HBO Panel Ducks Questions About Sex

Adam Scott and Sonya Walger get cozy in HBO's new series
Adam Scott and Sonya Walger get cozy in HBO's new series "Tell Me You Love Me," which delves into the sex lives of four couples. (By Doug Hyun)
By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, July 14, 2007


Having survived PBS's "Nature" duck and sage-grouse sex talk early in Summer TV Press Tour 2007, critics were more than up to tackling HBO's new people-sex series.

"Tell Me You Love Me" or, as critics are calling it here, "That HBO Porn Show," looks at the personal and sexual lives of four committed couples -- one each in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 60s.

And all white.

Jane Alexander plays half of one of the couples; she's also the other couples' therapist and, yes, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts has lots of happy screen-sex in the series. She's a role model in every way.

At a Q&A session, series creator and exec producer Cynthia Mort insisted she's been surprised by the amount of attention the show's sex -- lots and lots of sex -- is getting. She spoke dismissively of shows that cut away to a lamp when a couple begins to get intimate. Mort doesn't do lamps.

What Mort does do is slump in her chair and look dismissively at TV critics who are anxious to ask her questions about the sex in her show about sex.

"Were you being disingenuous?" one critic asks in re her comment about being surprised at the tittering critics were doing over the graphic sex scenes.

"I'm rarely disingenuous," Mort says, raising her left eyebrow an eighth of an inch. "I am surprised. . . . The sex always was there in service of intimacy and in service of love. So that people are pulling it out -- I understand, but I am somewhat surprised."

"Could I get a set visit?" asks a critic, cutting to the chase. Mort raises her right eyebrow an eighth of an inch.

Critic: Question . . . for the actors. Did anybody actually do it?

Mort: Next question.

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