Wednesday, November 07, 2018

THIS is the job I want

HBO has hired an “intimacy coordinator.” Her job is to supervise the filming of any sex scenes in HBO shows and ensure that the actors are comfortable doing what they’re asked to do. Imagine being paid to watch sex scenes. And I thought Phil Rosenthal gallivanting around the world dining in the world’s greatest restaurants was the best job ever. Give me this and a tuna sandwich off the craft service’s table and I’d be happy.

At first blush this “intimacy coordinator” position sounds like a fancy title for “Standards & Practices”, which itself is a fancy title for “censor.” But now with #MeToo I can certainly see the justification for it.

HBO has a couple of series with pretty graphic sex scenes. THE DEUCE and WESTWORLD. Apparently last year on WESTWORLD background actors had to sign a waiver agreeing to participate in “graphic sexual situations” including genital-to-genital touching. At least when TSA agents touch your genitals you then get to go on a plane trip.

I’ll be interested to see how producers react to this new policy. Yes, it’s intrusive and some corporate “suit” having to approve your scenes, but on my set I wouldn’t want any actor doing something they’d be uncomfortable with. Personally, I think it’s a lot to ask an actor to agree to nudity in the first place. Especially these days where any mouth breather can do a screen shot and your nude scene winds up on fifteen websites to live forever.

Many actors, especially when starting out, are afraid to object for fear of being replaced. I would hate to think that even inadvertently I was making an actor do something they found really distasteful. So having this “Intimacy Coordinator” gives all actors an advocate and they can speak up on the actor’s behalf.

I’m okay with that. I would hope that the “Intimacy Coordinator” would have nothing to do on my set, but if an issue should arise I would address it. And I imagine those conversations would be one for the book.

 “I don’t know if my character would give blowjobs to Amway salesmen.” “Do I really need to strip naked for this doctor’s appointment? I’m having my eyes checked.” “I’m okay with having sex with sheep… it’s just that I’m allergic.” (And in that case there should also be a “Livestock Coordinator.”)

This is just another shining example that HOLLYWOOD CARES… when they’re forced to.

23 comments :

Janet Ybarra said...

Who is the new intimacy coordinator? What's their background? The same as a standards & practices person or something different?

And it sounds like actors have be comfortable coming to coordinator to report concerns or incidents.

Tommy Raiko said...

For reference of anyone who hasn't otherwise followed these developments, this is Rolling Stone's article about this new role:
https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-features/the-deuce-intimacy-coordinator-hbo-sex-scenes-739087/

Perhaps also of interest is this piece from a guest actress on HBO's "The Deuce" and her experience interacting with the intimacy coordinator staffer:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/business/intimacy-director-hbo-the-deuce.html

ELS said...

Ken, I'll bet you'd be dynamite as an intimacy coordinator. But remember the old advise; dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

Do you have an appropriate outfit for this role?

Anonymous said...

A few of the Head & Shoulders shampoo commercials feature Sofia Vergara rushing over to a male actor, vigorously running her fingers through his hair. Notable (at least to me) is that the actor doesn't engage with her, doesn't touch her hand. It seems so unnatural. Watching the commercial I can practically hear an agent say, “Don't look her in the eyes, don't speak to her unless spoken to, and don't ever touch her.”

The intimacy will coordinator will “supervise” and “ensure.” Both words mean something different than “coordinate.”

What standards will this person apply? “All actress must agree to do X” “No may actress will be asked to do Y.” What about when Z pops up?

What power will this person have? Can he delay production? Can he issue some kind of demerit to obscene directors or prudish actresses? Enough demerits and then..what?

Where is this person's loyalty? To the actress or to the network?

I can see how Jerry Falwell would approve of this. But I don't see how it stops Harvey Weinstein from donning only his bathrobe at a professional meeting.

Janet Ybarra said...

I suppose what I would really like to know is what this coordinator is doing--other than just existing--to make it comfortable for actors to come to them.

Brent Alles said...

Anonymous, that male actor you speak of in the Sofia Vergara commercial is her real-life son Manolo. I don't think I'd engage with my mother either if she was mussing with my hair on a nationally run advertisement.

Janet Ybarra said...

A silk bathrobe, pipe and slippers? Or biohazard suit?

