The TV Academy may not have endorsed what happened last night, but certainly it was made clear that Netflix had plenty of yeses for its freshman series, House of Cards.
Judging by what star Kevin Spacey said, Netflix didn’t need to drum up support for its show in renting out the Academy’s Leonard H Goldenson theatre (as opposed to an Academy presentation). The Oscar winner cited Netflix’s 2 million subscriber boost in Q1 2013, which was when all 13 episodes debuted. What the cast and creator Beau Willimon failed to mention is that Q4 2012 reaped a similar attainment.
Three days ago to analysts, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted that House of Cards influenced “a very nice impact but a gentle impact, not one that is an overnight impact.”
For a team whose show is set in the political realm, they know all too well that data can be bent for a favorable outlook. But any possible manipulation was lost on the packed theater, which oddly included several who admittedly walked off the street and into the star studded panel.
Spacey, who seized control of the panel from moderator and former ABC News Washington correspondent David Wright, oozes a wily charisma exceeding that of the character he plays on television. Forget snake oil. With a dangerous and commanding charm, Spacey could entrance anyone to gloriously partake in any fluid with just one of his trademark glares.
And it was primarily because of the draw of Spacey and his Se7en director and executive producer of HOC, David Fincher that Netflix bent over willingly to the sum of 100 million dollars for two seasons. As Millimon said, “When David Fincher wants to talk to you, you get on the f—-ing phone.”
“They didn’t even have an office to give notes,” Spacey said. HOC is Netflix’s first foray into original programming, with up to 20 projects in the pipeline. Even still, Willimon shared his reservations with Fincher about his movie star entrance for Spacey: killing a dog in the first 30 seconds of the show. The response: “I don’t give a sh–. Let’s do it.”
Spacey has mostly been absent from Hollywood, serving as Artistic Director of the Old Vic and touring in Richard III. In his absence, he said that cable and off-network TV has supplanted feature films as the venue for character driven content. Cast member Sakina Jaffrey said that it’s not a show during which you can pick the ticks off your dog.
For research into his role of Majority Whip twice passed over for Secretary of State, Spacey found Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer reluctant to talk to him, until Hoyer found out the character Spacey was playing was a democrat. While Spacey says the politicos he’s encountered love the show, Wright said that the show gets two things wrong about Washington: as a journalist he has never slept with a politician and nothing ever gets done in Congress.
Spacey even goes as far as propagating that maybe a cure to Washington gridlock is the philosophy the show’s characters mostly proliferate in–is ‘the ends justify the means’ a viable method of action?
Spacey compared the show to Richard III, both which break the 4th wall. Though anything emanating from the actor is hypnotic, the convention can be somewhat jarring. Spacey has always mined his unconventionality and endless talent, and for that, the show captivates. Both with his Francis Underwood and the actor, there’s a palpable desire to be liked, often in an unlikeable way.
But then, while not equivalent to the extremes of his character, the gifted actor is more than capable of whipping out something to ensnare his audience. He did last night as well, spontaneously tossing a Peter O’Toole impression. I’d like to have seen a duet with fellow cast member and frequent NY Giants anthem singer Kate Mara, but ultimately Wright wrestled back the panel controls from Spacey who wanted audience questions to continue, and ended the night.
Perhaps we can campaign for Spacey to appear at the TV Academy event Sunday with Michael Bublé.