MuggleNet Interviews Billy McNamara of “The Trouble With Billy,” a New TV Series Featuring Muggle Quidditch
by Keith Hawk · Published · Updated
MuggleNet has just completed a new interview with television and movie star William “Billy” McNamara. Billy has been on the big screen with stars like Al Pacino, Ben Stiller, Jodie Foster, Tom Berenger, Ice-T, Jeff Bridges, and so many more. This interview with Billy relates to his new television series, called The Trouble with Billy, which will be the very first television show to feature the sport of Muggle quidditch.
The Trouble with Billy follows the adventurous trials and tribulations of a fallen star as he tries to revive his career and save his soul in the shark-infested waters of modern-day Hollywood. No “showbiz posse.” Instead, Billy’s only companion, his trusty pitbull, Boo. This is the anti-Entourage.
The Trouble with Billy includes Muggle quidditch star Matt Ziff, who plays for the University of Miami quidditch team and was a member of the US Quidditch team this past summer during the Olympic Torch Ceremony. Matt has been a friend of MuggleNet since having been interviewed by MuggleNet SnitchCenter during the Quidditch World Cup in 2011. Now, we are thrilled to see that Matt and Billy McNamara are bringing the fast-growing sport of Muggle quidditch to the television audience. A first for the sport and certainly not the last.
MuggleNet is asking you, the Harry Potter fans, to support this excellent television series in whatever way you are able to, either by heading over to The Trouble with Billy‘s Facebook page or by supporting the Kickstarter program going on through Saturday evening. On behalf of Matt and Billy and the MuggleNet team, thank you for your support.
Transcribed by Marissa Osman
Keith Hawk: MuggleNet is privileged to have with us today William McNamara, also known as Billy Mac. Billy Mac is a star of TV and movies from the '80s and '90s. I've watched him in many films, and here's just a brief summary of what he's been in: Copycat, Scent of a Woman [Transcriber's Note: William McNamara was not involved with Scent of a Woman. This title might have been confused with a movie of McNamara's called The Ascent], Stealing Home, Chasers - and by the way, in Chasers, I absolutely loved Erika Eleniak - Stella, Texasville. He has performed with people like Al Pacino, Ben Stiller, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Berenger, Jodie Foster, Mark Harmon, Elisabeth Shue, Ice-T, Gary Busey, Jeff Bridges. We're going back to a ton of stars, even Philip Seymour Hoffman you had in one of your films. I guess that's when he was first starting out in the business too. How are you today, Billy?
William McNamara: I'm very, very good. You mentioned Erika Eleniak; I'm still friends with her. We were engaged a long time ago.
Keith: Were you really?
William: We lived together for three years and we had a great relationship, [and then] went our separate ways. You should have her on MuggleNet because I know her kid is a huge fan of Harry Potter, so she would love to do it.
Keith: Hook me up! [laughs]
William: [laughs] You're hooked up!
Keith: Sounds great. I remember her in Under Siege and I was like, "Oh my goodness!"
William: Yep. I remember her too.
Keith: I'm sure you do. Let's keep this PG. [laughs] Anyway, we are here with Billy for a special reason. I was contacted the other day by Matt Ziff. For all the fans out there, Matt Ziff is a University of Miami quidditch player who has a few movies under his belt. He was contacted by Billy to be in his upcoming project called The Trouble with Billy. Tell me a little about this project.
William: The Trouble with Billy is a scripted fictional show. So it's not a reality show, but I want it to look like reality. It's loosely based on my loosely-lived life.
William: But again, it is all very fictional. Basically, it's a guy who comes back to Hollywood. It's like the caveman that gets frozen in the ice block and 10,000 years later the ice block melts and the guy is alive and he's running around in this completely foreign place. Same idea. Billy leaves the business for about... Actually, I did. I left the business for about seven years. At the tail end of a major lawsuit in Malibu I went through. A land lawsuit with Malibu the city. I was just sick and tired, and I went back to the East Coast and got heavily involved in animal rescue. That's where the show starts off. Billy comes back to Hollywood to reclaim his career and he's met with one challenge after another. If you remember Scrooged, he falls asleep and takes the Ghost of Christmas Past - or the ghost of his past - takes him around and shows him all of the mistakes he made. "Look at this bad thing you did. Look at that bad thing you did." The character Billy is having to come face-to-face with his karma and [the] mistakes he's made over the years. Every time he tries to get back up and makes it a few steps forward, he gets blown about 25 steps backward.
