• Eddie Izzard on 'The Riches,' a trip to Yemen, giraffes - and oh yes, acting (thanks Ginger)
  • Fame and Fortune: Eddie Izzard
  • If You Can't Con Them, Join Them
  • Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver of The Riches
  • Comic's master plan is mapped in drama
  • Actors Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver eager to steal post-strike viewer
  • INTERVIEW: Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver Talk The Riches
  • From Drag to Riches
  • What's In Your DVD Player?
  • Eddie Izzard, The Riches Interview
  • NY Post/Hollywood.com Interview
  • MovieWeb Interview
  • Interview: Eddie Izzard of FX's 'The Riches'
  • Zany comedian keeps it low-key in 'Riches'
  • THE CON IS ON (TV Guide Interviews Eddie)

  • Home with local ties hits primetime
    Gazette-Times reporter

    Corvallis native’s California house used as movie set

    Tim Patterson’s little corner of Valencia, Calif., has become sort of a mini-Hollywood in recent years. The Santa Clarita Valley has seen shows from HBO’s “Big Love” to “Deadwood” filmed in studios and on location, and many of his neighbors have had their homes featured in films and television shows.

    Patterson, a 1974 graduate of Crescent Valley High School, always wondered what it would be like to have a show filmed in his home, but being in the business himself (he owns his own small production company), he hesitated to bring the chaos of the industry into his house.

    That opinion has recently changed, since a knock on his door gave Patterson and his wife, Jill Jones, a chance to have their home featured on the new FX series “The Riches.” Part of the show is being filmed in a studio five miles from their house, but many of the scenes are done on location.

    “They liked our house,” Patterson said, and when he heard that one of his favorite actors, Eddie Izzard, was both an executive producer and star of the show, he and Jones decided it might be okay to turn their place upside down for a little bit.

    “We thought, ‘What the heck,’” Patterson said.

    And after filming three episodes so far, they haven’t regretted their decision.

    Their home was built in 1988 by Patterson’s father, Thomas Patterson, a long-time Corvallis home-builder who has since retired. The style of the home, and its furnishings, fit in with the upper class look the producers wanted, and they did little to alter the house during filming. Although the exterior shots are filmed at a different location in nearby Chatsworth, the Patterson home is used as the interior of character Nina Burns’ (Margo Martindale) home.

    Nina is Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver’s neighbor in the new show, and her home becomes a sort of refuge for Driver’s character. Nina is an artist who makes erotic pottery, so the family art studio doubles as a potting studio during filming, and pieces of erotic art pop up around the house.

    Filming usually takes three days, one day to set up, one day to shoot, and one day to break down. Patterson said the crew, which includes about 60 people, has been very conscientious about not damaging the house, and pad and protect furniture, walls and floors during filming.

    Patterson is compensated for use of his house, and has been hired as site manager as well. This means he gets to stay on set and has more control over how his home is used. He also gets to interact with some of the actors, including Eddie Izzard, which has been a real pleasure, he said.

    “Eddie was great,” Patterson said. “He came marching in here and said he loved the house.”

    In fact, Izzard told him, “Of all the houses we’re using, I’m giving your house the best house award.”

    So far, they’ve filmed in the living room, kitchen, art studio and master bathroom. The shots appear on the first three episodes of the show, and as filming is still continuing, they may appear in some future episodes as well. The project has been so much fun, Patterson said he hopes the show gets picked up and continues in future seasons.

    He’s looking forward to more filming, and wonders what will happen next.

    “You never know what future episodes are going to require.”

    “The Riches” airs on FX tonight at 10 p.m. The Patterson home will be feature in tonight’s episode, as well as the following two episodes.

    A new kind of Izzard
    By Bruce R. Miller Journal staff writer

    LOS ANGELES -- Wearing high heels, makeup and a dress earned Eddie Izzard several Emmys and a reputation as one of Britain's best comics.

    Hollywood took notice. Critics did, too. But Izzard didn't want to tread familiar ground. So he purposely kept a low profile, waiting for the right time to strike.

    "I've been pushing to do dramatic roles since 1993," he says. "I knew if I wanted to break into the American market, I'd have to play my comedy quite low. I didn't want to get too exposed and become Captain Comedy. I held back for a reason."

    Now, Izzard is ready to make his move. Cast in "The Riches" as a middle-aged con man, he has been able to straddle the worlds of comedy and drama with a series that's as dark and as funny as network television gets. He's a husband and father who convinces his family to assume different identities in order to move into a gated community. Instantly, they become the Riches -- the ultimate acting assignment.

    Because he pretends to excel at things he knows nothing about, Izzard's character has to adapt without warning.

    It's a great exercise, he says. "Con men are great actors. They have to have the whole range of emotions actors need to portray a character. They're great fun to watch."

    And draw from.

    For his comedy routines (which still exist -- but not in large-scale formats), Izzard searches for common ground. "I like talking to people about stuff people really experience in their own lives. They get on airplanes. They talk about religion. They talk about sexuality. They don't say, 'When I was out in a limo with the president of a studio.' They want things they can relate to."

    Never mind the heels and makeup -- that's just a hook Izzard used to break out from the pack. Oh, sure, "I have cats and dogs talking to each other in my routines and I do a lot of diffrent voices, but they don't apply to this. Within this character, I can really screw around with authority figures."

    The standup persona? "It's a wonderful jump into different places but I didn't want to be that character," he explains.

    Indeed, when he went for a meeting with studio heads, Izzard let them know he liked the mix of black comedy and drama found in "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg," a show he did on Broadway. His performance netted him a Tony nomination and introduced him to that audience as a serious actor.

    Now, "The Riches" could be his calling card in Hollywood.

    Playwright Dmitry Lipkin created the show without anyone specific in mind. Studio heads showed it to Izzard and, immediately, he says, "That's what I wanted to do."

    Co-starring Minnie Driver, "The Riches" isn't a typical cops/lawyers/doctors television show. It has tragic moments and silly ones. To find the middle ground, Izzard consulted with his acting coach. "How do you take comedy into a dramatic role?" he remembers asking. "Where do you draw the edge?"

    In his standup, there are no boundaries. But here, "the edge has to apply to the realm of the character's life."

    Fans who discover the new Izzard will note he's considerably thinner than he was a decade ago. "I gave it to an old man I found," he jokes. Actually, the secret to his dieting success is simple: "I don't eat anything. Ever."

    Now, if "The Riches" succeeds, Izzard figures he can bring back the standup on a larger scale.

    "Comedy is quite 'cocaine-y,'" he says. "I'm trying to methadone them down a bit on this. There will be comedy in it but with a much lower ceiling."

    Training an audience takes time, Izzard says. "Bill Murray has done that to a large extent." He'd like to, too.

    But totally abandon his roots? Hardly. "I'll do comedy forever," he says. "Look at Groucho Marx. He was playing Carnegie Hall at 82. If you can keep sharp, you can keep doing it."

    The problem? Remembering good ideas. Now, Izzard says, "I write them down in my phone and I forget to retrieve them before I get on stage."

    "The Riches" airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on FX.

    TV Close-Up: Eddie Izzard
    by Eirik Knutzen | Bend Weekly

    "I'm just your average, everyday, straight transvestite - and I've been a straight transvestite all my life," said Eddie Izzard, a bearded man often dressed in women's clothing off-camera. "I knew I was a cross-dresser when I was 4, told an ex-girlfriend at 21, then told everybody when I was 23."

    Clad in masculine, nicely tailored slacks and a crisp dress shirt, the 45-year-old British dramatic actor-strange comedian was relaxing between scenes of "The Riches" (10 p.m. EST Monday, FX) series in his dressing room/trailer on location in suburban Los Angeles.

    "People think, 'Oh, I'm sure you're gay and pretending. ...' I say, 'Why wouldn't I tell anyone?'" he continued, a tad bitter. "Why would I take all this crap and have all these people fighting me in the streets if I was actually gay? Or people firing me for being a transvestite? What's the difference? To lie about it would be really stupid because there are a hell of a lot of straight, gay and bi transvestites out there."

    Although Izzard doesn't play a cross-dresser in "The Riches," his life experiences as an outsider prepared him well for the role of Wayne Malloy, a Gypsy traveler from backwoods Louisiana running scams ranging from very crude to ultraconservative in order to feed, clothe and house his angry insecure family. English actress Minnie Driver plays his wife, Dahlia, just out after a two-year stretch in the slammer for getting both hands caught in a till. Shannon Woodard, Noel Fisher and Aidan Mitchell portray their three children, all in training from birth as grifters in order to fleece buffers - law-abiding jerks and Samaritans alike.

    Their lives take a weird turn one day when their beat-up motor home careens around a blind curve and causes a luxury car with Doug and Cherien Rich in it to swerve off the road at a high rate of velocity to wind up dead. Wracked by guilt, but sensing a golden opportunity, Wayne persuades his wife and family to assume the Riches' identities and take over their brand-new house in suburbia.

    "Wayne Malloy - I feel like there's a lot of stuff out of me that I've put into him - may be closer to me than any other role," mused Izzard. "He's an outsider who came to the (traveler) community when he was 14; he had to prove that he was better at cons and grifts than anybody else. But now he wants to change his life and his family's - and lie and cheat and steal his way to a legitimate life."

    Born in Yemen when the port city of Aden was still a British colony ("it's my 'Lawrence of Arabia' beginnings"), Izzard and his older brother were born to a midwife-nurse and an accountant for British Petroleum. The family moved on to Northern Ireland when he was a toddler, but his life became a series of punishing boarding schools when his mother died of cancer five years later.

    "All I can say is that the American immigration authorities are very interested in my passport," he said, laughing. "They were focused on my birth (in Yemen), and it didn't ease up until I got off a plane wearing a dress and makeup. Bizarrely, it made things easier for me. They seemed to think, 'Oh, he's a transvestite ... he doesn't look like al-Qaida ... what the hell, let him in.' Now I have a green card."

