"Brothers & Sisters" DVD Launched in L.A.
The show that almost didn't make the cut following a series of behind-the-scenes problems that led to pilot reshoot and extensive cast changes is now out on DVD and about to launch its sophomore year on ABC. "Brothers & Sisters" stars Sally Field, Rob Lowe and Patricia Wettig (among others) were in Los Angeles on Monday night to help celebrate the release.
From the creative minds of Jon Robin Baitz and Greg Berlanti, the sophisticated character drama about a wealthy family of wine producers from Ojai, California ended up becoming one of last season's few freshman hits. But the success seemed very unlikely about a year ago when Berlanti came on board.
Baitz, who conceived the series, admits in an interview with USA Today he was "a confused playwright with no television experience trying to generate drama every week" without any sense of how to produce a weekly series. "I had reached the point when Greg came on where I was not capable of taking the show where it needed to go," he says.
Berlanti immediately narrowed the show's wandering focus on politics, a failing business and a sprawling family in crisis over the sudden death of its patriarch. "When you have a large ensemble show, the audience still needs to know it's about, at its core, two or three people, and not 12 people."
He retooled the series as a mother-daughter drama built around its biggest stars: Field, Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths. He de-emphasized the business intrigue and the overtly political aspects of the show, turning Flockhart's Kitty from a right-wing radio host into an aide — and now fiancée — for a new character, a senator (Rob Lowe). And he added the Berlanti touch of humor to leaven the mood.
"Justin's going to war, Sara's family is falling apart, but there's always a comedic note somewhere," Field says. "He's walking an extremely fine line between dark drama and high comedy, and that's a very difficult thing to do."