Interview with cast and crew of “Astrid and Lilly Saves the World”

TV Interview!

Syfy panel with actors and producers from "Astrid & Lilly Save the World"

Interview with actors Samantha Aucoin and Jana Morrison, and showrunners Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone of “Astrid and Lilly Save the World” on Syfy by Suzanne 12/9/21

This was a fun panel with the stars and executive producers of this new Syfy show. The show seems to me like “Scooby Doo” crossed with “Supernatural.”


Astrid & Lilly Save the World

Samantha Aucoin, Talent, “Lilly Fortenberry”, Jana Morrison, Talent, “Astrid Bell”, Noelle Stehman, Executive Producer/Showrunner and Betsy Van Stone, Executive Producer/Showrunner

Virtual via Zoom December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

HALLE HERMAN: Hi. I’m Halle Herman, and I’m here to introduce the panel for SYFY’s new series “Astrid and Lilly Save the World,” which will premiere Wednesday, January 26th, at 10:00 p.m., on both SYFY and USA Network before airing exclusively on SYFY.

High school is hard enough when you’re different, but when outcast BFFs Astrid and Lilly accidently crack open a portal to a terrifyingly quirky monster dimension, it gets a lot more complicated. It’s up to them to vanquish the creepy creatures and save the world, becoming the badass heroes they were meant to be; that is, if they can survive the horrors of high school.

Here’s a peek at “Astrid and Lilly Save the World.”

From left to right are executive producers Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone and Samantha Aucoin and Jana Morrison. We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you, Halle, and welcome to our panelists.

(Zoom instructions.)

QUESTION: Hey, Noelle and Betsy. I love that these two lead actresses are larger than a typical leading lady. Was that body positivity something you went into creating with these particular roles or did you just stumble on these really good talents and they fit the characters?

BETSY VAN STONE: We went into it very intentionally. You know, the whole world doesn’t look the same. Not everyone is a size two, and representation matters. We are lucky to have found incredibly talented actresses who happen to look like what most American women look like. And it’s long overdue to see that represented on television.

QUESTION: Amen. Thank you, guys, so much. And Samantha and Jana, you guys are beautiful, and I love that you guys get these comedic leads to you. Talk about, for you, what it means to you to see more inclusivity as far as larger lead actresses.

JANA MORRISON: Like, where do we start? It obviously means the world because when we were young, we would have killed to see a show like this.


JANA MORRISON: To have people like us be heroes? Back then it wasn’t a thing and now I’m really stoked that we’re that for people around the world.


JANA MORRISON: Anything you want to say?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. No. I mean, that’s so true. I could have 100 percent used this show in high school. And I’m so proud that we get to represent these characters, these amazing characters. And I think it’s really going to make a difference in for anyone who watches the show.

QUESTION: This is for Noelle and Betsy. So much of TV is about people who are perceived of as outsiders; particularly teen shows, a lot are about that. So, I’m just wondering, in your own teen years, when you were kids, were you thought of do you think of yourself as outsiders or were you one of the cool kids or were you in the theater crowd? What were you like at the time?

BETSY VAN STONE: All of the above.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. I think I hopped through a lot of the different crowds the uncool crowd, a little bit of the theater crowd, a little bit of sometimes in with the cool kids. But, definitely, I think high school’s a time when no one quite feels comfortable no matter what crowd you’re in. And that doesn’t just stop at high school. It kind of extends throughout all of life. So, I think in that way, this is a show that is for everybody of every age, anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider in any type of way, yeah.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the actresses that too because you’re so near to having been in high school. And like you say, that’s probably the time when you feel like you said, everyone feels like an outsider. So, what were your high school years like? Were you cool kids? Were you outsiders? What did you feel like?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. My high school experience, I was definitely part of the theater group and music kids. I kind of hopped from group to group; and because I hopped from group to group, I definitely felt like more of an outsider. I definitely didn’t stick with one set group. So, I can definitely relate to the characters in that way.

JANA MORRISON: For me, my high school, I was definitely theater-kid through and through. All my little group were just theater and dance people and we just all got each other because we were weird and loud. And all the other kids in school thought we were losers for, like, loving theater, which I don’t know why. Theater’s really fun. But I had maybe a couple, like, “cool kid” friends, but I don’t know if they were really my friends. So

QUESTION: Okay. Cool.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. I just want to add quickly that one thing we’ve really learned in writing and making the show and talking to as many people as we have come in contact with, whether they be related to the show or not, like, at some point in your life, you felt like an outsider. That’s just universally true. And you felt like an outcast, whether that was when you were a kid or at work or in your family, and that’s why this show is for everyone. And what’s cooler than two outcasts who save the world? I mean, come on.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Absolutely. And we want to celebrate everyone’s uniqueness and weirdness in all of its glory.

QUESTION: Good point. Thanks a lot.


QUESTION: I kind of want to follow up on Mike’s question about the teen subject. Can you talk a little bit I’d like to hear from the producers and then from the talent, please, about the series and maybe what is your most important subject matter that you think will continue to keep teens interested in the show?

NOELLE STEHMAN: I mean, I guess I would say overall it’s just, again, emphasis on the feeling comfortable being yourself, whatever that means.


NOELLE STEHMAN: And I feel like that extends to all the different categories of insecurities and vulnerabilities and being different. So, yeah, I think whatever it is that scares you or makes you feel like an outsider, that is to be celebrated, and that’s what we’re trying to emphasize across the board.

I don’t know if you have anything specific to add.

BETSY VAN STONE: Well, yeah, I mean, specific to the teen experience, I think you’re sort of forced in high school into trying to be like everyone else. And when you’re not, you feel somehow like you’re cast aside or

NOELLE STEHMAN: You don’t matter as much.

BETSY VAN STONE: like you don’t matter. And we just want people to watch this show, and I think they’ll be surprised and charmed by these unlikely heroes and will connect to the fact that they are different and they matter the most in the world because they’re the only two girls who can save the world.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the talent, please.

JANA MORRISON: I think it’s going to be really important for teens to hear that whether you think you look like a hero or you act a certain way, you can still be a hero in your own way and in your own community because you don’t have to be in a certain group or look a certain way to be a hero for the people in your life.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean, appearances aren’t everything, and I think this show really shows you that it doesn’t matter what you look like. And I think people are really going to resonate with that, hopefully, and

(To Jana) I know. We’re going to cry.

no. But, yeah, this really means everything to us to be able to be those characters for people. I think people are really going to resonate with this show. And, like Betsy said, there really is something in it for everyone. So, I think that’s going to keep people watching.

QUESTION: And could the two of you or one of you talk about was there ever a time on the set where reality and fantasy may have coincided?

JANA MORRISON: It’s like that every day.


JANA MORRISON: Because we were living it was like we were living two different lives.


JANA MORRISON: Kind of, right?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Totally, totally.

JANA MORRISON: I feel like I know we both feel ourselves in the characters. So, every scene, it felt like it was kind of an Astrid and Jana situation.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Right, and a Lilly and Sam situation, totally. No, I totally agree with.

JANA MORRISON: Because I can resonate so deeply with the character, and it doesn’t it’s not often that that happens. So, reality and fantasy really hit. I mean, I don’t necessarily have monsters in my life.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Physically, physical monsters.

JANA MORRISON: Physical monsters.


SAMANTHA AUCOIN: That we know of.

But, no, the internal monsters have definitely been there with us, and we’ve kind of gotten to grow and, I think, really learn from the characters as they kind of conquer their internal demons. So



QUESTION: Great. Thank you very much.



QUESTION: Hi. Noelle and Betsy, can you talk a little bit about the creation and development of the show, the hows and the whys and how it all worked out and the casting of the two young women here?

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. Noelle and I have always written strong female women who are dynamic and colorful and likeable and also unlikeable. And it was always a dream of ours to find two characters like that in high school. And then, you know, because of some experiences we had as kids or as teens, I guess these two characters developed that are outcasts and are called losers, but they rise above that. And maybe that’s something we wanted to do in high school


BETSY VAN STONE: you know.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Absolutely. And on a personal note, I can say I came from a small town, and one of our, sort of, social activities because there wasn’t much to do was driving around and looking to see what kids were doing, driving by their houses late at night. So, again, we didn’t open any portals that I know of, but that really was one of our social activities. That was part of the patrolling aspects of it.

BETSY VAN STONE: Oh, absolutely. Same here. I mean, suburban, high school town where, yeah, we would meet in the grocery store parking lot and then drive past people’s houses because what else do you do. So, we definitely injected some of our own experiences for sure.

QUESTION: And the casting process?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, that was just a dream process for us. I feel like got very lucky.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. I mean, you know, you create a character in your head and you sort of picture who the actors are going to be more or less. And then we met Jana first, and it was no question. The second she opened her mouth, we knew that she was our Astrid. She also embodied her. She was wearing a very Astrid shirt and had her hair in a very Astrid look. And she actually Jana the actress influenced Astrid the character, and it was just it was just her from the beginning. We just knew it.

And then, once we had our Astrid, the trick was then to find a complimentary Lilly. And we met Sam. And we saw them interact on Zoom, mind you. And the chemistry on Zoom was so incredible, and right away they both got such a kick out of each other. And it was like, ah ha, that’s what we’re looking for. And it was one of those things that you couldn’t manufacture it. It just was, and it was evident on Zoom. And then when they met in person and we all met together, it was like, oh my god. These characters are real. This is real. This is magic. And we couldn’t be happier that we found them.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.



BETSY VAN STONE: It’s all true.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. This is for Noelle and Betsy. There’s a lot of shows that have supernatural elements to it, and one of the really fun things about developing a show like that is that you make your own bible. You determine, you know, what your how far you go, what kind of things we’re going to see. So just in terms of the supernatural elements and the demon aspects and the monsters, what’s kind of the first season, either parameters or the mythology that you want to you’re going to let us learn?

BETSY VAN STONE: You want to take this one?

NOELLE STEHMAN: I mean, I will say, first of all, if you love shows with monsters, this is absolutely for you. And each episode we try to create a monster that was fully formed and very dynamic in its own way, a monster that you want to watch and follow along with. Almost that you can’t tell if you want to root for, but probably not, but they’re that interesting. And each monster has a theme about them that sort of ties into a different theme of what the high school kids are going through in that episode. So that overall is the sort of model for the season. And some of the monsters are straight up terrifying. Some of them are a little bit funny. They’re all certainly quirky. I’m very excited for you to meet all of them.

BETSY VAN STONE: And I will just add that they’re not monsters you’ve seen before.


BETSY VAN STONE: We created original, weird monsters, and they all have big personalities. And we’re super excited for y’all to get a whole picture of who they are, yeah.



QUESTION: My question is also for the creators. How much of an influence because obviously this was the big, great grandmother of “high school is hell” shows. How much of an influence was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on you guys? And (foreign language). How is your show explicitly different from “Buffy”?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, I’m a huge we’re both huge “Buffy” fans. It’s something definitely that I grew up with. And there are certainly various homage moments to “Buffy” throughout this season, which you will see. But within that, we sort of it became a, sort of, model where we combined it with, sort of, a book-smart type aspect because this is about also a very close female friendship. And that’s one way that it differs.

And, also, we put an emphasis as we had said before on this outcast story and the idea that someone who you least expect can be a hero. And that extends to the way that the powers that the girls inherit are very quirky and not something that necessarily seems particularly helpful. And their monster guide is a bit quirky. So, yeah, I would say that it takes those models but turns them on their head a little bit.

Do you have anything else?

BETSY VAN STONE: No. I think you said that well, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Hello. Also, for the creators, with a project like this and a title like this, you’ve got to come up with that combination of names that sing, whether it’s Bill and Ted, or Jay, which I personally like, in “Silent Bob.” How many variations did you go through to arrive at Astrid and Lilly?

BETSY VAN STONE: You know, they were kind of right away, Astrid and well, there was a slight tweak on Lilly, but

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. The Astrid name has been there for so long, honestly, I don’t even

BETSY VAN STONE: I think Astrid was the first name we gave her, and it’s just like who she was at her core.


BETSY VAN STONE: It just made sense.

Lilly was a little bit after that, but it also it just felt like her. Astrid is kind of a bold, unapologetic name. And Lilly is a little softer and like a little more of a sensitive

NOELLE STEHMAN: Sensitive, yeah.

BETSY VAN STONE: of a name. And, so, they just really fit the two characters well.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us. This is for the two actresses. You talked about how you felt like outsiders before and how you connected to the characters. But can you talk about maybe what parts of the characters were the most difficult for you to connect to? You know, not including the monsters, because obviously

(Simultaneous speaking.)

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah, for sure. Well, for me personally, I found that Lilly, she really wears her heart on her sleeve. And one thing, something I absolutely love about her and I personally don’t because I’m much more guarded and Lilly kind of opened me up, I found. I ended up learning a lot from her. So that was definitely difficult at first to access being so vulnerable openly all the time. And that’s one of the differences between the two characters, Lilly and Astrid. And, yeah, I think that was definitely the most difficult part to access, but definitely learned a lot from getting to be able to access that side of her.

JANA MORRISON: And you did it so beautifully.


JANA MORRISON: And for me, I think something that was different from Astrid and I is that I have a hard time, like, speaking up for myself once in a while. And Astrid, if she doesn’t like something, oh, you’ll know it. And I think that’s something I can take away from Astrid. You know, as a woman who is Filipino and maybe sometimes reverts to keeping things to myself to not hurt others, I think I can do a little more speaking up and learning a little bit more from Astrid in that way.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, both of you.

QUESTION: Well, thank you for coming along. We wondered who was going to save us.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: We’re here for you.

JANA MORRISON: We got you.

QUESTION: You know, we all ask ourselves: What would I do if I was really tested, really confronted with something difficult? So, I want to know, in your young lives, what each you has been through that tested you and what your expectation of yourself is that you could get through things?

BETSY VAN STONE: Ooh. I mean, I guess I will say for myself there is a lot of Lilly and Astrid in me, you know. High school wasn’t always super easy, and that shifts your perspective, I think, for the rest of your life. So, I think I felt a little like, you know, I had to prove myself a little more maybe than some people. And, honestly, in creating these characters, I’ve actually learned a lot from them, which is weird because I wrote them. But they’ve really shown me, you know, if two 16 year olds can battle monsters and struggle through high school and come out of it feeling great, then maybe so can I?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. And I think the only thing that comes to mind is I moved schools right before middle school, which is one of the most awkward phases of time to be a stranger, and I did feel like an outsider at that time. And, I think, just learning that you can survive the idea of being sort of a fish out of water and it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to be brave and you can get through the unknown. Which, you know, doing this show was a big unknown and a big, exciting challenge and just to embrace that kind of unknown and feeling, you know, like, taking on challenges.

QUESTION: And for our actresses, the actresses, do you feel like you’ve been tested, and what’s your assessment of your own strength?

JANA MORRISON: I feel like I have been tested kind of within this acting industry, because for so many years, you try really hard and you put your heart out there and you put yourself out there. And you think you believe in yourself, but when it doesn’t come at the time you want, it’s easy to let that dream go away. And I think that continuing to have that fire and confidence continue on is what really helped me get here. And there could have been times where I could have been doing something else, but this is something I really wanted.


JANA MORRISON: And I think the confidence in myself really helped me get through.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Mm hmm. Yeah. And I would say I was definitely tested. It was a really weird transition after high school for me, and it was I had this really weird, sort of, sense of unknowing and I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I kind of didn’t have much of a plan. I wasn’t really sure what life was going to throw at me or if life was going to throw anything at me. And then, funnily enough, this show happened and it kind of saved me a little, I think, in so many ways. But it definitely gave me this sort of reassurance that the unknown isn’t scary; or that it is scary but it’s okay and it’s okay to not know what’s going to happen next. And I really thank this show and I thank everyone for that, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, all, and thanks for coming to save us.


QUESTION: Okay. I have a question for each of the ladies here. For Noelle and Betsy, I’d like to know if you ladies have either teen children or teen relatives. What do they think about this show? And for the actresses, I’d like to know: Would your teenage selves what would they think of Astrid and Lilly?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, we don’t have teenage kids. I do have a niece who’s getting toward that age and she’s very excited. And our friends who have teen kids are very excited. I think, though, we’re, in a lot of ways, big teenagers ourselves.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. Well, I was going to say something similar. Like, I don’t have any teenagers, but I am friends with


BETSY VAN STONE: some teenagers, you know, friends’ kids.

And one thing I will say is they’ve all asked me why the show sounds like it was written by actual teenagers. They’re like, “It sounds like the way we talk. How did you guys do that?” And I think it’s because we’re, on a very base level, still 16.

JANA MORRISON: I think my high-school self would be a little intimidated by Astrid because of how she does whatever she wants and she doesn’t care what authority thinks. She just is, and if you don’t like it, you can go.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. I mean, I think my high-school self would probably really empathize with Lilly and would probably feel comfort in all of Lilly’s insecurities. And I think my high-school self would absolutely love this show and would get a lot from it. And, again, I wish I had this show when I was in high school because I feel like it would have really helped me.

JANA MORRISON: Uh, my high-school self would have loved the show.


QUESTION: Thank you, ladies.


QUESTION: Hi. I’m from the Filipino channel ABS CBN, so, of course, my question is for Jana.


QUESTION: Asian matters. Phew, you can’t see me, but I’m a little bit teary eyed at the

JANA MORRISON: I am too. We’re good together.


QUESTION: You’re one of very few Filipino Americans in lead roles who’s also playing a Filipino character. So, what does this representation mean for you?

JANA MORRISON: It means a lot for me because, of course, growing up I’m actually I’m Canadian. And growing up in Canada, watching American shows, I had not seen any sort of Filipino representation on screen. And this is something in entertainment I wanted to do my whole life and I wanted to be a Filipino in this industry. And, thankfully, I have a group of Filipino mentors in this industry that really helped back me up and lift me up to say you can still do this and you need to continue because the other Filipinos around the whole world who want to do this will see you and want to follow their dreams also. So, it’s really important. And us Filipinos, oh, my gosh. We work so hard and I think we need a little more credit.

QUESTION: Well, thank you so much, and I hope to see you in person soon. I’m rooting for you always. You know, this is amazing, just watching the episodes and seeing you and seeing the person who plays your mom, who’s obviously Filipino.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah, she is.

JANA MORRISON: I want to say that that was a really amazing thing for the creators to bring for me. Because, you know, my mother’s Filipino, and to have my mother on the show be Filipino also, it is really touching to see the dynamic. And I’m really excited for the world to see our relationship on screen.


QUESTION: Salamat. That’s thank you in Tagalog. And if you ever need to consult in Tagalog, hey, holler.

JANA MORRISON: Oh, I’m going to holler. I’m going to holler. Salamat.

QUESTION: Thank you. And I wish you all the best.

JANA MORRISON: Thank you so much.

BETSY VAN STONE: Thank you so much for your question.


MATTHEW LIFSON: Oh, what a perfect question to end on.

Thank you to our panelists. That concludes our session for “Astrid and Lilly Save the World.” We’re going to take one more short break, and then we’ll pick it back up for our final panel of the day, NBC’s “Grand Crew.”

ALL PANELISTS: Thanks, everyone.

BETSY VAN STONE: Watch the show.




High school is hard enough when you’re different, but when outcast BFFs Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin) accidentally crack open a portal to a terrifyingly quirky monster dimension, it gets a lot more complicated. It’s up to them to vanquish the creepy creatures and save the world, becoming the badass heroes they were meant to be. That is, if they can survive the horrors of high school.

“Astrid & Lilly Save the World” was written by Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone, who executive produce along with Lance Samuels, Daniel Iron and Samantha Levine. Blue Ice Pictures will produce.

Samantha Aucoin

Lilly Fortenberry

ASTRID AND LILLY SAVE THE WORLD -- Season:1 -- Pictured: Samantha Aucoin as Lilly -- (Photo by: Alex Stead/Blue Ice Pictures/SYFY)
Samantha Aucoin makes her television debut as Lilly in the SYFY original new series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Aucoin is a Canadian singer, songwriter and actress from Beeton, Ontario, a small town north of Toronto. She began her acting career in local plays and would go on to play the lead roles in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Mary Poppins” and many more. With a desire to venture into the television and film world, Aucoin attended an open call with BookItTalent agency in 2016.

Aucoin’s recording debut was on the album “What Is Christmas For.” She wrote three original songs for other singers and wrote and recorded the power anthem “Hip Hop, Santa Bop.” Aucoin has been spending the last year in the studio producing more original music.




Jana Morrison

Astrid Bell

ASTRID AND LILLY SAVE THE WORLD -- Season:1 -- Pictured: Jana Morrison as Astrid -- (Photo by: Alex Stead/Blue Ice Pictures/SYFY)
Jana Morrison plays Astrid in the new SYFY original series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Morrison is a Filipino-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now based in Vancouver, she studied at the Canadian College of Performing Arts and is very passionate about performing on stage and in front the camera.

Most recently, she appeared on NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” as well as Hallmark’s “Master of the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores.” Morrison was recognized for her work in the British Columbia arts community and was awarded the Pro-Art Early Career Artist Award in 2020.




Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone

Executive Producer

Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone are the creators and executive producers of SYFY’s new original series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

They began their partnership in New York writing for pop culture mecca VH1. From there they moved to Los Angeles where they started writing and developing for various outlets, including a YA genre pilot for Lionsgate as well as a feature for the team behind “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” They also created, wrote and produced the web series “Clean Freaks” for Elizabeth Banks’ comedy site WhoHaha. Currently, they are crafting a holiday feature film for Viacom.

As a writing team, they are committed to creating dynamic female characters through their collective love of comedy, horror and sci-fi.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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poster for "Astrid & Lilly Save the World" on Syfy

Interview with Carolyn Hennesy

TV Interview!

Carolyn Hennesy

Interview with Carolyn Hennesy of “General Hospital” on ABC and “Vanished: Searching for My Sister” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/19/22

This was such a fun call! Carolyn is very sweet and friendly. I really enjoyed chatting with her. You can probably tell that by reading or listening to us gab.

Don’t miss her movie this Saturday, January 22 on Lifetime. She does play a small part, but it’s worth watching. It’s a good suspense drama.

Suzanne: It’s nice to meet you.

Carolyn: Nice to meet you, too.

Suzanne: I want to let you know that my site has been around for twenty-five years, and I’ve been interviewing TV actors, directors, producers, for about fifteen years. So, I just wanted to let you know… I’m not some rank amateur, even though, today I feel like one.

Carolyn: Jacqueline would never set me up with a rank amateur. I knew that from the start.

Suzanne: Oh, good, good. Just to let you know. I’m also a General Hospital fan, and I’ve been watching since 1984.

Carolyn: Wonderful.

Suzanne: So, I’m very excited to speak with you. I watched the Lifetime movie, it was very interesting. Tell us how this part came about for you.

Carolyn: It’s very simple. I told the director, Timothy Woodward Jr., who directed and is one of the producers of Studio City with Sean Canaan, I said to him one day on the set of Studio City, I said, “What’s our next project? What are we doing together?” And he said, “Well, interestingly enough, I’ve got this feature that’s going in Atlanta,” and I said, “Terrific, when do I show up?” And he laughed, and then he said, “You show up at this time.” So, yeah, I just basically told the director. I said, “We’re going to do something together. What is it?” This was it.

Suzanne: Well, that’s good that it worked.

Carolyn: Right. I mean, it’s so rare that you kind of bypass the audition process. It’s actually becoming a little more frequent for me, but this is one of those wonderful times where he just said, “Yeah, this is your role. Show up on set at this time.”

Suzanne: Well, that’s great. Well, he knew you already. So, why bother having an audition? He knows what you can do.

Carolyn: Yeah, and he knew what I was like to work with. He knew my set behavior and set protocol until it’s over. So yeah, all worked out. I was a proven commodity.

Suzanne: Right. And where was it filmed, and how long did it take?

Carolyn: It was filmed in Atlanta, and I was there for about – I was in Atlanta for I think it was a week all told. Actually, probably more like ten days. I think I was in Atlanta for about ten days. Now, that was my portion. The filming, I think it was a three week shoot. I believe it was a three week shoot.

Suzanne: And all done in Atlanta?

Carolyn: Yeah, well, on the outskirts of Atlanta, in various locales.

Suzanne: All right, great. And how was it playing a police detective, and have you played one before?

Carolyn: Have I ever played a police detective before? That’s a very good question. [laughs] You would think I would remember that. I might have. I just can’t remember at the moment.

Suzanne: No, I understand. I understand completely. Once you’ve done things many, many times. I’ll be like, sometimes I’ll get an interview request. “Oh, I would love to interview that person.” Then, “wait, wait. I interviewed them already, like 2012. Oops. I completely forgot.”

Carolyn: Yeah, people will say, “Carolyn, have you ever played a lawyer?” It’s like, “Have I?” Yes, in fact, I play one now.

Suzanne: Right, and was it very different from playing a lawyer, playing a police detective?

Carolyn: Well, this particular police detective is very stoic, very calm, very skeptical, a little jaded, a little hardened. So, there wasn’t the usual [unintelligible] that I have with Diane Miller or basically any of my other characters, almost any of them. She was a little more grounded, a little more stern, and just hard. You know, she’s seen it all; nothing surprises her. Nothing shocks her; that kind of character. And basically, Jasmine had the bulk of the dialogue in our scene. Kind of, not quite a “yes man,” but she’s the kind of person that doesn’t speak except when she really has something to say. She doesn’t talk for the sake of talking.

Suzanne: Well, that’s good, less dialogue to have to memorize

Carolyn: Oh, this seems really easy. Jasmine does most of the talking. I just say, you know, “Hold up there, Missy,” or something like that. Yeah, it was a little easy.

Suzanne: You just had to sit there and look pretty; that was your role.

Carolyn: I had to sit there and look as pretty as I possibly could, you know, three in the morning in the cold and rainy Atlanta.

Suzanne: Yeah, it can get cold rainy there. We used to live about three hours from there, so, yeah.

Carolyn: It can get cold and rainy, and you think, “Well, listen, this is Georgia.” You just don’t accept cold and rainy out of out of the Deep South, you just don’t. Then, when it happens, you think “Well, my goodness.” You know, it’s like Wisconsin, but the hair and the makeup people were top of their game, as was wardrobe, basically everybody, but the hair and makeup people were really first class. So, I never really had to worry about looking good, looking my best, actually.

Suzanne: Good. Yeah. Funny thing about the Deep South, it’s a large area, and the weather is crazy. I’m in Arkansas, and today it’s in the 60s, and last week we had snow. So, you never know. You just never know.

Carolyn: That’s what they say about the weather. “Just wait ten minutes. It’ll change.”

Suzanne: Yeah, I mean, it’s not like I grew up in Southern California, so it’s nothing like that at all.

Carolyn: And it’s interesting, because it was bitter cold this morning, and when I say “bitter cold,” you know.

Suzanne: No, I know. So, you and Jasmine, you play partners. Did you do to do anything to get to know each other better or to make you work more like partners beforehand?

Carolyn: Beforehand, no. It sort of came afterwards. She’s just a lovely individual. She’s so wonderful, so professional. And again, she’s one of these people that she’s been in the business so long. She’s seen it all. She’s done it all, but she makes cheesecake, and she brought in a couple of cheesecakes for the hair and makeup department, or, actually, that’s what that’s where they landed. Everybody was coming in to get some of Jasmine’s cheesecake. But then we started talking about some of the restaurants and some of the things to do in Atlanta proper, and my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. Maybe it’s the top three in in the United States, for me. It’s called Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

Suzanne: I know where that is. Yeah, I stayed at the hotel right across the street from there.

Carolyn: Well, Jasmine lives catty corner. So, I was there once on my own, as I am want to do, because [they] basically do anything. But after filming, I think I was to leave the next day, and I think it was a Monday, or we had one more day of filming, I can’t remember what it was, but Jasmine met me there. I’ve got pictures of more food on that table. They just kept bringing us stuff. We were ordering it but they just kept loading [up our plates]. Jasmine and I basically ate our weight in fried chicken and tomato pie and broccoli souffle. We just had the best time. And of course she was recognized. She’s recognized all over America. And she’s so gracious, so lovely. Then, every once in a while, somebody would look at me and go, “Oh, I know you, my kids watch Jessie.” I am like, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” Jasmine was like, “She’s on General Hospital.” [laughs] Thank you, Jasmine, my publicist.

Suzanne: You’ve done so much. So, you’re bound to be noticed for something.

Carolyn: But everyone loved A Different World. So, she still gets recognized. And she’s, again, so lovely, and that voice is so unique. [unintelligible] It’s Jasmine’s curse to bear, and she does it with great aplomb.

Suzanne: And this movie has two actors from early 90s hits sitcoms and three soap actors. So, was there any joking around about either of those things?…[Jasmine and] Tatyana Ali, from Fresh Prince.

Carolyn: …Again, one of the more lovely professional, gracious, funny individuals that I’ve ever worked with. She’s just lovely. She and Jasmine were basically the only ones I really worked with.

Suzanne: Tatyana was also on The Young & the Restless and of course, Justin (Bruening) was on All My Children.

Carolyn: That’s right. Again, I didn’t work with a lot of them, or didn’t closely with a lot of them. I worked certainly with Jasmine and Tatyana, but you’re absolutely right.

Suzanne: And I was wondering if you had any joking around about that or about the sitcom thing?

Carolyn: No, no, not really, because, again, I didn’t really work with them.

Suzanne: That’s fine. Did you see Tatyana when she was dressed up as both Jade and Kayla, and did you know it was the same actress?

Carolyn: I did not see her dressed up as Kayla, but I saw photos, I should say that. I saw photos, and yeah, a different person. And from what I understand, she navigated those waters just expertly.

Suzanne: Yes, she did.

Carolyn: She really did. I actually can’t wait to see the film. I’ve not seen it. [laughs] I’ve seen little bits and pieces, but nothing of her as Kayla.

Suzanne: The reason I asked is because I’d read an article where Justin was saying when he saw her dressed up as Kayla [he] didn’t recognize her and didn’t know who that person was and thought it was some other actress and had not been talking to her. Then, once once she spoke, he’s like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t talking to you.”

Carolyn: Right, right. It was a complete and utter transformation. There again, that’s due in large part to the hair and makeup people. They work magic.

Suzanne: Now, I have a question about GH, and you can feel free to say “no comment” or “move along” or whatever. I’m wondering about the mood of the cast and crew right now, because I know you had some actors leave, and there was some public fighting. Has this affected anyone?

Carolyn: You know what’s interesting? I.. actually, I go back to work a week from tomorrow. I have not been there…I was there one day before Christmas, and things were fine. I’ll just say “fine.” The mood was not elevated. The mood wasn’t depressed. Was it a different dynamic onset? Yes, it was, because everyone knew what happened. So, we all have a job to do. Everyone was professional enough not to discuss it, at least the actors that I worked with that day, and I actually only worked with Laura Wright, who is a consummate professional.

Suzanne: I was going to say, it’s probably the scene that was on this week, where Diane and Carly talk around stuff.

Carolyn: Yes. We have become gal pals. Who would have thunk it? Who would have thought that Carly and Diane could become close friends? And yes, we are.

Suzanne: Well, I guess after it’s been long enough.

Carolyn: Exactly, exactly, after long enough. Diane gets to know somebody long enough, and you know, we’re bosom buddies.

Suzanne: Well, I mean, even Sam and Carly were friends, and they did some terrible things to each other a long time ago.

Carolyn: Right! It just goes to show. Then, give it a few years, they’ll change back, and then their twin will come on the scene, and everyone will be confused, and then they’ll be possessed, or they’ll be in a coma.

Suzanne: And touching on that note, I had asked some GH fans on various Facebook groups if they had any questions for you. Many, many fans said to say that they love Diane, and that you’re a great actress. They didn’t say great. They said wonderful and a lot of other compliments I didn’t write down. They just love you, and they wish you had a bigger role in the show. I told them that wasn’t up to you.

Carolyn: No, it’s not up to me, but I wholeheartedly agree. Yes. And tell them, bless them for all of those wonderful comments, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Suzanne: And a few wanted to know if Diane might get another love interest soon. If you can tell us that or if you know anything about that?

Carolyn: Not that I know, but there again, I’m not on the fifth floor, in on those decisions. So, I will say that I did an event with Chris Rogers over the weekend, and Tristan looked at me and said, “We should really get together on the show.” And I said, “You can make that happen. You can go to Frank Valentini and say, ‘Guess what I’d like?’”

Suzanne: That would be an awesome couple. That would be great.

Carolyn: Wouldn’t that be so hilarious?

Suzanne: It would be so funny.

Carolyn: It would be so much fun.

Suzanne: Yes, definitely. I’ll have the fans start a petition.

Carolyn: Start a petition, exactly. Diane and Robert. Yeah. What should happen should be that we should butt heads in court and realize exactly how smart each other is and how fun each other is and how capable, and it should it should progress from there.

Suzanne: Right, or with Martin; that would also be good.

Carolyn: I would love that. I mean, my gosh. Michael Knight, come on. Michael Knight whose skin is better than a twenty-five year old, for God’s sake. I don’t know what he does. He must have a painting going to hell in an attic somewhere. I’m just saying.

Suzanne: Yes, I was so glad to see him join. I know there’re lots of All My Children fans who are so glad to see him join the show.

Carolyn: Yeah. So am I.

Suzanne: This was what I was going to touch on from what we were talking before about Diane and her friends. Sylvia wants to know if Diane will be having any scenes soon with Alexis, and whether they’re still besties.

Carolyn: Well, I do not know if I’m having scenes soon. As I say, I know I’m working a week from tomorrow, but I don’t know what those things are yet, as far as I’m concerned, and I think as far as Diane’s concerned, we’re still besties. Absolutely. You know, you don’t find someone like an Alexis on the show and then kind of let them go. I do wish that the powers that be had let Diane in a little bit more on Alexis’s stay in prison, be a little bit more involved in her recovery. So, I do wish that, but there again, I just stand on my mark and say my lines. [laughs]

Suzanne: You do your job, keep your head down, and hope for the best.

Carolyn: Keep my head down, show up on time, make sure I’m wearing the right shoes, and [unintelligible].

Suzanne: So, here’s a question, again, this wasn’t on the list, but it just occurred to me, because I thought about this before. Why do they have women on TV wear high heels? We can’t see your feet.

Carolyn: Well, honestly, for me, I can only speak for me, it actually helps. It elongates the leg. It makes you stand a little straighter, at least it does for me, and it completes the look. Certainly with Diane wearing a suit, or if you’re wearing a gown, sometimes you will see the feet, that’s number one, but number two is it completes the look, and for this actress, it helps fully flesh out the character.

Suzanne: Well, that makes sense…

Carolyn: And believe me, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t put on slippers or sneakers or low flats if I was in court and you couldn’t see my feet. I would never do it, because you want to hear the “click click click” as Diane walks back to her seat. You want to hear the “click click” as she’s rising and walking into the center of the courtroom. It’s very deliberate, and you know something profound is going to come out because of the way she walks in those heels, and that’s all part of the dynamic of that character in that moment, because you want to be able to use every tool that you’ve got.

Suzanne: Right, it’s part of the TV magic in a way, because fans wouldn’t necessarily notice it, but if it was gone, we’d probably say something is off. We might not notice the “click,” but if it was gone, we’d be, “Huh, what is wrong?”

Carolyn: Exactly. “What’s she got on her feet?”

Suzanne: Another fan, and I think her name is Hueann, loves your red hair and wants to know what your secret is for looking so young.

Carolyn: $200 a month.

Suzanne: Getting your hair done?

Carolyn: [laughs] Yes. My secret for looking so young? Well, that is all attitude. That’s just attitude. If you have the correct attitude for your own brain, then you could walk down the street wearing a gunny sack, and the next day, people would be wearing gunny sacks. It’s all attitude and the way you approach life and the way you approach your age, and etc, etc, etc. So, I’m very lucky that I do have what I think is just a great attitude towards living, and that keeps me young. Also, I work out on a track. So, that keeps me young too.

