Do You Swing?
BY Kyle Buchanan
June 03 2008 12:00 AM ET
CBS might be an unlikely home for the new series Swingtown -- a sly drama exploring the sexually swinging '70s -- but it’s a perfect fit for executive producer Alan Poul. With groundbreaking dramas like Six Feet Under, Big Love, and My So-called Life on his resume, the openly gay Poul has a commitment to television that pushes the envelope. We talked to him to find out how Swingtown (airing Thursday, June 5, at 10 p.m.) got started and whether we can expect any of its characters to swing in a same-sex direction.
Alan, I’m feeling a little protective of Swingtown. It's such a smart, unique show, but it's airing on a very traditional network. How did something like this, which you'd normally expect to see on FX or HBO, end up on CBS? Well, first of all, your protection is welcome -- and maybe unnecessary, because so far, we're doing OK. You actually put your finger on it in the question. I was under an overall development deal at HBO when we finished our run of Six Feet Under, and this was one of the projects I brought in as part of that deal. Mike Kelley, who created the show, is an old friend of mine, and he had worked on a lot of network shows, and he had this idea for what he thought could only be a premium cable show. He brought me the pitch, and we worked on it and felt that it was a slam-dunk for HBO.
And? Well, we took it to HBO, and we pitched the show, and they were very intrigued...but since they had several projects already in production or late-stage development that dealt with, as they put it, "multiple sexual partners," they felt that they couldn't take another one on their plate, so they regretfully passed. Mike then wrote a script based on the pitch and then, thinking again that this show could only ever exist in the cable sphere, we went to Showtime, where they were very interested in buying it, but there wasn't cash on hand -- it wasn't their buying season. We were more than happy to be patient, and then in the interim we got a call from our agent that CBS wanted to buy the show. We were as shocked as you probably are to hear that that's where it landed.