Janet Ybarra said...

If we are thinking of the same Sofia Vergara Head and Shoulders spot, the guy whose hair is, that's her son, so ewww on the thought of intimacy there....

Peter said...

Dennis Hof, owner of a brothel who died a few weeks ago, won a seat on the Nevada state assembly last night. Only in America!

blinky said...

More specific titles for the position are: Penis Wrangler and Vagina Advocate.

Glenn said...

Mike Judge, creator of "Silicon Valley", has said he hates filming sex scenes which is why he never does any on the show. He said they're just awkward for everyone, from the actors to the crew, and they rarely add anything to the story. I have to agree, especially about adding nothing. Everyone likes oogling beautiful naked women, on Shameless or Game of Thrones or whatever, but 90% of the time it's just there for titilation purposes.

Peter said...

How dare you make such a generalization, Glenn! I think you'll find that the sex scenes in Basic Instinct advanced the plot considerably!

Ted said...

Will the “intimacy coordinator” also get some residuals too? 😖

Mike said...

Why not shoot the damn nude scenes in front of the lawyers of the actresses? And while we are at that, maybe some of those 'Times Up' "activists" too can watch......

Cram_Loci said...

I’m the one who posted the Head and Shoulders comment (not sure why it was posted as anonymous).

Not to hijack the the thread, but, is it common knowledge that the person in the commercial is Vergara's son?

His not flirting makes more sense. But the commercial now makes less sense. Isn’t the point supposed to be that using Head and Shoulders will increase the chances of a sexy woman wanting to run her fingers through your hair...as opposed to your mom wanting to run her fingers through your hair.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

In the first shampoo commercial that featured Ms. Vergara and Manolo, it was not clear that the young man was her son.

In their second commercial, Manolo--perhaps deliberately--refers to Ms. Vergara as "Mom."

Andy Rose said...

People on a film set are so used to being treated like meat puppets, sometimes it really does help to be given explicit permission to speak up. Sarah Jones died on set in Georgia because of a dangerous and pointless stunt that she apparently was too scared to object to. Since then, ADs in my experience have become much more vocal about telling everybody on set to speak up if they are asked to do something they consider too dangerous. Even the extras.

Donald Benson said...

Old Benny Hill gag:

Pretty girl in elaborate bed on a movie set. Director Benny: "Ve are rrrready to shoot de Vedding Night scene ... Send in der stunt man!" Reaction shot of girl.

Elizabeth Bell said...

I don’t know; it seems the more people watching, the more uncomfortable the actors would be. Perhaps the intimacy coordinator should only be there if requested. Also, shouldn’t that position only be filled by women? If you think that is sexist, see Ken’s post, and he is one of the good guys. No woman would have that attitude, or at least she wouldn’t express it.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Elizabeth Bell: Actually, I didn't think Ken's comment made much sense, since the job isn't watching sex scenes. It's watching *fake* sex scenes. (But I do know women who would have said that.)

In most cases, I agree with Mel Brooks: just cut to them having a ham sandwich afterwards. We'll get the idea.

wg

Tommy Raiko said...

At the risk of further digressing about the Sophia Vergara commercial--

The commercial I remember seeing had her talking to Manolo giving him advice about job interview. In over-involved parent style, she tells him to stand up straight and give a firm handshake and that sort of thing. Then she notices dandruff flakes on his shoulder, gives him a bottle of Head & Shoulders and sends him back to the showers. When he comes back, she squeals in Spanish "My baby is all grown up!" which is translated to English in subtitles. So it's easy to miss the exact detail of the mother/son relationship, but the general job interview context makes it pretty clear that they're going for something different--trying to communicate a "Head-and-Shoulders-will-give-you-a-polished-professional-look" value proposition and not a "Head-and-Shoulders-will-make-sexy-women-want-to-run-their-fingers-through-your-hair" proposition more common with other men's hair products.

As Kevin FitzMaurice noted, another commercial has Manolo more explicitly call her "Mom" to make the relationship more explicit.

Elizabeth Bell said...

Wendy Grossman
Surely not a ham sandwich—-a nice cup of hot tea would be just the thing. I thought you were British!

Boothby171 said...

Never say, "Pops up" to an Intimacy Coordinator.