Premiere Of The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, SVA Theatre, New York
September, 23, 2010
I love the New York Television Festival (NYTVF). Because I love television. And I love how the festival is a platform for independent writers, actors, and those considered "a little off" by IFC. Last night at the premiere viewing of "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret." I discovered that I'm definitely a little off, but maybe not that much. Certainly not as off as SKINNY NYC's Matt Van Hoven.
As I approached the SVA Theatre I saw the flashes of photogs on the red carpet bouncing off the step and repeat. Van Hoven and I entered the reception and were greeted at the door by a handsome young fellow strapped in roaring-20's style to a display of English treats. I had done very little research on Todd Margaret, but my Columbo skills deduced from the British treats that Englandland would be playing a supporting role. I grabbed up some white cheddar popcorn, a toffee chocolate nut thing, and salt and pepper chips for dinner. At the bar, plastic mugs branded with the Todd Margaret logo were filled to the delicious rim with Stella Artois that we sipped as the SVA theatre filled up quietly.
The first people I found were Jeff Siegel, Vice President, Home Entertainment at FreemantleMedia, and and Greg Diller of IFC, still one of my favorite channels, due to their playing of "Midnight Meat Train," where I first fell in love with Bradley Cooper.
Around the bend from Siegel and Diller were Toni Hellman, recent college grad enjoying the unemployed life (while hungrily seeking employment, of course!) and Emily Kanoff of Telenext Media, driving the publicity train for P&G. Near them I found the very smiley Ben Lambert and Patrick Rubin, both media buyers at Carat. I made them repeat "Carat" at least 7 times because the whole silent "t" thing made me think I was having a stroke. Sometimes, when you're so busy making media buys, you just don't have time for the t.
I probably made Diana Garrett, who does PR for Ketchum and was happily not on the clock that night, just enjoying the premiere, and Peter "I do research" Crosta uncomfortable with my observance that they were one letter away from my parents. Let's hope it wasn't a first date. Or a date at all. Let's move on, I'm uncomfortable all over again.
I was very excited to meet the producers behind "Todd Margaret," Jane Bell and Clelia Mountford. It's a rare opportunity to meet the inner production circle, and I felt nervous for them. I just can't imagine sitting in a full auditorium of your peers, fans, and critics while something I created plays. It's got to feel like everyone is watching you in the bathroom. I wished them luck and let them know that I had already seen some positive Twitter buzz about the show. OK so maybe I saw one tweet, but I felt it was my duty to ease any of their anxiety.
By far the funniest discovery of the night were winners. Two, (punch)drunk, guffawing, boisterous womenintroduced themselves: "We'RE WINNERS!" I laughed, happy that at least two people in this very stiff-upper-lip crowd were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Graphic Designer Kris Snider and Cheryl "I'm just a winner" Mogavert won the Urban Outfitters Todd Margaret Sweepstakes. They were hilarious and appeared to be wrangled by IFC's Luis Vasquez (who they called "cute") and Bottle Rocket Marketing's Ann Marie Des Lauriers.
Before heading into the premiere, I met Registered Nurse Nick Montella and Screenwriter Ed Dougherty. I smell an ABC Sitcom. Dougherty's current project is "Merciless" (with goldcircle), a remake of a Danish horror film. Oh, I also found the very dapper foursome of Craig Park from IFC, Nikki Feniello of IFC/Sundance, Mike Williams of IFC/Sundance, and Kevin Lanning of IFC/Sundance.
It's annoying to watch TV (and movies) with me because predictability makes me want to shave my head, rub it with a cheese grater, and shampoo with witch hazel laced with lemon juice. I like kooky, offbeat and weird, which is probably why I am a fan of IFC. But, I guess I still don't have that cultivated British humor bone. The original "The Office" makes me cringe; there is nothing redeemable about even the most likable characters on that show. I don't want to watch 30 minutes of TV where I can't root for anyone. I'm even rooting for the drug dealers in "Breaking Bad" sometimes.
"Todd Margaret" seems to be an attempt to meld the two sensibilities, with poor Todd as the clod who lied and has to continue the lie to the point where in episode 2 it's already clichéd, his new boss played by Will Arnett who is unnaturally crude for shock value, his horrid hooligan assistant who is just plain mean, and the Catherine Keener-esque café owner who is passionate about molecular gastronomy, and is sympathetic to nearly likable Todd Margaret -- but only just up to the point where he screws it up, which isn't a shock to anyone. I do love David Cross' face, though; he reminds me of a little woodland creature.
Spoiler alert: I found myself laughing the hardest when the cat died.
I'll definitely give it two more shots; I mean, I'm still torturing myself with "Mad Men." I feel like I owe David Cross a second chance anyway since when Matt Van Hoven and I tried to make a sneaky hasty retreat before the Q&A got cranking, Matt knocked over a plastic mug, sending it loudly clanking down the aisle, which prompted David Cross to stop mid-sentence, look up and announce straight-faced "that's rude," which dumped the audience into buckets of laughter and me into a red pile of giggling embarrassment. And then we ran away.
Thank you, IFC, for yet another fun and memorable evening. Keep 'em coming.