"House of Cards" Roundup

'House of Cards' is Netflix's most-watched program

Since its debut less than two weeks ago, Netflix’s House of Cards has made quite the splash. In fact, it’s currently the most-watched program.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos touted the accomplishment at a media conference, according to All Things D, but declined to elaborate on specific numbers and metrics, saying he is doing so to avoid comparisons to traditional broadcast shows.

Even without numbers, however, the fact that Cards is besting the streaming site’s thousands of current TV offerings is impressive, and a good sign, considering they’ve already committed to a second season of the Kevin Spacey-helmed drama.

Kevin Spacey on David Letterman

Kate Mara on Jimmy Kimmel

Kate Mara signs autographs outside of her taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Tuesday (February 5) in Los Angeles.

The 29-year-old actress went on the show to promote her new Netflix series House of Cards!

“I know I’m really greedy…I usually wait for an entire season to be done so I can spend an entire weekend [watching]…and so I think Netflix was really smart about that and thought lets beat people to the punch,” Kate said about Netflix releasing all the episodes at once.

FYI: Kate is carrying a Dolce & Gabbana handbag.

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Corey Stoll on His New Role in House of Cards

Stoll plays a third-term congressman with a weakness for whiskey, cocaine, and call girls. "He has the natural appetite of Clinton. But he doesn't have the pain threshold. He's more like Spitzer and Weiner."

"No," Corey Stoll says when asked if he could take Ernest Hemingway in the ring. "I've got the reach on him. I'm a few inches taller. But he actually boxed. Plus, I can handle losing a lot easier than he can."

A third-generation New Yorker who attended the performing-arts LaGuardia High School — inspiration for the '80s film Fame — and NYU's Graduate Acting Program, Stoll, 36, hasn't suffered too many knockdowns in his career. "Looking back, I was very naive about how it was going to be. In some ways my naïveté was an asset. I should've been more worried. I should've had less confidence. Because regardless of how good you are, the odds are against you." He's done Broadway with Scarlett Johansson and Off Broadway with Viola Davis; shared the big screen with Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and Jeremy Renner; and appeared alongside Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard in NBC's fleeting Law & Order: Los Angeles. But he's by far best known for his turn as Hemingway in Woody Allen's 2011 blockbuster comedy Midnight in Paris.

The role earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination and had some thinking he'd be an Oscar contender. (His most memorable line in the film — "Who wants to fight?" — was improvised.) But because he wore a wig — and in real life shaves his head — Stoll is rarely recognized. "Right now, it's perfect," he says. "I can walk down the street and nobody knows who I am."

That could easily change now that Netflix has just premiered its first original series House of Cards, out today. The show is remarkable both for its unique distribution — all thirteen episodes of the first season are available at once — and marquee talent. Executive produced by David Fincher (who also directed the first two episodes) and written by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Beau Willimon, it stars Kevin Spacey as a politician out for revenge after being passed over for a cabinet post, with Robin Wright as his Lady Macbeth.

Stoll plays third-term Philadelphia congressman Peter Russo, a key pawn in the scheme. "He has the natural appetite of Clinton," Stoll says of his character, who has a weakness for whiskey, cocaine, and call girls. "But he doesn't have the pain threshold. He's more like Spitzer and Weiner. Our political consultant, Jay Carson [press secretary for the presidential bids of Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton], said scandals are like having a trashcan over your head and somebody banging on it. It's unpleasant, but it will pass. Clinton knows he'll live to see another day. Weiner and Spitzer say, 'uncle.'"

If the premise of House of Cards sounds reminiscent of another Beltway series, think a different angle. "It's the anti-West Wing," Stoll says. "There's a lot about bills and stuff, but that's sort of peripheral. It's not about ideology. It's about power."

Stoll is getting a little more power of his own in Hollywood. In addition to House of Cards — set to film its second season soon — he can be seen in the recent Sundance entry C.O.G. and the Liam Neeson action-thriller Non-Stop, out later this year. He also just landed his first lead role — as, of all things, a washed-up boxer in the indie Glass Chin, currently in production and co-starring Billy Crudup and Kelly Lynch.

But Stoll isn't taking anything for granted.

"I don't feel secure at all. I don't know what actor would feel they've made it. I feel like I'm just starting."

