DIFF buzz 2014: Lee Daniels loves British TV

American director Lee Daniels, who headed the juiry for the Muhr Feature awards at the Dubai International Film Festival 2014, speaks furing the ceremony announcing the winners.  EPA / Ali Haider
American director Lee Daniels, who headed the juiry for the Muhr Feature awards at the Dubai International Film Festival 2014, speaks furing the ceremony announcing the winners. EPA / Ali Haider

Lee Daniels, the American director of Monster’s Ball, Precious and The Butler, who was head of the Muhr Features panel at this year’s DIFF, revealed an unexpected love of British TV in conversation at the festival.

Discussing his new TV project, Empire, which is due to air in the US in January 2015, he said: “Why would they let me on TV? Who would do that? It’s not even cable TV – it’s a prime-time network. I did that because my family can’t afford cable, and I really wanted my family to experience my television.

“I take you right to the edge of what network TV can do. To the edge of Netflix or HBO, and let the mind wander.

“In Europe, you guys have far more freedom. Some of the most provocative TV that I’m inspired by is in the UK. You guys take it for granted, but in America, we can’t do it.

“The first one that really hit home to me was AbFab [Jennifer Saunders’ media-based sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous, about a self-destructive PR and her even more self-destructive magazine-editor best friend]. I could just watch that over and over again. That’s the be-all.

“You start there, and then there’s Helen Mirren’s series, Prime Suspect, Idris Elba’s show [Luther], it just goes on and on.

“I don’t know what it is. The actors are more sophisticated. It’s something about the truth. I live for telling the truth. I’m sure there are a lot of liars over there too, but you don’t see it on screen.”

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Published: December 17, 2014 04:00 AM

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