Celebrity Interviews: Nelson George talks about HBO’s Everyday People




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By Tara Casanova

Award-winning writer producer Nelson George is not one to let grass grow under his feet. The former producer of HBO’s "Chris Rock Show" is good with down time.

"If I didn't have my work, George says, "I don't know what I'd do with myself. Free time feels like time wasted, so I'm always scribbling in a notebook, looking for the next idea to come my way."

One of Nelson’s ideas was HBO’s upcoming feature film "Everyday People" — (8 p.m. ET June 27) a slice of live drama about racially diverse employees working in a family owned Manhattan restaurant who learn the owners are selling out to corporate developers.

George says Everyday People took shot about a month to film. The chief location was an old diner on Delancy Street in lower Manhattan. Most of the exteriors were shot in downtown and Fort Greene Brooklyn.

"The film was my idea," Nelson says. "I talked back in '99 with HBO about doing a film about contemporary race retaliations and Everyday People was the result.

"The irony is that after years of working on the project race is only one element of the story. As we worked on the script it became more about gentrification and working class life with race just part of the story. Many of the black-white interactions center as much on class differences than racial conflict."

George who has directed films for BET, and has written a number of novels including "Post-Soul Nation and co-wrote Russell Simmons’ autobiography "Life & Def," said a lot of research went into making Everyday People.

George and his staff had people submit stories about how race affected their lives. And then they had an actor's workshop where they worked for three weeks in fleshing our scenes, exploring differences aspects of them.

"So we then had a mountain of material to pick through" George says. "The first draft of this script was huge. So there was a long process of elimination to find the best version of the film."

George says the film’s author Jim McKay is a very smart, strong writer which allowed him to be a real producer.

"I could read the material, give notes and suggestions, without feeling like I needed to have my hands on the type board. It allowed me to be much more objective about the material. My ego wasn't involved, which was very refreshing."

George has a novel coming out next year called "The Accidental Hunter," a story about a black security guard with a dark secret history.

He’s also executive producing the documentary, 'The N Word,' which is airing on Trio in July.

"It is a look at the word "nigger," George says, "and was directed by a good friend of mine, Todd Williams.

Encore Dates: EST

6/26 9 p.m. HBO East

6/27 12 a.m. HBO West

6/29 9 p.m. HBO East

6/30 12 a.m. & 7:55 a.m. HBO West/4:55 HBO East

7/1 8 p.m. HBO2 East/11 p.m. HBO2 West

7/4 11 p.m. HBO East

7/5 2 a.m. HBO West/6:30 a.m. HBO2 East/9:30 p.m. HBO2 West


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