×

Michael Douglas, Chuck Lorre Talk Aging in Hollywood for New Comedy ‘The Kominsky Method’

Chuck Lorre’s comedies (“Mom,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon”) have tackled a wide range of subjects — and now he’s turning his focus to aging.

In his new comedy for Netflix, “The Kominsky Method,” Michael Douglas (Sandy Kominsky) and Alan Arkin (Norman Newlander) star as two friends — a once-famous star and his longtime agent — tackling life’s curveballs as they navigate their later years in Los Angeles.

“The show began because of my desire to write about what I’m living, which is getting older and entropy and the decay of the flesh,” said Lorre in a panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills on Sunday.

“It has to be funny, otherwise it’s heartbreaking. There’s loss of loved ones and how it affects your relationships and friendships. How do you respond to a culture that feels like it’s moving away from you? That was the impetus for the show — to do all that, and hopefully have some comedy involved.”

“I love the fact that Chuck finds aging a humorous process,” said Douglas. Quipped Lorre, “We talk a lot about prostates.”

The eight-episode series, which was announced last summer and will launch November 16, not only marks Lorre’s foray into single cam, as well as Douglas’ first role for television since he starred in “The Streets of San Francisco” in the 1970’s. He has also been nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning outstanding lead actor for the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra.”

Douglas, who had never worked with Arkin before, said he learned a lot about comedic timing from the Second City alum. “Mr. Lorre here is not a bad writer to say the least,” said Douglas. “I think we both enjoyed having the best dialogue we’ve had in a long time.”

THE KOMINSKY METHOD
CREDIT: Mike Yarish/Netflix

Douglas says he was drawn to the script because of Lorre’s writing, as well as the opportunity to play comedy.I’m attracted to the foibles. The mix of comedy and tragedy is what attracted Douglas to the part. “I do try to pick projects that resonate with me,” he said. “I certainly understand Sandy Kominsky and some of the stuff that he’s going through.”

He also said he’s grown frustrated with the feature business. “The movies that I used to do, the character-driven indie movies, I was frustrated with the lack of distribution. You’d end up watching the moves play in a theater for 7 days and go right to streaming,” said Douglas. “So i love this medium of streaming.”

Lorre admitted he faced a learning curve in adapting to the single cam format after years of producing some of TV’s most successful multi-cams. “The process of making a small movie every week is a lot slower,” he said. “I had a lot to adjust to.”

There’s not a lot of silence in a four-camera show, he said; there’s also no music or scoring. “I needed to learn a lot in a hurry to make this adjustment,” said Lorre.

Lorre said he never considered taking the show to broadcast, given the freedom from commercial breaks and time constraints conveyed by Netflix. (The pilot of Kominsky clocks in at 32 minutes.) “What a luxury to not have the time and the story be determined by an arbitrary number,” he said.

But ultimately, Lorre said, it all comes down to comedy.

“Getting an audience to laugh is a wonderful thing,” said Lorre.

The series is written by Al Higgins, David Javerbaum and Lorre, who also directed the first episode.  Lorre, Higgins and Douglas also executive produce the series, which hails from Warner Bros. Television.

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Halsey, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Singer Halsey

    Emmys: Halsey to Sing In Memoriam Tribute at Sunday's Ceremony

    Pop star Halsey has been tapped to perform during the Emmy Awards on Sunday, while comedians Adam Devine and Thomas Lennon will also contribute to the telecast. With no Emmy host this year, producers Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted are relying more on presenters and other contributors to keep the show moving, Halsey, whose hits [...]

  • Bianna Golodryga CBS News

    Bianna Golodryga Joins CNN in Full-Time Role

    Sometimes, it pays for news anchors to take root in more than one organization. When Bianna Golodryga joined CBS News in the fall of 2018, she carved out a unique role for herself. She would work as a co-anchor on “CBS This Morning” while maintaining a position she had already established as a contributor to [...]

  • Lower lakes with small waterfalls, Plitvice

    Beta Film Boards Refugee and Drug Trafficking Thriller Series 'Amnesia'

    Beta Film, whose Mipcom lineup includes “Agent Hamilton,” “Babylon Berlin” and “Medici: The Magnificent,” has partnered with Croatian production company Drugi Plan on “Amnesia,” a six-hour thriller series about refugee and drug trafficking in the Southeast of Europe. The move adds to Munich, Germany-based Beta Film’s portfolio of Central and East European series, a growing [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Reed Hastings on the Streamer Wars: 'It's a Whole New World Starting in November'

    After dominating the subscription streaming scene for so long, Netflix is girding for a new phase in the SVOD wars with the entry of more deep-pocketed players like Disney and Apple, CEO Reed Hastings said Friday. “While we’ve been competing with many people in the last decade, it’s a whole new world starting in November…between [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    Viacom's Channel 5 and Comedy Central Join BritBox Ahead of Its U.K. Launch

    Viacom-owned Channel 5 and Comedy Central have joined BritBox, the “best-of-British” subscription streaming service created by the BBC and ITV. The platform, already available in North America, is due to launch on home turf in Britain by year’s end. Under the deal with Viacom, shows from the U.K.’s Channel 5 can appear on BritBox following [...]

  • The-Head

    Behind the Scenes With Mediapro’s Antarctic Thriller Series 'The Head'

    On Sept. 13, the cast and crew of Mediapro’s upcoming dramatic thriller “The Head” gathered at a swanky Santa Cruz de Tenerife hotel to kick off promotional duties for this English-language series, which will wrap shooting later this month. It was day 50 of production, and the cast had been working late, rushing to get [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content