Hello, is this the Vatican? Ari here. Ari Gold, from HBO. Listen, I hear you have an unexpected vacancy in your lineup. Yeah, everyone heard, we all heard. On Twitter. But look, don’t panic, do not panic, this is not a disaster. This is a opportunity. A golden opportunity.
Look, you have a little problem with your brand right now. Actually, it’s an incredibly fucking huge problem, pardon my French. Sex scandals, money scandals, shrinking numbers, corrupt bureaucracy, fading relevance…
What? No no no no, you’re not hearing me. None of that’s the problem. The problem is your presentation, your image! Look, in my world, on TV, all that stuff is ratings gold. You just need to massage the medium a bit, you know?
I got two words for you: “Reality TV.”
Ok, I’ll spell it out. We have him: your next corrupt pope. He’s so perfect, he’s perfect. He’s perfectly perfect! He’s already played one of your Renaissance greatest hits — I give you Rodrigo Borgia. What? No, of course I mean Jeremy Irons! Here’s the set-up. We run Jeremy Irons for pope, and of course there’s the usual politicking and backroom deals, you know, more Sopranos than West Wing, say, and then our man wins, and then, you know, his trouble has only just begun. I’m telling you it’s the sweet spot. We got your secret societies, we got your shady international real estate, we got your beautiful young men with the girl’s voices, we got priceless art and sculpture, we got the Latin American subsidiaries going rogue, plus, you know, the women, you gotta have the women, maybe an illegitimate mistress or two, some bastard children, payoffs, drugs, we’ve even got your Nazis not too far back in the closet… ha ha ha, I mean it practically writes itself!
You don’t have to do a thing. Irons is a complete professional, he knows the drill, we get access to all the nooks and crannies and follow him around, plus the popular subplots, which we crank or tank based on weekly ratings.
I’m telling you, this pitch has already happened, we have already had this conversation and we are already doing this show. That’s how fucking perfect this is.
Irons? It’s something in the accent. Even in Latin, he has that accent. Women love that accent. Particularly his version of that accent. I’m telling you, you gotta have the women. And what have they been doing with their Sundays? That’s right, Downton Abbey. And what’s just wrapping up? That’s right, Downton Abbey. They’ll be looking for a little something else Sunday nights, and we will deliver. And I know Sunday’s your thing, right? Am I right? Tell me. Tell me it could not be more perfect.
Yeah, you do that. Go home and discuss it with your wi — I mean your board, or the conclave, or whatever. Think it over, take your time — but don’t take too much time, you know, we’ve got someone else very interested too — Lloyd! Who’s that guy with the violin? … No you idiot, not Sherlock Holmes! That other one, with the fake tan? I think he played with Charlie Daniels or something? … [back on the phone] Ok, ok, whatever, look, the point is, I know you will do the right thing, the right thing for you, the right thing for me. The right thing for everyone! “Doing well by doing good,” as the song says. And I promise you — by not changing anything about your brand proposition, your ratings will go through the roof. We’re talking all the way up to the pearly gates. And that’s what it’s really about, right? Numbers baby. Numbers.
Oh! One last thing? The title. We have the perfect title. We’ll call it: The See.