Interview with NOTORIOUS Executive Producer Josh Berman
Online Editor Anthony Zangrillo recently interviewed Notorious’s Executive Producer Josh Berman on the provocative new series that analyzes the interaction between lawyers and the media they manipulate. The series will debut on Thursday, September 22 at 9pm (EDT).
Anthony Zangrillo: How did you come up with the main opening scene? I thought tricking the audience by concealing the relationship between Julia and Jake will have a fantastic effect on viewers.
Josh Berman: Thank you. Jake and Julia need each other professionally. In some ways, it’s them against the world. I wanted to start the show with the two of them sharing a secret. Something special between them that illustrates their symbiotic relationship.
AZ: One of my favorite scenes was Megan’s speech on Julia’s job and the media’s monstrous power. Was it important to include this cynical but likely truthful view on the power of media manipulation?
JB: Yes. We live in a day where the truth in the news has become subjective. CNN and FOX NEWS cover the same stories but they feel completely different. As an avid viewer of news, I’m frustrated by the lack of objectivity and I’m happy to shine on light on the “subjectivity of truth” on Notorious.
AZ: From a policy perspective, do you personally find it troubling that the media can have such a drastic and disproportionate effect on the legal system?
JB: Yes and No. When the media shines a light on injustice, I’m thrilled. Notorious definitely will do that. Daniel Sunjata’s character has a real sense of right and wrong. But when the media obfuscates the truth, I get angry.
AZ: By the end of the premiere, I think the show has established two very compelling and complex protagonists who will drive the show’s interest. Is it difficult to balance both Julia and Jake’s characters?
JB: Thank you again. It’s not difficult. It’s exciting. It’s a challenge. I love Jake and Julia. I love that they are adults who need and want each other. That they are sometimes in conflict and sometimes in confluence.
We live in a world where the legal system doesn’t always yield a just result, and the media can be manipulated for both good and bad. Our show shines a light on the intersection of law and media and how the two world[s] collide. Find[ing] the point of intersection is fun, exciting, and it’s what makes Notorious special and real.
AZ: Throughout the premiere, many characters are introduced and given small scene stealing moments. I felt by the episode’s end, there were many prime suspects in the season’s “crime.” Was this an intended goal for the premiere?
JB: Absolutely. Everyone has secrets and the characters on Notorious are no exception. If you liked the pilot, you will love the series. Honestly, each episode gets better and better. I can’t wait for viewers to start watching!
AZ: Will the show attempt to cover smaller cases week-to-week as the season long mystery slowly unfolds?
JB: Yes, every week will have its own contained story as well as explore the overall mysteries. I spen[t] 6 years writing on CSI and 4 years on Bones. I love writing mysteries and Notorious provides a whole new way to tell these stories.
AZ: Another compelling trait I found in these characters is their devotion to their careers. At the end of the day, these business friends are not afraid to extort each other. Was it important to convey the complexity of this relationship in the premiere?
JB: They love each other. The characters are based on the real life relationship between famed Defense Attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live Producer Wendy Walker. In real life, they have a complicated and wonderful relationship. I want to capture their relationship in the show. They are in the writing room and on the set. They give me the behinds the scenes true stories that I couldn’t make up. I love them. They love each other. It’s basically a love fest.
AZ: Both protagonists suffered severe emotional hardships in the premiere. How will this emotional baggage define these characters throughout the season?
JB: We all hurt. No one escapes pain and these two characters are no exception. Their pain informs their journey and their world views. Their emotional baggage will absolutely reflect and define these characters moving forward, sometimes in very unexpected and subversive ways.