his new daily morning news show, News One Now. The pre-scheduled meeting with mostly African-American reporters was set up to give Martin an opportunity to continue the discussion of the new show — the first two hours of which will air on Radio One-affiliated stations while the third hour will be simulcast on TV One.
Martin said the show will ultimately be “the center of black thought” on television. He re-emphasized the importance of the show’s social-media push on the NewsOne.com website — as well as the ability of viewers to interact with the show through call-ins and uploads of video and photos — which will differentiate it from other cable news/public affairs programming.
— R. Thomas Umstead