Writer-producer makes mark on male-driven fare
“Southland” executive producer Ann Biderman never set out to become the screen queen of crime sprees and gangster shootouts. But with the slick police procedural slated for a second season on NBC (one of only a few debut dramas renewed), and a pedigree that includes episodes of “NYPD Blue” and the screenplay for Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies,” Biderman is clearly making her unintended mark in testosterone-heavy territory.
“‘Southland’ is personal to me,” says Biderman of the acclaimed primetime series. “I’m less interested in forensic evidence and grand resolutions — I wanted to deal with the men and women. I wanted to explore the emotional undercurrent of these characters and how the job affects their lives.”
But Biderman is not exclusively drawn to male-driven material, and she’s no self-professed member of any de facto Hollywood “boy’s club.”
After all, she contends, she also penned the screenplay for “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” and wrote a script about Georgia O’Keefe.
“I’m just writing about people that I care about,” she explains, “I don’t believe in those restrictions that say men are interested in copshows and women are interested in romantic comedies. In (“Southland”) there’s this huge struggle between chaos and control. Those life-and-death stakes will always be intriguing.”
Biderman also isn’t angling to put a female stamp on her film work. “It wasn’t like I took the love scenes and Michael (Mann) took the shootouts,” she says about scripting “Enemies.” “Michael didn’t think in those terms at all.”
Raised by a Bohemian mother in Manhattan’s famed Chelsea Hotel, Biderman left home when she was 15. If there’s subject matter toward which the writer-producer does gravitate, it’s the grit of human struggle.
“The only thing that everybody can bring to a project is their sensibility and the way they see the world,” Biderman observes. “There’s something to be said for real life experience.”
IN A NUTSHELL
Job titles: Creator, executive producer, showrunner
Inspirations: “I don’t have one specific person who guided me along the way. There are people who inspire me — everyone from John Cassavetes to Billy Wilder to John Huston. Great filmmaking inspires me, great writing inspires me.”
Career mantra: “Don’t take it personally.”
Leisure pursuits: “Who cares? It’s private.”
Politics: “Lifelong Democrat, raised radical, but I don’t have a particular cause.”