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Mitt Romney Helped ‘Veep’ Showrunner Convey Selina Meyer’s Presidential Loss

Variety logo Variety 5/26/2017 Erin Nyren
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The band may have been broken up in Season 6 of HBO’s “Veep,” but the actors chatted and laughed as though nothing was different at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood Thursday evening.

The FYC event took place on the heels of the news that the political satire had been renewed for a Season 7, and featured a screening of the seventh episode of the current season. Afterwards, People magazine editor-in-chief Jess Cagle hosted a panel of the ensemble cast, includingJulia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, and Sam Richardson, and showrunner Dave Mandel.

Mandel took over writing for “Veep” after the end of Season 4, and is responsible for both the storyline of Season 5, which saw President Selina Meyer lose her presidency and the Season 6 plotline in which many of the main cast — no longer employed by Selina — have gone their separate ways.

Mandel said he decided to have Selina lose largely to keep the show funny. “Taking (the presidency) away would sort of throw her into a tizzy and give us another chance to shake everything up,” he explained. “And for everybody else, put them out of jobs and make them, in some cases, damaged goods because they lost the election.”

Louis-Dreyfus concurred. “Failure is our friend on this show,” she said. “(Selina) had to lose because winning is not that funny really.”

The panel discussed the different stories each character had in the new season, including Scott’s Dan Egan becoming a “CBS This Morning” anchor.

“The media has always been a character in the show, there’s always been reporter characters,” Mandel said. “And so the idea of having one of ours jumping to the other side was kind of interesting. Then the media would still be a character, and we’d have Dan giving us news updates.”

The relationship between Hale’s Gary Walsh and Selina Meyer, which Louis-Dreyfus termed “very f—ed up,” was also taken to new heights this season in the episode “Justice” when Selina ended up sleeping in Gary’s bed with him while he recovered from a massive heart attack.

Chlumsky said she enjoyed playing Amy-with-a-fiance this season. “I really love playing people that do things that they’re not even aware of. And Amy is a great opportunity to do that. She gave (finding a boyfriend) a shot, and really thought she was in love. I’ve been calling this the identity crisis season for everybody and she’s a part of that. She’s always been someone who likes to win, but she’s been having loss after loss, so she’s grasping for the familiarity.”

With the 2016 election still on the minds of many, Walsh, who plays press secretary Mike McClintock, said he thinks many are finding the show to be an escape from the real world of politics. “I think people want to laugh at politics now more than ever,” he said. “So that’s why there is a strong engagement and a fervor to watch ‘Veep’ because it’s been terribly depressing and disappointing in D.C.”

Mandel said they brought in Mitt Romney and members of George H.W. Bush’s administration to help the cast understand what it’s like to lose an election. According to him, Romney, who is both a millionaire and the patriarch of a large family, was able to find solace after losing the 2012 election in his money and family.

“And that made us really laugh, because we knew Selina had neither of those things,” Mandel explained.

Season 6 of “Veep” airs Sundays on HBO.

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