‘There was pushback’: Pam & Tommy makers open up about show’s animatronic talking penis scene

The team behind Disney+’s highly anticipated drama about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee have revealed there was pushback about one possibly controversial scene.

According to the show’s makers, a scene featuring Sebastian Stan (who plays Lee) having a conversation with an animatronic version of his own genitals initially baffled the network who commissioned the programme. “There was gentle pushback, because you’ve got to push back a little when a talking penis is presented to you. But Hulu was extremely supportive,” writer Robert Siegel told Variety, of the network who produced the show, before Disney+ decided to bring it to the UK.

Siegel says the scene was not his own invention, but hails from Lee’s autobiography, Tommyland. “As much as I’d like to take credit for that, I was simply adapting a chapter from [Lee’s] memoir,” says Siegel. “I think it might be a first [for television].”

Pam & Tommy tells the tale of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s infamous 90s sex tape, which became publicly available after it was stolen from a safe in their house. Starring alongside Stan is one-time Downton Abbey star Lily James as the ex-Baywatch actor. It is based on a 2014 Rolling Stone article, Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape, which details how, once they discovered the tape was missing, they tried to contain the leak.

Shooting the scene involved a team of specialist technicians, responsible for bringing the replica genitals to life. “You’ve got four puppeteers working with an animatronic penis,” commented director and executive producer Craig Gillespie, who described the shooting process as “just awkward”.

The programme was created without involvement from the real-life celebrities who inspired it, with Anderson not responding to the show’s attempts to contact her. “She’s chosen not to engage,” says Siegel. “So we’ve respected her desire not to be involved.”

Her friend Courtney Love has previously commented on the show’s production, egter. In Mei, sy wrote a now-deleted Facebook post stating that the sex tape was a “form of sexual assault”, being highly critical of Pam & Tommy for revisiting the incident. “My heart goes out to Pammy, further causing her complex trauma,” Love wrote.

According to Stan, Lee had a slightly warmer reaction, being “touched and appreciative that I took the time to even reach out and connect”. Egter, he didn’t want to become formally associated with the project.

The contentious scene appears in the second of the series’ eight-episode run. The genitals are voiced by actor Jason Mantzoukas, whose credits include playing The Good Place’s Derek and Adrian Pimento in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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