‘The McCarthys’ and ’60 Seconds to Sell’ shows Mass. appeal for TV
When John Griffin got into real estate, he knew the homes in his Massachusetts territory had a lot of personality, but what he hadn’t considered was how enigmatic the personalities of the people inside those houses were.
“There’s not many developments where it’s cookie-cutter neighborhoods with the same house and same style, and I feel like the same goes for the actual homeowners,” says Griffin, who along with his brother Danny are the focus of “60 Seconds to Sell,” a new real estate reality show premiering on the A&E network this Saturday. “For me these characters are a big difference from what I’m seeing on TV now.”
Television audiences’ interest in Bay State characters has been surging lately, with “Wahlburgers” and “Boston’s Finest” also doing well on basic cable channels, but even network television is getting in on the action.
“The McCarthys,” a sitcom premiering this fall on CBS is based on the family of Brian Gallivan, who grew up in Dedham and performed at Boston’s Improv Asylum for several years before joining the cast of Chicago’s famed Second City.
“In Chicago I had more time to work on my comedy, as an actor and as a writer,” says Gallivan, “although I would always end up doing Boston scenes and develop these Boston characters.”
Second City also helped Gallivan find Internet fame as a character he created there called Sassy Gay Friend. He then moved to L.A. and wrote for “Happy Endings,” the devastating cancellation of which enabled Gallivan to find a happy new beginning, bringing Boston scenes with Boston characters to a broader audience. Gallivan created “The McCarthys,” sold it to CBS and is staying on as an executive producer and writer. He held the first writers meeting this week.
“I think everyone is interested in, and I’d even say obsessed with Boston,” he says. “It’s such a specific place that even if you’re not from there, characters who are from there already seem to be more specific and interesting than characters from other places.”
Griffin agrees, and he says that when you’re dealing with reality programming the local personalities can really carry the show.
“It’s basically the cradle of American civilization here,” he says, “so you get great characters.”
John, left and Danny Griffin appear in the stocks at a miniature golf course on Cape Cod.
’60 Seconds’ to make an impression
Two years ago when Danny Griffin wanted to remodel his kitchen, a friend hooked him up with the HGTV show “Spontaneous Construction,” which was produced by Somerville-based Powderhouse Productions, which also produced the reality sitcom, “Southie Rules.” While the production crew was filming the renovation process, Griffin kept pitching a show where he and his brother John, both of whom are real estate agents, would sell houses at auction, a practice which is rife with drama, as homeowners take a leap of faith with the agents. But the tension is cut by the Griffin brothers’ effortless Boston humor, which is the same type you might see in characters played by Ben Affleck in “Good Will Hunting” and Alec Baldwin in “The Departed,” secondary characters who deserve the spotlight.
“We kept asking the producers if they wanted us to turn up the accents, you know, ‘Are we hardcore?’” recounts John Griffin. “They kept saying, ‘no you’re fine.’”
“60 Seconds to Sell” premieres on Saturday at noon on A&E.