Keith: It sounds like everybody's life that I know. [laughs]
William: Yes! It's a very universal theme, especially right now in the economy where people all of [a] sudden turn 40, they've been let go from their jobs, and they're like, "What do I do now? I've been doing this for 20 years! What else can I do? Work at Starbucks?" It's the anti-Entourage. It's not about a guy that's worth a billion dollars [whose] got some neurosis, it's a guy who's living out of his car with his pitbull and trying to make a comeback in a town that's a very challenging place to live.
Keith: You're going to make this into a TV series. Tell me about how you're going to make it into a TV series.
William: When I first started shooting little vignettes - 3, 4, 5 minute little things - I was posting them on Facebook about a year ago. I got a lot of attention. I wasn't expecting it, I was just making little comedy routines about what was going on in my life. I got a lot of attention, and I have a lot of Facebook friends that work at production companies. Two major production companies contacted me. I went in, I worked with one of them for about two months. We wrote different treatments. They didn't understand my concept, so I really decided to take this to Kickstarter which is a crowdsource funding organization on the web, and it's been very successful in the last couple of years. Loads of my friends have started their projects [there] - whether it's a TV show, a feature film, or an invention that they've created, or a game or book - and have been very successful and started their businesses off of Kickstarter. So I decided to take my project to Kickstarter and I wrote a script. I got some great people attached, and I shot a sizzle reel which is what they call it in the industry. It's sort of a proposal - a presentation - of what the concept is. I did that for no money and I put it up on Kickstarter and I've raised so far about $20,000, hoping to raise all in all $30,000. I'm going to shoot my own television pilot and then I'm going to shop it at the networks. And that's how I'm going to do it. I'm shooting for cable, like FX or Comedy Central, or [the] best-case scenario would be Showtime.
Keith: Great. Yeah, right now you're at $22,299. You've got $10,000 more to go. I know your original pledge was for $15,000 and if you double that it's all the better. Unfortunately, we're getting this a little late, and I apologize about that, but we only have a day and a half left, maybe two days left? 69 hours, so we've got a little bit of time. I'm going to put this up on the web tonight and hopefully, we can get you some supporters from MuggleNet. We are very, very familiar with the Kickstarter program. We've had a bunch of fandom videos that have gone [through there]. The fans make their own Harry Potter-style videos. We've had the Auror's Tale in New York City. We've had the Battle of Hogwarts over in the U.K. All these were done by Kickstarters. So we know how important it is to get this stuff going. So we're going to definitely support you on this, and let me go into the reason we are supporting it, [which is because of] Matt Ziff. How did you get in touch with Matt Ziff, or did Matt Ziff get in touch with you? How did you guys meet up, and how is quidditch going to be involved in this series? I'm really excited about that.
William: Lots of good questions. The Matt Ziff thing is very interesting. I did an interview a couple of weeks ago with a guy that has a website. His name is Oscar Benjamin, and we talked about the whole thing and I [told] him all about The Trouble with Billy, and he had said to me, "You know Billy, there's a young actor that I just did an interview with that you should definitely talk to. His name is Matt Ziff." I said, "Great, sounds good. Send me some information." So he sent me an IMDB page, his demo reel is up on the IMDb page. He's good, he's young, and interestingly enough, he plays a sport called quidditch. He's actually very good, and he's very well known in the quidditch world.
Keith: Yes he is.
