Smiles and scowls at press conference for The Producers
May 11 was press conference day for KBS’s The Producers, the “100% real variety drama” starring star actors playing variety producer-directors (and one starlet) in a show that’ll be both a workplace drama and an extravaganza of meta nods to the world it depicts.
Unlike most dramaland shows about showbiz that invent a fictional world with fictional celebrities, The Producers is set in the real-world version of showbiz. That is to say, it’ll reference actual shows and actual celebrities, although it’s still a fictional show; its alternate universe is just a lot more similar to our real one. Hence more room for meta jokes and name-dropping (and, I expect, a ton of cameo appearances).
That real-world similarity extends to the characters themselves, some of whom are based on real people. Gong Hyo-jin, for example, explained that her character is based on the drama’s own PD; she plays a Music Bank PD and was told early on that the role was based on CP Seo Soo-min. (Though Gong did make sure to point out that her irascible character is much more hot-tempered and difficult than the real-life PD.) She added that CP Seo is actually the first female PD she’s met (which seems incredible to me, and also disheartening), so she didn’t have a lot of information to draw upon in creating this character; she had to figure out all the details of how to portray her, down to the way she dressed.
The drama purports to blur the line between reality and fiction, and Cha Tae-hyun may just have the must opportunity for fun with that, since he’s playing a longtime PD of 1 Night, 2 Days, which is the variety program he’s a cast member on. He said that he’s asked variety PDs a lot of questions while working on this role, and has found a lot of interest on their side.
He added that he feels sorry to PD Na Young-seok, tvN’s variety heavy-hitter behind the Grandpas Over Flowers and Three Meals a Day franchises. Cha Tae-hyun has never met Na PD, but said, “Whenever I’m acting [in this drama], I feel sorry. Because it’s ‘real,’ we use real names for some things. I do feel sorry about it, but I hope people can look at it as fun.” Oh, I’m sure much fun will be had, and if it’s at Na PD’s expense, all the better!
There’s also a bit of real-world overlap with IU, who’s playing a top starlet, even if her role is described as haughty, which is a departure for her (since she’s mostly played easygoing characters). She described asking friends and colleagues for advice based on their experiences — basically, when you’re a star, you know a lot of stars who can help you work out how to play a star.
Kim Soo-hyun was the last to confirm the casting; Gong Hyo-jin explained that she decided after Cha Tae-hyun and IU had signed on, and Kim Soo-hyun confirmed the day after she did. She added that she’d planned to take some time off after her play and do a movie next, but was drawn in by writer Park Ji-eun’s script and her dialogue and gag style. “The two of them [Cha and IU] seemed just right for it, and it felt like all I had to do is set my spoon [on a full table]. …Of all the roles I’ve done so far, Tak Ye-jin is the most snappish and easily angered role. Finding a way to express her flaws and clumsiness was appealing.”
At least that character description explains the extreme bitchface Gong Hyo-jin wore at the press conference; it was kind of startling to see her looking so blatantly cranky—I figured it had to be a character point, but still found it jarring. I’m so used to seeing her looking so friendly and sweet! Now we know she’s also got a mean scowl in her arsenal.
Gong Hyo-jin’s character will be particularly hard on Kim Soo-hyun, which she hoped wouldn’t make her too hated among the viewers. Well, that is the occupational hazard in being mean to Korea’s most beloved current actor (there are actual polls on this, though it seems to me a highly dubious thing to attempt to confirm). While Kim’s rookie PD character sounds pretty different from the cool, collected characters he’s played recently, he finds some overlap with previous roles. He pointed out that Sam-dong from Dream High had an innocence and inexperience that are similar to his Producers role, who is book-smart (having gone to a prestigious law school) but a bit fumbling in the real world. Er, real-fake world. Or are we at real-fake-real world now? I lose track.
Producer airs its first of twelve episodes this Friday.
- Producer’s playful partner-go-round posters
- Hidden camera teasers: Producer meta, or Meta Producer?
- Petty jealousy revs up on Producer’s morning commute
- Oh Snap! Cozy Producer, Hidden Ex-Girlfriend
- Cha Tae-hyun goes behind the 1N2D camera for Producer
- Script reads for new KBS spring dramas Producer and School 2015
- Kim Jong-kook joins Producer as Cha Tae-hyun’s sunbae
- Gong Hyo-jin considers Producer opposite Cha Tae-hyun
- IU courted to reunite with Kim Soo-hyun in Producer
- Cha Tae-hyun to play veteran variety PD to Kim Soo-hyun’s rookie