Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

JUST the thought of Jack Black delv­ing into the high- stakes world of Mid­dle Eastern pol­i­tics is enough to make any­one laugh. But when he starts to sell an au­di­ence of jour­nal­ists on the idea, it is Hol­ly­wood heavy­weight and his latest boss, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Jerry Wein­traub, who cracks up fi rst.

The scene is a media panel with the cast and cre­atives be­hind HBO’s new com­edy se­ries The Brink and Wein­traub is gig­gling even be­fore Black gets a word out, prompt­ing the ac­tor to ask: “What’s so funny? Did I say some­thing? What did I do, Jerry?” who replies: “I just fi nd you funny.”

Wein­traub, the man be­hind the Oceans’ Eleven movie fran­chise and The Karate Kid se­ries, clearly saw the funny side of this pro­ject – writ­ten and di­rected by broth­ers Kim and Robert Ben­abib – which seeks to play for the same laughs in its fi ctional world as news satires like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart rou­tinely skewer from the real po­lit­i­cal stage.

In The Brink, Black plays a lowlevel staff er work­ing out of the US em­bassy in Pak­istan who goes for glory dur­ing a tense po­lit­i­cal time, only to fi nd him­self the trig­ger for what could be World War III.

The stel­lar cast also in­cludes Tim Rob­bins as the over- sexed US Sec­re­tary of State, Pablo Schreiber ( The Wire) as a fi ghter pi­lot who tries sup­ple­ment­ing his naval in­come by deal­ing drugs and The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi as Black’s Pak­istani driver. It’s more Ho­gan’s He­roes than M* A* S* H, earn­ing mixed re­views from US crit­ics, with some ar­gu­ing it misses its satir­i­cal mark.

For his part, Black says he was drawn to the script be­cause it was “fresh and ex­cit­ing”. He adds: “And I wanted to party with these guys. I had a great time, even when I was be­ing wa­ter- boarded.”

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