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March 25, 2008

'Dirty Sexy Money'

Dirty_sexy_278x150 By Kimberly Nordyke

I've seen all 10 aired episodes of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money." But if you had asked me Tuesday afternoon to recap the show's first season, I probably wouldn't have done a very good job.

Don't get me wrong: I think it's a well-written, well-acted show with intriguing characters and story lines. It's just that, thanks to the 100-day writers strike, the drama hasn't been on the air since Dec. 5, and I honestly can't remember much of what happened or where it left off. Thankfully, Tuesday night's crowd at the Cinerama Dome got a montage of clips recapping the first season.

But the question becomes, after such a long break ("DSM" isn't scheduled to return until the fall), will the audience return when the show does? It's an issue that doesn't concern executive producers Craig Wright, who created "DSM," or Greg Berlanti.

"To rush back and throw up just a couple of episodes (this spring) would have been a mistake," Berlanti said.

In fact, there are three unaired episodes that were completed during the strike, but it's unclear whether viewers will ever see them, at least in their current form.

"They'll be in there (Season 2), but there were some producorial challenges that will require reshoots and rethinking," Wright said, since there were no writers on set while they were being shot.

(For Season 2, ABC has ordered 13 new episodes, plus the three already shot, as well as three additional scripts. It's set to go into production May 1.)

Despite the fact that the show centers on a wealthy family, Wright said, it clicks with viewers because it's relatable.

"Because of the Internet, we're aware of the global community and the privilege that we enjoy as Americans," Wright said. "Compared to the average human being, Americans have it made. So (the Darling family's) problems are still relatable."

Dirty He said the original title was actually "The Ruins" because the family was originally known as the Rooneys. But he changed the family to Darling to suggest "something dark but adorable." Then when ABC picked it up, executives wanted to change the name to "Dirty Sexy Money." (Blair Underwood, left, Zoe McLellan and Peter Krause on the panel/ Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)

"It was a gift from God," Wright said. "It's the perfect expression of the attraction and repulsion of money."

Perhaps fittingly, Berlanti later said, the show itself has a rather large budget, though he didn't offer up figures.

"I would venture to say it's the most expensive first-year show ever on network television," he said.

Moderator Lynette Rice, of Entertainment Weekly, pressed the duo for Season 2 spoilers throughout the night. And then she pressed some more. And then some more. Until finally Wright pleaded with her to "stop asking!" (Apparently it was mostly a spoiler-phobic audience as many of them applauded his request.) But she was able to get a few hints out of Wright and some burning questions answered, including:

  • Has Patrick's (William Baldwin) transsexual lover Carmelita (Candis Cayne) actually had a sex-change operation? "When we find the right moment in Season 2 to address it we will, and we won't be backpedaling from it." As for the decision to include a transsexual character, Wright said he wanted to be able to include people of diverse lifestyles, saying he felt a "sociological commitment to use it as an instrument for change."
  • Will Nick (Peter Krause) ever tell Karen (Natalie Zea) he loves her, if in fact he does? "It would not profit anybody for that to be voiced."
  • Patrick's run for Senate won't coincide with the real-life 2008 elections. "There's too much story to tell" before the November elections roll around. Wright also teased that "Patrick started as a character in the closet, cloaked. His journey toward openness should bring success." Baldwin, for his part, pointed out how similar Patrick's affair with Carmelita mirrors the real-life scandal of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
  • As for the murder-mystery involving Nick's dad that is at the center of the drama? "I wouldn't start the show with a murder if I didn't intend to solve it," Wright said, though he declined to say when the answer might be revealed other than "we'll be hashing out things in the coming season and beyond." Baldwin, for his part, posed the question: "Did you ever see any body?" (No, we haven't.) No matter who ends up being the murderer, Wright said, "I hope that we show the real blame to lay at the feet of money."
  • Brian Jr.(Will Shadley), the illegitimate son of Rev. Brian Darling (Glenn Fitzgerald), will be featured "a lot more" in the next season.
  • Wright has the series finale already mapped out in his mind. His only hint to the crowd at the Cinerama Dome was: "Anyone who has read (Dante Alighieri's) 'The Divine Comedy' to the end will know how ('Dirty Sexy Money') ends." (Unfortunately, that group does not include yours truly, so I'll let you read it for yourself. Or at least get the condensed version from that bastion of knowledge known as Wikipedia.)

Along with Krause, McLellan, Baldwin, Zea and Fitzgerald, cast members in attendance included Seth Gabel (Jeremy Darling) and Blair Underwood (Simon Elder). Jill Clayburgh (Letitia Darling) and Donald Sutherland (Tripp Darling) were unable to attend because they are promoting the show in England. No reason was given for Samaire Armstrong's (Juliet Darling) absence.

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