Suzanne: Right. Yeah, actually, I think you’re almost exactly – your birthday is in February, right?

Carolyn: No, June.

Suzanne: Oh, June, okay. So, you’re about six months younger than I am. I saw that. I was like, “Oh, okay.” That was just funny.

Carolyn: When is your birth date?

Oh, December 3rd, ‘61.

Oh, great.

Suzanne: So, I know what you mean when you talk about forgetting stuff. It seems to get worse as I get older. I’m lucky if I know what I had for lunch yesterday.

Carolyn: Truly.

Suzanne: One last question. Maggie wants to know, which client of Diane’s would you say is the one that causes the most trouble, and which client causes the least trouble? Or what would Diane say?

Carolyn: The most trouble is a toss up between Jason Morgan and Sonny Corinthos, and the least trouble – Does she have a client that causes her the least trouble? There is no such thing as the least trouble in Port Charles, certainly not with Diane’s clients. They’re all wonderful, fabulous train wrecks.

Suzanne: You mentioned the possession thing earlier, that would be great. I know they don’t want to do something like that on GH anymore. I love the stuff in the 80s when they did things like that. I wish they would bring that kind of thing back like when they had the alien. I don’t know if you saw that.

Carolyn: I remember a little bit, and there was an island and someone was a Mayan princess.

Suzanne: Yes. Felicia was a Mayan princess. No, not Mayan; she’s an Aztec princess.

Carolyn: Aztec princess. So sorry. So sorry.

Suzanne: Yes, in fact, I started watching in ‘84, like I said, and it was before Felicia came on, and [there] was something to do with a necklace. There’s always a necklace, right?

Carolyn: There’s always the necklace.

Suzanne: Aztec necklace and she was dressed as a boy and hiding under Frisco’s bed.

Carolyn: As one does.

Suzanne: Exactly, but that wasn’t nearly as odd as when Robin got involved with the Ancient One in the Asian quarter and they discovered Casey the Alien, and he had some magical crystals from his planet, and the bad guys in the Asian quarter had them, something to do with that. I don’t remember the exact story, but it was very – I love that.

Carolyn: …The fans will remember.

Suzanne: Yes, the fans will. Well, I’m a fan but like I said, I have to look everything up.

Carolyn: Oh, of course, yeah, me too. That’s so funny.

Suzanne: That would be great if they did something like that nowadays. I don’t know if the fans would like it. They seem to be more into realism.

Carolyn: They do seem to be, don’t they? But it would be a little fun.

Suzanne: It would be.

Carolyn: It would be a boat load of fun. A boat load of fun, I’ll tell you that. Especially If Diane saw an alien, and no one believed her.

Suzanne: Well, you would think of all people you might believe Diane, because she’s so no-nonsense and down to earth.

Carolyn: That’s absolutely true. That’s absolutely true. It’s like if Diane walked in and said, “I just saw a spaceship.”

Suzanne: Or they’d wonder what she drank — if she drank too much at her lunch.

Carolyn: Exactly, and, you know, Diane’s been known to do that. It’s that simple.

Suzanne: Yeah, I guess the closest they’ve come in modern times was when they sort of touched on the vampire thing, but they were sort of cagey about it. It’s like, did it happen? Didn’t it happen. And it was Lucy, so nobody believed her.

Carolyn: Well, no, I mean, would you? I mean, let’s face it, she’s an alien herself.

Suzanne: Yeah, exactly. Well, she was a vampire hunter. Well, I appreciate your talking at me.

Carolyn: I loved it. Let’s do it again.

Suzanne: All right, and I am telling everybody about the movie, and I hope you get lots of people watching, and we look forward to the next one.

Carolyn: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. We’ll talk at you again, okay?

Suzanne: Thank you. Bye bye.

Carolyn: Thank you so much. Bye bye.

Here is the audio version of it.

Here’s our panel interview with Tatyana Ali, Justin Bruening, Carolyn Hennesy and Treach!


Trailer: Vanished: Searching For My Sister

"Vanished: Searching For My Sister" on Lifetime posterVANISHED: SEARCHING FOR MY SISTER

Premieres Saturday, January 22ndat 8p/7c

Twins Jada and Kayla (both played by Tatyana Ali) could not be more opposite: Jada being the mild- mannered sister with an office job, and Kayla the wild child. Recently divorced from her husband Warren (Justin Bruening), Kayla asks Jada to watch her daughter while she sets up her new apartment. But after a few days with no word from Kayla, Jada begins to worry and reports her sister missing. With no leads and the police investigation at a standstill, Jada takes matters into her own hands. She disguises herself as her sister and gets pulled into a world of drugs and deceit in order to learn the shocking truth about what really happened to Kayla.

Vanished: Searching for My Sister also stars Jasmine Guy, Carolyn Hennesy and Anthony “Treach” Criss. The film is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Leslie Greif serves as executive producer. Tim Woodward Jr. directs from a script written by Christina Welsh.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Carolyn Hennesy in "Vanished: Searching For My Sister" on Lifetime

Interview with Tatyana Ali, Justin Bruening, Carolyn Hennesy and Treach

TV Interview!

Lifetime panel

Interview with Tatyana Ali, Justin Bruening, Carolyn Hennesy and Treach of “Vanished: Searching For My Sister” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/10/22

This was an intriguing movie with many different actors. The panel was for Lifetime with quite a few panels that day. This was the only one where I didn’t get to ask a question. It’s okay, though. There were many great questions asked. I enjoyed seeing this great cast. Jasmine Guy is also in the movie, and she’s fabulous. I was just happy to see Justin Bruening again (as he was great as Jamie on “All My Children“) and Carolyn Hennesy (she plays Diane on “General Hospital“).  Tatyana does a fine job with her dual role as sisters Kayla and Jada. Also, I didn’t know that “Treach” was the leader of the rap group Naughty By Nature. Stay tuned soon for my one-on-one interview with Carolyn Hennesy!

MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our “Vanished: Searching For My Sister” panel. Today we have Tatyana Ali, Justin Bruening, Carolyn Hennesy and Treach. Thank you guys all for being here.


MODERATOR: Our first question is an email question, and it comes in asking for the entire cast how was this movie standout compared to other projects that you’ve all acted in?

TREACH: Well, for me, I had the honor of working with a legend like Tatyana right there. I’ve grown up, I was watching her. You know the history so just to have the pleasure of getting on there is really when you know Jasmine Guy and Justin, these great actors, you got to understand you’ve got to really come here prepared, because they are legendary these guys here. So it was just a whole different vibe with just knowing that you were in great hands. You know when you step on a set with production and everything, you see how it’s rolling you’re like, yeah, this is one of them right here.

CAROLYN HENNESY: Well, for me, it was really cold in Atlanta, so there was that. My trailer had no heat so that was fun, but it was all the more exciting to get inside when we did have those scenes inside. Yay! And be able to work with Tatyana, and Tatyana on this panel is the only one that I worked with, because my scenes were with her and Jasmine pretty much primarily. And so Jasmine’s just everything you would expect her to be. She’s a hoot-and-a-half, and she’s so, she’s a consummate professional as is Tatyana, but Tatyana was not quite as funny, because she was threatened with she’s going to be killed at any moment, her character. So she was very, very serious, and we were kind of coming at her with don’t do what we all know you’re going to do and that is double as your sister. So it was really a tremendous amount of fun to keep it fun and light on the set, and then when the cameras rolled we were just in it, but I was pretty much cold all the time, so that was me.


Tatyana Ali as Kayla, pretending to be JadaJUSTIN BRUENING: I didn’t have that problem but working with Tatyana was amazing. Watching her transform into two different, entirely different people was just phenomenal. I mean, there was even a moment when she did her whole transformation into Kayla, and we were sitting across from each other, and like we had on masks on and stuff, but I didn’t know it was her, because I’d never seen her. I mean, I just worked with her twenty minutes before that, and I was like sitting across from this woman. I’m like, “Who’s that?”


JUSTIN BRUENING: “They just let anybody in on this set. It’s just strange.”

TATYANA ALI: I remember that. We had such a rapport during the whole shoot, and I was like, “Wow, is he having a bad day? Like what, why are you staring at me that way?”

JUSTIN BRUENING: I’m shy. I was shy. I didn’t know who that was. It’s a new person. Nobody introduced me. I felt bad. Yeah, it was great.

TATYANA ALI: For me, what was different about this one, the cast is so amazing, and the crew, and I just had an incredible time working with everybody. Treach, there was a point when it was one of the scenes in the trailer when you kind of grip me up in the club, and I don’t even know if you noticed, but I had to take a moment afterwards, because you are scary. When you want to be. You’re so like kind and wonderful, and you just scared the bejesus out of me, like, for real. Yeah, just working with everybody was amazing. Especially, I was so excited when I read the script, like the fact that it’s based on a true story and that this really happened, that a woman really went undercover as her twin. All of that was so exciting. I love the notion of not allowing your loved one to remain a statistic or not be cared about; that someone would fight so hard to make sure that her sister, who has been through addiction, been through all these things, that her life mattered. I really loved that and so into it, and then right before I started working I was like, “Oh, my God. What did I get myself into?” But y’all saved me, so thank you.


MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody. Our next question is from Rick Bentley.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Tatyana, do actors when they start their career think, “Oh, boy. I hope one day I get to play a twin?” Or “Oh, my God. I hope I don’t ever have to play a twin?”

Kayla (Tatyana Ali) and her ex-husband, played by Phillip Mullings, Jr.TATYANA ALI: (laughs) Maybe, “Oh, my God. I don’t ever have to play — I hope I don’t ever have to play a twin.” I, actually, no, it was really a wonderful sort of like experiment, and especially in the kind of truncated schedule that we have there were days when I went back and forth between the sisters, and it can make you feel a little bit crazy. Like our makeup and hair department and costumes, they were really like a refuge for me on those days. But it’s fun. You kind of have to use literally like everything you know or think you know or might guess at to, not just create two people, but then also a relationship, the relationship between them, the history between them. That was really fun, actually. It’s kind of like you might not hope to do it, but it could be a dream to be able to do it.

QUESTION: A quick follow-up. Did you color code your script or did you put markers to who you were for the day?

TATYANA ALI: I’m super anal. I always color code my script even if it’s one person.


TATYANA ALI: So, yeah, I keep a binder. I’m not at the iPad script yet phase —


QUESTION: Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Rick. Our next question is from “Right On! Digital.”

QUESTION: Hello? Can you hear me?




QUESTION: Okay. Hi. My question is for Tatyana. We’ve known about your work for years, and we’ve publicized you many times in “Right On! Magazine.” You talked about the fact that it can make you a little crazy playing two characters in one. What was it like actually preparing for a role where you’re actually playing two people, because that’s an enormous amount of responsibility to have that much dialogue. So what was your secret to actually preparing?

TATYANA ALI: Just, you know, it’s similar to the way I prepare for just playing one role except you just double it. They both have their, they’re sisters, so they have their shared pasts, and they’re sisters, so they also have things that only the two of them know that the rest of the world don’t know. They both have their own wishes and desires and hopes and dreams, and so it’s all it’s the same, it’s just more. And so even with when I was kind of prepping for it and doing my own rehearsals like I just tried to kind of schedule the time, so there’d be like days working on one, and then days working on the other so I didn’t have to get confused. And then their style, like, for me, once I start, once I am in their hair, in their clothes, and then all of the things, their walk or their body language, all those things that I tried to –I always work on those things but just with twins it’s like I was trying to differentiate them a little bit more, but once all those pieces come together then it’s kind of like they kind of, it meets somewhere. I felt that I guess that’s how it happened.


QUESTION: All right. Well, thank you. Hi, Treach.

TREACH: Hello.

QUESTION: And one —

MODERATOR: And — Oh, sorry.

QUESTION: May I ask Treach a question while we have him?

MODERATOR: Of course.

QUESTION: Okay. Treach, hi.

TREACH: Hello.

QUESTION: Cynthia from “Right On! Magazine.” What was it like on the set? Is there a fun fact you can tell us about, something that we wouldn’t know because we weren’t there?

TREACH: Yeah. I mean, there’s certain times you get into stuff, like you’ll have a scene. Like, for instance, I was rolling upon a motorcycle. I’m not even half good on a pedal bike.


TREACH: So I got to really show my acting skills. I had to find, okay, the clutch and when I do should I look (audio glitch @ 00:38:07), but I know people that ride motorcycles and stuff, so I had to do what I knew they do without doing nothing.


TATYANA ALI: You look good on that bike.

TREACH: Thank you. But the movie magic makes things happen. So I know, like, certain, like I said, it was certain things that I naturally don’t do at all. When I do a movie it’s so fun to me because I got to really make sure they think I know what I’m doing.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

TREACH: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Abbie Bernstein.

QUESTION: Sorry. It took me a second to find my unmute. Good morning. Thank you all for doing this. Question for anybody or everybody who’d like to take it. Is there any difference between doing a Lifetime thriller and a different network or an indie film with thriller subject matter and the same schedule and budget? Is there anything specific to working for Lifetime?

CAROLYN HENNESY: There’s a lot more blood on an independent.



CAROLYN HENNESY: It’s the truth. It’s the absolute truth.

JUSTIN BRUENING: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CAROLYN HENNESY: And the things you can get away with on an independent thriller, um hm. Yeah, the Lifetime audience would pass on that, so.


CAROLYN HENNESY: But (audio glitch @ 00:39:33).

QUESTION: Is there —

TREACH: You know, for this type of movie, like, everyone goes to Lifetime to watch these types of movies, but the masses, one thing that’s beautiful about Lifetime, the masses is going to tune in.


TREACH: They have a long list of anything that like what comes on Lifetime I’m here. So it’s just a honor to be on Lifetime, because you know that following, that cult following is goin’ be there for you.

Justin Bruening and Tatyana AliJUSTIN BRUENING: Well —

QUESTION: Is there any — Oh, sorry.

JUSTIN BRUENING: I was going to say that’s a tough question, because I think our Director Tim Woodward sort of filmed it like an independent, like I think he went for that.


JUSTIN BRUENING: So I think there’s some stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor, speaking of blood.


JUSTIN BRUENING: There was a little bit, but — a lot — but, yeah, I mean, I think that — I think he really — that I think he set that as his benchmark, and he went for that, but I think that we had to tone it down for Lifetime, for that audience, but I think we filmed it the same way we would film an independent film.

TATYANA ALI: Yeah. I’ve worked with Lifetime many times now, and I always feel really supported by the network and by the executives. That’s always a really good feeling, and they stay in communication while you’re filming and that’s awesome but to also know, it’s true, there’s this very wide audience, and there’s something about Lifetime. Like I always think about my cousins and my family because I know they’re going to be watching it. Like I can’t, I got to make them proud. Like they are (audio glitch @ 00:41:09), everyone’s going to be texting me while it’s on, and there’s something about that that’s actually really special.

CAROLYN HENNESY: I think also with it being Lifetime — very often in an independent you don’t get the justice that you want at the end. Things are left unresolved, and sometimes you can leave the theater or whatever you’re viewing it on unsatisfied, that’s not going to happen with a Lifetime thriller. Things are going to be wrapped up. Everyone’s going to be happy and vindicated, and you’re going to end up being thrilled during the movie, but all will be well at the end pretty much, or maybe not this with this one. I don’t know —

QUESTION: Does it affect your performances in any way?

CAROLYN HENNESY: Say that again?

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Does it affect your performances in any way either knowing there isn’t going to be that much blood or that everything is going to be resolved at the end? Do you play with more fervor and less frustration? Or do you perform it the same way you would perform a more ambiguously ended material?

CAROLYN HENNESY: Whatever is honest for the character is how you go.


CAROLYN HENNESY: So it doesn’t matter if it’s a soap opera.

TATYANA ALI: That’s right.

CAROLYN HENNESY: Or a Lifetime or a Darren Bousman “Saw” franchise films. It’s all, for me, for me. I mean —

JUSTIN BRUENING: Yeah, I agree with that.

TATYANA ALI: Yeah, ditto.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

TREACH: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Luaine Lee.

QUESTION: Tatyana, which twin was more difficult to play and why?

TATYANA ALI: Huh, you know, I guess I would have to say Jada, because I certainly get to play her more, but often during the film, and it sometimes led to a little bit of confusion when we were filming, I spent a lot of time playing — I spent a lot of time — I’m sorry. Did I leave? I spent a lot of time playing Jada pretending to be Kayla, and those were probably the most challenging parts, playing someone you love, kind of Jada putting on Kayla’s wigs, going out into Kayla’s world which, you know, she’s heard of but never really participated in, just the longing to know what’s happened to her sister and to find her. I think Jada pretending to be Kayla was the most challenging, for sure.

QUESTION: Were you scared to do it?

TATYANA ALI: I was excited at first and then as I got closer and closer, yeah, I was scared, but that, I’ve come to learn that that’s — If I’m not intimidated by what I’m trying to do then I’m almost like not that excited about it, so nerves to me are like a good sign that I’m stretching myself. So, yeah, I was.


MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one more question and that’s going to be from Noah Wilson.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. It’s so great to be here with you guys. Tatyana, I do want to ask you, taking on two roles could you ever see yourself doing it again?

TATYANA ALI: (laughs) I had a lot of fun doing it. I would love to do it on a project where we had more time. It was hard to switch on the same day. That was really hard to go back and forth on the same day, and when I was prepping for it I saw a lot of films where actors played multiple characters and twins and sisters and even read a lot of interviews of the process, but we had three weeks, so. I would. I would try it again. I thought it was — I was exhausted when it was done, but it was thrilling, and I really liked playing a character like Kayla, even for the short period of time that I do in the film. I’ve never really, I’ve never been able, given the chance to play somebody like her, and she really stole my heart.

QUESTION: Yes. Well, I enjoyed you in “A Picture Perfect Holiday” and I cannot wait to see you in “Vanished: Searching For My Sister.” Thank you so much, guys.


TREACH: Thank you.


MODERATOR: Thank you so much to all the panelists and everyone that attended. Please tune in to “Vanished: Searching For My Sister” on January 22nd at 8/7 Central. Thanks you guys.

TATYANA ALI: Love you, guys. Good to see.

TREACH: Thank you.

CAROLYN HENNESY: You too, honey.


TREACH: Love y’all. Peace.



Check out our one-on-one interview with Carolyn Hennesy!


"Vanished: Searching For My Sister" on Lifetime posterTwins Jada and Kayla (both played by Tatyana Ali) could not be more opposite: Jada being the mild-mannered sister with an office job, and Kayla the wild child. Recently divorced from her husband Warren (Justin Bruening), Kayla asks Jada to watch her daughter while she sets up her new apartment.  But after a few days with no word from Kayla, Jada begins to worry and reports her sister missing. With no leads and the police investigation at a standstill, Jada takes matters into her own hands.  She disguises herself as her sister and gets pulled into a world of drugs and deceit in order to learn the shocking truth about what really happened to Kayla.

Vanished: Searching for My Sister also stars Jasmine Guy, Carolyn Hennesy and Anthony “Treach” Criss.

The film is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Leslie Greif serves as executive producer. Tim Woodward Jr. directs from a script written by Christina Welsh.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Vanished: Searching For My Sister" panel for Lifetime

List of Serials on Zee Keralam Worth Watching

TV Interview!


Article by Jaya 1/6/22

Zee Keralam echoes the vivid spirit of every Malayali and offers content that motivates people to rise above odds and craft their destiny. The channel has always retained the essence of authentic Kerala with shows that resonate with cultural nuance and lifestyle. The content library includes fiction, non-fiction or reality that are different in storyline and scale. With deep, culturally rooted, and family-inclusive programs, Zee Keralam brings together generations and keeps them engaged. A pioneer in providing Malayalam entertainment online, Zee Keralam is available on YuppTV. The world’s leading OTT platform for streaming South-Asian content, YuppTV brings exciting and enthralling content for its users with more than 300 TV channels. Get ready to watch Zee Keralam on YuppTV and enjoy an enhanced viewing experience.

Let’s check out popular serials streaming on Zee Keralam.

  1. Chembarathi

Starring Thara Kalyan, Amala Girish, and Stebin in lead roles, Chembarathi revolves between an arrogant, wealthy Akhilandeshwari and her son Anand, in love with Kalyani. While Akhilandeshwari wants her son to marry a rich girl of her stature, unforeseen events lead to Anand and Kalyani marriage. When she learns about the wedding, she despises Kalyani and creates problems that start disrupting her relationship. With an engaging storyline and a stellar cast, Chembarathi is receiving appreciation from all corners. In recent developments, Sivaramakrishnan is glad to see Das coming back home, and Kalyani appreciates Aravind’s concern for Anand. Meet Kalyani and her family from Monday to Thursday at 9 pm. Watch Zee Keralam on YuppTV and get your daily dose of entertainment.

  1. Kaiyethum Dhoorathu

This family drama revolves around Siblings Krishna Prasad and Krishna Priya, who share a great bond. Prasads wife, Durga and Priya also share a loving relationship but turns bitter in a strange shift of events. The twist in the tale arises when Priya’s daughter Kalyani and Durga’s son Aditya fall in love. In the new episodes, Priya is seen disturbed remembering the mess that happened in Tulasi engagement. The rest of the story is about Durga’s attempts to separate the couple, Tulasi struggles to win Durga’s acceptance, the revelation of a big secret and much more. Watch Kaiyethum Dhoorathu streaming on Zee Keralam at 6:30 pm from Monday to Saturday.

  1. Mrs. Hitler

People call Devakrishnan, aka DK as Hitler due to his arrogant attitude towards others. He adopts three sons after his wife Supriya passes away. On his 40th birthday, he decides to marry again in 15 days to fulfil his late wife’s wish. While everyone in the family is excited about his marriage and the arrival of Mrs Hitler, a comedy of errors introduces Jyothirmayi to DK. What follows after is the crux of the story. Shanavas Shanu and Megha Vincent essay the role of Hitler and Mrs Hitler accompanied by Ponnamma Babu, Anjali Rao, Akshaya Raghavan and others. Meet Hitler and his wife at 8:30 pm from Monday to Saturday on Zee Keralam.

  1. Karthika Deepam

Karthika Deepam tells the story of an orphan girl, Karthika and is later adopted by Kannan and Pavithra. Unexpected problems arise in the new house, and her joy of coming into a family is short-lived. A determined Karthika faces all her adversities and stands firm. Snisha Chandran plays the lead role of Karthika in the serial, and seasoned actors like Yedu Krishnan and Vivek Gopan essay other vital roles. Karthika Deepam is aired at 7:30 pm from Monday to Saturday.

Make your family time more memorable while you watch Zee Keralam on YuppTV. With a vast content library, YuppTV is sure to entertain you at the comfort of your home. Subscribe to YuppTV and catch all the Malayalam entertainment online on YuppTV now.


Zee Keralam

Zee Keralam is an Indian Malayalam language general entertainment pay television channel owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises. The channel was launched on 26 November 2018 and it is ZEE’s fifth channel in the southern region. The channel is headquartered in Kochi, Kerala.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Kaiyethum Dhoorathu

Interview with actors from “Safe Room”

TV Interview!

Nicole Ari Parker and Nik Sanchez

Interview with actors from “Safe Room” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/10/22

This was from another Lifetime Press Panel on Zoom. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed this movie, too. It was a good, suspenseful drama. The actors did a great job. I was the third questioner below.

MODERATOR: Please join me in welcoming the cast of “Safe Room.” We have with us today the stars Nicole Ari Parker, her husband Boris Kodjoe, who not only stars in the movie but is also making his directorial debut, Drea De Matteo, Mackenzie Astin, and the talented Nik Sanchez.


BORIS KODJOE: Hey, what up?


MODERATOR: I’m going to get us started immediately with questions from the floor and, once again if you’d like to ask a question please raise your hand, and we have a lot already, so I’m going to get started. The first question goes to Jay Bobbin. Jay, if you can unmute your line.

QUESTION: Hello, thank you very much. Hi, everyone. Thanks for doing this. Boris, when you’re doing something like this the space you have to work with is somewhat limited, obviously. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges and how you meet those to keep your camera moving within such a finite space and keep things active and just keep things in motion?

BORIS KODJOE: That’s a great question. You know, one of the things that I discussed with my DP, Jay Feather, who’s a genius, who — We discussed expanding out of the room by way of creating visuals that pull you in and that create a different sort of angle and a different vision. And so we talked to Luie Garcia, who is our amazing production designer, and she really created magic in that room and every wall, if you noticed, every wall was different, and everything sort of looked different that gave us a different perspective. When the camera was where the front door was and looked into the room there was an amazing wallpaper, I don’t know if you remember, that sort of took us out of the room into nature, but it was definitely at the forefront of my mind, because I didn’t want the audience to feel like we were constricted, and then it’d turn into sort of like a boring thing every time they head into the space.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Our next question goes to Rick Bentley.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. And, Nicole, I have to imagine that the easiest part of doing this role was the motherly instinct to protect. Can you just talk about was that set, and you just had to work on all the other aspects?

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Well, when I met Nik Sanchez it was very easy to love him and want to protect him. So, yes, I am a mom, but also that does not always translate when you have to — when the movie’s cast, but Nik was so generous with me, because when you’re playing a parent it’s not just the title of mom. It’s the small things, the way you touch your son or your daughter, the way you hug them and talk to them, and I really wanted to respect Nik’s space, and he let me violate him with kisses and hugs.


NICOLE ARI PARKER: So, yeah, it was a wonderful experience to work with such a talented young actor playing my son.

QUESTION: If I can quickly ask Nik to respond.


QUESTION: How was it working with Nicole?

NIK SANCHEZ: Well, she was amazing. She felt like a real mom to me, and both Boris and Nicole knew that this was going to be like their first movie project, so like they made sure like before, we had lunch together, and like they made sure that I felt comfortable and knew what was going on and, immediately, I already like knew that me and Nicole were going to get along, and it really felt like I had two moms on set because like, yeah, they were just amazing, and you and Nicole was amazing.

QUESTION: Thank you.


NICOLE ARI PARKER: Shout out to your mom, Naomi, who is incredible and also very kind and patient with me because part of revealing a relationship is what happens in private and between a mother and a son or a mother and a daughter. How do you really be there for your kid in crisis, and then in the confines of shooting it like what is the aspect that we can show in this moment. And Naomi, Nik’s mom, said these are the kind of things I do when I’m at home with Nik and Damaya (SP), and this is how I solve a crisis, and so I’m really grateful for her presence on set.

MODERATOR: Thank you, and thank you, Rick. The next question goes to Suzanne with “TVMeg.”


DREA DE MATTEO: Hi, Nicole. You look really, really, really cute right now.


DREA DE MATTEO: I was going to text you, but I’m like I’m just going to stay still. I’m going to be cool.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: I was thinking the same thing. I was like —

DREA DE MATTEO: I was like she looks smokin’.


MODERATOR: Suzanne, go right ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you hear me now?

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. Hi, Suzanne, speak up.

QUESTION: Okay, hi. Sorry. So I really love this movie. It’s such an interesting idea and has so many twists and turns. You didn’t know what was going to happen next. Boris, did you write the movie or just direct it, just to clarify for me real quick?

BORIS KODJOE: No, I did not write the movie. The movie was written by the amazing — I keep pronouncing her name wrong. Help me. Her name is… sorry. I did not write the movie. I made some tweaks and changes to accommodate the location and some of the aspects we have to deal with. Also, in terms of the characters I made some changes to accommodate all the amazing actors we have but, no, I did not write the movie and before you leave us I will have the name of the incredible writer who wrote this movie.

QUESTION: All right. And what attracted you to the script?

BORIS KODJOE: The mother/son relationship is what attracted me to the script. Obviously, there are circumstances that are high stakes and dangerous and suspenseful, which lent itself to heighten the stakes to the point where it’s life or death. But, to me, at the core was the mother and son relationship, because when you have a child on the spectrum, as a parent, you constantly put out fires. You deal with and you manage your child, and there’s a whole lot of things we project on our children, but throughout the movie the relationship between the mother and the son changes, and she really sees him in a different light, because he steps up and at the end, I can’t give it away, but really comes into his own.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you so much.

BORIS KODJOE: And her name is Nneka, by the way. Nneka, Nneka — How do you pronounce it? Gerstle?

NICOLE ARI PARKER: I think it’s Gerstle.

BORIS KODJOE: Nneka Gerstle is her name.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne.



NICOLE ARI PARKER: Watch her be like my name is [SOUNDS LIKE: Neeka Ga-still-lay].


DREA DE MATTEO: This is my favorite conversation.

MODERATOR: The next question goes to the “Hollywood Times.” If you could unmute your mic.

QUESTION: Oh, good morning. I have a question for Boris, and then I have a follow-up for Nicole. How was it stepping in behind the camera and directing the film? Did you find it challenging to direct and star in the film?

BORIS KODJOE: Thanks for the question. Actually, that was not the most challenging part. The most — Hello?

QUESTION: That’s not me talking.

BORIS KODJOE: Okay. Can you hear me?

QUESTION: Yeah, I can hear you.

BORIS KODJOE: The most challenging part for me was to get all my ideas and my vision into this very sort of constrained schedule. We didn’t have a lot of time, and it made it very challenging for me, and I had to be very creative with —

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Very quickly.

BORIS KODJOE: –with Jay Feather, my DP. We had to figure out ways to tell the story and to respect my vision while not going over budget. That was the most challenging part to me.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: You were also really nervous to meet Drea.

BORIS KODJOE: Yes, I was very nervous to meet Drea.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Because she’s the bomb.

BORIS KODJOE: That was the second most challenging part of shooting this movie.

DREA DE MATTEO: Oh, because I’m so scary.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: We did not know how sweet and kind and shy and delicate she was. You know, she has this massive presence and persona —

BORIS KODJOE: Persona, yes. She’s a delicate flower.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: She’s totally a delicate flower.

BORIS KODJOE: On a meadow, somewhere in a black forest. I had no idea.

DREA DE MATTEO: It’s the eyebrows, the mean eyebrows.

BORIS KODJOE: But we had a lot of challenges. We had flooding on the set. We had an active shooter in the neighborhood who made it really hard for us to continue.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: We had the cicadas, the 17-year, yeah.

BORIS KODJOE: Cicadas came and descended down —

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Right on the house with the sound department, and we can’t shoot anything.

BORIS KODJOE: And we had the camera truck stolen, so —

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Well, just the, the entire truck wasn’t stolen, just the cameras in the camera truck.

BORIS KODJOE: In the camera truck.


BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. So a lot of challenges but with these beautiful people here that you see, and the quarterback next to me, I was able to pull through; Jay Feather, the DP; obviously, Dominique Telson, our producer, and we got it done.

QUESTION: Nicole, you’ve shared seamlessly, actually, shared the screen with Boris over a decade, but was it easy taking direction from him because he is your real husband? And do you feel like he made it a point to try and exceed your expectations?

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Well, I think that we have such a great rapport back and forth because we did meet on “Soul Food” twenty years ago in a TV setting, so we know how a set runs. My first impulse was to collaborate, so he would tell me something day one, and I would be like, “Well, actually, if you just push in and then da-da-da-da-da,” and I realized like halfway through the sentence, because everybody was silent — I think, Mack, you were there that day — I just, in that moment, I was like we’ve got one take, and we have to do it in four minutes, okay? And he is the captain of the ship, and I have to just let him do it. So I pushed back like day one, scene one.


NICOLE ARI PARKER: And then after that I just did what he said.

BORIS KODJOE: Well, she realized that a lot of preparation went into setting up these shots and, you know —


BORIS KODJOE: — I had the confined space, time, a lot of things to deal with, and I think she realized that I had through those things numerous times, and I had plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G ready to go.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yeah. And I looked Mack’s face. I was like, “Because you’re an actor, right? Mack, you get it. You get what I’m saying, that if you just run in and then fall he can just shoot it from…” and Mack just looked at me like (Makes face.)

MACKENZIE ASTIN: Got to make this day, got to make this day —

BORIS KODJOE: He pled the fifth, he pled the fifth.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: He (totally pled the fifth @ 00:14:07).

BORIS KODJOE: He pled the fifth. He was hiding behind his mask. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you both for doing this today.

BORIS & NICOLE: Thank you.

MODERATOR: The next question is an email question for Drea. Drea, you have a huge fan following from “The Sopranos,” and in this movie you play the villain Rocco, who’s also a tough-talking type. Did you like playing Rocco?

DREA DE MATTEO: I really, really did. I think, well, this has been the month of me playing psychopaths, just the beginning of it. So I think I’m used to playing a victim, so it was nice to victimize somebody else. There’s a real freedom that comes with being a psychopath. You’re just not careful about anything, nothing is calculated. Everything is just, you know, it just all hangs out. So, yes, I really enjoyed being able to be this awful human being. There’s no redeeming qualities here.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Drea. The next question is from Karen Moul. Karen, if you can unmute your mic.

QUESTION: Hi, everybody. Hi from Baltimore. I’m calling you from my place in Baltimore.



QUESTION: In fact, Mack and I are neighbors and go to the same restaurant.

MODERATOR: Ask a question.


QUESTION: When I read about this movie I thought Drea De Matteo and Mackenzie Astin as the heavies, that’s a little unexpected, and then halfway through the film I thought these two need like a spinoff like a workplace comedy with these characters, and I wonder if you could talk about where you guys found your chemistry together and for these two characters, and how you enjoyed playing them together.


MACKENZIE ASTIN: Well, I’ll go ahead and say that I think like the universe helped establish the chemistry. Drea and I have known each other for about twenty years now. An old friend of mine that I worked with ended up working with her and connected us, and we became friends. So I actually sort of got this job because Drea recommended me, so there’s an instant chemistry boost right there, but we’ve known each other twenty some-odd years now, so that stuff’s sort of already in there, which is great, actually. And the opportunity to work together after being friends for so long absolutely destroyed our friendship. (Laughter.)

BORIS KODJOE: Karen, I want to jump in here real quick because, yes, it’s not true. He didn’t get the job because Drea recommended him. He got the job because —

NICOLE ARI PARKER: He got the audition because Drea recommended him.

BORIS KODJOE: Exactly. He got the audition because Drea recommended him.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And then killed it.

BORIS KODJOE: And he slaughtered and incinerated the audition.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And I’m from Baltimore, and my mother and father still live in Baltimore, so I was like you got to give it to Baltimore, man. You got to give it to Baltimore.

BORIS KODJOE: No, he came in and it was scorched earth.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yeah. He shut it down.

BORIS KODJOE: He took the role.

MACKENZIE ASTIN: Well, a lot of stuff conspired to make it all come together for which I’m super grateful, because it’s not that often that a job comes to town, and it was good to get onboard.

QUESTION: Well, Dominic and Rocco were a lot of fun and very scary, so thanks a lot.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Karen. The next question is from Noah Wilson.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. It’s so great to be here with you guys. Boris, I wanted to ask you my first question. Congratulations on this being your directorial debut. It being with Lifetime, could you ever see yourself direct more movies with Lifetime down the road, because this is such a fantastic film. So many are going to love to “Safe Room.” It’s so intense.

BORIS KODJOE: Wow. Thank you. Thank you, Noah.


BORIS KODJOE: Thank you for these kind words, and I was delighted to work with Lifetime. Tanya Lopez was amazing. She really supported the project. She loved it, as well as Mekita Faiye who was our executive over there. It was a delight. I’m forever grateful for them for thinking about me for this movie and, hopefully, yes, absolutely. I’d love to do more work with them.

QUESTION: Now how was it like to not only direct but star in the movie with your wife and get to work together as partners on this, because you don’t see a lot of Hollywood stars get to work with their husband or wife in a movie, so how was that like?

