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Music on TV: ‘Aquarius’ and Charles Manson’s Rock Star Dreams

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Music on TV: ‘Aquarius’ and Charles Manson’s Rock Star Dreams

Post by jade1013 on Tue 16 Jun - 7:28

Music on TV: ‘Aquarius’ and Charles Manson’s Rock Star Dreams

2:30 pm ET
May 28, 2015

By Mike Ayers


   Gethin Anthony as Charles Manson
   Jim Fiscus/NBC

When TV producer John McNamara (“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “In Plain Sight”) first conceived of his new show “Aquarius,” it was originally supposed to be a quintet of novels that told the story of a World War II-era cop working with an undercover narc in Los Angeles in 1967. But a friend talked him out of it.

“If you do it as novels, you can’t hear the music,” McNamara said. “The music is the reason it’s a TV show.”

The marketing posters for “Aquarius” tout David Duchovny and not much else. It’s a logical move, as he’s the show’s biggest star and “Aquarius” marks his return to television after wrapping up his Showtime series “Californication” last year. But as the first few episodes make clear, a main draw is the show’s antagonist: Charles Manson (played by Gethin Anthony, of “Game of Thrones”), when he was an aspiring musician.

After a teenage girl goes missing, Duchovny’s character, Sam Hodiak, starts exploring Manson and his associates. The time period is right after Manson is released from a seven-year prison stint for check fraud; he was obsessed with the Beatles and becoming a rock star in his own right. In the pilot episode, it’s clear Manson’s trying to score a record deal, and in the process, is recruiting young women to be his groupies. “He wanted to fit in and exploit aspects of the culture,” McNamara said. “He used sex and drugs…he weaponized them. Almost like he was in military intelligence.”

British actor Anthony filmed a few audition tapes as Manson from London, and sent them in. He didn’t have much experience playing guitar, but once he got the Manson part, he hired a few guitar teachers and learned to play.


Gethin Anthony as Charles Manson, Emma Dumont as Emma Karn
Vivian Zink/NBC

Along with learning how to play an instrument well enough on screen, channeling the musical side of Manson brought a specific set of challenges for Anthony. “You always want to connect to who this person is as a human,” he said. “That’s very much getting behind a vivid image [of Manson] in our minds, almost mythological presence in our culture. In our story, he’s a guy that’s been let out into a world full of social liberation. It’s a weird thing to watch develop.”

To help with authenticity, Anthony sings Manson originals which, like every other song used in a TV show, have to be licensed. (The money transferred in licensing fees doesn’t go to Manson.)

Along with Manson’s musical slant, the show also uses a wide swath of ‘60s-era rock staples. Sixteen songs are used in the pilot alone, including Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” the Who’s “I Can See for Miles” and Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen.” But mixed within are deep cuts like the Chocolate Watchband’s “I’m a King Bee” and the Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction.”

“We didn’t want to rely on just well-known songs that will give you that Pavlovian bump,” McNamara said. “We listened to B-sides, garage bands, one-hit wonders, and discovered things as we went along.”

For Anthony, who experienced a heavy dose of rabid fandom surrounding “Game of Thrones,” he’s preparing for a different reaction in bringing Manson and his music to life.

“I don’t know how I get myself into these situations,” he said. “One day I’ll play just a random guy.”

“Aquarius” premieres on NBC on May 28, at 9 p.m. The entire season will be made available on May 29 online.


The Wall Street Journal

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Re: Music on TV: ‘Aquarius’ and Charles Manson’s Rock Star Dreams

Post by sir on Tue 16 Jun - 7:29

Thanks

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