Monday September 30, 2019

I really enjoyed The Politician on Netflix. If you need a new series to pick up, I highly recommend. More below.

Ben Platt talks about what might be ahead in season 2.

The latest trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie dropped over the weekend and this one features a cameo from Old Joe, the junkyard owner who helped Walter and Jesse evade Hank in Season 3.

Check it out here.

The Ringer ranked all 62 Breaking Bad episodes.

The 6th season of BoJack Horseman will be its last.

The Situation dropped 36 pounds and is looking good.

Jim Parsons is hoping to make another big bang in Hollywood with his next role. The actor-producer and Dylan McDermott are among nine who have joined Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood series at Netflix. The others jumping aboard are Samara Weaving, Maude Apatow, Joe Mantello, Laura Harrier and Jake Picking. They join previous announced cast members Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope and David Corenswet, who are all executive producing in addition to starring. Murphy previously described the show, which received a straight-to-series order at the streamer, as ‘a love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown.’ The exact nature of the plot is being kept under wraps, though Criss did confirm that the series will be set in the 1940s and that it is slated to debut on Netflix in May 2020. Murphy co-created the series with Ian Brennan.”

Pete Davidson was absent from the SNL premiere because he was filming Suicide Squad. I remain blown away at how much people still care about this show.

This is why John Oliver continues to win Emmy Awards.

A new audio production and podcast label, Listen Entertainment, has been launched to help TV content creators tune into the power of audio. There is an increasing cross-pollination of podcasts and TV content, with audio series being developed for the small screen and spinoffs of television IP such as The Chernobyl Podcast getting traction. Listen Ent. is born of the creative team at Wisebuddah, a London-based studio and audio production business. Adam Uytman, director of content at Wisebuddah, and Josh Adley, director of commercial relations, are leaving the company to set up the new firm, alongside executive director Tim Hammond. The trio have bought the Wisebuddah production business, including its current roster of work. Its recent output includes The Gemma Collins Podcast for the BBC’s new audio app, BBC Sounds; the true-crime podcast Beyond Reasonable Doubt; and The Greatest Dancer Podcast, which accompanied the eponymous BBC One TV series from Syco and Fremantle. The trio behind Listen said they have launched the new business to help TV content companies navigate the future of audio. It will produce audio across all genres – from podcasting and on-demand programs to live and recorded radio. Listen will offer a consultancy service to work with producers on their audio strategy. The company also plans to build a catalogue of formats that can be adapted into TV series or movies.”

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The battle to become CEO of Waystar Royco is over, and Rhea Jarrell appears to have emerged victorious. Or has she?

“The eighth episode of Succession, which concludes with Logan Roy (Brian Cox) publicly naming his latest girlfriend and business confidante (Holly Hunter) to the position, offers no easy answers. Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), Rhea's main competitor for the top job, shockingly advised her father to appoint Rhea after she learned the company was headed for troubled waters: A whistleblower, perhaps backed financially by one of Logan's enemies, is preparing to go public with his knowledge of secret payoffs at Waystar's beleaguered cruise line. At the same time, Logan Roy's bitter brother, Ewan Roy (James Cromwell), capped the episode off with a threat to his brother that it was ‘time to pay up’ — suggesting Ewan himself may be the financial backer behind the whistleblower, or have some knowledge of the coming revelations.

“As Shiv astutely surmises, Rhea's rise to the top at such a turbulent time might ultimately benefit her and her siblings, even if it means that they have to hand over some corporate control to a family outsider. None of Logan's entitled children appear ready to helm such a large company, and Rhea's leadership could provide them all some time to prove their potential.

“Perhaps none could use it more than Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), a wisecracking trust-fund baby who has spent the bulk of the second season trying to catch up on the basics of his father's business. In Sunday's Dundee episode, Roman attempts a grand gesture to show Logan his business mettle, only to watch it fall flat (he attempts to buy his father's favorite Scottish football team, except he buys the wrong one). ‘The moment that Roman feels that he's in the position where he could be the guy [the successor], then he gives a hell of a shit, but right now, he's just like, “At least Rhea's not one of my siblings,"‘ Culkin tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“Prior to the eighth episode's release on HBO, Culkin — who had not yet seen the episode in its final form — sat down with THR to discuss the Roy children's brief moment of unity in Dundee, Roman's strange relationship with Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and why Roman could be ‘an actual candidate’ to take over his father's business empire:

One major revelation in the episode is that Rhea is being named the next CEO of Waystar Royco. Will that decision ultimately benefit the Roy kids or imperil their future at the company?

