Duplass Brothers’ Success Secret? ‘We’re Just, Like, Better’ Than You

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The movie-and-TV power brothers Mark and Jay Duplass have two series now on HBO, the dramedy Togetherness, which returns for season two on Feb. 21, and the caustic animated comedy Animals, which debuted Feb. 5.

After a BAM Rose Cinemas screening of two excellent new Togetherness episodes on Groundhog Day, someone in the audience asked them how they got two simultaneous HBO shows.

“We the shit, yo,” Mark (who stars in Togetherness; they both write and direct it) answered, and everyone laughed.

“We’re just, like, better than you guys,” added Jay, who acts in Amazon’s Transparent, among other gigs.

Those were jokes, but they are pretty amazing and very prolific. Jay explained that “the more momentum you get, the easier it is to do things in this industry, and also we’ve just been at this for a very, very long time.”

He said they’d been talking with HBO for years before the network ordered two seasons of Togetherness, about the ups and downs of four late-30s people in Los Angeles.

The brothers also get along fabulously with HBO and “know how to make things cheaply and make them well,” Jay noted, which helped when they backed the creators of Animals (Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese) and sold the show (two seasons) to HBO at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

So, they’re smart, creative, busy and independent. They’re also funny and social: Look up the Togetherness Twitter Q&A they did with fans on Feb. 3 using the hashtag #askduplass.

What aren’t they?

“We’re not like the Coen brothers,” Mark said, answering another question at the Togetherness screening, meaning they don’t see a whole movie in their heads before they make it. “We are very much like a discovery-type brothers duo,” he said. They try to find “a nice honest thing” happening, and if it’s funny or dramatic, either way is OK. “We just want to have something that feels genuine and is pleasing to us.”

That process keeps Togetherness warm, funny, poignant and honest. Animals — a very different show, about animals and humans in New York City and featuring famous guest voices — premiered with a fairly twisted episode about rats.

Set-Top Set-To Fosters Confusion Over Coalitions

Not that the upcoming battle about set-top box policy is intended for public consumption, but sometimes the lobbying efforts have the potential to confuse policy makers. In this case, it’s a battle of similarly named coalitions.

Just days after Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled his open set-top plan (see Cover Story), Politico (the Washington wonk daily read) had a story about the “Consumer Video Choice Coalition’s” campaign to acquaint Capitol Hill staff and consumer groups with the agenda. That day’s issue of Politico’s Morning Tech report was sponsored by the “Future of TV Coalition.”

Obviously, the digerati will know that the first coalition (created last summer) includes Google, COMPTEL, Public Knowledge, TiVo, Vizio and the Writers Guild of America, among others.

The Future of TV Coalition, launched on Jan. 27, includes the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association and many large MSOs.

So, this looks like another opportunity to keep your coalitions straight.

— Gary Arlen

Now on Stage In the Capital: ‘My Fair Trade’

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership moves toward ratification — the trade deal has been signed, but not sealed and delivered, which will take congressional approval — its critics have gotten creative in their protests.

In addition to the usual banners in front of the White House and scalding emails sent to reporters, some foes of the agreement, who characterize it as a secret deal to export U.S. jobs off shore, took to the National Press Club to provide a soundtrack to their protest. They mocked the agreement in a not-to-be missed performance of “Let it Go,” a parody of the song from Disney’s Frozen. With a Fair Trade Princess Ilsa and a snowman (snowgirl, actually) for added effect. Can TPP: The Musical be far behind? Well, probably.

To check out the anti-TPP interpretive dance moves (and yes, The Wire watched the whole thing), visit multichannel.com/Feb8.

For those not able to make it through the whole show, the kicker lines are these:

“Let it go! Let it go!
Our movement is gonna soar
Let it go! Let it go!
’Til the TPP is no more

Here we stand
and to Congress we say:
on TPP, vote no …
… or you better watch out on Election Day!”

A spokesperson for the event identified the performer as fair-trade activist Melinda St. Louis, who also wrote the parody lyrics. Her snowy sidekick was her daughter, Lila Benavente.

TV and movie studios (Disney included) as well as many tech companies are all for the trade deal. “The core principles in the TPP — including open markets and strong copyright protections — will allow the U.S. film and television industry to better compete in foreign markets and create even more economic growth and American jobs,” Motion Picture Association of America chairman Chris Dodd said last week in an emailed statement entirely lacking in TPP terpsichorial embellishment.

— John Eggerton

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.