Interview with the Cast of La Brea

TV Interview!

Some of the cast of "La Brea" on NBC

Interview with actors of “La Brea” on NBC by Suzanne 9/13/21

This was another TCA Summer Press panel – this time for the NBC show “La Brea” that premieres 9/29. It was a fairly large panel, with showrunner David Appelbaum, actors Natalie Zea, Zyra Gorecki, Eoin Macken, Jack Martin, Chiké Okonkwo and Jon Seda. I saw the first episode and really loved it. I look forward to more. I think NBC is really hoping it does well, from what I can tell.

The problem with a panel this large, though, is that when there are so many people asking questions in a limited time… some actors never get asked a question. Everyone wants to talk to the stars they know, or ask the showrunner story questions. This is especially true when most of us only get to ask one question.

For instance, my question was for star Natalie Zea, whom I’ve enjoyed watching for years ever since I saw her on “Passions.” She’s gone on to many great roles in “Justified,” “Under the Dome,” “The Following” and “Detour.” This is her first dramatic starring role, I believe. I observed that her character seems very smart and asked if she could tell us what she does for a living (as they never say in the pilot episode we saw). She replied, “She’s an office manager. I do know that. I don’t know what an office manager does, but I know that she’s probably really good at it. But I think her smarts are — I think she’s got a lot of street smarts because of how she grew up, which we’re going to find out about that later. But she gets to use a lot of stuff that’s been sort of dormant in her for a little while, and it’s great to get to sort of watch that unfold throughout the season.”

Another reporter asked star Jon Seda if he was just ready for a change from cop dramas to something different, and he asked if it was difficult for him, when “chaos erupts” in the first episode, not to just go into cop mode and help everyone. I thought that was an odd question because of course, he’s just an actor. He’s going to do whatever the script tells him to do. He plays a doctor in this show, not a cop.

Seda agree that it’s a very different show but explained that he’s just glad to be part of such an exciting show that has adventure, mystery and drama. For the second part of his answer, he added that his character is “not exactly [in] cop mode, but I think Dr. Sam does tend to want to help as many people as he can.”

The next press person asked whether any of the show was filmed in La Brea (since they’re shooting most of the show in Australia). Producer Applebaum answered that they only did one shot in La Brea. The rest was shot in Melbourne.

I thought that the next question was really interesting. He told Applebaum that he “was fascinated” by the pilot episode, but he felt the same way about previous NBC scifi shows Manifest and Debris, both of which were canceled (although, to be fair, the first show did have 3 good years). He said that “commercial networks” have done that a lot. I would actually say he’s wrong about that because it’s done by almost all networks, and has been for the past 50 years, and not just commercial networks. Even HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Hulu and others cancel shows after one season. The broadcast networks get a bad rap. Anyway, he asked if he planned to give viewers the idea that they will explain things or wrap the show before the end. Which, by the way, is not a question you should be asking of a show before they even air.

Applebaum gave the best answer he could for such a ridiculous question. He said they’re just trying to make the best show they can, which should be entertaining and emotional. He doesn’t think about cancelation because it’s not his decision. He just focuses on “trying to garner an enthusiastic fan base” from fans of this genre.

Another journalist asked the actors to talk about what made the roles attractive for them. Martin observed that his character, Jack, is just finishing high school and about to go to college, which is an important point in his life, for his development and maturation. The setting we see in the show (after they fall through the tarpits into their mysterious world) is that we get to see people who they really are. The situation is raw and exposes people for who they really are, unfilted. He finds that exciting.

Mackin agrees with Martin, finding the human relationships most interesting. They’re all thrown into a difficult situation (one that is “unfathomable”) and then they have to find their family and solve their “personal issues.” His character, Jon, and his daughter, are trying to figure out if the others are alive and how they can get to them. It puts a strain on them and shows how they would cope.

Gorecki added that she really enjoyed that as well. Gorecki, like her character, Izzy, is an amputee. She liked that the show focuses less on that and more on how she goes from being “just a regular kid with regular kid issues to having to become a hero and having to work with her dad to save her whole family and save everyone.”

Zea is used to roles where she’s linked to a husband as her primary identity. In this role, even though she’s an ex-wife and mom, that’s not her main purpose in the story. Her story is about how she’s “navigating this world as opposed to what my relationship is with my significant other.” Even in this modern age, it’s a fresh role for her to be able to do that.

Okonkwo likes how the show is diverse, since it starts in L.A. They’re just people on their morning commute on Wilshire, but it’s just a real cross section. There’s obviously Americans. There’s a Brit. There’s Australians. There’s a whole cross section of society. And throwing those people together in this primeval world and seeing how they survive, how they relate to one another. Do they devolve or do they rise to the challenge and really support and help each other? That was a real core of the human journey on this show that I was really excited about and that we’re really, I think, all of us enjoyed being a part of it. Because it’s really heightened.” He added that he’s excited about how both the characters above, and the ones in “the hole” go through “this great, incredible journey through the course of this season.”

Seda loves his role because he has so many components, being a “former Navy Seal, doctor, father, husband,” plus he loves shows with action and adventure. There’s a lot of layers and things for an actor to work with.

The panel was also asked, for those who live in L.A., whether they’d “ever had a particularly alarming encounter with a sinkhole?” That was a funny question.

Okonkwo shared, “I actually have. I haven’t told this story. But there was a load of rain about two years ago, at the beginning of the year. And I used to live in Studio City. And across the street from me, a Toyota Prius (no less) sunk into the ground. It was about 6 feet, but it was still quite alarming. So, it just went. It dropped down into the ground. And they had to cordon off the street and tow… grab this Prius out of this hole.

Zea asked him if he’d used this moment as a “sense memory” for his acting. He acknowledged that he had. He had previously wanted to keep it to himself, but now he’s happy to share it. After that, some of the other actors joked around about his experience.

Applebaum was asked about how he came up with the story. He confided that he just had an image that he couldn’t get out of his head of a sinkhole opening up in L.A. He really wanted to start a show that way because he knew it hadn’t been done before and would be very dramatic. Then he had to come up with all of the rest of the story about why it opens, where it leads, and who falls into it. He used this to start creating the “world of characters in situations. And then from there, you know, a thousand other things happen, but it really just started with an image.” Macken joked that it must have been him in the Prius, so Applebaum jokingly replied that it was him.

Another writer asked those who live in L.A. what it was like doing this show, if it had scared them or whether it gave them nightmares.

Zea replied with a joke, sarcastically saying, “No. But thanks for getting that in the old craw, because now I will have nightmares.”

Macken compared it to how people there act when there’s an earthquake. There might be a small tremor, and it gives you pause, but then if nothing else happens, you go about your business. He thought perhaps next time there’s an earthquake, being on this show might give them pause.

Applebaum asked if he got the idea for show while stuck in traffic and whether he was influenced by classic fantasy writer Jules Verne. Applebaum replied thoughtfully that he’s really more influenced by various “action-adventure movies, certainly Spielberg movies,” although he does enjoy Jules Verne.

Another reporter asked Applebaum a similar question about whether they’ll see parts of L.A. in future episodes. Applebaum answered that even though they don’t shoot in L.A., it’s definitely a character in the show. Although a large part of the action does occur down in the primeval world, quite a bit is above the tarpits in the modern world.

Another member of the press asked if anyone there believed in time traveling, since this show hints that it might have that element. Applebaum isn’t sure that it could exist, but he thinks it’s a fascinating question. He loves time travel fiction, and so do his co-showrunners Bryan Wynbrandt and Steven Lilien. All of the actors agree that it’s possible. Martin joked that Applebaum was sent to them from the future, and there was more joking after that. It was a pretty silly question, so they dealt with it well.

Applebaum was also asked about what his pitch to the networks about the show was like.

He told us, “I first brought the idea to Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan and Asher Landay. The main selling point was there’s certainly this spectacle of people surviving in a strange and primeval land that has scope and scale. But, really, what’s at the heart of it all is this family that is torn apart by this sinkhole. And it’s that emotional connection to the show, which, I think, is what people responded to the most. A lot of shows, there can be lots of ideas that are big and noisy. But I think without that deep, emotional connection at the heart of it, people wouldn’t have responded to it. And I think that’s something that we try to keep at the heart of the all the episodes, is this emotional story we’re telling about this family but also the emotional story of all the survivors who are down in the sinkhole as they’re trying to figure out how to get home and also how to survive in this place.”

Another journalist asked whether Applebaum has a planned ending for the show, or does he take it on a more “week-by-week, season-by-season basis.” Of course, he answered that you do have to think ahead and plan, since dramas nowadays are all serialized. He maintains that what you do in the first episode sets up things you see in later episodes. Although he pitched the show to NBC over 2 years ago, they were shut down by the pandemic, so it gave them a “really long gestation and development process” which benefited the storytelling. They “opened up a writers’ room. And Steven and Bryan and all these other great writers came on board.”

A correspondent asked Okonkwo about his involvement with the Calm app because his stories on the app have been “life changing.” He also asked about working with green screens for the creatures on the show, and whether it’s harder than working with a real actor. Okonkwo was happy to hear this because he loves his work with the Calm app and that it’s helped so many, especially the past few years. He’s done a lot of voice work, so that’s why he was hired to work with the app. Others have told him the same thing, “it genuinely warms my heart, because it’s — I’ve never been a great sleeper, and it’s really nice to know that you’re helping people with my soporific voice to fall asleep during a tough time.”

Martin answered the green screen question, saying that a lot of what they do is real, not green screen. He talks about the great job they’ve done with the sets, which makes it feel very real.

Zea said that they’re all working with real people. The only non-entities are the animals, which they wouldn’t have worked with, anyway (since they’re prehistoric). They really have nothing to compare it to, she added.

Okonkwo did chime back in to say, “We did have a great moment at the end of the first episode, which I won’t give away. But because you can’t have those real animals, which are sometimes dangerous and sometimes extinct, we had a guy in a full blue outfit creeping through the sort of brush. And, so, for Jon, myself, and Natalie to keep a straight face when there’s a guy in blue Lycra pretending to be a dangerous animal was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen.”

From what Zea and Okonkwo said, they weren’t told ahead of time about the guy pretending to be an animal. It was a surprise. Macken and Gorecki jokingly complained that all they got to see were birds.

Another journalist asked them to compare their COVID-19 experiences as humans with what the characters are going through. Applebaum said that “one of the really important parts of the show is that even though it’s in the sci-fi genre and there’s an escapist element is that we are relating the themes of the show to what’s happening in the real world. A lot of the show is about this group of survivors who are down in this strange land, about how they come together, or don’t, in order to survive. So, I think the problems that they have in the real world come with them. So even though we are operating in a made-up world, we do want it to feel real and relatable to what people are going through on a daily basis.”

