Scripted TV Series UnREAL SXSW World Premiere

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Lifetime’s new provocative scripted drama, UnREAL #UnREALTV, gives a fictitious behind-the-scenes glimpse into the chaos surrounding the production of a dating competition program.  The UnREAL World Premiere was held at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival on Monday, March 16, at 3:30pm CT at the Vimeo theater in the Austin Convention Center.


 UnREAL’s SXSW Story:

From Co-Creators Marti Noxon (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Mad Men) and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (2nd Best), UnREAL, is inspired by Shapiro’s 2013 SXSW award-winning short, Sequin Raze. Lifetime has ordered 10 hour-long episodes of UnREAL. The TV series will premiere Monday, June 1, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT.

 Talent & Creators at SXSW:

Co-Creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, and stars Shiri Appleby (Girls), Constance Zimmer (House of Cards, Entourage), and Freddie Stroma (Pitch Perfect) attended the Q&A panel directly following the screening. #UnREAL is the first scripted series fully produced and distributed by A+E Studios.


The 2015 SXSW Film Intermission Party was presented by UnREAL on Tuesday, March 17, from 10pm – 1am CT at The Four Seasons, Austin.


The Story:

UnREAL is produced by A+E Studios. The astonishing drama gives a fictitious behind the scenes brief look into the chaos surrounding the production of a dating competition program.

Set against the scenery of the hit dating competition show called "Everlasting," "UnREAL" is led by a messed up woman named Rachel Goldberg (Appleby), a young producer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with and between the contestants to get the dramatic and outrageous footage that the program’s unemotional executive producer, Quinn King (Zimmer), demands.  In the show contestants can be vicious and being a producer is a different reality where they create an outrageous world of unscripted television.

Interview in Austin TX During SXSW 2015:

Yenis Monterrey:  How do you feel about premiering the Pilot #UnReal during SXSW?

Marti Noxon:  We are super honored that the show is premiering in the platform of SXSW. This is the way we are presenting the show to the world.

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: I’m very excited about premiering the show at SXSW, since the festival is a venue that celebrates the artist creativity.

Constance Zimmer: I think it already made us cool to have the premiere of the pilot in Austin-TX!

Yenis Monterrey:  Sarah Gertrude Shapiro—premiered the short film “Sequin Raze” during SXSW 2013. Sarah— How did you pitch the show to Marti Noxon (Producer, writer)?

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: We got set up, actually like a blind date by the network.  I had sold the show before SXSW—I had pitched to Lifetime and they bought it and they brought Marti Noxon. Once Marti and I sat down, she had seen the short, she had heard about it. It wasn’t so much about pitching the show to her, it was more about trying to figure out if we were on the same page and what we wanted to make with the show and it was so incredible that we mind melded. [laughs]

Marti Noxon: We definitely mind melded,  the whole area of reality television, the whole area about what the throwback of the show is ”Everlasting”— It is kind of an old fantasy of courtship where there is a sort of prince character who is looking for someone special and it feels like very Cinderella. I was really fascinating by the economy of that, it was how the world it is now. Once reunited and we melded—that was the beginning and it was great.

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: The rest was pretty much about the picturing and the development of the main character “Rachel.” We also talked not only about how a show of reality TV may work behind cameras, but mainly the show is about the life of the leading character “Rachel.”  The #UnReal title is like what apparently looks real isn’t real, but the show isn’t about reality TV, it’s about characters trying to figure out their real life.

Constance Zimmer: It’s how to get through life and getting what you want without crossing too many lines.


Yenis Monterrey: How was the casting process for the role of Rachel, a young producer (Lead actress)?  Did you have a huge casting call?

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro:  Yes! we had a huge casting call with 200 people—During the casting we were looking for our Rachel. We were thinking about body image, thinking maybe she should be a little chubby. We also thought during the process of casting that Shiri Appleby was so pretty for the role, but she nailed during audition.  It was very hard for us to find the perfect Rachel.

Yenis Monterrey: In #UnReal the character of  Quinn (Constance Zimmer),  she an executive producer rude, mean and rapacious. Is her character based on someone you have met in the industry?

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro:  She is like so many people in Hollywood—A mean character represented by Quinn. It’s like a cliche in the industry, I have worked with a lot of people like her, specially when I started working in the industry at my day job at the age of 23,  I was working at a reality TV. There is something about TV sets which is pretty much reflected in our world in UnReal, but there are some things in the show that are generally true.

Yenis Monterrey: Is #UnReal TV series  like The Bachelor reality TV Series?

