New Tonight: ‘Blunt Talk’ on Starz

blunt-talk-starzIt’s always funny when someone with such a stentorian voices as Patrick Stewart lends itself to comedy. Tonight he does so as a cable news personality Walter Blunt, who seems to be going through a late life crisis in the new comedy “Blunt Talk” (Starz, 9 p.m.).

Mostly, it’s a chance for Jonathan Ames to tell his amusing tales. Yet he admits the connection to the Walter Beale character in “Network.”

Last month at the TV Critics Association summer press tour — at the same hotel where the original Beale, actor Peter Finch, dropped dead in the lobby — Ames talked about his approach.

“In preparation for writing this, I rewatched ‘Network,’” Ames says. His conclusion: “I want more Howard Beale.”

So “Blunt Talk,” he says is “a continuation, perhaps, of Howard if ‘Network’ had continued, and let’s find out if Howard Beale continued his broadcast — slightly less mad, of course.”

Ames even made the network Blunt is on — UBS — the same one where Beale worked for the show that he calls “a cross between “Network” and P.G. Wodehouse.”

The Wodehouse is suggested by the fact that Blunt has his own manservant, played by Adrian Scarborough (pictured with Stewart above).

The cast includes Academy Award nominee Jackie Weaver, Dolly Wells and Timm Sharpe.

But Stewart, in his major comic turn, is the fulcrum.

When a reporter suggested the show was cartoonish, Stewart says, “I’m going to take your remark about Bugs Bunny as a huge compliment…To be thought to be in that same world at all is, to me, as grand a thing as could possibly happen.

“But, you know, they say comedy is a serious business,” he went on. “I have never had successive days of acting deeply seriously as I have on this show. I mean, forget about all the other stuff. We are in an absurdist and comical world, which at times seems difficult to understand how it holds together. But it does.

“There’s nothing funny about the show,” Stewart said. “It’s just one serious situation after another that somehow has to be resolved. That’s how it feels to me.”

Ames was not pleased at the characterization. “I can see the headline: ‘Patrick Stewart: “There’s nothing funny about this show.”’”

“Oh,” said Stewart, in a way Blunt might have. “I screwed up.”


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