BORIS KODJOE: That’s true. Like my wife said earlier, we met on a set, so we were very much accustomed to the environment of a professional setting, and we thrive in that setting, and so working with her again was a dream because, first of all, she makes me better, and she is, you know, she was a top dog, and her energy and her professionalism sort of transcended the whole set. Everybody had to step it up a notch when she stepped on set, and I love to see that. And I’m forever grateful for these people here on our Zoom. They really came to play, which I loved. All I had to do was really set the stage and then get out the way. They were all phenomenal.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: I think Nik kind of stepped up everyone’s game.

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. Definitely.


BORIS KODJOE: Nik’s energy —

NICOLE ARI PARKER: He was like that’s not your line.

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. He was very specific about everybody’s lines.

NIK SANCHEZ: Thank you.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Are you (audio glitch @ 00:19:36).


QUESTION: No, you guys, I want to ask the rest of the cast that are on the Zoom chat how is it like to take direction from Boris? Did you guys think he nailed down his first directorial debut?



DREA DE MATTEO: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I —

MACKENZIE ASTIN: Hundred percent.


MACKENZIE ASTIN: I don’t want to take up too much space in this, but I definitely — and I definitely talk too much — but like this guy, I don’t know, I absolutely loved it. This guy had a plan, and when stuff went wrong he had a way to counter it, and when stuff went wrong the second time he had a way to counter that. I don’t know where it comes from, but it was a treat to work with a guy who is such a natural at leading a team.

BORIS KODJOE: Wow. Thank you.

DREA DE MATTEO: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been on too many film sets, TV sets for sure, and I thought that Boris seemed like he had been doing this longer than all of the seasoned directors I’ve ever worked with.

BORIS KODJOE: Oh, my goodness.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And I knew like, and it was funny when you were talking about Nicole, like, “Well, I want to do it like this,” and I was just like I’m just going to park and bark. I’m going to do whatever he says to do. I don’t know. Park and bark. Here I go. I’ll make anything fit into a tiny space, so it was easy. You really are awesome, Boris.

BORIS KODJOE: Thank you so much.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: You really are. Like there’s a confidence that you have that’s like and which it just there was no question. Okay, if he says do this then I’m going to do this. I don’t care.


MODERATOR: Thank you all. I’m sorry. We have to move on to our next question, because we just have a few more minutes left and we are trying to get through as many as possible. But thank you, Noah, and thank you to the cast.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys.

MODERATOR: The next question is for Starry Constellation Mag.


QUESTION: Hi, guys. Nik, what was it like for you doing a character that’s on the spectrum? Did you study much about this in order to portray the character properly?

BORIS KODJOE: Hang on a second, hold on.

NIK SANCHEZ: Well, I mean, like playing an autistic, sorry, since I am autistic playing autistic just feels like, you know, a man playing a man. It’s part of who I am, but what I most like about playing Ian is the fact that it helps me learn more about like myself, and my own aspects of my own autism, and what other people on the spectrum go through, too. And Ian loves a lot of things like videogames, STEM, like gadgets, cars, basically, you name it. He’s a big geek, but I love those similar things. Ian and I are very similar when it comes to our character and our traits, and I really enjoyed playing this role. It made me feel like that if I was in a similar situation like he was I would be able to be brave and confident just like he was.

QUESTION: Well, it was wonderful to watch you. You really excelled in this role.

NIK SANCHEZ: Thank you.

BORIS KODJOE: Well said.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Nik. Thank you. I think we have room for one more question, and that will be the “Hollywood Times.”

QUESTION: Hi, there. One more time. Thank you. Do any of the writers or actors have experience dealing with children on the autistic spectrum, and how did you all ensure the authenticity of Ian’s character?

BORIS KODJOE: Well, first of all, we did a lot of research and partnered with organizations who support children and young adults on the spectrum. We wanted to make sure, again, we wanted to make sure that this comes across with full authenticity and truth, and that’s why I fought to hire and actor who was on the spectrum. And Nik, he superseded any expectations that I had going into this project, and I was so delighted and grateful to have him onboard. He really, like Nicole said, he made everybody step up around him and not just in front of the camera, but also just the energy on set changed when he stepped on the set, which is amazing to watch. Representation is everything. It is truly important, because it creates normalcy around whatever we’re talking about, in this case, autism. And we wanted to shed a light, because we want to make sure that young actors on the spectrum are supported, and the opportunities increase in the industry. It’s much needed. It’s time, and it’s completely normal. The problem has been that we project too much on these performers, on these kids, young adults, and that’s our own problem, and this experience has been eye-opening for me in that we should talk less and listen more, and Nik has taught us a whole lot in those four weeks we spent together.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And it also helped us understand, and you, as a director, you were saying how you would hire Nik for anything.


NICOLE ARI PARKER: It wouldn’t have to be the narrative around a child or a teenager on the spectrum; that his talent and his work ethic were so tremendous that he could, you know, play any role in any film —

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. Hundred percent. So specific. So prepared. So professional. I aspire to be like Nik.



BORIS KODJOE: To be honest with you. And I thought I was prepared and disciplined being German.


NIK SANCHEZ: (Inaudible @ 00:25:25) like that.

QUESTION: Wonderful answer. Thank you. And thank you to the “Safe Room” team.

MODERATOR: Thank you to the entire cast of “Safe Room.” It’s been great having you. I really appreciate it and thank you to the press for asking your great questions. Just a reminder, “Safe Room” premieres Saturday, January 15th at 8/7 Central on Lifetime.



Safe Room centers on recently widowed Lila Jackson (Ari Parker) and her 14-year-old autistic son Ian (Sanchez).  Since the death of her husband, Lila is grateful for their kind neighbor Neil Hargrove (Kodjoe), who looks out for them.  After Ian accidentally witnesses a break-in in the house across the street and records the horrific murder of the homeowner, Lila becomes embroiled in a deadly struggle to protect her son from intruders Dominic (Astin) and Rocco (De Matteo), who will stop at nothing to retrieve the video evidence of the crime and silence them. Hiding and trapped in a makeshift panic room created by her late husband, Lila and Ian must use all of their strength and intelligence to outsmart the intruders to save themselves.

Additional cast members include Monica Calhoun who appears as Officer Armani and Julito McCullum as a repairman.

Lifetime has worked with the organization RespectAbility in review of the script to ensure as much authenticity as possible in the portrayal of Ian. The role of Ian is played by Nik Sanchez who is on the autism spectrumAs part of Lifetime’s advocacy efforts, resources to learn more about autism will be provided at the end of the film.

Safe Room is produced by Astute Films for Lifetime. Executive producers include Dominique Telson and Karen Kaufman Wilson. Boris Kodjoe directs from a script by Nneka Gerstle.






LOS ANGELES, CA (Nov 16, 2021) – Lifetime unveils airdates for two new suspense-filled original movies— Safe Room and Vanished: Searching For My Sister—scheduled to premiere on back to back weekends in January 2022. Marking his directorial debut, Boris Kodjoe directs real-life wife Nicole Ari Parker (Chicago P.D., Empire), Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos), Nik Sanchez (The Rookie) and Mackenzie Astin (The Magicians) in the home invasion movie Safe Room (formerly known as Safe Space), premiering Saturday, January 15th at 8p/7c. The following weekend, the chills and thrills continue with the story of a sister who poses as her missing twin in Vanished: Searching For My Sister, starring Tatyana Ali (Love That Girl) playing both twins, Justin Bruening (Sweet Magnolias) and Jasmine Guy (Grey’s Anatomy). Vanished: Searching For My Sister premieres on Saturday, January 22nd at 8p/7c.

Full movie descriptions below.

Premieres Saturday, January 15TH at 8p/7c

The Lifetime thriller, Safe Room, centers on recently widowed Lila Jackson (Nicole Ari Parker) and her 14-year-old autistic son Ian (Nik Sanchez).  Since the death of her husband, Lila is grateful for their kind neighbor Neil (Boris Kodjoe), who looks out for them.  After Ian accidentally witnesses a break-in in the house across the street and records the horrific murder of the homeowner, Lila becomes embroiled in a deadly struggle to protect her son from intruders Dominic (Mackenzie Astin) and Rocco (Drea De Matteo), who will stop at nothing to retrieve the video evidence of the crime and silence them. Hiding and trapped in a makeshift panic room created by her late husband, Lila and Ian must use all of their strength and intelligence to outsmart the intruders to save themselves.

Lifetime has worked with the organization RespectAbility in review of the script to ensure as much authenticity as possible in the portrayal of Ian. The role of Ian is played by Nik Sanchez who is on the autism spectrumAs part of Lifetime’s advocacy efforts, resources to learn more about autism will be provided at the end of the film.

Safe Room is produced by Astute Films for Lifetime. Executive producers include Dominique Telson and Karen Kaufman Wilson. Boris Kodjoe directs from a script by Nneka Gerstle.

Premieres Saturday, January 22nd at 8p/7c

Twins Jada and Kayla (both played by Tatyana Ali) could not be more opposite: Jada being the mild-mannered sister with an office job, and Kayla the wild child. Recently divorced from her husband Warren (Justin Bruening), Kayla asks Jada to watch her daughter while she sets up her new apartment.  But after a few days with no word from Kayla, Jada begins to worry and reports her sister missing. With no leads and the police investigation at a standstill, Jada takes matters into her own hands.  She disguises herself as her sister and gets pulled into a world of drugs and deceit in order to learn the shocking truth about what really happened to Kayla.

Vanished: Searching for My Sister also stars Jasmine Guy, Carolyn Hennesy and Anthony “Treach” Criss.

The film is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Leslie Greif serves as executive producer. Tim Woodward Jr. directs from a script written by Christina Welsh.

About Lifetime
Celebrating over 35 years of entertaining audiences, Lifetime is a premier entertainment destination for women dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning award-winning movies, high-quality scripted series and breakout non-fiction series. Lifetime has an impressive legacy in public affairs, bringing attention to social issues that women care about with initiatives such as the long-running Stop Breast Cancer for Life, Stop Violence Against Women, and  Broader Focus, a major global initiative dedicated to supporting and hiring female directors, writers and producers, including women of color, to make its content.Lifetime Television®, LMN®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. A+E Networks is a joint venture of the Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corporation.

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poster for "Safe Room" on Lifetime

Interview with Fiona Rene

TV Interview!

Fiona Rene of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" on Amazon Prime

Interview with Fiona Rene of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” on Amazon Prime by Thane 12/27/22

I was excited to ask Fiona about the technological aspects of her work as technology interests me.

Thane: Are you pleased with how I Know What You Did Last Summer turned out?

Fiona: Yes, I am. I don’t know if you know this, but we didn’t know who the killer was while we were shooting until the very end. So, I myself was very surprised by the whole ordeal.

Thane: Were there any scenes that were challenging to play?

Fiona: You know, it’s always interesting doing intimate scenes with someone that you have just met. So, obviously, that was a little, you know, intense. And I think one of my favorite scenes that we shot was when I had to go into the cave, because I had to actually squeeze through a whole bunch of little crevices, and it really it felt very realistic. That was probably the most intense, those two.

Thane: Overall, what has been your favorite role to play and why?

Fiona: Oh, what a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know if you have seen this, but I played a character named Sarah Bernhardt in a video game for PS4 and virtual reality called The Invisible Hours, and my character is French, and it took place in like the early 1900s. So yeah, that was probably my favorite thus far, but I love playing cops, don’t get me wrong.

Thane: What drove you to get into acting?

Fiona: I’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid, and I moved around a lot when I was younger. Every year we moved, so it was kind of difficult to make friends, and acting was always the thing that was consistent in my life that made me feel like I could have fun and play without being super nervous or scared all the time. So, it really made me feel comfortable, and that’s the best feeling in the world, right? Whenever you actually feel like you’re accepted, and you’re comfortable, and now I could never stop, ever.

Thane: How do you feel about the current state of diversity in Hollywood?

Fiona: It’s getting better. It’s consistently getting better, and there’s so much more room to grow. I really like that people of color are being seen for roles that don’t put them in boxes as much as they used to, but we still have so much more work to do. And I also feel very proud, because I’ll be it, we’re not perfect, and Hollywood has so much to learn still, but I feel like we are coming from a small town in Oklahoma where the diversity is very rare, and you don’t have a lot of different cultures there. The Midwest, it is predominantly white, so I think we’re making moves, and I think that we’re doing it in a really good job, but I think that it’s slow, but it’s supposed to be slow, because if we went any faster, it’s like we would be missing steps. Great question.

Thane: Is there any actor and/or director who you want to work with?

Fiona: Mike Flanagan…Burton Bernie. In the Marvel world, I think that they could really use me. Burton, Bernie and Mike Flanagan, I love horror. I’m such a big horror fan. So, I Know What You Did Last Summer was super fun, but I wouldn’t mind getting into a little bit more deeper psychological horror.

Thane: Are you inspired by any actors or actresses?

Fiona: Oh gosh. Yes. I think, you know, this might be a little on the nose, but JLaw, Jennifer Lawrence, when she came out, and she made such big waves, it really inspired me to know that I can kind of just be myself: sarcastic, I don’t have to be in the best mood all the time, I don’t have to put on a face all the time, I can be curvy, like, there’s lots of lots of inspiration that I got from her. And also, maybe not named actors, but actors that are working in improv. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of like Groundlings and UCB, but they’re like improvisational theater groups that are kind of around LA, and there are a lot of people that every day, they’re grinding. They’re going to the theater; they’re playing games. They’re working with other actors. That’s the most inspiring people that aren’t getting paid thousands of dollars yet, but are still just grinding, because they love their craft. That’s probably the most inspirational, aside from so many amazing actors and names. [Margaret Qualley from] the show Maid. I don’t know if you’ve seen Maid. It’s about a girl who is very poor. She goes through domestic violence. The actress who played that, oh, blew me off my feet. But yeah, a lot of the time I’m inspired not by named actors, but by actors that I meet, that are just grinding every day.

Thane: As an acting coach, does it bother you if you see actors on set that are not doing a great job with their acting?

Fiona: That’s a hard question, because define “what is doing a great job?” I am bothered as an acting coach; I am bothered when I see actors take it so seriously that they forget to play, especially, you know, when you go method, and whenever you get into the role so much that you’re so focused that you’re no longer part of the community on set, but you’re just in your own zone. I think that’s the hardest, and that’s when I get the most disappointed, because they could be doing a great job. They can be acting the character off the wall, but if they’re making it uncomfortable, difficult, and not fun for all the people that they’re working with, that’s when I get upset, or disappointed, you may say, because it really, our job is to not only put on a good performance for the audience, but also to create a good energy in the space that we’re working. I hope I answered your question.

Thane: Tell us about your workshop method for being acting in immersive environments.

Fiona: Okay, I get really excited talking about this. There’re lots of different mediums nowadays, right? Video games, virtual reality, TV, RPGs, movies, so many different kinds of ways to experience storytelling, that it’s really interesting for the actor, especially whenever you’re just starting, because you can get a job doing voiceover. You can get a job doing virtual reality, augmented reality, TV, and there are lots of technical difficulties and differences between these mediums, but there’s not a lot of difference between character preparation, and a lot of actors can get thrown off with the technical differences that they let those technicalities affect their character performance. So, Method for Being is really about helping you define your character, helping you define your role, what those differences are, and how to put those into any medium, no matter the technical difference. So, whether you’re on stage in front of fifty thousand people, you’re playing the same authentic character as you would be if you got cast as the same thing, but in a TV show or video game.

Thane: You have experience with virtual reality, which is great, because I am a nerd. Do you think there’s potential for independent producers to create their own productions utilizing virtual reality technology?

Fiona: Yes, 100% I mean, especially someone who’s differently abled, I think that there is a platform there where you can really have a voice, for sure. The one thing about VR is that it’s such complicated storytelling, because there’s such an open world; it’s not so linear, and there’s pros and cons to that, right? Pros being, there’re not a lot of people; not everyone in Hollywood knows how to tell a nonlinear story. So if you really can understand how that world works, then you really got a one up. The cons to that is that, because there are not many people in Hollywood that understand nonlinear storytelling, it takes a little bit more effort to get people to listen, but I think right now is the time for independent producers and independent storytellers that don’t maybe have as much experience as your Joe Schmo on TV making series every day to pump their own content. There’s so much more space for new content. So, yes.

Thane: What are the advantages of using AR/VR as opposed to traditional 2-D Productions?

Fiona: Well, one, it’s 2-D on television screens in movies. There’s a fourth wall, and the audience is on the sidelines watching. Whenever we play in VR and AR, the audience now becomes a player in the story. The audience now has agency; the audience now has the ability to change things up. I don’t know if you know about We Are OFK, the game that I’m in that’s coming out 2022. It is a narrative video game, but just like in the 90s, when you play or you read a choose your own adventure novel, there’s so much more ability for the audience to affect how the story changes. And it’s not as easy to do that on a 2-D platform, because you still feel separated with the screen, but when you are in VR, and AR, when you turn your head and you look to that side of the room, you see that side of the room. You become the filmmaker yourself. So, there’s so much more agency for the audience, that it really becomes an interactive experience, as opposed to something that you’re just watching. You’re now a part of the story; you have choice. That’s so exciting to me, because I think storytelling in general is so collaborative, that whenever not only are you you’re collaborating with your fellow artists, but now you’re collaborating with your audience, that’s just that’s just so dope to me.

Thane: As an actor and/or producer, do you have to think about different things when you do productions in newer technologies? What are the main things?

Fiona: That was a complicated question. I almost want you to ask it again, because you said actor or producer. And, you know, the producer’s job is to really get hands on, and there’s a huge, a huge difference between what a producer would be doing in let’s say, a VR production, as opposed to what a producer would be doing in a TV production, lots of differences, the way things are handled. I mean, there’re different kinds of producers as well, the producer that makes sure everyone’s doing their job on set versus the producer that is budgeting out the money and making sure money goes to different places. A virtual production would have different jobs that a producer would have to hire for, as opposed to a 2-D production, but I think – and that’s where Method for Being comes in. For the actor, there shouldn’t be that much of a difference. The actor should know what their “moment before” is. The actor should know how to focus and ground themselves so they are able to become the character that they need to become. The actor should know who they’re talking to. What’s the relationship to the person they’re talking to, and where are they? Those things no matter whether you’re doing a green screen mocap suit or you’re out in the middle of the wilderness, those should be the same. So, to answer your question, yes and no.

Thane: Is there anything else that you want to share with the TVMEG.COM audience?

Fiona: Let’s see. Make sure to check out I Know What You Did Last Summer and We Are OFK on PS4 and PS5, 2022. You’ll see me in – I’m about to shoot a couple of episodes of a few other shows at the top of the year, so I should have some new content coming out soon. And thank you just so much for spending time with me talking about this stuff. I’m a geek too. So, I’m with you. I could talk about interactive storytelling all day long.

Here is the Video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Multi-faceted, Chinese-American actress, voice artist, immersive director and educator, Fiona Rene will star in herFiona Rene of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" on Amazon Prime first series regular role in the highly-anticipated Amazon Original series “I Know What You Did Last Summer” which all episodes are now streaming to 240 countries and territories worldwide. The Sony Pictures produced series will premiere with the first four episodes premiering at once on October 15th and the remaining four will come out weekly, with the finale episode Friday, November 12th. Written by Sara Goodman (“Gossip Girl”) and executive produced by James Wan (SAW, THE CONJURING), the gory yet sexy series, based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, is a YA mystery thriller series with elements of horror, comedy and drama and is a modern take of the 1998 movie adaptation. In a town full of secrets, a group of teenagers are stalked by a mysterious killer a year after a fatal accident on their graduation night. Rene plays the role of “Lyla”, the police chief of the small town who works to piece together clues to find the killer.

“I Know What You Did Last Summer” TRAILER

Rene is best known for her role as Kara Lee on ABC’s “Stumptown,” her first recurring role in which she played Michael Ealy’s love interest. Her other credits include ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” FOX’s “LA’s Finest,” and The CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” in which she played the role of ‘Celeste,’ a lesbian mother who goes on a playdate with Jane (Rodriguez) and her son. Rene is also a successful voiceover actor in animation, radio, promo, narrative and commercial. She has voiced for the Freeform network’s “The Bold Type” and “Good Trouble” along with several other animation projects. She is also best known for being one of the hosts in LATV’s “Get it Girl” where she dives into fun, culturally relevant, provocative and attention-grabbing conversation. Alongside acting, Rene has worked extensively in theater and animation in addition to voiceover work and has worked as an interactive performance director, creative consultant, and performance manager.

Born in Montana, Rene and her family moved often and lived in many different places growing up. At the age of 13, Rene and her family moved from Michigan to Texas where she eventually graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and attended Austin Community College and then Oklahoma Baptist University. Moving from school to school, she struggled making friends but soon found her calling as an actor through augmented and virtual reality storytelling. She started working at a haunted house and learning prosthetics while teaching acting at the same time. Rene made her directorial debut alongside writing and casting her first immersive show with 13th Floor Entertainment in 2008. After relocating to London, Rene worked as an actor, acting coach and director, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" posterdirecting and casting for Le Manoir de Paris, France for 5 years until she moved to Los Angeles. Since then, she has worked nonstop as an actor and director and has much experience working on long tours as well as abroad. Through the Disney Talent Mentorship program, she became an artist residence at Technicolor where she creates interactive content for their augmentative and virtual reality department.

Rene created several immersive haunted house experiences and also directed and co-wrote an immersive interactive theatre experience called THE WILLOWS, a 2-hour experience that takes guests through a sprawling 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles. This allowed her to create her own concept and began teaching workshops on “Method for Being: Acting in Immersive Environments,” an interactive masterclass for actors and storytellers designed to explore the commonalities of character building and world building, between the mediums of stage, film, television, voiceover, motion capture, live immersive/interactive, VR and AR. The workshops also explore the critical similarities and differences between creative processes like Audience POV, special awareness, motivation-based movement, linear/multi-liner/multiverse and open world storylines. Her clientele includes ABC/Disney, private and public schools, universities, theatre companies, design summits, conference, and also teaches one-on-one personal sessions to enhance the actor’s and storyteller’s creative process and confidence in their craft. Rene was also on the Board of Directors for The Game Academy in San Rafael, a company empowering learners to achieve social, emotion, cognitive, and academic success through engaging, interactive role-playing games for kids and students who are on and off the spectrum, helping them interact socially and emotionally.

In her free time, Rene lives a healthy and fit lifestyle weight training and practicing spiritual meditation. Having struggled with mental illness, she has found stability through art and acting and works to help others dealing with mental health. She also loves to spend time with her adorable cats Lily & Denver.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Fiona Rene of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" on Amazon Prime

Interview with cast of “Naomi”

TV Interview!

cast o "Naomi" on The CW

Interview with actors from “Naomi” on The CW by Suzanne 1/6/22

This was a great panel with the cast and creators of the new teen superhero show on The CW. I love all of their superhero shows, so I was very grateful to be there. There was a lot of youth and passion in our little Zoom press panel.



Cast Zoom:  Ava DuVernay (EP), Jill Blankenship (EP), Kaci Walfall “Naomi,” Cranston Johnson “Zumbado,” Alexander Wraith, “Dee,” Mary-Charles Jones, “Annabelle,” Barry Watson, “Greg,” Mouzam Makkar “Jennifer,” Daniel Puig “Nathan,” Camila Moreno “Lourdes,” Will Meyers “Anthony,” Aidan Gemme “Jacob,” 2022.0106

Here’s the description of the series that we were given in the panel:

“This is a truly fresh take on the superhero genre from executive producers Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship. And we’re so happy you’re joining us today to hear from them and our incredible cast. The DC drama Naomi follows the journey of a cool, confident, comic book-loving teenager as she pursues her hidden destiny. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown of Port Oswego to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins with a little help from her fiercely-loyal best friend, Annabelle. She also has the support of her adopted doting parents, veteran military officer, Greg and linguistics teacher, Jennifer. After an encounter with Zumbado, the mysterious owner of a used-car lot leaves her shaken, Naomi turns to tattoo-parlor owner, Dee, who becomes her reluctant mentor. While unraveling the mystery about herself, Naomi also effortlessly navigates her high school friendships with kids on the military base, as well as local townies, including ex-boyfriend and high school jock Nathan, Annabelle’s long-time loyal boyfriend, Jacob, proud townie, Anthony, and fellow comic book enthusiast, Lourdes, who works in a vintage collectible shop. As Naomi journeys to the heights of the Multiverse in search of answers, what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Don’t believe everything you think. This is… Naomi. New series, Tuesday, January 11. Only on The CW.”

I was able to ask just two question because it was a large press panel with many journalists. First I asked the show’s star, Kaci, if she had been a fan of this (or any other) comic book prior to the show. She answered that she’s an “avid reader,” but not of comics. However, she did love The CW superhero shows, such as “Supergirl” and “The Flash.”

I love Barry Watson because I used to watch “7th Heaven,” where he played the hunky oldest teen boy. Here, he plays Naomi’s adoptive dad on the show. I asked him if he’d ever played a military man before. He replied that he hadn’t, as far as he could remember. He added that he does come from “a bit of a military family,” but this is his first time playing someone in the military.

Ava DuVernay chimed in to say how much she likes him “with the salt and pepper beard.” She said it’s a shame that he can’t wear it on the show, since he’s in the military. Then she mused that they might have to find a way to write it in the show. I had just been thinking the same thing, that he should keep the beard because he looks great with it. I thought, “Should I say that? Do I have time?”… so I’m glad she said it! She said that he looked “fantastic.” He grinned modestly. I’m sure he’s used to women complimenting him. He said that this is “how I roll.” Like so many men, he doesn’t shave when he’s not working. I don’t normally like beards, but it looks good on him. She joked again that she’ll have to write it in the script. He agreed and revealed that “shaving it every day hurts my face.”

DuVernay was very chatty during the panel and had a lot of energy. I could tell that she’s really the driving force behind the show as well as its biggest cheerleader. I can see now why people are so inspired by her.

Jamie asked where the show might fit in the DCU and whether it might be involved with some of the CW crossovers. Executive Producer Jill answered that this is the third DC show she’s worked on, and she loves how they have something for everyone. She doesn’t think that anything is “ever off the table” (including a crossover). That’s great to hear.

Max asked Ava and Jill about where the idea came from to develop the series and what their experiences were with comics beforehand. Duvernay informed us that through her production company Array, which is via Warner Brothers, she had been involved with a DCU movie “New Gods” (unfortunately, this film had been canceled because it conflicted with the “Justice League” movie). She also worked with them on another new show, “DMZ,” which comes out on HBO Max later this spring. Then she heard about a new comic about a black girl superhero, so she really wanted to be involved with it. She liked it because it was different from other superheroes, since this girl is figuring out her destiny and who she is. She praised Jill as one of the “top two best writing partners I’ve ever, ever had,” so she wanted her for the show, and they started working on it. Then she went on to heap loving praise on all of the cast and crew and said they’ve had a good time creating the show together.

Max then asked a second question, for Kaci, about what her audition process was like; he also asked the producers why they chose her. Kaci described her audition. She sent in a self-tape and didn’t hear anything for 2 weeks. Then Ava emailed her and wanted to do a Zoom call with her and two others. She did some scenes with them and answered questions, and then they flew her to L.A. She went with her mom out to L.A., where they had her do some readings (for chemistry). Then they talked about the show over lunch and got to know each other. A week later, Ava phoned her to say she got the part. This sounds like a very thorough audition. They never answered his second question, unfortunately.

Fred was called on next. Ava recognized him from when he was a publicist and she used to pitch (story ideas) to her. Awww, that was nice. Ava said he was very sweet and that they’d both been doing this a long time.

Fred asked Kaci whether the fact that Naomi just discovered her powers gives her a little leeway into training a little bit, and he also asked her how extensive her physical training has been.

Kaci agreed that she has been able to ease in to the training. She’s finding things out as Naomi does and is able to grow over time. She credits her stunt coordinator, Elizabeth, for telling her that she’s just at the right place (the same as the character). She just works out to stay fit and keep her energy going, but Naomi gets better every episode.

Fred followed up with asking Alex about his own physical training for the role of Dee. Alex admitted that while he was “pretty athletic,” he’d given up on heavy training and martial arts for a few years, so he had to start training again. He pointed out that it feels very good, and he feels that he’s back on track.

Ava disappeared for a moment to get her charger, just as Rick was going to ask her a question, so everyone laughed because it was a funny moment. He asked her whether she thinks first of the scifi elements of the story, or the coming of age stuff first, and what have been the pitfalls, as well as positive things about adapting a popular comic to the screen.

Ava answered that she thought of it first as the coming-of-age story and that’s what she loves most about it. She believes that all comic book stories are “really personal human stories about the … journeys that we all take, written in with issues of heroism and … magic.” The best ones are the ones we can relate to. She shared some of her favorite scenes in the show. There was one she was editing today that brought a tear to her eye. She was getting emotional editing this “young adult drama.” There’s another scene where Naomi and Cranston talk about love that made her cry. She also spoke highly about Barry and Mouzam, who play Naomi’s parents. She praised them for having “an edge” and “mystery. She added that Naomi has three love interests (one a girl). Lastly, she said that her favorite couple is Jacob and Annabelle; she said they might get a spinoff one day. All of these things make it more than just a superhero show to her.

Jill answered the other part of the question. She’s a fan herself of the comic book and loves how “characters jump off the page.” She’s excited to honor the writing in that and how the story progresses, yet still “expanding the world even beyond the comic.” She added that seeing this wonderful cast bringing it to life has been “spectacular.”

Judy asked Cranston and Alex to describe their characters, whom have known each other a long time and lived in the same town for years. She wants to know what their relationship is and whether they wrote their own backstory for them. Cranston relayed that he had been told that his character doesn’t like Dee, and we’ll find out why. Also, “the feeling is mutual,” but they may have to work toward a common goal. Ava praised him for avoiding any spoilers, saying “Well done!”

Alex doesn’t agree that Dee hates Zumbado. Dee keeps to himself to avoid any kind of drama, which he’s been through before. He just knows that Zumbado will be responsible for any problems that might come up.

Judy pointed out that the series relies on Naomi’s relationship with her friends, so she asked each of the young actors what they did outside of the set and hanging out together to get their chemistry. Ava asked Mary Charles to start. She shared that she and Kaci had done one scene together over Zoom for the pilot (so they could work looking like best friends). Then they started doing a group Zoom with the other younger people. She revealed that they “did very teenagery icebreakers,” such as asking each other’s “star signs” and what their favorite ice cream flavor was.

Camila remembers that and said she really liked “this amazing group of people. She thought that building this relationship was going to be very easy. She’s blessed to part of it and says that they’re a very likable group.

Ava pointed out that this is Daniel’s first job. Puig agreed that making the chemistry with them all was “awesome” and reminded him of hanging out with his high school friends. He feels that they’ll all be close forever. Will was wearing a suit, so Ava pointed out that he was “”looking so debonaire” and asked him his thoughts on it. He noticed that at the beginning, they were all just working on their characters and anxious to get started, but then they were told to get to know each other, which made him more excited. He said that they were all “wonderful” and that getting to know them has been “such a joy.” He echoed Daniel’s sentiments, saying, “I really feel a connection with every single one of you, and it’s been nothing but fun. ”

Ava called on Aidan last. He said there was some awkwardness when they did their first table read, but since then, they’ve all been building on their relationships. He feels that “everybody wants to be here and [is] open and engaging.” It makes him feel “humbled” to be included. Then Ava praised them all and talked about how they support Kaci, which is “extraordinary.” She said that Kaci is the star and lead of the show, and they all work to rally around her, even though she’s only 17 and the youngest person in the cast. She complimented her on handling things with such “grace.”

Abbie asked Ava if she’ll be addressing issues such as “race and civil rights” in a real or metaphorical way, since that’s what she’s done in previous projects. Ava says they will be doing it with a process she calls “normalization,” which means having diversity of race, gender and class as if it’s an every-day thing and not anything out of the ordinary. She feels this is a “radical revolutionary thing.”

Abbie also asked Kaci about how she views her character, whether it’s through being excited that she has superpowers or something else. Kaci replied that the show is very realistic, so she asks herself the question of what she would do if she had superpowers. She wouldn’t necessarily be “joyful,” which is how the character is dealing with the issue. Being a teenager, she doesn’t want to be “different.” Abbie went on to ask whether Naomi feels that she has a greater responsibility to protect her community (now that she has superpowers). Kaci believes anyone with powers would feel that way. Being 16, it may not be a good thing to have to struggle with, which she does throughout the show.

Jim asks about Naomi’s flirting and romances in the show and whether we’ll see some of that as a story point in the first season. He feels that some viewers might be struggling with their own sexuality and want to see that addressed.

Jill, adding on to what Ava said about normalization, replied that she admires how the younger people today are very different when it comes to sexuality. She finds their “attitude towards sexuality and toward this sort of aversion to labels so inspiring.” They do use that through the season, grounded in the reality of their show.

Ava asked Barry and Mouzam to give their opinions on this, since they’re playing Naomi’s parents. She reminds us that there’s a conversation in the first episode where they’re talking about the other teens that Naomi is involved with. Mouzam agrees with Ava that there are many different people in the world, and their characters raised Naomi to believe that “love is love.” They have great communication between them. She praises their family dynamic and how Naomi can be free to be herself and that it’s all coming from reality. Barry agrees and says they have “an openness” to everything and they really want their daughter to be happy, more than anything.

Jim had a follow-up question. He calls the teens the “Scooby gang.” Ava chimed in to say that the kids don’t know that ancient reference, but they all do (of course, because “Scooby-Doo” has run in re-runs and remakes forever, and the phrase has been used many times, over and over, in the media). Kaci said that they do call themselves that already.

Jim asks them if they knew the backstory of their characters, whether it was in the script or not. Camila answered that they have great access to asking Jill questions. She and Ava are very open about answering their questions. She’s very curious about her character’s background and personality. Aidan agrees. He comes from the theater, where there’s always an end, so they don’t have as much opportunity to explore their characters. This show has been fun because they’re all on a journey together. Every time he opens his script, he learns something new about the characters.

Ava piped up again to say that they gave Mary-Charles, Will and Daniel the most background material. She mentions who the characters each are. She doesn’t like giving them too many details because they want the actors to help fill in those gaps. They listen to the younger actors and how they speak, so they use some of the slang terms they use. Jill agrees that she feels “10% cooler just from my text exchange …with these actors.” Mary-Charles backed them up by saying that what is really great is that they listen to them in a respectful way about how they speak and whether this or that is still trendy to say.

Dawn asked Ava and Jill what made Kaci just right for the role (which is great, since that question was asked earlier and never answered). Ava says that besides the talent, she looks for a person that has certain qualities because she has to work closely with them, possibly for years. She asks if she wants to be in a relationship with this person. She knew after Kaci auditioned that she is “flat out incredible, beyond good enough” as an actor. She had to fly her out and meet her, have a meal and get to see who she was as well. Even though Kaci was only 16 and just had a little theater experience, she had a great “work ethic, the professionalism, the talent, the vibrancy, the charisma, all of it.” She also liked her as a person. She knew Kaci would be able to shoulder the responsibility of being the title character of a TV show. She feels very lucky to have found her, and she felt the same way about other actors she found for roles in her TV and movie projects (which she listed). Jill also added how impressed she’s been with Kaci. She sometimes forget she’s 17 “because she’s so thoughtful. She’s so mature. She’s so considerate and such a great leader, as Ava said that again, it’s just, she’s exceeded my wildest expectations, personally.” Kaci blushed a bit and smile at all of the nice things they said about her.

Ava also added that the rest of the cast was also great. They all like each other in real life, which is not always the case. She complimented Cranston, Alex, Barry and Mouzam again.

There was more, but this was a really long interview. I’ll add the rest later if I see anything worth adding, but you get the idea. I hope you enjoy the series!



