TV Talk: Mt. Lebanon native David Hollander concludes ‘Ray Donovan’ with Showtime movie |

2022-09-17 07:31:39 By : Mr. Johnny chan

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When Showtime canceled “Ray Donovan” in February 2020, it came as a surprise to viewers and the show’s creative team alike.

At the time of the cancellation, Mt. Lebanon native David Hollander, who has been a writer on the series since its first season and became the showrunner/head writer in its third season, suggested the cancellation was the result of financial concerns stemming from the December 2019 merger of Viacom and Showtime parent company CBS.

“It comes down to money and clearly whatever the money looked like, it didn’t look right to the people in power pretty quickly,” Hollander said in a phone interview last week. He credits fan support with Showtime’s willingness to revisit the decision to end “Ray Donovan” without a proper conclusion. “Both Liev (Schreiber) and I had been very frank with the media about what we felt [the audience] deserved.”

Hollander said it was an odd feeling to go to bat for the show and seemingly speak out against Showtime executives, friends and collaborators who Hollander said were “unbelievably supportive” of the show’s creative direction right up until it was canceled.

“It was an interesting thing to say to people you respect so much, ‘Listen, I don’t respect this choice and I’m going to say so,’” Hollander said. “The fact they didn’t blanch at that was important.”

With the pandemic descending a month after the cancellation, it wasn’t until February 2021 that Showtime announced “Ray Donovan: The Movie,” a wrap-up story premiering Friday at 9 p.m. It picks up where the seventh-season cliffhanger ended with Mickey (Jon Voight) on the run and Ray (Liev Schreiber) determined to find him.

Written by Hollander and Schreiber and directed by Hollander, “Ray Donovan: The Movie” uses flashbacks to piece together Ray’s and Mickey’s origin stories.

“A question of the series is really, can you escape the violence of your past?” Hollander said. “’Ray Donovan: The Movie’ answers that question definitively.”

Hollander confirmed a lot of what viewers will see in “Ray Donovan: The Movie” is what he had planned for the show’s eighth season that wasn’t to be.

He credits the move of the show’s setting from Los Angeles to New York in season five as a change that gave “Ray Donovan” more energy. The death of Ray’s wife, Abby (Paula Malcomson, “Deadwood”), also impacted the show’s trajectory.

“Paula is a smart cookie and when we were doing that [episode] she said, ‘We just handed the mantle of this story over to Kerris [Dorsey, who plays Ray’s daughter, Bridget] and I realized she was right and I never forgot her saying that,” Hollander said.

While there are no plans for more “Ray Donovan” stories after this movie, Hollander is staying in business with Showtime. He’s adapting the 1980 movie “American Gigolo” into a series starring Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead”). The pilot’s been shot and production on the series starts next month with an anticipated fall premiere.

Hollander, whose first series was CBS’s Pittsburgh-set drama “The Guardian” (2001-04), said he’s not in active development on any Pittsburgh-set stories – “I’m always interested in finding stories that come from there … but right now I don’t have one that’s directly from the city” – but he has started a production company, appropriately named Three Rivers Entertainment.

Three Rivers sold a series adaptation of “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris’ 1984 memoir, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” to Apple TV+. Justin Timberlake will play Barris, the role Sam Rockwell played in the 2002 George Clooney-directed movie based on the same source material.

In March, the first comedy that counts Hollander as an executive producer arrives with the premiere of CBS’s “How We Roll” (9:30 p.m. March 31, KDKA-TV). Hollander said the comedy is a product of his friendship with actor Brian d’Arcy James (“Smash”) that dates to when they were in college together.

“I had been telling him that if he wanted to produce something, I would happily help him. Little did I know that it would become this,” Hollander said of “How We Roll,” which was inspired by an article James found about the life of professional bowler Tom Smallwood, who’s played in the sitcom by actor Pete Holmes.

“We optioned it and once we started to play with it, it was clear as a bell that this was really only going to be a sitcom on either CBS or Fox.”

Unlike the dramas that Hollander writes on, he’s not scripting this comedy.

“I am certainly not a creative force on that project,” Hollander said. “Brian’s running it and he’s producing it. He’s really the hands-on, day-to-day producer and it’s cool to watch him do it.”

Hulu renewed “The Great” for a third season.

ABC will bring back “Station 19” for its sixth season during the 2022-23 TV season.

Star Jones (“The View”) will replace Faith Jenkins as the judge on daytime’s “Divorce Court” this fall.

The latest episode of WQED-TV’s “Future Jobs” series, “21st Century Skills,” premieres at 8 p.m. Jan. 20, with a focus on personality traits that are key to landing a job. … “Dexter: New Blood,” which offered a more satisfying conclusion than when the show ended the first time, averaged 8 million viewers across all platforms becoming the most-watched series in Showtime’s history. … The Betty White TV tributes continue Monday, which would have been her 100th birthday, with Hallmark Channel’s 40-episode “Golden Girls” marathon, beginning at 12:01 a.m. and continuing all day until the rebroadcast of the White-starring 2011 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie “The Lost Valentine” at 8 p.m. Game Show Network will air four hours of “$25,000 Pyramid” episodes featuring White beginning at 9 a.m. Monday. … A new carriage agreement between WarnerMedia and Comcast will see Comcast distribute the upcoming CNN+ subscription streaming service, which this week hired former NPR “All Things Considered” host Audie Cornish.

“Pittsburgh Today Live” anchor David Highfield announced on Wednesday’s telecast that he’ll be out for nine days due to “routine surgery,” returning in late January.

You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.

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