If you haven’t been watching HBO’s fascinating “Project Greenlight” this fourth season you’ve been missing out on a rare glimpse behind the glamorous pose of Hollywood. Wait, that’s not right – you’ve missed catfights, ego trips and ginormous talents clashing with iron willfulness.
A little more accurate. Though one should add, there is much laughter, professionalism, and oh yes, the occasional cameo by Greenlight founders Ben Afflleck and Matt Damon. (Nice to see Affleck, on the Oct. 25 episode, casually show up for the final car crash scene as if his star power is on the same level as the craft service workers’.)
Tomorrow night, Nov. 2, HBO will finally feature “The Leisure Class”, after it had its LA debut back in August.
The film was written and directed by a young fellow from Columbia University School of the Arts’ MFA directing program, Jason Mann. The wunderkind beat out over 5,000 competitors. “Leisure” wasn’t the original choice to be made into the Project Greenlight vehicle, but after Mann shared a lengthened version of a short, this dark comedy of manners won out. Pete Jones, a former Greenlight winner, helped work out the kinks in the script, and apparently got along very well with Mann.
Set in Connecticut, Mann struggled hard to replicate a genuine New England feel throughout the filmmaking process. Not an easy task with a miniscule $3 million-and-a bit budget, but with a trained, artistic eye, he managed to grapple successfully with the experienced, if occasionally brusk, producer Effie Brown. After all, we can dream of crash scenes that go through 25 takes, but reality means only Spielberg can afford such things. Brusk is not a bad word when trying to keep things within budget, which at least according to the HBO documentary, was sometimes a struggle for Mann.
The film stars British actor Ed Weeks masquerading as uppercrust “Charles Devonshire”, whose efforts to marry into an uppity Connecticut family are upended by his loose cannon sib, Leonard, played by Tom Bell. Weeks is a regular on “The Mindy Project” and has worked with Bell previously. Weeks’ character’s real name is William Rooney, a con artist who’s somehow managed to woo the beautiful daughter of an eccentric New Englander.
The final episode of this season’s “Project Greenlight” airs tonight on HBO; and “The Leisure Class” premieres tomorrow at 10 p.m. Set your dials. You don’t want to miss this.
Note: the original version of this article did not explain that Charles was not Weeks’ character’s real name.