How Busy Chad Hodge Manages His Projects

Debra Birnbaum
Variety

In a town full of multi-taskers, producer Chad Hodge certainly has a full — and varied — plate: a new drama, “Good Behavior,” debuting on TNT; a feature in the works, “Darkest Minds”; and a musical, “Holiday Inn,” on Broadway. He stopped juggling long enough to talk to Variety about how he manages all of his many projects.

How did all these projects come together at once?

When it rains, it pours. Obviously as a writer-producer you have to keep lots of irons in the fire, because you don’t know what will actually get made and be a real thing. I’ve got a few things that all materialized all at the same time, which is really lucky.

“Good Behavior” stars Michelle Dockery, who we all know from “Downton Abbey.” How did you convince Lady Mary to go to the dark side?

I don’t cast the role while I’m writing. I picture the character as you picture a character when you’re reading a book. A person materializes in your head, but it’s not necessarily a real person. And one of the first people who was pitched to me when the project became real was Michelle Dockery. I’m repped at WME, she’s repped at WME. Immediately when I heard that name, I was like, “yes.” I was a big “Downton” fan and had seen every episode. I felt that if an actor could do what she did with Lady Mary, she could do anything. The lengths she went to with that character, you could tell that she was an incredibly skilled actor who isn’t afraid of anything. She’s much more like Letty than she is like Lady Mary. And she really went for it in “Good Behavior.” She goes in headfirst.

You insisted on hiring a female director for the pilot. Why was that so important to you?

As raw and real as this character was, as great as I think the script is, the show is really from her point of view. And no matter what I do, I am not a woman. And there’s nothing I can do about that. I wanted a woman to bring that point of view to the set — the look, the tone, the feel, the character. A pilot is such a delicate thing.  Everything has to work in concert together. It was such a no-brainer.

You’ve done three very different series: “The Playboy Club,” “Wayward Pines,” “Good Behavior.” What defines a Chad Hodge show?

That’s a great question. For me, they don’t seem that different. But that’s because I’m the one constant. It’s coming out of my brain and fingers. To me it’s all about truthful characters and great storytelling. The qualities of characters and storytelling are the same in any version of a TV show or a movie or a play or a musical or a book. Those elements of storytelling are the same. They can all be finished off with different icing like a cake: Let’s put blue icing on this one; let’s put chocolate frosting on that one. There’s different ways you can decorate the cake, but the cake is the same.

Do you prefer working in film or TV?

I don’t have a favorite. I guess because I’ve been working in TV the longest, it’s where I feel the most comfortable. But scary things are the best. And doing features is new and exciting. So for those reasons I love them as much as I do love doing television.

What’s the secret of being a successful showrunner?

I remember making my toast speech to the crew when we wrapped the pilot. I said, “I think I’ve realized being a good showrunner is really two things: One is making sure the scripts are good. The second thing is hiring all the best people, and then getting out of their way and letting them do their jobs.” Several people kept coming up to me and saying, “That was really great what you said; I’ve never heard that before from a showrunner. That seems pretty obvious to me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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