Video interview with Tony Fanning (designer of “The First Lady” production)

“We did six versions of the White House, which was a big undertaking,” reveals the production designer JOnly Fanning about her extensive work on Showtime’s limited series “The First Lady.” “We had to do the incoming administration and the outgoing administration for everyone,” he proclaims, adding for our recent Q&A, “we had an amazing research team and documentation on the Eleanor and Obama blocks.” We chatted with Fanning as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with the 2022 Emmy nominees. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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The Emmy-winning production designer (for the pilot “The West Wing”) is credited alongside another Emmy-winning production designer Todd Fjelsted (“GLOW”) with the creation of the world of “The First Lady,” Showtime’s 10-episode limited series about the wives of three very different presidents and their experiences in the White House. While Fjelsted was designing the sets for the Michelle Pfeiffer-LEDs betty ford parts of the series, Fanning designed the segments focusing on the mandates of Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) and Michelle obama (Viola Davis). Fanning has created more than 350 sets for the series, a challenge made all the more daunting by spanning multiple decades and even centuries.

“The biggest task for us was to build the actual interiors of the White House,” says Fanning. “I know that very well from ‘The West Wing,'” he adds, explaining that “I knew the ins and outs and how to get there. So the big business is getting the show up and running. But our other challenge was that we had a huge number of sets that needed to be done for the whole story, because we spend very little time, even though it’s based around the White House, we still do the time before the White House, when they court and marry, then the post-presidency.

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