Macken added in his point of view that the characters are “suddenly faced with this feeling of helplessness, of not being able to help your family, and also not knowing what’s going on,” which is what a lot of us experienced with the pandemic.

Another press person asked if any of them had been to the real La Brea Tar Pits and whether they found them interesting. Martin said that he and his castmate Veronica St. Clair (who was not on the panel) visited and they were “blown away.”He added, “it is unbelievable to see, if you haven’t ever been. I mean, it’s like all of these prehistoric animals that are preserved in tar and their bones have been sitting there for thousands and thousands of years. It’s pretty amazing.” Okonkwo had the same experience when he visited. He’s glad that their show is able to take the audience on a journey through that world.

Zea had been there with her family but found it to be disappointing. Macken found it fascinating, and it reminded hime of “Jurassic Park.” Martin thinks it would be great if they were able to bring the dinosaurs back the way they did in those movies. Zea agreed with that, saying, “That would be a spectacle. That would be cool. I would get it’s then.” Martin joked that they should do that in Season 2.

Another reporter asked which part of the primeval they were in because it’s a “pretty large span of time.” That was a very good question, but of course Applebaum wouldn’t give that much detail. He explained that it’s a surprise in the show that the audience will find out when they watch. However, that will bring up “more mysteries and more questions.”

MORE INFO:

An epic adventure begins when a massive sinkhole opens in the middle of Los Angeles, pulling hundreds of people and buildings into its depths. Those who fell in find themselves in a mysterious and dangerous primeval land, where they have no choice but to band together to survive. Meanwhile, the rest of the world desperately seeks to understand what happened. In the search for answers, one family torn apart by this disaster will have to unlock the secrets of this inexplicable event to find a way back to each other.

The cast includes Natalie Zea, Eoin Macken, Jon Seda, Nicholas Gonzalez, Chiké Okonkwo, Karina Logue, Zyra Gorecki, Jack Martin, Veronica St. Clair, Rohan Mirchandaney, Lily Santiago, Josh McKenzie and Chloe De Los Santos.

Writer David Appelbaum executive produces with Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt, Ken Woodruff, Arika Lisanne Mittman and Adam Davidson.

David Applebaum, La Brea Creator

“La Brea” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Keshet Studios.

David Appelbaum

Executive Producer, “La Brea”

David Appelbaum is the creator and executive producer of the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

Appelbaum was a co-executive producer on “The Enemy Within” and previously was a co-executive producer on “Wisdom of the Crowd” as well as a co-executive producer on “NCIS: New Orleans.”

Appelbaum began his career on “The Mentalist” where he spent four seasons on staff.

Eve Harris, “La Brea”

Natalie Zea portrays Eve Harris on the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

Zea recently co-starred on the TBS hit comedy “The Detour” and in the indie film “Happily,” starring Joel McHale, Paul Scheer and Stephen Root.

Best known to television audiences for her memorable role as Winona Hawkins on FX’s original series “Justified” (which she continued to guest on for two additional seasons while starring opposite Kevin Bacon on “The Following”), Zea has also been seen in Showtime’s “White Famous,” CBS’ “Under the Dome,” Showtime’s “Californication” and HBO’s “Hung.” Other television credits include “The Shield” and “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Zea recently starred in the independent films “Too Late,” “Grey Lady” and appeared in “The Other Guys” with Will Ferrell.

Originally from Texas, Zea made her way to New York where she earned a scholarship to the prestigious American Music and Dramatic Academy. After completing the program in only two years, Zea landed a role as part of the original cast of Kimberly Peirce’s 1995 short “Boys Don’t Cry,” which later evolved into the Academy Award-winning film by the same name.

Having never lost her love of theater, Zea helped develop Los Angeles’ reputable Lone Star Ensemble, a theater company in which she serves on the Board of Directors. She has a 3-year old daughter with her husband, actor Travis Schuldt, and lives in Los Angeles.

Jon SedaJon Seda

Dr. Samuel Velez, “La Brea”

Jon Seda stars as Dr. Samuel Velez in the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

Seda completed a six-season run on NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” where he had reprised his role as Antonio Dawson, a member of the Chicago P.D. Intelligence Unit.

A New Jersey native and amateur boxer, Seda hung up his gloves in 1992 when he made his screen debut as a fighter in “Gladiator.” Throughout the ’90s, Seda’s star rose through the films “Carlito’s Way” and “Twelve Monkeys,” though it wasn’t until he appeared in NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets” that Hollywood took serious notice. In 1996, Seda received critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in the film “The Sunchaser,” opposite Woody Harrelson. Seda played the love interest of Jennifer Lopez in the film “Selena,” based on the true story.

His television credits include series regular roles on “Kevin Hill” and “Close to Home” and recurring roles on “Ghost Whisperer” and “Oz.” Seda has also guest-starred on many shows, including “Chicago Fire,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “The Closer,” “Burn Notice,” “House,” “NYPD Blue,” “Las Vegas” and “Law & Order: SVU,” among many others. In 2010, Seda appeared in the Emmy Award-winning HBO World War II miniseries “The Pacific,” starring as legendary U.S. Marine Jon Basilone. He later joined the cast of the acclaimed HBO series “Treme” as a series regular.

Eoin MackenEoin Macken

Gavin Harris, “La Brea”

Eoin Macken plays Gavin Harris on the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

Macken was recently seen starring opposite Megan Fox in the horror-thriller feature “Till Death” and wrapped shooting the lead role opposite Elisha Cuthbert in the Ireland-set-horror film, “The Cellar,” written and directed by Brendan Muldowney. He also wrote, directed and produced the independent film “Gray Elephant,” which was shot last year during COVID lockdown.

Macken’s TV credits include “Stumptown,” “The Night Shift,” “Nightflyers,” “Killing Jesus,” “Merlin” and “The Tudors.” On the film side, Macken’s credits include “Close,” “The Hole in the Ground,” “Here Are the Young Men,” “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” and “The Forest.”

As

Zyra Gorecki

a novelist, Macken has published two books: “Kingdom of Scars,” which was short listed for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards in 2014, and “Hunger and the Grape,” which is being distributed through Amazon.

Zyra Gorecki

Izzy Harris, “La Brea”

Zyra Gorecki stars as Izzy Harris on the new NBC drama series “La Brea.”

Gorecki is one of the first below-the-knee amputee actresses with a series regular role in a major broadcast television series. Gorecki is involved with the non-profit organization Amputee Blade Runners that helps provide free running prosthetics for amputees.

In addition to her acting career, which includes guest-starring on “Chicago Fire,” Gorecki is an avid runner and skilled athlete who is passionate about living and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.

Chiké OkonkwoChiké Okonkwo

Ty, “La Brea”

Chiké Okonkwo plays Ty in the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

Okonkwo, best known for his role in “The Birth of a Nation,” is an award-winning actor who will be the lead and cover star of a highly anticipated global video game franchise set to be announced later this year.

He was most recently co-star of the film “Death Saved My Life” and BET’s hit series “Being Mary Jane” with Gabrielle Union. He also starred in the British indie film “Genesis.”

Hailing from London, his dream of being an actor began when he was accepted to both the National Youth Theatre and the National Youth Music Theatre. He started his professional career working at the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he performed in a number of plays, most notably “Julius Caesar,” which ended its award-winning run in New York in 2013.

His activism focuses on community banking in his role as ambassador for One United Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the United States. Okonkwo is an advocate for the eradication of child poverty with the Children’s Defense Fund. He is also a proud member of the Master Artist Council of the Arthur Miller Foundation, alongside Daniel Day-Lewis, Scarlett Johansson and others.

Jack MartinJack Martin

Josh Harris, “La Brea”

Jack Martin stars as Josh Harris in the new NBC drama “La Brea.”

A Los Angeles-based, actor, writer, and comedian, Martin was most recently seen on CBS’ “All Rise.”

After posting his sketch comedy online during quarantine when the industry was on hold, he exploded on the Internet with his self-produced videos, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers across multiple platforms.

Fresh out of Georgetown University, Martin also studied at New York University’s Tisch Stonestreet Studios Film & TV conservatory, an intensive program focused on screen acting. He had also studied acting and the business side of entertainment through various talent management internships before realizing he was better suited in front of the camera, than behind it.

Martin’s self-referential sense of humor brings something unique to every video he makes. He knows who he is and is not afraid to poke fun at himself.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"La Brea" scene in the pilot episode

Interview with the “Alter Ego” Judges and Host

TV Interview!

 

Judges and host of "Alter Ego" on FOX

Interview with judges Nick Lachey, Grimes, and will.i.am, host Rocsi Diaz, executive producer Matilda Zoltowski, and FOX’s President of Alternative Entertainment & Specials, Rob Wade of “Alter Ego” on FOX Suzanne 9/8/21

Alter Ego is the new FOX music competition show. It’s very unusual in that the singers create an avatar of themselves to perform through. The judges and audience see them not as themselves, but as their avatar.

2 NIGHT SEASON PREMIERE WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 22 & THURSDAY, SEPT. 23

I attended the FOX TCA panel for the show. Normally, they give us “screeners” – an episode or two of the show to watch ahead of time. Instead, we got one compilation episode. I’m not sure why. It was interesting, though. I don’t really watch non-fiction shows, but I might have to tune in to some of this to see what it’s really like.

On the panel, they told us “lost dreams and second chances are reignited when singers become the stars they’ve always wanted to be. However, these contestants won’t perform as themselves, rather, they’ll help create their dream avatar alter ego, reinventing and transforming themselves like never before. Talent and technology come together, creating a singing competition unlike anything the world has ever seen.” Then we saw a clip.

The panel consisted of judges Nick Lachey, Grimes, and will.i.am, host Rocsi Diaz, executive producer Matilda Zoltowski, and FOX’s President of Alternative Entertainment & Specials, Rob Wade. I’d only heard of Lachey and will.i.am, but that’s fine because I only was able to ask one question.

My question was admittedly a little lame. I should have asked about the technology behind the avatars because no one really asked that, and I’m curious. On the TV screen, we see the judges and audience looking at the avatar, which lookes like a real person on the stage. Is that how it looks in real life, or is it all special effects? I would love to know. Instead, I asked Nick Lachey a question about being a judge. I made an error because I thought he had been a judge on another reality show. My mistake because he was a contestant, not a judge. Whoops! I should have done more research. My bad. But he gave a great answer, anyway.