    By his late teens, the action transvestite ("I'm a big boy who loves shooting and blowing things up") moved to London in order to pursue acting, a childhood dream. Not particularly adept at the craft at first, lack of employment forced him into four years as a scantily paid sketch comedian, followed by another four years as a borderline starving street performer in London, Dublin, Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland.

    "Initially, I couldn't do either - I was crap at everything," he explained. "For some reason, I just didn't get it. I got worse and worse, eventually really failing and losing all my confidence. The lowest point was being about 25 and being shown up by 19-year-olds who were paid a lot more and were traveling around the world."

    Ironically, it was his street performing that opened the door for stand-up comedy and straight acting down the line. "On a sidewalk somewhere I discovered that I could word rap endlessly on a wide variety of subjects," he said, chuckling. "But I was never good writing for myself and I still just ad-lib on stage - then craft the ad-libs. When I did it at 'Hysteria,' a London benefit, things began to happen."

    Alan Rickman opened the floodgates a few inches in 1993 by casting Izzard in his first dramatic stage role in "The Cryptogram." His many film roles were launched in "The Secret Agent" (1996) and he gained fame with his one-man show, "Dress to Kill," which aired on HBO in 1999 and garnered two Emmy Awards. In the near future, he will be seen in the British comedic miniseries "Kitchen" and the American films "Across the Universe" and "Ocean's Thirteen."

    Unless "extraordinarily tired" after cranking out 13 episodes of "The Riches," the secretive bachelor who did a Tony Award-nominated turn in "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" four years ago, would like to fire up his one-man show once more in Germany and France - "because I love doing gigs in French and German."

    Gypsy ways

    By Joel Stratte-McClure


    "It's not often that a 45-year-old transvestite gets this chance," frequent cross dresser Eddie Izzard told Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Molly Sims and the entire audience at the premiere of "The Riches."

    "I'm so sure this show will be a hit, if not the best television ever, that I'm already toasting the third and fourth seasons that I expect to shoot in the Caribbean and Europe."

    Izzard flew in Andrew Boxer — his schoolteacher in Sussex from 1975-1980 — from London for the premiere of the series (10 p.m. Monday on FX) about a hustling and conning Gypsy Traveler family from Louisiana trying to get a piece of the American dream.

    "Andrew's never been to L.A. before, and I wanted him to personally witness that I've achieved the American dream by appearing in this dramatic, funny, evil and twisted program," Izzard said at the Zanuck Theatre on the Fox lot on Saturday night. "I believe in using my good fortune, while I've got it, to benefit others."

    British co-star Minnie Driver, dressed in a bright red Céline dress and very high heels, stayed in character at the after party when she wolfed down a cheeseburger while standing up near an In-N-Out Burger trailer. One fan complimented Driver on her "great

    American white-trash accent" in "The Riches," and another gave her an unopened bottle of champagne.

    "I grew up in England seeing so many plays and movies about the American dream that I completely grasp the '50s ideal of family, prosperity, freedom and a smiling mom baking apple pie," said Driver. "Quite frankly, I'd say that today the concept is a total fallacy if I weren't enjoying it myself."

    Wait until she opens the bubbly.

    The stand-up comedian ditches the stilettos for TV

    By Clare Lambe | Time Out NY

    It’s Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and actor-comedian Eddie Izzard has just woken up. He’s groggy after working multiple late nights filming The Riches, a new TV dramedy about a family of nomadic grifters who connive their way into luxurious suburban living in, of all places, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Izzard plays the father, Wayne Malloy, opposite Minnie Driver’s just-paroled matriarch. His character, a fist-fighting con merchant, seems very different from the Emmy-winning, stiletto-wearing stand-up comic whose world tours sell out instantly. But over the past couple of years, Izzard, 45, has gotten pretty good at acting. In 2003 he earned a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and he’s been stealing scenes in everything from Ocean’s Twelve and My Super Ex-Girlfriend to the animated feature The Wild. We caught up with the softly spoken Brit by phone at his apartment, where he explained that it’s best not to mess with an “action transvestite.”

    Your character Wayne Malloy is a bit of a misfit: half gypsy, half square. Is he anything like you?

    Yes, there’s a lot of me in him. He’s constantly trying to ad-lib his way to the next place. And he’s realized that the entire lifestyle he’s developed—and become very good at—is a complete waste of his life and he wants to change it. I have the same sort of relentless drive thing.

    Do you think of yourself as a striver?

    Yeah. But Wayne got very lost and is trying to find the right way around. I got lost in my twenties.


    Well, my midlife crisis was in my twenties. I realized I was a transvestite, and I thought, Oh, I better tell everyone about it. So all my mess was there. His mess is now.

    Wayne isn’t afraid to stand up for himself. Do you enjoy doing the fight scenes?

    Oh yeah! I am a scrappy kind of person. I had a fight in Cambridge [England]—I took people to court when they attacked me for wearing makeup. I stood up to them. I’m an action transvestite, and I will fucking fight them if they get in my face. I just get angry and get in a fight; I should learn how to fight better.

    Do you still wear dresses?

    Wearing a dress hasn’t gone away. I’m a card-carrying, born transvestite—but I’m a transvestite with a career. You have to be a little bit tactical about wearing a dress.


    If you’re going for a straight role and you show up wearing makeup and a dress, your career won’t go anywhere. I’ve wanted to be a dramatic actor since I was seven—everything up to now has been trying to get there. For a long time I was trying to get things going, and the world was saying, “You can’t do things.” Then I thought, Oh, fuck it—I’ll just do comedy.

    And now?

    Lately I’ve pushed the dramatic and held the comedy back; now I’ve got this role. But I can’t play Wayne Malloy in a dress—it’s not believable. So I’m in full boy mode now, and I’ve had to do that for a couple of years just to land this role.

    Do you get sick of explaining it all?

    Look, people still say, “You must be gay.” And I say, “No, I’m a straight transvestite: There are bisexual transvestites, gay transvestites, blah blah blah…” And I’m sort of bored with it, like, Jesus Christ—can’t people catch up?

    Where do you live when you’re performing in New York?

    Initially I was up by Central Park; then I discovered the West Village and Soho, and I thought, My God! I have to be down here. I love it downtown!

    Do you own an apartment here?

    I rent. I loved my time in New York. And I am very fine working in L.A.—I do like the weather, having had a lot of gray in England. If clouds weren’t gray…why the fuck do clouds have to be gray, is my point? If they were blue, yellow or red, if they were any other color than gray…

    Like white?

    If they’re white, then they are bright, but when they’re gray it is just so depressing. L.A.’s got this thing, where they go, “Oh, no, no—we’re not going to do that: We are going to do endless sun.”

    They get smog!

    Yeah, but not as bad as Dickensian London.

    Can two hipster Brits become America’s Favorite Dysfunctional Family?
    By Michelle Foody| Hollywood Today

    Izzard and driver go for the riches

    HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 3/12/07 — FX Networks’ “The Riches” is the latest example of cable stations trying to out-weird each other with quirky anti-heroes and quasi-criminal subcultures. Musician/actress Minnie Driver said “This character will be surprising for audiences because I’m a full-grown swampy from Louisiana and a crack addict. It’s great.”

    “The Riches” are the latest among polygamists, pot farmers and hit men vying to become “America’s Dysfunctional Family.” As a trend, they are replacing the gentler dysfunctional families like “The Simpsons” “The Osbournes,” or the ones on shows like “Desperate Housewives.”

    The FX Channels new mid-season show airing today is nonetheless a gamble for the network. The gritty, dark-comedy drama premiers hot on the heels of Courtney Cox’s FX show, “Dirt,” the less-than-squeaky-clean look at celebrity. Led by Brits Driver and cross-dressing comic Eddie Izzard, the show finds them snatching the identity of a wealthy, dying man and then proceed to move into his gated community.

    Driver’s portrayal of a corn-rowed Southern con-belle as a prime-time heroine may strike some as a risky move. Or, maybe its merely a piggy-back on this new trend in television on “edgy” channels.
    At a recent interview with cast and crew, however, creator Dmitry Lipkin, insists his con family isn’t all that different from other Americans.
    “They’re people who stick by each other and may have a slightly different sense of morality from the rest of America. I also think they’re morality overlaps with the rest of America. I like them.”
    Driver agrees. Film leading lady Driver, best known as Skylar, the British chick who hooked Matt Damon in ”Good Will Hunting,” agreed to an American television pilot out of love for her “Riches” character, Dahlia.

    “When I read this, it was just and away the best part I’ve ever been offered. As a woman in film, there’s maybe four actresses who get the really [great roles] — they’re mostly called Kate,” laughs the good-natured actress.

    Both Driver and Eddie Izzard as actors, aren’t all that far from con-artists themselves. The versatile stars slip into Southern drawl effortlessly, and hopefully can make the audience believe in their larger-than-life “traveler” personas.

    In the pilot, for instance, Izzard, British comic famous for his irreverent stand-up routine, delivered in full drag, takes up golf, as part of his new lifestyle.

    “A golf pro that came down that day, and he gave me ten minutes of instruction. So I did that in ten minutes, and it just shows you what con artists can do,” laughs the actor.

    Thieves and liars are all over television, but those characters aren’t listing “con-man” as their main occupation. So the dicey subject matter has been fortunate to find a home at FX, one of the few networks giving writers some artistic breathing room.

    “We’ve enjoyed very much the creative freedom that we’ve had at HBO and Showtime and FX. As television writers, you just don’t get to write the kind of stuff you can write in those places on network”, insisted co-writer and producer Dawn Prestwich. “So you don’t make as much money, but you get up every morning thrilled to go to work, thrilled to work with people like this. It’s completely worth it.”

    But even FX will only go so far when it comes to depressing television. The original footage shot by Carl Franklin was seen as “just a little bit too hellish to watch,” to borrow the words of Eddie Izzard himself.
    What premiers on FX on Monday March 12th will have a solid infusion of humor, to temper the original, ultra-dark version of fake suburbanites.

    “The Riches” are the latest among polygamists, pot farmers and hit men vying to become “America’s Dysfunctional Family.” As a trend, they are replacing the gentler dysfunctional families like “The Simpsons” “The Osbournes,” or the ones on shows like “Desperate Housewives.”