Constance Zimmer: —The TV show is a scripted TV series, since #UnReal  isn’t a reality show.

Yenis Monterrey:  How are we portraying women in #UnReal? Are we empowering women with the TV show? Since we know in reality TV there are all sort of women: Divas, gold diggers, catty, and in most cases the sisterhood is rare.  The girls friendship have the tendency of being spiteful and at the end what it matters in reality TV is to compete for male attention.

Marti Noxon: Honestly, I think when we show a women as a fully formed characters, there is a sort of cliche of a strong female lead and for long time I think we been representing women only either with strength or weakness, it seems there is one extreme and the other,  what is great about TV right now is that we are getting into all these characters who are a consolidation of both of these qualities. It’s all about human experiences, and writing about it in #UnReal.  We have a variety of characters with different personality colors and the audience will identify themselves in the show.

Constance Zimmer: We are also empowering women because we are giving many women a voice—whether it is a strong, weak, scared, or a confused voice, everyone will have a voice whether you are a man or woman. There will be a voice for everyone in the show for a woman or man in the show. I think it is incredible about the show where we have many women and I was  terrified and I thought—How am I going to do this? I’m sure everyone is going to be competitive and everyone is going to be talking about each other, but every single girl has their character and is committed to who they are and what everybody is focusing on. We had love, support, and women wanting other women to succeed, even if they weren’t doing it on the show “Everlasting” where they were against each other, but behind the scene of the fictitious show “Everlasting” they were.  It’s honestly quite beautiful to watch, and I felt so guilty because I was so mean to them—my character I mean—[laughs]

Yenis Monterrey: Freddie Stroma—How was your experience as an actor during the courtship and romantic love—kissing and making out with many women as part of your role, since you are representing a wealthy and irresistible bachelor in #UnReal?

Freddie Stroma: Wow! as an actor I don’t know how many women I kissed.[laughs] Everyone was really cool about it. I was a gentleman that made it cool for each woman on set and part of the cast.

Cast SXSW 2015 in Attendance

Shiri Appleby (Rachel) @ShiriAppleby

Shiri Appleby jumped in front of the lens at a very young age, appearing in notable hits including "Who's the Boss?," "Doogie Howser, MD," and Lawrence Kasden's "I Love You to Death." At 19, she had her breakout performance on the series "Roswell" playing the lead role of Liz Parker.

She went on to guest star in "ER," "Six Degrees," and the Mike Nichols film "Charlie Wilson's War" before playing the lead in The CW's "Life Unexpected."  Since then, Appleby has had recurring turns on NBC's "Chicago Fire" and HBO's "Girls."

Constance Zimmer (Quinn) @ConstanceZimmer

Constance Zimmer is perhaps best known as Dana Gordon on HBO's hit series "Entourage." Zimmer can also be seen recurring in Netflix's EmmyÆ-nominated original series "House of Cards," executive produced by David Fincher, and HBO's "The Newsroom," executive produced by Aaron Sorkin.

Zimmer has been a regular on numerous shows, including the NBC-produced comedies "Love Bites" opposite Greg Grunberg and "Good Morning, Miami" with Mark Feuerstein. She was a series lead on ABC's "Boston Legal," created by David E. Kelley. She has also had major roles on "Grey's Anatomy," "In Justice," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and old favorites "Seinfeld" and "Ellen." Zimmer's feature film credits include "The Babymakers" opposite Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn, "Demoted" opposite Sean Astin and Michael Vartan, and the Warner Bros. feature "Chaos Theory" starring Ryan Reynolds and Emily Mortimer.

Freddie Stroma (Adam) @freddiestroma

Freddie Stroma was recently seen in the hugely successful feature film "Inbetweeners 2," which opened wide in the U.K. He also starred in the lead role in the Vicious Brothers’ feature "Extraterrestrial," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was purchased by IFC Films before its theatrical release.

Stroma is well known for his role in the Universal feature hit "Pitch Perfect," starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson. He worked on the independent feature "After the Dark" opposite James D'Arcy and Rhys Wakefield, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival prior to its opening in the U.S. Other credits include the co-lead role opposite Lucy Hale in "A Cinderella Story." Stroma generated huge attention and became a fan favorite for his role in Warner Bros. "Harry Potter and the Half-blooded Prince," as Cormac McLaggen, the handsome and arrogant rival of Ron Weasley. Stroma has also appeared on several series for the BBC and Noel Clarke's independent feature "" He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Follow Lifetime @lifetimetv  Follow #UnReal @UnRealLifetime Follow UnReal on Facebook

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