Once fired for having no sex appeal, actress Pamela Adlon now writes, directs and stars in her own acclaimed television show, Better Things, which is based on her real-life experiences as an older actress and single mother to three girls.
And being sacked from a TV show in the early 2000s is how she met comedian Louis C.K., her long-time friend, collaborator and co-creator of Better Things.
"I got fired. But 'no t**s' is, I think, a metaphor," says Adlon, 51, explaining that the producers of the show in question simply did not think she had sex appeal.
But to C.K., 50, she sounded "perfect".
He says: "When I was casting Lucky Louie, a series I had on HBO in 2006, I wanted to cast a wife who was a real, complete and funny person."
They were speaking at a recent press event in Beverly Hills.
The prime mover and shaker in transforming Hollywood has more than 100 million subscribers globally, which frees it from having to answer to advertisers or release viewership figures. It also wields a massive budget for content, which will increase from US$6 billion (S$8.1 billion) this year to US$7 billion next year, giving it even more power to outbid traditional television networks and movie studios for shows and films.
TOUGH TIMES FOR BIG STUDIOS
Cinema attendance in the United States has sunk to a 19-year low and profits at the big film studios are down as more viewers turn to streaming content on-demand at home.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that cinema attendance in 2014, when 1.26 billion people went to a movie theatre in the US, was the lowest since 1995, when the figure was 1.21 billion. And from 2007 to 2011, profits at the top five studios - Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Disney - fell by 40 per cent, reported Vanity Fair.
With shrinking margins, the studios are increasingly playing it safe and relying on franchises, remakes and blockbuster action films which they think will sell well overseas. But this has made them more reluctant to take creative risks and audiences are arguably growing weary of the usual playbook, with disappointing box-office results the last two summers for many remakes, sequels and other big tent-pole films in the US.
AMAZON AND OTHER VIDEO-STREAMING SERVICES
The online retailer is nipping at Netflix's heels with an estimated US$4.5-billion budget set aside for video-streaming content this year.
Hulu, an online-only service, is also a contender, especially after its high-profile wins for the drama series The Handmaid's Tale at the Emmys this month.
Traditional broadcast and cable TV networks in the US, such as HBO and CBS, have also launched their own streaming services, and media juggernaut Disney plans to do the same after announcing recently that it will pull all its movies from Netflix.
INTERLOPERS FROM SILICON VALLEY
Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat are all eyeing a piece of the content-streaming pie and are making moves to create original programming of their own.
Facebook has reportedly been in talks to produce original shows with the runtime and budget of cable-TV productions, with a particular interest in coming up with popular reality series, melodramas and comedy.
Apple, together with Amazon, is in a bidding war for the distribution rights to the James Bond films and has set aside a US$1-billion budget to produce original scripted programming.
Google, which owns YouTube, has hinted that it is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and team up with celebrities such as Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and Ellen DeGeneres to do so.
INDIVIDUAL CONTENT CREATORS
Content creators such as comedian Louis C.K. and film-maker Steven Soderbergh are also trying to adapt to the video-streaming revolution, or at least circumvent the traditional studio-and-network system.
Disenchanted with Hollywood, Soderbergh swore off making movies for four years, then returned recently with the crime caper Logan Lucky, which the director of Erin Brockovich (2000) and Ocean's 11 (2001) produced and marketed independently in a bid to prove that the way big studios release and sell their films is bloated and ineffective. The experiment has had mixed results, however - despite strong reviews, the film made a mere US$40 million worldwide against its US$29-million budget.
Producer Phil Rosenthal, creator of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996 to 2005), had recommended Adlon, who won a 2002 Emmy for voicing a teenage boy on the acclaimed cartoon King Of The Hill (1997 to 2009).
C.K. adds: "He said, 'I worked on a show and this woman was the funniest woman I had ever worked with, but she got fired because she had no t**s.'
"And she came in and was unlike anybody else I'd seen doing comedy acting. When she came in to play the mum, she looked like a tired mum who was failing at being a mother, which you're just not allowed to show."
The story of her firing features in a Season 1 episode of Better Things, with Rosenthal playing himself.
The show - the second season of which airs on FX on Fridays at 10pm - also borrows freely from other tribulations in her life, especially when it comes to her three daughters with ex-husband Felix O. Adlon, the son of German director Percy Adlon.
C.K. says when he and Pamela Adlon first met, he wondered how she juggled work and her kids.
"I said, 'How do you do it all?', which is a question she gets a lot. And she said, 'I don't - everybody gets screwed.' And the way she talked about being a mother, I liked it - it was funny to me."
That plain-speaking perspective on parenting infuses the show, which sees Adlon's character Sam having to juggle a demanding mother, a distant ex-husband and three headstrong daughters.
In the first episode of Season 2, Sam has to bite her tongue when her oldest girl, a teenager, starts dating a man in his 30s - another detail ripped from her own life.
"My oldest daughter had this a**hole (boyfriend) - it was a nightmare," admits Adlon, who has an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the role. "But the more I would say things, the harder they would go towards each other and it was out of my control.
"And so I kind of learnt from other parents and other scenarios. Like, I let boys sleep over, not necessarily in the same bed. You try to stay on top of and monitor it. You just try to keep hold of what you can without scaring everybody away," says the actress, who also appeared in the series Californication (2007 to 2014).
"It's more 'overwhelmed parenting' than 'passive parenting'," C.K. adds.
And just as he encourages Adlon to crib from her own life for Better Things, she does the same for him when it comes to his loosely autobiographical series Louie (2010 to present), which she co-wrote and guest-starred in as his girlfriend. She was nominated for an Emmy for the role.
C.K. says: "I've called her sometimes after a terrible moment in my life. Here I am seriously upset and I'm expecting, 'Oh my god, are you okay?' But she just laughs so hard and I'm astonished that this is a funny thing. And then she tells me, 'You know you have a new bit, you have a new script.'
"A lot of my favourite work that I've done has started with that conversation."
•Better Things 2 airs on FX (StarHub TV Channel 507, Singtel TV Channel 310, streaming service FOX+) on Fridays at 10pm.