    Eddie Izzard cons his way through the American Dream in ‘The Riches’

    by amber ray / metro new york

    MAR 13, 2007

    PREVIEW. At a posh L.A. soiree, Eddie Izzard is charming a growing crowd with his easy wit and a surprising breadth of knowledge on space travel. “I actually borrowed this suit from wardrobe,” he admits. The comedian, perhaps best known for delivering surreal monologues while dressed in drag, is holding court at this Fox/FX-sponsored event to celebrate his new cable series, “The Riches.” Pulling off the swank button-down look, he might as well be in character.

    In the new series, Izzard plays Wayne Malloy, a charismatic Irish-American grifter and loving father whose family — straight out of prison wife Dahlia (Minnie Driver), sons Cael (Noel Fisher) and Sam (Aidan Mitchell) and daughter Dehliah (Shannon Woodward) —are “Travellers,” modern-day gypsies who roam the southern United States in a beat-up old RV, scamming “buffers” (ordinary folk) and, fatefully, each other.

    “They’re very insular,” Izzard explained earlier in the day of the real-life, close-knit nomads (series creator Dmitry Lipkin estimates between 20,000 and 30,000 wander the U.S.). “Essentially, [the series] is about a family that is of the Travellers, not a story about Travellers.”

    Soon after the series introduces the Malloys, in fact, the clan is forced to hide from their heritage. When a couple is killed in a car accident, the family co-opts their life, becoming the Riches, and living the McMansion American Dream, complete with new social responsibilities.

    The sitcom gets darker from there. “FX is a very edgy brand,” Izzard says, acknowledging they had to reshoot almost half of the pilot episode because scenes were deemed too grim. “Sometimes a very dark story becomes just a little bit too hellish to watch, so people won’t necessarily tune in next week. It is still a business. You still have to get people tuning in every week.”

    The fix was to acknowledge Izzard’s roots. “Seeing as I came from a comedy background and Minnie has a great ability with humor, it was decided to put in more lightness to earn the darkness,” he says. “Then the story can be a visceral ride as opposed to just a hellish ride.”

    The allure of “The Riches,” morally ambiguous and strange as that journey may be, is one thing Izzard doesn’t have to fake.


    Pros at the con

    Comedian-actor Eddie Izzard, below, sometimes favors the feminine look, which he ditches for The Riches, his new FX show about a family of con artists.

    By Eric Deggans | St. Petersburg Times | AUDIO INTERVIEW
    Published March 12, 2007

    Eddie Izzard feels for Steve Stanton.

    Not that the British comic knows the former Largo city manager, or had even heard of the straitlaced administrator before a reporter told him Stanton lost his job after revealing he planned to have a sex-change operation.

    But Izzard, who calls himself an "action transvestite" - heterosexual, fond of many manly pursuits, but enamored of wearing dresses and makeup - sees a kindred spirit in a man struggling to explain feelings about gender and sexuality that the wider world cannot easily grasp.

    "We've been amongst you for a long time," Izzard said. "It's just that we have the extra gift of this girly place. It's just like any number of women who like to dress up and do some heels and some makeup . . . some women really love it and I love it too."

    You might think Izzard, who has worn a dress during his stand-up comedy performances since the 1990s, would tire of talking about his life in women's clothing - especially, since his newest character, con artist Wayne Malloy in FX's new series The Riches, wears blazers and beard stubble.

    But another character on The Riches - Wayne's young son, Sam - is also an "AT." And the only time Izzard's attitude brightened during a 45-minute interview is when talk turned to this subject, as the comic described coaching the costumers and makeup people so they can get Sam's look just right.

    "I want Sam's character to be fighting and wearing makeup," said Izzard, who feared costumers would make the boy look gay, rather than a heterosexual boy who likes wearing dresses. "That's what most of my teenagehood would have been if I would have been allowed to wear a dress - scrapping, fighting, arguing and shouting at people and throwing on a dress and makeup.

    "You can't spot a straight transvestite - even if you have the 'gaydar' or whatever, or if you have the 'transvestite-dar' - it just doesn't work, because we just seem like ordinary guys, except we've got this girlie part as well."

    Izzard's words come in a rush of thoughts, piling on top of one another like the best routines in his classic 1999 comedy concert broadcast on HBO, Dressed to Kill. It's a surprising mix of fatigue-fueled giddiness and showbiz cynicism; an odd attitude, considering the 45-year-old performer is perched exactly where he has worked years to be.

    A popular comic overseas since the early '90s, Izzard has steadfastly avoided the traditional trappings of comedy success, turning down offers for sitcoms and big comedy movies, keeping his eye on the big prize: a career as a Serious Actor.

    And now, that status is within his grasp with The Riches, an explicit, comedy-tinged drama about a family of traveling con artists who take over the lives of a Louisiana yuppie couple killed in a car accident they helped cause.

    Complicating matters is the Malloy family's status as Travellers: Southern-born descendants of Irish immigrants who, in the FX series at least, maintain a loose, family-linked confederacy, roaming the country in recreational vehicles and supporting themselves through petty cons.

    "I'm sure there must be some very honest and wonderful Travellers - unfortunately, the ones that get into the papers are the ones that are more doing the grifts and the cons," said Izzard, laughing. "(This series is about) lying and cheating your way towards legitimacy - stealing the American dream. It is a difficult con - but I think Wayne actually wants it."

    And sharp as Izzard is as the smooth-talking, slightly unhinged Wayne Malloy, the real star of The Riches is fellow Brit Minnie Driver, who plays Wayne's just-out-of-jail wife, Dahlia.

    Armed with a spot-on Southern accent and the kind of look you'd expect on a woman fresh from prison with a hidden cough syrup addiction, Driver digs deep into a role most actors her age would find too unglamorous to tackle.

    "I think I probably should care a bit more about what people think, but I don't really," said Driver, an Oscar-nominated actor who first appears onscreen in scraggly brown dreadlocks and prison-issue flip-flops. "It's nice to look nice, but it's far better to have something interesting to do, character-wise. And Dahlia is by far the most interesting character I've ever played."

    It took about three years to bring this project to fruition, mostly because an initial pilot they filmed seemed too dark, Izzard said. The new version has comedic touches and rarely shows the clan ripping off someone who doesn't deserve it.

    The comic even turned down a role on Fox's espionage hit 24 one day into filming, after he realized his appearance there would come too close to The Riches' debut.

    In addition to featuring two British stars copping American accents and attitudes, the series has as executive producer and creator Dmitry Lipkin, a Russian who emigrated to Louisiana at age 10.

    It all makes a twisted kind of sense to Izzard: Who better to tell the story of a bunch of outsiders trying to pass as solid, middle-class citizens than a bunch of outsiders to American culture and - in Izzard's case - conventional gender identity?

    Yet another way in which The Riches gathers the divergent strands in Izzard's career and life.

    "I've tried to introduce my sexuality to America and to Europe like - it's there guys . . . so everyone should just chill out about it," he said, expressing hope that his public stands will make it easier for men like Stanton to express themselves. "Hollywood is a place where they say we shouldn't have gay people here, or shouldn't have transvestites . . . but I knew it was better to go out there and be up front about it."


    Stars easily step into 'Riches'

    By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY

    Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver have at least two things in common with the nomadic scammers they play in FX's new series The Riches (tonight, 10 ET/PT): They're actors and outsiders.

    As Wayne and Dahlia Malloy, members of a shadowy clan called Travellers, they take on the identities and the McMansion of a recently deceased couple. The nomadic couple, with three children who act as accomplices, must adjust to settled life as they try to keep neighbors, employers and school officials from finding out their secret.

    "As a con artist, Wayne has to be able to think on his feet," Izzard says. "As an ex-street performer and stand-up (comic), I do that when ad-libbing. It's a good way to explore a different style of thinking on your feet."

    Anonymity via technology helps the family with its task: The dead couple, Douglas and Cherien Rich, bought their house via the Internet, and nobody in the neighborhood has met them.

    Because Izzard and Driver hail from England, they also have the perspective of outsiders, which defines the Travellers in America and especially the Malloy family in its new environs, a gated community in Louisiana. Dmitry Lipkin, the show's creator, was born in Russia and moved to Louisiana at age 10.

    As foreign-born actors, "there's an otherness about Eddie and me that works really well" in connecting to the Malloys, says Driver (Circle of Friends, Good Will Hunting). "It's a little bit of an exploration of the American dream, but we come at it from a different point of view."

    That angled perspective can provide a fresh look at middle-class America, says Izzard, who has taken on a variety of movie roles (My Super Ex-Girlfriend, the upcoming Ocean's Thirteen) after success with such one-man shows as Unrepeatable. "Can we hold a mirror up to society and see whether the bull of scamming, grifting is any different from the bull of real, organized-with-regulations existence?" he asks. "Wayne wants to lie and cheat his way to legitimacy."

    Deception works for the neighbors, too, in their marriages, families and jobs. One woman clandestinely pops pills — as Dahlia hides her drug habit — while men on the golf course pronounce "lawyer" as "liar." "Is there so much a difference after all?" Izzard asks.

    Izzard, Driver and the writers also have room to shape the characters, since information about Travellers in the USA, a closed society with Irish roots, is sketchy. Members of the group would not cooperate with the producers' research efforts. The series "took a lot of artistic license," Driver says. "Mostly, it comes down to your imagination."


    Stealing the American dream of riches
    By Maureen Ryan | Tribune television critic

    The best actors have the ability to embody many qualities at once, and in the new series "The Riches" (9 p.m. Monday, FX), Eddie Izzard is a revelation.

    The English actor plays the show's central character, semireformed con man Wayne Malloy, with feline grace and the kind of laser wit you'd expect from someone who made his name as one of the most creative and profound comedians of the last 25 years.

    But there are so many other layers in Izzard's performance that it's a pleasure to get lost in them: There's the tenderness and lust unleashed in him when his wife, Dahlia (Minnie Driver), is released from prison, the hammy glee of a con artist who loves taking on new roles in order to fleece the gullible sheep, and the bittersweet wistfulness of a dreamer who is smarter -- and more idealistic -- than circumstances allow him to be.

