Scary as it may sound, the very not-politics-at-its-finest “Veep” paints an honest picture of life in D.C. “Veep’s” creative talent, speaking at Paleyfest Thursday night, have been startled by how close they are getting it right from the feedback they’ve gotten from Capitol Hill staffers.
“It’s been gratifying to hear people who are watching it say it’s accurate – frightening – but gratifying,” said Armando Iannucci, the show’s executive producer, director and writer. “I’ve been told by Obama’s press office that they’ve just come out of a meeting and there were two Jonahs and three Dans there.” (Played by Timothy Simons and Reid Scott, respectively)
“But the worst piece of feedback we’ll get is when we actually think that we’ve come up with the most ridiculous story… and we do it, and then we get a call from Washington where they’ll ask, ‘How did you find that out?’” Iannucci said.
And maybe even more surreal, there are times when the reverse happens, and Capitol Hill proudly imitates the TV world. Simons, Scott and fellow cast member Matt Walsh were hanging out at a Washington Wizards basketball game with D.C. staffers, when the three actors posed the question, “So what drew you to politics?”
The response: “We got into it growing up and watching ‘The West Wing.’”
The real-life staffers also offered that they also loved “Scandal,” describing it as melodramatic, and “House of Cards” as sinisterly dramatic. “But they said that we all think that ‘Veep’ is the most accurate,” Reid laughed.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays title character Selina Meyer, has also had an amusing run-in with real life when she recently met President Bill Clinton at Variety‘s Unite4:Humanity event. The former POTUS said that he loved the show, adding “You know, what’s great about your part (as VP) is that there are no term limits,” she recalled.
That may change, however, at least for her character, as Meyer begins gearing up for a run for the presidency at the start of season three, which premieres April 6 on HBO.
In other fun reveals, the cast talked about who they’d want to see play the show’s president, who has still yet to be seen on the series. Iannucci threw out Arnold Schwarzenegger; recent cast addition Kevin Dunn offered up Gary Busey.
In truth, Iannucci indicated that the president will likely remain hidden for some time. “I like the image we build up around him,” he explained.
"There's a ban on politics in the show,” Armando Iannucci ironically said of the HBO political comedy
“Veep” creator Armando Iannucci revealed some of the secrets behind the world of his HBO comedy during Thursday's PaleyFest panel at L.A.'s Dolby Theater.
The audience was treated to a preview of Season 3, which will take Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) out of the D.C. bubble as she campaigns for the presidency.
“She's running now, so she's out and about,” Iannucci said. “We did two seasons where it was all about D.C. and the D.C. in-crowd and this is about her meeting the ‘normals’ as she calls them. Real America!”
He continued, “So, she goes to Silicon Valley, Detroit and Ohio and she goes to London. I think it's all about taking all the characters out of their comfort zone.”
Iannucci revealed that the show gets a lot of requests from politicians to make cameos on the comedy — he wouldn't name names. But, he says that those kind of cameos won't happen for a couple reasons.
First, it would mess with the world of “Veep.” “It's set in this parallel universe,” the creator said.
“If a living politician, a recognizable politician, turned up, you then say, ‘Well, he's a democrat. So, is Obama the president?’ The whole thing starts unraveling,” he continued. “So, there's a ban on politics in the show, actually.”
And second, the logistics rarely work out. “We're moving at such a fast pace, it's very difficult to plan in advance,” Iannucci explained.
“Politicians are very busy people. They have all these important decisions to defer. So, they'll always say, ‘Well, we're free between 11 and 11:05. We'd love to be in the background of a large kitchen scene.'”
“Well, that's not going to happen,” he continued. “The way the scripts go, we might end up changing that or we may for some reason decide to junk that scene. And heaven forbid you have a politician hanging around for hours and hours with nothing to do.”
Then, Timothy Simmons, who plays West Wing lacky Jonah, pointed out another reason why having politicians on would make things awkward.
“Politicians who watch the show and want to be on think the show's not about them,” he said. “We're definitely making fun of them.”
The cast and producers also discussed who should play the president, whom viewers have yet to meet.
When asked whom he'd like to cast in the role of POTUS, Iannucci said without missing a beat, “Definitely Schwarzenegger.”
When it was pointed out that Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't be the president because he wasn't born in the United States, the executive producer replied, “He's an actor.”
Though, fans shouldn't hold their breath waiting to meet the POTUS. “I like the image that you build up about [the president] by just hearing about him,” Iannucci explained.