It's interesting. She's clearly angling herself for the job and putting herself in a position where he [Logan] considers her first. But what she's saying isn't wrong, either: I don't think anyone else is ready and I don't think there is anybody there that is up for the job. I have to look at it through Roman's perspective and think, "For me [Roman], this is better than Shiv or Kendall. I can't have them be in charge of me because then I'm toast, so you know what? She seems smart, she's transparent in terms of trying to charm the family, she does seem right for the job, and maybe ultimately I can build a nice rapport with her." So from Roman's perspective, I think it's not the worst thing. The moment that Roman feels that he's in the position where he could be the guy, then he gives a hell of a shit, but right now, he's just like, "At least Rhea's not one of my siblings."

Another major moment was the episode’s final scene, because it was so potentially explosive. When Ewan Roy threatened Logan Roy that it was “time [for him] to pay up,” does that mean he’s the financial backer behind the cruise line whistleblower?

Maybe if I knew I could be able to make the decision about whether or not I could expose that information, I just have no idea; honestly, I didn't know that was in the script. We do a table read about a week or so before we start the actual episode, and then from there, there are so many changes on a daily basis, we get so many rewrites in a day that [I ask myself,] "Does this involve my character? No? Then I can't involve myself. My character wouldn't know what's going on." There's a lot of the show I watch where I'm like, "Holy shit, that happens? I had no idea." Particularly with Greg and Tom, I had broad strokes of what that was going to be because of the table read, but I had no idea about the details of it.

Roman seems to have been priming himself to be a real successor candidate this season but faced a few setbacks in this episode. Are we going to see him redeem himself going forward?

I think it's possible. The way I see Roman is that he grew up never having to suffer any consequences; he can say and do whatever he wants: Sure, things get handed to him, but he feels he's entitled to them. In the first season, it was all about him feeling like he should be COO, even though he has no idea what that job entails — [he feels] he deserves that job, and he'll figure it out. The part of him who's very ambitious says, "I'm going to go for it. I don't know what that means, but I'm going to go for it." And there's also that no-consequences thing simultaneously happening of like, "Fuck it, none of this matters anyway." So when he really wanted to buy the right football team and he didn't, he thinks, "Oh, of course I bought the wrong football team, I'm an ass, look at me, I'm a dipshit, ha ha, whatever, fuck it, I'll try something else. Or not." There's no heavy consequences with him. He's always looking at that job and always looking to find his way in, but that's not his whole life. This entire show, it's never about one thing, which is something I love. I've never had to go, "What's this scene about?" because that's not what the show is. Roman's not like, "How can I scheme to the top?" It's there, he's ambitious, but also there's this other shit.

Shifting toward Roman Roy’s very idiosyncratic relationship with Gerri, what did Roman mean by telling Gerri they should “marry” this episode? Is that a way of him asking her to form a business partnership?

It's never this or that [for Roman]. It's not only not this nor that, it's always simultaneously all of it. I sometimes worry that the scene becomes "about something." Usually before I have to say anything, Jesse [Armstrong, the showrunner] gets on it and is like, "No." So Roman says "Let's get married," and that means, "Haha, I'm kidding, but also, yeah, it's a business partnership, but maybe we should also fuck or actually get married or not, whatever, fuck it. We should do it. Or not." That does not clarify things, bu I think as confusing as it may be to [Gerri] to hear him, he's probably just as confused inside himself.

Where do you see that relationship between Roman and Gerri going?

