MULHOLLAND DRIVE TV pilot and original plans

fatecolossal

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 18, 2022
64
339
I think it’s worth noting that Frost’s criticism of Mulholland Drive wasn’t based on his own considered opinion, but on the fact he had “heard it was a mess”. The fact he chose to echo whatever source told him that rather than the perspectives of the many critics who were calling the film a masterpiece at that point suggests motivated reasoning to me. I don’t think it’s necessarily a stretch to suggest that Frost’s opinions of Lynch’s work are sometimes coloured by frustrations to do with their working relationship.
Thank you for clarifying my imprecise memory of the interview. I just went back to check it and it doesn't seem to have him saying anywhere that (as I wrote earlier) he wished Lynch would have come to him to help out with the MD pilot because he thinks he could have helped it get greenlit. Did my memory entirely fabricate that or does anyone know if he stated that elsewhere?
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Jackwithoneeye

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 14, 2022
122
151
Did my memory entirely fabricate that or does anyone know if he stated that elsewhere?
There's a book called Beautiful Dark by Greg Olson that has a passage similar to what you describe, which I don't think is Olson first hand ? I think came from a magazine interview with Frost. From what I remember, he says he heard MD is a mess, and seemed to not have seen it for himself.

I think he also makes reference to Mulholland Drive being a title he thought up back in the Audrey spin off phase, and the car crash as a hook may have been his concept too.
 

fatecolossal

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 18, 2022
64
339
There's a book called Beautiful Dark by Greg Olson that has a passage similar to what you describe
Just checked Beautiful Dark and you're right! Thank you! That's what I was getting it from. Olson writes that Mark Frost gave him the following quote about the Mulholland Dr. pilot:
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Dom

White Lodge
Jul 10, 2022
811
783
Just checked Beautiful Dark and you're right! Thank you! That's what I was getting it from. Olson writes that Mark Frost gave him the following quote about the Mulholland Dr. pilot:
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He's probably right. Look at Universal: they just spent $400 million on the rights to The Exorcist and their new film tanked! Why? Probably no one at Universal had ever watched the other films. If they had, they would see it's not some churned-out low budget 80s horror series like the Halloweens, Friday the 13ths or Elm Streets. The Exorcist and The Omen are a separate thing: big budget early-mid 1970s horror.
 

fatecolossal

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 18, 2022
64
339
There's a footnote there in the Olson book - 69 - I think that points to another source he got that from right ?
It says the quote comes from a Mark Frost AI (author interview). So it's via his own interview with Mark.

Does anyone know if Joyce Eliason has ever spoken about Mulholland Drive?
Sadly, AFAIK she never has—and never will, as she passed away last year.

The real question I always have when thinking about the Mulholland Dr. pilot is: who would've written the show with David if it HAD gotten greenlit? There's seemingly zero percent chance he would have been solo-showrunning a network show by himself, and writing all episodes by himself. The Olson Frost quote is suggestive perhaps that Frost may have been pulled in had the show got greenlit, but that's doing some leaps in logic. It's a mystery, and one of those things I wish someone would ask him when they interview him (instead we usually get the zillionth repeat of the same basic types of questions we're read his answers to a zillion times).

Let's be honest, Mulholland Drive is a mess
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Cappy

White Lodge
Aug 4, 2022
583
573
Mulholland Drive might be my favorite Lynch work, but the original tv pilot cut is kind of lacking imo. Certain sequences feel a little sped up or shortened in a way that hinders the mood.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
757
1,193
Mulholland Drive might be my favorite Lynch work, but the original tv pilot cut is kind of lacking imo. Certain sequences feel a little sped up or shortened in a way that hinders the mood.

Lynch said in a few interviews that ABC forced him to hack the hell out of it and that he's ashamed of what got leaked out there.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
819
1,854
As an odd bit of trivia, Joyce Eliason wrote the 1980 film Tell Me a Riddle, which was directed by Lee Grant, who plays Louise Bonner in Mulholland Drive.

As far as who Lynch would have used as a potential show runner on MD, I doubt he was thinking that far ahead. The pilot never really came close to being picked up, and he doesn’t strike me as a “cart before the horse” kind of guy.
 

Jackwithoneeye

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 14, 2022
122
151
I seem to remember reading in Entertainment Weekly in the spring of 1999, Helen Mirren was considered for a recurring role in Mulholland Drive, and also Marilyn Manson. I don't know if PDF's exist of 1999 EW back issues, but my memory could always be off. If these performers being considered, probably some sort of thought about potential storylines and/ or writers was in the air.
 
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Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
819
1,854
In Lynch on Lynch (page 275 in my edition), Rodley asks him where Forster and Theroux’s characters might have gone in the series, and Lynch says, “I don’t know exactly, because I’d only thought about the pilot. At a certain point I think ABC wanted me to give them some ideas about where it might go, and so I just ran out a couple of storylines for them.”
 

eraserJoe

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 12, 2022
75
211
I seem to remember reading in Entertainment Weekly in the spring of 1999, Helen Mirren was considered for a recurring role in Mulholland Drive, and also Marilyn Manson. I don't know if PDF's exist of 1999 EW back issues, but my memory could always be off. If these performers being considered, probably some sort of thought about potential storylines and/ or writers was in the air.
I remember this as well. Helen Mirren was also very close to playing Dorothy in Blue Velvet. Too bad she and Lynch never got a chance to work together yet.
 

Jackwithoneeye

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 14, 2022
122
151
I remember this as well. Helen Mirren was also very close to playing Dorothy in Blue Velvet. Too bad she and Lynch never got a chance to work together yet.
I found like one issue PDF on archive.org from march or april 1999, wasn't it.

