TVLINE | The decision to have Derek’s sexual sins visited upon him this season: What are you hoping to do with that?
It was really important for me to look at all of the characters together and go, “OK, what are their personal stakes this year?” And one of the things that the writers and I talked about was how Derek (Jack Davenport) is very much a descendant of Bob Fosse, and what would happen if Fosse existed today? Could he get away with all of the ways he treated the people that he worked with, both good and bad? And the answer for us was “probably not.” So soon as the writers room got together, I had a screening of All That Jazz and a couple of other movies.
TVLINE | Do you think that, as Gossip Girl fans might put it, Derek and Ivy are “endgame”?
It’s so funny — I have not been able to think about “endgame” on this show, refreshingly. The Gossip Girls are always like, “Where’s the end game?”
TVLINE | I feel like the Ivy/Derek relationship is a lot more mature than it appeared at first blush.
In our minds it was very clear that Ivy is the one person who knows him better than anybody but has “been there, done that” and might not go there ever again. However, they’re incredibly bonded. They understand each other as artists and one of the things so great about both of them is that they have a very similar pursuit. Ivy wanted to be a star, that’s all she wants; Derek wants to be Derek, that’s all he wants. I don’t know if their relationship is romantic, but relationship-wise they definitely have a bond throughout the whole season.
TVLINE | In the premiere, someone texts Ellis. Did you consider putting him on camera for a voice call instead? Just for shock value?
We did think about it at one point but we felt like we didn’t want to necessarily state that he would be back. If you see the person, it feels like next week there’s going to be a story with him and there’s not, so it would have been disingenuous. [Ed. Note: Ellis will (probably) be back, though!]
TVLINE | What about Julia’s son Leo. Does he pop up, even via an iPhone photo or something?
Yes. Julia has a son and we don’t want to say that these things didn’t exist. And it’s very important to us to show that she still is a working mother. That continues, but maybe not to the extent of last year.
TVLINE | When you do bring him back, will he be, you know, less whiny?
I think when you see him you will see him in a different capacity.
TVLINE | For the imminently single Julia, you have a couple of potential romantic interests in queue, played by Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order). How are they introduced?
You will meet Daniel’s character in Episode 3. He and Julia have an antagonistic relationship but it’s professional. Also, I think that Julia, going through a divorce, is maybe not entirely ready to jump back in[to the dating pool]. There’ll be a slow reconnecting to being single as the season progresses for her. Jesse comes in as a director of an Off Broadway theater, and he and Julia cross paths and they have a history so it’s “interesting.” I don’t want to give too much away.
TVLINE | Sean Hayes also comes on for a couple episodes, but not in a single scene with his Will & Grace costar Debra Messing. Did you feel that would have been a little too “on the nose”?
It wasn’t so much that. When you see those episodes it wouldn’t have been organic to actually do it. It would have looked like just a stunt. Their storylines are not actually related at all, so the audience would have known we were forcing something.
TVLINE | There’s a line in the premiere where Tom says to Julia, “We could live together. It could be like a sitcom!”
Yes. That line was winking enough!