Produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's World of Wonder, Deeper Throat follows the same producers' work with Vivid on two similar shows: Porno Valley (2004) and Debbie Does Dallas...Again (2007). Showtime will air reruns of Debbie immediately following each new installment of Deeper Throat, giving Vivid a weekly, one-hour block of programming on the network.
"This is our third series, and we think it's by far the best," Vivid co-chairman Steven Hirsch told AVN.com. "We love it, and we think that it's very beneficial to the branding of this company. Nowhere else can you get 30 minutes a week devoted to your company as a world premiere on a major cable network. We're very excited to see the response."
Deeper Throat ties in with Vivid's March 14 release of Throat: A Cautionary Tale, director Paul Thomas' radical revamp of the 1972 Gerard Damiano classic with industry "It Girl" Sasha Grey re-interpreting the role that made Linda Lovelace a superstar. Grey's co-stars include Tom Byron and Penny Flame as cops, Trent Tesoro, Evan Stone, Lee Stone, Aliana Love, Beverly Hills, and Herschel Savage as a Hasidic Jew.
The reality show tracks Hirsch and company through the process of creating the 21st century Throat. The catch: Vivid must secure approval from Ray Pistol and Arrow Productions, the Las Vegas-based owners of the Deep Throat franchise who have their own ideas about how the property should be handled.
It's a clash between the old school of X-rated films and the polished, corporate model of porn that Vivid pioneered starting in the '80s and '90s. According to the insiders who participated in the series, that dramatic conflict makes for must-see TV.
"This one is much more real than the Debbie reality show, and the four episodes I've seen are very entertaining," Vivid producer Shylar Cobi told AVN.com. "They followed me and P.T. on set every day, and they followed Steven in his personal life. They also tracked Ray Pistol and his people at Arrow, which turned out to be very colorful. We had a big casting call out here, and they did one in Vegas."
Originally, the two companies planned to mount rival remakes of Deep Throat. But Pistol's search for the next Linda Lovelace didn't quite pan out.
"The Ray Pistol stuff is great TV," said Cobi. "At one point, he's talking to a stripper and he examines her like a horse. He's checking her teeth, examining her like a piece of meat. He is so old-school porno!"
Arrow's 31-year-old marketing director Robert Interlandi quickly emerged as the show's villain. The rambunctious Arrow rep toilet-papered Thomas' car, played "Deep Throat beer-pong" on the director's set, and got into some very heated disputes with Hirsch.
"I'm sure I'll steal a lot of the scenes because they made me look so stupid," Interlandi laughed. "I don't like the way they edited the reality show, but it is what it is. I watched a lot of reality TV going into this project, so I did play the villain a lot. I even talked to one of the contestants from Big Brother about how to do it."
While reality TV is often defined by its phoniness, sources on all sides confirmed that the flare-ups between Interlandi and the Vivid camp were the real thing.
"I seriously wanted to fight Steve Hirsch, but he wouldn't put on the boxing gloves!" Interlandi said. "I won't give away the ending, but I've seen the whole show and it's got a great finale. I think my biggest problem with Vivid is that I don't like the way they did Deep Throat."
Vivid's version of Throat is anything but faithful to the original film. Thomas and screenwriter Raven Touchstone decided to jettison every aspect of Damiano's raunchy farce, aside from the basic concept of a woman who discovers that her clitoris is located somewhere south of her tonsils.
"The original Deep Throat was a comedy, and everybody who's actually seen it knows that it wasn't very good," Thomas said. "This isn't a film critic's discussion; it's just the truth. Even for the time, it was not a well-written or well-constructed film. So rather than playing it as comedy, I wanted to try to treat the story very seriously. I wanted to take a look at how that problem would affect her. Call it Throat meets The Elephant Man. What is she? She's a freak. And the people in her life want to exploit her, to make a sideshow of her. The story developed very naturally from there."
As in the Debbie reality series, Thomas made a point of playing to the cameras. Even producer Cobi, who has worked with the director for 11 years, said he couldn't tell at times whether P.T. was putting on a show or not.
"It's like being on stage every day, putting on a play for the reality TV people," Thomas told AVN.com. "I'm a performer first and foremost, of course, so I love the theatrics of it. I do my very best every single moment that I'm being watched.It's like being a straight man in a gay bar; you might say you don't like being noticed by gay men, but you hate it more when they don't notice you!"
Sasha Grey was much less enthusiastic about her reality TV experience.
"I wasn't really happy with the creative direction and how I will inevitably be portrayed," Grey told AVN.com. "It felt more like very poor acting from both my fiance and me, and less like a reality show. As far as my performance in the film, they didn't affect that too much, as I stayed focused on the movie not the faux reality. I felt that they were trying to turn Sasha Grey into Linda Lovelace."
Not that Grey has anything against Linda Lovelace or the original Deep Throat. Where her director was quick to dismiss the older film as "a piece of shit," Grey did not disparage Damiano's production at all.
"Deep Throat was and still is an amazing adult film," she said. "There's some kinky sex going on that some people don't realize did happen on camera in 1972; it just wasn't as mass-produced as today. For me, Harry Reems made Deep Throat, not Linda Lovelace; he made you excited about the sex. The impact was obviously amazing on many levels; shit, even my mom knows who Linda Lovelace is...and we can never forget how the government and media always tries to tie pornography and dishonest politics together while making our industry appear as vile and disgusting as possible, so politics can rebound but we stay an unacceptable vice."
Grey went on to share her thoughts on remakes and her take on working with Vivid and P.T.
"I think remakes can either be really good or really bad; there is no middle ground," she said. "What I liked about this is that there was an original script and we weren't trying to top Damiano's Deep Throat.
"Vivid's great; I don't know what the huss and fuss about P.T. is, aside from his brilliant vision(s) of course! I had a talk with P.T. the first day of shooting and told him, 'If there's anything you need me to do as an actor I can do it, just tell me...you don't have to manipulate me into getting a great performance.' I think with his classic POV and my modern POV, we created something truly unique. I think telling him that up front garnered a lot of respect and created a great rapport between director and performer."
Asked to supply a personal highlight of making Throat, Sasha gave AVN this scoop: "I was on my period for both of my anal sex scenes, and at a location, one of the dogs took a tampon from the garbage and blood-stained the lesbian owners' bed. That was pretty bad-ass."
Sasha Grey would no doubt agree: In porn, reality is always stranger than reality TV.