Saturday, June 2, 2018

Exclusive Conversations with JEFFREY WRIGHT, DAVID COSTABILE, JEAN SMART, and THE AMERICANS showrunners during the Second Annual SPLIT SCREENS TV FESTIVAL

The Second Annual Split Screens TV Festival began this Wednesday at the IFC Center in NYC. Below, please find highlights from conversations with the showrunners from The Americans, Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, David Costabile, Jeffrey Wright, and Jean Smart. For more information on upcoming events and panels please visit

FROM NARRATIVE ARC TO NARRATIVE ARCH, THE USE OF MCDONALD'S IN THE FINALE OF THE AMERICANS: On Friday, the second annual Split Screens Festival in New York featured The Americans’  showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields in a finale debrief with the festival’s Creative Director, author/critic Matt Zoller Seitz. In their walk through the rich narrative history and evolution of their critically acclaimed FX series, Weisberg and Fields noted the iconic roadside McDonald’s in the final episode: “It had to be McDonald’s, we didn’t really have a fall back.” The pair gave kudos to the production team for creating the masterpiece because that McDonald’s doesn’t exist at a roadside anymore: “It’s actually rare, even over six seasons of the show, to have your dream turn into a visual that is exactly how you dreamed it...that scene is slathered in green screen and pieced together to create the images you saw. We worked with McDonald’s, whom we were delighted to find corporately is as obsessed with period accuracy as we are, so they helped us get all of the wrapping and signage to take us right back to the early ‘80s.”

SPLIT SCREENS BANKS CONVERSATION WITH BILLIONS STAR DAVID COSTABILE AND TALKS WITH WESTWORLD STAR JEFFREY WRIGHT ABOUT RACISM, BOWIE AND MLK: Yesterday’s festival events also featured close-up conversations with David Costabile of Billions (Showtime) and Jeffrey Wright, star of Westworld (HBO). Costabile’s  career from his breakthrough role as Detective Rick Messer on Damages through his hilarious and haunting turn as meth chef Gale Boetticher on Breaking Bad, led  to his portrayal as high finance enforcer Mike “Wags” Wagner on Showtime's hit drama Billions. Costabile shared: “It sucks to be killed on a show. It’s much more fun to kill someone. I shot someone on Damages and it was so fun. Bang!” Following the panel, Costabile mingled with fans and old friends outside of the IFC Center in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Wright opened up about his versatile career. On his portrayal of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in HBO’s Boycott, he said “all my life, since I was a young boy, I’d been mesmerized by him. By his words.” On the passing of David Bowie, his co-star in Basquiat, he noted, “I cried like a small child when he died.”  When speaking about his no-holds-barred Twitter presence, Wright responded, “There is dangerous messaging infiltrating our airwaves. We need to confront it and call it what it is. I think it is urgent that we do that...Ignorant racist nonsense invigorates me, I just want to punch it in the face. I can’t wait.”

JEAN SMART SAYS FARGO DID NOTHING FOR HER CAREER: During Thursday’s festival events, Emmy Award-winning actress Jean Smart spoke about her iconic roles in Designing Women, Frasier, 24, Samantha Who?, Fargo (FX) and her current role on FX’s Legion, recently renewed for a third season. Smart revealed that after being honored with a Critics Choice Award for her role in Fargo, she intimated a bit of ageism in her response about not  being offered a single role for over a year: “I hate to say it, but I think it’s true: if I was a guy, I think I would have had job offers.”

Meant for those who don’t “just watch TV, but live TV,” the festival (May 30-June 3) will feature a series of special events including a Vanguard Award presentation on Sunday, June 3rd, honoring actress Sandra Oh (Killing Eve). Celebrating the art and craft of TV with exclusive screenings and compelling panel conversations, the annual event features the biggest and boldest names in scripted content, both in front of and behind the camera (lineup of upcoming events below).



In attendance: Co-creator/showrunner/executive producer/writer Dave Andron; consulting producer/writer Walter Mosley, star/”Franklin Saint” Damson Idris

After previewing the first episode of season two of Snowfall on the big screen, take a ride deep into the menacing heart of this sensational FX series, which tells a sprawling, politically charged story about the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic’s destabilizing effect on Southern California. Not content to be a mere crime thriller or muckraking docudrama, this epic portrait from John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) & Eric Amadio (Shadows & Lies), and Dave Andron (Justified), paints a panoramic view of greater Los Angeles, showing how the national security state, local law enforcement and the daily hustle of street criminals intersect in the nexus of the drug trade. The latest addition to the show’s deep bench of screenwriters is Walter Mosley, author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels and one of America’s greatest crime fiction writers.