Tuesday (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET) on The CW


From Oscar® nominee/Emmy® winner Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and starring Kaci Walfall (“Army Wives,” “Power,” “The Lion King” on Broadway) in the title role, the DC drama NAOMI follows the journey of a cool, confident, comic book–loving teenager as she pursues her hidden destiny. When a supernatural event shakes her hometown of Port Oswego to the core, Naomi sets out to uncover its origins, with a little help from her fiercely loyal best friend Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones, “Kevin Can Wait”). She also has the support of her adoptive, doting parents, veteran military officer Greg (Barry Watson, “7th Heaven,” “The Loudest Voice”) and linguistics teacher Jennifer (Mouzam Makkar, “The Fix”). After an encounter with Zumbado (Cranston Johnson, “Filthy Rich”), the mysterious owner of a used car lot, leaves her shaken, Naomi turns to tattoo parlor owner Dee (Alexander Wraith, “Orange Is the New Black”), who becomes her reluctant mentor. While unfolding the mystery about herself, Naomi also effortlessly navigates her high school friendships with kids on the military base as well as well as local townies, including ex-boyfriend and high school jock Nathan (Daniel Puig); Annabelle’s longtime, loyal boyfriend Jacob (Aidan Gemme); proud “townie” Anthony (Will Meyers, “Bad Education”); and fellow comic book enthusiast Lourdes (Camila Moreno), who works in a vintage collectible shop. As Naomi journeys to the heights of the Multiverse in search of answers, what she discovers will challenge everything we believe about our heroes. Based on the characters from DC, NAOMI is written and executive produced by Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”), and executive produced by Sarah Bremner and Paul Garnes of ARRAY Filmworks. Amanda Marsalis (“Echo Park,” “Queen Sugar”) directed and co-executive produced the pilot episode. The series is from ARRAY Filmworks in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Naomi" poster

Interview with the cast of “Resident Alien”

TV Interview!

Creator Chris Sheridan with Alan Tudayk, Sara Tomko, Alice Wetterlund and Corey Reynolds of "Resident Alien" on Syfy

Interview with cast of “Resident Alien” on Syfy by Suzanne 12/9/21

It’s always great to talk to these people! They’re just very fun and hilarious! Much like the show. There may be some spoilers here, so you may not want to read it before watching the second season.



Resident Alien

Corey Reynolds, Talent, “Sheriff Mike Thompson” Sara Tomko, Talent, “Asta Twelvetrees” Alan Tudyk, Talent, “Harry Vanderspeigle” Alice Wetterlund, Talent, “D’Arcy Bloom” Chris Sheridan, Executive Producer/Creator

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

PAM BEER:  Hi.  I am Pam Beer to introduce our panel for “Resident Alien,” which we announced this morning will launch it’s second season on Wednesday, January 26th, at 9:00, on both SYFY and USA Network before moving exclusively to SYFY.  “Resident Alien” follows a crash‑landed alien named Harry, whose secret mission is to kill all humans.  In Season 2, Harry is once again stranded on Earth where he must confront the consequences of having failed his people’s mission to destroy the human race.  On his new quest to protect the people of Earth, Harry struggles to hold on to his alien identity as his human emotions grow stronger by the day.  Here is a clip from behind the scenes of “Resident Alien.”

In the top row are executive producer Chris Sheridan, Alan Tudyk, and Sara Tomko.  In the bottom row are Alice Wetterlund and Corey Reynolds.  We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you, Pam.  And welcome to our panelists.  Just a reminder to use the “raise hand” function if you have a question.  Our first question comes from Mike Hughes and Suzanne Lanoue is on deck.  Mike, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Alan, you get to do a lot of weird things in this show, but I wanted to ask you about two of them.  One of them is running off with that, sort of, octopus in your hands, what was that like?  And the second one is getting to pronounce your actual real name from your planet, how hard was that to learn to pronounce that, and how difficult is that to do?

ALAN TUDYK:  Oh, yes.  Well, that’s excellent.  I forget you guys have seen the three episodes.  I haven’t seen that.  Running with the octopus was great because it’s made of rubber, some kind of silicone, and it does its own acting.  You just give it a little jiggle, and it really comes through.  It’s a great scene partner.  That was a blast.  We shot that in Ladysmith, which is a little town that (inaudible).  And running down the streets of Ladysmith with an octopus was fun to do.  I think it was popular with the local residents as well.  Anytime Harry speaks his language, it’s always fun.  I don’t know that it will ever be a language like Klingon where you go to conventions and people actually speak it as a language.  It’s much more illusive.  It’s very illusive.  So it’s like it’s a back‑and‑forth between me and the editors.  It switches up a little bit every take, and then they find the best string of sounds and probably facial expressions to go along with it that makes for the best scene.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thanks.

ALAN TUDYK:  Thanks, man.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue, and Abbie Bernstein will be on deck.  Go ahead, Suzanne.

QUESTION:  Good morning.  Nice to see you guys again.  Chris, I enjoyed the three episodes, and I love the music in the first three episodes that we saw, especially the “MASH” theme at the end.  Who chose the music, and will there be any more singing in this season?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  I chose the music.  I have some music supervisors that help.  But I will say, the “MASH” theme ‑‑ these are all spoilers, by the way.  I can get into the specifics from these episodes that, probably, you can’t write about quite yet.  But the “MASH,” yeah, there’s that moment at the end of 3 where ‑‑ again, this is not to be revealed, but ‑‑ D’Arcy gets in the helicopter.  I had sent a picture of Alice in a helicopter to ‑‑


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  ‑‑ a video of Alice in a helicopter to Alice Wetterlund, and she sent it back to me with the wonderful “MASH” theme attached to it, and I was determined from that point on to put that in the episode.  So, we are in the process of playing ‑‑

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Lily, your daughter, Chris, is obsessed with “MASH.”

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  My daughter is obsessed with “MASH.”

ALICE WETTERLUND:  So, we are, kind of, always ‑‑ it’s in the zeitgeist of the show.  It’s conversation ‑‑


ALICE WETTERLUND:  ‑‑ because it is in the zeitgeist.  And, so, I saw that footage, and it just ‑‑ a lot of the footage from the show ‑‑ and you can write about this ‑‑ is very beautiful.  We have incredible DPs.  And it just looked like film to me.  It looked old and gorgeous.  And I just was, like, “Oh, you’ve got to put the theme song.”  But in terms of who chooses the music ‑‑ and you should probably write this ‑‑ it’s mostly me and Levi.  And he does have a music supervisor that no one has ever met, but it’s really cool because Levi and I do a radio show for the cast and the crew.  And sometimes, every once in a while, Chris is nice enough to pick one of the songs that we’ve played on our radio show to put on the show, the actual show.  So, yeah, feel free to write about the radio show.  No one ever cares.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yes, I do.  I definitely use the radio show to find music.  So, it’s all very helpful.

QUESTION:  And did you hear my other part of the question about will we see any singing this season?


ALICE WETTERLUND:  Oh, you know we will.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Well, we will see singing.  We will see ‑‑ Alice will get to sing this year, which we are very excited about.  I don’t know which episode it is, but we will get to see Alice Wetterlund sing this year, which is going to be fantastic.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Well, there is a karaoke machine in the bar that you’ve written in for the season.


ALICE WETTERLUND:  So, you kind of ‑‑

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  I had to go back to it.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  It seems like everybody is going to make their rounds.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.  Alice is next.  We’ll see who goes next, maybe Sara.  Sara is good.


QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Abbie Bernstein, and Jamie Ruby is going to be on deck.  Abbie, go for it.

QUESTION:  Hi.  I have two questions, actually, one for Mr. Tudyk and one for Mr. Sheridan.  I won’t print this until after the episodes have aired.  But, Mr. Tudyk, when Harry is playing other people, do you study those actors?  Do those actors go to Alan Tudyk school?  Does everybody just wing it?  How does that work?

ALAN TUDYK:  I recognize you.


ALAN TUDYK:  Hello.  I recognize your voice.  How is it going?


ALAN TUDYK:  It is good to hear you.  It’s ‑‑ they’ve watched the show.  So, they, sort of ‑‑ I think they just go to Alan school, I guess.  And, yeah, it’s really up to them.  I make myself available if they want to talk about my process and how I go about it.  But, yeah, I mean, I guess you’ve seen the first three episodes.  So, is Alice born?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  The first three episodes.

ALAN TUDYK:  So, you’ve seen that.  So, yes, Alice is just naturally an alien, I think.  She just has that about her, and it’s not just the probing.  She just comes across that way.  But I think Sara could probably speak to this a little bit as well because you had to do it, right?

SARA TOMKO:  Yeah.  I was going to jump in and say, I don’t remember what episode, but I had a small little part where I got to be Harry.  And I was going to ask you for advice, Alan, but I also was, like ‑‑ I think I just wanted to watch you.  I think I started really just, kind of, creepily staring at you as I got closer to that scene.

ALAN TUDYK:  I remember, when I woke up from my nap in my trailer, you were standing over me.

SARA TOMKO:  I was like this?

ALAN TUDYK:  It was a little odd.

SARA TOMKO:  Do you know what, Alan?  I have to say, the small, little time I got to be you, it’s very physical.  At least it was for me.  I felt like my whole body was stiff.  I felt like I had very mechanical movements.  Chris actually suggested I do this hand motion towards the door because that’s something you had done in a previous scene.  So, I did that.  But I also just felt like there’s a lot more than, I think, the audience can even see that you are doing.  I don’t know.  To me, it just felt like a full‑body workout.  And I was really, like, “Man, if I had to do this all the time, every day, I would be exhausted.”  So, I’m super proud of you.

CHRIS SHERIDAN: (Inaudible) with those, Sara.  That was Sara playing Harry playing Asta.  I mean, that was no ‑-



CHRIS SHERIDAN:  ‑‑ (inaudible) good too.  Get Corey in on that.  Maybe Corey is the next one whose body Alan takes over.  I don’t know.

COREY REYNOLDS:  I’m looking forward to it.  I told you, I think that would be a really fun thing to jump into Harry’s body.  I think that would be great.  I think that’s one of the unique components of this show is that ‑‑ not to ‑‑ making sure I’m not giving away any spoilers here because I see this transforming thing is a potential spoiler, but I think that’s one of the really cool components of this show is that there’s this aspect of everyone getting a chance to ‑‑ or everyone Harry needs to embody getting a chance to provide their interpretation of Harry and of Alan’s performance of Harry.  I think that will be fun.  I look forward to it.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  About ten minutes before Alan’s (inaudible) scene playing Harry, I went up to her, and I said, “Do you want to spend some time with Alan?”  I said, “Alan is gracious as an actor, and he would want to spend time with her if she wanted to watch his movements or whatever.”  And she said, “I’m good.”  At least she had studied it on her own, but I was, like, “All right.”

QUESTION:  And, Mr. Sheridan, is the series still following the graphic novels, or has it taken off in its own direction now?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  It took off in its own direction early on in Season 1, not that we don’t still pay homage to the novels.  We even look for different framing of some shots and some different shots from the graphic novels that we try to use in the show.  That first graphic novel was about the murder of Sam Hodges, which is continuing into the second season.  So that is still alive for us.  There is an episode where that is, sort of, pulled from one of the graphic novels that we are doing this season where Harry and Asta go to New York in search of an alien, and that is directly from one of the ‑‑ or indirectly ‑‑ directly and indirectly off of one of the graphic novels.  That was one of my favorite comments of theirs that they did.  I thought Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse did an incredible job with that one.  As soon as I read it, I thought that would be a great training for her, Alan, and Sara to do.  So, we worked that into the season.

SARA TOMKO:  At the time we talked about that, Chris, we were not in a pandemic.  So, I think we all thought, “We get to go to New York.”


SARA TOMKO:  And that didn’t happen.  But Vancouver is a pretty cool second New York.  I think they did a great job.

COREY REYNOLDS:  You guys went to Newcouver.

SARA TOMKO:  Newcouver.


QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Jamie Ruby, and then Jamie Steinberg is going to be on deck.  So, Jamie Ruby, go ahead.


QUESTION:  Hi, guys.  Thanks for talking to us today.  Alan, I want to know if you can talk about working with Judah because you two are so hilarious together.  Yeah.  Can you just talk about that and what it’s like working with him?

ALAN TUDYK:  I enjoy working with Judah.  I think he’s a great kid.  He’s funny.  He’s naturally funny.  So, I guess I have a lot of respect for him.  That probably helps.  He’s really funny.  It’s, like, his instincts are of a comedic instinct.  He sees what’s funny and can top it.  We did some improv this season.  There is a scene where ‑‑ it’s probably in the episodes you saw where he gets a spanking.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.  That’s enough.

ALAN TUDYK:  And so, yeah, he loved getting to just riff on “That doesn’t hurt.”  “You are doing it wrong.”  Anything he was saying during that, those were all things he came up with, and he really enjoyed it.  He’s come into this season very curious about the show.

COREY REYNOLDS:  “Longer than ever.”

ALAN TUDYK:  He’s just a cool kid.  I don’t have kids.  So, I like to think of him as not my own child but as, like, a child that my dog might own.  So ‑‑ we have a dog.  So, I can relate.  So, it’s sort of a distant child in that way.

SARA TOMKO:  I can relate that way too.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Next up is Jamie Steinberg, and Valerie Milano will be on deck.  Jamie, go ahead.

QUESTION:  I love getting to see Alan with Alice.  I just think it’s kind of, like, two comedy giants playing off of each other.  Talk a little bit, Alan, how much of your scenes are improv, how much of it is scripted, and just in general working with Alice.

ALAN TUDYK:  Working with Alice is fantastic.  I’ve loved her work for a very long time.  I’m a big fan of “Maisel,” and that she joined us this season was fantastic, and that she got to be my love interest was even more ‑‑ my love interest or just the object of my affections was brilliant.  It was a lot of fun.  Her relationship with Chris goes back a long way.  You can see it when the two of them are together.  They have a really strong friendship.  It was really fun to watch them, really more than anything, together.  And we embrace some in that scene, I’m remembering.  As far as improv goes, there’s leeway.  And everybody can speak to this because everybody does this.  Chris is a very generous creator in a lot of ways.  But as far as listening to the actors when we have dialogue that could possibly be a little more in our character voice, we have something, like, a word ‑‑ there’s a lot of stuff, like, from Harry that he’ll say, “Can I say this word instead of this word? because, the way that my process is, Harry wouldn’t say this word.  Can we substitute this word or this phrasing?”  There’s a lot of that.

And then we usually have, I know for myself, an opportunity to, kind of, play, especially if it’s a joke.  If it’s just a joke, the punch line, you can do the punch line as many different ways as you want — or the out of the scene.  Yesterday, we were shooting something with a scene, and there was, like, “Oh, what if I’m sitting at my desk.  What if I had a glass of Alka‑Seltzer?  Yeah, can we get a glass of Alka‑Seltzer?  All right.  I’ll do the plop, plop, fizz, fizz, and I’ll be watching the fizzing of the thing, and it’s confusing to me why it’s floating and then have the scene.  Sara and I will have a scene, and then I’ll drink it, and it will be disgusting, and I’ll almost throw up.  I’ll sit there, fizzing through the scene.”  And then it was taking too long to get the Alka‑Seltzer because they had to go to the store.  I was, like, “Well, what if we do this with this, or what if we did this?”  And we’d just throw out ideas, and we came up with something that actually turned out to be more fun.  I know Alice herself does a lot of improv because you are comedy.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Oh, yeah.  Well, I was going to say ‑‑

ALAN TUDYK:  You are comedy.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  ‑‑ that is a really high praise coming from you, but there is something to say.  I mean, Chris is so generous.  Robbie is generous to the point that I’m testing it.  You say he gives us as many takes as we want as long as there’s a punch line, and I’m counting.  And, eventually, I’m going to find out how many is the most and is the cap for that because I’m getting to it, I feel like.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Well, Corey is the same way.  Corey had a scene last year where I was so confident in Corey’s improv abilities.  It was when he was interrogating the lanky stoner in that school classroom.  We wrote stuff, but I basically said to him, “This is going to be you.”  So, all of that stuff that was on the screen was just Corey being ridiculous.  So that was fun.

COREY REYNOLDS:  That is one of the best perks of this job for me.  During the course of my career, I’ve never had the opportunity to have as much influence over a character’s choices and voice, and that’s all a testament to Chris and Robbie and our leadership being open to allowing us to explore these different things.  And they are not all homeruns.  I’ll pitch something to him sometimes, like, “Hey, man, what do you think about this?  What if dah, dah, dah, dah, dah?”  And he’ll go, “Uhhhh,” when you know that that’s not necessary.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Let’s do another pitch first.  The Alan and Alice stuff, I will say ‑‑ they were doing one of the scenes that I’ve written, and I thought they should have a little fun.  So, I told the script supervisor, “I’m going to go in and maybe see if they can do the lab or whatever.  We can figure something out.”  She comes over, and she says, “Well, for me, I want to know what they are going to say.”  And I was, like, “I don’t know what they are going to say.  I don’t have it written.  I just figure these two people will come up with it.”  So, I just said to Alice, like ‑‑ I said, “Just ask Harry, like, does he like to travel and just see where it goes.”  And we laughed.  And they called “action,” and then Alan and Alice went on for between five and ten minutes before the scene started.  I can remember that.  It was unbelievable, something about (inaudible) and monkeys in cages.  It was unbelievable.  The first part of that show was 19 minutes long.

QUESTION:  The best SYFY for, like, a longer episode that time, can you just expand on that so we can fit in the improv?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  There’s a tremendous amount of ‑‑ actually, there’s a lot of incredible stuff that we can’t fit in the show from everybody, from everyone on this panel, I mean, just really great stuff.  You have to make your choices.  But, yeah, there’s a whole episode with all of their improv.  I’m sure somehow, we can piece that together.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  There’s a side show that I’m pitching with Corey, definitely, to get out of our ‑‑ because, like, we ‑‑ Corey and I were in one scene together so far this season, and I was, like, “Why don’t we get to do more episodes together, man?”  And then, when we started going back and improvising on top of each other, I was, like, “Oh, this is why.”

COREY REYNOLDS:  “Oh, this is why they don’t get us together.”  It takes me back to the bowling alley scenes, which is, I believe, my first day of filming.  And I think we went, like, three or four takes in before Robbie was, like, “Okay.  Guys, do you know what?  I think it’s important that we at least get one that’s, like, as written, you know, maybe just one.  Can we just get one?  Once we have one that’s on the page, we are good to go, but we should probably for safety.  Let’s get at least one that is what’s written,” because I think we just decided that “Oh, yeah, the script is just a suggestion.”  We just decided to go on our own little tangents there.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Having never worked with each other before at all.

COREY REYNOLDS:  It’s also the very first day.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  The behind‑the‑scenes arrest in Episode 10 from the first season ‑‑


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  ‑‑ Corey was arresting Alice.


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  And you were talking about pulling hair.  I think Alice ‑‑

COREY REYNOLDS:  Her fighting style was a mix of volleyball and capoeira or something like that.  It was just ridiculous stuff.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you all so much for bringing a little bit of levity to our lives during these times.  It means so much.

ALAN TUDYK:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Valerie Milano, and Janice Malone is going to be on deck.  Valerie, go ahead.

QUESTION:  This question is probably mostly for Chris but if any of the talent wants to chime in.  In the last episode, Harry must rely on Asta and D’Arcy for survival.  How does that change the dynamics of the characters, and will we see more of this in the second season?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  That’s a good question.  That was in Episode 8, I think ‑‑


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  ‑‑ and in 10 as well.  Asta depended on it for survival.  It’s an example of Harry’s growing emotional state and ability to process human emotions where, in the first season, he learns to love and learns what friendship is and connects him to Asta, which is what ends up saving the human race.  I think his journey in Season 2 is, sort of, extending that humanity to people outside of Asta.  So, learning empathy and trying to realize that maybe there’s other people in this world ‑‑ at the beginning of it anyway, other people in the world who he can maybe care about as well in addition to Asta.  So that definitely continues into the second season, and it is going to be a slow burn.  We don’t want to do it too quickly where, suddenly, he’s caring about everybody because a lot of the comedy goes away at that point.  That’s not really going to happen until the very end of the series where he, sort of, figured it all out.  But, yeah, we are going to continue that.  As far as has it changed anything, I don’t think ‑‑ D’Arcy saving his life I don’t think really did much for him.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  No.  Almost, like, less.  I want to hear from Sara because, like, I’ve seen this from what I’ve seen in their interactions this season, that Sara ‑‑ the Asta‑Harry connection, it’s super deep now, and there’s a familiarity that is familial.  I just watch.  Like, he is getting to know the world, holding hands with you, and it’s, like, he has this safety net in you, and it’s really touching to watch.

SARA TOMKO:  Yeah.  There’s this really beautiful scene we have together once again in a really cool location where we were looking out over the lake.  In Season 1, we are looking out over the mountains while I’m barefoot in the snow, and in Season 2, it’s kind of the summer version of that, not quite barefoot but still looking out over a body of water, over the lake.  And we have this great conversation about that family is not just who you are blood‑related to, but it’s chosen and that there are people in your lives that you really care for, and you need to figure out who those people are.  And it kind of occurs to Asta, after she has a talk with her dad, that she’s maybe the only one that Harry cares for, and that’s a lot of responsibility when she’s got the whole world on her shoulders.  So, then she starts, kind of, pushing him out of the nest, which Alice is right.  We started having what felt like a mother‑son relationship a little bit.  She was, like, “You’ve got to get out there and meet people.”  And she has to have conversations with him, talking to him about his feelings, about pain, about fear, about family.  All the while, she’s still trying to connect with her daughter, and she’s also still learning about how to ask for help.  She’s going to, you know, without telling any spoilers, end up coming to D’Arcy for guidance in a way she never has before.  So, I think, once again, you are going to see Harry and Asta in this very similar trajectory in Season 2 where they are both still learning how to reach out and ask for help, which is pretty special.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Very well put.  Also, I think, in a way, Harry is so childlike.  I think it’s, sort of, Asta learning how to be a mother.


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  And if she ever comes back around and has a real relationship with Jay, she can take that learning that she’s gotten from Harry to be a better mother for Jay someday.

SARA TOMKO:  Definitely.

COREY REYNOLDS:  She will be prepared to change Harry at some point.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Absolutely.

COREY REYNOLDS:  If he needs a change of some kind.


SARA TOMKO:  What did you say, Corey?  What did you say down there?  Can you hear me at the angle you are at?

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  Our next question comes from Janice Malone, and Arlene Martinez will be on deck.  Janice, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yes.  Hello.  This is such a fun show.  I’m so glad to see you guys come back for another season.  I’d just like to ask the entire panel here, has anyone ever, ever had what might be considered a UFO, extra‑terrestrial citing, or do you think you’ve ever met an extra‑terrestrial?

ALICE WETTERLUND:  I’ve done ‑‑ that’s a question an extra‑terrestrial would ask.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.  Does anybody else have anything?


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  I did see a UFO once.  I was on my honeymoon.  I was at the beach.  I told this before, but I’ll tell it again.  It was 10 o’clock at night in the Bahamas.  It was very, very dark.  You could see every star in the sky, and suddenly, this star on the horizon started rising up.  We looked at it, like, “Why is that moving?”  And then it came at us, and within two or three seconds, it was above us.  It was a triangular shape with, like, six lights on the bottom of it.  It was light in the front, and it hit us right in the face.  The ship didn’t hit us.  The light hit us.  That would be a story.  And then it kept going, and that was it.  And even in that moment, I’m, like, “Did we just see that?”  I made a mental note to not let myself forget the fact that that was real.  So, I don’t know what it was, but it was certainly alien.

ALAN TUDYK:  And it made no noise, right?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  It made no noise.  It was literally upon us from the horizon to above us in about three seconds.  It just moved way faster than anything that we know of as humans on this earth.  So that definitely happened to me.  And, honestly, doing this show, I’ve met a lot of people who have come up to me and said, “You know, I’ll tell you, I saw this thing.”  A lot of people have seen this stuff, and there’s starting to be less stigma around it now.


CHRIS SHERIDAN:  People are starting to come out with it.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Well, also, the government was, like, “Yeah, aliens are real.  Sorry.”  So that helps.

COREY REYNOLDS:  I mean, statistically speaking, it is virtually impossible that there isn’t alien life in the universe.  I think the biggest question comes the distance between stars or the distance between space time of getting to a place where they could actually get here or we could go there.  However, if you are talking about a civilization that might be millions or billions of years older than humanity, who is to say that they haven’t mastered space time travel, you know.  I think you’d be an idiot to think that we are the only intelligent life in the universe.  It’s stupid to think that.

ALAN TUDYK:  We are intelligent?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  I don’t think we can compare it to the (inaudible) movie when you taught him that (inaudible.)


QUESTION:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  It looks like we have time for one final question, and that is going to come from Arlene Martinez.  Arlene, go ahead.

COREY REYNOLDS:  No pressure, Arlene.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Nice to meet you all.  I was just going to ask you about what she just asked you guys about, UFOs, if you guys actually believe in it because I have a husband who is actually in Space Force, and we have arguments every time that we watch shows like this.  It’s, like, “No, there’s this.  There’s that.”  And he was actually watching, me with him, this show.  He’s, like, “Oh, my gosh.  So much,” and, like, “What do you guys” ‑‑ you know, he said about his experience, but I know we are not the only ones.  That’s my argument with my husband.  But do you actually believe there’s aliens out there?

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Wait.  So, your husband is Space Force and doesn’t believe in aliens?

QUESTION:  He always has an explanation for everything.  He actually works for space, the government.  So, he watches satellites.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  So, he’s a scientist, essentially?

QUESTION:  No, I don’t call him a scientist, but he just watches what happened here if we get missiles, and he just stops the missiles.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Yeah.  I think it’s the difference between believing and needing evidence.  If you need evidence, it’s not, like, a believer faith, right?

QUESTION:  Uh‑huh.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  I, for instance, have never had any alien experience or anything close to an alien experience, but I’m not closed off to the idea that there are ‑‑ I mean, I just know that the more science progresses and the more astronomy progresses and the exploration of physics, the less we know we know of things we thought we knew about.  And, so, what’s the point of saying there’s no ‑‑ there’s an explanation for everything?  I mean, okay.  Sure.  But, like, we don’t have all of the explanations yet, and that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean we are deficient as an intelligent species.  It just means where we are.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Apparently, there are.

SARA TOMKO:  Right now, we are a floating ball in the sky in a galaxy.  Do you know what I mean?  It’s freaking crazy.  So, I feel like our existence is alien, and maybe there’s theories, and everybody has their opinions, but nobody knows what we are doing here.  So why not?  There’s so many options, so many different stories to listen to.  Everybody has a different story to tell, and it doesn’t mean that we should be pointing fingers and saying, “No, you are wrong.”  You both are right, you and your husband.  And we all have a feeling and a way that we are existing in this world, but I personally think we are all alien.

COREY REYNOLDS:  If you think about it like this for a second, if you think about, like, the ocean ‑‑ right? ‑‑ to fish, we live in outer space, right?  And to fish, sometimes they get caught.  And you weigh them, and you measure them and this and that, and then you throw them back into the water.  And that fish probably swims down to other fish.  He’s, like, “Holy shit.  You are not going to believe this.  I was just abducted by these humans, and they probed me, they measured me, they took my weight, and then they just returned me.”  Like, “Dude, shut the fuck up.  You didn’t get taken into space or anything like that.”  Do you know what I mean?  So, to think that we couldn’t see that relatively happening to humanity as well like we are in space to fish.  Do you know what I’m saying?  We live in an environment that they can’t breathe in, that they can’t stay in for any sustained amount of time.  To be in this environment, they would need a life‑support system.  We are in space to them.  So, relatively speaking, I have no doubt that there’s something that comes down here and picks us up and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, and measures us and probes us and sticks shit in our asses, all of this stuff.  And they are just, like, “Oh, okay.  All right.”  And then they just toss them back.  I don’t see how that’s any different.  I think, if you use that as a metric, it’s clear to see that it’s absolutely possible, not only possible but quite feasible, that something like that happens to humanity.

ALAN TUDYK:  I need to get you to stop probing your fish.  That seems very invasive and unnecessary.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Hey, don’t knock it.

COREY REYNOLDS:  What did you learn from shoving your hand up that fish’s ass?

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Just weigh it and put it back.  What are you doing?

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Oh, I’m sorry.  If something is in front of me, I’m going to probe it.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Sorry.  This hand ain’t made for probing.  Sorry.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  I don’t think we can top that.

COREY REYNOLDS:  This finger is radicular.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  So, I’m going to thank all of our guests.

SARA TOMKO:  A fish’s body, a fish’s choice.’ALICE WETTERLUND:  And you can keep that in.  You keep that in.  You write that stuff.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Right?  Absolutely.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  It’s why fish are growing feet on land and fight us.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Absolutely.  This is the beginning of a giant battle that’s going to take place and what they feel is an interest, like, in space battle.  They’ve got their own Space Force.  They already have their own opinions about humans.  There we go.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Well, I think we are ending on the highest of notes.  So, I’m going to thank the panelists.  That concludes the session for “Resident Alien.”  We will take a short break and pick back up with NCB’s “American Auto” at 10:45.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  And I’m going to be there for that too.  See you there.


Based on the Dark Horse comics, SYFY’s “Resident Alien” follows a crash-landed alien named Harry (Alan Tudyk) whose secret mission is to kill all humans. In season two, Harry is once again stranded on Earth where he must confront the consequences of having failed his people’s mission to destroy the human race. On his new quest to protect the people of Earth, Harry struggles to hold on to his alien identity as his human emotions grow stronger by the day. In an adventure that takes Harry and Asta (Sara Tomko) all the way to New York City, Asta brings Harry into the arms of someone he can call family. While back in Patience, Sheriff Mike (Corey Reynolds) and Deputy Liv (Elizabeth Bowen) find themselves closer to unraveling the mystery of Sam Hodges’s murder. “Resident Alien” also stars Alice Wetterlund, Levi Fiehler and Judah Prehn.

From UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Amblin TV and Dark Horse Entertainment, “Resident Alien” was adapted to television by executive producer Chris Sheridan. Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg of Dark Horse Entertainment, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank of Amblin TV, Robert Duncan McNeill, Christian Taylor and Nastaran Dibai also executive produce.

From UCP, in association with Amblin TV and Dark Horse Entertainment, RESIDENT ALIEN was adapted to television by executive producer Chris Sheridan (“Family Guy”). Mike Richardson (“Hellboy”) and Keith Goldberg (“The Legend of Tarzan”) of Dark Horse Entertainment (“The Umbrella Academy”), and Justin Falvey (“The Americans”) and Darryl Frank (“The Americans”) of Amblin TV also executive produce. David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) executive produced and directed the pilot.

Alan Tudyk

Harry Vanderspeigle, “Resident Alien”

Alan Tudyk stars in SYFY’s “Resident Alien” as “Harry Vanderspeigle,” an alien that crash lands onto Earth and must pass himself off as a small-town human doctor.

Emmy nominated Tudyk is a multi-dimensional actor whose credits span throughout stage, film, television and voiceover entertainment platforms.

In 2016, Tudyk appeared in Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” as the scene-stealing security droid, ‘K-2SO.’ Directed by Gareth Edwards, the film grossed over $1 billion at the global box office and was the first live action Star Wars spin-off. He also voiced characters in two Academy-Award nominated animated films, playing the ‘Duke of Weaselton’ in Disney’s “Zootopia” and the rooster ‘Hei Hei’ in Disney’s “Moana.”

Tudyk is also the creator, executive producer and star of the Emmy nominated series “Con Man,” which was funded via Indiegogo with a record-breaking $3.2 million donation from over 46,000 fans. “Con Man” debuted at Lionsgate’s Comic Con HQ in 2015 and later aired on SYFY. Loosely based on Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s experiences starring in “Firefly,” “Con Man” centered on the post-show life of ‘Wray Nerely’ (Tudyk) after “Spectrum,” a sci-fi TV series canceled before its time that later became a cult classic. In 2016, Tudyk, along with Fillion, also launched “Con Man: The Game” based on the series which allowed players to build and host their own comic book conventions.

Tudyk has shown audiences wide versatility in numerous television shows and a plethora of feature films. Recently, he co-starred in the Jay Roach 2015 SAG Award nominated feature “Trumbo,” opposite Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren and John Goodman as well as 2014’s “Welcome to Me” with Kristin Wiig. In 2013, Tudyk co-starred in the well-received Jackie Robinson biopic, “42,” opposite Chadwick Boseman as former Philadelphia Phillies manager ‘Ben Chapman.’ He made his feature film debut in 1998, when he first appeared opposite Robin Williams in “Patch Adams.”

Tudyk’s role in the Disney animated feature, “Wreck-It Ralph,” garnered him an Annie Award for his role as ‘King Candy.” He can also be heard in its sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” as ‘KnowsMore.” Tudyk has also loaned his voice to ‘The Duke of Weaselton’ in Disney’s Academy Award-winning film “Frozen,” ‘Alister Krei’ in “Big Hero 6” and ‘Ludo’ and ‘King Butterfly’ on the Disney Channel series, “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.”

His additional film credits also include: “28 Days,” “A Knight’s Tale,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Death at a Funeral” (the original UK version), “Knocked Up,” “Tucker and Dale vs Evil,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Serenity,” “Premature,” “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” and “Transformers 3.” Additionally, Tudyk motion performed the lead robot, ‘Sonny,’ in “I, Robot” opposite Will Smith.

In television, Tudyk can currently be seen in DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol” and season three of Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet.” He was a series regular on the critically acclaimed ABC comedy, “Suburgatory” as well as on NBC’s workplace comedy “Powerless” and BBC America’s “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. His work on Joss Whedon’s “Firefly,” has been highly lauded by fans and has gained him a strong cult following. Tudyk also appeared in “Strangers with Candy,” “Dollhouse,” “Frasier,” “Justified” and “Arrested Development.” He also was the host of “Newsreaders,” written and produced by Rob Corddry and David Wain, on Adult Swim.

Tudyk attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and has starred on Broadway opposite Kristin Chenoweth in “Epic Proportions,” played ‘Lancelot’ with the original cast in Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” as well as the lead role of ‘Peter’ in “Prelude to a Kiss” opposite John Mahoney.

Tudyk grew up in Plano, Texas and currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife.

He is represented by The Coronel Group and Gersh.

Sara Tomko

Asta Twelvetrees, “Resident Alien”

Sara Tomko stars in SYFY’s “Resident Alien” as Asta Twelvetrees. Strong and sarcastic, she works with Harry at the town’s health clinic.

Tomko is known for her recurring roles on “Sneaky Pete” and “Once Upon a Time,” as well as her appearances on “The Leftovers” and “The Son.”

She started her career in experimental theatre and musicals in Virginia, later moving to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue film. Her first independent film roles aired on SYFY, and she is thrilled that her TV career has brought her full circle. She is an actor, singer, producer, poet an artist.

Tomko is represented by Bohemia Group and KMR Talent.

Corey Reynolds

Sheriff Mike Thompson, “Resident Alien”

Corey Reynolds stars in SYFY’s “Resident Alien” as Mike Thompson, the local sheriff who runs the town with a chip on his shoulder, a cowboy hat on his head and an iron fist.

Reynolds is best known for his role on “The Closer,” which he starred on for six seasons. He will next be seen in the “Redline” and “Criminal Minds.” He recurred on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Masters of Sex” and “Murder in the First.” He has guest starred on “Seal Team,” “Chicago PD” and “Criminal Minds.”

On the film side, he was last seen on screen in “Straight Outta Compton.” He can also be seen in the “Selma,” opposite David Oyelowo and Common.

Previously, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as ‘Seaweed’ in Broadway’s production of “Hairspray.”

Alice Wetterlund

D’Arcy Bloom, “Resident Alien”

Alice Wetterlund stars in SYFY’s “Resident Alien” as “D’Arcy Bloom,” the charismatic bartender at the local pub who, as a former Olympic snowboarder, is also a part of the avalanche control team.

Wetterlund has performed her non-yelling brand of comedy nationally at colleges, clubs, and festivals such as Just for Laughs, Bridgetown, Moon Tower, Women in Comedy, SF Sketchfest, RIOT LA, Bonnaroo and more.