Kate Mara in Nylon Guys

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the insider: kate mara

Spending a weekend watching an entire TV series worth of episodes is nothing new--but having a series premiere online, all at once certainly is. That's the approach Netflix is taking with its very first original series, House of Cards, with all 13 episodes of the first season (there will be two--and two only) available on-demand starting today--and they couldn't have chosen a better show to do it with. It follows a charismatic congressman (played perfectly by Kevin Spacey), his tough-as-nails wife (Robin Wright), and their smile-to-your-face-but-stab-you-in-the-back antics in Washington, D.C

With such big-name stars--not to mention director David Fincher--it's hard to imagine an up-and-coming actress stealing the spotlight—and yet if you ask us, this show is all Kate Mara. The actress plays Zoe Barnes, a reporter looking to write about more than just city council meetings--and is willing to do just about anything in the process to make it happen. Played by someone else, it could make her instantly detestable, but the brunette nails it. NYLONmag.com sat down with Mara to talk TV marathons, David Fincher phone calls, and never getting confused with her sister Rooney.


House of Cards is the first of its kind--in that it's a series produced by Netflix, with the entire season available for streaming from day one. Does that mean I'm not going to leave my house all weekend because I can't stop watching?

Yeah, well, that's the hope anyway. For me, obviously I'm in it and it can be hard to watch yourself in things, but I was so addicted to watching the series because it's so well-written and there are so many great actors in it. Hopefully people will have that reaction and just pull an all-nighter!

Did you have a feeling it was going to be that addictive when you read the script?
Yeah, I mean one of the reasons why it was so great to work on was because it's not a TV series, it's not a movie, it's its own brand; we don't really know what to call it! Unlike TV, I knew exactly what I was going to be doing in episode 10, before we started shooting episode one, which is so rare. So it really felt like we just shot six movies in a row, which was amazing.

How much prep work did it take to play Zoe Barnes?

We had a few weeks before we started shooting in Baltimore, rehearsing a lot with David Fincher and Beau [Willimon], our writer, and the whole cast. And you don't always get that opportunity, so it was a lot of time spent talking about this world that we were creating and where our characters were going. I didn't spend time with any reporters or anything like that because it wasn't necessary for my character; just being able to call up Beau or Fincher at any time and saying, "What's going to happen at the end in order to know how to play the beginning?" was all I needed.

Do you have to be a political junkie to get into the show?

I think it doesn't really matter if you're interested in it or not, because before I was a part of [the show] I read [the script] and literally couldn't put it down, and I'm not interested in the political aspects of things. I was super, super addicted to just reading the script, so it's great-- I think if you're into politics it will be a great, dark world to explore and watch. And if you're not, it doesn't matter because it's mainly about the politics at home and in your relationships --not just with husbands and wives; it's the politics of people as well.

So it was the script that hooked you?

To be completely honest, as soon as I heard that Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Beau were making this I thought, Of course I want to do this if I can. And then the scripts just happened to be something that I personally loved and felt really connected to this character, so that was just lucky.

What other TV shows do you love?

I'm obsessed with Girls, I love The Mindy Kaling Project--I thinks it's hilarious. I just watched Homeland; I was late for that, but I waited for all of them and I spent a weekend watching them. I thought that was really good.

We posted a photo of you and Rooney posing on the red carpet together the other day and all of these people commented saying they had no idea you two are sisters. Do you get that a lot?

It's so funny the amount of people that say that--I guess because we don't really look alike. When you see us next to each other you can see the similarities, but we're so different, and I'm not sure why people don't know, but it's nice to be able to, ironically enough. I'm dying to see her movie [Side Effects], and my whole family is here so that will be nice

Do you talk shop with each other?

Yeah, totally. Absolutely. And we share stories! It's such a unique thing to have your sister doing the same exact same thing that you're doing, and I feel really lucky. People are always asking, "Are you guys competitive?" and all that, and I understand why people ask that, but there are so many benefits of us both being actresses. Just emotionally to have somebody who truly understands the day-to-day and the ups and the downs of it all.

And because you each have your own identities, it seems like there hasn't been that case of Mary-Kate and Ashley where you need to distinguish yourselves from each other

Yeah, we're very different and yet we clearly we have very similar passions.

Netflix, 'House of Cards,' and the Golden Age of Television

"The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

And there was Netflix's strategy, in one sentence, as revealed to GQ by Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, on the eve of the company's new exclusive series, House of Cards. It sounds like a straightforward threat to the entire pay-TV model: The streaming upstart taking on the premium cable darling in the hopes of convincing millions of subscribers that you don't need a set-top box to get great original television; you just need an Internet connection and a few bucks a month for Netflix.

