British personality and renowned photographer Amanda de Cadenet dives into the late-night talk-show field tonight with her live, half-hour, news- and pop culture-themed Undone with @AmandadeCadenet, which will premiere tonight at 10:30 on Lifetime.
Previously, de Cadenet hosted the women-only interview series The Conversation, also on Lifetime and online, in which she had one-on-one chats with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, Rita Wilson, Zoe Saldana, and Portia de Rossi.
De Cadenet took the time to talk with Women and Hollywood
as she prepped the show to discuss the landscape of late-night TV and how her
show will be different.
WaH: Talk about what
you are doing to get ready for the launch of your show.
ADC: It’s an
interesting thing building a show from the ground up. Having done that with The
Conversation and doing that again now, so much of the work is in the
WaH: Because you
can’t just sit in the chair like you did in those awesome interviews for The
Conversation? But you worked hard on that, you did a lot of set up.
ADC: So much of the initial work is in creating the structure
of the thing. Jimmy Fallon or any of the Jimmies or any of the shows that are
on, they’ve been going on for so long [audiences] know what to expect. They
know they’ve got a system in place. We’re setting up a whole system.
WaH: Talk about the
evolution from The Conversation to Undone. What should people
should expect that is different, and what should people expect that will be
ADC: This is
definitely not The Conversation. The Conversation was a long format and
not live. That show took me six months to shoot. It could’ve been a documentary,
but we just put it into a format that would work on television. Long-format interviews, you don’t really see them on TV. And there was an
audience for The Conversation, a big audience. That show is in eighteen
different countries and ten different languages now. And I continue to do
interviews and make shows for The Conversation, but it is a very
different experience than this show.
First of all, this
show is live. Which, the closer I get to it, I’m like, why did I want to do
live? [Laughs] But I did
grow up on live TV. The first two shows I did were both live, so I’m hoping
it’s kind of like a bicycle and I’ll remember how to do it. It’s live, it’s
half-hour, and it is a combination of interviews and topical news stories
through my filter, which is obviously a very female perspective.
We will be coming
out of Project Runway, which is a great audience for me to potentially
engage because they are mostly women, they are loyal viewers, and they are
women who are in the demographic that I speak to. So I’m really happy to have
that time slot, coming out of the highest-rated show on Lifetime.
So, coming out of Project
Runaway, there’ll be some commentary on that episode. But we
will go straight into topical news issues and offer a different
perspective from that. Every week, we’re looking through news now and saying, What are the topics and what are the stories that I would like to cover?
Obviously we’ve had Hobby Lobby going on, we’ve had Hillary Clinton – why
should she still be asked about her husband’s infidelity all these years later?
So many things in our news either get glossed over or get
addressed in a very specific perspective.
WaH: So kind of like
Bill Maher but with a feminist perspective?
ADC: Well, I would
say Bill Maher is certainly more political than entertainment. And he does go
into entertainment, but I’m less political than he is. Some people would say
having a feminist perspective is political, but I don’t think it is. I think
it’s just having a female perspective. But yes, I definitely come from a
WaH: There’s not a lot of women working in late night. What do
you think is missing by not having women’s voices, and how are you going to add
ADC: Well, when you
say there’s not a lot of women working in late night, there’s only one woman —
WaH: There will be no other women when Chelsea Handler’s show leaves the air in August. Her Netflix series won’t premiere until 2016.
ADC: Right. That’s
diabolical to me. When you say, “what’s the evolution from The Conversation to
Undone,” the truth is that I was going to make more Conversation
shows for Lifetime. But in between us agreeing to do that, and actually a
window opening to go into production, this whole shift in late night happened.
And I was so appalled, as many of us were, that there was not one woman who had
an opportunity to take a seat in late night.
I went to Nancy
Dubuc, who is the president of A&E. She is the woman who took a risk with
putting The Conversation on. She’s a risk-taker, and thank God for the
few women in the entertainment industry who take a risk and who walk the talk.
This is the second time she has said, “Yeah, I’ll put your show on.” This is a
rarity, obviously, because there are no women other than Chelsea in late night, so we know this isn’t happening frequently. In fact, it’s happening so
infrequently that we only have one woman who has her own show in the
entertainment field after 3 PM.
WaH: And why do you
think that is?