She is known for her character “Carla” on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and played “Kelly Grady” on TBS’ “People of Earth.” She can also be seen in the movie “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” as “Cousin Terry.” She has performed her stand up on “Conan” and currently co-hosts the popular podcast “Treks and the City” with Veronica Osorio. She recently wrapped “Search & Destroy” for Hulu, produced by Carrie Brownstein. Wetterlund can currently be seen on the latest season of Netflix’s “Glow.” Her hourlong stand-up special premiered on Amazon in August.

Chris Sheridan

Executive Producer, “Resident Alien”

Chris Sheridan serves as executive producer of SYFY’s “Resident Alien.”

Five-time Emmy nominee and BAFTA nominee, Sheridan has been a television writer and producer for 26 years. He has produced more than 400 episodes of television, including 17 seasons on the Fox Network animated hit, “Family Guy” where he acted as co-showrunner from 2004 to 2009. He remains a consulting producer on “Family Guy,” and has a feature film in development with Josephson Entertainment.

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Resident Alien poster

Zoom Christmas Event with Eric Martsolf

TV Actor Event!

Christmas Concert Zoom poster

Christmas Concert Zoom Event by Suzanne 12/12/21

I’ve only been to one Zoom event with celebrities and fans before. It was a free event in December, 2020, with actors from “All My Children,” a show I watched for over 25 years before it was canceled. Anyway, this was hosted by Alan Locher, who has a whole channel on YouTube where he interviews soap stars and others. I enjoyed watching it, but unfortunately, I don’t have time to watch all of these events. Between this, the virtual Comic-Cons and so many others…it’s just too difficult. I avoid most of them.

A friend of mine regularly attends “Days of Our Lives” online charity events. I’d never been to one before. The idea of paying to see celebrities is a little weird for me, since I interview them all the time for this site. However, this one was a little different because it was a Christmas musical event, so I decided to go – even though it was a bit expensive at $75 per ticket. I love Christmas, and Christmas songs, and I love “Days,” too.

Eric Martsolf and fans on ZoomEric Martsolf (Brady) hosts regular charity events with his fans, so he hosted this special Zoom Christmas concert. Other Days actors joined him. Eric is very funny and really plays the clown for his fans. First Eric sang “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” He has quite a good singing voice. Most of the people singing here do, but this was just for fun with a few fans, singing Christmas carols. However, most of them did have the songs memorized, at least. Eric was drinking some “holiday cheer,” but I don’t know if it was real or not. We all had fun. I sure did. I wish I could have talked to him, but there were about 30 fans there, and he knew many of them from past events, so he said hi to the ones he knew.

He thanked Penny MacGregor, the Canadian lady who runs StarImage Entertainment (the ones that put on these events). He talked about Christmas a little bit and then greeted us. He looked at us on his screen and welcomed the new visitors like me. He noticed that there were two Suzanne’s! He read the names and said, “We got like 16 Suzanne’s…wow!” That certainly made me laugh.

He played some fun Christmas games with us. I really didn’t play because I didn’t know the answers to the questions he would throw out about Christmas songs or lines from holiday specials. I really enjoyed listening to it, though.

Carson BoatmanHis first musical guest was Carson Boatman, who plays Sami and E.J.’s son, Johnny. They joked around for a few minutes and then Carson sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Hallelujah” (which really isn’t a Christmas song, but okay!). He has a nice voice and plays guitar well.

After Carson was Matthew Ashford (Jack), who was with his wife, Lana, and two kids. They were all wearing matching plaid Matthew Ashford and wifeChristmas outfits, which was adorable. His kids were shy, so we didn’t see them much on the video (especially the little girl). They sang a song that sounded vaguely familiar to me, with the lyrics “Burn little candles.” I think it’s actually a hanukkah song, but I’m not sure. Eric chatted with them for a bit. Throughout the show, Eric joked about how much time his character spent in the hospital this year. After their song, Matt and his wife read the old “Yes, Virginia” letter. It was written in the New York Sun, but Matt said it was written in “The Spectator” (the Days of Our Lives’ newspaper that his character works on). That was cute.

Lindsey Arnold and Carson BoatmanNext was Lindsay Arnold, who plays Sami’s daughter, Allie (Johnny’s twin). Carson was back with her, playing the guitar while she sang. She sang “Santa Baby” and then an Adele song, “Make You Feel My Love” (definitely not a Christmas song). She has a beautiful voice (probably the best of all of them). Carson sang some harmony with her on the second song. It was really sweet. They seem like good friends. Lindsay and Carson chatted with Eric about Christmas, about singing and about the show. Eric said they should start a band, like the actors on GH did with Port Chuck (Good idea!).Wally Kurth

Next we got to hear Wally Kurth, who plays Justin. Eric introduced him as being not only a veteran but a really nice guy. He does double soap duty because he also plays Ned on “General Hospital.” He’s had a band and sung for years. He did three songs. I love him, so I was happy to see that. He played guitar as well. First he sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” His voice wasn’t quite warmed up enough, so it cracked a few times. He and Eric joked about it. When someone sings regularly, they get used to things like that. These are professionals, so they just laugh it off and Wally Kurth singinggo on. The show must go on! His other two songs went very well. He sang “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which is a beautiful and rather obscure Christmas song. I’m pretty sure I sang it in choir years ago. They asked him to learn it for an episode of GH, but then they decided not to use it, so he sings it at Christmastime now whenever he has a show. It’s a sad but beautiful song. Then he did “White Christmas,” including the Jacob Young and one of his daughtersintroduction part that you don’t always hear. I saw him sing with his band about 20 years ago at a GH fan event, so it was great to hear him again. When Wally mentioned GH, Eric said, “General Hospital? What’s that?” as if he’d never heard of it. It was cute.

Next there was Jacob Young, who’s never been on Days, but he’s been on “General Hospital”, “Bold and Beautiful” and “All My Children.” He’s a soap vet. He was playing guitar and singing along with his two daughters. They were all wearing Santa hats and looked very festive. One of them was playing bongos. They definitely won the cuteness award for this event. Jacob sang “Blue Christmas” very well. Then his older daughter and he did a duet with “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I know that might sound creepy, but it was very cute. Then their last song was “Feliz Navidad,” which featured the younger daughter on the bongos. Clearly they had practiced these songs. It was great to see Jacob again. I don’t know why one of the soaps doesn’t hire him back. He’s still Bill Hayes, Susan Seaforth-Hayes and Amy Shaughnessygorgeous. In case you didn’t know, he has been singing a long time and had a CD out years ago. You can hear his more recent music on his YouTube channel.

Then came the highlight of the event, which was the arrival of Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Doug and Julie). Bill is 96, so he was sitting down, but he did sing and was very alert (My mom was born 2 months after him!). Susan is 78 and stood behind his chair with her arms around him. It’s clear that they’re just as lovey-dovey in real life as they are on the show. Helping them out was a much younger woman named Amy. Eric exclaimed that she’s Shane Donovan’s niece, but he didn’t explain that. I looked her up, and she is indeed Amy Shaughnessy, niece of Charles Shaughnessy (Shane). I have no idea why she was there singing with Bill and Susan, though. She does have a vocal performance in music degree, so perhaps they hired her for the event? I have no idea. It’s quite intriguing. At any Eric Martsolf singingrate, they sang this beautiful song. It was very touching to see them. Eric made sure to tell them what a thrill it was for him and for fans to see them. They all dressed in red, as Susan Banksyou can see, and looked ready for the holidays. Plus, their two Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmys were right there next to them!

After that, Eric sang “O Holy Night” in a very heartfelt way. That’s a tough one to do, so kudos to him for even trying that.

Then they had “Susan Banks” drop by. This is a silly character on “Days” played by Stacy Haiduk. Stacy showed up in the full Susan wig, teeth and outfit. She was very funny! She didn’t sing. Instead, she read “The Night Before Christmas.” She Eric singing and thanking us!was amazing. She played the whole thing sideways as if Susan couldn’t figure out how to hold her phone the right way. Eric played along, too, having fun with her.

After she left, Eric sang “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” and he ordered us all to sing along. Then in some places he unmuted some of the fans, so we could hear them sing, too. It was very cute and everyone enjoyed it. He thanked us all and talked about how it was a highlight for his year and that he hoped it was for us, too. We all said Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays at the end. It was so much fun. The two hours and fifteen minutes flew by, and we definitely got our money’s worth. If they have this event next year, you should make sure to attend!

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Interview with the cast of “Grand Crew”

TV Interview!

"Grand Crew" cast on NBC

Interview with cast of “Grand Crew” on NBC by Suzanne 12/9/21

The actors on this show are all friends in real life, so that made it a very entertaining press panel. Their characters are very interesting and work well together. As a comedy, I don’t find it all that funny. You should watch it, though, and make your own evaluation.




Grand Crew

Nicole Byer, Talent, “Nicky”

Justin Cunningham, Talent, “Wyatt”

Aaron Jennings, Talent, “Anthony”

Echo Kellum, Talent, “Noah”

Grasie Mercedes, Talent, “Fay”

Carl Tart, Talent, “Sherm”

Phil Augusta Jackson, Creator/ Executive Producer/Showrunner

Dan Goor, Executive Producer

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

MARIANA DURAN:  Hi.  I’m Mariana Duran, and I’ll be introducing our new comedy, “Grand Crew,” which will be sneak‑previewed on Tuesday, December 14, 8:00 and 8:30 p.m., before moving to its normal time slot on Tuesday, January 4th, at 8:30 p.m.  From Phil Augusta Jackson and Dan Goor of “Brooklyn Nine‑Nine” comes a new comedy that proves life is better with your crew.  This group of young professionals are all trying to navigate the ups and downs of life and love in Los Angeles, and they always find time to gather at their favorite bar to wind down and unpack it all.  And just like wine, their friendship gets better with time.  Here’s a look at “Grand Crew.”

In the first row, our executive producer, Phil Augusta Jackson, executive producer Dan Goor, Echo Kellum, and Nicole Byer.  In the second row are Carl Tart, Justin Cunningham,

AARON JENNINGS:, and Grasie Mercedes.  We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you, Mariana.  And welcome to our panelists.  One final reminder to use the “raise hand” function to ask a question.  Our first question comes from Mike Hughes, and Valerie Milano will be on deck.  Mike, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Nicole, a two‑part question.  Let me ask them one at a time here.  We are so used to you speaking in your own voice, doing reality shows, doing a show that you wrote, sort of, almost about your life and so on.  So what’s different now when you are doing someone else’s scripts?

NICOLE BYER:  What’s different?  Honestly, it’s not that different because I know Phil so well and Phil and I did improv together in New York for a very long time.  Like, ten years ago, we did improv out here, and then her name is Nicky.  My government name is Nicole.  She’s based on me a little bit.  So it is my voice.  And I feel like our writers’ room and Phil are just so talented that everything that was written was just easy.  It was easy to find.  It was easy to say.  It was easy to perform.  So, honestly, it wasn’t much different than what I’m used to, but it was fun and funny.

QUESTION:  This is ‑‑ you talk about it is a little bit your life, a little bit your voice.  You get almost serious for a minute there where your character talks about how her mother dying when she was a teenager kind of shaped her personality a little bit.  Now, that happened to you too in real life.  In what way did that shape your personality in some way?

NICOLE BYER:  I think it shaped my personality in a way where, when something sad or tragic happens, I tend to lean into finding the humor in it because I do think laughter is the best medicine.  How corny.

AARON JENNINGS::  I’m with you.  I think you are right.

NICOLE BYER:  Who wants to be sad?  So I think it shaped me in a way where I can be sad about something because I am a multifaceted person, but, also, I’d rather just laugh and have a nice time.

DAN GOOR:  These questions got deep real fast.

NICOLE BYER:  They did.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Valerie Milano, and on deck is Suzanne Lanoue.  Valerie, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi there.  What will set the show apart from others such as “Insecure” or “Black‑ish”?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I think, for me, the inspiration for this show is just based off of my real life.  It’s about a group of friends that hang out at a wine bar, and in real life, I hang out with my friends at a wine bar, the people that are in front of your screen right now.  So, I think that’s the core of it.  I worked on “Insecure,” and I love that show.  I love Issa and Prentice.  That whole camp over there is amazing.  And I think what made that show so relatable was the authenticity with which Issa was bring it to the table.  And so, in the same way, what I’m trying to do is just share my perspective, what I find interesting and funny.  And, so, I think I based it on ‑‑ that’s going to be what sets this show apart is just it’s coming from my personal point of view.  We have an amazing cast and (inaudible).

DAN GOOR:  What it’s like, it’s a very specific, very funny show, and also, I mean, you know, there are 25 shows about a group of white characters in the 1990s, and, you know, there was nobody asking what separated them or made those shows different or distinct.  These are different stories about different people in different circumstances than “Insecure” or “Black‑ish.”  We all think those are good shows, but this is its own show that just also happens to have an all‑Black cast.

QUESTION:  Could you give us a couple of examples about some recurring themes that the viewers can expect to see in the series?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I’m not sure about recurring themes, but I think, with this first season, what we did try to do is make sure that every episode did have a theme that is not only relatable at a broader, human level, but is relatable at a Black level.  So, in Episode 2, we talk about self‑care.  In Episode 3, we talk about the insecurity of status of who makes the money in a relationship.  In Episode 4, we talk about therapy.  In Episode 5, we talk about being inspired by your friend.  In Episode 6, we talk about Black men and their fathers.  In Episode 7, we talk about headlines.  So, each episode, we were very intentional about the themes that we wanted to hit.  But as far as recurring themes, I think one recurring theme is friendship and just having your friends there by your side for whatever you are going through and finding the fun and the funny in those situations.

QUESTION:  Great.  Thank you for talking about it.

ECHO KELLUM:  Yeah.  Like, from current things like being human and, you know, love and loss and just exploring being young and alive in L.A., you know.  It’s just a recurring theme, which is being alive.

AARON JENNINGS::  The recurring themes are the human things, which we can all connect to.


AARON JENNINGS::  So being human beings, that’s a fact.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  And I don’t know which one of you just said it but the wine.

AARON JENNINGS::  And the wine.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  The low‑hanging fruit, that was such an alley oop.  I should have said, “Well, first of all….”

NICOLE BYER:  The wine.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thanks again.

AARON JENNINGS::  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  The next question is from Suzanne Lanoue, and Jeanne Wolf will be on deck.  Suzanne, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi.  I enjoyed the first two episodes.  Those are funny.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Thanks so much.

AARON JENNINGS::  Thank you.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  And, Echo, I really loved your character on “Arrow.”  What attracted you to this role?

ECHO KELLUM:  Oh, man.  First of all, the fact that Phil was working on it.  As Phil said, we are actually good friends in real life, and I’m such a fan of his creative artistry.  And so, automatically, Phil wrote an amazing script and a lot of just really deep, fleshed‑out characters in different ways than I’ve seen them, and I was very excited to get the opportunity to come and play any part on it.  I would have been a grip on this show if I had an opportunity to do it.  So that’s number one, but the character really connected to me in a lot of specific ways.  As Phil said, it’s based off of our friend group.  So, I think we all have a lot of commonalities and experiences that we go through, being young Black professionals just trying to survive, you know, in L.A., and so these characters definitely connect to that struggle and the successes and wonderful aspects of that aspect too.  So, there’s a lot that pulled me into it, and I really appreciate you asking me that.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

CARL TART:  I was a grip on the show.

AARON JENNINGS::  Yeah.  Carl (inaudible).

MATTHEW LIFSON:  The next question comes from Jeanne Wolf, and Jamie Ruby will be on deck.  Jeanne, go for it.

QUESTION:  Hi.  It’s good that you are making us laugh.  And the setup of the show, the introduction, is kind of that you are making fun of the stereotypes that are being treated in a very serious way today.  So, doing that, making fun of the stereotypes, who is going to be thrilled about that, and who is going to be upset about that?

DAN GOOR:  I don’t know that it’s ‑‑ sorry.  I don’t know that it’s making fun of the stereotypes.  I think the idea is, sort of, trying to elucidate that the stereotypes are just that.  They are stereotypes, and they don’t in any way speak to the totality of these characters.  So, I don’t think, in any way, it’s, like, making light of these stereotypes.  I think the idea is to say how ridiculous it is to only portray Black men in the way in which those stereotypes suggest.  And then what we see, we are in no way laughing at Garrett Morris when he says that these characters have layers and everything else.  That’s really the mission statement of the show, and I think that’s what Phil has so geniusly put into, really, every character and every script and everything.  But in no way is it intended ‑‑ hopefully, no one will take it as us making light of those stereotypes.  I didn’t mean to cut you off, Phil.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  No.  I was going to say, I think, to me, the plan we were caught up in was we are just like everybody else.  I feel like a lot of times there are certain tropes that get played out in the media with Black people, and we are put into a specific box where there’s an opportunity just to be shown as, like, slice‑of‑life, everyday folks that are just trying to figure stuff out, and so that’s why we ‑‑ I think, with the characters that we have, whether it be Justin’s character ‑‑ he’s playing Wyatt ‑‑ like, a married guy, I would just like to see what it’s like for a married guy, who really enjoys his marriage, be in a friend group.  And we’ve got a guy who is an accountant.  I had a friend in college who was in finance and stuff like that.  So, it’s really just about just humanizing the Black experience.  And, again, I’m not trying to speak for everybody.  I don’t think we are trying to speak for everybody with this show.  It’s just, here’s a set of friends that exist in this specific part of Los Angeles, and, hey, they feel things just like everybody else.  And that was, kind of, the goal, to go from there.

QUESTION:  For the actors, is that showing of the layers what attracted you to the show?

AARON JENNINGS::  Absolutely.  Go ahead, Justin.

JUSTIN CUNNINGHAM:  I’d like to, kind of, go back to that question again, actually the prior question, which is ‑‑ well, actually, this question too about what attracted.  Yeah, I don’t think it’s necessarily making fun of stereotypes or, like ‑‑ see, I’m from Arkansas.  So, I’ve, sort of, lived with the perception of how people see me on a daily basis, being there.  And when I was in New York and we got this script ‑‑ I’ve told Phil this, and I’ve told several of the cast this.  But when I was auditioning and we got this script, people were talking about this script.  Like, me and my friends of color, we were, like, “Have you gotten this script?”  And what was so unique about it was that it was so human.  And it was, sort of, not necessarily making fun of the stereotypes, but it was showing the human side that we didn’t get to explore as actors.  And that’s what really drew me because I really fell right into this character.  And even in my audition, I had so much fun going on tape for it because it wasn’t playing towards, basically, these stereotypes.  It was showing that I can be human in this industry and I can be human through my art as well, and that’s what really drew me.

AARON JENNINGS::  And to piggyback off of that, Justin, if you don’t mind, I had the opportunity to audition for a few of the characters, and what I loved about it through the auditioning process was that each character, sort of, forced me and enabled me to tap into a different side of myself, and still they were fully fleshed out and dimensional characters.  And then, as I arrived at Anthony, it was, like, okay, as you look at the whole group, you see that these are people that are ‑‑ and a credit to you, Phil and Dan, and the rest of the writing staff ‑‑ these are people that I know in life and that I see on a daily basis that I have had experience with.  And I was so happy to see that, especially on a network such as NBC, to see that.  I don’t think we oftentimes get that opportunity.  And not only is it fully realized, but there’s also a lot of humor, and there’s also a lot of fun that we get to have in going to work every day.  It’s a fun set to be on.  We are collaborating with people who are passionate about the work but also have just, like, this immense humanity and capacity for love, and that’s what we want to bring to the audience is that love and that fun.

ECHO KELLUM:  People are really, really freaking good at their jobs to come and bring it every single day with the effort, professionality, like, the humor.  Like, I feel so privileged to get to come on set and work with every single person on this panel and all the people behind the scenes too.  It’s just, like, to have that feeling, like, family, like, everyone is at the top of their game is great.

DAN GOOR:  Watching Carl do his grip work.

ECHO KELLUM:  Oh, man.  When Carl out, he’s with the light.

DAN GOOR:  One time he had to fill in as a boom operator.  You can see the dedication.

ECHO KELLUM:  Oh, my gosh.  (Inaudible) was just shaking.

DAN GOOR:  He didn’t know he was in the cast for, like, the first few episodes.


CARL TART:  Everybody’s dialogue was Chris.  Everybody’s dialogue.

AARON JENNINGS::  No ADR for anybody.

ECHO KELLUM:  So, no ADR, yeah.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Nicole, didn’t you actually use the stick at a certain point?  Was that the finale, or am I ‑‑

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.  It was the last scene of our last episode.  I was, like, “Doot da doot.”


DAN GOOR:  I didn’t mean to cut you off, Echo.

ECHO KELLUM:  No.  But, like everyone was saying, there’s a lot of nuance, you know, people of color, the monolith.  We are all very different, distinct individuals, and Phil is really tapping into it from a perspective that really comes from a personal place, and I think that’s what really drew us as artists.  There’s a lot of uniqueness and perspective from his personal life.

GRASIE MERCEDES:  I would love to add to that that this is the first audition I personally have had in a really long time where I read it, and not only did I think it was so funny, but I didn’t feel like I had to play at a stereotype of a Black woman that I so often have to play at.  I felt, like, oh, I can just bring who I am to this character, and it felt really good.  I felt really excited about it where a lot of times I feel, like, “Oh, I’m not that thing they want me to be,” and that thing we see over and over again.  And that’s what I think is so refreshing about all of these characters.

AARON JENNINGS::  We hope that answered your question.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Jamie Ruby, and Jamie Steinberg is on deck.  So, Jamie R., go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hello.  Thank you for talking to us.  Can you tell me, during working on ‑‑ throughout the time working on the show ‑‑ this is for the actors.  Sorry ‑‑ what have you learned about yourself, either professionally, personally as an actor, as a person?  Is there anything that you’ve learned since you started?


ECHO KELLUM:  I’ve learned that ‑‑ sorry, Nicole.  You’ve got it.

NICOLE BYER:  No.  You go.

ECHO KELLUM:  Okay.  Well, I mean, honestly, I’ve learned that I love working with my friends and people that are close to me in my life.  I feel like sometimes, being a Black person, it’s really rare that we get to create with people that are closest to us.  I feel like I’m one in a mix.  Like, I’m just, like, one Black person in something.  And to come do this show with the people that I’m actually close to in life and really just kill it together is something that I just love, to just, like, create art with family and friends and people that I would love to have a job in real life.

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.  That was fully my answer as well.


NICOLE BYER:  I really love working with friends, and I also love working with people who are open to collaborate and just, like, easy to work with, funny, talented people who are a joy to be around but also a professional.  Do you know what I mean?  It’s, like, we can joke, but, also, we came to do a job.  I love that so much, and that’s what I’ve learned.  I really like my friends.

CARL TART:  I’ve learned a few things.  I’ve learned that I’m not a morning person at all.  Also, I’ve learned that I never want to work on another set again because this one is so perfect.  I’m just playing.  I’m just playing people who are given jobs.  Don’t worry about what they are saying.  No.  It was such a fun time.  Like, even the hard days weren’t hard because we had such a good time.  And literally everybody ‑‑ everybody who we worked with, everybody was so fun.  It went so perfectly the whole time that we would be, like, “Who is going to ruin it?”  I guess it’s up to me to come in and demand more money next season.


I felt like it was such a ‑‑ I also learned ‑‑ and this is more personal, I guess.  I learned to trust myself a little bit more acting‑wise.  I think I always want to lean into what I think is my strength, which is being ridiculous.  And Phil challenged me to stay grounded a lot of times and actually forced me to believe that it would be good.  And everybody else in the cast stayed on me about it.  Aaron would threaten physical violence when I talked down on myself.  When I talked down on myself, Aaron would be, like, “You ain’t gonna to be talking about yourself like that in front of me.”  And, so, I appreciate the support.  I think I learned that I can act a little bit, you know.  I think that’s what I learned.

AARON JENNINGS::  A lot of bit.  A lot of bit.

GRASIE MERCEDES:  I was going to say, I think Aaron was everyone’s cheerleader.  I think, Aaron, he’s such a light.  And, for me, he definitely ‑‑ I come in on the second episode.  So, I was a little scared and nervous to join this crew.  And from day one, everyone was incredible, but Aaron specifically reached out and was just, like, “You belong here,” because there was that feeling of, like, “Do I belong here?  These people are so funny and so great.”  And I know who they are, and I know how funny they are, and I know how talented they are.  And everyone was so warm and incredible.  And Phil, I think, challenged me to believe that I could do comedy.  I never thought I’d be on a sitcom.  I always thought I’d be, like, a drama girl, so just embracing that and having more confidence in that.  And I’m excited.  I hope we get a second season because I’m excited to blend Fay even more.

AARON JENNINGS::  Well, let me tell you, Grasie, you can still be very dramatic, but ‑‑


AARON JENNINGS::  Touche.  Yeah, the same.  The same.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  So, we are actually going to go to Rick Hong with the next question, and then Laura Surico will be on deck.  So, Rick, whenever you are ready.

QUESTION:  Hello.  I wanted to tell everybody congratulations.  So, what I love about this show is that it takes place in the backdrop of Silver Lake.  So, I was just trying to figure out just a fun question.  How convenient is it for the cast, or are some of you west-siders?

CARL TART:  I think we are all east‑siders, right?

GRASIE MERCEDES:  We are all east‑siders.

AARON JENNINGS::  We are all east‑siders.

CARL TART:  I’m from the west side.

ECHO KELLUM:  The most convenient, we can walk to set sometimes.

GRASIE MERCEDES:  Yeah, literally.  We literally shot down the block from me once.

CARL TART:  I’m from West L.A., and growing up in L.A., where I’m from, I never came to Silver Lake at all, like, never.  And then once I started doing stuff with The Second City and UCB Theaters that are more in the Hollywood area, more east, now we always frequent Silver Lake.  We are always in Silver Lake.  So, I spend much more time there than I do on the west side where I’m from, where my origins are, so yeah.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I definitely ‑‑ oh, sorry.  Go ahead.

ECHO KELLUM:  No.  Go ahead, Phil.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I was going to say I definitely ‑‑ I like to walk a lot.  I like walking.  That’s why I like the east side a lot.  I walk the reservoir a lot, and I definitely walk to Paramount every day.  So, it’s very convenient.

AARON JENNINGS::  You walk to Paramount every day?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  It’s, like, three and a half miles.  Yeah.

DAN GOOR:  What’s your daily steps?  What does that look like a day for you?


DAN GOOR:  How many steps?  Like, 15,000?  14,000?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Whatever six miles is.

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.  I often see Phil just walking around.  It’s gotten to the point where I don’t say hello anymore because I’m, like, this is redundant.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I literally have been seeing Echo ‑‑ I see Echo three times a week now.

ECHO KELLUM:  It’s, like, nonstop.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Every other time I walk, I would just see him.

ECHO KELLUM:  And I feel like I grew up with them, driving and just, like, walking ‑‑

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.  I don’t say hello anymore.  I’m, like, “Oh, I’m lazy.”

DAN GOOR:  You guys just flip him off.

ECHO KELLUM:  I will say to that question really quickly, it is very surreal to get to shoot and create this television show in places that I actually frequent and, like, really enjoy being around.  It’s been such a pleasure and such a unique thing.  I don’t think a lot of actors or people get the privilege to shoot in their own neighborhood.  It’s something very special, and I’m really happy that our show gets to showcase this little slice of life in L.A.

QUESTION:  It’s a true dream job, like, a small commute time, especially in L.A.


QUESTION:  Congratulations again.  Thank you so much.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question is from Laura Surico, and Janice Malone will be on deck.  Go ahead, Laura.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Can you guys hear me?  Okay.  Yes.  So, touching on what Rick said, I noticed that it mentions L.A. life and being in L.A.  It’s relatable, being an Angeleno and not having friends past the 405.  We are no longer friends, like Nicole said.  But how much of ‑‑ for the writers and for the cast, how much of your experience of being and living in L.A. did you put into this and how, being a Black, person of color, Angeleno, adds to this and, for the cast, if they added their own L.A. experiences into their characters?

AARON JENNINGS::  Carl, do you want to?  I’ll say this, I added a lot of my experience.  I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, in West Adams, but I went to Brentwood.  Then I went to King School in Compton.  Then I went to school in Santa Monica.  Then I got my diploma from Culver City in the day and the whole thing.  With that being said, I had the monte of experience, and I was in and out of a lot of different worlds.  And so I think that’s ultimately ‑‑ and correct me if I’m wrong, Phil or Dan ‑‑ one of the ‑‑ one of the themes that we are, sort of, exploring is just this nominalistic Black experience.  And so, for me, it was cool because I got to pull from all of my past experiences.  And with Anthony especially, not to give too much away, but, like, he’s the captain, and I think he definitely, sort of, bounces between two worlds, if not more.  And, so, it was very, very nice to have that real‑life experience to pull from.  Yeah, that’s what I’ll say about myself.  But, Carl, also, you have an experience growing up in L.A.

CARL TART:  Yeah.  I’m not born, but I am raised, which is why I’m not a Laker fan, I’m a Clipper fan, and I ‑‑ but I’m raised here.  I’m raised in the View Park Windsor Hills area, and I always went to school on the west side, Palms Middle School, Hamilton High School Academy of Music, class of 2007 stand‑up. I was very thankful and grateful to be able to put some of my L.A. experience into the character, and I think a lot of it also came through in the wardrobe.  I will say, I’m probably going to be the only person on a network TV show this year wearing a Marathon jersey by brother Nipsey Hussle, who is very important to me, very special to me, went to Hamilton High School as well, was always in the neighborhood, was always visible, always accessible and seen and meant a lot to the community, the Crenshaw community, the area, the View Park, the Windsor Hills, the Baldwin Hills area and stuff like that.  So, to be able to, like, represent him on a network show is really awesome after his untimely and tragic passing.  And I think just like ‑‑ just the way that you know how to move in the city and, like, being a ‑‑ I think being a local helps, kind of, sell that.  And Aaron can speak to it too.  Being, like, from here kind of helps sell the fact that not all L.A. people are these people who you can’t, you know ‑‑

AARON JENNINGS:: (Inaudible.)

CARL TART:  But, yeah, I’ve been able to sell that.

DAN GOOR:  Can I just say also, it’s located here, and there’s a lot of great specifics.  But this is really, like, a big cast show.  It’s for people from all over the country, and it’s, like, in the same way that I think a show like “Seinfeld” or “Friends,” that are very New York‑based, but can be enjoyed by everybody.  What I’m saying is this show is as good as “Seinfeld” and “Friends” is what I’m saying.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  What are you doing, Dan?

DAN GOOR:  My internal thoughts are coming out.

CARL TART:  Los Angeles is really the seventh member of ‑‑


ECHO KELLUM:  But see, that’s the kind of thing I want to touch on, Dan, is, like, I’m from Chicago, like, real blue‑color kind of city, you know, and these stories still connect through other regions and other, like, people.  Might be set in Los Angeles, but it is really a human experience that we are really going onto these, kind of, young semiprofessionals and different perspectives in L.A.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  And just to build off of that, I think, when in doubt, when we were in the room, from a story perspective, for someone trying to crack a story, what would happen in real life?  What would be interesting?  What conversations have we had at the bar?  I would talk to the entire cast about inspirations that they have, things that they found interesting with their characters.  I am all for putting those feelings on the page because I think that that allows for the cast to, kind of, thrive, and that was, kind of, the goal with this first season.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  Our next question is from Janice Malone, and on deck will be Lloyd Carroll.  Janice, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Okay.  I’d like to ask the two showrunners, Dan and Phil.  I’m so happy to see Garrett Morris in your wonderful trailer there.  Are there any plans, future episodes, for him?  And second, for anyone, were there any, shall we say, wine‑bar test sites that were used in the filming of the show or what?

DAN GOOR:  Let me say really quickly ‑‑ I just want to make it very clear that Phil is not ‑‑ which side are you on?


DAN GOOR:  Phil is the showrunner extraordinaire.  I’m an EP on it, but this is Phil’s show, and he is maybe the best showrunner I’ve ever been around.  He’s so, so talented.  So, I love the reflected shared glory, but I want to make sure it stays with Phil.  And with that said, Phil, you should answer the question.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Thank you for the beautiful clarification, Dan.  Garrett Morris is a legend.  He’s amazing.  He only appears in the pilot of the first season, but in the room, we did talk about ways to bring him back if possible and if it fit within, kind of, the structure of how the season broke.  The way it broke out this first season, it did, but I think, moving forward ‑‑ it was such an awesome start to the pilot, and we were so lucky to have him.  It would obviously be incredible if we could work with him again.  He was so kind and so talented on set that it was a dream come true to work with him.  So that is definitely on the table if he would be down to do it.

DAN GOOR:  And that monologue really, sort of, opened the pilot for us in a lot of ways.  So, you could imagine using him again would be something equally inspiring.  And then she was asking about ‑‑

ECHO KELLUM:  The cast?

DAN GOOR:  It was about any inspirations.  Wine bars that might be an inspiration.

ECHO KELLUM:  Oh, yeah.  Writing this show is really based off of a wine bar that we all frequent in real life ‑‑


ECHO KELLUM:  ‑‑ that I think we all collectively have been going to, like, the last five years where we’ve just been, like, kind of, the wine group of friends.

AARON JENNINGS::  Yeah, most of the time.

ECHO KELLUM:  It’s kind of an all‑white establishment, like, unpacking life and love and work, and I think that’s what Phil really tapped into that’s really great.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  And when everyone got cast, we were hanging out ‑‑ I mean, this is right before the shutdown.  So it was, like, we would meet at these bars just to try and, like, get the chemistry popping early.  And so that definitely was a thing that was top of mind as far as just building the chemistry that was already built in because a lot of these folks that you are looking at now have known each other for a long time.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Lloyd Carroll, and then our final question will come from Dennis Pastorizo.  So, Lloyd, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Phil, Dan, you guys have been talking about the wine bar.  So, I’ve got to ask this one.  How big an influence was that other bar show I remember from the 1980s, set on the East Coast, “Cheers”?  I was curious.  How much of that?  And did you have to say, “Wait a minute.  We can’t have a Norm here.  We’ve got to, kind of, make something more relevant for an urban audience.”  I’m just curious.  How big an influence was “Cheers” and to stay away from stereotypical characters, which “Cheers” sometimes got into?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  I think “Cheers” is such an iconic show that if you were making a television show, you are aware of that show.  And whether or not there’s a wine bar or any type of bar, I think the pilot has gone down as one of the best pilots in history.  So, I think, in that way, it’s just an inspiration to look at a really great piece of writing, but I don’t think the bones or the structure of this show is super, super close to what they were, what they had going on.

DAN GOOR:  Yeah.  It was inspirational and important in that it’s inspirational and important to all TV comedy.  It’s one of the greatest legendary comedies of all time.  But I definitely agree with Phil.  This show has its own bones.  It doesn’t feel like the same kind of bar or the same kind of regulars showing up, but, obviously, it’s something we would be aware of and something we wouldn’t ever want to step on the toes of because it’s such a great show, which this show is better.  It’s better than “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “Cheers.”

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Dan, what are you doing?

DAN GOOR:  Somebody is going to put that in their post and say, “This show is better than ‘Friends,’ ‘Cheers,’ and ‘Seinfeld’ combined.” And no one needs to know who said that.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Whoever puts that in quotes, please put, “Dan, what are you doing?” and my response.

DAN GOOR:  “Dash, a person who watched all of those shows.”  No one has to know who it was.

ECHO KELLUM:  And I would also like to say, because you, kind of, mentioned something like it’s an urban show.  It’s just a show, you know, and the cast happens to be Black folk, you know.  So just like “Cheers” ‑‑ I guess you could say it’s a white show if you want to say that.  I feel like a lot of us connected to parts of that regardless of the human aspect of it.

CARL TART:  I’m Norm.


DAN GOOR:  No, you aren’t.