The first journalist asked the producers about the idea behind the show and what they hoped people would take out of having avatars perform. The answer was basically that they have this amazing technology that they can use now, and that they could get performers with amazing voices that we wouldn’t necessarily see on other competition shows. I guess he means, people who are not very attractive. What else would she mean? I mean, we’ve seen plenty of plus-sized people, and people of all different colors, races, genders, ages and orientations competing. The only thing left is unattractive people. From what the clips are showing, all of the contestants are choosing avatars much thinner than themselves, and some much more light-skinned than themselves. I wonder what criticisms people will have of the show. It’s, of course, also a way for those who are gender-fluid to have avatars to reflect who they feel like inside. I don’t know if that will be enough to counteract the other problems, though. We shall see!

The next press person asked about the design of the avatars and whether body diversity came into play. The producer answered that they have a real mix of different types of people and “huge diversity on every level.” She revealed that they have 20 different alter egos, which is something I didn’t know from watching the clips. It appears that the contestants are able to change what their avatars are wearing and other features. The producer maintained that they wanted to have alter egos that would appearl to a wide audience – people of all different types. She concluded, “I think there’s something there for everybody.”

Another writer asked why the alter egos look “fantastical” rather than just looking like regular humans. Hmm, here’s someone who probably hasn’t played a lot of video games or done online role-playing. That’s kind of the point – to look different than we are, dude. Producer Wade admitted that trying to make the avatars look like regular humans didn’t really look good. The avatars looked “creepy.” They thought that having them more colorful and fun would be better and people could connect to them. He also added, “why do a show called ALTER EGO with avatars if you’re just going to replicate human beings? They should be something a little bit more fantastical, a little bit superhero like, in a way.”

Judge Grimes interjected that she thought that since so many people are into video games, that they’re used to connecting with the “crazier type” of characters. will.i.am also added his input by comparing people dressing up in different colors, expressing themselves, or wearing costumes for Comic-Con, or various artists who look “fantastical” like these alter egos. He said, “This is beyond makeup. This is beyond, you know, a hat and glasses. It’s beyond freaking tailored suits that fit you perfectly. This is your spirit tailored, whooo. This is, like, your passion tailored. This is putting makeup on your spirit.” He got very excited, and everyone laughed. Nick Lachey advised us to tune in to the series because this is just a small taste of what will.i.am commentary is like.

The next interviewer ask about how genders will be changed, which was a variation on the body diversity question already asked. will.i.am put it well when he declared that “the imagination is genderless and it’s beautiful.” He went on to explained that when he writes songs, sometimes it’s from a female point of view (especially if he’s writing it for a female singer, such as Fergie. He’s “dialing into my inner femininity.” He once again indulged in hyperbole about the show and its performers in this regard. Lachey chimed in to talk about it from the POV of an entertaining – how it can be “truly liberating” to step into an alter ego. He says the way it came together in the show blew his mind. Grimes noted that the show makes “gender fluidity more casual”. Diaz pointed out that what will make viewers really invested in the stories of the performers is that they get to live out these experiences in such a liberating way and really be themselves for the first time. It was touching for them, and she believes it will be for the audience at home as well.

Then it was my turn to ask a question. Bear in mind that I was already a middle-aged adult by the time “98 Degrees” became a big hit, so that wasn’t my music. I had completely forgotten that Lachey was in that group. I had mostly seen him in “Charmed,” where he played Leslie St. Claire in 2004. He modestly replied, “To call me an actor is a liberal use of the word “acting.” After graciously correcting me that he’d never been a judge, he said that he had been a host before on music competition shows, so he was excited to step into the role of judge. He admitted that he was a bit of a skeptic at first (about the alter egos) because he doesn’t play video Alter Ego fairy avatargames and isn’t really into technology tha tmuch. He thought it was really cool to be asked to be part of it, though. In the end, “what I took away from it was, there’s such a humanity, despite all the mind blowing technology, and it’s incredible, and you’ll see it when it premieres on the 22nd. I mean, it’s incredible technology, but there’s still a humanity that comes through in these performances. These are real emotions. These are real people behind the alter egos, and that life experience, all the things that you channel as an artist, all those things you channel into your performance, those things come through in a very real way through the technology, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing to see. And again, I always use this word, but, you know, confluence of technology and artistry, and the way those things came together on this show is something unlike we’ve seen on TV ever. And so, I’m so excited. I mean, I got to watch it firsthand. I’m so excited for (my dog, Brandy, barked here) come together. And, apparently, that dog agrees with me. They’re excited.” Everyone laughed because it was very funny.

They joked around about how Lachey told a lot of “dad jokes.”

The next journalist asked Nick if there were logistical complications, since he lives in Hawaii and the show is in Los Angeles. Lachey confirmed that he does have a lot of frequent flyer miles. However, he was able to be back in L.A., bringing his son Charlie with him while he filmed the show and spent time there. He admitted, “I’ve done a lot of great things in my career, and I’m truly appreciative of each and every one of them, but this was one of the unique and special things I was able to be a part of. So, I’m glad it was able to be worked out, and I’m glad I was able do it.”

The same person asked him being a contestant on “The Masked Singer” and how that informed him for this show. He compared being in the “Piglet” costume to having an alter ego because it frees you to create a character and be whomever you want to be. He told us that the singers in “Alter Ego” are all incredible, but they all have struggled in some ways, but the show allowed them “truly feel liberated, and let their true talent shine through. And we all were lucky enough to be witnesses to that, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. That’s the real … humanity of this show. These are all humans with real emotions, and real struggles, and real experiences, and they bring all that to their performances, and they bring all that to their alter egos. And to watch all those things come together on this is a beautiful thing.”

Another journalist asked will.i.am about the current technology available (and being used on the show), and how he would have used that back when he was in the Black-Eyed Peas. Will gave a very long answer where he basically said that it would have freed them all to be different characters – and play different instruments- within their band.

That same man asked Graimes, who’s a producer as well as a performer, how she judges the show’s performers. Grimes didn’t really answer his questions. She did admit that she has “huge stage fright” and was already looking into this sort of technology to use in her own performances.

There many more questions, but these were the most interesting. Check out this unusual show!

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

ALTER EGO is the world’s first avatar singing competition series and the next iteration of the musical competition show. On ALTER EGO, lost dreams and second chances are reignited when singers from all walks of life become the stars they’ve always wanted to be. However, these contestants won’t perform as themselves. Rather, they’ll be given the chance to show how they’ve always wanted to be seen, creating their dream avatar ALTER EGO to reinvent themselves, while showcasing their unique performance style via motion capture technology. The judges table features some of the biggest names in music, including iconic singer/songwriter and seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette; actor, singer and television personality Nick Lachey; acclaimed Canadian producer, songwriter, singer and visual artist Grimes; and multi-Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and actor will.i.am. Emmy Award-winning personality Rocsi Diaz will host the musical spectacle. In ALTER EGO, talent and technology come together to create a singing competition unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Grimes, a judge on "Alter Ego" on FOXGRIMES

as Judge

Bio

Claire Boucher is the producer of the alter ego Grimes and an award-winning music video director, as well as a music writer, artist, producer, engineer and singer-songwriter. The world got its first glimpse of this vision on her 2010 full-length debut, “Geidi Primes,” which drew its inspiration from the David Lynch adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” Her sophomore outing, “Halfaxa,” followed the same year. Over the course of three weeks, 2012’s “Visions” came to life in her apartment and would be recorded solely on Garage Band. 2015 marked a commercial breakthrough on “Art Angels.” It appeared in the Top 5 of year-end lists by Pitchfork, Billboard, Consequence of Sound, The New York Times and Rolling Stone, in addition to being named Album of the Year by Stereogum, NME and Exclaim! In 2018, she made another conscious evolution, turning back to formative influences, such as Tool and Nine Inch Nails for inspiration — a style first hinted at on 2016’s “Suicide Squad” soundtrack contribution, “Medieval Warfare.” In 2020, she released “Miss Anthropocene,” a concept album about an anthropomorphic goddess of climate change, which received rave reviews. The album title stems from the words Misanthrope, “a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society,” and Anthropocene, “the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.” In 2021, she set the NFT world on fire with the release of WarNymph Collection Vol 1 By Grimes x Mac. The collection contains 10 artworks, including a unique video work set to original music composed specifically for the project. Through the character of WarNymph, Grimes explores the fluidity of identity in the virtual age: the ability to create, augment and splinter ourselves into unlimited avatars.

NICK LACHEY as JudgeNick Lachey, a judge on "Alter Ego" on FOX

Bio

Singer, actor and television personality Nick Lachey rose to fame as the lead singer of the multi-Platinum boy band 98 Degrees, selling more than 10 million records. He also has released four solo studio albums. Currently, Nick can be seen co-hosting “Love is Blind” with his wife Vanessa Lachey. In 2021, Lachey won the fifth season of THE MASKED SINGER as The Piglet. Lachey has had a long hosting career, serving as host on “The Sing Off” and “Big Morning Buzz Live.”

In addition to his work in music and television, Lachey remains a constant advocate for children’s and humanitarian causes through his work with organizations including Autism Speaks, Feeding America, Make-a-Wish Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), VH-1 Save The Music, The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and The Cincinnati School for Performing Arts. He is also founder and President of The Nick Lachey Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping children, families and communities in need throughout the United States.

Lachey was raised in Cincinnati, OH, and attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), Miami University and University of Southern California. Lachey currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Vanessa and three children.

will.i.am, a judge on "Alter Ego" on FOXwill.i.am

as Judge

Bio

Seven-time Grammy Award winner will.i.am has been at the forefront of the contemporary American hip hop movement for more than 20 years. He is best known as a songwriter, producer, actor and entrepreneur, and globally recognized as a founding member of Black Eyed Peas, one of the best-selling groups of all time. He has released four solo albums and eight studio albums with Black Eyed Peas. The act was one of the first to recognize the mainstream potential of electronic dance music and held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 for a record 26 consecutive weeks after “I Gotta Feeling” replaced “Boom Boom Pow” atop the chart — more than any other act in the history of the Hot 100. The Emmy and CLIO Award-winning music video, “Yes We Can,” mobilized a generation during the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. He has worked with countless Grammy Award-winning artists as a producer and currently serves as a Coach on “The Voice UK” and “The Voice Kids.”

He has starred in several animated feature films, including “Rio,” “Rio 2” and “Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa,” as well as the live-action “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Founded in 2009, will.i.am’s i.am Angel Foundation supports in-class and after-school STEAM education programs for disadvantaged youth in grades K – 12. The Foundation also funds the Boyle Heights STEM Magnet High School in Los Angeles, and the i.am Scholarship program that provides gap funding to college-bound program students.

