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Steven Soderbergh Says He Is "More Likely" To Return To Television Than Film After His Hiatus

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by Simon Dang
June 27, 2012 9:41 AM
7 Comments
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Steven Soderbergh Television

With lensing on his thriller "The Bitter Pill" with Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara likely nearing its end, "Magic Mike" already generating solid buzz and casting on his planned finale "Behind The Candelabra" kicking up a gear over the last week or so, the end is irrefutably near for Steven Soderbergh. Skeptics continue to doubt the filmmaker's planned sabbatical but among talk of bringing his fallen Cleopatra musical to the stage, an urge to focus on painting and the lack of desire to make "important" movies, it's clear Soderbergh has other artistic outlets on his mind. 

Among all that, however, another venture has now popped up for Soderbergh and it's an increasingly popular avenue for filmmakers. "After I take my self-imposed sabbatical, if I'm going to come back and do something, I think it's more likely that it would be on television than it would be a movie," Soderbergh admitted to Reuters. "I'm watching more TV now than I am watching movies. As a viewer, I feel like I'm being catered to more in long-form TV than I am in films."

While he makes no specific references, he told The Hitlist "some of the better shows [on TV] are shooting the way movies used to shoot. There's this weird migration that’s going on both in terms of the aesthetics and the audiences. I feel like a lot of the audience, like me, that used to go to movies for certain things is not finding them in the movies, and is now starting to watch long-form TV. It's an interesting time."

Soderbergh further reiterated his disillusionment with cinema, adding that he "feels like in movies now, I see less of the things that make something a movie than I used to, like choices, directorial choices... composition and cutting. Something in which choices are made on set, as opposed to 'Let's hose it down and we'll figure it out later.' Stuff that when I started watching movies for something other than entertainment, I really noticed and I wanted to emulate. My heroes who were building on what they saw their heroes doing, were trying things and being ambitious and fearless. I just feel like a lot of that is being lost, with some exceptions. In general I feel like the grammar of American cinemas has gotten really watered down."

With his Liberace biopic to premiere on HBO, it looks like Soderbergh is already rekindling his relationship with the small screen (and, more specifically, HBO) after debuting with "K Street," a 2003 largely improvised show about lobbyists that was created and directed by Soderbergh and produced by pal, George Clooney. Soderbergh's not alone in Hollywood with his stance on television's value either. There's been a huge swing of strong, high-profiled filmmakers and acting talent testing the waters on television with Nicolas Winding Refn planning to produce and helm a "Barbarella" series; Sam Worthington plotting a mini-series about Gallipoli; Charlize Theron recently selling an updated version of "Hatfields & McCoys" that she will produce; Charlie Kaufman writing and directing a HBO series with Catherine Keener; Rob Riggle, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay planning a '80s-set Wall Street comedy; Debra Granik directing a Midwest-set HBO pilot; and Cary Fukunaga tackling a HBO detective series starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. And guess what? Those are just developments over the last 8 weeks.

We also haven't even mentioned the amazing slate of shows currently on television, which you can read more about in our Top 10 Shows of the 2011-12 Season feature or our picks for Breakthrough Television Actors/Actresses From 2011-12 feature. But Soderbergh going back to the small screen? Sounds like a good fit to us.

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7 Comments

  • OK TELEVISION | June 27, 2012 11:10 AMReply

    I don't know, Taylor. I think that he's making a valid observation about the great majority of films in the studio system. He's not making a blanket statement about EVERYTHING being made right now. I think it's easy to see what he's talking about here. The Television form offers different storytelling perspectives and techniques, some of which Cinema can never quite attain in the same way. I say if Breaking BAd, The Wire, and Mad Men are intriguing Soderbergh... we should wait and see what he's capable of. He's always been a fantastic filmmaker, but he's at his best when he's passionate and excited at an emotional and artistic level.

  • Taylor | June 27, 2012 4:51 PM

    Ok Television,
    I agree that television captures a story in a different way and that Soderbergh is also very talented and passionate filmmaker. I even share similar frustration with what Soderbergh said but in his position he should have constructive criticism instead of laying down to his frustrations. I would rather see Hollywood change their studio productions rather than walk away from them entirely.

  • Taylor | June 27, 2012 10:32 AMReply

    Poor excuses coming from such a talented filmmaker. Soderbergh should keep making films that are true to himself instead of slapping the film industry. There will always be change and it all has to do with attitude. An attitude change from the leaders of film will create better cinema.

  • Taylor | June 27, 2012 4:59 PM

    Thousands of filmmakers each year fund big films. Terry Gilliam back in 2001 raised over $10,000,000 and started to direct "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" before it fell through. These big time directors are definately able to fund their own movies. It just takes more work.

  • James | June 27, 2012 12:36 PM

    It's true, an attitude change from the leaders of film WOULD create better cinema. Unfortunately we live in reality, not fantasyland.

  • James | June 27, 2012 12:35 PM

    With whose money? He's not George Lucas, able to fund his own films, and has said repeatedly that he's sick of going around begging for financing. In Television he'll be treated with the respect he deserves. His MAN FROM UNCLE never would have been killed on television.

  • rodie | June 27, 2012 10:07 AMReply

    Steven Soderbergh, a showrunner at HBO? I like the sound of that.

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