ADC: That’s a good
question. I really hate to think that it is purely sexism. But what I will tell you is that, for the year and a half that The
Conversation wasn’t on a television network, I met with probably every network
you could think of – everybody that I could potentially work with who loved The
Conversation. And yet nobody would give me the opportunity to create a new
show. Nobody. And I even went in with Tobey Maguire, who was my producing partner,
because surely if we’ve got some guys on the team, it will eliminate the sexism
issue. And still no one would take the risk.
WaH: Look at what
happened with Jon Oliver.
ADC: We actually
went and pitched to HBO a late-night news show that was a very smart, engaged,
progressive show, and they were like, “We don’t have room, we don’t have any
more space for a show like that because we have Bill Maher.” But no one would
directly come out and say there’s no spot for a woman. They can’t say that,
WaH: No, of course
ADC: But the one
area that is still an old paradigm is the talk space. It is an old paradigm.
However, I have so
many women who love The Conversation, and that is proof to me that there are hundreds and thousands of
women all over the world that want and need and appreciate smart, engaged
WaH: Talk about your
relationship with Chelsea Handler.
ADC: Chelsea is a
phenomenal supporter of women, and if it weren’t for her…. Whitney Cummings is a very dear friend of mine and she is a huge
advocate for women. And she said to me, “I want you to meet my friend Chelsea
because she is this great supporter of women, you will really like her, you
will get on with her, you both do what you do for a job, you should know each
Chelsea said to me, “I will produce a show with you, you should be on
television,” and she’s been a phenomenal support to me. But she asked me to
host her show one day because she was going away, and I said, “Absolutely not.
There’s no way, I’m not a stand-up comedian.”
And she said, “You know what? You
can do this show. You’ve been hosting TV like this since you were a kid. You
can do this in your sleep.” And I was like, “No, I really can’t, I haven’t done
it in a long time, this kind of format,” and she’s like, “Yes, you can.” And
she really pushed me to do it, and thank God she did, because I got to host her
show, remind myself how fun it is, remind myself that I can do it, and that if I
can do it, I should be doing it. Right, why wouldn’t I?
Honestly, I do
believe in the power of women supporting each other, and were it not for
Whitney supporting me and introducing me to Chelsea, and Chelsea encouraging me
to do my own show, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. Not because I’m not
capable of it – just because I didn’t think this was something I should be
So I do believe in the power of women supporting each other
and inspiring each other, and the only role model that exists in this arena is
Chelsea. I hope I can make a show that will inspire a whole other generation of
young women and girls to say, “I can do a show like that.”
WaH: You have eight
episodes and that’s a lot of pressure, because it takes time to find your
footing . Why isn’t it just like, “You have a show”?
ADC: Well, the
reason why is because I have to launch when Project Runaway launches.
They launch in mid-July, and Lifetime feels that it is a great audience for me
to connect with. So they wanted me after that show. It’s also the biggest
ratings lead-in on the network that makes sense for my show. So it was really a
question of demographics. Hopefully, if we can get enough eyeballs on my show,
my show will continue.
WaH: It’s just that
guys don’t get a late-night show that’s specifically eight episodes. They get a
late night show.
ADC: I know. Again,
I would love to give you an answer that was different than what it is, but the
reality is I backed into this show. I was given a commitment by the network to
make a certain amount of Conversation episodes and I basically went back
to them and said, “I’m not asking you for more money, I’m asking you for more
airtime.” I basically came up with a format and created a whole new format with
the budget they gave me to make eight shows instead of two sixty-minute Conversation
specials. I turned my commitment of two shows into eight.
WaH: You have a
really big social media following, so talk about how you’re going to use that for the show.
ADC: Well, here’s
the thing: I really believe in including the voices of people not just myself.
Every episode of The Conversation was created to be a platform for
women, to connect women, and to allow women’s voices to be heard as much as
possible. That’s why I launched that show on a television network and online
What I’ve done with
this show is, I’ve built social into every single segment. I lead with digital,
I lead with social. Every segment has a hashtag, every segment will be integrated
with the opinions and thoughts and questions and voices of my social media
It’s all integrated
with the voices of people who have a voice and want to have a voice and an opinion. I try to make things that are not elitist. There’s enough places in
the world where we’re excluded. I do not ever want to be contributing to that.
I want to be contributing to opening the doors and gates for women.