Danny McBride Interview: ‘The Righteous Gemstones’

“We have a script and HBO’s into it and we’re into it, but we’ll see if we’re able to pull it off,” reveals Danny McBride exclusively to Gold Derby about new plans to produce a Christmas special with “The Righteous Gemstones” that would air at the end of 2020. He explains in his interview, “Because of some actors’ availability and some stuff, we really won’t be shooting the second season until the beginning of next year, but in the meantime, to get our crew back to work and to give audiences another piece of the Gemstones, since they won’t get it this year, I’ve written a Christmas special that we’re going to try to shoot and it will be an hour long and about a two-week shoot, so hopefully, we get to do it!”

“The Righteous Gemstones” contends at this summer’s Emmys for its first season, which premiered last summer with a pilot directed by McBride. Following his previous HBO comedies “Eastbound & Down” and “Vice Principals,” the showrunner again also serves as creator, executive producer, head writer and lead actor; McBride still eyes a first Emmy nomination, with an additional opportunity this time as a “Misbehavin’ ” songwriter. He admits, “I’m uncomfortable being a celebrity; I would be uncomfortable going around and tooting my own horn about my work too.” McBride laughs, “When I see people get nominated for shows, I’m like, ‘God, it would suck to have to sit through that whole entire thing’.”

All scripts for the second season were written in advance of shooting, which shut down after two days in March. McBride previously envisioned five-plus seasons for this story, but he updates that this is becoming more of “a matter of when the story feels like it’s done.” He elaborates, “When I embarked upon this show, I set it up intentionally to be a show that when the season was over, it didn’t need to be hinged upon a cliffhanger.” This closed-ended approach to seasonal storytelling has become so infrequent that McBride’s mandate for each season of “The Righteous Gemstones” to tell “a complete story from beginning, middle and end” is reminiscent of the sentiments of producers who successfully lobbied the Emmys in recent years for their ongoing series to compete in the Best Limited Series field. McBride explains, “You can do a lot in TV that you can’t do in movies with length and the stories you can tell, but movies are designed to give you a full experience and sometimes, television shows can fall into that category where it’s all about tune-in-next-week and I don’t find that to be gratifying.”

A trend that McBride has played into with “The Righteous Gemstones” is the expansion of episodic running times. Episodes of the show have averaged 40 minutes, with a 36 median and a range of 33 to 60, whereas essentially every episode of the first season of “Vice Principals” four years ago rounded to 30 minutes. He recalls, “HBO really kept us to that tight 30 minutes. I mean, if you went over 30:20, that was a big conversation that you had to have. There were pluses and minuses to that. I will say that almost every single episode we cut of ‘Eastbound’ or ‘Vice Principals,’ we would always get it to a cut that we really liked that would be around 35/36 minutes and we’d be cool with it and then we would have to get it down and then it would take two weeks to get five minutes out of it.”

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UPLOADED Jun 15, 2020 12:43 pm