Jill Bennett & Cathy DeBuono did it up right last weekend with a screening & outdoor bash to celebrate the Season 2 premiere of their labor of love, We Have to Stop Now. Although the series was created for the web, it was shown on the BIG SCREEN as a two-hour feature film for those lucky enough to bribe their way in. The premiere party was complete with a red carpet, Autostraddle’s Nat Garcia doing interviews and live performances from out rock singer Corday and the band Kelly’s Lot. Remember how we all bitched and moaned that some shows did not reflect “they way that we live?” Well, guess what – this show actually does mirror relationships in a version of reality that rings true… particularly for those of us who love to process feelings and appreciate therapy.
The Plot in a Nutshell
Season 1 established Dyna (Cathy) and Kit (Jill) as married therapists struggling with their relationship following the success of their book, “How to Succeed In Marriage Without Even Trying.” Comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer rounds out the cast as their therapist with the show’s writer/creator Ann Noble as Kit’s stoner sister who plays the wise fool. Season 2 takes those characters and amps up the comedy, depth and pathos. The storyline between the two sisters (Noble and new cast member Maryfrances Careccia as Dyna’s sis) is particularly moving, adding an unexpected layer of sexiness and authenticity beyond the ushe Jill & Cathy chemistry-fest.
Ya know what else is exciting this season? Guest stars! Early in season 2, Dyna & Kit decide to shop around for another therapist and consult with twin shrinks played by Meredith Baxter in her first role since coming out. Once the story conveniently puts everyone on the Sweet cruise (they filmed much of the season on board a ship sailing into the eye of a hurricane, FYI) the celesbians come fast and furious with appearances by Erin Foley, Nicol Paone, Dani Campbell, Kate McKinnon, Corday and the cast of CherryBomb (aka The Lesbian View). Back in November 2009 we were on set with Jill & Cathy while filming at sea.
Missed Season 1? Here’s a Recap…
Gay for Pay
Here’s the deal. This shit ain’t free. Jill, Cathy, Ann [DynaKit Productions] and the entire cast & crew poured their heart and soul into this project. They worked (and convinced other people to work) for very little pay and were able to put this thing together thanks to investors, sponsors and a lot of blood, sweat & tears. In exchange for $24, you’ll get 16 episodes [rolled out weekly] plus special features and live feeds with the cast. Unforch, season 1 is no longer free online but it will be released later this year by Wolfe Video. Having seen both seasons in their entirety, I’d really recommend the series to anyone (even your mom!), as it’s not exclusively “gay” but presents its gay characters with total nonchalance and that is a welcome change in the current state of media. Also, there’s a centerpiece sex scene that gives Bette & Tina a run for their money.
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Cathy & Jill answer a pressing question regarding their love scene in season 2:
One-on-One with Writer/Creator Ann Noble
Jess: How did you come to know Jill & Cathy?
Ann: I met Cathy through Jill, right before we embarked on the whole “DynaKit Extravaganza”. I met Jill through Maia Madison, one of our actresses from Season One; she plays Sybil. I knew Maia from Northwestern University as well as the Chicago Theatre community, and she knew Jill from The Vagina Monologues. They became roommates out here in La-La-Land, and when Jill was looking for an emcee for her drag show, The Sugar Daddy Show, Maia recommended me. Jill and I became fast friends, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jess: Did the three of you develop the concept together or did you come to them with the story idea for lesbian therapists?
Ann: I brought the idea to Jill for her and Cathy specifically. Jill and I had wanted to work on a project together since our days back in The Sugar Daddy Show. Something I would write for the two of us, and we thought it’d be fun to play sisters since we’ve always had people telling us we look a bit alike. We tried many times, but nothing ever came to fruition. Then one evening–we actually hadn’t seen each other in some time–we gathered for a cocktail at Jill’s place to catch up (I’d only met Cathy once at this point), and I said, rather casually, “You know, I have this idea, and it might be perfect for you and Cathy, and I could play your sister!” Less than a week later, the three of us sat in Jill’s apartment and made a plan and we were off and running. Within 8 weeks we were shooting.
Jess: How much is the show is scripted vs. improvised?
Ann: The show is about 90% scripted. I come from the theatre-world, where the writer is king, and actors cannot change lines without permission. So, at first, I was rather resistant to any changes, it was very important that every word was said just so (I think I even corrected Cathy once, she said “a” instead of “the”!). But once I realized that the script was in such good hands, and that any changes that were suggested or came about by accident were part of the process to make the project as a whole better, my resistance and concerns melted away. It helps when you’re working with such smart, talented people who enjoy a challenge and who respect their fellow artists. Such are Jill and Cathy.
In season two, the only improving that went on were little moments, here and there, within scripted scenes. We never really had to go off the script, mostly because we collaborated so closely from the beginning of the writing process, that it would be sort of pointless, unless, of course, some wonderful moment presented itself. Like in the first episode, when Suzanne mispronounced the word “obfuscation”. That wasn’t supposed to happen, meaning it wasn’t “scripted” that way, but when she said it wrong, Cathy did what Dyna would do: she corrected Susan. It turned out to be a better moment than what was written, so we just went with it. That’s really the only reason to improv something in my book: to make a moment better.
“That wasn’t supposed to happen, meaning it wasn’t ‘scripted’ that way. But when she said it wrong, Cathy did what Dyna would do: she corrected Susan. It turned out to be a better moment than what was written.”
We did have to do a bit of improving on the ship, for the episodes we shot there, because there were so many unknown factors. But again, we had such lovely actors/performers ready and willing to just “roll with it”.
Jess: What storylines are you most excited about in the 2nd season?
Ann: Oh, I love them all. I’m such a “mom” to all my characters, I get excited no matter what they do. But I guess, if I had to choose, I love the whole idea of the “sisters” in this season. That our relationships are always affected by where we come from, our families. Watching Kit learn that her relationship with Cindy is indeed problematic, as compared to Dyna and DeeDee’s, is intriguing to me, it just adds another level to both Dyna and Kit’s individual characters and subsequently, their relationship. Then you’ve got Guy’s sister, Shauna, and how he deals with her, adds another level to his character. And then you’ve got Meredith Baxter’s dual-roles, of twin therapists, which is just a spectacular twist. And, what’s great, is all these storylines provide great fodder for season three! Wink-wink.
Jess: To what degree are Dyna & Kit based on Cathy & Jill in real life?
Ann: We actually had quite an in-depth discussion very early on about Dyna and Kit as compared to Cathy and Jill. We talked a lot about the characters they have played in the past as well as their own personal characters. This was way back before I’d written even page one of the pilot. It was imperative to me that the characters be good “fits” for both Cathy and Jill, but would also be of a kind that would challenge them. I find, as a writer, that that’s what makes actors shine: a role that “suits” them, but also challenges them. As it happened, both Jill and Cathy felt very strongly about playing roles that were more “opposite” their real personalities. I thought that was a great idea. For example, Dyna’s always complaining that Kit’s too “spontaneous” because she prefers things to be planned out, i.e. Dyna loves “lists”, which Kit can’t stand. This is the EXACT opposite in real life. Jill is the chronic list maker and Cathy just kind of “rolls with it”. Both extremes make the other crazy, so that is a bit like real life [laughing]. However, one of the great things about continuing on with this series, moving on to season two, is that it gives both Jill and Cathy to bring even more of themselves, their complexities as women, to the roles. For example, Dyna has much more vulnerability in this season, which Cathy has in spades, but really didn’t get to show so much in season one. At the same time, Kit begins to guard herself more in season two, because she starts to get afraid. This is something we didn’t get to see in season one, but is indeed an aspect of Jill’s real personality as well.
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