Interview with Brent Jennings of "Lodge 49" on AMC - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Brent Jennings

Interview with Brent Jennings of "Lodge 49" on AMC 10/15/18

I just love this show, and it was great to speak with Brent, who plays one of the two main characters on the show, "Ernie." (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, plays the star, Dud. The relationship between Dud and Ernie is a focal point of the show.) "Lodge 49" was just renewed for a second season! If you haven't watched this great show yet, please do go watch it right now on the AMC site, or on Prime, or OnDemand! It's got great writing and acting. The characters are amazing. You won't be sorry. It's only 10 episodes, too.

It was very fun to speak with Brent, who was born and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since I'm living in Magnolia, Arkansas right now, we chatted quite a bit about the state as well as the show.

Sorry that the interview starts mid-sentence because I hadn't yet turned on the recorder when we started...but we were just talking about Arkansas, so we didn't miss anything about the show.

Here's the audio of our interview. Below is the transcript.

Brent: ...I've never been there, actually.

Suzanne: Yeah, it's a small town.

Brent: Yeah. But I am an Arkansan.

Suzanne: That's great.

Brent: Are you a native?

Suzanne: No, I'm from California, actually. So, we switched states, I guess.

Brent: No kidding. Wow. How long have you been in Arkansas?

Suzanne: Just a couple years. We're here for my husband's job. He works at Southern Arkansas University.

Brent: Oh, okay. Okay.

Suzanne: So, we moved around. We actually came from Hawaii to here, so.

Brent: So, you came up with ... Were you in public relations in California, or was it something you sort of fell into in Magnolia to keep you busy in Arkansas?

Suzanne: No, actually, I've been ... I actually run a TV website. I've been doing it since the 90s, and so I do a lot of stuff, but part of it is interviewing people on the phone.

Brent: Oh, okay, I guess I'm interviewing you right now. I should let you interview me.

Suzanne: No, that's fine. It makes it easier on me. So, you must have been happy that they renewed the series for season two?

Brent: I was quite, quite happy, you know? Watching the show after that, watching the ten episodes, I really fell in love with the show. I really liked it, and loved it as we were shooting it. We all knew ... Felt we were involved with something that was really special, that was unique, that had a very distinctive ... Outlook on life, and take on life, and was a fresh voice, was kind of something that ... needed to be out there. A show that's about everyday working people, fighting to survive, pursing their dreams, and trying to find themselves in the midst of grief, and loss, and economic hardships for various reason. You know, the same things that everyone is going through. But with a sort of a optimistic and hopeful outlook, even though the characters don't really win too often. But, I think resilience is sort of the message, that life is really something that ... Presents a lot of obstacles that we kinda have to overcome, but we can do it with, I don't know, sort of a camaraderie, and a sort of a zest, you know? And a love of life, in spite of the inconsistencies and the surprises that shock us, that sometimes knock us on our butts.

Suzanne: Right.

Brent: So, I felt that that was really fresh, and really something that deserves to be out there for people to be inspired by and entertained by. There's no ... Nobody gets killed, there's no antagonists, there's no protagonist, its just a story of people, trying to connect with each other, and trying to connect with their own dreams. So, I just thought that was very different, and I'm happy to see that we got another chance to explore it a little more, and I'm really curious about where we'll go in our second season. I can't wait to get started.

Suzanne: Yeah. Yeah, I enjoyed it. I interviewed Bruce Campbell a few weeks ago, so I binged-watched it, and I was like, "Wow, this is really good!" I mean, the writing is so amazing, and the characters are just really good.

Brent: Right, right, right. It's really good writing. I call it, it's a very literary piece of work, where you read a script, it's like reading a short story, because of the subtleties, and the nuance, and the richly developed characters. You know, it's not rushing itself. It's not formulaic. It takes its time in telling a story, so if you look at episodes one through ten, it's like, you know, like it's a long movie. Because it sort of unwinds and you really learn a lot more about the people and their lives, the history of the people and the lives, and the connections. But, it's like a book, you know? Which is why I really enjoyed it because it's good material that's not formulaic that's not just like every other show. You know, you've seen procedural shows, they're all the same, or you know, the cops and robbers, or the kind of night time soaps, or you know, it's all pretty much the same even though they might be taking place in different venues or ... But this is very different. I don't know ... I mean, a lodge is a unique place, I call it a blue collar country club. So, there's a fresh new environment that, you know, one you don't see explored too often, or often at all, and then the writing, like you said, the writing is just exceptional so, I'm just praying, hoping that we can keep that quality up, as we move forward. Because that's the calling card of this show, really.