What's funny is that between seasons one and two, I had an idea that I would love to see some version of a strange — sexual or not — relationship with Gerri. Because J. and I have known each other for a long time, we sort of fuck around on set during the scene or in between, and there is a lot of in-character flirting. Gerri took it so easily, rolled her eyes and was able to bat it away or say something right back; she knew that I was just some little ant that she could flick away. That was fun, and I think [the writers] watched that, liked it and were willing to experiment. Maybe this is kind of it, maybe we're at where [the relationship] goes. I'd like to think that there's a lot more between them. I think she's the one that Roman calls he needs actual help, actual advice. She's the only one at the moment he can actually rely on.

In this episode, the Roy kids teamed up to make Rhea look like a bit of a fool in front of Logan. Are we going to see them bonding together, rather than fighting among themselves, more going forward?

I feel like unless something really huge happens, you're always going to see both. In the first season, they were always fighting and saying horrible things like they meant it, but they could also get together at the boathouse, smoke a joint and hug it out. They can get together for a common enemy, too. I have lots of siblings, and whenever we saw an outsider creeping in, being weird with the family, we were all just like "fuck this guy" and they were ousted pretty fast, but there could still be infighting. I had somebody tell me that it was hard to watch all the horrible shit Roman was saying to his brother at the beginning of this season. I was like, "Oh really? I mean, it's real, he means it, there's venom but there's no weight." Because at the end of it, Roman says, "I'll see you at dad's dinner, you piece of shit. I hate you, and I mean it, but, really, see you later."

What can we expect from Roman Roy for the rest of the season?

Slowly what's happening, in a backwards sort of way that he didn't mean, is that he's taking his future and position a little more seriously. Again, not directly. And I think he's actually kind of doing a good job. Even in the last episode, he had to [hound] his mother for money, and he does a pretty good job of it. It's not a big deal to him, and he doesn't really care, [like,] "Yeah, I have to prove something to my dad, it's my job, I'll just do it", but he does it well. I think Roman does have good ideas, he doesn't necessarily always know how to execute them, but people always see him as the dipshit and he seems to believe he's not, and the more he grows up and lets go a little bit, in his future I see him being an actual candidate. That's funny, because at the end of the first season, I thought, "He's not really a candidate. Sure, if they want to fuck things up, he's the guy." But I think in the very near future he could be in that position where it makes sense and people might be able to see that. The plot is up to Jesse; I just feel like it's going in that direction, but we'll see.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “HBO Max is getting into business with Ellen DeGeneres.

“The WarnerMedia streaming platform has greenlit three series from the comedian — unscripted shows Ellen's Home Design Challenge and First Dates Hotel and animated kids' series Little Ellen — and is developing a fourth, a docuseries titled Finding Einstein.

“DeGeneres announced the news Friday on her daytime talk show — and also gave each member of the studio audience a free two-year subscription to HBO Max, which is scheduled to launch in spring 2020.

"‘Ellen is a singular talent, and a powerhouse, creative triple-threat that we are lucky to have now bringing her talents to bear on behalf of HBO Max,’ said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer for HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS and TruTV. ‘Ellen’s flair for home design and matchmaking will most certainly inspire and delight — but HBO Max is full service, so as not to leave the kids out she’s bringing them back to the hilarious misadventures of her childhood in an imaginative animated series.’

“Said DeGeneres, ‘I'm very excited to bring my new shows to HBO Max. I don't know who Max is, but I can't wait to work with him.’

Ellen's Home Design Challenge, First Dates Hotel and Finding Einstein bolster the unscripted roster at HBO Max, which also includes voguing competition Legendary and another design-centered series, the globe-trotting The Greatest SpaceLittle Ellen is among the first originals for HBO Max aimed at kids.

“Descriptions of the four shows are below:

Ellen's Home Design Challenge | Similar to Ellen's Design Challenge, which last aired on HGTV in 2016, the series will challenge eight designers to push their creativity to the limits. DeGeneres will appear on camera to provide humorous color commentary on the designers' work. The show comes from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television and A. Smith & Co. Productions (which produced the HGTV show) in association with Telepictures and DeGeneres' A Very Good Production. DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman and Arthur Smith are the executive producers.

First Dates Hotel | Based on a British format, the show will bring together single people from multiple generations at a boutique hotel for an intensive, tailor-made romantic experience. After first dates at the hotel restaurant or by the pool, matched couples can decide if they want to stay for a second date. Twenty Twenty Productions, which produced the original, produces with Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative, Shed Media and A Very Good Production; DeGeneres, Kleeman, Pam Healey and Dan Peirson exec produce.

Little Ellen | A 2D animated series that follows seven-year-old Ellen on a series of misadventures in her musical hometown of New Orleans. The 15-minute series, which has a 40-episode order, is from Warner Bros. Animation and Ellen Digital Ventures, with DeGeneres, Kevin A. Leman II and Sam Register exec producing.

Finding Einstein | Currently in development, the docuseries — made with the blessing of the Einstein estate — aims to seek out, celebrate and support the next generation of potential Einsteins who may help change the world for the better. It's from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative, Telepictures and A Very Good Production, with DeGeneres, Kleeman and Todd Goldman exec producing.”

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From EW: “Warning: This story contains spoilers for season one of The Politician.

Glee‘s Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Scream Queens‘ Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts).

“Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan love a bitchy blonde and they’ve created another doozy with The Politician‘s Astrid played by a top-notch Lucy Boynton.

“The actress, who appeared in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody and is now dating co-star Rami Malek, sat down with EW to talk about perfecting that death glare for the Netflix series and trying to out serve Dylan McDermott on the tennis court:

What drew you to Astrid?
The Ryan, Brad, and Ian element of it. I was very obviously very much aware of that work before. So, you know, before even going into reading it that it’s going to be something very different than what we’re already seeing on TV or in movies. And, then it kind of lived up to every expectation and exceeded it tremendously. And, especially to get to play Astrid in a Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk world where you know you get to do all the elements of the Ice Queens that you have seen before, but then she’s kind of cracked open. It’s a much more complex character. It is just heaven to complement each other in those ways to feel very liberated. Being the Ice Queen while having so much meat to that role.

Did you practice Astrid’s death glare? Because you’re really good at it.
My sister saw episode 1 at one of the screenings and says that she takes credit for that stare because I practiced it on her my whole life, so there’s that.

It sounded like Ben Platt really prioritized you all bonding before shooting started.
Yes. The first person I heard from on production I think when I got it other than obviously the production coordinator was Ben messaging me on Instagram and saying that we should all get to dinner when we move to LA, which was such a generous thing to do, to take on board as his role. I think because so many of us our storylines run so parallel, we wouldn’t have got that much opportunity to hang out and he definitely paved the way to do that and it just makes the experience so much more rich.

It means everyone is rooting for everyone else rather than feeling in any way disconnected and when then you have to do a scene in front of everyone in that auditorium or very intimately one-on-one, you’re much more at home and you’re much more confident and comfortable. And, then in that one-on-one environment, it is so tremendously helpful to do it with someone that you love and respect because it means that you get to take it so much further and be much more experimental and you feel okay to make mistakes.

The costumes and styling on this show are so incredible. Did you have input on Astrid’s look?
Yes. I mean I had an idea of what I wanted it to be and then I got the look book from Claire Parkinson the costume designer and it was everything I could want and more. I was so taken aback by it and just so head over heels for it. And, it was such an intelligent dissection of what Astrid wants herself to be perceived as.

She’s kind of cast herself in this role of the school mean girl in order to create this protective barrier. Her clothing very much represents that. So, even down to the sound of the shoes on the floors of those schools is important to Astrid and the immaculateness of it all and the colors and pairing things to make them a brand new outfit where other people will not be doing that. It’s all very important and specific.

Then, you see the way it changes throughout the series depending on how she wants to be perceived or how she feels in herself.

Why do you think she hates Payton so much? Is it because of the bond he had with River (David Corenswet)?
Yes, I think it weighs into it. She sees him as such a fraud and it’s really frustrating to see someone be so fraudulent and everyone kind of eating out of the palm of his hand and buying it. She doesn’t understand why people are willing to invest. So, it’s kind of a projected anger. I think it’s this resentment of him trying to claim any part of River. She doesn’t know how to grieve. She doesn’t know how to deal with the loss of him. And, then the kind of sharing of him in that. It was very much Astrid and River until he’s gone and then everyone gets to kind of own him and claim him. And, so I think that will running in River’s place, is it kind of taking back and drawing the line in the sand that this is where River and I stand and you are the other side of that. And, so I think that definitely feeds into that relationship with Payton.

