Jonathan Rhys Meyers: network vampire
If you thought Twilight cut vampires off at the knees, what do you think the censor-y limits of network television will do to them?
The TCA’s summer meeting is going on right now, when the networks unveil their fall line-ups, and NBC announced that they have ordered ten episodes of a show called Dracula and that it will star Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The concept is ludicrous: set in the late nineteenth century, Dracula goes to London undercover as an American businessman (because…?) who is there to bring modern technology to England (they didn’t have any, apparently, despite launching the Industrial Revolution), but really he’s on a mission of revenge against the people who wronged him centuries before. All this is derailed when he falls for a woman who looks like his dead wife (naturally).
That’s awful, right? That sounds awful. And what I find weird about it is that in his executive session at the TCA, NBC chief Bob Greenblatt talked a lot about increasing NBC’s appeal to wider audiences. The word “broad” got thrown around quite a bit. This Dracula treatment, though, is anything but a mass appeal crowd pleaser. And with NBC sending its critically acclaimed but low-rated Thursday night comedy block to die in the cold hinterlands of Friday night in order to make room for those “broad” shows Greenblatt talked about, this is an uncharacteristically esoteric show to take on. I keep waiting for someone to clarify that this is actually a mini-series and not a proper weekly program.
Despite starring in one of my all-time favorite movies, Velvet Goldmine, Meyers has never been a favorite of mine. He has a serial killer stare. It’s creepy. (Which, actually, might make him a really good vampire.) But I am glad about what this says about his dependability these days. There is no schedule in film or television more grueling than an hour long network TV show, and NBC must be confident in Meyers’ ability to keep up and not self-destruct. Meyers’ history of multiple stints in rehab, a sketchy maybe suicide attempt last summer, and a well documented history of temper issues is not the kind of thing that communicates dependable and bankable. But for NBC to invest in him as a series lead, they must be confident in his ability to cope with the demands. So maybe he’s finally gotten straightened out?
Time will tell. Unless, you know, the show gets cancelled two episodes in.
Attached - Meyers at London Fashion Week in February.