    Izzard is one big reason to tune into this intriguing new series, and the terrific Driver, another Brit, is more than a match for him. Dahlia Malloy is a force of nature, a fierce and feral creature who, as she says, has been "running hot plastic" and doing any number of scams since she was 8 years old.

    The Malloys are Travelers, a secretive group who, according to this series, roam the country defrauding unsuspecting "buffers," or upstanding citizens. In the bravura first scene of the series, Wayne infiltrates a high school class reunion, and he plays the lively, boozy long-lost pal so well that the partiers don't notice until late in the game that the guy leading the conga line and giving the sentimental toast lifted their wallets.

    But Wayne, it emerges, is tired of life on the road. Two years of raising his three children in a beat-up RV have made him ready for a change. And just when his mouthy ways get the Malloys in trouble with the self-styled leader of their Travelers clan, a golden opportunity falls in the family's lap.

    They stumble upon a couple who were about to move into a plush gated community, and lucky for the Malloys, the couple are dead -- but nobody knows that. Wouldn't it be the ultimate scam to take over the dead couple's identities and "pass" as boring, respectable, Dockers-clad suburbanites?

    Dahlia, who's secretly nursing a drug habit, doesn't want to linger in Doug and Cheri Riches' house. She wants to strip the couple's Baton Rouge McMansion of its valuables and move on, given that moving on is all she has ever known (she, like her kids, never attended school). But once Wayne gets a look at the Riches' overstuffed life, full of soaring foyers and buzzing Blackberries and respectable shoes, he wants to try it. There must be something to this life, he muses, or why would so many people aspire to it?

    The dangers for the mostly engrossing "Riches" is that it occasionally hits the "we're stealing the American Dream" theme a little too hard, and it remains to be seen whether it will coast on the taut, engaging performances of Izzard and Driver.

    The Malloys' three kids, though well-played, are mostly blank slates in the early going, though the younger boy has a penchant for dressing as a girl (a detail in place before Izzard, a transvestite in real life, joined the project).

    The first three episodes concern the Malloys' assuming the Riches' identities, Wayne's attempt to get a real job and the machinations that go into getting the kids into school. But after that, one wonders, what comes next? The writers will need to be inventive to keep this family's saga worth watching in a very crowded TV landscape. And though there are promising hints about the repressed neighbors in the Malloys' "Edenfalls" (get it?) subdivision, another plot about Dale, Wayne's Travelers nemesis, veers a little too close to Southern Gothic melodrama.

    Still, the screen fairly buzzes with energy when Izzard and Driver have good material to sink their teeth into, and Gregg Henry (Logan's father on "Gilmore Girls") is sensational as eccentric local millionaire Hugh Panetta. Those three alone make "The Riches" well worth the price of admission.


    Eddie Izzard is prospering with 'Riches'

    By Diane Werts


    The star looks smashing in slinky silk, spike heels and bright-red lipstick.

    So wait. Who are we talking about?

    Could be Eddie Izzard. The lead actor of FX's ambitious new family chronicle The Riches has most recently been seen purveying his one-man stand-up shows on BBC America, attired in the sort of miniskirt-and-fishnets styling befitting the world's most famed transvestite comic.

    Or do we mean the character of his youngest child on The Riches? That would be the one who goes to town when big sister's outfits get handed down. Yes, of course - his grade-school son.

    Amazingly, the producers of The Riches (premiering on FX at 10 tonight) swear this improbable intersection of life and art is utter coincidence. The boy was getting pretty in the original script for this adult drama/comedy before Izzard joined the project to play his regular-male-garbed father. "That's the weird thing about it," says series creator Dmitry Lipkin.

    As for Izzard, the British cult comic and toast of off-Broadway (Dress to Kill) must have taken the boy's scripted fashion sense as a sign this was the project for his dramatic acting breakthrough with mainstream America. "He was a transvestite already," Izzard marvels, "and I said, 'Well, you may as well give him exactly my sexuality, straight transvestite, because that's what I am. And you can just ask me questions.'"

    But wearing somebody else's clothes isn't merely a Milton Berle joke for either the real-life Izzard - who reports feeling the need since age 4 - or his on-screen son. It's an essential part of who they are. Masquerade is also the thematic essence of The Riches. Izzard, who won acclaim playing Charlie Chaplin in the 2001 feature film The Cat's Meow, joins forces here with fellow indie idol Minnie Driver (Grosse Pointe Blank) to portray loving parents living with their three kids on the road in an RV, running scams on strangers they call "buffers" - settled citizens who serve as marks for the cons of itinerant "Irish travelers" like them.

    "They're like Irish Gypsies," says creator Lipkin, estimating that 20,000 to 30,000 travelers live in America, many in the South where The Riches plays out.

    Though Izzard's character, Wayne Malloy, is a masterfully charming grifter, he's become uneasy about the way his family is existing, day to day. They're beholden to what's essentially a nomadic tribe, suddenly led by a desperado who nurses a grudge against Wayne. Driver's character, Dahlia, is just out of prison, having taken the fall for a failed scam, and she's undergone some unsettling changes of her own.

    "They run away from their people," Lipkin says, "and through a series of events, they end up taking on the lives of this yuppie couple" in a swank McMansion in a gated community. The pilot episode sets up either the biggest con of all or a providential chance at a fresh, less illicit life.

    Or is it? Less illicit, that is. The Malloys - who soon go by the last name Rich, from the dead couple the adults are pretending to be - discover their upmarket neighbors have their own duplicities. Nothing is quite what it seems in this multifarious pursuit of prosperity.

    The series' tone is pure FX - an invigorating blend of dark drama and lighthearted irony, of puckish amusement and intense jeopardy. It's also a revealing glimpse into an unfamiliar subculture, the way Rescue Me particularizes the lives of New York firefighters or, more comparably, HBO's Big Love explores renegade Mormon polygamy. As in the latter series, there's an insular tribe whose self-contained compound is forsaken by the show's central family who seek to live a more "normal" life.

    The makers of The Riches want to portray that subculture accurately, yet found studying it difficult because travelers shun outsiders.

    "We had to get to some people who knew of them, and research stuff from court cases and journalistic stories," says Izzard, who spent more than a year developing the series with Lipkin.

    "But this isn't a story about travelers," Izzard emphasizes at the FX party. "It's about a family who are travelers, but what they're trying to do is, they're trying to steal this American Dream."

    Izzard is after his own American dream these days. His smart stand-up shows - intricate rants on vagaries of world history and modern society - have won him acclaim as the most deserving descendant to extend the Monty Python mantle.

    He's made his acting mark on the London stage and in smaller "straight" film roles (The Avengers, Ocean's Twelve), and now at age 45 seeks to complete the leap to Hollywood leading man. Izzard arrived at the FX press tour event evoking his best Cary Grant in a superbly tailored sports jacket. He proceeded not only to persuasively chat up TV critics until that soiree ended, but to tag along to another, late-night reception, along the way engaging in piano playing and Chaplin routines.

    "I've only got here by talking endlessly," he'd confided earlier, before the first party really got rolling. "And I like the whole promotional thing. Because, you know, I'm a transvestite with a career. So I really like to put something forward in a positive way. If you're a transvestite, you've really got to get that right, or you're not going to be working."

    Diane Werts writes for Newsday.

    Who wears the dress in this family?

    By David Kronke, Television Critic

    Eddie Izzard is famous for two things — the trenchant social observations in his stand-up comedy (he won two Emmys for his HBO concert film, "Dress to Kill") and his transvestism. But Dmitry Lipkin, creator of "The Riches," concocted a cross-dressing character for FX's new series starring Izzard as Wayne, a charismatic con man, before the comic ever got involved.

    "It's weird, it's really not" a reference to Izzard liking to dress as a woman, Lipkin says. "I had this idea — Sam (Aidan Mitchell) was a kid who would get dressed up as a girl for cons and got so used to it that he began wearing (dresses) themwhen they weren't doing a con.

    "And then Eddie came on board, and he said, 'Everyone's going to think it's me,' " he recalls with a laugh. "He's a great advisor in this area."

    For his part, Izzard is resigned to the fact that "everyone's going to assume otherwise. I did say to them, 'You may as well give him my sexuality, because there hasn't been a lot about straight transvestites on television, or film, even. They always assume everyone's gay or bi, but this is a different thing — he's actually fighting and playing sports and wearing dresses. Action transvestites, I call them."

    Izzard says that explaining the life of a transvestite to the writers and costume designers has been "a little bit like explaining living on Mars. ... I work with Aidan and the designer and the hair and makeup people. I said, 'You better get him into heels; I love heels.' I'm telling him, 'This is how I would feel; this is what I would be wanting to do.' Like: 'If you have half a chance to put any makeup on, a bit of lipstick is what you want.' " (Izzard recalls, with a droll smile, being arrested for stealing makeup at age 15.)

    Bringing such a character to TV, Izzard says, "is great; it's a weird vindication, and I watch everything as Wayne through my father's eyes.He had been very supportive, but when he was asked by the British press what he thought, he said, 'Well, I wasn't best pleased.' Which is a very British expression. So Wayne's trying to be supportive but is not 'best pleased' about what Sammy's doing."

    Mitchell, Izzard says proudly, "is playing it quite openly. He's unloading his mind, which at 13 I would've had great difficulty doing."

    Izzard says it took him a lot of self-analysis at 23 to work his way to the point that shame and guilt wasn't part of what he was.

    "To say I should have shame — no, bugger it, because I don't. This was given to me, so I'm going to be honest about it."


    Eddie Izzard is dressed to con
    The British comic suits up to star in a new FX series

    By Suzanne C. Ryan, Globe Staff  |  March 11, 2007

    Standup comedians and con men have a lot in common, says Eddie Izzard, who now knows a bit about both professions.

    "Standup," says the Emmy-winning British comedian, "is conning in every word, except it's based on truth."

    These days, Izzard is running from the truth in the leading role of FX's drama "The Riches," which debuts tomorrow night at 10.

