I wanted to like IFC's half-hour skein "The Business" much more than I actually did. I love inside-showbiz stories, going all the way back to "What Price Hollywood" and "Merton of the Movies" and on up through up through Fox's short-lived (but fondly remembered) "Action" and of course, HBO's "Entourage."
But "Business" felt very flat to me. It seemed to leave no industry cliche unused in the 22-minute season opener. (I wasn't even aware the show had a first season.) Kathleen Robertson is pretty good as the determined, corporate speak-spouting producer-executive Julia Sullivan who's determined to flog her five-year Power Point business plan hard enough to turn the erstwhile girlie flick shingle, Vic's Flicks, into a respectable Gotham-based indie. The company has one moderate hit title ("House of Fear") under its belt and plans for a zillion sequels and "ancillary exploitation strategies."
(Pictured from left: Matt Silver, Ron deLeeuw, Trevor Hayes and Kathleen Robertson of IFC's "The Business.)
But at least in the season opener that bowed Sunday night, there was never a point for me where the acting or the story took off and I forgot that it was satire. That's the best quality of the wonderfully funny mocku-pics done by Christopher Guest and Co. At some point in "A Mighty Wind," "Best in Show," "For Your Consideration" and certainly you stop laughing at the spot-on skewering of things that we all know too well and you start to care at least a little bit about what happens to the main characters. Didn't happen for me in "The Business."
I did chuckle at the scene where the film snobs turn up their nose at a TV pitch from a self-described interior designer for a reality show called "Trading Bases," in which various military bases trade barracks. "We'll take the audience by Desert Storm," the "producer" (herself a 2-d caricature of wise-cracking Jewish gal from Lawng Island) insists.
"Reality TV is definitely not one of our 'core competencies,'" Sullivan insists to her partner, Vic, played by Rob deLeeuw.
There was another chuckle or two to be had toward the end of the seg when Vic, a ball-scratching, New Yawky kinda guy who more often than not seems to be looking to get laid, took matters into his own hands when the auteur behind "House of Fear" returns from L.A. with the news that he wants out of his exclusive contract with Vic's Flicks to go in a "different direction" with his career. I'll give "The Business" another shot, but it's gotta get beyond cheap gags about the horny head of marketing, actor with an out-of-control-ego, eager-beaver interns-turned-"associate co-head of the animation and family department," creepy accountants and a sassy receptionist. Really, we've seen it all before.