David Duchovny pokes fun at TV

[9 May 2007]

By Jeff Strickler

Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

TV has been very good to David Duchovny. He made his acting debut as a patient on “St. Elsewhere,” had his first recurring role on “Twin Peaks” and, of course, became a household name thanks to the runaway success of the sci-fi series “The X Files.”

So we have to ask: By starring in “The TV Set,” a satire of a television network’s attempt to dumb down the pilot episode of a new series, isn’t he biting the hand that has fed him, and quite handsomely, at that?

“I hope not,” said the actor, who in real life is working on a pilot for a sitcom he hopes to pitch to network bosses soon. “It’s not a harsh satire; it’s a loving satire. It’s a fair-minded, gentle comedy.”

He plays a writer-director who has sold a network on a dramatic series that he envisions as dealing with heavy issues. But he ends up butting heads with the network’s president (Sigourney Weaver), who wants to rework the series so it’s light and fluffy.

Duchovny is confident that Hollywood won’t take the satire personally because writer-director Jake Kasdan made sure to explain the characters’ motivations. Duchovny’s character wants to make the kind of show that will stand in TV history as a innovative benchmark series, but Weaver’s character has to appease advertisers who want their commercials to be seen by the same-size audience that is tuned into “American Slut Wars” on a competing network.

“It’s not like Sigourney Weaver is playing a villain,” he said. “She’s a competent professional trying to make the most popular show she can. They’re both trying to be the best they can.”

Duchovny wasn’t the only one who had to be careful not to burn his personal bridges. Weaver’s father (who called himself Pat, although some references use his real name, Sylvester) was one of the pioneers of network TV and is considered an icon by many in the industry. And like Duchovny, Kasdan’s entry to directing came via TV, where he still dabbles occasionally.

In fact, Duchovny is less worried about the reaction in Hollywood than he is about how the movie is perceived elsewhere. It’s not an insider’s movie, he insisted. The goal was to use something everyone is familiar with to explore universal issues.

“Ultimately, this movie is about compromise,” he said. “That’s life.”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/david-duchovny-pokes-fun-at-tv-but-not-in-a-mean-way/