Billy Baldwin Pleads for Return of Dirty Sexy Money

By Kyle Buchanan

Originally published on Advocate.com November 26 2008 1:00 AM ET

Actor William
Baldwin is half of one of TV’s most groundbreaking
couples -- his Dirty Sexy Money character is in
love with a transsexual, played by Candis Cayne -- but
it’s one plot that may not get to play itself
out, as the show is in danger of cancellation. ABC
recently announced that it would stop production of the
series, though the network hasn’t
confirmed outright that it won’t be renewed. We
spoke to Baldwin to find out what’s going on, whether
he thinks there’s anything fans can do to
save the show, and how he feels ABC treats its gay
story lines.

Advocate.com:How have you been?WilliamBaldwin: It's been kind of an odd
time for me, Kyle. My town, Montecito, is on fire, my
show's been canceled, and my wife has left me.

What? I'm only kidding about my wife. She's been
performing again and she's had a couple of concerts
this week. It's really a trip to see her back up
onstage. She's doing a quick little casino circuit with
Wilson Phillips and they played at the Club Nokia on
Sunday night and it was just wild to see them playing
in front of a thousand people.

Billy, you used the c word -- cancellation
-- which ABC still hasn't officially used to
describe Dirty Sexy Money. Have you heard
something we haven't?
No, but I have to say... I don't know the
television industry well enough, but people who are on
the show who've been around a lot longer than I have
were giving speeches on the set to the crew, and they were
saying stuff like, "You've got nothing to be ashamed of. We
did a great job, and we tried our hardest. It was such
an honor to work with you, and hopefully in the future
we'll be lucky enough to be able to do it again." When
[ABC] made the announcement, they very specifically
did not use the c word, and they were holding
the actors and holding the sets, I guess in contrast to
Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies. I
don't know, actually -- were those shows canceled, or are
they doing the same thing to them?

ABC announced all three shows were shutting down
production, but [Pushing Daisies creator]
Bryan Fuller said he's actually heard the term
"canceled."
Our executive producer Matt Gross said
they very specifically did not use that word, but they
had a tone and they were using words that led me to
believe that even though they didn't use the c word,
this usually means the show is over. I think what
could be happening is they want to see what happens over the
next couple of months, how people respond to them floating
this trial balloon that the show is in trouble, and
they also want to see how the programming they have
left performs. If they have another juggernaut like
Dancing With the Stars, then I guess we're
dead, but if some of this stuff goes in the crapper then I
guess they could do an order of nine [more episodes].

Do you think ABC made a mistake when they chose to
hold the series until the fall instead of resuming the
first season immediately after the strike?
I don't know. Look, these shows are very
expensive. They put a ton of money into launching it
in season one and relaunching it in season two. We had
some bumps in the road and [ABC head] Steve McPherson really
stuck by the show and poured tons of money into
getting it right. Looking back in retrospect, I don't
know if that was a problem. This is weird, and I don't
know if we'll ever be able to figure this out, but viewing
habits shifted this year in a way that people can't
quite explain to me. I don't know if it was because of
the economy or because everyone was caught up and
gripped by the presidential election, but every new show
that came back from last year had a significant dip in
their viewing in their second season. Dirty Sexy
Money
was one of the only shows that, on episode
one of season two, was on the same level as episode 10
of season one. That was encouraging news, but the rest of
it I can't quite figure out. Do you have enough expertise in
television to explain why these shows fell off the
cliff ratings-wise?

I think that the biggest serial drama this season
was the election, which sucked all the air out of the
room. In fact, there were some shows this past
week, like CBS's comedies, that suddenly hit
series highs with no attributable extra promotion, so
there's this idea that maybe people are settling
back into their old viewing patterns again. You
mentioned, though, that the network might be floating
this as a trial balloon -- I know that over at
NBC, Lipstick Jungle's gone through the same
thing, and there's been a fan outcry with people
mailing tubes of lipstick to the network. Do you
know of anything like that with Dirty Sexy Money?
I don't, but I'd like to strategize and coordinate with
people. People have told me that there's some Internet
and blogging activity and that people have been
posting on ABC's website and there's some petitions
online. I can't imagine that the outcry over the
cancellation of Lipstick Jungle is any more
significant than it will be for Dirty Sexy
Money
, for two reasons. Our audience was bigger
than theirs, number one, and our audience was very,
very devoted and very loyal to the show. I can't
imagine that Lipstick Jungle on the street and
at the watercooler had the buzz that our show had. Now, I've
never seen that show and I do love Brooke Shields, but
I've never had people come up to me, in my career,
like they do with this show all the time.

 WILLIAM BILLY BALDWIN CANDIS CAYNE DIRTY SEXY MONEY X390 (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Your relationship with Candis Cayne on the show has
been a groundbreaking story line, but at the same time,
ABC has come under fire for firing Brooke Smith at
Grey's Anatomy. She was playing a
lesbian character, and there are accusations that ABC
has "de-gayed" that show. Do you know anything
about that?
No, but I know Brooke pretty well and love her,
and her mother, Lois, used to be my publicist. I did
see something pop up on the Internet about it and I
wasn't sure what it was about. I mean, ABC has been better
than all the other networks to the LGBT audience, by a
considerable margin. If there's pressure behind the
scenes, I haven't heard if that's true and where it
might be coming from. I can't imagine that the network's
going in and cleaning stuff up -- I think pushing the
envelope and being racy in that way has worked to
their advantage and I don't know why they wouldn't
continue to do that. With Grey's Anatomy, had
you heard about any religious groups that were
protesting the network or something?

I haven't, but I know people were confused by how
abrupt Brooke's firing was.
What words did they put out on the street about
it?

They said the character had run its course, but
then Brooke gave an interview saying it came out of
nowhere and they only told her she'd be let go
just before she was about to shoot what became her
final episode.
Wow. My friendship with her is such that we bump
into each other at restaurants, but I'm curious to
know what happened, what her take on it is.

So you never felt any network interference with
your story line?
No. I've read production drafts that weren't
released to the actors yet that were sent to the
network for notes, and I've seen the differences
between drafts after their notes, and I didn't notice any
significant difference in my story line. Sometimes
when I saw a production draft, I wouldn't even read
the whole script, I'd just read the scene I was in, so
I don't know if there were changes with other story lines,
but if they were going to change any of them it would
probably be mine. And I didn't notice any significant
changes at all.

How many episodes of the second season have you
filmed so far?
We're in the middle of the 13th... I think
you're in a tough position as a showrunner when you're
writing a show that feels on some level like an
audition for the "back nine" [episodes of the season]. If
you don't have to be burdened by that or restricted
like that... I don't think it affected the overall
quality of the show, though. I dug the show, people
dug the show, and I hope we get a shot to continue. I really
do. I would do anything, I really would. I wouldn't even do
nine [episodes] if they wanted, I'd do six! Just let
them run in succession.