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INTV: How ‘True Detective’ Opened the Door to Big Names on the Small Screen

True Detective Season 1 HBO
Courtesy of HBO

Virtually all actors are open to doing television now that big changes have swept through the film and TV industries, a panel of high-ranking executives said Monday at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem.

Having Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson to topline “True Detective” marked a turning point for talent and filmmakers, said Rick Rosen, co-founder of WME. “I think there’s actually no actor who will not consider TV. When I started doing this, certain writers and…certain actors would flinch, and now the door is wide open,” he said.

“True Detective” and “Star Trek” were among the shows discussed by Rosen alongside Ari Greenburg, WME president; Peter Micelli, eOne chief strategy officer of film and TV; and Keith Redmon, Anonymous Content partner, manager and producer.

Redmon said Anonymous Content approached “True Detective” the way the company would approach an independent film. “We would develop the idea into a place we thought it was great, where traditionally the writers would go out and pitch,” he said. “We were with directors.

“In this case Nic Pizzolatto was a client. He pitched the idea to us, he was a staff writer, and we loved it and pitched it to Alejandro [Iñárritu]. He loved the idea. He wrote a great first script,” Redmon said.

He added that they then “sent the script to Matthew McConaughey, who read it and said he wanted the other role, and he gave it to Woody [Harrelson].”

Also emerging from “True Detective” were the idea of a director doing an entire cycle of a show and the notion of doing a limited series. “HBO assumed at the time that that was it,” but then said, “It’s a really good format, let’s try to find a great reason to do a second season and then a third season,” Rosen said.

Micelli said technology had also had a tremendous impact on talent’s relationship with TV.

“Today there’s not an actor who’s not open to filling their schedule with eight to 10 episode of (TV). The root of it all is technology,” Micelli said, noting that consumers can buy 65-inch 4G TVs at Walmart for a few hundred dollars. “In the TV space, all those amazing movies that used to get made are becoming TV series.”

Micelli, who previously worked at CAA, also talked about the successful adaptation of “Star Trek” and discussed ways to avoid pitfalls when dealing with a cult franchise. “When you go after these beloved titles, the pressure to do them right is intense,” he said. “You’re satisfying fans who care deeply about them. You have to [explain the purpose of] why they are doing it now.”

The starting point is “finding a writer who has a wholly inventive take on the material,” Micelli said.

Redmon cited “Time Bandits” and “Defending Jacob” as exciting projects that he and Greenburg have been working on. “Mark Bombach wrote all the hours of “Defending Jacob,” Redmon said. And “‘Time Bandits’ is a very exciting package for Apple.”

Greenburg mentioned the upcoming anthology series “Modern Love” based on the New York Times column and weekly podcast, and said he had reached out to John Carney, an Irish filmmaker of musicals, who” would be great for this.”