ALANIS MORISSETTEAlanis Morissette, a judge on "Alter Ego" on FOX

as Judge

Bio

Since 1995, Alanis Morissette has been one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians in contemporary music. Her deeply expressive music and performances have earned vast critical praise and seven Grammy Awards. Morissette’s 1995 debut, “Jagged Little Pill,” was followed by nine more eclectic and acclaimed albums.

She has contributed musically to theatrical releases and has acted on the big and small screens. Outside of entertainment, she is an avid supporter of female empowerment, as well as spiritual, psychological and physical wellness. In 2016, Morissette launched “Conversation with Alanis Morissette,” a monthly podcast that features conversations with a variety of revered authors, doctors, educators and therapists, covering a wide range of psycho-social topics, extending from spirituality to developmentalism to art. On December 5, 2019, the Broadway musical “Jagged Little Pill” debuted at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City, and was nominated for 15 Tony Awards. Most recently, Morissette released her ninth studio album, “Such Pretty Forks In The Road,” to rave reviews. For more information see www.alanis.com.

Rocsi Diaz, host of "Alter Ego" on FOXROCSI DIAZ

as Host

Bio

Emmy Award-winning television host Rocsi Diaz is best known as the former co-host of ultra-popular mega music show “106 & Park.” She has interviewed everyone from Lady Gaga to Barack Obama. As a co-host and daily correspondent on “Entertainment Tonight,” Diaz was known for setting the tone for what’s hot in music, movies and entertainment. She reached 85 million homes worldwide during her time with “106 & Park,” and has since gone to host “The Daily Share,” “Dating Naked,” “Behind The Movie,” “Chatter” and “Cannonball.” With a massive social media presence, Diaz reaches millions of followers across all platforms.

Executive Producer Matilda ZoltowskiMATILDA ZOLTOWSKI

Executive Producer/Showrunner

Bio

Matilda Zoltowski is a talented producer who has worked on some of the biggest and most successful properties in unscripted television. She began her career in the U.K., where she worked on “Big Brother” and “Strictly Come Dancing,” the inspiration for “Dancing With The Stars.” Her work on “Strictly Come Dancing” gave her the opportunity to develop and produce “Dancing With The Stars” in the U.S., on which she was a co-executive producer for eight seasons.

Zoltowski has developed and produced many different types of unscripted series that have attracted major talent, including cooking series “The Taste,” starring Anthony Bourdain; “Off Their Rockers,” with Betty White; “Bring The Funny,” with Kenan Thompson and Chrissy Teigen; and “I Can Do That,” with Marlon Wayans. Most recently, she served as executive producer for all four seasons of “World of Dance,” starring Jennifer Lopez.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Alter Ego ad

Interview with the cast of “Ordinary Joe” on NBC

TV Interview!

cast of "Ordinary Joe" on NBC

Interview with actors James Wolk, Elizabeth Lail, Natalie Martinez, Charlie Barnett and executive producers Garrett Lerner and Russell Friend of “Ordinary Joe” on NBC by Suzanne 9/13/21

This was a wonderful TV Critics Association panel for a fun new show. I admit that I’m a fan of lead actor James Wolk. He’s been great in so many shows, such as “Mad Men,” “Watchmen,” and “Zoo.” He’s more than just a pretty face. I know, that’s a terribly sexist thing to say. This is a beautiful cast, though. It was nice to meet his co-stars as well. Everyone there obviously has high hopes for this show, so I hope it succeeds.

The show focuses on Wolk’s character, Joe, and the three choices he has in life after college. If he goes to meet his girlfriend, Jenny (Lail), then he ends up with her. If he meets up with this other woman he just met, Amy (Martinez), then he ends up with her. If he goes out with his family, then he has a different path.  We see him on all three paths, how his life turns out, depending on which road he takes. Seeing the first two episodes was interesting. I want to see how they’ll carry this over a whole season. There is Nurse Joe, Cop Joe and Rock Star Joe. Personally, the last one is my favorite.

Because this was a TCA panel and not a regular interview, I was only able to ask one question, and I’m not allowed to share the transcript or recording with you. It was very enjoyable, though.

When I asked my question, which was about singing, Wolk immediately started singing a Billy Joel song to me (swoon!), so that was charming. In the show, when Joe is young, he’s graduating as a music major. He wants to be a rock star – the next Billy Joel. That struck me as a bit odd, given his age.

In the interview, I asked, “Jim, were you a fan of Billy Joel before this show, and had you been singing his songs for fun, or anything like that? You seem a little young to be a Billy Joel fan, to be honest (laughs).” He replied that the mom of an old friend of his used to listen to his albums, and he enjoys singing his music, but he did admit that he’s not as big of a fan of his music as his character, Joe, is. Charlie Barnett (who plays his best friend, Eric) objected to my question and said that “There’s no age limit to good music.”  Well, that’s true, but most people, I don’t think, are quite so much into real oldies that they didn’t grow up with as they are their own teenage or childhood music. Now, I don’t know when Joe was born, but Wolk was born in 1985, which was after the bulk of Billy Joel’s hits, so it would be pretty odd for him to aspire to be like him. It would be as if I aspired to be the next Connie Francis or Brenda Lee. I’m sure most people reading this barely know who those women are. The guys who wrote the show are probably a lot older, so Billy Joel was their music more than Wolk’s. He does have a lovely singing voice, though, and he sang “Piano Man” very well in one of the episodes (I was a music major, just like the character, Joe).

Wolk graciously told us all that the other cast members present there are also really good singers, so he hinted that they may have an all-singing episode one day. Everyone seemed to like that idea.

Check out the series and let me know which Joe is your favorite!

Joe's three paths after graduation

Here’s another review of the show that gives you a lot of information. I agree with a lot of it…however, I don’t think it’s nearly as bland as this reviewer thinks it is. A large part of it rests on how much you like James Wolk and the other actors.

MORE INFO:

Life is all about the choices you make – and sometimes what you do in a single moment can change everything. This new heartfelt, life-affirming drama follows Joe Kimbreau, who faces one of these decisions at his college graduation. The three parallel stories that diverge from that night find Joe and the people around him with different careers, relationships and family lives, showing the unexpected ways that things change – and stay the same. But when it comes down to it, there is no “right” choice; no matter what happens, Joe’s life is always messy, exciting, tough, unpredictable … and beautiful.

The cast includes James Wolk, Natalie Martinez, Elizabeth Lail and Charlie Barnett.

Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner will write and executive produce along with executive producers Matt Reeves, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Howard Klein. Adam Davidson will direct and executive produce the pilot episode.

“Ordinary Joe” is produced by 20th Television, Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, 6th & Idaho, 3 Arts.

breaking news | March 31, 2021

•    NBC has ordered the drama “Ordinary Joe” to series.

•    W/EP: Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner

•    NW/EP: Matt Reeves, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Howard Klein

•    D/EP (pilot only): Adam Davidson

•    “I still remember when Matt Reeves shared this passion project back when I worked at Twentieth. Russel and Garrett wrote such a compelling and emotional script that was expertly executed from page to screen,” said Lisa Katz, President, Scripted Content, Entertainment and Streaming. “We love how ‘Ordinary Joe’ lets us experience the universal question of ‘what if’ through an incredible cast of characters and engaging storylines.”

•    Cast: James Wolk, Natalie Martinez, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Lail

•    Logline: Explores the three parallel lives of the show’s main character after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty or passion.

•    Produced by: 20th Television, Universal Television (a division of Universal Studio Group), 6th & Idaho, 3 Arts

James Wolk

Joe Kimbreau, “Ordinary Joe”

James Wolk stars as Joe Kimbreau in the new NBC drama “Ordinary Joe.”

Wolk was recently be seen on the HBO series “Watchmen,” written by Damon Lindoff, based off the comic book series. He also co-stars on the CBS All Access series “Tell Me a Story,” created and produced by Kevin Williamson, which was renewed for a second season.  It takes the world’s most beloved fairy tales and reimagines them as a dark and twisted psychological thriller. He also recurred on season two of Amazon’s legal drama series “Goliath,” created by David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro, and starring opposite Billy Bob Thornton.

Wolk is also known for his starring role on the CBS summer series, “Zoo,” which ran for three seasons.  Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by acclaimed writer James Patterson, “Zoo” centers on Jackson Oz (James Wolk) – a young American zoologist, who begins to notice the strange behavior of the animals, leading to a wave of violent animal-on-human attacks across the globe.

In 2010, Wolk nabbed the lead role in the critically acclaimed but short-lived Fox series, “Lone Star” and co-starred on the the Golden Globe-nominated USA miniseries “Political Animals.” Wolk also notably recurred on the award-winning and critically acclaimed AMC series “Mad Men” and starred opposite Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in the CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones.” Other television credits include “Billions,” “Happy Endings,” and “Shameless.”

Wolk, a native of Farmington Hills, Mich., and 2007 graduate of the University of Michigan drama school, began his career in the CBS/ Hallmark Hall of Fame special “Front of the Class.”

Wolk also appeared on stage in the Tony Award-nominated production “Next Fall,” written by Geoffrey Nauffts and directed by Sheryl Kaller, for its West Coast debut at the Geffen Playhouse.

On the big screen, Wolk made his film debut in Disney’s “You Again.” His film credits include “For a Good Time Call,” “There’s Always Woodstock” and “The Is Happening.” Wolk notably co-starred in the 2015 critically acclaimed film “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

Wolk resides in Los Angeles.

Charlie Barnett

Eric Payne, “Ordinary Joe”

Charlie Barnett stars as Eric Payne, the best friend of Joe Kimbreau, in the new NBC drama “Ordinary Joe.”

Barnett is familiar to NBC audiences, starring for three seasons as Peter Mills on “Chicago Fire.”  Born in Sarasota, Fla., Barnett began performing at a young age, participating in local opera and musical theater productions before graduating from the Juilliard School.

Barnett’s TV career began with guest star roles on “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” before landing his first series regular role on “Chicago Fire.” He then joined the second season of “Secrets and Lies” followed by a series regular role on the CW military drama “Valor.”

In 2019, Barnett starred alongside Natasha Lyonne in the Emmy Award-nominated Netflix series “Russian Doll.”

Other notable TV credits include a series regular role on Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” as well as guest starring roles on “You,” “Special,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Arrow.” He debuted on the big screen alongside Will Smith and Josh Brolin in “Men and Black 3.”

Offscreen, Barnett is an avid history buff, enjoys cooking, volunteering, hosting friends and family, horseback riding, sailing, and almost anything involving nature.