You get to play tennis against Dylan McDermott, who plays Astrid’s father. Who’s the better player?
I will tell you that Dylan is because I had to have the ball taken out.

It’s a CGI tennis ball?!
It is a CGI ball. I worked for months with my tennis instructor in LA who is fantastic, and he said that at the end, I had great form. Great form — can’t get the ball. So, that was especially mortifying, especially as Janet Mock was directing those episodes and she is just the definition, the epitome of cool. 

Astrid seems so lost throughout this series. At one point, she even fakes her own kidnapping to go to New York. What do you think she’s searching for?
She’s just kind of been brought up in this bubble of privilege and she’s always been told what to think and what to strive for, especially by her father. How to work and what your role is in the world and how to navigate that in order to get what you want which is this. And, so it was easier to just accept that than think for herself. And I think for the first time she can break from it and then starts to question for herself what, who the hell she is and what the hell she actually stands for or cares about. And, then she goes back. I think with that renewed sense of understanding of I didn’t have to cut all ties and I can still work with what I’ve got and make it mine.

There’s a time jump at the very end that finds all the main characters in New York and Astrid seems to be willing to help Payton in this new election. What can you tease about that?
I think she’s kind of finally addressing her feelings towards Payton and maybe maybe putting down some of that resentment. However, it is Astrid so we never really know where we stand with her.

You’ve had such a huge year between The Politician and Bohemian Rhapsody. What has it been like?
It’s been a lot of fun. I mean we obviously hoped going into that film and making that film and as we became a family hoped that it would touch people on an emotional level. But, you don’t extend your thoughts to what it could be and how far it could reach. How far and wide that film did reach was so astonishing and wonderful to have it be a message you can really stand behind. And, then to do it with those people who are just absolutely family, is kind of laughably ridiculous dreamy. I still haven’t found a way to describe it.

Maybe it can be like the Christopher Guest movies and you all do different films together?
Everyone keeps talking about that because we can’t bear to go on not being near each other or working together. So, hopefully, eventually, we’ll cross paths again.”

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Per Variety, “Benjamin Franklin believed that only two things were certain in life — death and taxes — but longtime Ryan Murphy collaborator and recently elevated president of Ryan Murphy Productions Alexis Martin Woodall begs to differ. It’s all about music and smells in her estimation. ‘Nobody is ever going to smell the same thing you smell and feel the exact same way. And that’s how music is,’ she says. ‘You hear a song and it puts you in a time and place. I argue that music is important in every show.’

“Murphy wouldn’t disagree with Woodall on that score — they’re like a old married couple. And when it comes to a mutual love of music, they might be soulmates.

“Fittingly, Woodall’s collaborations with Murphy (Pose, AHS, and more) have been hallmarked by a strong musical presence. Friday mark[ed] the premiere of the first product of Murphy’s record-breaking development deal with Netflix, The Politician. And the titular character’s portrayal by musical theater sensation Ben Platt, who won a Tony for Dear Evan Hanson, rather than an Oscar-winning movie star like cast members Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, suggests that music will play a big part.

“Woodall gets to know new characters by creating personal playlists for them. ‘Long before I start a show, I build playlists on my phone,’ she says. ‘And not every show needs it, but it’s a way to get my mind thinking even if they don’t get used. Like when I was doing The Politician, in the early days I envisioned it as being very needle drop-heavy — you know, songs on the radio. And then as we got into it, the comedy was so great that when I was working on the score with my composer [Mac Quayle], I felt like, “Wait a minute, this is actually not a show about needle drops, this is a show about score.”’ (That said, expect to hear the likes of CHVRCHES, Elliott Smith, LCD Soundsystem and — an odd choice for a show set in sunny Santa Barbara — Sufjan Stevens Chicago over the opening credits.)

