EXCLUSIVE: 'Mozart in the Jungle' Author Blair Tindall Dishes on the Hit Amazon TV Series--Renewed for 2nd Season
Mozart in the Jungle, the TV series about love, ambition and jealousy backstage at the symphony, was recently renewed for a second season on Amazon Instant Video. The series is based on oboist Blair Tindall's 2005 memoir of her life as a freelance musician in New York, playing in iconic Broadway musicals and subbing with the New York Philharmonic.
"The first season of Mozart in the Jungle was a big hit with our customers and I'm thrilled that we're able to produce a second season," Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. Season two will premiere in early 2016.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tindall about her book, the series, and life after Mozart in the Jungle.
Tindall had news of her own to share with me. "I just got signed by a major Hollywood agency," she told me over the phone from Los Angeles. "Everything happened yesterday. We're all sitting in a boardroom, and... they're looking at me, and I'm not the typical slick Hollywood person (although I did get my hair done...) And they're interested in somebody who has had a real experience, they're interested in the real thing," she said, referring to her decades of experience as a freelance musician.
The Hollywood agency will represent Tindall as a screenwriter and novelist. She told me she is planning to write a second book, about her life after Mozart in the Jungle.
The atmosphere at Amazon Studios was decidedly different, Tindall said: "I'm so fortunate because this whole Amazon thing is so not Hollywood: they let me on the set, and they let me be in the show." Tindall was a consultant for the series, and she appears in the season finale--as a member of the New York Symphony, but playing French horn, not oboe.
Tindall said she is delighted with how the series turned out. "One night, I was coming home in a limousine with Malcolm McDowell and Paul Weitz, he's the director... It's like 2 in the morning, and they're going to drop me off. And we're chatting, and I just turned to him and said, 'I cannot thank you enough for making us real. We're real--finally.'"
Tindall is referring to the way classical musicians are often portrayed in the media: as idealized types and not as real people living real lives. That was one of her goals for her 2005 book: to show the real lives of classical musicians.
"I was trying to represent musicians as wonderful, hardworking, unrecognized people," she said.
"The tragedy to me of the way the classical music community looks at the book is-- nobody READ it! You know, they're all like, 'Oh, she was just trying to out people, and now she's rich,'" Tindall said. "Well, I'm not rich. And I wasn't trying to out anybody--except for [conductor] Keith Lockhart. But he deserved it," she said, laughing.
"I was really trying to show... look at what these [musicians] have worked so hard at, and why doesn't anybody see what a great thing it is, and why are they not recognized for what they've done?"
"It really wasn't a tell-all memoir. The book was about the rise of culture in late 20th century America. And I added the memoir at the last minute, because I just knew... If I was going to sit down and write this thing for a year, it had better pay off," she explained.
I asked her about the fallout she has received from the classical music community after the book was published.
"It's been hideous... People were so upset about the book," she said. "It's like the Stockholm Syndrome or something... [Musicians] have been so unrecognized and sort of abused by the people who make all the money (who are the administrators), and we're the people who make--the noise, you know? and we're just sort of screwed," she said, laughing. "So it's sort of like the musicians are loving their captors or something."
Negative fallout from the book even affected Tindall's music career. "I could not find work for 10 years," she said. "I kept almost running out of money. I had to find work somehow."
"So I went out and found all of these weird jobs. I was driving an airport limo until just recently. I got a real estate license, and sold real estate out of a car wash ... I did all these strange things. It was funny, and I knew this was great material, so I just wrote it all down."
Tindall said that her experiences as a musician trying to make ends meet in America will become material for her second book.
"I knew it was going to be rough for a while, and it was, but it was also entertaining," she said.
Tindall said her life has changed for the better since the premiere of the Amazon TV series.
"I was able to invite anyone I wanted to the premiere, so I invited about 150 people, and nearly all of them came, including some members of the New York Philharmonic... And on the next night my very dear friend Sherri, she took me out to this incredibly fancy sushi dinner, and the sushi had gold leaf on it. And you're welcome to put this in your story: two days later, I pooped out gold!" she said, laughing. "I told her that, and it's been a joke ever since."
"So I mean, this has been such a rough 10 years," Tindall concluded. "People hated the book so much... and now I'm pooping out gold."