NICOLE BYER:  Like the pilot of “Cheers,” you see the magic happening on this show.  And I don’t want to toot our own horn.  Is that a phrase?  I don’t know.  But, like, we have very magical chemistry that happened almost instantaneously, and I think that really comes through on the screen.  So, I think, like “Cheers,” you’ll be, like, “Oh, I’m rooting for these people.”  I think these people are interesting, they are funny, and they seem to just really have joy and love each other.  So, yeah, that’s what I wanted to add.

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Great.  A great addition.  And I was going to say, I was a kid in the ’90s too.  So, I think you’ve got shows like “Cheers.”  You’ve got shows like “Living Single.”  I love “Sex and the City.”  I like a lot of different shows.  So, I think, as far as inspiration and energy, I just love TV, and I do have a soft spot in my heart for network television because I think, if you were born in a certain type, it really did shape your view of comedy.  And so, yes, a shout out to all of the shows that, kind of, came before this one.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  Our final question of the day comes from Dennis Pastorizo.  Dennis, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hey.  Good afternoon, guys.  So, my question is a bit of a double question.  What was really in the wine glasses?  And what would each one of you order ‑‑

DAN GOOR:   What was the second part?

QUESTION:  ‑‑ in real life?

NICOLE BYER:  What was ‑‑

ECHO KELLUM:  Can you say the second part again.

DAN GOOR:  What would you order in real life?

QUESTION:  What would you order in real life?

AARON JENNINGS::  This is a great final question, by the way.

GRASIE MERCEDES:  We were just asked a similar question, and I realized in that moment that I don’t know what orange wine is, really, but it’s what I drink and love.  It’s, like, this new trend of natural organic wine happening, especially, I think, in Los Angeles, but I’m so down with it because it doesn’t give me a headache and I love it.  But what was in our glasses on set, everyone had something a little different.  My glass was a white wine, and it was basically colored water.  So that was not very fun.  It wasn’t very interesting.  But sometimes I had grape juice.  Sometimes I had white grape juice.

CARL TART:  My glass was diet Cran-Grape, and when I order at a bar, I order Nicki Minaj’s mixed Moscato.


NICOLE BYER:  My order is a rosé, and on set, I was hammered all the time, drinking actual rosé.


No.  I was also drinking colored water, which sounds like a slur.

ECHO KELLUM:  It does, doesn’t it?


AARON JENNINGS::  That sounds good, colored water.

MALE PANELIST:  Yeah, I would say ‑‑ go ahead, Echo.

ECHO KELLUM:  Well, the same as Carl with a diet Cran.  And on the show and at the bar, I’d probably do, like, a lambrusca [sic], which is, like, an Italian, red ‑‑

AARON JENNINGS::  Sparkling.

ECHO KELLUM:  ‑‑ sparkling red.

AARON JENNINGS::  I’m going to piggyback off of you.  I think it was diet grape, and then I feel like they transitioned to something else, but I honestly can’t say what it was.  I forget now.

GRASIE MERCEDES:  They did have nonalcoholic wine at some point.  Yeah.

CARL TART:  It was disgusting.

AARON JENNINGS::  Like, the diet cranberry, the diet grape, I couldn’t do.  So, I switched over to the nonalcoholic wine.  And then, lately, I’ve been drinking the ‑‑ is it lambrusco or lambrusca?  I thought it was lambrusco, whatever, from Northern Italy, the wine that’s sparkling.  That’s the wine that I would order as of now, as of late.

ECHO KELLUM:  And I will say Phil put me on that, just to give him all credit.

AARON JENNINGS::  Yeah, the same.  The same.

ECHO KELLUM:  Uh‑huh.  Uh‑huh.

JUSTIN CUNNINGHAM:  Yeah, it was the diet cranberry, and I think ‑‑ I don’t really drink that much anymore or almost at all, but if I do have a cocktail, it will be either an old fashioned or, for the Bond people, a Vesper.  I don’t know if you are familiar with Vesper.

NICOLE BYER:  That’s classy.

CARL TART:  I ride to the bar.  I drive a Vespa.  What are you drinking right now, Dan?  (Inaudible.)

DAN GOOR:  It depends who is paying.  If I’m being purchased wine, I would love a white Burgundy.  If people want to send me something nice, I’m available.  And then we have been having a lot of pandemic cocktails.  I really like a Boulevardier, which is like a wry ‑‑ oh, my god.  I’m totally blanking on what it is, but ‑‑ sweet vermouth and Campari.  Sorry.

CARL TART:  I drive my Vespa down the Boulevardier.


ECHO KELLUM:  I just want to say, if colored water is racist, white Burgundy has got to be racist too.


AARON JENNINGS::  That all doesn’t sound right.

DAN GOOR:  Phil, what are you drinking?

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Okay.  So, I’ll go backwards.  Right now, I’m really on this Mexican natural wine called Bichi.  They have a really great rosé and chilled red as well as an orange wine.  And before that, there was this wine called Gibbs, but I can’t really find it anymore.  They have a really great Cabernet.  I also like Lambrusco.  And, yeah, I think that’s it.  And I also mix sparkling wines a lot, Blanc de Blanc and stuff like that.  I think I said ‑‑ I like every wine.  I just named some.

ECHO KELLUM:  And they didn’t require it to bring it on set, but he would always have ‑‑

NICOLE BYER:  Always has it.  Always drinking.


QUESTION:  Well, thank you so much for your answers, and cheers to the new season.

AARON JENNINGS::  Cheers to all of you.  Thank you so much.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you to our “Grand Crew” panelists.  It sounds like everyone needs to go grab a glass of wine.  So, thank you so much to everyone for joining us today.  This concludes NBC’s scripted press day.  For more information, please visit our MediaVillage site at, and have a fantastic rest of your day.


"Grand Crew" cast on NBCFrom Phil Augusta Jackson (Writer/Producer/Director, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Dan Goor (Creator, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) comes a new comedy that proves life is better with your crew. This group of young professionals are all trying to navigate the ups and downs of life and love in Los Angeles – and they always find time to gather at their favorite bar to “wine down” and unpack it all. There’s Noah, a hopeless romantic too eager to settle down; Nicky, a go-getter in real estate who’s adventurous in romance; Sherm, a low-key genius who plays the dating odds; Anthony, whose true love is his career; Wyatt, who’s relieved to be married and out of the dating scene; and Fay, who’s recently divorced and looking to start fresh in LA. And just like wine, their friendship gets better with time.

Echo Kellum

Noah, “Grand Crew”

GRAND CREW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Echo Kellum as Noah -- (Photo by: Kwaku Alston/NBC)
Echo Kellum plays Noah on the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

Kellum, an actor, writer and director originally from Chicago, will recur in the new FX series “The Old Man,” starring Jeff Bridges.

Previous credits include “Arrow,” “You’re the Worst,” “Drunk History,” “Comedy Bang Bang” and a recurring voiceover role on “Rick & Morty.” Still an avid improviser, Kellum performs regularly at UCB with house team Winslow.



Nicole Byer

Nicky, “Grand Crew”

GRAND CREW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Nicole Byer as Nicky -- (Photo by: Kwaku Alston/NBC)
Nicole Byer plays Nicky on the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

An actress, comedian, writer, author and podcaster, Byer is perhaps most well-known as the host of Netflix’s Emmy Award-nominated competition baking series “Nailed It!,” which has gained a cult following of viewers since its premiere on the streaming platform in 2018. In 2020, Byer made history by becoming the first Black woman ever to be nominated in the category of Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program.

Byer can also be seen co-hosting TBS’ reboot of “Wipeout,” alongside John Cena. She also voices characters in Amazon’s “Invincibles” and Adult Swim’s “Tuca & Bertie” and will voice the role of Susie Carmichael’s mom, Lucy, in the upcoming reboot of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats,” which premieres on Paramount+.

Listeners can hear Byer on five different podcasts, the fan-favorite being “Why Won’t You Date Me?,” which sees her inviting friends and guests to discuss their dating lives all while trying to figure out her own. In 2021 the podcast moved under the TeamCoco banner and Byer won the 2021 iHeart Radio Podcast Award for best female host for the show.

Byer is an Upright Citizens Brigade alum who continues to cement her status as a force in standup by regularly performing in cities across the country. Previously, she received national attention for her web series “Pursuit of Sexiness,” which she co-created and starred in alongside friend and fellow comic Sasheer Zamata.

Her additional film and television work includes “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” “Lady Dynamite,” “Party Over Here,” “BoJack Horseman” and “30 Rock.”

Byer currently resides in Los Angeles.

Grasie Mercedes

Fay, “Grand Crew”

GRAND CREW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Grasie Mercedes as Fay -- (Photo by: Kwaku Alston/NBC)
Grasie Mercedes plays Fay in the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

Mercedes is a Dominican-American multi-hyphenate from New York City, living in Los Angeles. An actress who has appeared on shows that include “9-1-1,” “Good Trouble,” “Southland,” “The Affair” and “Criminal Minds,” she also recently wrote on NBC’s “Perfect Harmony.”

Mercedes is a former improviser and sketch comedy actor, and an alumna of both iO West and UCB. She also recently wrapped season two of her podcast “Not (Blank) Enough.”

Justin Cunningham

Wyatt, “Grand Crew”

GRAND CREW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Justin Cunningham as Wyatt -- (Photo by: Kwaku Alston/NBC)
Justin Cunningham plays Wyatt on the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

Cunningham received his BFA in acting from the University of Arkansas. That ultimately led him to being accepted to the esteemed Drama Division at Juilliard, where he graduated with his MFA in 2017.

In 2019, Cunningham had a co-starring role for Ava DuVernay in the Netflix limited series “When They See Us,” based off the true story of the Central Park Five. Prior roles include CBS’ “Blue Bloods and HBO’s “Succession.” Shortly after graduating, Cunningham was part of the cast of “King Lear” on Broadway.

Cunningham is an avid boxer and is also a big advocate for fitness as well as mental health.

Aaron Jennings

Anthony, “Grand Crew”

GRAND CREW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Aaron Jennings as Anthony -- (Photo by: Kwaku Alston/NBC)
Aaron Jennings plays Anthony on the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

Previously seen on CBS’ “Pure Genius” and HBO’s “Insecure,” Jennings can next be seen  recurring on the upcoming Amazon series “A League of Their Own,” based the feature film.

Jennings’ big screen debut came in 2013 with the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy “Movie 43,” opposite Terence Howard. Other credits include “Meet the Browns,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Vegas,” “Bones,” “Aquarius” and “Loosely Exactly Nicole.”

Jennings spent his youth training in theater and some of his stage credits include “Elmina’s Kitchen,” which won the NAACP Award for best ensemble, Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man,” Athol Fugard’s “My Children! My Africa!” and “Facing Our Truth” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, Calif.

Dan Goor

Executive Producer, “Grand Crew”

Dan Goor is an executive producer on the new NBC comedy “Grand Crew.”

Previously, Goor was co-creator and executive producer of NBC’s Golden Globe-winning comedy series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” In addition to having run the show, he also wrote and directed numerous episodes.

Goor is also the co-creator of the new Peacock comedy “Killing It,” starring Craig Robinson.

Prior to working on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Goor was an executive producer, writer and director on NBC’s Peabody Award-winning comedy “Parks and Recreation.”

Goor got his start writing for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” for which he won an Emmy Award in 2001. He was also a writer for NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” where he won an Emmy in 2007.

Goor resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their two daughters.

Phil Augusta Jackson

Creator/Executive Producer, “Grand Crew”

Phil Augusta Jackson is an Emmy Award-nominated writer, producer and musical artist from Philadelphia. He is the creator and showrunner of NBC’s new half-hour comedy “Grand Crew.”

A co-executive producer of HBO’s “Insecure,” Jackson also has written for “Key & Peele,” “Survivor’s Remorse” and, most recently, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” where he also directed. He has been nominated for Emmy, WGA and NAACP awards and has self-produced and directed shorts and music videos.

Jackson graduated from the University of Virginia and currently resides in Los Angeles.
December 2021

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

cast of "Grand Crew" on NBC

Interview with the cast of “American Auto”

TV Interview!

the cast of "American Auto" on NBC

Interview with the cast of “American Auto” on NBCLifetime by Suzanne 12/9/21

This is a pretty funny sitcom, and it was a lot of fun talking to the cast. This press panel had many journalists asking questions. You can see my one question a little more than halfway down the page. I wish I had gotten another question because I would have loved to have asked Harriet Dyer a question. I really loved her show “The InBetween” (2019).  What an amazing actress she is! I didn’t even recognize her as the same person in this role.




 American Auto

 Jon Barinholtz, Talent, “Wesley”

Harriet Dyer, Talent, “Sadie”

Ana Gasteyer, Talent, “Katherine”

Humphrey Ker, Talent, “Elliot”

X Mayo, Talent, “Dori”

Michael B. Washington, Talent, “Cyrus”

Tye White, Talent, “Jack”

Justin Spitzer, Creator/Executive Producer

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

PAM BEER:  Hi.  It’s Pam again, and I’m here to introduce the panel for our new comedy “American Auto,” which will be sneak‑previewed on Monday, December 13th at 10:00 and 10:30 p.m., before moving to its normal time slot on Tuesday, January 4th at 8 o’clock.

From “Superstore” creator Justin Spitzer comes a new workplace comedy that takes the wheels off of the automobile industry.

Set in Detroit, the corporate executives of Payne Motors are at a crossroads:  Adapt to the changing times or be sent to the junkyard.

Shaking things up as the new CEO, her leadership, experience, and savvy is only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars.  From the corporate to the factory floor, the crew of Payne Motors is driving home the laughs.

Here’s a look at the first season of “American Auto.”

(Clip shown.)

PAM BEER:  In the top row are executive producer Justin Spitzer, Ana Gasteyer, and Harriet Dyer.  In the second row are Michael B. Washington, Jon Barinholtz, and Tye White.  In the third row are Humphrey Ker and X Mayo.

We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you, once again, Pam.  And welcome to our panelists.

Just a reminder to use the “raise hand” function if you want to ask a question.

And our first question comes from Mike Hughes, and Jay Bobbin will be on deck.

So, go ahead, Mike.

QUESTION:  Yeah, for Ana.  It seems like you’re in a really good streak right now.  I saw “A Clüsterfünke Christmas,” and I thought it was hilarious, and you co‑wrote it, and so forth.  And so, I wanted to ask you what this time has been like for you?  Because you got this show, apparently, pretty early last year, but then, had to wait for a long time, and now, this is coming up right after “Clüsterfünke.”  Has this just been a really good ‑‑ in other words, has the pandemic been pretty good for you?

ANA GASTEYER:  The pandemic has been fantastic for me, yeah.       I mean, you know, besides all the millions of people that have died, it’s worked really well for me.  Please don’t print that.


ANA GASTEYER:  You know, I flew to L.A., and I had my fitting for the pilot, and we were getting ready to film it when the entire world went into shutdown, and it’s been ‑‑ I mean, you know, it’s an overused word, but it really has been an incredible series with blessing on this because, honestly, we didn’t even know if it was going to go.  I just assumed ‑‑ I mean, I leaped at the opportunity.  The script was fantastic.  Justin is established, and smart, and human, and the perfect writer to, sort of, meet the times, I think, comedically, and that’s not an easy thing to do.  And, yeah, we got lucky.  We ended up making the pilot last October – 2020 — and then, picked up, and started filming in 2021.  So, it was a long, kind of, drawn‑out thing, but kind of nice, in a way, because you do these new television shows really, truly, in a bubble.  We didn’t really interact with anyone because of COVID.  We actually didn’t even really see Justin’s lower half of his face for a good couple of years.  (Justin laughs.)  And it was nice because, as a cast and a community, we, sort of, did that thing where we established a relationship via text, and over the months, kind of, checking in with one another, and by the time it came to filming, we were really friends, which was fantastic.

QUESTION:  And in the middle of that, when did you do “Clüsterfünke,” then?

ANA GASTEYER:  So, we ‑‑ by the way, thank you for honoring the umlauts and pronunciation.


We had sold that in ‑‑ Rachel and I sold it in 2019.  And so, we wrote that script right when we went into the shutdown.  So, we wrote it at the beginning, and then, the timing just worked out beautifully because we were able to film it directly prior to “American Auto,” and it just was, sort of, a confluence of good fortune that everything came out at the same time.

QUESTION:  Well, thanks.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question is from Jay Bobbin, and Valerie Malone is going to be on deck,

Jay, go for it.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  My question is for Harriet.

Harriet, you’ve been doing a lot of heavy‑duty drama lately, and a certain scene at a restaurant with an invisible man certainly sticks in mind.  Doing comedy at this point in time, is this, like, the possible best juncture for you to pivot from the drama you’ve been doing, to this?

HARRIET DYER:  I don’t know.  I, kind of ‑‑ when I got out of drama school in Sydney, I was doing both; whether it was theater, or TV, which, kind of, came later.  I would just hope to, kind of, do both for as long as, you know, people will allow it.  I think you can find both in both.  And I mean ‑‑ but this is a dream, to come to America and do a network comedy.  That was something I never thought would happen.  So, I mean, if I stayed in comedy now, you know, mostly, that would be very exciting to me, but I really do ‑‑ really do love drama, too.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Valeria Malone, and Jamie Sticker is on deck.

Go ahead, Valerie.

QUESTION:  Justin, can you talk about your decision to center the series around the corporate perspective, and your decision to make it a comedy, rather than an action or drama series, please?

JUSTIN SPITZER:  I don’t know that I would know how to write an action or a drama series.  I would love that challenge, but I think I’m in comedy for now.

The genesis of this was, I pitched this show back in 2013.  I’d been on “The Office” for a long time, and I thought I’d love to do a workplace show about the corporate world, you know?  And in “The Office,” they refer to decisions made by corporate, occasionally, and I’d think, like, oh, what’s that show about, and how do those decisions get made?  And then, the following year, I did “Superstore.”  “American Auto” was in pilot at that point, so I took bits and pieces, and put them in “Superstore,” and then, every now and then, I would talk to Tracy Acosta ‑‑ who had been to the studio when we developed “American Auto” originally, and she moved over to the network, and she was always a fan of it ‑‑ about if there was ever an opportunity to redevelop it.  And so, then, when I left “Superstore,” it felt like an opportunity, and it felt like an even better time.  You know, “Superstore” is so much a show about people whose lives are dictated by corporate, and they seem like antagonists all the time, and it seemed fun to get a peek on behind the scenes of how the decisions get made, you know?  The people at corporate aren’t bad people; they’re good people doing their best to try to make the company work, and, sometimes, their decisions have bad effects on the employees, but I thought it would be fun to get to see why those decisions get made.  So, yeah, that was, sort of, the reasoning about the corporate world.

And then, the fact that it’s the auto industry, sort of, came later.  I, sort of, just wanted it to be about a big multibillion‑dollar American industry.

QUESTION:  But you feel that diversity is important to you.  Can you talk about, perhaps, how it plays out in different roles in the series?

JUSTIN SPITZER:  You know, I think – it’s always a hard thing to answer.  I think, you know, we’re all trying to be more conscious of diversity.  I think it allows you to do more kinds of stories, especially in a show like this, that deals with issues impacted by those things.  You know, it’s a satire.  You know, you guys have seen the first episode that deals with bias in tech.  And so, it gives me those opportunities.

You know, I don’t think of it so much as what can we do for social good?  You know, my job is to make a show, and make it good, but I think diversity certainly helps with that.  Maybe some of our other cast could speak to that if anyone would like to.

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  Yeah.  Well, one of the things that I was drawn to so much when I first read the script, and had the opportunity to read, NBC Universal has been very kind to many of us, and they’ve taken care ‑‑ ready good care of us for many years, but they’ve always been looking for something for me to do in a more corporate structure; like, more authoritative roles.  And that’s not something that a network lets you get to read for, as an African American gentleman, let alone two, three, four, you know, people of color in executive ranks.  So, I was very drawn to the fact that Cyrus is a very smart, educated corporate executive who’s allowed to be the smartest one in the room, for good or for bad, whether he puts his foot in his mouth, or not, and all the comedy that ensues from it, and the beautiful thing about the place we’re in right now, with the world, and society, and cultural issues.  Getting to represent that so that young Black boys, young Black girls, get to see somebody in a suit be smart is not still the norm.  So, I’m very drawn to this show because of that, and getting to play with these incredible comedians, and keeping levity about it.  It’s not always hard‑hitting; it’s light and fun.  So, diversity can be a fun thing as well.

QUESTION:  Very good.  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question is from Jamie Sticker, and Suzanne Lanoue is on deck.

Jamie, go ahead.

QUESTION:  X, I have to say, those are some hilariously funny, funny scenes with you.  How much of your work is improv?  Like, the soap scene; you bring your own soap with you.  How much of your time on “American Auto” is scripted, and how much of it is just improv?

X MAYO:  Yes.  I don’t say any lines that are written.


No, I’m kidding.  I’m kidding.  No.  I love ‑‑ first of all, this script is amazing.  But let me tell you, as someone who is an actor and an improvisor, if the script isn’t good, I do not improvise because I don’t have a place to jump off of.  There is no clear foundation.  I have nowhere to go.  So, the fact that I do play so much speaks to the quality of the writing, and the fact that they are writers, when they write that episode, they’re on there, and they’re so open to collaborate.  And I’m, like, “Hey, I wanted to try this,” and they’re, like, “Yes, go, do.  Yeah, go do that.”  And so, I really love that aspect of it.  But yeah, I mean, a lot of those words that you hear are from the script, but I do like to, like, punch up and play.  And, also, too, like, there are, like, so many amazing comedians on the show, like Humphs and JB.  Like, I just love, like, pitching jokes to them, or if I can make one of them laugh, I’m, like, “Damn.”


Sorry.  Can I cuss?


But I just did, so …


Yeah, there’s a lot of that.  There’s a lot of that where Justin always is checking, “Can X say ‘shit’ or ‘damn’?”


So, I’m just, like, “Okay.”  I’m, like, “Okay, I can do this.”  So, yeah, a lot of it ‑‑ I would say a lot of it I’ve played with, but most of what you see is, like, a mixture of me playing, and the amazing, wonderful script that we have combined.  That’s what you’ll see a lot within the show.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  Yeah.  We always like to think of, like, the jokes in the script are a safety net, you know?  It won’t get worse than that line, and to whatever extent that the actors can improve it, I always want to encourage that.  And that’s something that was very important to me, even in casting this.  You know, I’ve worked with Jon on “Superstore”; I’ve worked with Humphrey years ago on another pilot.  I knew they were amazing improvisers.  Obviously, Ana was, from her years on “SNL,” and other things.  And some of the other cast we’ve played with in the audition even a little, and I was aware of your guys’ talent, too.  So, you know, I love when the actors beat the jokes that are on the page; I love when the actors even rework the lines to make it natural in their mouth to make it the best joke, the best line.

QUESTION:  And then, Justin, we know that you’ve worked with Jon in “Superstore.”  What was it about this role that made him right for “American Auto”?

JUSTIN SPITZER:  I mean, obviously, I would work with Jon on anything.  He’s, like, aside from being a delight to work with, just hilarious.  You know, there were so many times on “Superstore,” you know, if there was a scene he was in, and it wasn’t working, and I didn’t know how to get out of it, I would say to the editor, like, “Just check through Jon’s improv, like, if he has an ad‑lib, we could, like, go in, and then, that’ll get us out of it.”  So, I wasn’t writing the role specifically for him.  It, actually, probably felt different from him on the page.

And Jon, I think we were talking ‑‑ I think it was the episode I directed of “Superstore,” and you had just recently reread the script ‑‑ that was the week it got picked up ‑‑ and you said you liked it, and it was, like, “Oh, man, I would ‑‑ if you could come aboard.”  Then, I just felt bad about taking you away from “Superstore,” potentially, and had to have the big talk with the guys over there.  But, yeah, I love Jon, and I think he’s amazing in this role.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  That’s so nice of you to say.  Yeah, I remember.  I remember reading the script that week, and it was ‑‑ it was amazing.  And I think it was, like, maybe written for, like, a little bit older of a role, but, yeah, it was ‑‑ I would jump at the opportunity ‑‑ right back at Justin ‑‑ to work with him on anything.  He’s just such a great writer, and really ‑‑ really addresses the world honestly.  And most importantly, he gives really good, wrap gifts, so…


I’m in it for the gifts.  And the scripts are secondary, for me.

HARRIET DYER:  You guys all got a car, right?

ANA GASTEYER:  I’ve got a bike.  I don’t know how to drive.

X MAYO:  I’ve got a scooter; it’s got a little bell.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  A funny little thing, also about Jon ‑‑ and this was not intentional, but on “Superstore,” he played, like, the most down‑and‑out ‑‑ like, the warehouse guy who ‑‑ like, whose car didn’t have doors, and he was homeless for a while, and now, we bring him over to this show where he is the most privileged and wealthy of all.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah.  I mean, the difference ‑‑ like, someone asked me, like, “What’s the difference between Marcus and Wesley?”  And I think the answer is 58 million dollars.


QUESTION:  Thank you all so much for your time.

ALL PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  We’re actually going to go to Steven Prusakowski next, and then, Suzanne, you will be on deck.

So, Steven, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hey, how are you doing?  The show looks great.  I can’t wait to watch.

My question is for Ana.  I have one for Ana, and one for all.

So, you were on “SNL,” and then, it seems like you’ve been working continuously since you left the series.

What do you credit your success to, and what about “American Auto” attracted you to the series?

ANA GASTEYER:  Gosh, I don’t know what to attribute my success to.  I mean, obviously, “Saturday Night Live” is an insane launching pad, as my mother would say.  Meaning, you know, the visibility is just nuts.  I mean, you get recognized pretty quickly just for being in that cast.  And then, just, honestly, hustling a lot of different angles.  I mean, I’ve worked on Broadway; I’ve worked on television; I’ve worked, you know, wherever I can work.  And I like working, so I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone, if you will.

“American Auto” ‑‑ you know, I’ve been waiting my entire career to be in my 50s.  I’ve been waiting for this part since I was 30.  So, you know ‑‑ and frankly, 10 years ago, this role wouldn’t have existed, I don’t think.  And Justin ‑‑ or I guess he said he wrote it 10 years ago, but, I mean, within that range.  I think just the opportunity to play a female CEO was really exciting to me because I like characters who are, sort of, lost in moral dilemma, and Katherine definitely is, as Justin said.  I think she definitely personifies the aspirations to do right by the company, but maybe not always ‑‑ there can be a human sacrifice in that.  And it’s just fun.  It’s a fun gray area, comedically.

My best friend ‑‑ I told Justin this before ‑‑ has characterized the, sort of, ethos of the show as Americans being bad at being good, which I think is, kind of, really fun to play, you know?  And, yeah, so, that’s ‑‑ I think that’s ‑‑ is that your question?

QUESTION:  That’s my question.  I have to say, I spoke to Kenan today, and now you, and as a big “SNL” fan, this is a dream come true.  So, thank you so much for your time.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  And I put in three different tapes for “SNL.”  So, if you want to include someone associated with “SNL” that you’ve talked to.


QUESTION:  Now, I have that connection, too.  Thank you so much.

And one more question real quick.  Are any of you big car fans, or do you actually drive?

X MAYO:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Or it depends on, yeah, your type of auto reliance.

HUMPHREY KER:  L.A. leaves little choice but to drive.  There is no alternative.

TYE WHITE:  Well, I’m from Michigan.  So, yeah, I’ve been driving since I was 12.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  My grandfather was one of the first used car salesmen in Chicago, because used cars are, like, a newer thing.  And then, my great, great, great grandfather on my mom’s side was Studebakers.

X MAYO:  Wow.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  This is true:  There are four Studebaker brothers, and Jacob was the one I’m a descendant of, and he was the one who thought cars weren’t going to take off, and he was, like, “I’m going to stick with farming.”


And I have the legacy of Studebakers.

ANA GASTEYER:  It was the slower Studebaker; is that what you’re saying?  You’re a descendant of the slower Studebaker.  Got it.


I live in New York City, so I, pretty much, stopped it.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  Our next question ‑‑

TYE WHITE:  Cars aren’t going to work.  I don’t see it.


MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue, and Bruce Miller on deck.

So, go ahead, Suzanne.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Good morning.  Jon, my question is for you.  Your character is so unlikable.



QUESTION:  I’m sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED PANELIST:  In real life.  In real life.

QUESTION:  Will we get to see him change and grow a little more this season, or show us a nicer side?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but I think all the characters, as we go throughout the season, we see people exist together more and more, and it really ‑‑ yeah, I think there is growth and change in everyone, but in that really, you know, pinpointed way, where we’re always able to reset and still be the same characters that you, kind of, you know, fell in love with, whether it’s fell in love with because of who they are, or fell in love to hate them, I think we all ‑‑ we strut that line pretty well throughout the season.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  I was just going to say, I think he will become more likable.  I think, you know, as the episodes go on, you want to start people with an edge, you know, or at least I like to.  You know, I would never want to create characters that are all soft, all immediately too easily likeable.  There’s no place to go.  But, you know, I think we’ll see ‑‑ I can think of one or two, you know, moments of real vulnerability in Wesley, and when you see those moments, they give you little windows, and you empathize with them, and with all the characters, as we learn about them, we’ll grow to like all of them.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah, I just want to change my answer to what Justin just said.


So, put his voice to my mouth.

QUESTION:  Sure, I can do that.  I enjoyed the first two episodes a lot.  Thank you.

PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Bruce Miller, and Rick Hong will be on deck.

So, Bruce, go for it.

QUESTION:  This is for Jon, too.  Jon, when you’re on a big show like “Superstore,” what do you do when you’re not on camera?  Are you trying to be seen so that you can get a bigger role, or what is that process like?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Wait.  What do you ‑‑ do you mean, like ‑‑ in what way do you mean?  Do you mean, like, literally, like, off the camera, but still in the scene, or is it, like, I’m just, like, hanging out in my trailer?

QUESTION:  Because on “Superstore,” you guys were around a lot; you could see you in the background and doing things.  And would you just try to, like, “I’ll be a little more active here, so, then, they’ll pick me to be in more scenes”?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  I would show up on days when I wasn’t even scheduled to come in, and I would come in in uniform.  No.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  You’re background for the first season, right?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah.  I just yell things.  I steal a mic and put it on me.  No, I think I know what you mean.  It’s in these big, like, ensemble shows with workplaces, I think the best thing you could do is just, kind of, exist there.  And, like “Superstore,” I think this is a world that when we were all there, we felt very much of this world.  We were in this office; we were people who worked there.  And just a testament to how good, really, everyone on the screen is, and our BG&R show is so great, and it allows a sense of ‑‑ the looseness allows a sense of play, and us to, you know, kind of, take things wherever we think they may go, as long as it’s in a place of ‑‑ coming from a place of honesty.  So, I guess, that just the long way of saying that as long as we’re playing it real, there’s no, like, fudging your way in to, like, get more lines, or anything like that, but I think there’s always an opportunity to toss a little extra something in, and, again, it’s because, like X said, that’s how good the writing is here, that it’s such a strong foundation of us to, kind of, jump off and play in.  Whether you have one line in the scene, or thirty lines in the scene, it really ‑‑ it gives that safety net.

ANA GASTEYER:  And for sure ‑‑ I’m going to jump in.  It’s not my question, but just to say that, especially NBC has developed these really ‑‑ this ethos of a workplace comedy as the sense of the ensemble and the workplace being the star, but for me, that was part of the attraction.  Like, not having to carry something so much all by myself.  I love working with other people.  So many of us come from improvisation and, you know, ensemble backgrounds, that it’s critical that you work as a team.  That’s actually what ends up being the most fun.

And I remember ‑‑ actually, not being gross and, like, mention my last credit, but I did this show called “People of Earth,” and there were these group therapy sessions.  And every year, like, the showrunner would be, like, “We’re going to try to not have as many group therapy sessions.  I know they’re long days,” and I was, like, “But that’s the best part of show.”  Like, the best part of the show is when you’re hanging with your colleagues and all improvising together.  To me, that’s, you know ‑‑ sorry.  Did I kill the fun?

X MAYO:  No.

TYE WHITE:  Never.

ANA GASTEYER:  That’s what my theater games taught me.

HARRIET DYER:  Never, Ana.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  No, but it’s true.  When you have, like ‑‑ like, on “Superstore,” I wasn’t a regular, but you had this cast of regulars that were amazing, and would allow for play to happen.  I think like ‑‑ I feel we have the same thing on our show, where we had people come in, and it would just ‑‑ they may have, like, one or two lines in the scene, but there was always the opportunity to play, and we got so much more out of ourselves, and so much more out of these people who would come in and be these phenomenal guests on our show.  So, there’s more of that that goes along with that, you know?

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question is from Rick Hong, and then, our final question will be from Francine Brokaw.

So, Rick, go for it.

QUESTION:  Hello, everybody.  Well, Jon, since you brought up Chicago, I just want to say, “Whazzup?”



QUESTION:  Okay.  So, actually, for everybody.  What was it like seeing the Ponderosa from script in your mind, to going to set and seeing the thing actually built?  What is it made of?

HUMPRHEY KER:  Many different cars.

TYE WHITE:  Yeah, it was, like, a smorgasbord of different car pieces put together.  And I remember the first time I saw it, I just busted out laughing because you just have to ‑‑ when you see it, there’s no choice but to laugh.  Like, how did they assemble this vehicle?  Like, literally.  Not just in terms of the show, but in real life, what made them grab these different pieces to put this car together?  So, I just laughed, like, uncontrollably.  And the color.  The color, too.  Like, it’s such a bright red that, like, it’s usually reserved for, like, Ferraris, and things like that.  It was, like, it’s so obnoxious to put that red on that car.  Yeah, it’s so good.  It’s red.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  It was a very difficult needle to thread, that one.  I mean, on the page you’re, like, “Oh, they put together something,” and then, there’s a reveal, and it looks, like, crazy.  And then, you do it, and then, it’s got to be crazy enough to be a bad idea, and for the comedy to play, but, like, these are smart, sensible, competent people who’ve worked at a car company, or who know cars.  So, it’s true crazy, you know?  Currently, there’s acknowledgement that it’s bad, but, like, at a certain level, you’d be, like, this is insane.


So, it was hard to find that level of grounded, but still funny.  And, yeah, the set is amazing.  The guys were constructing it, and we’d go down and try to give notes.  And I know nothing about cars, so I’d be, like, “Yeah, something like that.”  And I’d look on my phone for, like, pictures, and ‑‑ I don’t know.  But, yeah, it turned out good.

QUESTION:  Congrats to you all.  Thank you so much.

PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  And our final question comes from Francine Brokaw.  Francine, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Can you hear me?


QUESTION:  Okay.  This has happened twice.  You’ve called on Francine, but you’ve unmuted me, and I’m Luaine Lee.  So, I’m going to go ahead and ask my question.

So, Ana, is it true you don’t know how to drive?

ANA GASTEYER:  My character doesn’t know how to drive.  I do drive, but I live in New York City, so I don’t do it a lot, and my family doesn’t like it when I do it.  Let me just say that.  And I didn’t learn to ‑‑ actually, this is even worse.  I learned to ride a bike in ‑‑ I grew up, like, in the city‑city, in Washington D.C., and I wasn’t allowed to cross the street on my bike.  So, I learned to ride a bike.  And then, I’m the one example that the adage is not true.  I forgot.  I forgot how to ride a bike.  And my husband didn’t believe me, and I got on one, and I immediately ran into a mailbox and hurt myself badly.  And then, later, I took bike‑riding classes.  So, I’m not very comfortable with things on wheels, is what I’m trying to say.


QUESTION:  Well, my question is, how did you learn to drive?  Who taught you, and what was that like?

ANA GASTEYER:  In real life?


ANA GASTEYER:  My mother taught me.  I grew up on Capitol Hill in D.C., and she taught me in rush‑hour traffic, with a clutch car, going uphill.  So, that might be why I don’t like to drive.  Let me say, she’s not great under stress.