Suzanne: Right, yeah. It's interesting that you said that about how it's not like other shows, because it's sort of ... It's got a little bit of drama, and a little bit of comedy, a little bit of soap opera, you know?

Brent: Right.

Suzanne: Maybe a little bit of sci-fi, mystical stuff, I'm not really sure about that.

Brent: Right, right, right, right, right. And my own take on the mystical stuff is that it's sort of a metaphor for, you know, because these people have kind of a ... Let's say, for lack of a better word, a rugged life, they're all searchers in a way, seekers. And they all ... Kind of bumping into walls as they're searching. I think the mysticism that's in it is really kind of a metaphor, at least for me, about how we're all trying to figure out what life is about. We all wanna know why we're here, and what are we doing here, how do we get what we want, how do we get satisfaction? What's going on? We're all faced with that, and look for that, so. And also, I think the show ... It's about sort of like how life just throws us unexpected curves. That's why, you mentioned, you know, one moment it's like farce, it's like crazy funny, and then the next moment it's like ... This real moment of pathos, and human sadness, and you know grief or whatever. Because life is like that I think is what Jim Gavin created. I think that kinda is what he's saying, is that, it's just full of these sort of concurrent emotions and you walk through one door and it's euphoria, you walk through the next door and is tragedy. So, I think he's just saying life is unpredictable and you just have to roll with it. And I think that's why it's so ... The show is unpredictable. And people either, they say, "Oh, it's quirky, I don't get it," some of my friends. And I said, "Well, you know, you just gotta keep watching it. You either get it or you don't. But I'm telling you, it's pretty good."

Suzanne: Definitely, it gets better as you keep watching it. The first episode I was like, it's a little slow, but then it drags you in there.

Brent: Right, right. It does. And you know, we're not used to slow anymore, with Twitter, and Instagram, and all of this ... You know, we're just not used to slow anymore. Anything that just sort of takes it's time. So, it takes awhile, it sort of weeds out the people who, you know, who can't do slow. And it forces us to slow down and take a look at it. And like you say, it pulls you in. So-

Suzanne: And, on the mystical stuff, I think it's interesting they keep giving little clues as, well, is it because he's on drugs, or because she has a brain tumor, or is it the toxic chemicals under the plant, you know... you're not really sure. Because they're all having hallucinations of some sort, maybe?  They don't know if it's real or not.

Brent: Right, right. Exactly. Exactly. You don't know what's going on with Connie, you don't know ... You got toxins under the Orbis plant, you know, you don't know how that's effecting everyone, and anything, you sort of have this whole business scam going on around that, around the plant, the toxins in the ground and it's sort of ... When you think about all these things, and you look at life, and you look at the headlines from different places around the country, there's a basis for it. It is about what communities are sometimes facing. Plants shutting down, people losing jobs because businesses leaving, and the skepticism, and cynicism, and fear that comes out of that, you know, readjustment that has to come out of that, and the family loss and you know, it's really dealing with what we all have to face at sometime or another in our lives, but it does it with a real sense of fun and adventure. So, it's really saying, that life is still worth living, and still fun, and still good, you know? And that's what I like about it.

Suzanne: Yeah. It should be interesting to see the second season because of the end of the first season. You take off with what, Cheech Marin's character?

Brent: Yeah. Yeah. Everybody's kinda moving in different directions. It appears that I'm headed to Mexico, but with these guys writing, you never know.

Suzanne: Right.

Brent: And-

Suzanne: Yeah, go ahead.

Brent: And you know, Connie's in London, Dud is laying on the beach having been viciously attacked by a shark, you know ... Blaise is going through his thing, so we're all kind of spread out. We don't know how it's all gonna come together, so we'll see.

Suzanne: Yeah. How did you find out when the series was renewed?

Brent: The producer, Peter Ocko, he called me, and he was like dragging out the conversation. "Well, Brent, hey, how you doin'? I wanted to talk to you." "Peter, come on. Get to it. Cut to the take, Peter. Please don't do this to me."

Suzanne: You thought it was bad news.