I think it was in the first few pages where they have little capsule news notes, I can't remember if the Marilyn Manson and Helen Mirren were separate capsules or the same one.

my memory is that at the Cannes Film Festival in '99, the public still thought Mulholland was a go-ahead at ABC when Straight Story was in Competition, but he'd been told it was rejected just before, but kept quiet about that at Cannes.
 

Dougie Cooper

RR Diner
Apr 12, 2022
27
33
It says the quote comes from a Mark Frost AI (author interview). So it's via his own interview with Mark.


Sadly, AFAIK she never has—and never will, as she passed away last year.

The real question I always have when thinking about the Mulholland Dr. pilot is: who would've written the show with David if it HAD gotten greenlit? There's seemingly zero percent chance he would have been solo-showrunning a network show by himself, and writing all episodes by himself. The Olson Frost quote is suggestive perhaps that Frost may have been pulled in had the show got greenlit, but that's doing some leaps in logic. It's a mystery, and one of those things I wish someone would ask him when they interview him (instead we usually get the zillionth repeat of the same basic types of questions we're read his answers to a zillion times).


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I've always been intrigued by this comment of Roger Ebert in his review of Mulholland Drive:

""Mulholland Drive" is said to have been assembled from scenes that he shot for a 1999 ABC television pilot, but no network would air (or understand) this material, and Lynch knew it. He takes his financing where he can find it and directs as fancy dictates."

I don't know if Roger knew something we didn't, something behind the scenes, but if what he said in this review is true, then it might answer your question as to why he would embark on this endeavor without at least one cowriter on board: he was only using ABC for funding so that he could make the film he intended.

Though this does appear incongruent with what I've read in that Lynch was later said to have had a sudden inspiration/revelation on how to convert the discarded pilot into a feature film. Doesn't sound like the master plan that Ebert was perhaps suggesting. Still, it's a possibility I suppose.
 
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Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
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1,854
I found like one issue PDF on archive.org from march or april 1999, wasn't it.

I think it was in the first few pages where they have little capsule news notes, I can't remember if the Marilyn Manson and Helen Mirren were separate capsules or the same one.

my memory is that at the Cannes Film Festival in '99, the public still thought Mulholland was a go-ahead at ABC when Straight Story was in Competition, but he'd been told it was rejected just before, but kept quiet about that at Cannes.
That’s true; in Room to Dream it mentions that he got the call about MD right as he was leaving for the airport for Cannes. And that he felt euphoria because the whole back-and-forth over the pilot edit had become so unpleasant and soul-sucking for him. He was happy to just let it die at that point.

I did find a reference to Mirren and Manson on Lynchnet as well (presumably culled from the same EW piece you remember). My hunch would be that he wanted to get them on board because he admired their work and figured he’d work out characters with them when/if the series progressed, but who knows…maybe he did have a little more planned out than he claims. It’s always interesting to me to note who the credited regulars were in the pilot (beyond the obvious three, it’s Ann Miller—which makes sense—Brent Briscoe [Forster is a guest star], Scott Coffey—which also makes sense as Adam was supposed to move in with him—and Katharine Towne who has a small role in the pilot/film as Adam’s girl Friday). That gives us some idea who Lynch thought would be important going forward.
 

Jackwithoneeye

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 14, 2022
122
151
Roger Ebert wasn't a committed Lynch fan like we are, so those are half-truths I think in his quote, that he probably culled from press conferences Lynch did at Cannes in 2001 and articles he might have skimmed. Lynch gave quotes in '01 like "it was always meant to be a feature, sometimes I start making a chair, and then it becomes a lamp, because it was always meant to be a lamp". stuff like that could be misinterpreted or loosely interpreted thereby as it was intended as a feature but take financing wherever etc.

I can't precisely remember when I heard Mulholland was dead at ABC, must have been June or July '99 - post Straight Story at Cannes. I do recall being shocked, based on the Helen Mirren/ Marilyn Manson capsules, that it seemed like the series was full steam ahead if they were recruiting cast beyond the pilot and someone was leaking names to Entertainment Weekly.

There was a magazine called Movieline or something, that had an interview with Lynch (maybe August 99 ?) after it was out that the pilot was rejected, and there were efforts on ABC's part to air it as a TV-Movie which he was very upset about, and said stuff like "I hope nobody watches. It'll be like watching a bad accident." I remember not wanting to buy that magazine since the interview was so short when I came across it at Barnes and Noble so I just read it in the store, and seemed bleak and depressing that yet another Lynch project was dead, not knowing of course at that time it would one day be #8 greatest film of all time on sight and sound's poll.
 

fatecolossal

Great Northern Hotel
Apr 18, 2022
64
339
As far as who Lynch would have used as a potential show runner on MD, I doubt he was thinking that far ahead. The pilot never really came close to being picked up, and he doesn’t strike me as a “cart before the horse” kind of guy.
I have no first-hand experience in the pilot process, but I find it extremely difficult to believe a network could make a greenlight decision on a pilot without having any clue about who the showrunner on it would be. They need to know who they're handing their pile of money over to to run a giant production (unless maybe if it were based on some major IP). And more than that, with a big name like Lynch involved they'd want to have some clarity about what his level of involvement could be expected to be. Likewise, knowing how persnickety Lynch is about creative control, I think he'd want to have at least some inkling of who he might be getting into bed with creatively, so to speak.

At any rate, my apologies for starting a line of conversation that's gotten us off topic again.
 
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