Pinkett Smith, in London on Monday promoting the launch of Sony Entertainment Television, the studio’s first branded UK channel, says the economy has made the U.S. TV marketplace even more brutal. “Shows are not being given enough time to find their feet,” says the star and executive producer of TNT’s Sony TV-produced Hawthorne. “The economy has hit the TV industry very hard; lots of people have lost their jobs.”
Pinkett Smith admits she finds both starring in and producing Hawthorne a strain. But she wanted to earn her producer chops quickly, which is why she was attracted to doing a weekly TV show. On a big movie like Karate Kid — which she also produced — everything moves slowly by comparison. “I felt that I wasn’t acquiring the skills that I wanted to,” she says. “Moving to TV, my skills got tight very quickly. On a television show you’ve got seven days to make it happen. We’re making a movie every single week.”
Husband Will Smith is very involved in Hawthorne, Pinkett Smith says — he’s just given script notes on the first three episodes of the current season, which TNT will kick off in the U.S. in June. “Will is a master when it comes to structure as far as story is concerned, there’s nobody better in the business,” she says. “It’s not easy working with your husband.”
The Smiths are still in negotiations with Ryan Murphy for him to direct a remake of Annie, starring their daughter Willow. There is not a start date.
SET launches in the UK on April 7, with Hawthorne as the central plank of its schedule. Aimed at women ages 25-54, the channel will feature movies both old and new, plus U.S. imports such as ‘Til Death and Huff.