The new season of Inside the Actors Studio on its new network, independent arts channel Ovation TV, premiered in October and can be seen Sundays @ 10pm ET. David Wideroe, SVP of Marketing and On-Air Promotions at Ovation TV, talks about the new era of the series – and why Ovation TV is the perfect home for it.
With Inside the Actors Studio now on Ovation TV, what differences can viewers expect to see?
The biggest thing viewers will notice is our panel of guest hosts. For instance, in one episode Alec Baldwin interviews Henry Winkler, and in another Greta Gerwig interviews Laura Dern. When James Lipton announced his retirement, we knew we could not simply replace him with a “new” host. At the same we wanted a fresh take on this beloved series, and the idea of weekly guest hosts was born.
A critical objective throughout the booking process was to secure a duo that had a pre-existing history, as friends or colleagues, so the audience could connect through that bond. So, when inviting our guests, we collaborated closely with them to find the perfect match. It has proven to bring some unique parings to the format; including Pedro Pascal interviewing Willem Dafoe (costarred in The Great Wall), and Ellen Burstyn interviewing Al Pacino (both Co-Presidents of The Actors Studio).
We also wanted the environment to feel less academic and formal, and more conversational and familiar. To that, we removed desk between the guest and the host, and added lush armchairs (which we hear are very comfortable).
With these changes, we still wanted the series to retain its heritage as a place where actors could talk freely about the “art of acting,” and let Inside the Actors Studio be the platform for an in-depth discussion about the craft. Remember, all episodes are shot in front of students of The Actors Studio MFA program at Pace University… and our esteemed actors are also here to teach these students by example.
As you got into the production cycle with the new format, was there anything that stood out?
It’s a great question, and thanks for asking! What we are seeing with the actor-interviewing-actor pairings is really, really special. First, there’s so much respect between the duo on stage, you can feel it in the room. And, when you have two people who respect and trust each other, there’s a raw honesty that comes front and center. While these are accomplished actors at the top of their game, you are constantly reminded they also are “regular people” with a lot of the same challenges and insecurities we all face in life.
The conversations have been amazing deep-dives into the craft of acting, practical examples through their body of work, all filtered on a very personal level through their life stories. When David Oyelowo shared his story of moving to LA from the UK, not finding work, with a new kid on the way, and $3 in his pocket…there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I continue to be amazed about how honest the conversations are, and am so happy we have created a space that is unfiltered, unscripted, unexpected…and yet a safe haven to open up.
Why is Inside the Actors Studio so important to Ovation TV?
As a media company dedicated to the Arts, Inside the Actors Studio is the perfect embodiment to our brand DNA and our mission of supporting and advocating for the arts. Film and Television is the US’s biggest Arts platform (and export), and all the actors we talked to share an enormous passion for their craft.
It’s easy to look at an actor who has made it, and see them only through the lens of celebrity and success. However, when you peel back the onion during these interviews, they all share some commonalities; unyielding belief, conviction, taking risks, unbreakable grit, and giving back to the community. They believe in their craft – and they believe in their art form. What also makes these conversations so fascinating is that these actors have faced their own challenges; from adversity, rejection, discrimination, etc. However, they used this platform – the platform of acting – to overcome their own obstacles and share stories of important cultural and human topics to a global audience.
At Ovation, we talk a lot about The Power of Art; how it’s a reflection of the cultural conversation and a mirror of our history. We see that translated through all art forms; from paintings, music, poetry, photography, dance and more. We also recognize the immense impact art has on American lives, which is why Ovation created Stand For The Arts, our signature arts advocacy platform. Inside the Actors Studio is an open forum for actors to share their story about the “power of art,” and we believe it is an important story that needs to be told – and continue to be shared.
On a personal note, we live in a very divided world nowadays…and I feel it is incumbent on all of us in the media business to bring positive counterprogramming to create a better sense of equilibrium. Telling stories of overcoming adversity and creating positive change in a collaborative & creative environment is a pretty compelling through-line. It’s a through-line that can be applied in all aspects of life… and in business.