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hyperreality TV

Steven Soderbergh (and George Clooney) come out with a new HBO series, K Street:

In "K Street," a half-hour show that makes its debut on Sept. 14, HBO is aiming for something that Steven Soderbergh, a co-executive producer, calls "real-time fiction." The show will depict a make-believe firm of lobbyists and consultants, but will blend in real politicians, lawmakers and issues to give an insiderish flavor of how Washington wheels, deals, logrolls, backscratches and backstabs.

From Shakespeare's plays to "Ragtime" to Mr. Soderbergh's Oscar-winning film "Traffic," the technique of mixing the real and unreal in entertainment has a long tradition. But the characters in those works fall into familiar categories: they're either pure creations, fictional versions of real figures, or cameos. Here Mr. Soderbergh and his creative team, including the actor George Clooney, the writer Henry Bean and the producer Mark Sennet, are heightening the trompe l'oeil effect by having real lobbyists and consultants play alternate versions of themselves, while grappling with real issues about real people in a fake firm. Like "Law and Order," "K Street" will rip its plots from the headlines. But it will do so only days after those headlines appear, while the issues in question are still live ones, and do only as much fictionalizing as necessary to keep the plots interesting.

The idea is to be so topical that viewers are left "asking whether it's a documentary or fiction," as Mr. Soderbergh puts it. To remain on top of the news, the episodes will be outlined and shot on an extremely tight schedule. Each week's installment will be hammered out and finished in three days, beginning on the Monday before each Sunday's air date. Editing will be done on Thursday and Friday. "Everyone will come in on Monday having read the papers and seen the Sunday shows," Mr. Soderbergh explained during a recent interview in New York, wearing his trademark black T-shirt and black eyeglasses and sipping on a drink called an Arnold Palmer (a combination of iced tea and lemonade). He and his partners are hiring researchers to make sure the show gets its facts straight, and equipping two mobile vans to rush the cast and crew to real hearings and other events in the capital.

Wow. Hopefully they'll show it here in Ireland at some point. It takes a while sometimes, for example, I still haven't seen The Wire, which is apparently excellent.

Posted by diego on August 25 2003 at 2:03 AM

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