When Pam and Tommy's photos appeared on the tabloids, they knew they were in for a treat

When Pam and Tommy's photos appeared on the tabloids, they knew they were in for a treat ...

IndieWire speaks with the creators and showrunners behind a few of our favorite Emmy-nominated television series about the moment they realized their show was breaking big.

The internet was flooded with images of Lily James and Sebastian Stan, remaking the famous photo of Pamela Anderson biting Tommy Lees' nipple ring, last year.

The actors, particularly James, seemed to understand how people responded to her. According to the series' creators, it was like James dressing up in a superhero outfit, to get into the role of Pamela Anderson.

Anderson was the fan Siegel and DeVincentis most hoped to enthuse, according to IndieWire via Zoom. Taking into account the rise of #MeToo and other cultural reassessments of women in the industry, they realized they couldnt just bash on aesthetic similarities, but instead highlight the important themes that pushed Anderson to such a loss during this time in her life.

Editors' Note: The interview has been edited for clarity.

When you first started programming IndieWire, how did you anticipate that people would respond to the program?

Robert Siegel: This was my first television project. I come from an indie film industry where success is measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was basically the fact that it would be available on a major streaming service seen by I still, frankly, do not know how many people have seen it. But I knew that exponentially more people would see it.

D.V. DeVincentis: It's really difficult to know what will happen next, especially at a relatively early stage like deciding whether or not you'll be able to write something. It's just fantastic if something you're really passionate about makes you want to live with it for months or years, and it's also something that people are able to see.

Was there a moment after the program was over?

DeVincentis: The highlight for me was when some paparazzi took a photo of Lily in a Baywatch setting and leaked it. People went completely bananas, like it broke the internet. That was when I realized that this was a popular project, and also when I knew that the message that we were going to bring would be told in a certain way. Because our version of the story is not what the public had created for themselves way back then, we would continue to enjoy the actual story.


Siegel: That Baywatch shot, the paparazzi shot D.V. is referring to, landed the following day on the cover of The New York Post, which as a New Yorker is the benchmark.

The video of Lily and Sebastian recreating the nipple ring bite on YouTube was quite sensational before that.

DeVincentis: The first picture from the show was Pam biting Tommy's nipple ring. And that became a popular topic on the internet right off the bat. It was just a moment of fun. They just did it for two seconds.

What was it like to see Lily and Sebastian in costume for the first time?

Siegel: It was a thrill to talk to them about it and how much it helped them. You know that somebody will spend four and a half hours a day in the makeup chair, but you know that theyre already drained by the time 7 a.m. comes around and it's time to shoot.


Lily, bless her heart, was already on set applying latex, yet she has always said she loved it as an acting tool.

Do you want to keep up with the social media reaction?

DeVincentis: I tend to avoid looking at social media responses and reviews in general because I discovered in the past that I either agreed or I disagreed with them and there is nothing I can do. Or if they are critical of it I can agree with their criticism, but now there is nothing I can do about it.

But the conversations that came up in this case were more philosophical discussions and discussion about power dynamics, and the conversations about how things have evolved since then [and] where things havent changed since then were really interesting to me. Theres plenty of really good writing about the program that tapped into Rob and me and was enjoyable to read and look at.

Siegel: I was also trying to determine whether or not the program was being enjoyed by a lot of people, which is difficult to judge because you could type in any three random words in the past hour, and you'll get 2300 tweets about it.

COVID's unfortunate drawback was that I was hoping for some random overheard things while getting your hair cut or at the gym. I wanted to hear people talking about it and then be tempted, but ultimately not, walk over to them and say, That was my show, by the way.

DeVincentis: I was getting my hair cut and hearing two hairstylists near me in the salon talk about how much Lily was like Pam. They were like, yeah, thats all perfect. But then they started talking about Pam and how she felt like Pam. That just made me so happy. Pam and the qualities that Rob and I saw in Pamela Anderson were the heart and soul of the program.

Why are you convinced that we are open to reassessing, as a society, our treatment of Pamela Anderson?

DeVincentis: I think the #MeToo movement started off. And that reassessment goes backward into culture with things like the Britney Spears documentary. We already had themes and ideas, but when it came out, it boosted my confidence.

When I first started working on the pilot, the show predates #MeToo, in the first few meetings I had with the producer. I think we all suddenly had this entirely new level of relevance, like, Oh, my God, there's a huge new topic that just kind of landed in our laps that the program touches on. There were already issues of privacy, technology, and celebrity there, but the #MeToo aspect of it we backed into.


Pamela Anderson is a popular TV personality who has announced that she will be producing a documentary on her life with Netflix.

Siegel: I'm so excited about it! I cant wait to see it. I'm very interested in it.

There was some criticism of using the Andersons' consent to make this story. What did you expect of those criticisms, and how do you react to them?

DeVincentis: It's a very complex topic, but we were so patient with her; she was our hero. She was also our number one audience. It was a story about the birth of so many things, including a particularly deadly strain of bad behavior, that we have all become addicted to.

He is the original person who is able to exploit someone online without any accountability or responsibility. We all decided to go forward because we knew that our hearts were more than in the right place, and we would care for it every day. I hope she does.

How do you see the rise in limited series like this over the last few years?

Siegel: These are the kinds of stories we like to tell; this is how they are created. Our bread and butter was always the medium-sized film, or at least that's where we tried to make a living. That's not like it had to be replaced by anything.

Television has given you creative freedom and gives you lots and lots of room to express your opinion. Pam and Tommy, as a film, there would just be no room to properly explore it. I think there are stories that are better served as movies. This one did.

Pam and Tommy are now available on Hulu.