Call it a showcase for a strong female protagonist. Just don’t refer to “Veep,” HBO’s new series starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as “Elaine Benes Goes to Washington.”
Regarding the actress, “We had her voice and her in mind when we were writing it,” said co-exec producer and scribe Tony Roche, who wrote the inside-the-Beltway comedy with fellow Brit Simon Blackwell and creator Armando Iannucci, a Scotsman. “But as Brits, we have a little bit of distance from ‘Seinfeld.’ Although we’re fans of the show, it wasn’t as intimidating for us. It would be hard for us to do New York Jewish because we’re not New York Jewish.”
Tuesday’s two-episode screening, held at Gotham’s Time Warner Center, drew a phalanx of politically minded journos, including Morley Safer, Lesley Stahl and Frank Rich, who exec produces “Veep.” In fact, HBO threw an afterparty fit for an inaugural bash at Porter House, where revelers noshed on whole lobsters and steak.
For Louis-Dreyfus, who once joked on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that she wanted to do a series on HBO so that she could drop the F-bomb, the collaboration was a foul-language dream come true.
“I get to say it all the fucking time,” she joked of her character, who is one heartbeat away from the presidency. “It’s been a dream to do this show at HBO, and not just because we can swear, which is a nice thing, but more importantly because we are given enormous artistic license here.”
Before the “Veep” team shot a single frame, HBO granted them six weeks of rehearsal.
“Have you ever heard of that?” Louis-Dreyfus asked. “Not even for a theatrical release motion picture. And HBO supported that completely, and that wasn’t an inexpensive venture.”