Netflix's original-programming move is competition for cable. Our attention is finite, as is time. The more time we spend with Netflix, the less time we spend on cable, the less valuable cable is, blah blah blah, this argument is familiar to all of you. But for now, don't consider the Netflix Effect -- and, in particular, its foray into exclusive shows -- a turning point in cord-cutting wars. Consider it instead simply a great moment for great television. The market for super-deluxe-high-quality TV programming is getting deeper.*


To explain why Netflix's new obsession with original programming is great for lovers of great TV, we have to go on a brief detour. In 2010, when Netflix streaming was still in its infancy, Edward Jay Epstein, the excellent chronicler of the business of Hollywood, wrote a little column answering a big question: Why is TV replacing movies as elite entertainment

His old-school answer: Follow the money.

Hollywood is technically in the story-telling business. But it's really in the franchise-building business. The top 40 movies of all time are practically all sequels, adaptations, and reboots. Most of them have fight scenes and explosions. In a global industry where the top-grossing films make about two-thirds of their revenue outside of the U.S., and marketing budgets stretch into the tens of millions, the surest way to build profit for a studio is to make or buy a franchise. Then you sell sequels and merchandise and TV rights and never ever stop until you can go home after watching Fast and the Furious 6 at the multiplex to lay on your Fast and the Furious bed sheets, and play with your 2 Fast 2 Furious action figures while watching Five Fast on TNT ... in Beijing.

As Hollywood has gone global and mass-mass-market, different incentives for select television networks have helped to fill the void in quality entertainment. Here is Epstein explaining the rise of HBO as an original programming powerhouse:

HBO executives [created their] own original programming designed to appeal to the head of the house. Here it had several advantages over Hollywood. It did not need to produce a huge audience since it carries no advertising and gets paid the same fee whether or not subscribers tune in. Nor did it have to restrict edgier content to get films approved by a ratings board (there is no censorship of Pay-TV). And it did not have to structure the movie to maximize foreign sales since, unlike Hollywood, its earnings come mainly from America. As a result, HBO and the two other pay-channels, Showtime and Starz, were able to create sophisticated character-driven series such as The Wire, Sex and the City, The L Word, and The Sopranos. As this only succeeded in retaining subscribers and also achieved critical acclaim, advertising-supported cable and over-the-air network had little choice but to follow suit to avoid losing market share. The result of this competitive race to the top is the elevation of television.

Now consider "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." Neither is making AMC a billion dollars in Asia, but both helped the network find an even more dependable money-hose: cable. AMC used these shows with small but clingy followings to demand that cable providers carry their network and pay 40 cents a month for each subscriber. Today, both have audiences in the low single-digit millions. If they were movies, they would be flops. Instead, they make AMC a cable staple for tens of millions of pay-TV households who indirectly pay AMC more than $360 million a year in cable fees

Networks love the cable bundle for the same reason that viewers hate it: It's a relentless (i.e. dependable) transfer of money from households to networks, regardless of what television or how much television we watch. "Basic-cable channels have to broadcast shows that are so good that audiences will go nuts when denied them," Adam Davidson wrote in the New York Times. "Pay-TV channels, which kick-started this economic model, are compelled to make shows that are even better." Thus, television has seen a race to the top while Hollywood has experienced an ostensible race to the middle-bottom.

Back to Netflix. The company's business decision to chase exclusive TV rights was not an act of charity for TV fans; it was a business decision. Netflix has two things going for it: its deep library and its wonderful streaming technology. Keeping the library of quality titles deep is getting very expensive very quickly. And Showtime and HBO can compete with Netflix on streaming tech, even if they're also tethered to the cable bundle. So, Netflix needs to increase its value in the eyes of the 120 million households who aren't Netflix subscribers. Following in the footsteps of HBO and Showtime by going after original titles is the smart next step.

And it means there's even more money in the market for lavish television. For every "House of Cards" auction, there is another bidder. For every auteur, there is another hand shaking money in her face. Yes, programming costs will continue to rise, and yes, you might have to get used to paying a little bit more for Netflix as it turns into an independently-owned HBO. But the good news is that the golden age of television was built by a group of niche networks chasing TV fanatics with programming that was better than we knew to expect from TV. And that group is getting bigger.


*Even if you think "House of Cards" is occasionally over-the-top, as I do, it's not controversial to say the production values and talent roster are clearly of a cinematic quality. Both lead actors, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, have been nominated for Oscars (Spacey has won), and the cinematography has that same shadowy, lacquered quality of David Fincher's best movies.

A flirty Zoe Barnes invites you into this post.

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