On-the-road skein allowed to shoot as they go

The cross-country journey the two twentysomething leads entail in “Going to California” parallels the development adventure Scott Rosenberg took to get the upcoming Showtime skein made.

Rosenberg, writer and co-exec producer, wrote a book of the same name six years ago about two blue-collar guys from Massachusetts who discover America — and themselves — while searching for a missing friend. When Rosenberg first sold the series, these rugged men of the road almost ended up being pretty boys of the Frog network.

“We did a pilot presentation for WB, and they wanted me to make many compromises,” says Rosenberg. “They wanted a girl added in, but that took away from the purity of two guys on the road.”

WB balked and Showtime prexy of programming Jeffrey Offsay jumped in as he already had a vested interest in Rosenberg’s revisiting of a “Route 66″-esque series.

“He’d read the novel years ago, which blew me away since he actually remembered it,” says Rosenberg. “I’ve worked with producers who don’t even read the script that we’re making.”

Offsay signed Rosenberg, along with executive producers J. Geyer Kosinski and Jeff Melvoin, to a huge 20-episode commitment.

The series, starring Sam Trammell and Brad Henke, will mostly be shot from around the country. Rosenberg spoke from the road in Wilmington, N.C., with the next stop being Memphis, Tenn., for some Elvis action in Graceland.

“Showtime is allowing us to shoot as we go. We’re like a little rock band on tour,” he says.

By being on the road so much, Rosenberg says the script is often reworked if they find something offbeat and would work as part of the storyline.

“We encounter something that’s not in the script, and end up incorporating it into the story,” he says. “We saw this incredible 7-year-old kid just dancing on the side of the road in front of this farm. It was this wonderful moment. We’ll hopefully figure out how to use it somehow.”

Peter Howitt (“Antitrust”) helms the two-hour premiere.

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