In attendance: Presenters Jeremiah Beaver, Jennifer Condon, Matthew C., Andreas Halskov, Samantha McLaren, Donald McCarthy, Connor Ratliff

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks created a new template for small-screen storytelling, mixing melodrama, surrealism, extreme violence, cliffhangers, and enough mysterious patterns and marginal details to inspire feverish theorizing. The most recent season, which ran on Showtime with the subtitle The Return, was even more unsettling and beguiling, as indebted to music, dance, mythology and performance art as to any tradition of cinema or TV. What was it saying? What was it doing? What was it?

Split Screens is proud to host an international gathering of Peaks obsessives, unveiling videos and multimedia presentations to prove grand unifying theories of what makes Agent Cooper’s cosmos tick.

Presentations include “The Tragedy and Triumph of Diane Evans,” “Talk about Judy,” “Ding-Dong, Cooper’s Dead,” “Bryan Fuller's Hannibal as David Lynch's Red Dragon,” “Peopled by Her Many Parts: Twin Peaks, Trauma, and Macrocosm-Microcosm,” "Just A Stranger's Dream: A Unified Field Theory Of Twin Peaks,” and “Returning, Recycling and Remixing: Cut-Up and Collage in Twin Peaks: The Return.”

With a special screening of Killing Eve’s Episode 1, “Nice Face” (BBC AMERICA)
In attendance: Actress Sandra Oh

Split Screens will sit down with Golden Globe® and SAG® Award-winning actress Sandra Oh, who now stars in the critically-acclaimed BBC AMERICA drama Killing Eve, which follows Oh as Eve, a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose life changes when she’s tasked with hunting down a psychopathic assassin.

Oh’s expansive career is full of widely-praised performances, including this year’s “delicious, instantly addictive” Killing Eve, which have consistently impressed across film, theatre and television. She received extensive critical acclaim for her outstanding performance on Grey’s Anatomy, for which she received a Golden Globe®, two SAG® awards and five Primetime Emmy® Award nominations. Other notable television roles include American Crime and HBO’s Arli$$. Oh’s award-winning performances in film include Sideways, Last Night and Double Happiness, and most recently she starred in the films Catfight and Window Horses.

In attendance: Writers Alice Bolin, Megan Abbott, Sarah Weinman

From Laura and Lolita through Vertigo, Twin Peaks, True Detective and beyond, murdered women have driven some of the most influential and disturbing works of popular art. Author Alice Bolin explores the phenomenon in her provocative essay anthology Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, tracing her fascination with classic hardboiled fiction, film noir, true crime books, and cable series about unsolved murders and autopsies.

Bolin will be joined by two fellow experts in the field: Megan Abbott, writer for HBO’s The Deuce and acclaimed author of crime novels (including You Will Know Me and The Fever); and crime fiction expert Sarah Weinman, author of the upcoming The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World.

In attendance: Actors Debi Mazar, Nico Tortorella and Charles Michael Davis; Executive Producer Dottie Zicklin; Plus Kai Falkenberg, Media and Entertainment 1st Deputy Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office

For four glorious seasons, Darren Star’s TV Land series Younger has told the story of 40-something single mother Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), who lies about her age at her job in the highly competitive world of publishing. For a very specific premise this series has proved itself endlessly inventive, quickly evolving into an ensemble comedy-drama about an extended community of friends and lovers making their mark in New York City. Join us for an exclusive advance screening of the season five premiere -- one that promises to keep the characters, and the audience, on their toes – followed by a Q&A with cast and producers. Co-presented by TV Land

In attendance: Actor Rhea Seehorn

The backbone of AMC’s Emmy-nominated drama Better Call Saul, Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler anchors a whirlwind of incidents and a heavy-hitting cast of veteran actors. And yet Kim is no mere reactive character: she’s an ethical person fighting a constant battle to maintain her standards even as she’s surrounded by lawyers and criminals who barely notice them, and engaged in a business and romantic partnership with an attorney who’s becoming more corrupt by the week. Seehorn’s subtlety helps us believe that she can keep complex secrets from other people while being honest with herself.

The critically-acclaimed actress talks about the art of being Kim, her stints on Franklin & Bash and Whitney, how her training as a visual artist influences her acting, and what it’s like to work on a show that never gives its performers their story arcs in advance.

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