The Business is a weekly podcast featuring lively banter about entertainment industry news and in-depth interviews with directors, producers, writers and actors. The show is hosted by award-winning journalist Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter and produced by KCRW. Past guests include Norman Lear, Ava DuVernay, Matt Damon and Ice Cube.
‘The Great’ creator on swearing, sex and ‘fun’ violence in 1700s Russia
Tony McNamara's viciously satirical Hulu series “The Great” follows young Empress Catherine's adventures in her adopted country: 18th century imperial Russia. McNamara’s version is one with a lot of swearing, sex, and violence, and the series is now in production on its third season. As is typical for a streamer, Hulu doesn’t tell McNamara much about who’s watching. But he’s fine with that. “You sort of assume it’s going well because they renew it,” McNamara says. “But you're not locked into ‘what's the ratings this week? What's the data?’ So there’s a freedom in that.” McNamara talks about his fascination with Catherine the Great, working with Hulu, and how he transported a world he originally created for the theater stage to the small screen.
Replay: Creating ‘Reservation Dogs’ with Indigenous cast and crew
Before he co-created the FX comedy series “Reservation Dogs,” Sterlin Harjo directed three micro-budget films in his home state of Oklahoma. He had knocked on Hollywood’s door but somehow he never could find financing. "I even heard, like, this film’s just a little too Indian," Harjo says. "Or, this film’s not Indian enough. So, it was very confusing." Now, FX is preparing to release a second season of “Reservation Dogs" and the series is looking to nab Emmy nominations this year.
Stories shouldn’t have to justify Blackness or womanness: Natasha Rothwell
Natasha Rothwell played Kelli on HBO’s “Insecure,” and the beleaguered spa manager in “The White Lotus.” Now, she’s in the hit sequel “Sonic The Hedgehog 2.” With her own production company and an overall deal at ABC Signature, she plans to create movies and TV that skip the tired tropes and feature diverse casts. "I think so many scripts use page real estate in Act One just to justify someone's Blackness, or fatness or womanness, and then the story can start," Rothwell says. "We have to acclimate the audience to our otherness before we can tell a story, and I think that's b******t." Natasha Rothwell talks about blossoming in the "Insecure" writers room, and says that she has big plans for her company, Big Hattie Productions.
7-season ‘Grace and Frankie’ is Netflix unicorn of creator Marta Kauffman
The longest-running original series on Netflix is coming to an end. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have played “Grace and Frankie” for seven seasons, telling raunchy and honest stories of older women. After co-creating “Friends,” Marta Kauffman thought up the Netflix hit “Grace and Frankie,” which made it to an unheard-of 94 episodes. While Netflix has been offering a high volume of shows, only to drop many scripted series after a couple of seasons, Kauffman is not surprised that the big-volume approach has led to problems. “We’re going to do a little bit of everything in the hopes they’ll be a niche audience for every show,” Kauffman says. “And there isn’t a niche audience for every single show.”
‘Dear Mr. Brody’ looks at thousands of unopened letters to a millionaire
In 1970, a 21-year-old heir to a margarine fortune became a nationwide sensation when he vowed to give away his money to anyone who needed it. Michael Brody was deluged with thousands of letters, most of which sat unopened for decades, until documentarian Keith Maitland and his team decided to read them. “We started researching people, and we started tracking them down,” Maitland says. “And over and over, we kept discovering that almost nobody remembered having written these letters.” Director Keith Maitland and Executive Producer Ed Pressman talk about exploring a strange, poignant, and all but forgotten story with the film “Dear Mr. Brody.”
Powerful Hollywood agent turns to producing ‘Pachinko’
Talent agent-turned-producer Theresa Kang Lowe had a pretty good idea of the challenges she’d face in adapting the novel “Pachinko” for television. A series almost entirely subtitled, largely set 100 years ago in Korea, with a huge budget — it wasn’t an obvious greenlight. “At the time when I was an agent and I came across a book, my job was to think about strategy. How are we gonna sell this?” Kang Lowe says. “So the immediate no’s were: period piece. The budget has to be significant for it to have scope and scale from a cinematic point of view. It also had to be an all Asian-led cast. And it had to be told in Korean, Japanese and English.” Kang Lowe was able to use her decades of experience to land the budget and support she needed at Apple. Kang Lowe discusses her career—including an interesting time as Ari Emanuel’s assistant, her rise to partner at William Morris Endeavor, and her move to become executive producer of the new Apple TV+ series “Pachinko.”