When I interviewed Jack Lawrence Mayer for UChicago Arts back in 2102, he was about to launch Single Long, his seven-episode digital series for HBO. His latest project, LA Famous, follows the same basic format—but he’s produced it without the backing of HBO or, for that matter, any other network or studio.
So this week, Jack Lawrence Mayer stops by to discuss his work, his overall mission “to do shows without permission,” and the implications of that mission: Isn’t it exciting that we can make things and put them out there without anybody having to put up huge amounts of money? Definitely. But also, isn’t it a little terrifying that so much work now gets produced without any expectation of money changing hands, like, ever? Again, definitely, definitely.
We also take some time to discuss the Jack’s new Monday Morning Movies podcast, the importance of being told no, how a lower budget is something that’s easier to hear than to see, and the utterly indefensible ending of Grease!
Plus, we tear into the noxious archetype of the good guy—or rather, the nice guy—protagonist who’s just been dumped by some cruel, incomprehensible woman. She is tearing [the straight male protagonist] apart, Lisa!
Yeah, Jack wants to react against that trope. Fuck that trope.
• I use the terms “digital series” and “web series” interchangeably in the intro, but Jack does mention that he prefers the former for LA Famous and Single Long.
• That period of wakefulness was sometimes called “dorveille.” Quoth WikiPedia, “This was also a favorite time for scholars and poets to write uninterrupted, whereas still others visited neighbors, had sex, or engaged in petty crime.”
• WikiPedia also tells us that “the nature and classification of the ASMR phenomenon is controversial, with a considerable cult following and strong anecdotal evidence to support the phenomenon but little or no scientific explanation or verified data.”
• “There have been eras that took a far more intense interest in spectacles of cruelty than ours, but none that was so transfixed by watching people act like assholes,” says Geoffrey Nunberg of the UC Berkeley School of Information.
• Shane Carruth’s second film is called Upstream Color, and it’s just as weird and wonderful as I’m describing, I promise.
• Louis CK’s first movie (before Pootie Tang, even) was Tomorrow Night.
• The only Magic Johnson Theater still open for business is the one in Harlem. It’s currently owned and operated by AMC.
• I think I combined “glib” with “gloom and doom” to form “gloob and doom.” You heard it here first.
• As Jack says, High Maintenance is very much worth checking out.
• And do absolutely give Yasujirō Ozu a go.
“All The People Say” by Carpe Demon.
“Jazz De Luxe (1919)” by Earl Fuller’s Famous Jazz Band.
“I’m in the Mood for Love” by Vera Lynn with The Casini Club Orchestra.
“Knockin’ at the Famous Door” by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra.
“Do What You Can To Shine” by Steven Brent, performed by Jenn Romero.