William: So I thought to myself, "Wow, wouldn't it be cool for my TV series to be the first TV series ever to have quidditch as part of the show? So I thought, "First of all, Matt Ziff is a good actor [and] a good-looking kid, and he's a quidditch star." And I thought, "Wait a minute, let's create a character for Matt. Let's bring quidditch into the equation and have it the first TV show ever to have quidditch as part of the show." One of the ideas is, one of Billy's older female fans from Stealing Home - the movie I did 20 years ago with Jodie Foster - says to Billy, "Hey, you know my nephew does this thing called quidditch." And I'm like, "Quidditch? You mean from Harry Potter? They fly on brooms?" She goes, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Same idea. Huge following. They were the pre-games for the Olympics. My nephew's a quidditch star. He would be so good." She's got this crazy idea to get me involved for publicity, to get back in the spotlight again. And it's actually a very intelligent idea, and Billy goes, "Great!" [This is] another one of Billy's crazy ideas that he jumps on board [with]. He says, "Let's do it." So Matthew's character, Warren, in the show comes on board, and he decides to start coaching me in quidditch. And yes, I'm probably 25 years too old. This is where the idea came from originally: Back in March of 2012, I had a terrible skateboarding accident, right? Shattered my wrist. You probably can't see the scar right there. I went to the emergency room, and I had to have emergency surgery. All steel in there now. And the surgeon said to me as he was putting me under anesthesia, "How old are you?" And I told him. He said, "Don't you think you're too old to be skateboarding?" I thought, "You know what? He's right." And then I went unconscious.
William: So the same idea with quidditch. It's all these college kids, but Matthew - or Warren, the character - convinces his team to let me play quidditch. I do all this getting ready to play this sport. I'm working out, Matthew is teaching me quidditch to this huge climactic point where Billy gets in his first quidditch game, and of course, the trouble of Billy is, Billy gets his eye poked out by a broomstick in the first five minutes of playing. So Billy [not only is] out of the game, looks like a loser, and is definitely too old to be playing, but he'll [also] be wearing an eye patch in the next five episodes.
Keith: Nice. Now, what position did you play?
William: Well, we haven't started shooting yet. Matt is going to be teaching all the stuff in real-time, so we'll find
which position I'm gonna play. It's down to Matthew.
Keith: Yeah. Matthew, as you said, went to the pre-Olympics, he represented the USA team which took home the gold. That was a big event for Muggle quidditch. We met last year during the Quidditch World Cup. I'm sure that was when he introduced me to you. We were covering the Quidditch World Cup as we will again in April, and I interviewed Matt. I heard he was an up-and-coming star, and I was like, "I have got to get him on film and see, not only about quidditch but [also] about his acting career. He was telling me some stuff, and it turned out well so we maintained a friendship. I'm excited. The International Quidditch Association is huge - it is growing at a rapid pace - so you are a smart, smart man to put quidditch on the TV series because you will grab an audience that you probably never would have had otherwise. It's a massive, massive audience, and it's an exciting audience. It's a lot of college kids, high school teams are now forming all over the place, and quidditch does have a big following, so it's really great to see that and have it featured in a film or movie series or a TV series like this. It's just great, and it's going to be great for the sport, too. So I'm totally excited about this. Kudos to you for bringing this up.
William: Thank you. I've got another show that I produced that I created that's already on the air. I'm not sure Matthew told you. That's on National Geographic, Tuesday nights at 9:00 P.M. It's called Animal Intervention. [The show is] with my partner, Alison Eastwood, and we rescue exotic animals all over the United States. Exotic animals that are in peril in private ownership that shouldn't be in private ownership. So we're like a hostage negotiation team that goes in there to release these animals. The way into the TV business... The writing business in Hollywood is very hard to get into unless you go in through the back door, which is non-scripted reality television. So I've done that, now I'm trying to get in the front door with the scripted show The Trouble with Billy, and I'm hoping that quidditch will be a huge part of that.
Keith: It sounds great. I'm glad to see you're back. Like I said, I did see a lot of your films as you were in your 20s and 30s. And I guess [you were] the teenage heartthrob of many young girls out there, so welcome back. This is really exciting. I appreciate you coming on for just a little bit. Thank you for having taken some time with us, and we will definitely help promote the show. Please keep us up to date as to how it's going and when your pilots are shot.
Keith: We'll feature some quidditch films in there as well as your overall story.
William: That'd be great.
Keith: Thank you so much, Billy for your time, and have a great day. Good luck with the rest of the Kickstarter.