    Izzard plays Wayne Malloy, a disgruntled member of a nomadic group of con artists in rural Louisiana. After a falling-out with the group's leader, Malloy tries to settle down in rich suburbia by stealing the identity of a dead attorney.

    But Malloy soon discovers that life in a gated community can be a complicated hustle of its own. Izzard is joined in the series by fellow English actor Minnie Driver, who portrays his drug-addicted wife, Dahlia

    "I want to prove my onions with this," says Izzard, who turned down a role as a villain on Fox's "24" to star in "The Riches" instead. "It's quite a steep learning curve. When I do standup, I can stand on a stage in front of 10,000 people and I can be inside of what I'm saying. I ignore the people. I'm basically in my bedroom talking crap. In a drama, I have to learn to ignore the cameras and lights."

    Already, though, Izzard's comedic instincts have been put to use. Fellow producers, including playwright and series creator Dmitry Lipkin, Dawn Prestwich, and Nicole Yorkin , have asked him to pitch in ideas for the script.

    "Initially it was darker. It was a bit too much of a very bad nightmarish ride," Izzard says. "They asked if comedy could be brought in as a counterpoint."

    In tomorrow's opening scene, Wayne is the life of the party at a high school reunion where he is pretending he belongs. While he leads a conga line on the dance floor, his two children are stealing wallets from the unaware guests. Wayne then makes a bizarre impromptu speech onstage to his "classmates."

    "At Wayne's most extreme, he can say things off the wall," Izzard says. "But we can't have cats and dogs talking to each other or Jesus talking," he adds, referring to some of his well-known standup material.

    Izzard, who won two Emmy Awards in 2000 for his HBO comedy special "Dress to Kill," says he was drawn to the role because Wayne Malloy is a lot like him. "He's essentially someone who wants to put something into the world as opposed to just take stuff out of it," he says. "He's a relentlessly stubborn individual who is very close to me."

    Wayne is not a transvestite, however, whereas Izzard announced to the press in 1991 that he is a straight transvestite.

    "They thought I was joking," he says. "So I wore a dress [in his act]. Then they said I look a mess. So I told them I would work on my look. I am a transvestite, since I was 5 . I think it's genetic. It's built in. It's just that girly bit that some women have, I have."

    When Izzard began performing in a dress, everyone presumed that's what his show was about, he says. No. "Ellen DeGeneres is talking funny stuff in pants. It's not about the pants," he says.

    Instead of Wayne, it's Sam , the youngest child in the show, who cross-dresses. He dons a dress and wig in the reunion scene tomorrow, and in later episodes, he's often seen in pink shoes. The producers say Sam was created as a transvestite before Izzard became involved in the series.

    "We wanted to play with identity without making it an issue," Lipkin says in a media conference call. "The open-heartedness with which the family accepts the Sam character without questioning what he's going through too much is indicative of how the family approaches other roles as well."

    "It sort of goes with the overall theme of the show," Prestwich adds. "You can be what you want to be. That's the American dream."

    Izzard is still adjusting to the rigorous pace of producing a television show. But there's no place else he'd rather be. "Doing standup is like taking hits of cocaine. It makes you laugh a lot and then you leave. A drama is a ride. There are ups and downs, highs and lows.

    "Since I was 7, I've wanted to be in this place," he says. "Comedy was just the weird, curvy route I had to take to get there."


    They're faking it

    But the angst is real for Gypsy Traveler characters who go upscale
    By David Kronke, Staff writer | Press Telegram

    "THE RICHES," concerning con artists masquerading as an upscale couple, is all about fakery and bluffing. So it's appropriate that on this day, for a scene that will take place on a lush, expansive lawn, the production is shooting on an 8-foot-wide patch of grass surrounded by concrete: between a parking lot adjacent to its soundstage and a street populated by industrial complexes.

    Fakery presents problems, too, as a parade of trucks rumble by, ruining the audio as star Minnie Driver and a guest star try to perform their dialogue while lying in the grass.

    Driver and comic Eddie Izzard star as Dahlia and Wayne Malloy, Louisiana Gypsy Travelers who tool around in a dilapidated RV with their children, subsisting on scams. When they observe a fatal accident and discover that the dead were en route to moving into a new community, they decide to co-opt their identities in an upscale neighborhood.

    Complications ensue, and not just because Dahlia hates the mainstream world of what she calls "buffers" and resists Wayne's efforts to give her a good life, while Wayne decides to enter the world of his identity, Doug Rich, and become a corporate lawyer. He quickly discovers that when it comes to con games, he's an amateur.

    "He's discovering that the mainstream world is just as corrupt, if not more corrupt, than what he's been doing," notes creator Dmitry Lipkin.

    "It's very interesting, truthfulness," muses Izzard. "The truth is, you probably couldn't exist and have a human life without lying. Because if you went around telling everyone, 'God, you look crap today,' and, 'Why are you so overweight?' you'd sound like you had Tourette's syndrome."

    Lipkin, who moved from Moscow to Baton Rouge at the age of 10, knew nothing about the Travelers before developing his series.

    "I wanted to write something about a family who pretends to be someone that they're not, and I went through various permutations of that, and my wife said, 'What about the Travelers?"' he recalls. "It was the perfect context for what I wanted to do. I love the idea that in a time where everybody can be tracked, they're completely off the radar."

    Conflict comes as the Malloys vary in their desires and abilities to assimilate into "buffer" culture.



    IT’S NOT HBO, IT’S FX: “The Sopranos” meets “Rescue Me” in Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver’s “The Riches.”

    March 11, 2007 -- New dysfunctional-family drama - think “Six Feet Under” and “The Sopranos” - seeks male actor to play patriarch of an American family of con artists.

    FX’s choice? Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard.

    “The Riches,” which premieres tomorrow night at 10, stars Izzard and Minnie Driver in a story about the Malloys, a family of “travellers” (something like gypsies, only they’re of Irish descent and live in the U.S.) who stumble into an upper-class suburban lifestyle, and try to pass themselves off as normal, law-abiding Americans.

    Yes, Izzard might seem an odd choice - but given the theme of the show, he says, it all kind of makes sense. “It’s about outsiders trying to become insiders, so the fact that we’re English, and [director] Dmitri Lipkin is Russian, can work,” he says. “We’re really all outsiders.”

    In a nice bit of synchronicity, the Malloys’ youngest son, Sam, was written as a budding cross-dresser - long before Izzard, who’s also an executive producer, joined the show.

    “The character of Sam was nothing to do with me,” he says. “But I pitched them that he should have my exact sexuality. So this kid is a straight transvestite. Sam wears what I wanted to wear when I was a kid, at that age. And I’m basically playing my dad’s reactions.

    “I don’t think it’s been on TV or in movies before,” he adds. “Nobody really knows about straight transvestites.”

    Lipkin says Sam’s affinity for sparkly flats and pink barrettes, and his parents’ easy acceptance of it, is a window into the psychology of the show. “We joke that Eddie brought that to the table,” he says. “But really, we just wanted to play with identity without making it an issue.”

    Writer Dawn Prestwich agrees: “I think it sort of points to the overall theme of the show - the American dream,” she says. “For Sam, his American dream is to be a girl sometimes.”

    The Malloys fall into the American dream all at once, in a morbid stroke of luck, but the director says their relocation to the good life is just an accelerated version of reality.

    “America is such an upwardly mobile country. People can jump several classes within a lifetime,” he says. “In a way, I think this show is kind of an extreme example of that.”

    “One of the things about the travellers,” adds FX president John Landgraf, “is that they live this kind of rural, mobile life. They’re very family-oriented. Kind of like what Americans were like in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. We’ve changed a lot in 50 to 60 years, and you’re seeing the Malloy family go through the same transformation in a span of days.”

    Heavy stuff. But when you’ve got a guy with Izzard’s comedic chops, you’ve got to draw on that - right?

    “I was aware of Eddie’s [comedic] gifts, but I had also seen him do dramatic work,” says Landgraf, whose network honed the edgy comedian/dramatic material combo with Denis Leary and “Rescue Me.”

    Izzard’s grifter character has his share of hilarious moments - many of them at the expense of what the travellers refer to as ‘buffers,’ or normal folks - but he won’t be turning the show into a comedy showcase.

    “I wish it to be a drama with a comedic counterpoint, if anything,” he says. “It takes you out of the hellishness of any given situation, and then flips you right back in.”


    Self-proclaimed hustler Eddie Izzard wants to serve dinner, not dessert

    March 11, 2007 | BY DOUG ELFMAN Television Critic

    Eddie Izzard was in his 30s before he became famous as a comedian, but he wanted to be a dramatic actor way back when he was a 12-year-old schoolboy in the U.K.

    "They did Shakespeare's 'Caesar,' " Izzard, 45, says. "There's a lot of male roles in that. A lot of stabbing roles. A lot of Brutuses and Cassiuses and Marc Antonys. And I couldn't get any of them. I was Trebonius, which is s---.

    "He doesn't do any stabbing, which is no good," Izzard says.

    Izzard moved from stand-up to film actor in the 1990s, then landed in "Shadow of the Vampire" and "The Cat's Meow." Now, he's creating the mostly dramatic lead part of a gypsy father in FX's "The Riches."

    Izzard plays Wayne, a traveling thief. He and his drug-addled wife Dahlia (Minnie Driver) take over the identity of a dead couple, move into their Louisiana house and pretend to raise their kids in a normal way for the first time.

    Izzard does bring a respectable resume to the role. He earned a Tony nomination in 2003. Before that, he played Lenny Bruce in a stage revival of "Lenny."

    Last year, Izzard almost took a villain's role on this season's "24." He went with "The Riches" instead, partly because he sees himself as a sunnier actor than "24" demanded. An actor must know if can be believably sinister, he says.

    "I did a film with John Malkovich," he says of "Shadow of the Vampire." "If John says, 'Come and have a cup of tea,' you do think John has just murdered his family. He has that interesting feel, like, 'John, what have you done?'

    "And I have that light thing, a more positive, upbeat thing."

    Izzard sees the transition from comedy to drama as a feast.