Elizabeth Lail

Jenny Banks, “Ordinary Joe”

Elizabeth Lail plays Jenny Banks on the new NBC drama “Ordinary Joe.”

Lail, who also can be currently seen in HBO Max’s reboot of “Gossip Girl,” is best known for her breakout role as Guinevere Beck in the addicting drama “You,” opposite Penn Badgley. The series premiered on Lifetime in 2018 and quickly became a big hit when it moved over to Netflix.

Lail’s other film and television credits include “Countdown,” “Videosyncrasy” and ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” She made her theater debut in Ken Urban’s Off Broadway play, “Nibbler” directed by Ben Kamine.

Lail is a BFA graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Natalie Martinez

Amy Kindelan, “Ordinary Joe”

Natalie Martinez plays Amy Kindelan on the new NBC drama “Ordinary Joe.”

Martinez, who will be seen in Warner Bros.’ “Reminiscence” with Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, appeared in Quibi’s 2020 action thriller “The Fugitive.” In that same year, she also co-starred in CBS All Access’ “The Stand” and previous to that appeared in the Netflix sci-fi series “The I-Land.” Additional TV credits include “The Crossing,” “APB,” “Detroit 1-8-7,” “Under the Dome,” “Secrets & Lies,” “Kingdom.”

On the film side, Martinez’s credits include “Message from the King,” “Keep Watching,” “Self/less,” “Broken City” and “End of Watch.”

Martinez first gained recognition after being hand-picked by Jennifer Lopez to become the spokesmodel for her fashion line, JLO by Jennifer Lopez. From there, she went on to star in several music videos, and the telenovelas “Fashion House” and “Saints & Sinners.”

Originally from Miami, Martinez currently resides in Los Angeles.

Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend

Executive Producers, “Ordinary Joe”

Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend executive produce the new NBC drama “Ordinary Joe.”

Previously, they were executive producers on “House M.D.,” where they were nominated for four Emmys Awards and won the WGA Award for Outstanding Episodic Drama. Other writing credits include “Glee,” “Home Before Dark,” “Altered Carbon,” “Roswell,” “Rise” and “Boston Public.”

Lerner and Friend graduated from the USC Peter Stark Program in 1995.

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"Ordinary Joe" premieres 9/20 on NBC

Interviews with HULU stars at 2021 TCA Summer Press Tour

TV Interview!

Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson of "Dopesick" on HULU

HULU’s Summer 2021 TCA Press Tour by Suzanne 8/6/21

Last week, HULU hosted their TCA Press Tour for three new shows, and one returning show.

First was “Dopesick,” a new drama about the opioid crisis. Based on a book by Beth Macy, the story follows a few different groups involved in the crisis. Legendary actor Michael Keaton is a small town Virginia doctor, Dr. Finnix, who is told by a young drug sales man, Billy (Will Poulter), that this new opioid Oxycontin is not addictive, so he starts prescribing it to his patients (and eventually to himself). Many of his patients are miners, including young Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever).  Rosario Dawson (“The Mandalorian”) plays a tough DEA agent who starts noticing how many people are addicted to opioids and committing crimes in towns where there previously was no crime. Billy and the other salespeople are lied to by the company, PurduePharma, that the drug isn’t addictive, and they’re given many strategies with which to win over the doctors, as well as pitted against each other to make more sales and be more aggressive. PurduePharma, run by the Sackler Family (especially ambitious Richard Sackler, played by Michael Stuhlbarg), uses everything they can to get sales up, thinking that this drug is going to cure pain (and lying about it in the process). Meanwhile, local law enforcement try to investigate and build a case against PurduePharma. It’s a gripping and sad story but also educational

The story was developed by Danny Strong (“Empire”). Strong and Keaton are executive producers on the show. The panel we saw had Strong and many of the cast: Keaton, Poulter, Dawson, Dever, Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker. Many of the cast members knew people affected by the opioid crisis. Hoogenakker grew up in North Carolina – one of the places hit hard. Keaton grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania.

Dawson read the original book as well as several others to get a feel for the crisis and how it worked. Strong talked about how the story had so much information, particular with regards to the “lying, manipulation and influence peddling,” and as Hoogenakker added, “the lengths that the company went to to stigmatize the people dealing with the addiction that they created.”

Everyone connected to the production clearly took the subject matter and the story seriously and felt a great responsibility to do by it. Having watched a few of the episodes, I believe they did.

One thing I really loved, being a fan of Michael Keaton in “Batman” (and his many other movies, of course), was when Rosario Dawson referred to him as “my forever Batman!”  That was great – especially since she’s been in so many Marvel and DC movies and shows. Make sure you check out this 8-part miniseries when it premieres October 13, 2021. I watched the first half of it and it’s really compelling.

“Only Murders In the Building” is the best of the HULU shows that were covered, and you can find that one here.

"Nine Perfect Strangers" on HULU

This is a weird drama with some comedy in it. Of course, with cast members like Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale, it’s hardly going to be completely serious.  The show is about a group of messed-up people that go to an exclusive resort called Tranquillum. They soon learn that the resort’s hostess/owner, Masha (Nicole Kidman), has picked each of them carefully to fit in with her ideas for the resort.

I don’t want to give too much away about the show or its characters. Masha, has her own dark past that sometimes haunts her. Melissa McCarthy’s Francis is a romance novelist whose latest book has been rejected. Tony (Cannavale) abuses pain killers because of a knee injury. Lars (Luke Evans) is a gay journalist who wants to investigate the resort.  One character is recovering from a divorce; another one from a breakup; a family is recovering from a teen death. A couple no longer has sex and wonders if they should stay together.

Masha gives them special diets and therapy, but she also does other things without telling them, which is what makes the show interesting. Each of them has a secret that we learn as the show progresses.  Some shocking things happen. It’s very interesting. Some may find it self-indulgent because it involves mostly rich people with problems. I think it’s compelling. It’s never boring.

Our panel boasted Kidman, McCarthy, Connavale, Regina Hall, writer/creator David E. Kelley, and executive producers Bruna Papandrea, Per Saari and Jonathan Levine. Various press members asked them questions about the characters and this “wellness” retreat. The actors related that even though they were acting, the questions they were asked in the show and the therapies they went through did make them think a little bit more about their places in the world – particularly one where they all had to lie down in a shallow “grave.”

Kidman and McCarthy were asked about their experiences doing both movies and TV shows. Neither actress felt that they were all that different. TV is just longer and gives you more opportunity to develop the character.  There was a lot of joking around between the actors and producers.

When filming the show, the actors all flew out to Australia and were quarantined there last year. They filmed at a beautiful place called Byron Bay for six months. They said that nature frequently interfered with filming, such as ants, birds and koalas. Hall shared that many Australian koalas have chlamydia (this is true).

Nicole Kidman kept talking about how the show is “trippy and crazy” and it’s hard to define exactly what it is. Well, It is a bit trippy, but I’ve seen much stranger shows. The show is a drama, for sure, but the characters do some unexpected things. It has elements of a thriller. She was asked about creating her character, who is German and American (and speaks seven languages). Her accent in the show is very different from her native Australian accent.

If you like a good drama that’s also fun, weird, and has unexpected surprises, check this one out.

Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in "The Great"

“The Great” is returning for season 2 Friday, November 19. I haven’t watched it yet, but it looks funny. It’s apparently a comedy-drama loosely based on the life of Empress Catherine II (AKA “Catherine The Great”), played by Elle Fanning, who wed Emperor Peter III (played by Nicholas Hoult). Season One was where we learned about them and how they got married. He had a mistress, and Catherine tried to kill him, but that didn’t work out. In Season Two, Peter and Catherine get more deeply involved, and she gets pregnant. More Info

Fanning, Hoult and executive producers Tony McNamara and Marian Macgowan were in attendance at our panel. McNamara created the show.  When asked about how the show is created with historical characters, MacGowan replied that they really have three aspects of the show: “a bit of history, a bit of what’s fun to do and a bit of the characters themselves and the stories.”  However, they did see humor in the characters because Catherine (the real person) was funny and had a lot of fun at parties.

Another reporter asked McNamara how many seasons he thinks the show should last, but he doesn’t really think about it that way. He just takes it from one season to the next.  Fanning and Hoult revealed that they do a lot of laughing on the show while filming because it’s so funny.  They were asked about costuming. Fanning’s character is pregnant for a lot of this season, so she discussed her fake “baby bump, ” which was “hot at times.” Both actors love the costumes and find them very fun to wear. Hoult said, “I found that costume-wise … very liberating in many ways and what Sharon designed were really fun costumes, my favorite being what Peter has designed for the baby shower that he throws, kind of a surprise baby shower party, which you mentioned earlier is all kind of shades of baby pink, and blue, and yellow with plumes of feathers and a nice little dress.  So that’s something to look forward to this season.”

They were also asked about how they use the F word so much (mostly for humor) and whether COVID stopped them from doing intimated scenes. They do a lot of testing, so that wasn’t a factor. I enjoyed the press call. I will watch the show one day. I tried to watch the screener they had set up for us, but unfortunately, I had trouble understanding it because of their accents. There’s no closed-captioning on the screeners. I’m not deaf, but sometimes I have trouble hearing the words through accents.

MORE INFO:

The new HULU shows

Hulu Presents Upcoming Original Series ‘Dopesick,’ ‘The Great’ Season Two, ‘Only Murders In The Building’ And ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ At The 2021 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour

Company Greenlights Comedy Series ‘This Fool’ Created By and Starring Comedian Chris Estrada and Expands Unscripted True Crime Collection With New Documentary ‘Dead Asleep’  and Docuseries ‘Captive Audience’

Premiere Dates Revealed for ‘Dopesick,’ Second Seasons of ‘The Great’ and ‘Animaniacs,’ as well as the Fall Foodie Lineup of Unscripted Series—Including ‘Baker’s Dozen,’ ‘The Next Thing You Eat’  and a Special Holiday Edition of the Award-Winning ‘Taste The Nation,’ Debuting Thursdays

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2021) — Today, during the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, Hulu presented the company’s lineup of upcoming original programming, including the highly anticipated new drama series “Dopesick,” starring Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rosario Dawson; the second season of acclaimed, Emmy®-nominated comedy series “The Great,” starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult; new comedy series “Only Murders in the Building,” starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez; and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” the latest limited series from executive producer David E. Kelley and starring and executive produced by Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy—all of which join the company’s collection of premium original content.

The company also announced a series order for the new Hulu Original comedy series “This Fool,” inspired by the life of up-and-coming comedian Chris Estrada, in which he will also write, star and executive produce. Additionally, the highly successful Hulu Originals true-crime collection expands with two new titles announced today—documentary “Dead Asleep” from award-winning director Skye Borgman and “Captive Audience,” a docuseries which explores the evolution of true-crime storytelling through the lens of one family’s journey.

