Jon Bernthal, his abs, and Rosie O’Donnell’s wig invite you back to the office. But for the love of God, please wear a mask because, in this office, people are having sex for money. This ain’t Dunder Mifflin, baby. This is the seedy underworld of American Gigalo, a workplace drama starring Jon Bernthal, Gretchen Mol, and Rosie O’Donnell, based on the classic 1980 film directed by Paul Schrader.
A “present-day reimagining” of the American Gigolo mythos, the new series sees Berthal stepping in for Richard Gere as our titular sex worker Julian Kay. The trailer begins where the movie ends, though, with Julian exonerated for the murder of a client. Anyone who’s ever seen a television show in the last two decades can probably guess where this is going: He needs to find out who framed him and why. To do so, he has to get back to American Gigolo-ing.
Here’s the official synopsis:
America Gigolo follows Julian Kaye after his wrongful conviction release from 15 years in prison as he navigates his complicated relationships with his former lover Michelle (Gretchen Mol), his troubled mother, and the people who betrayed him. While Julian struggles to reconcile the escort he was in the past and the man he is today, Detective Sunday (Rosie O’Donnell) seeks the truth about the murder that sent Julian to prison all those years ago, unearthing a much larger conspiracy along the way.
Following in the tradition of Andrew Dice Clay and Ray Romano, Rosie O’Donnell dons a funny wig for a dramatic turn in a prestige crime drama. Who are we to discourage her? We’d love to see Rosie bring someone’s ass down.
One person who might discourage her is American Gigolo film director Paul Schrader. Facebook’s biggest Taylor Swift fan expressed dismay toward the show online, calling the idea of a Gigolo series “a terrible idea.” Last month, he wrote:
After the Showtime trailer appeared online, I’ve been asked if I am involved The answer is No. Some years ago, I received a call from Paramount asking about remaking American Gigolo as a series. I replied that I thought it was a terrible idea—times had changed, internet porn had redefined male sex work, viruses, etc. I couldn’t imagine Julian Kay working a Hen Party. (Scorsese and I had fought off similar attempts to redo Taxi Driver for years.)
I thought that was the end of it. Then came another call saying Jerry Bruckheimer and Paramount had the rights to redo AG without my consent. I said I would think about how such a show could be structured. No, the caller explained, they did not want my involvement. Here were my options: (1) take $50G and not be involved (2) take $0 and not be involved (3) threaten an expensive and futile lawsuit and not be involved. I took the $50G. I haven’t seen the trailer. I’m a great fan of John Bernthal and wish Gretchen Mol the best (also wish I could have done a better job with the film I wrote and directed for her—sorry for that, Gretch). I don’t plan to watch the Showtime series. I don’t think I could be objective about it and, even if I could, it’s too much agita.
Schrader should also object to the show’s rollout, which like every other series in 2022, is confusing as hell. The show will premiere on Showtime on September 9 for Showtime subscribers to stream online and on demand. However, its broadcast premiere will be on September 11 at 9 p.m. Eastern on Showtime.