Brent: Yeah. And he's like, "Second season, second season," and I said, "Okay, great." But, I felt that, I started to get a little nervous about it, I've got to be honest, you know, because it took awhile. But I know that we got great reviews and I think the show has a singular voice. There's nothing like it on television right now. I really felt it was an AMC kind of show.

Suzanne: Definitely.

Brent: And I just felt like, with the notices of critical response, and real fans beginning to develop. Like you say, it does start slow. It takes awhile for you to understand where it's going, but I think once it hooks you, you're hooked. And so, with time, it'll get stronger. And it just needed time, and I'm glad that they saw that and felt that way as well. So, I was always hopeful, even though I became ... It was sort of blended with a little bit of doubt. Or fear.

Suzanne: Well, I'm sure you're used to that, being an actor for so long.

Brent: Yeah, yeah, you know, 'cause sometimes there's a real dire reason that you can see something not going forward, and other times you go like, wow, I don't know what that was about. But, back to the drawing board.

Suzanne: So, have they told you yet when you'll start filming the new season?

Brent: All I know, right now, I don't know specifically, but it'll be sometime, immediately after the holidays in January, we expect we'll start then. And hopefully, I think more than likely the goal is to be back on the air with new shows in August.

Suzanne: Okay.

Brent: So, yeah, we're getting ready to get busy.

Suzanne: So, when you filmed the first season, did they tell you much ahead of time? Did they give you the entire thing or just the first script? Or how does that work?

Brent: Well, what's good about the way this team, this production team works, what I like, is that they write all ten scripts before they start shooting. The show had been in development at AMC for awhile, so they had been developing it with a view to where it was going for the entire first season. Maybe even beyond, as far as I know. But, I do know that they have been writing the second season, even while waiting for notification that the show was gonna go forward. So, it really makes it ... I mean, I'm doing a show now called All American, and I'm waiting to get the script, and they go, "Oh, well, we haven't finished the script." And that's pretty common now days in television that they're shooting, and writing as they go along. And I think it's so much better for everybody when ... Of course, we only do ten shows. Other shows are doing more, so it's probably easier for us to have those scripts early. So, everybody, all of the production team, you know, the costumers, light designers, production designers, everyone knows what we're facing. And I like working that way. This was also rare, and made it special, because I think it's the kind of material that you need a jump on it. Or it helps.

Suzanne: So, did they give you all ten scripts, or just one at the beginning?

Brent: Well, kinda as we were going along, we would get them in couplets, say. Groups. And, I don't even really ... I'm trying to remember if we got all ten. I knew I had quite a bit, and after awhile it was like, well, I'm just gonna focus on these right now. But they do have the scripts. I don't know what they are, I haven't asked for anything at this point. But, I guess I'll find out at some point when they'll become available to the cast.

Suzanne: Okay. And you said you're in All American. Is it a one shot guest starring role?

Brent: It's a recurring. I've got three episodes on that show right now. Just to sort of keep myself brushed up. You know, tune up for lines.

Suzanne: Yeah. I just watched that first episode last night, so.

Brent: Of All American?

Suzanne: Yeah. Yeah.

Brent: How was it? How did you like it?

Suzanne: It was pretty good. You know, I watch a lot of TV, so I can't watch everything. As much as I'd like to sometimes. So, I don't think this is probably gonna make my regular, you know.

Brent: Right, right. It's not gonna be in your rotation.

Suzanne: No, no. But it was good.

Brent: Yeah, yeah. Well, I hope you put Lodge in your rotation.

Suzanne: What's that?

Brent: I hope you put Lodge 49 in your rotation.

Suzanne: Oh, definitely. Definitely. No, I can't miss that.

Brent: Okay, good.

Suzanne: So-

Brent: How do you like being in Arkansas as opposed to ... What part of California were you in?

Suzanne: Well, I grew up in San Diego. But I haven't lived there since 1982, so. 'Cause we moved away to go to college, and then we've just been different places ever since, because my husband's a professor and so we've moved a lot. We've lived all over. New York, and Texas, and Alabama, and Georgia, Honolulu, Illinois.

Brent: So, you're pretty adaptable, huh?

Suzanne: Yeah. You gotta be. I kinda move a lot.

Brent: And you can do what you do from wherever you happen to be.

