The Watchman: Fosse and Verdon Heat Up FX, CBS Issues ‘Code’ Red

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s weekly look at the programming scene
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Fosse/Verdon begins on FX April 9, detailing the romantic and creative partnership between director/choreographer Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon. Sam Rockwell plays Fosse and Michelle Williams plays Verdon.

Steven Levenson, executive producer, was on board from the moment exec producer Thomas Kail first mentioned the project. “Bob Fosse was a huge influence on me,” said Levenson, a playwright whose credits include Dear Evan Hansen. “I was immediately intrigued.”

Fosse/Verdon

Fosse/Verdon

Fosse and Verdon had a unique relationship. “Only Bob can create the groundbreaking musicals that allow Gwen to showcase her greatness,” FX said. “Only Gwen can realize the unique vision in Bob’s head. Together, they will change the face of American entertainment — at a perilous cost.”

Fosse/Verdon is “the story of a marriage — a very complicated, very tumultuous, very unique marriage,” Levenson said. “There’s a huge amount of drama in their story, a huge amount of heartbreak and betrayal.”

Levenson wrote the pilot and Kail directed and executive produces. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Joel Fields (The Americans) also exec produce, as do Rockwell and Williams. Rockwell has a cigarette clenched in his teeth in just about every scene. “Bob had a lot of very bad behaviors,” Levenson said. “Smoking being one of them.”

The Code

The Code

Levenson unwinds with comedies such as Better Things and Veep. “I work on a one-hour drama all day,” he said, “so it’s really nice to watch a half-hour, something lighter.”

That would not include Deadliest Catch, which starts on Discovery April 9. The weather in the Bering Sea is as nasty as it’s been in some time. “We haven’t seen consistently bad weather like this in probably close to a decade,” said Decker Watson, exec producer. “It just destroys the boats. The captains work to keep the boats running and keep the guys safe.”

Also keeping them safe are the military lawyers on The Code. The legal drama centered on the Marines begins on CBS April 9. Craig Sweeny, showrunner and exec producer, said the series feels particularly current, but also hearkens back to another era. He talks about iconoclastic 10 p.m. workplace dramas from the days of yore, such as L.A. Law, NYPD Blue and The West Wing. “I love that kind of TV,” he said. “I grew up on that kind of TV.”

The Code, the title a reference to the Uniform Code of Military Justice that all military services abide by, is “a little bit of a throwback,” Sweeny said.

Even if the viewer isn’t military, or isn’t an L.A. lawyer or a New York detective, they can find the world depicted relatable. “I would love to step into that workplace,” Sweeny said, “and see how I stack up.”

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