    "There is a coke-y aspect to comedy. It is a very heady drug. It's like a dessert drug," he says. "It's like eating a lot of cream pies. And drama's like a savory meal. It hits different buttons. It takes you on a journey."

    The trouble Izzard had for years was convincing people he could serve dinners as well as pies.

    "If everyone's ready for you to make dessert, and you say, 'I'm gonna come and do a savory chicken. It's got minerals and carbohydrates,' a lot of people [will object to that]," he says.

    Going from Trebonius to stand-up to meaty drama roles "was a long slow burn," he says. But he made it happen.

    "Lenny Bruce said, 'I'm a hustler.' I really am kind of a hustler. I want to hustle myself forward into the best possible career I can get," Izzard says.

    "And I've finally been given a chance to do this."


    Living the American dream, one con at a time "The Riches"

    Susan Young | InsideBayArea.com


    EDDIE IZZARD jokes about the European dream, which is driving around on a moped with no helmet on shouting "ciao" to people.

    "But the American dream," the British actor and comedian says, "it was the place where people came from monarchy systems and aristocracy systems to go and make a lot of money or to practice religion and be really weird."

    His "Riches" co-star, British actress Minnie Driver, says "It's spit in the eye of the class system, America."

    Grabbing the American dream is exactly what series creator Dmitry Lipkin conjures up in this riveting drama about a family living on the fringe of American society — until they crash into an opportunity to live the American dream.

    Lipkin's own family immigrated from Russia when he was 10 and moved to Louisiana, where the series is set.

    "I wanted to write a show about a family who pretends to be someone they're not. I always felt that's sort of what I was doing in my own life," Lipkin says. "I wanted to kind of capture that oddness and that kind of outside perspective onto America."

    Lipkin stumbled upon the travellers, roving con artists who number about 30,000 in the United States.

    "In the time where everybody's on the grid, these guys are off the grid completely," Lipkin says. "We know nothing about them, and they're living in America, and they're completely outside from us."

    Thus was born one of the most innovative series we've seen in quite some time. These are people we haven't seen before with a story that reels us in from the first scene.

    The Malloy family includes dad Wayne (Izzard), a dreamer who believes he was meant for something better, and his desirable, tough,

    outspoken wife Dahlia (Driver), whose harshness hides a person who lives for her family above all else.

    Their children are the pragmatic Cael, 17, (Noel Fisher), whose computer skills serve the con; clever beauty Dehliah, 16, (Shannon Woodward) and young cross-dresser Sam (Aidan Mitchell).

    This cast has considerable skills, with Izzard absolutely mesmerizing as the ultimate con artist. From the first moment we meet Wayne, we know that he's not your average traveller. He's taken on airs, already living an upscale life in his mind even though he's trapped in a motor home with barely enough cash to keep the gas tank filled.

    It's a testament to Driver that we never second-guess why Wayne is smitten by a character who could be a harridan in the hands of a less skillful actress. Dahlia's an unwieldy storm, ready to bring down pain on those who cross her. She's also completely happy with her life as a traveller, a woman the extended family calls a queen and celebrates as royalty.

    She made her own match with Wayne, an outsider the extended family barely tolerates.

    No one is better than Wayne when it comes to conning and swindling, and the traveller's clan benefits financially from his considerable skills.

    But Wayne is tired of abiding by the rules of the clan, which include a fellow traveller's marriage claim on his 16-year-old daughter. Dahlia's fresh out of prison and just wants the comfort of what she knows back. The last thing she wants is to leave again.

    That notion gets tossed out the window when Wayne fights the elders and swipes the clan's fortune. On the lam, with the ruthless would-be clan leader Dale Malloy hot on his trail, opportunity crashes on Wayne's family.

    On a blind curve, the family's RV swerves over the line. Doug and Cherien Rich are driven off the road and killed when their car crashes. While Dahlia feels only guilt, Wayne senses an opportunity.

    After learning that the Riches were moving to a new community where no one knows them, the Malloys decide to take over their lives. Now, they have to convince the neighbors, classmates and all those suburban folks that they are one of them.

    It's not going to be easy.

    Still, suburbia is nothing if not quirky. Their neighbors Nina (Tony nominee Margo Martindale) and Jim (Bruce French) help them out. Jim used to be an engineer who now raises alpacas and avoids physical contact with Nina, who copes by popping pills.

    Wayne even gets a job doing what he does best: conning people. He hooks up with multi-millionaire Hugh (Gregg Henry), who knows there's something not right with Wayne, but doesn't care as long as Wayne can help him with his own scams.

    "The Riches" promises a good return on your time investment.


    ‘The Riches,’ Grifters in Sheeps’ Clothing

    Dmitry Lipkin, the Moscow-born creator of “The Riches,” said he learned English watching lots of television.

    By EDWARD WYATT | Published: March 8, 2007 | NY Times


    LOS ANGELES, March 7 — If the common directive to aspiring writers is to write what you know, what are you to make of Dmitry Lipkin?

    Born in Moscow, Mr. Lipkin, 39, left the Soviet Union at 10, a Jewish refugee. His family settled in Louisiana, where he learned English, he said, by watching hour after hour of American television.

    From that background Mr. Lipkin, a playwright for most of his career, has created “The Riches,” a dark comedy about a family of traveling con artists. Mr. Lipkin’s first television series, it has its premiere on Monday on the cable channel FX.

    “I wanted to write a show about a family who pretends to be someone who they’re not,” Mr. Lipkin said recently. “I always felt that’s sort of what I was doing in my own life.”

    “The Riches” stars Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as Wayne and Dahlia Malloy, members of a clan of “travelers,” an interrelated group of Southern swindlers who lead itinerant lives, with few material roots and few discernible traces.

    The Malloys, in the process of fleeing an angry group of other travelers, happen upon the victims of a car crash, who were en route to their own fresh start in a new home in a gated community. The Malloys ditch the bodies of the victims, a couple called the Riches, and set about adopting their identities, possessions and secrets.

    When the show’s producers first presented the idea to FX executives, “they were intrigued by the premise, but they were not sure how any show could pull it off,” said Nicole Yorkin, an executive producer and writer of several episodes with her writing and producing partner, Dawn Prestwich.

    Ms. Prestwich admits that the premise may be hard to swallow. “It’s not airtight,” she said. “There are all these things that could happen that are impossible for them to anticipate. But they have to find a way to con their way around them,” something that, with Mr. Izzard’s comic timing and Ms. Driver’s subtle shifts of tone, provides ample comedy.

    The series needs a light touch, which the network recognized after seeing the pilot episode. Directed by Carl Franklin, it “was a really beautiful independent film, genuinely extraordinary, that would have won every award at Sundance,” Ms. Driver said in January at a meeting with television writers and critics to promote the show. “But it was not necessarily what an episodic television show can necessarily be.”

    Or, as Mr. Izzard put it: “You still have to get people tuning in every week rather than saying: ‘Wow. What a hell of a life that is. I’m not going to watch that again.’ ”

    FX regrouped and asked for rewrites and a reshoot of more than half of the pilot. John Landgraf, president of FX, said the network believed that for the series to work, it had “to have a core of inherent charm.”

    “The really successful movies about grifters or con artists — like ‘The Sting’ or ‘Paper Moon’ — have an effervescence and a charm,” Mr. Landgraf said. “And with Eddie Izzard you want to see him be funny. So we decided that we had to pretty radically change the tone of the show.”

    The new sequences, directed by Peter O’Fallon, lighten the tone considerably. But the show is still recognizable as a product of the network that offers “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me,” and the pilot is enough of a hybrid of the two directors that they share credit for it.

    After the Malloys and their three children take up residence in the Riches’ new house and begin to assume their identities, “the show is about their trying to deal with the concept of the American dream,” Ms. Yorkin said.

    “We do want to see this family as a unit,” Mr. Lipkin said. “We want to see them care for and love each other. The family has a moral center. It’s not a mainstream sort of morality, but it is there.”

    Mr. Landgraf agreed. “They have a very soft heart for each other and for other people,” he said. “They’re not sociopathic at all, not even a little. They are a family with an amazing level of connectedness and loyalty.”

    The intriguing premise is strengthened by the performances of two actors used to working in different mediums, Mr. Izzard and Ms. Driver.

    Ms. Driver said she was not seeking a television series when “The Riches” came along. But working in film can be difficult, she said. “There’s maybe four actresses who get the really wonderful roles, and they’re mostly called Kate,” she said. “When I read this role of Dahlia, I knew that this was someone who had become anything, could go anywhere, and that this was like a springboard into something completely unknown and spontaneous. She’s genuinely the greatest character I’ve played.”

    Mr. Izzard made his fame, of course, as a stand-up comic, turning more recently to film and the stage. He was looking for television roles when, at a meeting with Michael Rosenberg, the president of Maverick Television, Mr. Izzard was introduced to Mr. Lipkin and his idea about travelers.

    Mr. Izzard loved the idea, he said, and immediately signed on not only to star in the series but also to be an executive producer. He spent weeks in the writers’ room during development, Ms. Yorkin said, contributing to character discussions and offering script ideas.

    One change involved a scene where Wayne Malloy, posing as Mr. Rich, was coaxed into playing golf with his new neighbors. Instead of having him be a bad golfer, as originally proposed, the writers changed the script to have Wayne surprise everyone — himself included — with his golfing abilities.

    On the set Mr. Izzard, who is not a golfer, had about 10 minutes of instruction before the first take, he said. He hit his first shot rather well.

    “It just shows you what con artists can do,” he said.

    New series chronicles a family of con artists
    Alan Pergament | Buffalo News Entertainment

     In a sense, the casting of the new FX drama“The Riches” is as absurd as the premise.

    Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, two Brits, star as married schemers from Louisiana chasing the American Dream at the same time they are being chased by the leader of their gypsy group of “travelers.”

    Izzard gave up a recurring role on “24” to star in a dark FX series as a con man who is trickier than Jack Bauer’s father.

    “The Riches” is another cable series with a unique premise that is more likely to attract critics and a cult audience than a huge following. It focuses on the adventures of the Malloys, gypsy travelers who steal the identity of a wealthy family to momentarily live the American dream with their three children.

