Playtone producers mix war's blood, guts with 'Big Love'

It’s a bit ironic that Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks’ Playtone Prods. is receiving the PGA’s Norman Lear Award.

Lear, one of TV’s greatest comedy producers, with such iconic sitcoms as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Maude,” wouldn’t have anything funny to say about “The Pacific.”

Last year’s 10-part HBO miniseries gave viewers an inside look at the horrors of World War II’s Pacific theater of operations, much of which had never been given accurate film or television treatment. Having produced “Band of Brothers” in 2001, which examined the Yanks’ European invasion during the war, Playtone naturally reteamed with the pay cabler for the $100 million-plus project, which was shot in Australia.

Told through the eyes of three soldiers, the mini examines the horrors of fighting the Japanese military on bug-invested islands — often without life’s basic essentials.

“We love the truth,” Goetzman told the New York Times about what makes these types of historical projects so enticing to Playtone. “We think that’s where the best stories come from. You just can’t make up things that are any more exciting or any more compelling than what’s actually happened in this world.”

While miniseries are definitely a major ingredient in the Playtone mix — the shingle also produced HBO’s Revolutionary War-era tale “John Adams,” starring Paul Giamatti as the second American president — more traditional series are also a factor.

Its signature show remains “Big Love,” starring Bill Paxton as a Utah polygamist with three wives. The skein just launched its fifth and final season after creators Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer decided there wasn’t much more story to tell.

Last year’s season drew about 5.6 million per episode, including encore airings, DVR and on-demand viewing.

More on the PGA Awards:
PGA honors Rudin | PGA solidifies its credit standard | Cameron earns PGA Milestone | ‘Stand Up’ woman lauded | PGA fetes Hanks, Goetzman

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