Suzanne: Exactly. Yeah, because I'm on the computer all the time, or on the phone, so it doesn't really matter. I mean, it would be nice to live in L.A. There are more events and things I could go to, but.

Brent: Right, right, right, right. Then you get up to Little Rock any?

Suzanne: Yeah. We're going in about two weeks. My husband, for his job he has ... He's actually an administrator at the University, so he has to drive all over Arkansas. So, if it's someplace like Little Rock and it's on a Friday, then I go with him, and we make a little weekend out of it. So, that's when we go.

Brent: Well, do you guys like the outdoors? Do you hunt?

Suzanne: No, no, I'm a city person. And he's a southern person.

Brent: Well, you're really a fish out of water.

Suzanne: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's why we go to Little Rock, and places like that, as often as we can manage it, but no. It's nice. People are really nice here, and it's definitely interesting being ... This is the smallest town I've ever lived in, so.

Brent: Right, right, right, right.

Suzanne: The next smallest was ... We were in Normal, Illinois for two years, but that was huge compared to this, so.

Brent: Oh, okay. Well, I'll be down there, I think the 24th, 25th of October. I'm being inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, actually.

Suzanne: Oh, neat!

Brent: As I guess a local boy who's done well. So, I'll be there, and I'm excited about that.

Suzanne: Oh, I'll have to check that out. It's an actual place I can go to, right? I've never-

Brent: Yeah, yeah. There's a ... The whole induction ceremony and all that will be down at the Robinson Auditorium, Robinson Convention Center, or Arts Center, or something. And then there'll be an exhibit at the Marriott downtown where they have all the portraits of the inductees.

Suzanne: Oh, okay!

Brent: And then there's sort of a ... There's a place called the Elks Lodge, as a matter of fact, on Ninth and Broadway in Little Rock, and it's the ... It's been a part of the African American community there for years. It has the history of African Americans in Arkansas portrayed, you know, it's like a museum of Arkansas of black history. And then there'll be portraits of the inductees there as well. And little bits about what they've done and all of that.

Suzanne: Sure. I'm just gonna miss you because I'm going there on Friday I think.

Brent: Yeah. Yeah.

Suzanne: That sounds great.

Brent: Yeah. Well, I'm glad you like Lodge. It's one of the most fulfilling things that I've been involved in, artistically, and so I'm really happy that the people like you are liking it.

Suzanne: Oh, yeah. Well, I like good TV and unless ... You know, there's some shows that the basis are good but I don't like because either I don't think they're funny, or they're too violent for me, they're gross or whatever.

Brent: What's hard these days is that there's so much access, there's so many platforms, with just very little variation in what you find on those platforms.

Suzanne: Yeah, that's true.

Brent: So, when something comes up just a little different, that's fresh and ... You know, we should be happy for it.

Suzanne: Yeah, no. It's definitely good to have something that's this top quality like that and-

Brent: Right, right, right.

Suzanne: ... I do everything I can to promote it on social media, so I'm doing my part.

Brent: Yeah, you are. You are. We appropriate that. Very much appreciate that.

Suzanne: Well, I appreciate your talking to me today. And ...

Brent: Well, I'm happy to have the opportunity. I couldn't resist though, when I saw Magnolia, Arkansas, I was like, "What? What is this? Okay." So, you just happened to be there now. Next year it'll be, you know, Montana.

Suzanne: I think we'll be here. I'm hoping we'll be here at least through 2020, because I'm taking some classes to get a second bachelor's degree, and I'm supposed to graduate in 2020.

Brent: Oh. What are you getting your bachelor's degree in?

Suzanne: I'm getting it, actually, in mass comm.

Brent: Communication? Mass comm?

Suzanne: Yeah. Yeah.

Brent: Yeah, I had a double major. I was a mass comm and acting major, at Emerson College, yeah. So, yeah, that's a good major.

Suzanne: Yeah. Well, I got my original degree in liberal arts, and then I just ... Like, got into this, and I never really thought of myself as a journalist or press, but I sort of fell into it.

Brent: Right, right, right, right.

Suzanne: And so, I'm trying to increase, you know mass comm is what they call journalism now, so, yeah. I figured with a degree, and if I get some other things where I'm writing for other newspapers and what have you, that I can hopefully get into the Television Critics of America, which then I can go to the events they have.

Brent: Right, right. Oh, so you going places with this.

Suzanne: I'm hoping.

