Jonathan Demme, the director of Philadelphia who died Wednesday morning at 73, took his Oscar-winning directing skills to the small screen, too.
In a sad coincidence, a pivotal episode Demme recently directed of the Fox drama Shots Fired, titled "The Fire This Time," is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Wednesday. At a Fox press session in January, star Richard Dreyfuss singled out Demme's episode as "killer." (I've only seen the first six episodes, but this one is particularly memorable.)
The show, which deals with the aftermath of a police-involved shooting, was created by filmmakers Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights).
"This is a television show, but we think of it as a 10-hour film, and having that mentality, we wanted to go after feature directors," said Prince-Bythewood, who directed two episodes. "And it was very exciting to be able to show them the script and tell them our vision of the show, and they wanted to come aboard.
"It was not a tough sell at all. In wanting feature directors, we also wanted people that would come in and not just think of it as, 'I’m coming in for a week to do a TV episode and leaving.' Everybody came in, wanted to do research, wanted to read the whole bible. Wanted to read all the character work and really dig in and really get great performances."
Demme's other TV credits in recent years include the pilot episode of Amazon's The New Yorker Presents, two episodes of AMC's The Killing, and two episodes of HBO's critically acclaimed Enlightened.
He also produced and directed the PBS P.O.V. documentary, I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful.