“I think in so many ways the show is insanely successful and achieved that in a really short period of time,” declares Busy Phillips about her late-night talk show “Busy Tonight.” Despite the show’s cancellation after a single season, Phillips is unabashedly proud of the series, which earned her a nomination for Best Host at the inaugural Critics Choice Real TV Awards. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Phillips describes wanting the show to be a mix of Mr. Rogers, Graham Norton and Oprah Winfrey, with a dash of a “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” vibe. “I knew that I wanted to build a show for late night that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Phillips admits, “and I wanted it to be imbued with a sense of fun and lightness, and at the same time, I always wanted us to have an undertone of a kind of subversive feminist messaging.”
In a strange twist of fate, Phillips found out about her Best Host nomination the day after she publicly announced that “Busy Tonight” would not be returning. Phillips, who says she had known about the show’s cancellation for a few weeks, had no idea that her announcement would precede the nomination. “It’s a new thing that was happening, and it just happened that the timing was perfect,” Phillips says.
Despite all the talk of representation on television, Phillips argues that women are still at a disadvantage, particularly in late night television. She lays much of the blame on the fact men are the ones making the programming decisions. “When you talk about representation in media and on television, you look at the people who are making the decisions, who are writing the checks, who are greenlighting the shows,” Phillips argues. She also laments the pervasive idea that women are not as funny as men. “So many incredible amazing women, since the advent of entertainment, have proven that women are f—ing hilarious and funny, and have a voice, and have something to say that is valid,” Phillips says.
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