If there were a Hall of Fame for Television Critics Association press tour panelists, writer-producer Peter Tolan would surely be inducted as part of the inaugural class.
It was back in July of 2011 that Tolan livened up an already-terrific “Rescue Me” farewell panel by dropping his pants.
It was a threat that hovered over Monday (January 13) morning’s TCA panel for Tolan’s new FOX legal dramedy “Rake.” In one lull as microphones were shifting around the room, Tolan announced, “All right. The pants are coming down if the questions don”t come. It’s No Underwear Monday!”
Tolan didn’t actually need to worry. The room was fairly lively and the “The Job” veteran had a big part of that.
Asked about the difference between being on a network and being on cable, Tolan came prepared. Very prepared.
“It is different, and I”m going to illustrate it just because I”m a little annoyed because even to come here today, about a month ago, maybe a little bit more, I got a note, an email, from FOX publicity about what to talk about here and what not to talk about. I was so upset I actually wrote about it in my journal, which I brought with me,” Tolan said.
He whipped out a little notebook.
“I”m going to read this. Some of this is about the show. Some of it is personal, but I”ll give you an idea of how upset I was at the time,” He announced.
What follows is the full transcript of Peter Tolan’s “diary,” which is awesome. It’s not safe for work. But since it’s written, who’s gonna know?
September 16th. First day of shooting for “Rake.” Kinnear showed up drunk with a hooker named Tammy on his arm claiming it was part of his process. After the first shot, he demanded we give Tammy a producer credit. Rather than upset him, we agreed, but her pimp pushed for co-EP, so now she”s a fucking co-EP.
September 20. Call from Kevin Reilly. He feels “Rake” will be a better fit on FOX if one of our main characters has no head. No idea how to respond, but cut most of John Ortiz”s lines and hope this will address at least the spirit of the note.
October 1st. Peter Duncan still speaking Australian. Can”t understand a fucking word.
October 11. Tammy no longer with us. Got an overall at 20th. Sold her first pitch to ABC, an hour called “Maniacal, Murdering Whores.”
October 25th. Why is Lena Dunham naked all the time on “Girls.” I don”t get it.
November 4. Good news and bad news from Tammy. The bad news, ABC didn”t like her “Maniacal, Murdering Whores” script. The good news, they”re airing the title for 13 weeks starting next March.
November 12. Dinner at Les Moonves” house.
November 15. Dinner at Les Moonves” house.
November 20. Dinner at Les Moonves” house.
December 1. Told Les Moonves I”m tired of serving dinner at his goddamn house. Hire a fucking butler.
[Okay. This is it.]
December 10. Really ticked off. Apparently the people at FOX publicity think I”m a child. They sent an email today about the TCAs next month, which included, get this, a list of things not to be discussed. Top of the list, no surprise, “Dads.”
Peter Tolan is a funny man. If “Rake” fails, FOX should let him reboot “Action,” or do his own Hollywood comedy.
There were some serious, or semi-serious, moments to the panel.
I asked about the title, while doesn’t exactly refer to the gardening tool and doesn’t refer to the name of Greg Kinnear’s lawyer, but rather to his nature as a rascal, a rogue. That’s an idiom that isn’t often used in 2014 and I asked if there was any consideration to making a change.
“There were discussions of different volumes concerning this,” admitted Peter Duncan, who created the original Australian “Rake.” “It was very important to me that, you know the title for me actually reflects thinking that underpins the show, that there”s a sort of duality about it. It”s not just the guy who is the voluptuary who”s wine, women, and song. It”s also the garden implement that is cleaning up the gutters of our world, and I always liked that, and I didn”t think it would respect the American audience to just suddenly make it his surname, because it”s too easy, and I think we need to, you know hopefully, I think this show respects the audience”s intelligence and doesn”t try to find some lower common denominator, and that was an important conversation. I must say, FOX was very gracious in those conversations.”
Tolan added, “I think we”re also trying to pull in the highly coveted viewership of people who were alive during Elizabethan times. This will be the 350 to 400 year old demo.”
I also inquired about the changes that led FOX to push the original “Rake” pilot deeper into the series order, while shooting a new pilot and episodes leading up to the original starter. [That is to say that the episodes aren’t airing out of order, as sometimes happens. In this case, prequel episodes were ordered.]
“There were some relationship things, but I think it was more, in that case first of all, as an executive producer, as a creator, any chance that I could get to go and revisit a first episode, I would grab,” Tolan said. “So the fact that FOX was supportive enough to let us do that was a great help to us. I think, more than anything, to answer specifically, it was a tonal question more than anything else. We found that we had an episode that had maybe an overload of not drama, I”ll say, but maybe a little sadness, which worked against the episode. And so we refigured it, sort of toning that down.”
Oh and the panel couldn’t end without an update on Tammy.
“Technically it is a hyphenate. Yes, Tammy-Lynn,” Tolan said. “Tammy, look, I don”t know what”s going to happen to Tammy. I”m concerned for her. She”s signed with CAA, and I said, ‘You”re just gonna be one whore among many. That”s gonna be a problem.'”
Excellent. So strong was our affection for Tolan that TCA members helped “Peter Tolan” trend nationwide on Monday morning. I’ve gotta say: “Peter Tolan” isn’t going to trend on Twitter under normal circumstances, so hopefully FOX came away appreciating the power of the TCA and Twitter.
“Rake” premieres next Thursday, January 23, at 9 p.m.