The Watchman: A&E Has Friends in Low Places; Showtime Gives Them ‘L’ Again

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene
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A&E presents Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On, a two-part Biography special that starts Monday, Dec. 2. It’s a close-up of Brooks as a musician, a father and a man. It shows the guy playing the college bars as a young man in Oklahoma, and moving on to becoming a global superstar.

Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On

Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On

Director Al Syzmanski describes himself as a giant music fan, but he hadn’t really tackled a musical project like this before. “I felt like I found one of those golden tickets,” he said.

He admitted to just a “cursory knowledge” of Brooks’s music before taking on The Road I’m On. “For me, this was as much a journey of discovery as it hopefully is for the viewer,” said Syzmanski.

During an initial meet-and-greet to discuss the project, Syzmanski asked the singer about the handlers who would take care of every trifling request for a photo or article or phone number. “I guess that’s me,” Brooks answered.

Syzmanski asked the question again, in a slightly different manner. Brooks reiterated that he would handle all the minutia.

And he did.

“He proved true to his word,” Syzmanski said.

Musicians offering their take on Brooks in the film include Trisha Yearwood, Billy Joel and James Taylor. Syzmanski spoke about Keith Urban turning up for a Brooks studio session, playing his part, then seeing Brooks haul Urban’s amp out to Urban’s car. “That was such an insight into the character of Garth,” Syzmanski said.

Brooks’s three daughters, Taylor, August and Allie, are in the documentary too, and really make their mark. “They are un-frickin-believable,” said Syzmanski.

The director came away from The Road I’m On with a whole new level of respect for Brooks. “I have a huge appreciation for what he does musically,” Syzmanski said. “But I’m a much, much bigger fan of the man. He’s an impressive cat.”

The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q is on Showtime Sunday, Dec. 8. The original aired on Showtime 2004 to 2009.

“To say that this show is a labor of love is an understatement,” Gary Levine, Showtime entertainment president, said at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. “We are so thrilled with [showrunner] Marja‑Lewis Ryan’s inspired take on this groundbreaking series, and the beautiful way she has blended the best of the original with an exciting new point of view.”

Ilene Chaiken, exec producer, noted that the world has changed in the decade since The L Word went off the air, “and lesbians still belong on television.”

“We’re telling the stories about what’s happened in those 10 years,” she added. “Where we are now, and where we’re headed.”

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