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The Next Nip/Tuck: Kinky Sex, Nudity, and Rosie O’Donnell

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“I don’t think the show is kinky enough!” That was Nip/Tuck star Julian McMahon waking up the crowd Thursday morning at the Summer Television Critics Association Tour. He was responding to a reporter who had asked cast members to recall the most “jaw-dropping” thing they had been asked to do during the last four seasons of their sex-drenched FX series.


“My jaw hasn’t dropped yet,” McMahon noted. Clearly a self-confident fellow who revels in pushing boundaries, he revealed that he had just filmed a scene on Wednesday in which he exposed more of himself than had been called for in the script. In the scene, his character, sexed-up plastic surgeon Christian Troy, was supposed to do pushups in his bathroom while wearing a bathing suit.


“I decided to do them on the deck, naked,” McMahon beamed as various members of the press and network and studio executives in the room ooh-ed, ah-ed, laughed or sighed.


The unflappable McMahon also said that a storyline last year in which his character questioned his sexuality and seemed to be experiencing sexual desire for his long-time friend and professional partner Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) did not go far enough.


“I think we have to notch up our kink level a little bit,” he later declared.


The show’s current level of kink seems to be working just fine. In addition to being the highest rated series last year on basic cable among viewers ages eighteen to forty-nine, Nip/Tuck also seems to be the hottest series in Hollywood. One cannot go anywhere in this town without running into people who continue to talk about it, even after four years on FX. It’s on everyone’s TiVo and it remains a favorite with television critics.


As the spirited session continued, McMahon revealed how he would end the series, when it finally concludes, which likely won’t be anytime soon because it has a 22-episode order for its fifth season and creator Ryan Murphy says he would “love” to do a sixth year.


If he ruled the world, or at least the show, McMahon said the final scene of the series would begin with Sean in the shower “lathering up.” There would then be a cut to feet tiptoeing through the room, approaching the shower. “The shower door springs open and it’s Christian!” McMahon exclaimed. “Hey, baby, finally we can be together!”


Just before McMahon offered his storyline suggestion, Murphy reminded the TCA that, when Nip/Tuck debuted four years ago, “I said this show at its core is a heterosexual love story between two men. It was about how intimate a straight guy can get with another straight guy without being gay.”


Still, with McMahon, almost anything goes. “It’s not just being naked,” he said. “I just want to do weird things.” That weirdness, if he had his way, might include a sequence in which Christian has sex while suspended like a victim from Silence of the Lambs. Two Marilyn Monroe impersonators would be involved.


(When it comes to shocking people, McMahon’s imagination seems to know no boundaries. So it’s a good thing he didn’t attend the National Geographic Channel luncheon that followed the FX session. During the lunch, NGC screened clips from the next season of its shocking series Taboo, about the God-awful things people do to themselves in our culture and others, some of them involving sex. I would like to offer a detailed description of the scenes of mutilation, body modification, and extreme physical challenges included in those clips, but like dozens of critics around me—some of whom fled the room—I had to turn away for fear of my lunch returning to its plate.)


The Nip/Tuck session wasn’t entirely devoted to the hidden desires of Julian McMahon. Murphy said that the fifth season, which begins in October, will find all of its core characters leaving Miami behind and beginning new lives in Los Angeles. Doctors McNamara and Troy will open a clinic in Beverly Hills and become medical consultants on a Nip/Tuck-like medical show titled Hearts & Scalpels, which Murphy referred to as “the worst medical show ever made.” A character portrayed by Oliver Platt whom Murphy described as “me” will run the hospital in this show-within-a-show, and Bradley Cooper will play “the world’s biggest cad/plastic surgeon.”


Also in the new season, Portia de Rossi has been cast as an acupuncturist and Rosie O’Donnell will once again be seen as white trash lottery winner Dawn Budge for several episodes. But, even though the series remains so popular in Hollywood, Murphy said not to expect a cavalcade of guest stars like last season. (In addition to O’Donnell, they included Richard Chamberlain, Catherine Deneuve, Brooke Shields, Jacqueline Bisset, Larry Hagman, Kathleen Turner, Mario Lopez and Alanis Morissette.) Instead, the show this year will “get back to the family,” Murphy asserted.


Along that line, Joely Richardson will return as Sean’s ex-wife Julia, the mother of Christian’s son Matt. Julia will travel to Los Angeles to reveal major news to the former men in her life and remain there with them. Matt and his bride, Kimber, will show up “for nefarious reasons,” Murphy revealed. Liz, the luckless anesthesiologist, will also bolt Miami for Los Angeles after Christian and Sean offer her a position and “double her salary.”


Interestingly, Murphy said that when he first pitched Nip/Tuck five years ago it was set in Beverly Hills. But there were concerns that it would become about the “starlet of the week” seeking surgery, because plastic surgery had just exploded, especially on the West Coast. “Now, we won’t have a lot of starlets coming in,” he noted. “Our cases are exotic and odd.” Overall, season five will “explore the temptations of L.A. and how they affect our characters.”


By Ed Martin


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