The Watchman: Finding ‘Gold’ on Acorn; Ruffalo Hits Mark Twice on HBO Series

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene
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Gold Digger begins on Acorn TV May 4. This British drama tells the story of a 60-year-old woman falling in love with a man in his 30s. Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes star.

Marnie Dickens, creator/showrunner/executive producer/writer, said she’d always wanted to do a family drama, but “knew that wasn’t enough, in and of itself.”

‘Gold Digger’

‘Gold Digger’

So she tossed in the older woman/younger man romance. “Whenever you see it, there are instant question marks,” Dickens said. “Like, what’s he after?”

In Acorn TV’s words, “The effect of their unconventional relationship on her already-damaged, dysfunctional family and the secrets of their past are revealed — has Julia finally found the happiness she’s always deserved, or is Benjamin really after her money?”

The show debuted in the U.K. on BBC One in the fall. Dickens mentioned “a really lovely reaction” to it, with numerous viewers backing Ormond’s Julia character. “That was due in part to Julia Ormond’s brilliant performance,” she added.

Gold Digger is dark, but there are bright spots, too. “There are shots of optimism,” Dickens said.

She hopes the series helps dispel the taboo of the older woman/younger man relationship. “Hopefully we can look at these things through a less skeptical lens,” Dickens said.

There are six episodes. Might there be another season? “Never say never, is the classic motto,” Dickens said.

I Know This Much Is True, a limited series on HBO, premieres May 10 (see Review, page 14). It features twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. Thomas has some serious issues and pulls off a heinous act in a small-town library.

Mark Ruffalo plays both Dominick and Thomas. Derek Cianfrance wrote and directed the project. Both are executive producers.

‘I Know This Much Is True‘

‘I Know This Much Is True‘

Ruffalo and Cianfrance met at Sundance years ago, when Cianfrance was supporting his movie Blue Valentine. “We felt like brothers immediately,” said the director.

Cianfrance described Ruffalo as “open and pure and present and empathetic.”

He added, “He just connects with people — it’s one of his real gifts as an actor.”

Melissa Leo plays the twins’ mother.

I Know This Much Is True is a dark and gripping look at a family struggling with issues both ordinary and extraordinary. Cianfrance said he was eager to delve into “the bond and burden of being a family member,” and examine how families often look wholesome from the outside, but rarely are behind closed doors.

The six-episode project is adapted from a Wally Lamb novel. Lamb is an executive producer too. Cianfrance described an email the producers got from Lamb, urging them to thank their partners and families for the sacrifice the producers made to get the limited series just right.

“Wally and Mark are the perfect one-two punch of humanism,” Cianfrance said. 

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