Monday, January 18, 2016

Did David Lynch fight Showtime out of loyalty to Twin Peaks actresses?


Every month, I will be offering at least one post on Twin Peaks...up until Showtime re-airs the original series. Then I will post extensive coverage of each episode (mixing new reactions with my many older pieces) immediately after they air. Stay tuned.

When David Lynch left Twin Peaks for six weeks in April 2015, declaring that Showtime would not provide the resources to adequately produce the show, speculation swirled. Was Lynch being greedy about profits? Was Showtime reneging on its promise of creative control and financial support for Lynch's avant-garde vision? Were actors not being offered enough money? When Lynch returned to the production the following month, he and the network announced that their differences had been resolved and that in fact the series would be even longer than expected. Last fall, Lynch began shooting the new Twin Peaks and has been working in near-secrecy ever since. There was never a clear answer why all the drama had unfolded.

Now, however, a strong rumor is emerging from an unnamed source, who told Twin Peaks podcaster Cameron Cloutier that Lynch's unprecedented and high-profile departure was triggered by the attitude taken by some Showtime employees and/or representatives toward members of the cast: specifically the actresses who starred as twentysomethings in the original 1990-91 cast and are now in their forties and fifties. Cameron's source claims that one of the Showtime representatives specifically said, "No one wants to see an old Audrey Horne." While there were likely other factors in the disagreement between Lynch and Showtime, there is apparently a good chance that this was - temporarily, at least - the dealbreaker.

Here is Cameron's video (if you're already aware of how events unfold publicly last spring, jump to 5:04 for the discussion of what his source has to say):


I am not a journalist and, as far as I know, neither is Cameron - I am not making a claim here, but rather relaying information that I consider highly plausible. I have participated in several of his podcasts, frequently spoken to and corresponded with him, and occasionally contributed to his Twin Peaks Worldwide Facebook page as an "admin." I also know that Cameron has interviewed many Twin Peaks actors as well as people in Lynch's circle like Jennifer Lynch. I believe his source is reliable, and while it's certainly possible that they are misinformed about this incident I believe it's likely to be true. Without revealing the source's identity he was able to tell me a few things, some on the record and some off. The source is not Sherilyn Fenn, who has already publicly complained about the film industry's sexism and ageism in implicit relation to Twin Peaks - meaning that at least two people close to the production have this perception. The source seems to be someone in a position to know what they are talking about and, at the very least, they are conveying information that others in the production also believe.

I think this information is important to share for several reasons:

1) I am hoping that someone who is a journalist, with greater resources or training than I have, can look further into this story and discover more. If true, it is certainly newsworthy as further evidence of the film industry's ingrained sexism (and particularly its gender-oriented ageism), even on supposedly prestige projects in which individual artists are given creative control.

2) This isn't just about the industry, but about Twin Peaks and the fact is that, for many people in the media and the industry, the series has frequently been celebrated and condescended to as light entertainment, quirky and sexy and cute but without anything substantial to say. The fact that, despite its humor and sense of fun, its central themes involve abuse, rape, and sexual trauma is something conveniently overlooked in popular perception. If this story is true, it is further evidence that Twin Peaks is too often limited to its "sexiness quotient" rather than appreciated for the deeper ways it grapples with complex social, psychological, and spiritual phenomena (many specifically dealing with obstacles faced by women of all ages).

3) Sherilyn Fenn posted a lot of accusatory and sometimes cryptic social media posts last fall (many involving statements about the patriarchy and sexism and ageism in the industry), in relation to her own questionable involvement with the new series. These were often dismissed as being too dramatic or self-serving. If this story is true, it certainly places those tweets and posts in a new context (though it also opens the question of why the contention emerged in the fall rather than the spring, when the age of the actresses was supposedly more of an issue).

4) Maybe this is a long shot, but if this story is true and it does go public I would like to think that it can have some small but necessary impact on people's attitudes within the industry; that maybe - when combined with other stories - it will become slightly less acceptable to actively push for the marginalization of middle-aged women in Hollywood. Because I haven't seen this story discussed elsewhere, because Cameron asked me to share it, and because it involves a subject I have devoted a substantial amount of time and effort to covering and dissecting, I want to do what I can to get the story out there.

Please share this information with others if you find it relevant or believable (keeping in mind that for the moment it remains in the category of plausible rumor and has not been confirmed by multiple sources). Cameron has also suggested that we tweet David Lynch to show our support for his gesture. If this story is true, it certainly speaks well of his loyalty and commitment, and makes it unsurprising that so many of these actors rallied to his defense.

5 comments:

J.D. Lafrance said...

So far, I don't really see Lynch's casting choices of newcomers to the TWIN PEAKS world being dictated by "young and hot" or name actors that Showtime can market to mainstream audiences. Amanda Seyfried? The buzz she had a few years ago is long gone and Lynch got lucky with Jennifer Jason Leigh who is currently enjoying a lot of attention thanks to THE HATEFUL 8. But Balthazar Getty, Robert Knepper, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bailey Chase, Jim Belushi, and Laura Dern? Hardly buzzworthy casting choices for Showtime to exploit to the uninitiated. Or young or hot.

Joel Bocko said...

In my opinion, if this rumor is true than Showtime more or less lost the battle with Lynch (I know Cameron might be of a slightly different opinion, since he speculated that maybe the longer runtime was to accommodate Showtime's desires for a broader, and more inclusively "young and hot" cast). It does seem like he will be bringing back and heavily emphasizing many of the "older" female characters although there was some uncertainty (now resolved) with Sherilyn Fenn last fall. And if it really was a bone of contention, I don't think Lynch would have come back to the production as he did until it was completely resolved in his favor.

But yes I agree, I think Lynch has total free hand to cast as he pleases at this point. I'm so curious as to what all those folks are going to be up to!

Anonymous said...

If any of this were to be true, I can understand the need & desire to rally behind Lynch, the women of Twin Peaks & the overall cause. Lambasting Showtime & its executives at this time, however, could be detrimental to the Twin Peaks revival in general. As vile & deplorable as these accusations are, putting a hot, white spotlight on this will only hurt the revival of Twin Peaks, as well as David Lynch & the lovely ladies of the original run. They have all moved forward to produce a product that is beneficial for all to succeed, and rumors, speculation, here say & the search for the truth of what really happened back then will only bring negativity to the project at this time. There will be time to bring all of this to light after the show's 2017 run. I'm not a big fan of this kind of journalism to begin with & I think Cameron can get ahead of himself with his speculations, and this particular opinion of his is a slippery slope that could have adverse side effects on Twin Peaks and its future. Leave it alone for now, let the ladies of Twin Peaks collect their checks before backlash of this story causes something unthinkable, like the cancellation of season 3 before our girls get paid.

Joel Bocko said...

I hear ya, but I don't think that would be possible at this point given that Showtime is contractually obligated to move forward with the show! But I so think we probably won't hear any kind I confirmation or comment on it until after the show is wrapped, cut, and probably aired.

Anonymous said...

The Cameron video is very click-bait and gossipy. Whatever happened between Showtime and Lynch, the hatchet has been buried and everyone is moving forward and trying to make the best of things. We all have fights and conflicts in life, work, relationships, I wouldn't re-open the wounds, especially now. After the show has aired, best at that point, to look back from a historical point of view, when things are academic.