I was a fan of CLAWS from the pilot. The characters were fresh and indelible. Casting was perfection. The world the series inhabited was delicious – a nail salon in business with the Dixie mafia. CLAWS had no shame, no guilt, and no boundaries.
The first season’s plots were wonderfully overstuffed with naked greed, unwise sex, outrageous behavior, and vertiginous plot twists. When a staff position opened up for Season Two, I wanted the job and interviewed, but another writer was hired (he didn’t work out well). Frankly, I felt that Season Two started to go off the rails, and Season Three suffered from an unfunny principal storyline and some unfortunate guest casting.
As the inaugural (and, sadly, only) season of TINY PRETTY THINGS wound up, I got the call that the CLAWS room needed help in its fourth and final season. Co-showrunners Emily Silver and Sharon Lee Watson warned me that the show was in script trouble, the star was unhappy, and the hours could be terrible. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I loved that room – the writers and assistants were as brilliant as the show at its best. Emily and Sharon made a fantastic team. CLAWS was back to its Season One brilliance.
In late February 2020, I was sent to the set in New Orleans to produce episodes in production and begin pre-production on my first episode. The stages were in a converted Mardi Gras float factory nudged up against a levee along the Mississippi. The hours were long, but not impossible. The unhappiness of the show’s star, Niecy Nash, with the scripts cast a shadow over production, but I was determined to get along with her. I listened to her concerns and discovered she was usually right. We worked on scenes together and made a good team. Niecy was happy. The CLAWS train was back on schedule and on budget. The company had four days off over Mardi Gras weekend, which we fully enjoyed.
And then… stories started appearing about a new virus running rampant through a nursing home in Washington and a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Miami. Should we be worried when our hotel, full of passengers embarking and disembarking from cruise ships, suddenly provided hand sanitizers were in the lobby and doormen opened and closed the doors for everyone? Word circulated that the Mardi Gras we had all just enjoyed shoulder-to-shoulder was being called a super-spreader event. Covid had arrived. Within days, production shut down and I was on a plane back to Los Angeles.
We had completed only five episodes with five more remaining in this ultimate season. Would they ever be produced?
Warner Brothers Television Studios allowed Emily and Sharon to have the writers work by Zoom to complete those final five scripts in hopes that filming would resume within a few weeks. It would take months, and once filming was up and running again, all the writers had been released, so I wasn’t able to return to the set. It was a dark time, not helped when months later, TINY PRETTY THINGS was cancelled. I heard that production, when it resumed, was grueling. No matter – those final five episodes are among the best of the series and I’m proud to have had a part in creating them.
David and Harold Perrineau share a laugh between takes
Getting in the spirit of CLAWS with a mani pedi at iNails on Hollywood Boulevard.
A statue from a Mardi Gras float presents the crew lunch at the studio in New Orleans.
David between producing director Dale Stern and director Damian Marcano watching a take.
David with episode 404 guest star and nicest guy in the world, Brett Azar
Gissette Valentin, Niecy Nash, Brett Azar, Jennifer Lyon, and Judy Reyes smile between takes on episode 404
Bringing production designer Vincent Jefferds’s inspired design of the Season 4 salon to life
Hard-working crew getting a night shot before a Louisiana rainstorm breaks
David on the rig filming a night driving scene
David has joined the staff of CHICAGO P.D. as writer and co-executive producer. Watch local listings for the Season 11 premiere on NBC.
David is on the committee raising funds for The Hollywood Arts Collective, 151 units of affordable housing for artists in the heart of Hollywood. Learn more and donate at https://entertainmentcommunity.org/HAC