This season finale has been a long-time in the making. Two and half years ago, Yuri and Vlad Baranovsky’s Hollywood-bizarro sitcom, Break a Leg didn’t win a Myspace FX contest, but it did garner enough interest to give its creators incentive to continue producing the show online.
What started out as a professionally produced passion project wasn’t supposed to stay that way. By trying to make Break a Leg as much like a TV show as possible – real actors, real scripts, real HD cameras – the Baranovskys were hoping TV was where their show would end up.
It’s been a long, critically acclaimed road, but it hasn’t led to broadcast television (or a sponsorship that would pay broadcast television salaries). At least not for Break a Leg. At least not yet. The last installment of their multi-part season finale aired last week online. In it, there’s a Keyser Soze-inspired character twist, a couple cute games of kissyface, and your usual “up the weird” dose of alternative Hollywood reality:
To find out if our charmingly confused leading man, David Penn actually dies, we have to wait until season two. That might be a while.
The Baranovsky borthers are putting Break a Leg on the back-burner to focus on a new series, Lurker, which they hope will find a home/sponsor/investor to pays the bills. Over e-mail, Yuri elaborated:
“We’re creating just the Pilot right now. The idea is to create a very salable product, a very high-quality, TV-style product that we would then use to try and gather funds to create a 10-12 ep online run (or TV run, if that option is on the table.) We’re working with For Your Imagination again on this and we have a very set plan that we hope will generate a high number of views for a relatively reasonable amount of money.”
So what’s Lurker about? As Drew explained when he broke the news earlier this month, it’s the story of the Lurker online media magazine “that launches with an exclusive story on a hot celebrity couple – a world famous pickup artist ‘that literally wrote the book on how to meet women,’ and a gossip celebrity heiress ‘like Paris Hilton, just smarter.’ There’s just one catch: they aren’t actually a couple. The whole story is a fabrication of the Lurker magazine CEO who orchestrates the relationship behind the scene.”
With all the rabid fanaticism over paparazzi-fueled celebrity gossip blogs, it’s about time someone satirized the situation. I recently caught up with Alexis Boozer, aka Amber Turnipseed, to ask her about the new series, what it’s like working with the Baranovskys, and how much she loves US Weekly:
Tilzy.TV: What’s Lurker about? What’s your role?
Alexis Boozer: Lurker has a couple of plotlines going on in it, but the overall theme is our present celebrity-obsessed tabloid culture. It exposes the tabloid industry from the inside, but also takes a close look at a couple of celebs and the way they manipulate their own images. I play a media-hungry celebutante named Liz.
Tilzy.TV: Who are you channeling while you’re in character?
Alexis: I absolutely started with Paris, then added a shot of Lindsey, and swirled it with a dose of Gossip Girl two-faced-ness. I’m careful not to lean too much on any one real-life inspiration. I don’t want Liz to be a caricature or we might begin to judge her. And I’m spending a lot of time figuring out just how conscious she is of her own persona. She’s a lot more savvy than the tabloid audience might guess. Which is great for me as an actor. She’s two roles in one and it’s a fun challenge to juggle them both.
Tilzy.TV: Have you seen those Funny or Die Paris Hilton for president vids? I actually kinda don’t like them because it makes Paris Hilton actually kinda likable which makes me feel kinda icky. Your thoughts?
Alexis: She’s not that bad, right? I agree that it’s a little unnerving. But if you’re beginning to doubt your abhorrence for all things Paris, check out her New BFF show on VH1. You’ll never doubt yourself again.
Tilzy.TV: Do you read celebrity gossip rags? For research, maybe? Which ones, what’s the difference between them all, and what’d you learn?
Alexis: The fascinating thing about rags is that we know they’re bad! We’re embarrassed to select them in public! I’ll pick ‘em up in the checkout lane, pretending I’m simply so bored waiting for my turn that I’d stoop to read such trash. And then, by the time I’ve gotten through the line, well, I’m just so tired of waiting to get rung up that I don’t even have the energy to put it back in its correct rack, so whatever, I might as well just buy it, no big deal, it’s not like I subscribe.
So, yes. I do read the rags. Mostly US Weekly, just my personal choice, but they’re all the same…And I – like many rag readers I know – am embarrassed to admit that I do read them. The tabloid industry as a whole seems swarmy and exploitative and we’ve all heard the paparazzi horror stories. I do live in LA, so I’ve witnessed some of the paparazzi chaos and, no, actors shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s safety when it comes to the cameras. But as much as I – or we – may act astonished and appalled by the incidents that sometimes do occur, many of us are still buying the product the paparazzi sells.
And then there’s also the necessary semi-legit business relationship between the publication and the celebs themselves. For every star that’s hounded against their will, there are 20 more celebrities vying to get into the pages for publicity-sake. It’s all a little twisted and a little fascinating. Lurker is going to open up a lot of these issues pertaining to our tabloid culture and offer an opportunity to see them through varying perspectives. It’s definitely a departure from our work like Break a Leg, but I think it’s an extraordinarily provocative topic and I’m excited to see how people respond.
Tilzy.TV: Did your friends watch Break a Leg? What’d they think?
Alexis: Some of my friends do watch BaL and I’ve had positive feedback from them. There is definitely a core email list I use to bombard friends and family with updates, but people also seem to stumble upon it on their own. A director I worked with while in college recently messaged me on Facebook to tell me he’d just discovered it and that he thought it was awesome. My younger brother also forces all his college friends to watch it.
Tilzy.TV: What’s the best part about being in a Baranovsky Brothers production? The worst?
Alexis: The best part about being in a Baranovsky brothers’ production has to be the bagel dogs. They can’t afford to pay us in actual, American currency, so they pay us in bagel dogs. And the inherent humor of the bagel dog concept makes up for their lack of taste, so I’m a fan. It’s also quite a rare experience when we all continue to work for years without financial reward. That must say something about how much we enjoy each other creatively, professionally, and, yes, sometimes even personally.
The worst part? The constant sexual harassment. No, really though: I’d love for the whole cast and crew to be able to enjoy the benefits of a larger budget. We work with an incredibly talented team of people, but our budgetary limitations could absolutely be keeping us from reaching new levels of creativity.
Alexis: All the time. All. The. Time.
Catch the season finale of Break a Leg and news on the upcoming Lurker at BreakALeg.tv.