“Murphy and Woodall believe that music is integral to the pre-production process as opposed to post. ‘It’s entirely about the story and character,’ says Woodall, who also collaborates with their full-time music supervisor, Amanda Krieg Thomas. ‘But before everything gets to her, Ryan and I have already put our heads [together] — that’s just how we work,’ Woodall says. And that’s been her boss’ style pretty much from the beginning. ‘You watched Nip/Tuck, I’m assuming,’ Woodall says of their first collaboration (she began her career as a PA on the series in 2003). ‘Ryan Murphy is the original “let’s play anachronistic music — great jams — and let’s make something that you haven’t thought about in 20 years fresh again,”’ she says. ‘So I get a lot of inspiration directly from Ryan.’

“And vice-versa. ‘There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching him toe tap during a song when we’re watching the cut together. And when he starts singing along, I know I’ve killed it.’ Not that she wants to take all the credit; both Woodall and Murphy are listed as music supervisors on Pose along with Thomas. ‘It’s always a collaboration,’ Woodall says.

“‘We do have very similar musical tastes and at this point, we’ve worked together for so long that I know how to spot a Ryan Murphy hit before Ryan even knows I’m going to put it in.’ Except, that is, when Murphy writes a favorite song into the script. ‘He loved Hold On by En Vogue,’ she says, referring to the tune’s two appearances in the second season of Pose, one of which Murphy asked for and the other he wrote in himself. ‘I said to him, “Normally we don’t repeat songs. I just wanna make sure that you intentionally repeated it.” And he said, “Absolutely.” I was like: “Great! Done.” So there’s always a conversation with him.’

“Occasionally those conversations go something like this: “There will be times that he says: “I just love this song — we have to use it,”’ says Woodall. “And I’m like, “Great.” Then I get to figure out where we want to use it. Or how we want to use it.’ Among the myriad responsibilities of music, according to Woodall? ‘To communicate subtext, context, emotion and entertainment at the top level,” she says. “We’re asking a lot out of a song.’

“Case in point: Madonna’s Vogue, which inspired the entire second season of Pose. ‘I won’t say it was the most difficult [to get approved], but it took a long time,’ says Woodall, who estimates that the entire process took six months. But for her, it was worth the wait. Not that they had a choice: ‘The whole show was predicated on that one,’ she says.

“For Woodall, her shows are not unlike children — and although mothers may claim that they don’t play favorites, she’s upfront about the series she cherishes the most. ‘I love all of my shows, but Pose has a very special place in my heart,’ she says. ‘Pose has been the single greatest gift of my career because it has genuinely opened my heart and opened my mind. And I think that in its own right is something you don’t always get in storytelling.’

“That’s an understatement. ‘But Pose has this optimistic and aspirational feeling — it’s about bravery and compassion and kindness,’ Woodall says. ‘And then me getting to add my music? It makes me so excited that I get to come in and I’m like, “I know what they’re going to walk to in the next ball [scene].” And even Ryan will say: “Don’t tell me. I want to be surprised.” So is it’s a combination of heart and style and fashion and music.’

“Her selections certainly seem inspired, like choosing Evelyn Champagne King’s Shame during a Pose scene in which trans women struggle — physically and emotionally — with disposing of a dead body. She also peppers lesser known songs from that era by Frankie Knuckles and Malcolm McLaren, and one episode flawlessly recreated the Solid Gold top 10 countdown from 1990, including U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer, Sinead O’Connor’s cover of Nothing Compares 2 U and Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison. Woodall even managed to work in scene with Broadway veteran Patti LuPone belting showtunes. (‘I wasn’t surprised when I was asked to sing Steve Sondheim’s I’m Still Here from Follies,’ LuPone told Variety, but it was remarkable for a show that isn’t musical. ‘It was a perfect choice for my character,’ adds LuPone. ‘What would have been surprising was if they had asked me to sing Let’s Get It On.’)

“The only question that remains is whether or not Woodall will continue to be so hands-on with music now that her work responsibilities have increased exponentially. ‘Here’s the thing I’ll tell you,’ she says. ‘I will never give up my creative. It brings me joy. I don’t see a world where moving away from that would help the company,’ she adds. ‘Or help my own soul.’”