QUESTION:  I have the same question for Michael.  How did you learn to drive, Michael?  What was it like?

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  I learned to drive ‑‑ my parents were reared in Louisiana in backwoods dirt roads.  So, when I was 10 ‑‑ this is, like, right after my 10th birthday.  We went down to my grandparents’ house, and my dad put me on his lap and just said, “Start steering,” and then, he slid out from under me ‑‑ because I was, kind of, tall, so my foot hit the pedal, and I just started ‑‑ and he got terrified.  I mean, because it’s dirt roads, but there still are trees and things.  Because “Dukes of Hazard” was my favorite TV show.


And I asked him, like, “Can I just please get in the car through the window, like the Duke boys?”  And he’s, like, “No.  No, you’ll ruin the paint.”  So, I learned to drive after, you know, my 10th birthday.

HUMPRHEY KER:  Is that why you still have a Confederate flag in your trailer?


MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  Oh, that’s what we call British humor.

ANA GASTEYER:  That’s British humor.

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  And I deal with that 13 hours a day.

ANA GASTEYER:  It means something different over there.  It means something different.

HUMPRHEY KER:  It’s very different.  It’s a very different ‑‑

ANA GASTEYER:  It’s a popular pub sign.  That’s it, right?


HUMPRHEY KER:  I saw Michael’s trailer door open, and there it was.


QUESTION:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you.  If Francine wants to ask a question ‑‑ I feel bad.

ANA GASTEYER:  Francine, Francine, Francine.

HARRIET DYER:  Francine.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  We’ll have to get to the bottom of that on our end.  But thank you to our panelists.  That concludes our session for “American Auto.”  We’ll take a short break, and get back up at 11:30 with SYFY’s “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


American Auto

"American Auto" castPreviews: Monday, Dec. 13 on NBC (10-10:30 and 10:30-11 p.m. ET); Moves to Tuesdays (8-8:30 p.m. ET) beginning Jan. 4

From the creator of “Superstore” comes a new workplace comedy that takes the wheels off the automobile industry. Set in Detroit, the corporate executives of Payne Motors are at a crossroads: adapt to the changing times or be sent to the junkyard. Shaking things up is the new CEO, whose leadership, experience and savvy is only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars. Luckily, her team has some of the best minds in the business – when they aren’t fighting or trying to outwit each other. From the corporate office to the factory floor, the crew of Payne Motors is driving home the laughs.

The cast includes Ana Gasteyer, Harriet Dyer, Jon Barinholtz, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White and X Mayo.

Justin Spitzer (“Superstore”) will write and executive produce. Jeff Blitz will direct and executive produce the pilot episode. Aaron Kaplan and Dana Honor will executive produce.

“American Auto” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Spitzer Holding Company, Kapital Entertainment.

Ana Gasteyer

Katherine, “American Auto

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Ana Gasteyer as Katherine Hastings -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Ana Gasteyer plays Katherine on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

During her six years on “Saturday Night Live,” Gasteyer created several iconic characters, including middle school music teacher Bobbie Moughan-Culp, NPR radio host Margaret Jo, Lilith Fair poetess Cinder Calhoun, as well as spot-on impressions of Martha Stewart, Celine Dion and Hillary Clinton.

This holiday season Comedy Central will premiere “A Clüsterfünke Christmas,” which Gasteyer and fellow “SNL” alum Rachel Dratch wrote, executive produced and star. The special is a parody of the corny and ubiquitous traditional holiday TV movie. Previous TV credits include “The Goldbergs,” “Lady Dynamite, “People of Earth,” “Suburgatory and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

On stage, Gasteyer has starred on Broadway in “Wicked” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Royal Family” and “Three Penny Opera.” Other stage credits include “Funny Girl” and “Passion” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which earned her a Jefferson Award nomination. At the Hollywood Bowl, she played Miss Hannigan in the musical “Annie.”

Gasteyer is also a highly accomplished singer and songwriter. This winter she’ll embark on a Christmas tour in support of “Sugar and Booze,” her recent album of seasonal favorites and holiday originals.

Gasteyer attended Northwestern University and honed her comedy skills at the Groundlings in Los Angeles. She resides on the East Coast with her husband, children and rescue pup, Gloria.

Harriet Dyer

Sadie, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Harriet Dyer as Sadie -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Harriet Dyer stars as Sadie on the new NBC comedy ”American Auto.”

Dyer most recently starred in the NBC drama series “The Inbetween,” appeared in the sec-ond season of the CBS’ All Access comedy “No Activity” and co-starred in the feature film “The Invisible Man,” opposite Elizabeth Moss.

A native of Australia, Dyer’s other television credits include local series “The Other Guy,” “No Activity,” “The Letdown,” “Kiki & Kitty,” “Black Comedy,” “Rake,” “Janet King” and “Love Child.” She’s earned her a Logie Award nomination for Most Outstanding Supporting Actress and two 2015 Logie Award nominations as well as the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Out-standing Newcomer and the Most Popular New Talent Award. Dyer has also received an AACTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama.

Dyer’s film credits include “Killing Ground,” which premiered at the 2016 Melbourne Interna-tional Film Festival and screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; “Down Under,” which premiered at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival; and “Ruben Guthrie,” which opened the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.

Harriet has also appeared on stage in “A Flea in Her Ear,” “Hay Fever,” “Travelling North,” “Machinal” and “Pygmalion” for the Sydney Theatre Company; “Brisbane” for the Queens-land Theatre Company; “Peter Pan” for Belvoir; “Time Stands Still” for the Darlinghurst Thea-tre; “Suddenly Last Summer” for the National Art School; and “The School for Wives” for the Bell Shakespeare Company. In 2013, she made her Broadway debut in “Peter Pan” at New York’s New Victory Theatre.

Dyer received the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Leading Role in a Main-stage Production for her performance in “Machinal” with the Sydney Theatre Company, and was nominated for the same award for her role in “The School for Wives” for the Bell Shake-speare Company.

She graduated from the Actors Centre Australia in 2011.

Michael Benjamin Washington

Cyrus, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Michael Benjamin Washington as Cyrus -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Michael Benjamin Washington stars as Cyrus on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

Washington most recently reprised his role of Bernard from the Tony Award-winning revival of “The Boys in the Band” in Netflix’s feature adaptation. He can previously be seen opposite Cynthia Nixon in Ryan Murphy’s “Ratched” and has had roles in “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

On stage, Washington wowed audiences and critics in 2019 with a tour-de-force performance playing 25 different characters in the revival of Anna Deavere Smith’s landmark 1992 one-person show, “Fires in the Mirror.” He also wrote and starred in “Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin,” which premiered regionally at La Jolla Playhouse and KC Rep in 2015.

X  Mayo

Dori, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: X Mayo as Dori -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
X Mayo stars as Dori on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

She is an Emmy Award-nominated actor, writer, producer and comedian known for her work on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Her other credits include supporting roles in Amazon’s “Yearly Departed” and the dramatic feature “The Farewell.”

Mayo is also the creator and host of “Who Made the Potato Salad?,” a sketch comedy show/party starring BIPOC creatives and talent.



Jon Barinholtz

Wesley, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Jon Barinholtz as Wesley -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Jon Barinholtz plays Wesley on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

Barinholtz is an actor and improvisor born and raised in Chicago, and a proud alum of the Second City Conservatory, iO, the Annoyance Theater and Steppenwolf Theater.

He is the creator, writer and voice on Netflix’s animated series “Chicago Party Aunt.” Previously, he was in the cast of NBC’s “Superstore.” Other credits include “Veep,” “With Bob and David,” “The Mindy Project,” “Key and Peele,” “New Girl,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Happy Endings” and the indie feature “The Oath,” co-starring Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Meredith Hagner and Ike Barinholtz.

Tye White

Jack, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Tye White as Jack -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Tye White stars as Jack in the new NBC upcoming comedy “American Auto.”

White is best known for his role as Kevin Satterlee on OWN’s hit series “Greeneleaf.” Other TV credits include “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Chicago Fire” and “American Crime Story.”

He hails from Detroit and resides in Los Angeles.



Justin Spitzer

Executive Producer, “American Auto”

Justin Spitzer is the creator and executive producer of the NBC comedy series “American Auto.” Prior to that, he created and executive produced “Superstore,” which ran on NBC for six seasons, wrapping in 2021.

His other credits include seven seasons writing for and producing the NBC comedy “The Office,” as well as stints on “Scrubs,” “Committed,” “Courting Alex” and “Mulaney.”

He resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Jenna Bans, and daughters Lucy and Phoebe.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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scene from "American Auto" on NBC

Interview with the cast of “Kenan” on NBC

TV Interview!

The cast of "Kenan" on NBC

Interview with the  cast of “Kenan” on NBC by Suzanne 12/9/22

This was a fun virtual press tour with NBC and Syfy shows. I really liked chatting with these actors. This is a pretty funny show. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

Mine are the first two questions, and the rest are from other journalists on the panel.





 Don Johnson, Talent, “Rick Noble”

Dani Lane, Talent, “Aubrey Williams”

Dannah Lane, Talent, “Birdie Williams”

Kimrie Lewis, Talent, “Mika Caldwell”

Taylor Louderman, Talent, “Tami Greenlake”

Kenan Thompson, Talent, “Kenan Williams”

Chris Redd, Talent, “Gary Williams”

David Caspe, Executive Producer

Lisa Muse Bryant, Executive Producer

Kenny Smith, Executive Producer

 Virtual via Zoom December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NBC Universal’s scripted press day. I’m Matt Lifson with the corporate communications team, and I’ll be your virtual mic runner for the day. After my quick housekeeping spiel here, I will just be the voice behind the curtain. But I wanted to first put a face to that voice for those of you that don’t already know me.  And with that, we’ll get things rolling in just a few minutes with NBC’s “Kenan.” So hang tight.

LESLIE SCHWARTZ: Hi. I’m Leslie Schwartz, here to introduce our first panel of the day “Kenan.” “Kenan” follows the life of busy, single dad Kenan Williams, who is juggling a high profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up with Kenan.” He’s also raising two adorable preteen daughters, Aubrey and Birdie. As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live in father in law Rick, his brother Gary, and his colorful coworkers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life. A special holiday episode of “Kenan” will air Wednesday, December 15, at 8:30 on NBC before the second season begins Monday, January 3rd, with back to back episodes at 8 o’clock. Here’s a clip from the Season 2 premiere. (Clip shown.) In the top row are Don Johnson, Chris Redd, and Dani Lane and Dannah Lane. In the second row are Kimrie Lewis, Kenan Thompson, and Taylor Louderman. In the bottom row are executive producers David Caspe, Kenny Smith, and Lisa Muse Bryant. We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you, Leslie, and welcome to our panelists.

SUZANNE: Good morning, everyone. My question’s for Don. You’ve had such a great, long career. What’s changed the most about TV since you started back in the 1970s?

DON JOHNSON: I’m going to go with the money. No. I think it’s just gotten smarter and better and more inclusive and diverse and spicy, you know? I’m into television. I think television is the– I think it’s the greatest thing we have in America.

SUZANNE: Kenan and Chris, you guys are both so busy with this show and “SNL” and other projects you’ve got going on. What do you do to keep it straight and have a real life on top of all that?

KENAN THOMPSON: A lot of sleeping sitting up in chairs, you know? Catch naps when you can find it. But I don’t know. You take it day by day, I think. You know, the sun comes up. We get up and do stuff. And the sun goes down, try to get some rest, basically. What happens in between, hopefully there’s a lot of love surrounded in it and, you know, taking care of our individual pursuit in our lives. For me, it’s my home life and family and my wife and stuff like that, but for everybody, it’s a different version of that. So, it takes a lot of dedication to be an actor, and it’s a long road to get up to a point where you can audition for a network sitcom even. And the amount of dedication it takes, I think our family members know that and understand that and help us with that sacrifice of our time and just help us offset that with open arms whenever we do come around. So that’s the beauty of not worrying about being busy necessarily, because when I do have a moment, I go get best moments of my life. So…

CHRIS REDD: (Unintelligible.) I’m having a whole lot of fun (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) I mean, I just have a fire in me and I box every day. So, I fight a grown man. That keeps me humble. Humble is like a punch to the gut real quick.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I never, never heard you guys complain ever, which is so admirable.

KENAN THOMPSON: You hear that? We don’t never complain. You hear that?



CHRIS REDD: But I will roast you, though. I will roast you, but I won’t complain.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us today. I’m just wondering if you could maybe tease a bit about what you’re most excited for fans to see this season.

KENAN THOMPSON: Any one of us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Kenan, yeah. (Panelists laughing.)

KENAN THOMPSON: I would say I’m most excited for fans to see the comedy. I mean, we definitely get the chance to explore our characters now that we’re done explaining the show. So, it’s just all about finding those funny moments like we just saw on the dance floor, you know? So, I’m very excited about all of the comedy really coming forward and all of our beautifully talented cast being able to perform that for you.

CHRIS REDD: And I’m excited for everything Kenan just said and just how we dive into relationships more this season and how that just everybody’s personality and their character is just defined a lot more in this season and it’s just really nice to see.

DAVID CASPE: I’m excited for the money because we don’t get paid until each of our episodes airs. So, once it airs, the check comes. So, it’s like that’s sort of, this season, my thing, you know.

KENAN THOMPSON: That’s David Caspe, everybody. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

CHRIS REDD: You think he’s in a house, but he is in a closet.

DAVID CASPE: Yeah. This is tiny. I’m going through a pretty tough divorce right now, so this is all I got, was this corner. I just got this corner. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DAVID CASPE: We’re very happy. I’m just kidding.

KIMRIE LEWIS: But, yes, the money also.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DAVID CASPE: Yeah, sure.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Our next question is from Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin is on deck.

CHRIS REDD: Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin? Oh, that’s crazy. It’s the same person.

QUESTION: We’re starting a musical group after this.


QUESTION: With many accolades that you have right now, “Kenan Plays Well with Others” is one of the ones that stands out in the top. How do you feel about this cast of people? Is this one of the funnest shows that you’ve worked on?

KENAN THOMPSON: Most definitely. I mean, I think we have done an amazing job bringing amazingly talented people together, and it’s just a reflection of how wonderful they are because they gelled almost overnight. And then we started in the middle of pandemic building a show together, which was, I guess, maybe a blessing and a curse because we were to ourselves, in our own little bubble, which gave us the chance to really get to know each other and

LADY IN BACKGROUND: Go, go, go, go, go.

KENAN THOMPSON: get to know (inaudible) works. And we’re just figuring it all out. You know what I’m saying? So, it that threw me off a little bit. But everything will be fine. But yeah, no. This is an amazing cast. Like, as you can see, we have an incredible time whenever we get together. All we do is laugh. And people have, you know, fun excursions in the background.

CHRIS REDD: “Go, go, go, go, go.” (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DANNAH LANE: Our dog is in the back, screaming.

KENAN THOMPSON: Get your mom. Get the dogs.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys. And don’t forget to buy mine and Jay’s mix tape after this, please.

CHRIS REDD: Actually, I got you would be, B.

QUESTION: Hi. Not the same person, by the way. Just want to clarify that. Hi, everybody. Don, my question is for you. Don, when we talk about your “Nash Bridges” movie recently, you said that if that led to more “Nash Bridges” installments, be it series or movies, you’d be able to do both jobs by virtue, probably, of what the schedules would be. Now that the “Nash Bridges” movie has aired, what kind of future is there there? Have you had those conversations yet?

DON JOHNSON: No. I just came out of a coma 12 hours ago, so I haven’t talking to anybody about anything. You know, I’m just kind of cruising along here, kind of seeing how everything plays out and stuff. I’m going to let the Phi Beta Kappas figure out how to work a schedule, if there’s going to be one between the two shows. But I have to tell you, it’s a pretty for me, doing “Kenan” is it’s the part of a lifetime for me and I love working with this cast. And Kenan and I are brothers. That’s just the way it is. And I love working with Kenny and Kimrie and the girls and Chris and, I mean, just everybody. This is a very, very special group of people and cast. And if the other thing works out, then we can do them both. That would be great. But I’m loving this right here.


QUESTION: This is for Taylor. Coming from theater where you were working really intensely, what is it like being on a sitcom? Is it just a breeze? And what surprised you about that whole world?

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: Yeah. It’s so incredibly different. I think the main adjustment that I found was in theater, the audience tells me what’s funny or not very quickly. And in our on set, I don’t know. I rely on my cast mates to tell me, or our director, whatever. And I had to really learn to trust myself. I think everyone probably remembers me feeling very insecure when we started. But they lifted me up and made me feel comfortable really quickly, so


KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I was about to say, if there was any insecurity, I couldn’t tell.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah. It escaped me too.

KIMRIE LEWIS: And coming from theater, like, her work ethic, when you’re in that theater, like, a grind, you know, eight shows a week, there’s nothing Taylor’s never tired.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. And it’s not just theater. It’s “Broadway,” you know.



KENAN THOMPSON: At this level.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I certainly won’t complain about the schedule.

KENNY SMITH: And real quick, I just want people to know we took advantage of Taylor’s singing this year in two episodes. And my biggest fear is people won’t believe that it’s actually her singing — so amazing. The two episodes sound great.

KENAN THOMPSON: Ladies and gentlemen, Adelec Dazeem. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: All right. Hi. How’s everyone doing? Kenan, this question’s for you. How do you do it all, and how do you do it all so well? You portray all these numerous characters, different characters every weekend “SNL,” each with their own flavor, and then you come in here with a series and show a whole different side of yourself. So where did this superpower originate, and how do I get it?

KENAN THOMPSON: Thank you. I mean, it’s in the blood, so I’ll give you a couple drops and you’ll water (inaudible). No. I mean, I really appreciate. That’s beyond complimentary. We just go out there and focus and try to stay professional and work hard, but I’m also surrounded by incredible professionals and brilliant minds. Like, everyone on this panel, I cherish their opinions and points of views. And they actually have a vantage point that I don’t have, which is being able to watch what we’re doing, you know. Like, I can only see out and they can see the whole thing. So, it’s advantageous for me to be open to any notes from anybody, because that way, like, yes, I have my instincts, but the person that’s actually watching probably can give me some tips on what I can’t see. So, you know, I always definitely give it up to, you know, the people I work with and, you know, this great community of artists, whether it be writers or showrunners or actors or producers or our crew. Like, I just keep my ears open and listen. That’s one of the main jobs of an actor, is to listen, basically. So, yeah, I just try to lean on my own personal, like, what I think is funny and exciting to me, but as well as “is this rubbing people the wrong way” type.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: And we’re always happy to let him know.

KENAN THOMPSON: They not scared to tell me.

QUESTION: Let me know where I can pick up that blood, please.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think I’ll be at Del Frisco’s later if you’re in the

QUESTION: All right. I’ll be there. It’s a date. Thank you.

KENAN THOMPSON: Pleasure. (Silence.) Mm hmm. I think Michael Jordan is the GOAT.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Hmm, well. (Unintelligible) all day, but then there’s Kobe.

KENAN THOMPSON: Right. There is Kobe.


QUESTION: I love the connection between Kenan and Mika. Talk about where things stand between them this season and where they might go.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. So, I think last season kind of left off on a cliff hanger, had a lot of folks on pins and needles what’s going to happen. And I think this season, you know, they continue to deepen their friendship. But I think that fans will be excited to see both of them kind of dipping into the dating world. You know, especially for Mika, we haven’t really seen that. She has that work life balance that she’s always trying to juggle. So, it was a lot of fun seeing both of them kind of struggle in their own ways with relationships this season. So, I’m looking forward to folks seeing that.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’m on the strongness of our friendship. You know what I mean? That’s always been a well established thing from the first episodes, is she’s my rock and reflected in real life too. Like, throughout our entire shooting process, like, she’s been right by my side, right in step with comedy and jokes and just laughing through the day. Like, we have so much fun when we’re working, it doesn’t seem like work and it makes 12, 14 hours fly by like it’s nothing. So that, I think, is coming onto the on camera part of it as well like, how close we are and how close we’ve gotten in a very short amount of time. And our characters, yeah, are just exploring, you know, was it messy for us to get involved, whatever, after my wife passed, or are we better off friends? Or am I just being kind of just, like, timid or am I afraid or whatever? Or am I still hurt? It was a lot to explore. Now, we can just be like I think we can figure out as grown adults whether we want to get busy or not, but let’s just go about our lives, basically. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. It can get complicated. Shout out to my exes, who I’ve worked with (inaudible). Y’all know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Thank you. Next. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

QUESTION: OK. Yeah. For Kenan, you were talking a little bit about shooting in a COVID bubble like that. What’s it like on the flip side? Because this was a time when a lot of people don’t like to do much flying, and yet you’re constantly getting on a plane, flying out to “SNL,” flying back and so forth. Do you get nervous by that? What’s it like? Does it make your life complicated or what?

KENAN THOMPSON: I mean, it’s tiresome because you’re masking the whole time and trying to stay safe and it’s always on your mind and stuff like that. But we’re in a heavy testing cycle, so that’s one good thing about going from job to job to job, is that I know my status all the time and that makes me feel a lot more at ease as far as everything is concerned. Plus, I’m balling,so it ain’t like I’m flying like everybody else. But at the same time

DAVID CASPE: Very relatable. Very relatable.

KENAN THOMPSON: You can all relate to that.

DAVID CASPE: You haven’t changed, man. You have not changed.

KENAN THOMPSON: Never change. You know what I’m saying? Still the same old humble Kenan, you know. But, yeah, I mean for safety reasons, I’ve only taken one or two commercials, basically. But we don’t need to talk about that. But as far as, since we’re talking about trying to stay safe, that’s why I’ve been burning through my savings like that so I can go from job to job in a safe manner. You know what I’m saying? But the work has to get done. Like, we’ve been building towards something, you know, outside of “SNL,” like, personally for years and years. Like, this is the third time around, the development cycle. And in this cycle, it’s been a couple of years before we got the first season on the air, even. So, it’s been a long road. And then when we did get the green light to shoot, it was like we were the first show to ever even get that consideration to come back and actually go to work. So, we all had this kind of “we got to make it happen” kind of attitude, you know. And that’s still going because we are still hunkered down and we do have protocols. And it was the same attitude going into Season 2, and we knocked it out of the park and it’s in the bag and it’s coming out. So

QUESTION: OK. Cool. Thanks.

KENAN THOMPSON: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: I had to come out the booth real quick. (Panelists laughing.)


QUESTION: This question is for David. They always say a good plan, when it comes together, is amazing. So, was this everything that you expected when you wrote it up and more with the cast, the cast that you have together right now?

DAVID CASPE: I mean, beyond, you know? I will say I learned very early on in my career that if you just get truly funny people, it makes your job so much easier because they add like, everything you think you’re putting on a script that’s funny, they make funnier. And then a lot of, like, straight lines, it’s just, like, a word or something that you didn’t even realize was a joke. Like, you know, Kenan or Kimrie or Taylor or Chris or Don or whoever, the girls say it in such a funny way that there’s, like, added laughs where you thought was just like a serious line. So, yeah, beyond. The cast is so good that they just they make everything so much better. And then, also, the great Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and all our great writers, you know, just wrote such great stuff. So, I didn’t do that much, Bobby. I sort of sat back. If you get a bunch of funny, smart people together and let them do their thing, it’s quite easy. So that

KENAN THOMPSON: You haven’t changed, David. You haven’t changed.

DAVID CASPE: Thank you. Thank you. Now, my personal life has changed, as I’ve told you. I’m going through a pretty tough time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: He flies commercial. He flies commercial.

DAVID CASPE: Yes. Oh, my God. I’m driving everywhere now. Anyway. Actually, she got the car. But I had a lot of fun. No. I love everybody up here. And it was just a blast, and they’re so good. Anything else?

QUESTION: Kenny, what do you feel about it?

KENNY SMITH: What I do feel about the show? I feel like it’s amazing to get opportunity to come in in Season 2 with Lisa and to build on what they did in Season 1. It was a great opportunity in a long career to be a part of this and to work with Don and Kenan and Chris and meet Taylor and Kimrie. You don’t expect those things sometimes. Like, hey, this is you know, these guys are history. These guys are special. And I was honored to be a part of it.

QUESTION: There you go. Thank you, guys. And, Kenan, that was ultimate flex and some fresh off the Spirit Airlines trip from Miami, sitting up for four hours.

KENAN THOMPSON: I’ve been there, done that. I was doing that when it was called what was it? Value Jet. Remember Value Jet?

QUESTION: Value Jet. Oh, my God. Thank you, guys.

CHRIS REDD: Man, you sound like you need a massage, my guy.

QUESTION: You felt the pain.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Want to say real quick, our cast, we get a ton of credit, as we should. But I will also say that it starts on the page. Like, we wouldn’t be able to have these funny moments, these funny lines without such an incredible team of writers and executive producers. And I think it really shows this season, and I can’t wait for everybody to see it. But, you know, these guys don’t get enough credit. So, Lisa and Kenny and David even David.


KIMRIE LEWIS: and our entire writing team, like, they killing. We can’t wait for y’all to see it.

DON JOHNSON: I will second that notion. And I will also tell you that our Christmas episode, which, I think, is the first one up, it airs next Monday night, I believe. Or, no, next Wednesday night, correct?


DON JOHNSON: Yeah. That is not to be missed. That is a wonderful episode. And I don’t usually single out anything or anybody, but the writers, the directors, all the cast, everybody did such a great job. I’m excited. This will be about my fourth or fifth time seeing it. I’m excited to see it again. Sample that.


DON JOHNSON: See how nice these people are? They are so nice.

QUESTION: OK. Kenan, I’d like you to talk more about your work ethic. I like that you said that you don’t worry about being busy. You’ve built your long career since you were Dani and Dannah’s age. So, what gave you the work ethic at that young age? I actually was on the set of both “All That” and “Kenan & Kel” several times and saw that even as a kid, you took the business seriously. You had fun, but it was a job and you did it well. Where did you get that work ethic at such a young age?

KENAN THOMPSON: Well, I’ll tell you my story right after the girls tell theirs, because I think they’re the closest to the beginnings of that and it might be like a fresh perspective. You know, it might be interesting to hear what’s driving them. Because they’re beasts. You know, if you follow them on Instagram, you’ll see them taking photo shoots and doing posts and choreographing and all of that. So, I kind of want to ask them what has been motivating y’all so far? Because they work just as hard as we do.

DANNAH LANE: Actually, it’s all you guys. Seeing how y’all do and being around you really inspires us to keep going and get to where you guys are.

DANNAH LANE: It’s like this giant cast, amazing actors and mentors are always around us, showing us how to act, what emotions to bring out. So, it’s kind of you know.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, I can totally relate. I can totally relate to that, because I had the same wonderment in my eyes when I first got to a real set with, you know, a person that I recognized. I think it was Emilio Estevez. You know what I’m saying? And I was like, yo, I know this guy from “Young Guns,” from, you know what was his cool one when they were in detention? What was that one?

KENNY SMITH: “Breakfast Club.”

KENAN THOMPSON: And it was just like, oh, wow. I’m standing next to a famous person and he’s, like, “looking back at my eyes” type thing. And that’s got to be such an amazing experience to just feel like, oh, snap. Now I get a chance to actually be in the mix of something that I’ve wanted to do. So, the drive, once I learned how hard the job was was just all about setting personal goals for what I wanted in my career basically and who I looked up to in trying to get to those levels basically. So, I can totally relate to what the girls are saying.

QUESTION: So, what are your personal goals now?

KENAN THOMPSON: God of the universe. What else?

DAVID CASPE: Sorry. To be God of the universe, you said?

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I want to start that job.


DON JOHNSON: Well, he’s going to audit. He’s been auditing for over a year, I mean.

KENAN THOMPSON: I have. So, I’ve

DAVID CASPE: But he hasn’t had a very good year. In your work, is this (unintelligible)?

KENAN THOMPSON: Well (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) This is a democratic universe. So, I’ll run for God of the universe.


KIMRIE LEWIS: Get your résumé together.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’ll get elected and serve my I think it’s an eight year term. Yeah, an eight year term. No. I just, you know, born to work the business. Trying to do the production company thing or, you know, put other people to work and stuff like that and just, you know, start owning our properties and all of that good talk. So as far as the acting trajectory, it’s just to stay in front of the cameras as long as, you know I don’t know, you know, whoever has done it their entire lives. To me, it’s always been a lifelong dedication. So hopefully we’ll have, you know, the “Kenan” reunion in 30 years and do another, like, five seasons or something. That would be so fun.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Then they can do a remake and Kevin Hart can play you.

KENAN THOMPSON: Exactly. And Todd Bridges can play Chris. That will be fun. That will make sense.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Due to time, we have time for final question and it comes from Francine Brokaw.

KENAN THOMPSON: Is she related to Tom?

DAVID CASPE: Yeah. Any relation?

KENAN THOMPSON: (Buzzer sound.)

DAVID CASPE: I think you’re muted.

KENAN THOMPSON: Oh, you can see her?

DAVID CASPE: No, I’m just guessing because I’m hearing nothing.

CHRIS REDD: Ah, that’s a solid guess. It was very confident.

DAVID CASPE: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Francine, can you hear us?

DON JOHNSON: Francine, we’re sorry if we, you know, paired you up with any other Brokaws.

KENAN THOMPSON: We didn’t mean it.


DAVID CASPE: We think she stormed out of the Zoom when we asked if she was related to Tom Brokaw. (Laughter.)

KENAN THOMPSON: Just put it in the chat and we’ll read it and we’ll answer it.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Brokaw jokes.

DAVID CASPE: “Every day of my life since grade school.”


QUESTION: We’ll move on for the final question.

DAVID CASPE: Sorry, Francine.

DON JOHNSON: Man, we really pissed off Francine. Man.

QUESTION: Hi. Don, you’ve been doing this so long. I’m just curious. Even now, this many years later, do you still learn? Is there still something new to learn as you do a show? And if so, what have you learned about yourself or about, you know, acting, whatever?

DON JOHNSON: Well, I’ve learned that acting is something that you learn every day. And this cast, if you don’t get up early and get your act together, they will leave you in the dust. So, I make sure that I show up and show up on time or maybe a little early, and I watch very closely to what these brilliant, brilliant comedians and comediennes are doing. Because, man, I’m lucky to be a part this cast and part of this show. I’m just lucky to have a long career. I’m happy to be here today.

KENAN THOMPSON: He’s a happy person. We’re the luckies. Well, thank you shadow warriors for interviewing us today. We appreciate it. Always nice when we can get together and see each other. So, we appreciate you giving us an excuse to do that.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah, we can’t wait for Season 2.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah. You’re going to go crazy. Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and David everybody’s killed it this year. It’s so much fun. We had fun last year and we quadrupled it this year. I’m thrilled for y’all to see it.

KENAN THOMPSON: Lisa, do you want to say something else?

DAVID CASPE: Say something.

LISA MUSE BRYANT: Yeah. Everybody check out “Kenan” Season 2. Revisit Season 1. Catch up on some of the loose ends they’re going to be tying up. Like Chris said, we’re diving deeper into characters and relationships and coming up with some amazing nuggets. And I was so privileged to join this group and so excited to have a chance to write for them and just have everybody just push their range to the limits. And it’s going to be so fun and surprisingly emotional and poignant. So, check it out for sure.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you so much to all the panelists.


another "Kenan" poster“Kenan” follows the life of busy single dad Kenan Williams (Kenan Thompson), who is juggling a high-profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up With Kenan!” He’s also raising two adorable pre-teen daughters – the too smart Aubrey (Dani Lane) and the silly, unpredictable Birdie (Dannah Lane).

As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live-in father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson), his brother/manager/roommate Gary (Chris Redd) and his colorful co-workers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life.

Rick was a carefree sax player when his own daughter was young and missed out on a lot of her childhood. He’s trying to make up for lost time as a larger-than-life grandad despite his penchant for getting into trouble.

Gary has long been in his older brother’s shadow and he’s ready to branch out on his own – with dating, business development and potentially his own place.

Kenan excels at his job with the help of his driven executive producer, Mika (Kimrie Lewis), and despite his ambitious co-host, Tami (Taylor Louderman). Mika can be tightly wound, especially when Gary, as Kenan’s not-so-managerial manager, tries to insert himself. She’s a steady force and confidante to Kenan as he manages a demanding career and chaotic personal life.

Lorne Michaels, Kenan Thompson, Andrew Singer, David Caspe, Kenny Smith Jr., Lisa Muse Bryant and Bryan Tucker serve as executive producers. The series was created by Jackie Clarke and David Caspe.

“Kenan” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Broadway Video.

Kenan Thompson

Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Star / Executive Producer, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Kenan Thompson as Kenan -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Kenan Thompson recently completed his 18th season on “Saturday Night Live” as the show’s longest-running cast member. He also stars in and executive produces the NBC comedy “Kenan,” which will return for its second season.

Thompson received two Emmy Award nominations in 2021 for performance – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “Kenan” and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “SNL.” Thompson previously received two Emmy nominations in 2018 and 2020 in the supporting actor category for his work on “SNL.” Thompson received an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2018 for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack,” and received a nomination in the same category in 2017 for co-writing “Last Christmas” from the popular “Jingle Barack” “SNL” music video.

Thompson has made numerous contributions to “SNL” with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of “Deep House Dish,” “Weekend Update” correspondent Jean K. Jean, “Black Jeopardy” host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch “What Up With That.”

Thompson served as producer and judge alongside Chrissy Teigen, Jeff Foxworthy and Amanda Seales on NBC’s comedy competition series “Bring the Funny,” which debuted in 2019.

A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series “All That.” Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 “All That” reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff “Kenan and Kel” in 1996. Thompson also had a recurring role on the WB’s “Felicity.”

His past projects include Netflix’s Adam Sandler film “Hubie Halloween,” starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes on a Plane,” “Wieners” and “The Magic of Belle Isle” with Morgan Freeman. Other film credits include “Fat Albert,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” “Good Burger,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Brother Nature, “Heavyweights,” “My Boss’s Daughter,” “Barbershop 2,” “Going in Style” and “They Came Together.”

Thompson showcased his voice talents as Bricklebaum in “The Grinch,” which made history as the #1 Christmas movie of all time. Thompson has also lent his voice to the animated films “Trolls World Tour,” “Wonder Park,” “The Smurfs,” “The Smurfs 2” and “Space Chimps,” the television series “Sit Down, Shut Up” and the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Nike puppet campaign during the 2009 NBA playoffs. He was the voice of Austin “Impresario” Sullivan in the Hulu animated series “The Awesomes” and Riff in the film “Rock Dog.”

Upcoming projects include Paramount’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and Disney+’s “Home Sweet Home Alone.”

Don Johnson

Rick, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Don Johnson as Rick -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Don Johnson plays Rick on the new NBC comedy “Kenan.” Johnson is best known as Det. Sonny Crockett on the hugely successful iconic TV series “Miami Vice.” He earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1985 and won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series in 1986 and 1987. Born in Flat Creek, Mo., Johnson studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco where he made his professional debut in “Your Own Thing,” a rock musical modeled after William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” The young actor got his big break by starring in the controversial Off Broadway play “Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” which was directed by and starred Sal Mineo. During the run of “Miami Vice,” Johnson starred in the critically acclaimed TV film “The Long Hot Summer” as well as starring opposite Susan Sarandon in the feature film “Sweet Hearts Dance” in 1988. When “Miami Vice” ended, Johnson focused on his film career with “Dead Band,” “The Hot Spot” and “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.” His film work has given Johnson the opportunity to collaborate with legendary filmmakers such as John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper. Johnson co-wrote a two-hour movie in 1995 with neighbor “Hunter S. Thompson.” While the movie was not picked up, CBS bought the story and he returned to television in 1996 with the cop show “Nash Bridges” as creator and producer. In 2016, Johnson appeared in several episodes of the Netflix series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” as well as appearing in the Sky Television series “Sick Note.” He was recently seen in “Watchmen,” the Emmy-winning Damon Lindelof series for HBO as well as the box office hit “Knives Out.” Johnson has been married to Kelley Phleger since 1999. They have three children in addition to son Jesse Johnson and daughter Dakota.

