Dam­age con­trol

Liev Schreiber takes on seamy side of celebrity in raydono­van.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By JEs­sICa GELT

Liev Schreiber ex­udes a cool, un­stud­ied mas­culin­ity. tall and thought­ful with stub­ble on a strong jaw, he breaks for a cig­a­rette and cof­fee on the set of his new show, Ray Dono­van.

the 45-year-old ac­tor plays the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter – a Hol­ly­wood “fixer” called upon to cover up, de­flect or me­di­ate pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ters for the rich and fa­mous.

“our ob­ses­sion with celebri­ties, who are re­ally, at the end of the day, just em­ploy­ees in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, is worth tak­ing a look at,” says Schreiber, sit­ting on a bench in a fake foyer at Sony Stu­dios in cul­ver city, cal­i­for­nia in the United States. “they are fal­li­ble, sen­si­tive peo­ple, just like us.”

in the neo-noir land­scape of sprawl­ing Los An­ge­les, the gritty drama, which was cre­ated by South­land’s Ann Bi­der­man, does not shy away from the ugly side of celebrity. Mas­tur­ba­tory stalk­ers lurk in the shad­ows of sunny beaches, fa­mous ac­tors dis­play pe­dophilia ten­den­cies, and dead bod­ies are treated not as ca­reer-en­ders but as in­con­ve­niences to be dealt with.

“A lot of peo­ple have to col­lude for peo­ple to get away with the **** they get away with,” says Bi­der­man, who of­ten pep­pers her speech with curse words. “to create a Michael Jack­son sce­nario, a lot of peo­ple have to keep say­ing ‘yes.’ And the more that hap­pens, the more you’re liv­ing out­side of per­mis­si­ble bound­aries. i find that fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Bound­aries are non-ex­is­tent to Schreiber’s ray, for whom no door is ever re­ally locked and whose use of a base­ball bat is more Al capone, less Derek Jeter. And al­though he’s a pro at mak­ing the prob­lems of oth­ers dis­ap­pear, he can’t quite do the same thing when it comes to his com­pli­cated fam­ily.

His wife doesn’t un­der­stand him, his kids are grow­ing up too fast and his broth­ers, who work at the fam­ily’s box­ing club, have been left emo­tion­ally stunted by the psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse of the fam­ily pa­tri­arch, Mickey.

Mickey, played with men­ace by vet­eran Jon voight, is a crass low-life who re­cently got out of jail af­ter serv­ing 20 years for mur­der. ray framed him to put him there.

Need­less to say, it’s a se­ries dom­i­nated by anti-heroes. voight’s Mickey is sneer­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tive. He feeds his ad­dict son Bunchy co­caine, smokes weed with pros­ti­tutes and in­sin­u­ates him­self into ray’s fam­ily with a sly stealth.

“We’ve got won­der­ful ac­tors play­ing de­li­cious parts,” says voight on set. the pre­mium ca­ble chan­nel, Show­time, has high hopes for the hard-nosed drama whose com­plex and am­bigu­ous moral themes mesh neatly with many of their other se­ries such as em­my­win­ning Home­land, Dex­ter and Nurse Jackie.

Bi­der­man says she was lucky when she pitched the show be­cause the net­work was look­ing for “a big, juicy ma­cho show.”

“i think you can only do true male psychology on pre­mium ca­ble,” says Show­time’s Pres­i­dent of en­ter­tain­ment David Nevins. “that was one of the things The So­pra­nos had go­ing for it. it was clear that Ann had unique in­sight into the male psy­che – she knows what drives men.”

Schreiber agrees, say­ing he was un­pre­pared for Bi­der­man when he first met her.

“i was ex­pect­ing to meet ray­mond chan­dler, and here comes this small, del­i­cate woman who has the mouth of a prize fighter,” he says. “She writes men bet­ter than any­one in the busi­ness, at the heart of this tough­ness is a tre­men­dous sen­si­tiv­ity.”

ray is, in­deed, the em­bod­i­ment of the strong, silent type. the man who tucks his daugh­ter into bed; makes sure his wife has a stack of cash for a new dress for date night; and is tempted by lithe, young star­lets. the man who would also make bloody work of any­one who would hurt any of them.

Bi­der­man has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the cause-and-effect pat­terns of bad be­hav­iour.

“i was a freaky kid, i’ve had a long ob­ses­sion with crime,” she says, curled in an of­fice chair, her hair in a messy up­sweep. “other girls would be watch­ing Gigi, and i’d be watch­ing De­tec­tive Story’ with Kirk Dou­glas.”

Many of the show’s episodic sce­nar­ios seem based on non-fic­tional Hol­ly­wood prob­lems and char­ac­ters. to say which ones would be to spoil im­por­tant plot­lines, but view­ers will know them when they see them thanks to the tabloid fren­zies they caused.

So that raises the ques­tion: is there a real- life ray Dono­van?

Bi­der­man is coy about that – a fixer wouldn’t be a fixer if he were in the lime­light. But the truth is that the char­ac­ter is likely an amal­ga­ma­tion of a va­ri­ety of peo­ple who grease the gears of Hol­ly­wood’s vast mon­ey­mak­ing ma­chine.

Show­time hopes to have an­other hit on its hands. And if it emerges as one, Schreiber, who says he is “not a first-choice guy, i’m a clean-up guy” when it comes to cast­ing, is poised to be­come a bona-fide lead­ing man.

“this role is the per­fect ve­hi­cle for him,” says voight of Schreiber. “With all its dan­ger, charm and sex ap­peal.”

With that, voight joins Schreiber on the box­ing club set in the chilly, cav­ernous sound stage. Spot­lights roar to life, and the two men shift into char­ac­ter: foes in op­po­site cor­ners of the ring. – Los An­ge­les times/Mcclatchytri­bune in­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Ray Dono­van airs ev­ery Sun­day at 11.45pm on FOX Movies Pre­mium (Astro Ch 413)

spin doc­tor: Liev Schreiber plays a hol­ly­wood ‘fixer’ who is called upon to cover up, de­flect or me­di­ate pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ters for the rich and fa­mous in raydono­van.

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