“Breaking out new and distinct voices continues to be a hallmark of Hulu Original programming, and we are incredibly excited to add Chris Estrada to our roster of multihyphenate creators and to bring ‘This Fool’ to our viewers,” said Craig Erwich, president Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment.

Adding, “Looking ahead, we could not be more proud of the lineup of event series coming to Hulu through the end of the year and beyond. Led by the debut of ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ from the brilliant David E. Kelley and a truly all-star cast, and ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ which marks a return to television for Selena Gomez and two comedic giants—Steve Martin and Martin Short—as well as the incredibly timely ‘Dopesick,’ the return of acclaimed comedy series ‘The Great,’ and a rapidly expanding slate of conversation-worthy unscripted series and documentaries, Hulu viewers will have access to many of the best shows coming to television this fall.”

With 41.6 million total subscribers across live and SVOD as of April 3, 2021, Hulu has gained remarkable momentum over the past year, with the streamer recently earning 25 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, 10 Golden Globe® nominations across five titles, four SAG Award nominations, six WGA Award nominations and seven NAACP Image Award nominations.

Hulu Greenlights Comedy Series “This Fool”

“This Fool” centers on Julio Lopez, a self-described “punk-ass bitch” who still lives at home and goes out of his way to help everyone but himself. Inspired by the life and stand-up comedy of star and co-creator Chris Estrada, this cinematic half-hour comedy explores Julio’s work at a gang-rehabilitation non-profit and his quest to overcome his codependency issues with his family as he navigates working-class life in South Central Los Angeles.

“This Fool” is written and executive produced by Chris Estrada, Pat Bishop, Jake Weisman and Matt Ingebretson. Jonathan Groff and Fred Armisen also serve as executive producers on the series. The series is produced by ABC Signature.

Hulu Expands Unscripted True Crime Collection With New Documentary “Dead Asleep” and Docuseries “Captive Audience”

“Dead Asleep”

In a ground-breaking new spin on the true-crime genre, the documentary film “Dead Asleep,” produced in association with Sky Crime, flips the traditional thriller narrative to explore a deeper and more troubling mystery: Did a remorseful Randy Herman Jr. really commit a brutal murder in his sleep, or was it a convenient cover story? Pulse Films has secured exclusive access to Herman and his family, the defense and prosecution attorneys, journalists who covered the case, forensic psychiatrists and world experts in violent parasomnia (sleep-walking) to give viewers an inside look at the shocking twists and turns of the controversial crime.

A Pulse Films production, “Dead Asleep” is directed by award-winner Skye Borgman, who is also behind the critically acclaimed documentary “Abducted In Plain Sight” and recently worked with Pulse Films on their Oxygen special “The Case Died With Her.” For Pulse Films, executive producers include Marisa Clifford, Nelesh Dhand and Sunshine Jackson. For Sky U.K., Jack Oliver and Poppy Dixon will also serve as executive producers.

“Captive Audience”

In 1972, 7-year-old Steven Stayner mysteriously vanished on his way home from school. Nearly a decade later, his dramatic return to his family sparked ‘80s-era “stranger danger” warnings, legal reforms and one iconic Made-For-TV-Movie2, in which the family’s ordeal was transformed into a prime-time miniseries watched by 70 million Americans. When the credits rolled and the movie ended, it closed one tragic chapter of the family’s life but opened another.

This limited documentary series explores the evolution of true-crime storytelling through the lens of one family’s 50-year journey and two brothers; one deemed a villain and the other a hero. It’s about how truth becomes story and story becomes truth—on TV, in the justice system and in our minds.

“Captive Audience” is directed by Jessica Dimmock (Netflix’s “Flint Town” and “Unsolved Mysteries”) and produced by Wonderburst and High Five Content. It is executive produced by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Jen Casey and Andrew Jacobs, along with Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Nick Gilhool and Peter Rieveschl.

Hulu Reveals Premiere Dates for “Dopesick,” Second Seasons of “The Great” and “Animaniacs,” and a Collection of New Series Fare For Foodies—“Baker’s Dozen,” “The Next Thing You Eat” and “Taste The Nation: Holiday Edition”—to Debut Thursdays This Fall

“Dopesick” – Series Premiere, Wednesday, Oct. 13

From executive producer Danny Strong and starring and executive produced by Michael Keaton, “Dopesick” examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community to the hallways of the DEA. Defying all the odds, heroes will emerge in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis and their allies. The limited series is inspired by the New York Times bestselling book by Beth Macy.

The eight-episode series stars Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, with Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson. Guest stars include Phillipa Soo and Jake McDorman.

“Dopesick” is written by Emmy-winner Danny Strong (“Empire,” “Recount,” “Game Change”) and directed by Oscar®-winner Barry Levinson (“Paterno,” “Rain Man”). Executive producers for “Dopesick” include Strong, John Goldwyn (“Dexter”), Keaton, Levinson, Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Fargo,” “The Old Man”), Beth Macy (“Dopesick”) and Karen Rosenfelt (“Twilight”).

“The Great” – Season Two Premiere, Friday, Nov. 19

In season two of “The Great,” Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own—but if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be. She’ll battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by guest star Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she’ll also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from a much-hated husband to a prisoner? Ally? Lover? Ultimately, Catherine will learn that to change a country, you must let it change you, that there is a fine line between idealism and delusion, and that becoming “Great” will ask more of her than she could have imagined.

The series stars Elle Fanning as Catherine, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Bayo Gbadamosi and Belinda Bromilow.

“The Great” is created, written and executive produced by Tony McNamara and executive produced by Marian Macgowan, Mark Winemaker, Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Echo Lake’s Brittany Kahan Ward, Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding, Thruline’s Josh Kesselman and Ron West, and Matt Shakman. The project is produced by Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television.

“Animaniacs” – Season Two Premiere, Friday, Nov. 5

Hellloooo, season two! Hulu, Amblin Television and Warner Bros. Animation have joined forces once again to bring you “Animaniacs.” This Emmy Award-winning animated series—and one of Hulu’s all-time most talked-about shows on social media—returns with 13 brand new episodes on Friday, Nov. 5.

Yakko, Wakko and Dot return for an all-new season of this iconic, family-friendly series with something for everyone: pop culture parodies, musical showstoppers, takedowns of historical baddies and even some important safety tips. Join the Warners and Pinky and the Brain as they wreak havoc everywhere they go, from the Warner Bros. lot to an international beauty pageant, even all the way into outer space. Keep an eye out for season one favorites Starbox and Cindy, as well as some rejected Animaniacs characters that were left on the cutting room floor.

Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer of the series, with Sam Register, president, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios. Amblin Television co-presidents, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, also serve as executive producers. Wellesley Wild serves as showrunner and executive producer. Gabe Swarr serves as co-executive producer. “Animaniacs” is produced by Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Animation.

“Baker’s Dozen” – Series Premiere, Thursday, Oct. 7

Passionate amateur bakers will go head-to-head with seasoned professionals in each episode of “Baker’s Dozen.” Join hosts Tamera Mowry-Housley (Emmy-award winning host of “The Real,” FOX’s “The Masked Singer” and Hallmark’s “Christmas Comes Twice”) and Bill Yosses (author and former White House Pastry Chef) for this fast-paced competition series that will determine the best baker of all! Which of the 13 bakers has what it takes to create the next viral baking sensation, win the golden rolling pin and take home the cash prize?

“Baker’s Dozen” is executive produced by Sandy Varo Jarrell, Suzanne Rauscher, Justin Rae Barnes, Tara Seiner and Scott Mlodzinski for Bright Spot Content, an All3Media America company.

“The Next Thing You Eat” – Series Premiere, Thursday, Oct. 21

From chef David Chang and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville, “The Next Thing You Eat” is a six-episode docuseries that explores the seismic changes happening all around us and what they mean for the way we’ll eat in the future. Chang and a diverse cast of characters dive headfirst into what lies ahead, including everything from robots, to lab-grown fish, to insect farms, to artificial intelligence calling all the shots.

Executive produced by the creators of the Emmy®-nominated “Ugly Delicious,” with showrunner Dominic Musacchio

“Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition” – Season Premiere, Thursday, Nov. 4

In “Taste the Nation,” award-winning host, executive producer and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, who recently received her third Emmy nomination, takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups and seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today. From indigenous communities to recent immigrant arrivals, Padma breaks bread with Americans across the nation to uncover the roots and relationship between our food, our humanity and our history—ultimately revealing stories that challenge notions of identity, belonging, and what it means to be American.

“Taste the Nation” returns this fall for a special four-part “Holiday Edition,” where each episode will highlight unique traditions through the lens of different immigrant cultures and cities, like Korean New Year in Los Angeles and Cuban Christmas in Miami.

“Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition” is executive produced by Padma Lakshmi along with Part2 Pictures’ David Shadrack Smith.

ABOUT HULU

Hulu is the leading premium streaming service offering live and on-demand TV and movies, with and without commercials, both in and outside the home. As part of Disney’s Media and Entertainment Distribution segment, Hulu is the only service that gives viewers instant access to current shows from every major U.S. broadcast network; libraries of hit TV series and films; and acclaimed Hulu Originals like Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale and The Act; Golden Globe Award-winning, Emmy Award-nominated and Peabody-winning series Ramy; and Emmy Award-nominated series Pen15alongside hit series Little Fires Everywhere from Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, Normal PeopleThe Great, Hillary and Solar Opposites; Oscar® and Emmy nominated documentary film Minding the Gap, Golden Globe-Award winning and Oscar-nominated The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, and critically acclaimed Hulu Original films Palm Springs, Run and Happiest Season. The service also streams live news, entertainment and sports from 20th Television, The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, CBS Corporation, The CW, Turner Networks, A+E Networks and Discovery Networks – available all in one place. Upcoming Original releases include true-crime-inspired comedy Only Murders in the Building starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez and the book-to-screen adaptation of Nine Perfect Strangers starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy.

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The major stars in our HULU TCA Summer Press Tour

Interview with cast of “Prodigal Son” TCA Panel

TV Interview!

"Prodigal Son" cast at the FOX Spring TCAs.

Interview with actors of “Prodigal Son” on FOX by Suzanne 3/2/21

Today I went to the TCA panel (virtual presentation) with most of the actors from “Prodigal Son” and the executive producers, Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver.

The actors were newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Vivian Capshaw); star Tom Payne (Malcolm Bright); Lou Diamond Phillips (Gil); Bellamy Young (Jessica); Halston Sage (Ainsley); Aurora Perrineau (Dani); Frank Harts (JT); and Keiko Agena (Edrisa). Unfortunately, Michael Sheen (Martin) was not there. He was back in England, and I heard that he was recovering from COVID.

First they had an introduction, where they talked about some of the upcoming FOX shows, and they showed us a preview video.

I didn’t get to ask a question, but it was still fun to be there, and to see the actors on the panel. Most of my questions were asked by other journalists, anyway.

Tom Payne (Bright) was dressed in a suit, and Bellamy Young (Jessica) was dressed in a very nice lace white top. Halston Sage also had a nice white top. The rest were not particularly dressed up. From the banter during the interview, it was clear that this cast is not only amazingly talented but gets along really well.

Catherine Zeta-JonesThe first question was, “What made PRODIGAL SON the right choice for this TV renaissance? And how will Dr. Capshaw change things up at Claremont?” Catherine Zeta-Jones answered this question with a very long speech. (By the way, I had no idea that “Zeta” is pronounced like “cheetah.” I thought it was like “beta.” Who knew? Not me.She replied that she liked the nuance of the show…how it’s a “pretty good family drama with a twist of danger.” She also mentioned that Michael Sheen is from her hometown of Swansea in Wales. She’s admired him from a distance, and they have mutual friends. She said it’s “bizarre” how much their paths have almost crossed before now. That was one of the reasons she wanted to do the show as well as the character of Dr. Vivian Capshaw. The script really drew her in. She was intrigued and wanted to know more about the character and why she was working there at the facility.

The next question was a bit lengthy. In short, the person asked her to elaborate about working with Michael and the relationship between their characters. She answered that Martin Whitley reminds her of men she grew up with. She spoke about the complexity of her character and how it’s starting to unfold. She then praised the group of actors and how their “great work” made her want to be part of the show. She specifically praised Lou Diamond-Phillips for his work directing. She revealed that she and Michael had many Welsh inside jokes but that everyone was very welcoming, which made her feel comfortableJT, Bright and Dani

I was starting to feel bad for the other actors there because they weren’t getting much of a chance to answer any questions.

Case in point: the next questioner asked all the other actors what their first response was to finding out that Jones would be joining the show, and asked Lou Diamond Phillips what it was like to direct her. (Which reminds me of the old joke: “Enough about me. What do YOU think of me?”)

Several of the actors answered. First was Halston Sage, who said she was excited. Then Tom Payne answered next. (He has a wonderful British accent. I wish he used that on the show.) “I was super excited, happy and excited that someone like Catherine would want to join our little gang, really.” He shared that it’s hard for him to watch the show as a viewer and just see it as entertainment. He said they have a lot of fun, especially with the “flashy characters come in and join us like Alan Cumming’s character who came in.” He felt that when Jones joined their show, they were doing a good job because it attracted people of her caliber. It made him feel “proud and very happy, and I’m excited for where our story line goes in the show. Simon Hoxley (Alan Cummings) with Martin and Vivian (from https://www.instagram.com/alancummingsnaps)

Keiko Agena then said, “Yeah. I’ll just say my jaw dropped, and I think it’s still dropped. So, at some point, I’ll pick it up and go on.”  Everyone giggled at that.

Then Lou Diamond Philips revealed that when he started his preparations for direction Episode 207, he didn’t know it was the midseason finale, nor did he know who his guest stars would be. He compared it to “a frog getting boiled in water. The heat just kept getting turned up. It was, like, this is the finale. Okay. That’s a big deal. Catherine Zeta Jones? Oh, my God. And the sphincter tightens more on top of that.” Very colorfully put.  He described the episode as a ship, which he said started as having lovely storylines for Halston and Bellamy, as well as having Rachel York (Birdie), someone he’s known for a long time since they were both on Broadway. It just became richer and richer for him to direct, but it was overwhelming at first. “And knowing that I was going to be the one to welcome Hera down from Mount Olympus when Catherine stepped on set, you don’t always know what you are going to get. And what you are seeing today is emblematic of who she is, so gracious and so warm and so inclusive of everyone.” He praised her for being a team player and part of their group from the outset, which made it all work very easily. He ended by saying, “to quote Keiko Agena’s character, ‘Well, that went well.'”

EP Sklaver chimed in with, “And Catherine is not lying. The second rehearsal, she said, ‘Do you remember Margaret?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I know Margaret.’ It was nonstop. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Which led to Catherine Zeta-Jones replying that she was randomly watching “The View” when Whoopi Goldberg gave high praise to their show.  She knew that Whoopi understood their show, and she was happy to see that praise.  Michael was there when she saw it and wondered if she knew that would happen.  She just figured that “great minds think alike.” They got that stamp of approval from out of nowhere.

Frank Harts was very funny when he added in his two cents, which were meant in a sarcastic (but hilarious) way: “Yeah. I was excited about the Whoopi thing, too, and Catherine joining. I was also a little scared because I was thinking, like, ‘How am I going to hang with Catherine in all of these one-on-one scenes that we are going to hit?’ I’m trained. I come from the theater. There’s a lot there. But, you know, that’s Hollywood royalty. She’s a Titan, man. So, I just had to wrap my brain around that, but welcome, Catherine.” Catherine Zeta-Jones thanked him for this, laughing.

Another journalist asked why they think there are more serial killer shows now and whether it has something to do with the times we’re living in, or even the pandemic crisis.

EP Fedak agreed that it does speak to us because of the age in which we live, since things seem “dark and seemingly scary.”  However, they view their show as more of a family show with a lot of humor and a great cast that’s “charming and fun.” He concluded that it’s many things together, not just a serial killer drama.

Catherine Zeta-Jones chimed in, “You know, what’s really interesting is where this I think it comes from the work and obviously the script. What’s on the page is what we work with, but it’s admirable when the characters that are darker than the regular folk can be as charming and interesting.” She thinks that you need a great actor to play a likable serial killer, and she added that she has a fascination with mobster families.  The family is reflected, which we can all relate to, but then to bring in a serial killer that is likable, all intertwined with the rest, is unique.

Bellamy Young shared her thoughts on that question, saying that they couldn’t have known the pandemic would hit during their filming of the show, but they just happened to hit it at the right time and place while the world is going through something so difficult.  She praised the show for making us laugh through the horror and pain, with it all being about family.  Zeta-Jones agreed that this was true.

Frank Harts answered in a serious way. He remembered how he reacted to the George Floyd murder last summer, which made him freak out and wake up in a little bit of a cold sweat the next day.  He told his wife it was crazy and that now he has to go back into the Prodigal Son world, playing a black cop on TV.  He wasn’t sure which direction they would go in, but he had a great conversation with the EPs. They assured him that they would incorporate the racism conversation into the show, which they did. He’s grateful that they nailed it. He echoed Bellamy’s words that the best part of the show is how they do comedy and big drama as well as “keep it real and grounded.” He gave credit to both the writers and all of the actors for bringing their best work to the table.

Zeta-Jones added that the FOX network deserved praise as well for having such great diversity among the actors and crew. She pointed out that many of them were from other countries and everyone is working together, being not only great at their jobs but “gracious and respectful,” which she noticed immediately.

The next question asked about the future of Dani and Malcolm’s relationship as well as when they were going to replace Gil’s car (the LeMans). The EP’s confirmed that the car was destroyed last season and isn’t coming back. Sklaver said that we will see Gil working on the car that Jessica destroyed in a scene involving her.

Lou Diamond Phillips pointed out, “I just said, ‘No Whitleys are supposed to get near my car.'”

“Don’t let them,” said Frank Harts.

Sklaver continued: “That’s the rule.”  He continued on, saying he couldn’t give spoilers about Bright and Dani, but he loves how fun they are together.  He praised the actors’ chemistry and shared that they do want to explore their romance, but he hinted that some things in the story might be keeping them from doing that. He said the same is true about Martin and Vivian.

Sklaver brought Aurora into the conversation, asking her thoughts on the Dani-Malcolm relationship. He said that he enjoys them together on the show because they’re “magical.”

Aurora answered that she agrees…she likes the transition they’ve been going through between meeting, and then learning more about each other. She praised the writers for making their relationship very believable and organic.

Fedak half-jokingly pointed out, “It is unfortunately, when you write someone kissing in a script this year, with COVID protocols, it does require a hazmat team. So, we do have to be careful in that regard.” Everyone on the screen was nodding their heads in agreement on this one.

Bellamy Young was asked what she could share about how things will play out for her character after she takes matters into her own hands this week and whether she’ll find it empowering. Bellamy answered that she thinks things will be rocky for Jess because she’s been keeping way too many secrets. She thinks the truth will set her free in the end. She shared that the episode they’re filming now leads her to “a very dark predicament.” She hasn’t seen the scripts after this one, so she doesn’t know how it all comes out.

There was one last question, for Keiko. The journalist said that we “got a look at her incredible fashion sense recently” and that we want to know more about her. He asked, “Can we perhaps see a more Edrisa-centric episode in the future?”

Keiko answered that they just finished episode 209, which does focus on her character. She had mentioned to the EPs about what her hopes for Edrisa were and what she though about the character. This episode has a lot of action and get to meet some of Edrisa’s friends, outside of the precinct.

Sklaver said, jokingly, “Keiko sends us emails that I’m afraid to show my wife sometimes. I don’t know about these guys. She sends an email. There’s whips. She’s bound to do whatever. It’s the best. ”

Keiko looked at him as if to scold him, saying, “Sam.”

Zeta-Jones joined in the joking by adding, “Yeah. It changed the course of her career right there.”

Fedak used the opportunity to praise the cast and how well it works together and goes along with whatever crazy stories they write. He thinks every network show should involve this kind of enthusiasm and cooperation.

Lou Diamond Phillips mentioned how great Halston was in the episode he directed, too.  He hopes to see more about the relationship with Ainsley in the future. He was glad to see more of “Lou’s relationship with Halston. He says it’s “pretty wonderful, and I was so grateful for her help and for her enthusiasm throughout. I just wanted to toss that out there.”

Halston Sage was grateful, “Oh, I love you, Lou. That was so sweet. I feel the same way. It was amazing working together.”

MORE INFO:

PRODIGAL SON follows MALCOLM BRIGHT (Tom Payne), a criminal profiler with a rare talent for getting inside the minds of killers. He learned how they think because his father, DR. MARTIN WHITLY (Michael Sheen), was a notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon.” Now he’s using his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve their most puzzling murders. Bright’s team, led by his longtime mentor, NYPD Lieutenant GIL ARROYO (Lou Diamond Phillips), includes Detectives DANI POWELL (Aurora Perrineau), JT TARMEL (Frank Harts) and medical examiner DR. EDRISA TANAKA (Keiko Agena). Season Two picks up with Bright’s personal life in disarray after his sister AINSLEY’s (Halston Sage) shocking actions in the Season One finale. Now, he must “take care” of her and protect his mother JESSICA WHITLY (Bellamy Young) from a secret that could tear the family apart all over again. Meanwhile, Martin proves himself valuable in treating patients, after being assigned to infirmary duty by Claremont Psychiatric’s resident MD, DR. VIVIAN CAPSHAW (Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Chicago,” “Ocean’s 12,” “Traffic,” “Feud”), and seeks to deepen his relationship with Bright, his prodigal son, but forging this bond leads to shocking twists and revelations.

PRODIGAL SON is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and FOX Entertainment. Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver created the series, and are executive producers, showrunners and writers on the show. Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter also serve as executive producers.

ACADEMY AWARD AND TONY AWARD WINNER CATHERINE ZETA-JONES JOINS
FOX’S HIT DRAMA, “PRODIGAL SON,” FOR SEASON TWO

 

Zeta-Jones to Star Opposite Fellow Welsh Actor Michael Sheen,
As Claremont Psychiatric’s Resident MD, Dr. Vivian Capshaw

Season Two of PRODIGAL SON Premieres on a New Night,
Beginning Tuesday, January 12, on FOX

Academy Award, Tony Award and three-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago,” “Ocean’s 12,” “Traffic,” “Feud”) will join FOX’s hit drama, PRODIGAL SON, for Season Two of the series. Starring as a special guest star opposite fellow Welsh actor Michael Sheen, Zeta-Jones will appear in the latter half of the season as DR. VIVIAN CAPSHAW, Claremont Psychiatric’s resident MD. In Season Two, DR. MARTIN WHITLY (Sheen) is assigned to infirmary duty, and Dr. Capshaw (Zeta-Jones) revels in tasking “The Surgeon” to clean bedpans and mop the floor. But as Martin proves valuable in treating patients, Capshaw begins to see him in a new light…which is not a good thing.

“An extraordinary talent, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the perfect foil for the brilliant Michael Sheen,” said Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment, FOX Entertainment. “I can’t wait to see these two greats go head-to-head in a season that is bound to raise the bar set by an outstanding Season One.”

Season Two of PRODIGAL SON premieres on a new night, Tuesday, Jan. 12 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. PRODIGAL SON was the No. 1 new series last fall, averaging 9.3 million multi-platform viewers.

PRODIGAL SON follows MALCOLM BRIGHT (Tom Payne), a criminal profiler with a rare talent for getting inside the minds of killers. He learned how they think because his father, Martin Whitly, was a notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon.” Now he’s using his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve their most puzzling murders. Bright’s team, led by his longtime mentor, NYPD Lieutenant GIL ARROYO (Lou Diamond Phillips), includes Detectives DANI POWELL (Aurora Perrineau), JT TARMEL (Frank Harts) and medical examiner DR. EDRISATANAKA (Keiko Agena). Season Two picks up with Bright’s personal life in disarray after the shocking actions of his sister, AINSLEY (Halston Sage), in the Season One finale. Now, he must “take care” of her and protect his mother, JESSICA WHITLY (Bellamy Young), from a secret that could tear the family apart all over again! Further complicating matters, Martin seeks to deepen his relationship with Bright, his prodigal son, but forging this bond leads to shocking twists and revelations. Season Two guest stars include Christian Borle and Michael Potts.

Zeta-Jones is a multi-award-winning actress whose talents range from film to theater. She garnered an Academy Award for her portrayal of the scandalous “Velma Kelly,” in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical “Chicago.” She also was nominated for a Golden Globe and took home the Critics’ Choice Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. She won the Tony Award for Lead Actress in a Musical for her critically acclaimed Broadway debut as “Desirée Armfeldt” in Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.” Her other starring roles include Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 12,” “Side Effects,” and Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal,” opposite Tom Hanks. Zeta-Jones also starred with George Clooney in the Coen Brothers’ dark comedy, “Intolerable Cruelty.” She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of the wife of a drug-runner in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” Most recently, she starred in the telefilm “Cocaine Godmother,” based on the true-life story of the notorious drug lord Griselda Blanco. She first gained international recognition in the action-adventure film “The Mask of Zorro,” opposite Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. She then captivated audiences in “Entrapment,” opposite screen legend Sean Connery. Born in Wales, Zeta-Jones began her career on the stage in London and was then cast in the popular Yorkshire Television series, “The Darling Buds of May,” based on the novels of H.E. Bates. In 2010, she was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to the film industry and charity.

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Prodigal Son second season poster

Interview with Alex Gibney and others

TV Interview!

Alex Gibney, Scott Higham, Dr. Anna Lembke and Dr. Art Van Zee of "Crime of the Century" on HBO

Interview with Alex Gibney, Scott Higham, Dr. Anna Lembke and Dr. Art Van Zee of “Crime of the Century” on HBO by Suzanne 2/10/21

I was delighted to attend this TCA Virtual Press Tour. I was only able to ask one question because there were so many press there. This sounds like a great documentary that everyone should watch.

HBO and HBO MAX CTAM PRESS TOUR WINTER 2021
The Crime of the Century (HBO)

This virtual panel had Alex Gibney (Director, Producer, Writer)
Scott Higham (Washington Post Investigative Reporter, Subject)
Dr. Anna Lembke (Medical Director of Addiction Medicine, Stanford University, Subject)
Dr. Art Van Zee (Primary Care Physician, Subject)

2021 Virtual Tour
Los Angeles, CA
February 10, 2021
© 2021 HBO and HBO Max. All rights reserved.

The two-part documentary “The Crime of the Century” from Academy Award and Emmy winner Alex Gibney, is a searing investigative work that reveals the inner workings of the multi-billion dollar industry behind the opioid epidemic. Following the trailer, we will be joined by Alex Gibney, Director, Writer and Producer, and Film Subjects Scott Higham, Washington Post Investigative Reporter, Dr. Anna Lembke, Medical Director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University, and Dr. Art Van Zee, Primary Care Physician. (Clip shown.)

Here is the question I asked:

MODERATOR: Good morning to our panel. Our first question comes from Suzanne Lanoue.

SUZANNE LANOUE: Hi. How long did it take for you to make this?

Alex Gibney: It took about two years from start to finish. It started with a meeting at “The Washington Post” where the editors and the reporters, Scott Higham included, sort of educated me in terms of the breadth of this. So about two years from start to finish.

Here are links to other reporters’ summary of the rest of the discussion.

SciFiVision

Indiewire

MORE INFO:

HBO Documentary Films Announces THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY, A Searing Investigative Work Revealing The Inner Workings Of The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry Behind The Opioid Epidemic

TCA | Winter 2021 The Crime of the Century

Two-Part Documentary From Academy Award-Winning Director Alex Gibney Debuts This May

HBO’s THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY, a two-part documentary directed by Emmy® and Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney (HBO’s “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” “Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief”), is a searing indictment of Big Pharma and the political operatives and government regulations that enable over-production, reckless distribution and abuse of synthetic opiates.  Exploring the origins, extent and fallout of one of the most devastating public health tragedies of our time, with half a million deaths from overdoses this century alone, the film reveals that America’s opioid epidemic is not a public health crisis that came out of nowhere.

With the help of whistleblowers, insiders, newly-leaked documents, exclusive interviews and access to behind-the-scenes investigations, and featuring expert input from medical professionals, journalists, former and current government agents, attorneys and pharmaceutical sales representatives, as well as sobering testimony from victims of opioid addiction, Gibney’s exposé posits that drug companies are in fact largely responsible for manufacturing the very crisis they profit from, to the tune of billions of dollars…and thousands of lives.

THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max this May.

The opioid crisis has resulted in a country ravaged by corporate greed and betrayed by some of its own elected officials, following the aggressive promotion of OxyContin, a highly addictive drug from family owned pharmaceutical giant, Purdue Pharma. Purdue worked closely with the FDA to get the highly profitable pain medication approved for wider use, promoting its safety without sufficient evidence, and creating a campaign to redefine pain and how we treat it. When government regulators or Justice Department officials tried to mitigate the wrongdoing, Purdue Pharma and companies like Cardinal-Health that were huge opioid distributors would settle the cases, keep the details private and continue on unabated. As tens of thousands of people succumbed to opioid addiction, the fortunes built by the opiate business became the crime of the century, and the market that OxyContin had opened paved the way for even deadlier prescription drugs.

Contributing to Part One of THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY are: author Patrick Radden Keefe; opioid specialist Dr. Andrew Kolodny; former Purdue sales rep. Mark Ross; addiction specialist Dr. Anne Lembke; Life Tree pain clinic founder Dr. Lynn Webster; Roy Bosley, whose wife died of an opioid overdose; author and NY Times reporter Barry Meier; primary care physician Dr. Art Van Zee; former Department of Justice official Paul Pelletier; and EMT Giles Sartin.

Part Two of THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY shines a spotlight on the mass marketing of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and examines the connections between drug manufacturers and government policy.  While America’s silent epidemic was killing 40 people a day, Insys Therapeutics, an upstart opioid manufacturer of fentanyl, continued to bribe doctors to overprescribe. Startling video of sales retreats and promotional material speak to a deep cynicism among company employees and a disregard for the widespread, nefarious corporate practices. A complex scheme to defraud the insurance companies existed side by side with fraudulent marketing tactics while lawmakers continued to turn a blind eye to the implications of a complex pipeline that delivers billions of pills around the country.

Interweaving stories of personal tragedy from first responders, survivors and family members of opioid victims with the timeline of corporate greed and malfeasance, Part Two of THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY includes insights from former DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi; former DEA attorney Jonathan Novak; Washington Post reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein; Assistant U.S. Attorneys for Massachusetts David Lazarus, Nathaniel Yeager and Fred Wyshak; former V.P. of Sales at Insys Alec Burlakoff; former Insys regional sales manager Sunrise Lee; and fentanyl dealer Sidney Caleb Lanier. Woven together, the character-driven stories form a larger narrative of shocking corruption.

HBO Documentary Films’ presents a Jigsaw Production in association with Storied Media Group, THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY written and directed by Alex Gibney; produced by Alex Gibney, Sarah Dowland, and Svetlana Zill; executive produced by Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, Todd Hoffman, and Aaron Fishman; For HBO: senior producer, Tina Nguyen; executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Crime of the Century" on HBO