There were equal parts laughter and tears at a recent panel discussion for Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” moderated by Deadline’s Pete Hammond. The event, which took place at the streamer’s FYSEE space at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, included creator Chuck Lorre, executive producer Alan J. Higgins and stars Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, Sarah Baker, Lisa Edelstein and Susan Sullivan. Listen to the full 38-minute Q&A above.
“The Kominsky Method” stars Douglas as Sandy Kominsky, an acting coach who had a brief brush with fame before turning to teaching. Arkin co-stars as his longtime manager, Norman Newlander, who’s reeling from the death of his wife, Eileen (Sullivan). Together, the two men cope with aging, relationships, and family, including Baker and Edelstein as their respective daughters, Mindy Kominsky and Phoebe Newlander.
The single-camera comedy is a change of pace for Lorre, who’s best known for creating the multi-camera laugh-a-minute hits “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Mom.” “I wanted to learn how to do things differently,” he explained. “It’s an entirely different approach to storytelling.” It was also a return to his roots in a sense, because for the first time in years he was working alone. On a network sitcom, “you work with a group of writers, and it’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s fun, it’s collaborative. You’re never alone.” So it was “frightening to go back to a room and sit by myself.”
Lorre is an eight-time Emmy nominee: seven for Best Comedy Series (three for “Two and a Half Men,” four for “The Big Bang Theory”) and one for Best Main Title Theme Music (“Two and a Half Men”). Earlier this year “The Kominsky Method” brought him a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series, which perhaps surprisingly was the first major award of his career.
But for Douglas, this was his first time making episodic television since his breakthrough role in the 1970s cop drama “The Streets of San Francisco.” What lured him back was Lorre’s “great writing,” which touched upon “an issue that was close to all of us.” He was also attracted to Netflix’s model of “catering to [their] membership.” Specifically, “there’s a lot of older people out there” hungry for content.
The role paid off for Douglas with a Golden Globe as Best TV Comedy Actor. He had previously won acting Globes for “Wall Street” (Best Film Drama Actor in 1987) and “Behind the Candelabra” (Best TV Movie/Mini Actor in 2013). He also has an Emmy on his shelf for “Behind the Candelabra” and a pair of Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Best Picture in 1975) and “Wall Street.” So “Kominsky” has the potential to keep adding to his already crowded mantel.
Arkin admitted it wasn’t difficult playing Norman, since he already had a lot of life experiences to draw from. “I’m older than the character I’m playing, so the aches and pains are my own real ones,” he joked. “I’d been around agents for 50 years, so I felt like I knew what an agent was like,” and on top of that “I knew what it was like to be 75 because I was 75 a long time ago. So I frankly didn’t do a lot of research.”
An Oscar winner for “Little Miss Sunshine” (Best Supporting Actor in 2006) and Tony victor for “Enter Laughing” (Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1963), Arkin earned SAG and Golden Globe bids for “Kominsky” earlier this year. So if he wins an Emmy as Best TV Comedy Supporting Actor for the role later this year, he’ll complete the triple crown of showbiz performance awards. After that all he would need is a Grammy to complete his EGOT, so cue the rap remix!
The “Kominsky” event was followed by a reception where TV academy members were treated to drinks and hors d’oeuvres while touring Netflix’s interactive FYSEE space, which featured exhibits for their Emmy contenders. For “The Kominsky Method,” they erected a recreation of Sandy and Norman’s favorite booth at Hollywood’s famous Musso & Frank restaurant. Eat your hearts out, Emmy voters — literally.
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