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The 'Chozen' one: Showrunner on series about gay white rapper
NUNN ON ONE: TV Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2014-01-07

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FX is debuting a brand-new animated series and this time the star is a gay, white rapper fresh out of prison named Chozen.

Stereotypes are broken with go go dancers wearing bear masks and interracial gay prison sex throughout the season. The show features the voices of Bobby Moynihan playing the raunchy rapper, Hannibal Buress at buddy Crisco, Danny McBride as friend Jimmy, Kathryn Hahn as sister Tracy, and Method Man as nemesis Phantasm.

Windy City Times spoke with Tom Brady, the show's executive producer/showrunner, right before the big debut.

Windy City Times: It's the Tom and Jerry show today!

Tom Brady: Speaking of animated classics...

WCT: Where is the series made?

Tom Brady: We are working out of Santa Monica, Calif.

WCT: What is your background and what led to you working on Chozen?

Tom Brady: I started on The Simpsons—well, actually, The Critic was my first job, with a lot of the same writers from The Simpsons. I worked on a lot of animated series over the years such as those, The PJs, and a show on MTV called Good Vibes. I have also done live features as well.

This one exploded on my radar when I heard of it and read the script. I am always looking for a fresh voice or character that can cut through and say something different. Those things excite me the most. Chozen does that.

WCT: What exactly does a show runner do?

Tom Brady: Basically, in animation you do everything. Grant Dekernion and I partnered up with a staff of equally twisted writers with the same point of view and skill set. We all created the stories and supervised all of the animation process.

WCT: Sounds like a lot of work.

Tom Brady: Yeah, and also the most rewarding. It is an opportunity to create a feature film every week. You can go anywhere your imagination will go. It can be fantasies, flashbacks, home movies.

The trade-off is yes, an enormous amount of work above and beyond the writing. It is another full time job supervising on the animation as it comes in.

WCT: Was it always planned as an animation series or possibly live action?

Tom Brady: This one was always planned as animation from the get go. This pre dates me but certainly by the time they sold it to FX it was that way. When you think that way it frees you up to be more ambitious.

WCT: The jokes just keep coming very quickly on this show.

Tom Brady: There are a lot of jokes but we try to make everything come from character. We try to keep it in the real world as well. Once we are finally happy with the material and it has been rewritten and polished then we put it in the hands of the really talented ensemble, who is made up of major movie and music stars. Michael Pena is in a tank movie filming with Brad Pitt right now. Method Man we recorded earlier when he was in Norway on a world tour. Bobby Moynihan is doing Saturday Night Live. All of these actors besides being very established are also very good improvisational actors so they add layers to it by saying the lines and give it an improv feel.

WCT: There is so much more uncensored that you can do on FX that you can't do on other networks.

Tom Brady: Yes and it is the right show for the right network. FX has said all along to write shows with the most integrity. The chains were off as far as content and language. With that has come the responsibility to police ourselves. We try not to be too gratuitous or overindulgent. We try to be genuine for the characters and the moments. It is very liberating.

WCT: Where was Chozen created from?

Tom Brady: He is versed from the world of hip-hop and we were looking for a character that we had not seen before. What would that person be like and what complexities could we give him? That is when Grant who wrote him found more stories and took it to a deeper level.

WCT: I wonder if people on the team had heard of the Chicago gay overweight white rapper Big Dipper?

Tom Brady: It is interesting because just in the last week people have sent me emails telling me to check him out. He has nothing to do with the inspiration but we have started to hear about him.

WCT: Who writes the raps?

Tom Brady: That is all Grant. He writes, performs, and produces the raps. We try to have one to three musical numbers per episode. They are tied to the narrative and not arbitrarily sandwiched in there. It has to deal with the theme of that episode, much like a musical might.

WCT: Are there any limits to this show?

Tom Brady: I wouldn't say there is any limits but again we are really tough on ourselves as far as our own integrity. We want to be as intelligent, clever, and sensitive as possible. There are times when we write something and we think it is too crude so we will make it better and change it.

WCT: After watching four episodes it seems to get better and equally goes after every group of people. My mouth was open but I was laughing!

Tom Brady: That is good to hear because I haven't talked to people who have seen it yet. I am glad you enjoyed it. Peeling back the layers of characters is thrill of any show. We try to make it a show that will appeal to everybody.

WCT: I was worried going into it that it might be offensiv,e but it wasn't.

Tom Brady: That is good. Chozen has an evolution coming up. He was unfortunately in prison and now is out of the cage. He is evolving very slowly with relationships. He is exciting to write for.

WCT: I liked the roommate. Is she his sister?

Tom Brady: Tracy is his sister voiced by Kathryn Hahn. She is tough but underneath there is a crack of vulnerability to her. Some of it is the writing and some of it is the level she brings to it. There is an episode where Tracy and Chozen's parents come to visit. You get to see how they both became who they are. That was a difficult episode to write.

WCT: Is there a theme you want to write about but haven't?

Tom Brady: There is the idea about the music career is just backdrop but the more interesting stories to me are the daily struggle ones. It is important to see how the characters struggle with everyday situations and smaller stories. I think as we go forward you will see more of that, from the friendships and family that we deal with everyday like all the great shows in history.

WCT: You need to come to our comic conventions here in Chicago to promote Chozen.

Tom Brady: I have been coming to the San Diego one for years as a fan. Now that my son turned 14, he is a prime age for this. I have made it to New York a couple of times so I definitely have to come to Chicago.

Catch Chozen on FX Mondays starting Jan. 13.


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