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‘Jane the Virgin’ Star Justin Baldoni Developing Men’s Talk Show (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 7/6/2017 Elizabeth Wagmeister
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Justin Baldoni is developing a male talk show through his media company, Wayfarer EntertainmentVariety has learned exclusively.

The talk show, titled “The Men’s Room,” is described as a disruptive weekly panel series that explores what it means to be a man today. The series is based on Baldoni’s real-life social media presence, which frequently engages his followers on the subject of redefining masculinity, female empowerment, fitness, marriage and fatherhood. Each week, the revolving cast will reveal their most personal and intimate feelings, discussing hot topics about manhood itself and the role men play in society — conversations that aren’t normally had by men, especially in the spotlight.

Best known for his starring role on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” Baldoni doubles as a serious producer and has been making waves with Wayfarer Ent., which was behind the CW’s docuseries “My Last Days.” Co-founded by Baldoni, who serves as the production company’s CEO, Wayfarer in known for producing meaningful and inspirational content.

Baldoni will serve as the on-camera moderator on “The Men’s Room.” Wayfarer Entertainment is currently assembling a diverse cast of five men to join Baldoni as on-camera talent on the panel.

The show, which will take place in a trendy restaurant setting, will go into production this August in L.A. with Wayfarer fully funding the pilot and a couple of additional episodes this summer, before being shopped around. The company is eyeing a premium digital platform to co-produce an entire season.

While the talk show space has been dominated by shows with female casts in the daytime space like “The View” and “The Talk,” Baldoni believes the time is right for men to enter the genre, partly because of the increased conversation revolving around gender equality.

“I think that one of the main reasons the talk show space hasn’t previously seen an all-male show is simply because our culture has taught men that they need to be strong, confident, and stoic and that emotions are a sign of weakness. Men in our society have been socialized to suppress their feelings. We want to challenge men to open up and be okay talking to each other, and more importantly, form deep and meaningful relationships,” Baldoni tells Variety. “We will probably get our fair share of negative feedback, but we think that’s a good thing.”

He adds, “The talk show format has previously been dominated by women because it was originally designed for stay-at-home moms to watch while their husbands were gone at work.”

The idea for the show came to Baldoni simply because of his own experiences and personality, which he describes as “a hopeless romantic and a feminist at my core.” Case in point: before “Jane the Virgin,” the 33-year old actor, who now has one toddler daughter, went viral for a video he produced of his proposal to his wife. He also created a similar video announcing his wife’s pregnancy.

“I’ve never had any qualms about my emotions or the expression of love for everyone in my life, but at the same time, have felt trapped by my need and desire to ‘man up’ or act a certain way to be accepted,” Baldoni explains. “My journey has been one of trying to understand the duality of my own masculinity and through that process I have seen how many men are really just like me.”

The show will cover topics from marriage and dating and fatherhood, to love and sex, and even infidelity, shame, and porn. “On ‘The Men’s Room,’ we will cover a little bit of everything,” Baldoni says. “Anything men secretly think about, yet don’t always have an opportunity to openly discuss.”

The Wayfarer team isn’t committed to a specific format or running time for the show, and the producers are also keeping an open mind when it comes to distribution platforms, though Baldoni says, “There’s something uniquely disruptive about redefining masculinity with influencers and I would love for ‘The Men’s Room’ to air on HBO or Netflix, who have been disrupting both content and the way we access it.”

Keeping in line with Wayfarer’s slate and the changing television landscape, the goal for the panel show is rooted in the content, rather than numbers.

“Our intention for creating this show is not just to be seen by millions, but to be seen by the people who need it, who are ready for it, and who want to see men come into their own and embrace another side of themselves,” Baldoni expresses. “It’s not about the money, the size of the sale for us, or even where it lives — it’s about the integrity of the conversation, and the intention behind the show.”

And even though “The Men’s Room” is aptly targeting male viewers, Baldoni hopes the show will find female fans, as well.

“This show is being created by and for men, first and foremost, but we also know that women will find it interesting to have this insight into men — and to know that not all of us want to be a part of ‘locker room’ talk,” Baldoni quips.

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