    Izzard plays the ultimate con man, Wayne Malloy, whose philosophy is “life’s like a river, you have to go where it takes you.” He is a quick study whether it is playing golf, playing a lawyer or playing a good neighbor.

    His wife, Dahlia Malloy (Driver), is just out of prison and struggling with addiction issues. She isn’t exactly thrilled with Wayne’s latest scheme or that the folks back home — especially violent relative and leader Dale Malloy (Todd Stashwick) — are looking for them to reclaim the money Wayne stole from the camp.

    The kids — teenagers Dehliah (Shannon Woodward) and rebellious Cael (Noel Fisher) and their younger cross-dressing brother, Sam (Aidan Mitchell) — are accustomed to the insanity around them. Cael seems to be the only child hesitant to totally buy into the dangerous games their parents play at high school reunions, prestigious schools and real estate companies.

    It isn’t as easy buying the premise in the first three episodes made available for review as it is buying Driver’s southern accent and the first-class acting. The characters are hard to root for, the skewering of the shallowness of the upper suburban class isn’t terribly original and much of the violence — including the hitting of a pregnant woman — is gratuitous. But it is interesting enough to come back and see “where it takes you” over the next several weeks.

    Created by Moscow-born playwright Dmitry Lipkin, “The Riches” follows terrain that has been traveled in different, lighter ways by ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” HBO’s “Big Love” and a brief CW series this past season, “Runaway.” As in those shows, the family at the center of “The Riches” has secrets to maintain, tries to assimilate in its new world as best it can and to embrace a suburban life that is easy to ridicule.

    In the first three episodes, the family plots its escape from camp, accidentally gets ownership of a beautiful suburban house and cons its ways into an exclusive private school and a six-figure job. Still, the family appears on the road to be wondering if the life it seeks is worth seeking. It is a good question, too, since most of the suburban characters seem vacuous, materialistic, hypocritical and evil.

    In an interview in Pasadena, Calif., Lipkin said he wrote a show about a family pretending to be someone they’re not for personal reasons. “I always felt that’s sort of what I was doing in my own life,” said Lipkin, who came to America when he was 10. “I came from Russia, and ended up growing up in Louisiana. So I wanted to kind of capture that oddness and that kind of outside perspective onto America.”

    He said there are 20,000 to 30,000 travelers in America that no one understands. “Everything I learned about con artists is that you learn to do things just enough to pass in many, many different areas,” said Lipkin.

    Izzard said he was drawn to the show after being told the best writing in the world is in American television. “I realized this is a great drama,” he said. “I felt that people weren’t throwing me great roles in film, so I will push the drama.”

    Driver’s film career (“Circle of Friends,” “Good Will Hunting”) hasn’t exactly been going strong lately, either. She called Dahlia “the best part I’ve ever been offered.”

    “(Dahlia’s) genuinely the greatest character I’ve played,” said Driver. “She’s constantly changing. I’m so incredibly thrilled to be doing it because it’s surprising. Very surprising for audiences because I’m a fullgrown swampy from Louisiana, crack addict. It’s great.”

    It would be great for producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin if more viewers would find “The Riches” than their last two series, HBO’s “Carnivale” and Showtime’s critically-acclaimed “The Brotherhood.” They hope Izzard’s energetic and playful portrait as Wayne will draw viewers to the series after a pilot they concede is darker than subsequent episodes.

    “We are so blessed to have Eddie as the father of this family,” said Prestwich. “He is such a light and sort of just a joyful individual in so many ways . . . There is no way that you’re going to be watching this show and not liking these people. You’re going to love them . . . OK, they’re thieves, they’re liars, but you’ll love them.”

    Sorry, that’s a con job. “The Riches” is many things — wellacted, unique, devilishly clever, unpleasant and disturbing. But lovable isn’t one of them.


    `Riches" for Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver

    By JANICE RHOSHALLE LITTLEJOHN, For The Associated Press

    (03-05) 12:36 PST Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP) --

    "It's a hard thing to kind of present in a very simple, one-sentence way," says creator and executive producer Dmitry Lipkin of FX's wildly unconventional drama "The Riches."

    "Just the notion that there's this guy who was in an RV with his family and within a day or two he's a lawyer and he lives in a big house. ... It's sort of the upwardly mobile American dream magnified times a hundred," Lipkin says.

    Debuting March 12 (10 p.m. EST), "The Riches" is billed as the cable channel's first "family" series. It stars British comedian Eddie Izzard as Wayne Malloy, a grafter who with his recently paroled wife, Dahlia (Academy Award-nominated Brit, Minnie Driver), and three kids go on the run after stealing money from the clan of itinerant con artists they'd been living with in Louisiana.

    While avoiding capture, they're involved in a tragic accident and Wayne decides to assume the identity — and tony neighborhood digs — of the now-deceased Doug and Cherien Rich.

    "It's like he's trying to lie and cheat and steal his way toward legitimacy," says Izzard, "except the American dream is logically, legitimately going up sort of the ladder. This is a very low-rent kind of disorganized crime way of doing it."

    This new life often puts Wayne at odds with Dahlia, whose secret drug addiction is exacerbated by her new Stepford world.

    "Every day she wakes up in this dead person's house, which is counterintuitive to every spiritual thing she was raised with, a lot of superstitious stuff," says Driver. "And every day she knows it might be the last day that she is free, and yet she continues on this kind of knife edge, which puts her slightly in a different place than the rest of the family."

    The series intends to capture "the feeling of being an immigrant while having kind of a criminal aspect as well," says the Russian-born, Lousiana-bred Lipkin, who patterned the show's gypsies after those who roam the rural south.

    "They are one of the few cultures in the world that's fairly off the radar. They're off the grid. They don't pay taxes, they're kind of hard to track, he says.

    That remote feeling is evident on location in the Santa Susanna Mountains north of Los Angeles, where, in the episode being shot, the Malloys return to their gypsy encampment.

    Izzard exits the communal tent in the middle of a dusty clearing, where a dozen or so rusty trailer homes are cramped together in a circle, unhitched from their pickup trucks.

    "Welcome to our gypsy village," deadpans Izzard, the obvious comedic foil of this drama. Having parlayed his standup success in the U.S. and Britain (including the 1999 HBO Emmy-winning "Dress to Kill"), Izzard has made some notable dramatic appearances recently in both film ("The Cat's Meow") and on stage ("A Day in the Death of Joe Egg").

    "I've pushed hard to be able to just do dramas and so crossing them over is maybe something I can do," says Izzard, also an executive producer on the FX series. "And I learned in `Joe Egg' ... that I was making people laugh and then making people feel ill, because I managed to learn how to pull the rug away in such a way that it was kind of unnerving to people."

    Reveling in that uneasy feeling has become the signature of the FX brand, where audiences have found themselves rooting for the unsavory leads in shows like "The Shield,""Rescue Me" and "Nip/Tuck."

    "Our network is about rebellion, it's about risk taking, it's about the notion of refusing to be constrained," says president and general manager John Landgraf. "And I have to say you won't find characters, you won't find stories, you won't find a tone that's like THIS show."

    Certainly Driver, who plays Dahlia to the hilt — backwoods drawl and all — has never had a role like this come her way.

    "I've been waiting my whole career to have a chance to play someone like this," she says.


    Suburban Warfare
    The Riches features a family of grifters—and the most scathing take on class relations anywhere on TV.

    By John Leonard | NY Times

    From Eddie Izzard, the British stand-up comedian and sketch artist, we have come to expect funny: some Tim Curry with politics, some Robin Williams with a mean streak, and some bending of genders. Onstage all by himself, he is funny till it hurts. But The Riches isn’t funny, nor does it especially aspire to be. Instead, The Riches reminds us that Izzard has been onstage with other people, too—in David Mamet’s The Cryptogram, for instance, and Peter Nichols’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. There is a menace in his madness, and it shows up here in his Wayne Malloy, a so-called traveler trolling the Louisiana outback along with his cunning family in their butt-ugly RV, looking for “buffers” to sucker. Neither is Minnie Driver, as his drug-addicted wife, Dahlia, playing for laughs. Nor have their kids—sullen 17-year-old Cael (Noel Fisher), smoldering 16-year-old Di Di (Shannon Woodward), and cross-dressing prepubescent Sam (Aidan Mitchell)—ever heard of cute.

    Travelers are Irish gypsies, on the road with a fiddle. “Buffers” are ordinary, law-abiding, middle-class stay-at-homes, ripe for plucking. In the first hour of the new FX series, the vagabond Malloys graduate from stealing wallets at a high-school reunion they’ve crashed, to stealing the family bank after their fellow travelers arrange a marriage that would trap Di Di in a “culture of nothing” forever, to stealing the American Dream itself by stealing the identities of a family of suburban buffers who perish in an auto accident for which the Malloys are partially responsible. There is slapstick along the way, of course, but it tends to be surprisingly violent. And in spite of everything you might have heard on The Beverly Hillbillies, upward mobility doesn’t lend itself to hilarity.

    “What if I like it?” asks Dahlia, in the second episode, about their new house in a suburb zoned against RVs. After all, in her girlhood she had always wanted to go to a prom. But does this mean that she and Wayne, having sex, will need to “fake it like a buffer”? Cael likes computers, Di Di likes the boy next door, and Sam likes the swimming pool. Wayne finds that his flair for flimflam helps him with such tricky anthropological, religious, and erotic rites as playing golf and practicing law. Yes, vengeful travelers are out there looking for them and some woman keeps calling on the stolen cell phone late at night. And yet, disguised as “Doug,” all Wayne has to do is lie a lot, like everybody else. A nutcracker businessman (Gregg Henry) who hires him, after a game of Russian roulette, articulates this ethic: “You’re a sick mother, Doug—and I like that in a liar.” Meanwhile, Dahlia, who’s trying to follow her bliss but could really use a fix, gets in a scuffle with a busybody neighbor, a molasses-sappy southern belle whose prosthetic arm comes off as if she were a real-life Barbie.

    I suppose some of it is funny, as in a Kafka/Beckett/Pinter soft-shoe shuffle of grotesques. Still, what’s so far much more mesmerizing about The Riches is class war and caste hate. I can’t recall another series so bald and raw about these matters since Profit, which lasted about a month on Fox in 1996, before there was a successful FX channel to let unusual television discover its audience. Adrian Pasdar’s malevolent Jim Profit climbed the greasy corporate pole at the same Fortune 500 conglomerate (“A Family Company”) that had manufactured the cardboard box into which an abusive father had dumped him as a naked child. Profit had many motives, but its principal conceit was the representation of upward corporate mobility as symbolic patricide. The Riches ups this ante, suggesting that social hierarchies are themselves mimicry, impersonation, and charade; that nothing is as it appears (not a lawyer nor an arm); that we are surrounded by impostors, subverted by leprechauns, and live in terror that someone will see through the make-believe to who we really are, frauds and fakes.

    (NY Post)

    February 27, 2007 -- IT'S been too long since we've seen a family drama about backwoods Louisiana Gypsies.

    "The Riches" is an upcoming FX show about a Gyspy Traveller family headed by Wayne Malloy, played by performance artist/comedian/all-around oddball Eddie Izzard, who's never met a dress he didn't covet, and his wife, Dahlia Malloy, played by glorious movie star Minnie Driver.

    Chances are good you know who they are. But chances are equally good that you have not a clue in hell who or what Gypsy Travellers are.

    You aren't alone. Thank God for the Internet. Yes, Travellers have their own Web sites.

    Think Brad Pitt in "Snatch" and you'll pretty much get the idea. But an American version.

    "Traveller" groups have existed since, well, forever. They live a nomadic life by their own rules.

    You'll be happy to know that the horse-and-wagon Gypsies from "Frankenstein" have been replaced by RV Gypsies who live all over the world - and are very much a presence in the U.S.; though they are otherwise invisible.

    Giving new meaning to the term "high concept," "The Riches" - which is still a couple of weeks away from premiering - is one of those buy-the-concept-buy-the-series shows.

    Right off, it's pretty clear the Malloys (a.k.a. the Riches) are not exactly the kind of family most of us can relate to.

    In the premiere, mom is just getting out of jail, bringing a big heroin problem with her.

    When she isn't sticking needles in her arm, she's comforting herself with cough syrup.

    Dad is a grifter extraordinaire. He's never met a scam, a scheme or a safe he didn't love.

    The Malloys also have three kids: 16-year-old Dehliah (Shannon Woodward), an up-and-coming scammer, thief and liar; 17-year-old Cael (Noel Fisher), a computer hacker who seems to be the only one with his head on tight; and little Sam (Aidan Mitchell), the artistic one who loves wearing girls clothes.

    What's more, the Malloys belong to an extended Gypsy clan. But when Wayne steals from the clan's safe, they are forced to run for it. Dad's arch enemy and would-be head of the Travellers, Dale (Todd Stashwick), is not about to let Wayne get away with it.

    Along the way, the Malloys steal the identity of a dead couple and set themselves up in fancy suburban life. Right.

    Seemingly solid suburbanites, the Malloys have neighbors, it turns out, as solidly grounded as they are.

    Will America be willing to embrace a family they won't be able to relate to? Probably not.

    I mean, look how we all ran from that Soprano family and Nancy Botwin and her pot-dealing pals on "Weeds."

    We also ran from those weirdo undertakers, the Fishers, on "Six Feet Under," not to mention "Big Love" and the very polygamous Henriksons.

    No chance.

    by Sarah Schoolcraft (from Comcast Channel Guide)

    His standup shows sell out venues both in America and across the pond, he's a Tony-nominated stage actor, and he can work it in a great pair of heels. But will he be taken seriously as a serious Eddie Izzard? The Brit is confident his fans will "swing with" his new series "The Riches" premiering March 12 on FX. "People who know me from comedy know that I've been pushing on the dramatic front for a long time, and so hopefully they have trained themselves into knowing that I'm not just going to do completely surreal, weird stuff with cats and dogs talking to each other."

    Sans the eyeliner and leather pants of his onstage alter ego, Izzard stars in the drama series as "traveler" Wayne Malloy, a modern-day gypsy whose family stumbles into the high life when an accident leaves a wealthy couple dead and the Malloys a get-into-the-burbs-free card. It's the staying there that poses some challenges for the Malloys; not only do they have to keep one step ahead of their own lies, but they must also adjust to having a roof above them instead of the road beneath them.

    And while he was never a grifter or gypsy, Izzard feels a certain kinship with the character, "Wayne is quite close to me," he explains. "I wasn't a traveler, but I was a street performer who traveled around doing gigs." That wanderlust stuck with him--only now, he has a few more quid in his pocket. "If you get to be a performer and you have a bit of money, you can do that stuff. You can say,"Today, I'm going to Aculpulco! I don't even know where it is or how to spell it, but I'm going!' I like the idea of that feeling."

    With 13 episodes of The Riches to shoot, Izzard probably won't be jetting off to Acupulco anytime soon--even though he might need the vacation after the pace of doing a television series. While filming Ocean's Thirteen, Izzard had brushed off director Steven Soderbergh's "brutal" description of the process. "It is actually brutal!" the comedian laughs. "Not that I didn't think it would be, but...you just have to keep going--it's a marathon race. But I love it. It's great bloody fun!'

    MR. ED (from the Minnesota Star Tribune)

    Most days on the TCA press tour conclude with a cocktail party for critics and celebrities to mingle, which sounds like a glamorous opportunity. It's actually work, both for the critics, who must pretend to be interested in the eighth runner-up on "America's Next Top Model," and for the stars, who momentarily try to pretend they're "one of us." But it was a genuine joy to spend time with comedian/actor Eddie Izzard, star of the FX series' "The Riches." (We'll provide an in-depth review closer to its March debut, but get excited about this show. Now.) What started as a casual introduction stretched into a three-hour conversation, in which Izzard sat down at a piano for a few numbers, pushed aside some chairs to perform a Charlie Chaplin routine and made a post-midnight visit to a critics' suite party, which is a little like Roger Clemens popping by a T-ball game. Maybe superstars aren't so bad after all.

    Minnie Driver, New Irish Gypsy

    By Sean O’Driscoll

    OSCAR nominee Minnie Driver is to play opposite hip British comedian Eddie Izzard in a new FX television series about Irish travelers.

    The pair will star in Lowlife, about a husband and wife, Wayne and Dahlia, who spent their youth in the U.S. pulling cons with a group of Irish travelers, or gypsies.

    After Dahlia is released from prison, she, Wayne and their three kids move to suburbia where they battle to live a normal life while trying to escape their former friends.

    The pair, living in Louisiana, decide to change their lives after Izzard, playing Irish traveler Wayne Malone, is struck by a crisis of conscience.

    Izzard is writing the script and the series is co-produced by Maverick TV, Madonna’s production company. The series is the first co-produced drama for FX, which has produced other adult shows such as Nip/ Tuck, the plastic surgery soap, and The Shield, a drama about Los Angeles police corruption.

    Driver, who was nominated for an Oscar for 1997’s Good Will Hunting, is learning about Irish travelers before filming begins in New Orleans, which is to double for Baton Rouge, where the series is set.

    It’s hardly the British actress’s first brush with Irishness. She first came to attention after starring in the 1995 film adaptation of Irish novelist Maeve Binchy’s best-selling novel Circle of Friends.

    “It’s a show about a family and a show about America through the prism of so-called outsiders of normal American culture that infiltrate suburban life,” said John Landgraf, president of FX Networks in a statement.

    FX defended the series and said it was not trying to stereotype Irish travelers.

    It said the characters were “very richly created and multidimensional. They are very complex and flawed characters,” he said.

    “If this does go to series I am sure some viewers will be educated about Irish travelers, who they will not have heard about. We like to bring different facets of this country to other people. Our main duty as a network is to entertain our viewers and Lowlife is very smart.”

    The network is known for taking risks and this year is showing a quirky Arrested Development-style series about life in an Irish bar called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


    We were supposed to chat this morning, but your schedule has been crammed. What have you been up to today? I did The View this morning, then I had other interviews. Then I had to practice yoga in the middle of it, because I have to practice every single day, otherwise I go mad. And then I had meetings about the dialect (for) this TV show that I'm doing. I've got to do, like, a Florida accent, so I'm learning that.

    And how exactly do you speak with a Florida accent? Oh, it just sounds like the South -- you don't turn the "O" quite so much. I don't know, it's weird. It sounds like the South to me.

    So tell me more about Lowlife, this new FX pilot you're doing with Eddie Izzard. It's about Irish travelers living in America, who are kind of con men and women. Drifters. And I'm getting out of jail -- I'm a methamphetamine addict -- and we kind of go on the run and assume the identity of a family who dies. You can't call them gypsies, they're travelers, but their accent is really picked up from the areas they frequent, and most of the travelers living in the U.S. today live in the South.

    And I hear you'll be shooting it in New Orleans. Yeah, March 1. There's about four movies shooting there at the moment, and there's a lot of people working down there. It's kind of great.

    I think there's a good chance it will become a series, don't you? It's weird, because it's not the same as networks. With networks, they make a ton of pilots and then they only make a few (series). But cable channels, really, the stuff that they develop they usually end up making. I mean, it would have to be a real mess, which I don't think it will be, because Carl Franklin is too brilliant a director and Eddie's so good.

    So what made you decide to try a TV series? Was it purely the script, or were you looking for a more regular gig? God, no, I could care less about what the medium is -- I'm just looking for good work. I mean any actor that significantly says, "I just wanna be a movie star," it's like, that's a huge thing they're missing. I just want good parts, and the greatest part that has been offered to me in recent years was this one for FX. You know, straight out of the bat, I would do (Lowlife) on any day of the week in any format, because it is a brilliant, brilliant role and it's so far from who I am. It's probably gonna be the most challenging thing I've ever done. So yeah, making TV when you're out on location and stuff, it's like making a movie, except quicker. You've only got a week or two weeks to shoot each episode.





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