Brent: Well, you need to get your master's.

Suzanne: Well, no. No more school.

Brent: Oh, okay.

Suzanne: No, I think with this, they'll take ... I mean some channels and some PR people consider me press, because I've been doing this since the 90s, and doing interviews and reviews and all that, but other's don't, you know, like some of the main ones, like CBS and ABC, so I'm hoping that if I get into the TCA, then everybody will take me seriously.

Brent: Right, right.

Suzanne: And I get more interviews, and all that. And it'll help the site, so.

Brent: Yeah, it will. It will.

Suzanne: Whatever works out, it'll work out one or the other.

Brent: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that's ... You have the right approach.

Suzanne: Yeah. Well, I mean, for me, it's always been more of a passion than a job. 'Cause like, this started out as a fan site, so. And I became a corporation, so.

Brent: Well, as long as it stays a passion, it'll serve you well.

Suzanne: Exactly. Exactly. You have to like what you're doing, otherwise it's just a job, you know?

Brent: Yeah. That's why I've done what I've been doing all these years. I really love it, it's a passion, and I think our passions take care of us, you know?

Suzanne: Yeah. They definitely do. The fulfill us.

Brent: Yeah, yeah. That's what keep us gettin' up in the morning.

Suzanne: That's right, exactly.

Brent: Yeah.

Suzanne: Well, I appreciate you talking to me, and maybe we'll touch base later on after the season gets going.

Brent: Well, anytime. You know where to find me.

Suzanne: All right. All right. Thank you.

Brent: Take care.

Suzanne: Bye-bye.

Brent: Bye-bye.


Brent Jennings in Lodge 49
Veteran television, film and stage actor Brent Jennings, best known for his role as Oakland Athletics coach 'Ron Washington' in the Oscar-nominated film MONEYBALL, stars as 'Ernie Fontaine' opposite Wyatt Russell and three-time Tony Award nominee Linda Edmond in the highly-anticipated hour-long dramedy series "Lodge 49" which has been renewed for a season 2. Jennings has had a long and rewarding career in entertainment for the past 40 years, and looks to secure his status as a prominent fixture in Hollywood with his breakout lead role which has The Hollywood Reporter saying - "Cassidy and Jennings are perfectly cast to illuminate this world in what could have been simply an eccentric tale of hope in troublingtimes." 

Written and created by author Jim Gavin (Middle Men) and executive produced by Paul Giamatti and Peter Ocko ("The Office"), "Lodge 49" is a light-hearted, endearing modern fable set in Long Beach, California about a disarmingly optimistic local ex-surfer, Dud (Wyatt Russell), who's drifting after the death of his father and collapse of the family business. Dud finds himself on the doorstep of a rundown fraternal lodge where a middle-
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aged plumbing salesman and "Luminous Knight" of the order, Ernie (Brent Jennings), welcomes him into a world of cheap beer, easy camaraderie and the promise of Alchemical mysteries that may - or may not- put Dud on the path to recover the idyllic life he's lost.

A true triple threat, Jennings has had a long illustrious film and television career appearing in popular films such as WITNESS, RED HEAT and Academy Award-nominated MONEYBALL, as well as appearing on several award-winning shows including ABC's "Modern Family," Showtime's "Shameless" alongside William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum, HBO's award winning series "The Newsroom" and "Veep," Fox's fan-favorite "Glee" ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," Emmy and Golden Globe nominated miniseries "Political Animals" and many more!
Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the era of segregation where there was no foreseeable future in entertainment for African-Americans, Jennings happened to stumble upon a New York Times piece on the subject of artistic expression of the civil rights movement which inspired and motivated him to want to move to NYC to become an actor. He enrolled himself in the local community arts center and was given not just the opportunity to play the lead role but to also become the first African-American to play the lead role on that specific stage. While attending Emerson College in Boston, Jennings became part of several theatre companies to work on his craft which would later earn him a scholarship with the Circle in the Square Theatre School in Manhattan. However, Jennings gave up his scholarship to work with the Tony Award winning director Lloyd Richards which started his NYC journey and would eventually lead to his outstanding film and television career. When not entertaining, Jennings is an avid Yogi practicing Bikram Yoga religiously, and aims to open up his own center one day. In his rare free time, Jennings also teaches and directs young actors in local acting workshops in Los Angeles.

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