Chris Redd

Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Gary Williams, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Chris Redd as Gary -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Chris Redd is a repertory player on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” Redd also portrays Gary Williams on NBC comedy “Kenan,” which will return for its second season.

Redd is an actor, writer, rapper and stand-up comedian who performs across the country and has toured the United States and Europe with the Second City Touring Company. He received the Emmy Award in 2018 for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack.”

In 2019 Redd released his debut stand-up album, “But Here We Are.” Redd starred in the independent horror film “Scare Me” and can be seen in the comedy films “Vampires vs. the Bronx”, “Deep Murder,” “The House” and “A Futile and Stupid Gestures.”

He appeared in the 2016 film “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” and opposite Kathy Bates in the Netflix original comedy series “Disjointed.” Other TV roles include “Wet Hot American Summer,” NBC’s “Will & Grace,” Netflix’s “Love,” TV’ Land’s “Teachers,” ”Comedy Central’s “Detroiters” and “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents.” Redd has also loaned his voice to many projects, including Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” Audible’s “64th Man” and Disney’s “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.” Additionally, Redd was featured as a 2016 Standup New Face at Just for Laughs in Montreal. Redd was previously a performer at Chicago’s Second City and iO Chicago.

Redd is the co-creator and will star in Peacock’s new scripted comedy series “Bust Down.”

Redd is from St. Louis, Mo., and his birthday is March 25.

Kenan with Aubrey and Birdie Williams on "Kenan" on NBCDani and Dannah Lane

Aubrey and Birdie Williams, “Kenan”

Dani and Dannah Lane star as sisters Aubrey and Birdie Williams on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

The sisters, who recently appeared in NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” saw their video “Call Jesus” go viral and accumulated 1.8 million views on YouTube. Their huge impact with audiences led to further success in performing and branding. The girls have appeared on talk shows such as “The Real” and “Today” and had a special segment on “The Steve Harvey Show” called “The Advice Sister.”

Dani and Dannah have grown an impressive social media following, with roughly 1.5 million followers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. They are beyond humbled by their successes as their brand continues to grow exponentially, including opportunities in media and motivational workshops. Dani and Dannah are inspired to use their influence to be a voice for their fans and followers who are not too young to change the world.

Kimrie Lewis

Mika, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Kimrie Lewis as Mika -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Kimrie Lewis plays Mika on NBC’s new comedy “Kenan.” For two seasons, Lewis played Poppy Banks on the ABC comedy “Single Parents” and recurred on “Scandal” for five seasons. She has made numerous TV guest appearances across the dial, including “Superstore,” “Brockmire,” “The Mindy Project, “2 Broke Girls,” “New Girl” and “Fake News with Ted Nelms.” As a writer, she studied at UCLA Extension’s Writers Program and has written for Kevin Hart’s LOL Network and sold a script to IFC. Lewis also directed and associate produced the short film “He Was Asking for It,” which was an official selection for the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Cordillera Film Festival. Lewis is a South Los Angeles native and graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Lewis performs stand-up comedy at clubs and colleges across the country and is an active supporter of the Innocence Project.

Taylor Louderman of "Kenan" on NBCTaylor Louderman

Tami, “Kenan”

Taylor Louderman plays Tami on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

She made her Broadway debut originating the role of Campbell Davis in “Bring It On: The Musical” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green. She went on to play Lauren in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway and originated the role of Regina George in Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls,” for which she received a 2018 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Television credits include “The Loudest Voice,” “The Good Fight,” “Sunny Day,” “Evil,” “Peter Pan Live” and “High Maintenance.”

Louderman founded the non-profit Write Out Loud Project, a songwriting competition for young, new musical theater writers. She volunteers at Ozark Actors Theatre where she participated in her first professional show at 10 years old and writes youth musicals to support arts education.

David Caspe

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

David Caspe is executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

Caspe grew up in San Francisco and Chicago. He spent most of his life pursuing visual art before moving to Los Angeles in 2007 to focus on writing.

In television, he created/executive produced “Happy Endings” and “Marry Me,” and co-created/executive produced “Black Monday,” “Champaign Ill.,” “Kenan” and the upcoming “Blockbuster.”

Lisa Muse Bryant

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

Lisa Muse Bryant is executive producer on season two of the NBC comedy “Kenan” and co-executive producer on Peacock’s “Field of Dreams.”

Muse Bryant has been a co-executive producer on “Blackish” for the past three seasons. In addition, she wrote the NBC music-driven comedy project “Dream,” starring Amber Riley. Additionally, she co-wrote the pilot “Princess of Philly” for HBO Max.

A proud mom of four, Muse Bryant also has experience in the kids space, and served as consulting producer on Marvel’s “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” concurrent with her “Blackish” responsibilities. Muse Bryant’s background also includes working as a news producer while spending four years at VOA Television, the international news agency in Washington, D.C.

Kenny Smith

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

Kenny Smith is an executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Smith is a graduate of Hampton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media and membership in three honor societies. Just out of college, he moved to Los Angeles where he got his start in the entertainment industry as a production assistant on the sitcom “Martin.” Two seasons later, Smith began his writing career on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” soon becoming co-producer. After completing four seasons on the show, he moved on to several UPN series, including “One on One” and its spin-off “Cuts,” where he served as co-executive producer.

Smith joined the staff of “The Game” in 2006, becoming executive producer in the show’s third season and showrunner in its sixth. For his work on “The Game,” he has been nominated twice for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and has three nominations as a producer in the category Outstanding Comedy Series, winning the latter in 2013. After a nine-season series wrap of “The Game,” he moved on to ABC’s “Uncle Buck,” where he served as co-executive producer.

In 2016, Smith joined ABC’s “Black-ish” as co-executive producer and director, earning another NAACP Image Award as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination. The following season while developing for Universal, he served as co-executive producer on NBC’s “Marlon.” Under Smith’s first overall deal, he returned to ABC Studios for season five of “Black-ish” as director, executive producer and co-showrunner.

Smith has written a pilot for TV Land in collaboration with Jamie Foxx, a pilot for BET starring Morris Chestnut and three additional pilots — two for NBCUniversal. Recently, he shot his comedy pilot “None of the Above” for Freeform.

Currently, he is working with UTV under his second overall deal and developing multiple projects of different genres.

Lorne Michaels

Creator/Executive Producer, “Saturday Night Live”; Executive Producer, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; Executive Producer, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”; Executive Producer, “Kenan”

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: Lorne Michaels -- NBC Photo: Frank Ockenfels

Lorne Michaels is an award-winning producer and writer, best known as the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” the most Emmy Award-nominated show in television history.

Born in Toronto in 1944, Michaels attended the University of Toronto and later began his television career in Canada and Los Angeles. He arrived in New York in 1975 to begin “SNL.”

Michaels’ television credits as an executive producer also include “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “30 Rock,” “Portlandia” and  “Kids in the Hall,” among others. His motion picture credits include “Three Amigos,” “Wayne’s World,” “Tommy Boy,” “Mean Girls,” and “MacGruber,” to name a few. His TV specials have featured Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, the Rutles, Flip Wilson, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, and Adele. On Broadway, he produced and directed “Gilda Radner – Live From New York” and recently produced “Mean Girls,” the Tony-nominated Broadway musical based on the hit movie.

Michaels’ 94 Emmy nominations are the most ever for an individual. He received the 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and in 2013 earned the rare honor of an individual Peabody Award. Michaels was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2018. Michaels will receive a 2021 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievement.

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"Kenan" poster from NBC

Interview with Martha Millan

TV Interview!

Martha Millan - photo by Yanina May

Interview with Martha Millan of “The Cleaning Lady” on FOX by Thane 12/30/21

It was awesome to interview Martha about diversity and world travel. Both subjects have a place in my heart.

Thane: How do you think people will respond to the cleaning lady?

Martha: Wow, that’s such a great question. Nobody’s asked me that yet. I think in terms of just the show’s content, there’s so many groundbreaking elements to it with representation, diversity, dealing with topical issues. Then, of course, there’s all the action and the drama and everything. So, I think in terms of just being – I think they’re definitely going to be surprised with the content of the show, but at the same time, drawn in by the relationships that they see throughout the series. The show deals with a lot of family issues, and I think that’s where the relatability comes in with the show. So, I’m hoping that they’re going to be excited.

Thane: How does your character fit into the show?

Martha: I play Fiona De La Rosa. The lead character of the show is played by Elodie Yung, who is incredible in this show. She is known for her action as Electra, but you see so many vulnerable parts of her throughout the series that I think a lot of people are going to be just so beautifully connected to her. And she’s married to my brother. So, we play best friends on the show, and we deal with a lot of challenging issues. I myself am undocumented, and Thony De La Rosa, through her plight of trying to save her son from an immunodeficiency disorder, she gets involved with the underworld and becomes the cleaning lady for the mob. So, there’re so many things that can happen and go wrong, but it’s wonderful to see both characters really rise up against the challenges that they face.

Thane: Do you think that there’s a shortage of roles for Asian actors?

Martha: I think, for me, I think things are changing. Definitely prior to – for me, I grew up in Australia. I moved to America in terms of really finding better opportunities for my career, mainly because representation wasn’t available here. Now, I’m happy to say that coming home. I’m here in Australia right now Zooming. I see all the ads, and I see the shows, and it’s changed incredibly. There’s so much diversity through commercials and on the TV shows in Australia that it’s so wonderful to see that a lot of opportunities are opening opening up for everyone. I still think, yes, there definitely could be more done for nontraditional casting and just casting people for their talent rather than their heritage. Obviously, with certain plots there’s that necessity, but when it comes to certain storylines, if someone can play a lawyer without any specificity of culture, I think anyone should be able to go for that. And I think that is something that’s happening and we see these days, which is wonderful.

Thane: You’ve been a guest on many TV shows. Do you have a particular favorite show you’ve acted on?

Martha: Let me see. I have to say The OA. I think that was such a creative show, and the thing was, I didn’t even know what the story was about. I only got my scene. I shot my scene, and that was it. So, I just thought that I was playing a very complicated mother, but I think, to actually play Filipino in that show in terms of her character and complexities was really challenging and was a great way to kind of showcase just my emotional depth and just to really be a part of such an immensely creative plot line.

Thane: How do you feel about the current state of diversity in Hollywood?

Martha: Wonderful question. I think it’s changing, clearly with the example [of] this show. It’s groundbreaking on all elements – the whole the cast itself. I’m Filipino Australian. Elodie is Cambodian French. Aidan is Mexican. We have the Armenian culture being explored in Aiden’s world, and then you have an Argentine. I mean, there’re so many cultures that are represented on all fronts, even from the writers, on the writer side, and that’s why I think there’s so many changes. It’s a testament to FOX’s, I guess, support in really kind of spearheading the challenge for people to open up diversity and allowing for changes to happen, because if you think about it, the generation today, they’re exposed to so many cultures through social media. All the kids, they know that there’s a world out there, and that it should be represented and that to have a narrow point of view is archaic. And that’s where the appetite for new content that represents the whole world globally comes from. So, I think it’s wonderful that we’re a part of that. And, yeah, it’s kind of exciting, because, for me, it’s about opening up new roles for marginalized voices and representing them in not such a linear way and two dimensional but in a way that encompasses all their complexities as humans, because life’s messy. So, despite whatever culture you’re from, we’re all kind of going through those emotional roller coasters.

Thane: As a person with a disability, I find that writers can kind of be clueless on handling our characters. Do you feel that way about the way characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds are written?

Martha: Absolutely. I think, in the past, absolutely. Like I know, for me, representation of a Southeast Asian woman was depicted in Crocodile Dundee in a scene that was definitely something that I was just so ashamed of that it affected me so much, and it affected the way I thought people saw me or viewed me. I think these days now, with the openness and, again, the exposure to the world, culturally, people are changing their perceptions of not just in, again, a very narrow point of view, [but] they’re opening up just the humanity of people’s characters. And I think it’s a testament to the writers on the show. Miranda Kwok, who’s the creator [and] Melissa Carter, who is the showrunner, they really wanted to nurture that creativity amongst the writers to give authenticity to our characters, because the writers were also, you know, Filipino, Mexican, and just it was completely diverse so that there was a true authenticity to it. So, I do understand your point of view in terms of misrepresentation, because if they’re not in your shoes, or if they don’t understand the experiences you’ve gone through, how can someone write about it, if they haven’t felt it? So, yeah, I think that lends to the authenticity of this show.

Would more diversity behind the scenes help, such as executive producers and writers?

Martha: I think it does. I mean, again, Miranda Kwok is an example of that. She is Asian Canadian living in America now. I think, just in terms of the fact that she really wanted to create a show that centered on the Southeast Asian culture, and then to put a Southeast Asian female lead at the forefront was groundbreaking. And for Marissa Carter, the showrunner, to really embrace that and create an environment to enhance the diversity among the the actors and the writers who are on the show, employing that diversity really says a lot about the changes that’s happening in the world. It’s indicative of what is necessary to kind of evolve. Otherwise, if we’re holding on to such old values, then there’s consequences to that, I think, with what we’re all seeing right now. But I am an optimist. So, being a part of the show is part of that movement.

Are there any other structural changes that you’d like to see that could increase diversity?

Martha: Structural is a very good, you know, a topic to put out there. That’s something that I think most people forget, and I think, because now, a lot of diverse backgrounds are being put in the forefront in terms of how they shape their stories from their point of views is important. It’s their voice, and you can’t find authenticity unless it’s through experiences from your own background and from your own life. So, I think in order to create that expression through the media, you have to allow that ceiling to break and allow the the diverse voices and marginalized voices to express themselves authentically. And to be honest with you, I think it’s to the benefit of all media, and you see that in terms of what people are watching and the content that’s out there. There’s more appetite for things that are expressed creatively through representation, because everybody sees this representation all over social media. You’re connected immediately to that, and yeah, it’s a disadvantage if you if you don’t move forward with that evolution.

Thane: I see you have traveled quite a bit. Do you feel that your traveling experience and being exposed to different cultures has enriched your acting career at all, and how so?

Martha: Yeah, traveling is so important. I mean, as an Australian, I think we travel a lot, because we’re so far away from everything, but this was something that is a passion of mine, because whenever I travel, I really want to immerse myself in the society, in the culture in the society. I don’t normally stay at resorts or anything like that. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I also would love to see just the reality of people’s lives in each in each country I visit, because I want to understand and immerse myself in their food, the way they respond to certain situations, how their lives are lived. And with that knowledge coming from visiting different countries, you’re able to understand people more in such a – I guess you empathize with people more, because you understand where they’re coming from, from different perspectives, all different perspectives. If you have more perspectives, culturally, I think, you’ll just be more open to experiencing different things and allowing for more changes that don’t really hinder you as a person.

Thane: What were your favorite places to visit?

Martha: There was this one place in Panama where I flew in; I was traveling with my ex boyfriend at that time on a plane, and I was traveling with chickens. And I remember there was a grandma and a grandson strapped in one seat belt at the front of the plane, and we were just going to this island in Panama, and we had to land in the middle of the jungle, because he had to check the propeller. Luckily – I mean, I don’t know how lucky we were, but he said, “I think it’s good enough.” Then, we landed in the middle of the jungle to to be greeted by these children who took us to this island, and at that time, there was no one there. It was an island the size of a football field, and we would deep sea dive and just kind of catch her at breakfast by just finding the fish in the water and sleeping on the sand. We had huts, separate huts and everything. So, that, for me, was adventurous. It was it was [unintelligible] though too.

Thane: Tell us about your online drama education program for children.

Martha: For me, it’s all about confidence, building confidence. Yes, there are definitely – I’m not looking to make child actors or whatever in that sense, but I will definitely help them to achieve their aspirations and dreams of becoming an actor, but it’s all about kind of just getting them out of their shell, connecting, really building their confidence. I think these days in terms of with a lot of the social media and they’re connected to their phones, yes, they’re able to express themselves through Tik Tok and everything in that, but I think to really build a connection between people is a great way with the classes that I’ve developed. And just to see how unfiltered they are, and fearless, it’s a great reminder for adults just to kind of tap into that as well. So, I learn more from them, actually, whenever I teach them, because I see how there’s just magic that happens whenever they do respond without any filtering. And as adults, we’re so programmed and conditioned to act and behave and live a certain lifestyle, and we forget the magic that we have too, as people. So, it’s kind of cool. So, it’s very reciprocal in terms of the education for me and for them.

Thane: Is there anything else that you want to share with the audience?

Martha: I think the one thing that I want to share with the show is, just be who you are. I think a lot of the characters in the show struggle with so many limitations of labels, and you’ll find that their struggles to break through those labels, whether you’re undocumented, whether you’re a mobster, whether you’re, you know, what the other characters – I’m sorry; I’m kind of blanking out on the other characters, but just I think the plight of the underdog of just really empowering yourself is also a very strong message that comes through the show of The Cleaning Lady. And you’ll see through Elodie Yung’s performances – yes, everybody knows her is Electra, but her emotional vulnerability comes through so much that I think a lot of people will connect in terms of just going for what they want in life and really doing what you can for your family and how far do you go. So, I think that’s a great kind of question and challenge for all of us to to embark in our own lives.

This is the end of the interview. Thank you, Martha.

It was such a pleasure meeting you, Thane. I really appreciate your time and I hope you have an awesome awesome new year. Okay, it’s gonna be a great one.

Here is the Video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Martha MillanMulti-faceted and talented Australian-Filipino actress Martha Millan (“The OA”) stars in the main cast as ‘Fiona Da La Rosa’ in FOX’s upcoming drama series “The Cleaning Lady.” From executive producers Miranda Kwok (“The 100”), Melissa Carter (“Queen Sugar”), Michael Offer (“Homeland,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), and Shay Mitchell (“You,” “Pretty Little Liars”) and based on the 2017 Argentinian show “La Chica Que Limpia,” “The Cleaning Lady” is a thrilling and emotional driven character drama about a whip-smart Cambodian doctor (Elodie Yung) who comes to the U.S. for a medical treatment to save her ailing son. However, when the system fails and pushes her into hiding, she refuses to be beaten down and marginalized. Instead, she becomes a cleaning lady for organized crime using her cunning and intelligence to forge her own path in the criminal world. The new FOX drama series is the first ever American TV show focusing on Filipinos.  “The Cleaning Lady” premiere on Monday, January 3rd at 9/8c on FOX.

“The Cleaning Lady” Trailer

‘Fiona De La Rosa’ is the Filipina sister-in-law and fellow cleaning lady of ‘Thony’ (Yung) who is undocumented in the US while raising her children as a single parent. Fiona struggles dealing with the hardships of being undocumented while helping Thony in her journey to save her ailing son. Martha describes her character as “a fun, emotionally volatile and chaotic hot mess, but her journey throughout the series is one of empowerment and strength while helping Thony save her son’s life. Both women show true resilience as we follow them in their plight to give their children the best they can under extraordinary circumstances.”

Millan is best known for her work in “The OA,” “Succession,” “Entourage,” “Madam Secretary,” “Strong Medicine,” “The Third Watch,” all three primary shows of the “Law & Order” franchise, THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jim Parsons and Will Arnett and the recently released indie film THE DRUMMER in which she starred alongside Donald Glover. "The Cleaning Lady" poster

Born in the Philippines, Martha moved to Australia at 4 years old and grew up in Sydney, Australia. Martha discovered her love for acting when she decided to take acting as an elective and performed in her first play in high school as Gwendolen in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Martha attended the University of Sydney and studied English and History before she deferred a year and ended up in Los Angeles attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While taking a trip to New York City, she auditioned on a whim and was accepted to the original Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she graduated. She has since been a true New Yorker at heart. While booking acting jobs, Martha had great success in modeling and have done endless national print and commercial work for Verizon, AT&T, Target, Clairol, Home Depot and more, in addition to editorial work.

In addition to acting, Martha is also an acting teacher for children. She previously taught acting for extracurricular and after school programs in Brooklyn public schools until COVID hit and she decided to create her own global online drama education program for children aged 10-16 years old based all over the world in Brazil, Portugal, Israel, US, and more. Martha is also a world traveler and have visited a plethora of countries like Spain, Greece, Aruba, Peru, Indonesia, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, etc. As an active and athletic child, Martha continues to stay healthy and fit by running everyday and practicing high intensity training. Martha is an advocate for diversity and is proud to be starring on a series portraying Filipinos.

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Martha Millan - photo by Yanina May

Interview with Ajay Friese

TV Interview!

Ajay Friese

Interview with Ajay Friese of “Lost in Space” on Netflix by Thane 12/22/21

This was my first one-on-one interview with TVMEG.COM. I was thankful it went smoothly and enjoyed talking to Ajay.

Thane:  Were you happy at how Lost in Space ended?

Ajay:  You know, I was really really happy, I felt sad naturally about the show ending, but when I read the final scripts, and I saw all the storylines and the plot arcs concluding, I was actually really surprised I felt a ton of closure, and it just felt like the perfect ending. So, I was very, very happy with how it ended.

Thane:  You have been in a few TV shows. What has been your favorite role to play and why?

Ajay:  Probably my favorite role to play was honestly probably Lost in Space, just because that was such an important role to me. It was five years of my life that I was playing that role. And the characters on that show and the actors who played them kind of became really close friends. So, it just holds a really special place in my heart. Yeah, so I’d have to say, Vijay.

Thane:  I see that you are also releasing music, what inspires your music?

Ajay:  Music just comes out of me. Like growing up there were some kids in class who would always be doodling on like the edge of their homework. Me, I can’t draw. I can barely draw cube. But for me, I would always be humming and making up songs. Music just runs through me. it’s ran through me ever since I was a kid, ever since I was a baby, actually. It’s just the most natural thing to me. And I think even if I didn’t want to do it, I would still just be doing it. So, yeah. I forgot what the question was actually, but I love music so much. It’s really natural to me.

Thane:  What drove you to get into acting?

Ajay:  My sister was doing community theater, my older sister. She was doing community theater in our hometown of Victoria, Canada, and it looked like fun. So, I went along to the auditions when I was like 11 or 12, and I just kept on doing theater.  I did school theater but also did community theater, and I got to miss a whole bunch of school for rehearsals and stuff. It was just always something I did as a hobby. Then, eventually, I started making connections with the professional theatre companies in town and with the opera, and I started doing more and more productions. I probably did about 15 theater productions in my teen years. Yeah, more and more opportunities kind of just started naturally coming my way. So, it just kind of happened.

Thane:  What kind of star do you want to be in future? A movie star, a TV star, a musician, or all of the above?

Ajay:  You know, I don’t know if I can answer that question. As I get older, the more and more I realized that being like a star in something doesn’t really actually matter and that what matters is just being connected, I think with who you are, and being connected with the present moment and with doing art. So, I think as long as I just keep on pursuing art, I’m going to be getting fulfillment out of that.

Lost in Space Season 3 poster

Thane:  Have you made any strong friendships with any of your former cast members?

Ajay:  Yes, I have. Raza Jaffrey, who plays my dad on Lost in Space, has given me tons of great acting advice and great life advice. Mina Sundwall, who plays Penny on Lost in Space, [she] and I are really good friends, and she actually directed one of my music videos this past summer for my song “Blackberry.” And Max Jenkins from Lost in Space, he’s awesome. Charles from Lost in Space season three, plus, yeah, just just so many people from Lost in Space and other shows.

Thane:  If you could play any character who would you play?

Ajay:  I mean, it’d be cool to play Harry Potter even though I don’t really look look like him or something, but, yeah, it would be cool to play Harry Potter. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.

Thane:  Is there an actor and or a director who you would love to work with?

Ajay:  I really like Bill Nighy. Not Bill Nye. I do like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but Bill Nighy, he is a British actor who’s really really good. Yeah, I really like him. I like Maggie Smith, who’s actually… Toby Stephens from Lost in Space, his mom is Maggie Smith. And Maggie Smith, for those who don’t know, plays Professor McGonagall on Harry Potter. And I don’t know; I just think they’re such talented actors.

Thane:  As a young male actor in the Instagram age, do you feel pressure to look good?

Ajay:  Yeah, sometimes I do. And sometimes I feel excited when I post something where I just look normal, or where I haven’t showered or something and I’m just living normal life, because I think it’s cool when I see other people post stuff like that. But yeah, there definitely is a pressure to look good, but, you know, maybe that’s something I can also combat with sometimes looking good and sometimes not looking the best.

Thane:  How do you feel when people call you a heartthrob?

Ajay:  I don’t really think about it very much. I mean, I guess it’s exciting or cool or whatever, but it’s not really something I take that much thought in.

Thane:  This is the end of the interview. Is there anything that you want to tell the TV make audience including plugs?

Ajay:  Well, Lost in Space three is out on Netflix, and it is super amazing, my favorite season we’ve ever filmed. And also I just released an album. You can find it on your streaming service, if you just search my name Ajay Friese, and I hope you enjoy it, and thank you so much, Thane.

Here is the Video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


AJay FrieseThe hottest and most talented rising Canadian/Indian star, Ajay Friese, stars in the finale season of Netflix’s hit TV series, LOST IN SPACE, which premiered December 1st, 2021. Friese plays Vijay Dhar, Victor’s (Raza Jaffrey) son and Penny’s (Mina Sundwall) love interest.

Season 3 Trailer

Friese’s leading role in LOST IN SPACE comes off the heels of his star turn in the indie film RIOT GIRLS, opposite Madison Iseman, which the Los Angeles Times called, “[a] splashy, bloody take on “Lord of the Flies” with a rock ‘n’ roll spirit.” Ajay also recurs on several TV shows including Max Landis’ BBC series DIRK GENTLY, the CW smash hit RIVERDALE and THE ORDER for Netflix. On the film side, Friese is already tapped to star in the 80’s homage Still from "Lost in Space"thriller COMING SOON..

A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Ajay (pronounced ah-jay) is primed to be a true breakout star with his starring roles on both TV and in film. In addition to acting, Ajay is an accomplished singer/songwriter who is gearing up for a Dec. 2021 release of an extended version of his EP “light a match…then run” on Friday, December 10th. In 2020, Ajay released his debut album with Bon Jovi producer Everett Bradley.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Ajay Friese

Interview with Yael Stone, Rob Collins and Shantae Barnes-Cowan

TV Interview!

Firebite poster

Interview with Yael Stone, Rob Collins and Shantae Barnes-Cowan of “Firebite” on AMC+ by Thane 12/9/21

This was my second interview for TVMEG.COM and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a small panel of press asking questions; two of them are mine (they have my name on them).

Question: Can you start by talking about what it was that first attracted you to the show, why you wanted to do it?

Rob: I can take that first. Warwick Thorton, I’d always wanted to work with him. I got a small taste of it on an Australian series called Mystery Road, the second series. He’s kind of just one of our go-to amazing directors. So, there was that and vampire killer. So, those two things combined, I just had to do this project.

Shantae: I auditioned at the start of the year on another project, and I met with Warwick. That was my first time meeting him, and he sort of gave me a little [bit] inside of it, and it sounded really cool, so I was up for it. And I heard it was gonna be really big. [laughs] So, yeah, I got really excited. I still can’t believe I won the role of Shanika, because I heard hundreds auditioned for it, but I’m happy I did, because it turned out really fun and deadly. [laughs] So, yeah, and I’m happy.

Question: All right. What about you, Yael?

Yael: I guess I should say that we’re so lucky that Shantae won the role as well, because she’s incredible in the show. Also, Warwick [was] definitely a massive kind of draw card for this project. And the scripts that I was sent were just so fascinating. I just felt like we have not done this before. We’ve not addressed Indigenous Australian history and a kind of violent colonial Australian history in this way before, using a vampire metaphor before, and I think it’s extraordinarily creative. It’s a really clever way in telling that story, and it’s got heaps of joy and laughs and fun, and then, at it’s heart, it’s got this incredibly powerful and incredibly serious metaphor as well.

Question: So, the question is, since, just like you mentioned, that was rather ambitious and probably the first of its kind in it’s take… [of] colonial exploitation and native history and racism, and combining it with elements of fantasy, like vampires and monster hunters. So, I wanted to know, what are your thoughts on it?

Rob: Speaking of fantasy, I mean, growing up in Australia, you are told a particular version of our colonial past, and that was certainly true for me. And like anything, it’s only as an adult, that you get time to sort of reflect on things, and as an indigenous man in Australia, what that kind of really means. So, I’d have to say, for me, in particular, that sort of revelation came through sort of in my mid 20s, and now, being a 40-year-old man with kids of my own who are indigenous, I think it’s important to give them a true sense of their place in this country. And I think at the heart of it as well, that’s what Warwick, I think, is trying to tackle in this series. So, for me, it was vitally important. I mean, I made the quip earlier that it was working with Warwick, and it was vampire hunting and all that kind of stuff that drew me to the role, but I think this idea of rewriting history kind of, in a sense, I found really kind of cool, because when you talk about fantasy, there are a few fantasies that we as everyday Australians accept as fact. And in fact, it’s such a powder keg here in Australia that I think this series is really going to agitate in a good way, and like the best series do, get you to think about, “Well, what is your accepted version of this country and your place in it and your family’s place in it and your forebearer’s place in it?” I think it’s a really timely discussion to have, and as genre does in its best way, it’s kind of subversive in that way, because it’s killing and it’s vampires; it’s action, and it’s fun. It’s laughs; it’s explosions and amazing sets, but then we’re able to sort of snake that that key message in amidst all the chaos.

Shantae: Yeah. Sort of what Rob was saying, the history of our culture and our land, you know, getting invaded, and from the white men, I think it’s important to tell, because as blackfellows, we’re strong about that. It’s our past; it’s our history, and it’s our culture, and we, as a culture, are proud. To tell it and show it to the world, I think is pretty cool, to show in this way, as well as the vampires. For me, it’s like the vampires feeding on blackfellow blood is sort of like, that is invasion for our culture. That’s how I see it, and it’s just cool to tell in that way. I think the world is gonna love it and our culture and our story.

Yael: I don’t know if I could answer the question any better than that. So, maybe I’ll take a different angle and say, it’s also fascinating; think about it, landing in an American audience first, and then across the world, potentially. I lived in the States for seven years, and I always felt there was this strange absence of a discussion in the kind of mainstream media about the Indigenous stories of the states. And I wonder, Rob said, maybe it’ll be a bit of a “powder keg for Australia moment;” maybe it sparks discussions elsewhere as as well, because these fantastical histories exist everywhere, and the more we face them, the more we can can address some of the healing that needs to happen. So yeah, maybe we’re putting a little match to the powder keg.

Thane: Thane here from Question to everyone: What training did you have for the fight scenes?

Rob: Training for the fight scenes? Well, actually the first week, Shantae, wasn’t it? We got in –

Shantae: Yeah.

Rob: They made us do awful things like push ups and sit ups and jumping around. We had an intense week of personal training in rehearsals, yeah.

Shantae: Yeah, we had like the personal training first and then went straight to rehearsals like reading. Yeah, it was crazy.

Rob: We had a really crack team of stunt people, wonderful people, but super across what we needed to do, and we were in the lucky position of getting in really early when we had a fight sequence coming up. So, in the early days, at least, we had lots of preparation to be able to knock those things down. So, it was a sort of coordinated approach of getting generally fit and working through choreography for the big fight sequences.

Question: Can you maybe talk about just overall having worked on this project, is there anything that you learned about yourself, either as a person, or an actor, just in general, something that you can think of that you didn’t know, maybe, before you started?

Rob: Oh, good question.

Yael: When when you do sign on for a project, sometimes you don’t know what you’re in for, because the story has sort of yet to fully unfold in terms of scripts. And in a way, coming back to Thane’s question, that physical element of embodying things and embodying kind of like those violent situations, it can be quite confronting. I’ve never done a lot of that kind of stuff before, so embodying some of that more physical element was a bit of a surprise for me, and a surprise in terms of that you don’t know what you’re signing on for. Then, in the actual moment, when you find yourself in all kinds of wild situations – like we were down in this crazy opal mine, these actual opal mines, and you catch yourself, and you think, “Oh, my Lord, I would never do this in my real life,” but suddenly, you’re there, and getting the shot is the most important thing, and you wouldn’t be anywhere else but down at the bottom of that opal mine.

Rob: Yeah, just building on that idea of uncertainty that Yael said, I think that’s probably the biggest thing as an actor and a person I’ve learned through this experience. We moved at such a rapid pace, and I don’t think I’ve ever been this busy in my life. I’ve spent most days on set. So, being able to sort of trust in what preparation you’ve done, trust in other people’s vision, [and] hand over a bit of the control to these wonderful creatives was a big learning curve, for me. I’m someone who’s really cerebral. I mean, I like to think about things a lot when it comes to performance and character. I wasn’t afforded that kind of opportunity on this, in a good way. So, embracing the chaos and accepting that the work is there and relinquishing some of that control to these fabulous creatives was a big learning curve for me, and one that I’d love to take into every project, because while it was terrifying, it was also very freeing and very liberating.

Shantae: For me, I feel like every day was learning, because I just haven’t had as much experience. It was just so good being around Rob and Yael and all the other, you know, older, experienced actors and actresses –

Rob: [clears throat] Not that much older.

Question: I was going to say, you called them old there! [laughs]

Shantae: [laughs] More experienced, [and] to learn from them is really cool, and I’m still learning to this day, still gonna keep learning, but yeah, I haven’t had a job this long as well. So, it was challenging as well, being away from family and learning about being, not alone, but, you know, by yourself, learning as a teenager and just keeping in that positive mental state. [It] was learning for me, and yeah, just meeting everyone on set, and the big crew and cast. I feel like that was one of my best learning things, I guess. But yeah, I learned a lot on this job.

Yael: It’s worth saying as well that Shantae also graduated high school while she was doing this job.

Question: Yeah, that’s got to be hard.

Yael: It was no mean feat. It was amazing to watch her juggle everything and learning everything and doing all that independence work of living away from your family, plus school, plus this huge job. She did an incredible job.

Rob: Yeah, I second that. She had her homework in the makeup trailer most mornings. It was incredible.

Question: So, based on the initial concept or the initial sketch or outline, what attracted you most or impressed you more most about your characters?

Rob: I guess I’ll take that first. I’ve done mainly TV in Australia, and my characters are very straight, steady, contained; they have it together in some certain degree. Tyson was, I think I can say this, the most fun I’ve had with a character, because he’s anything but that. So, strangely, it feels like in terms of my film persona, it’s really different, but my children, especially my oldest girl, has seen some of the show, just rough scenes, and says it’s oddly how I am at home. So, Tyson, there are elements of him that are closer to how I am in my private life, not necessarily my public face. So, it kind of drew that out of me, which is a kind of a fun thing. And I think, looking at the character off the page, it’s that stuff that I connected to: he’s fun; he’s silly. He has a very silly relationship – well, silly and serious with Shanika, which reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my daughters here. So, yeah, he’s chaos, but he’s a lot of heart as well. So, it felt really familiar to me.

Shantae: I felt like, my character found herself more at the end of the story…I was still quite strong, and I was smart and tech savvy and all that, but I wasn’t really powerful. I feel I was more powerful in the end. I had to go through a journey to really find that in myself. But I love my character. I feel I’m just underrated. I don’t know; there’s just something about Shanika that not many people would expect from a teenager, and, obviously, Tyson taught her growing up how to fight vampires; that’s pretty cool. So, she uses that in the classroom against classmates. She actually fights a lot at the school. [laughs] So, yeah, she definitely has some skills in life, and she’s strong, and she’s smart. She is smart, I would say.

Yael: I think it’s taken me a while, but I can say it out loud, “I think I’m a character actor.” [laughs] And Ellie, for me, is a real kind of character role. It’s probably not there in those first three episodes, so it’s kind of hard to talk about, given you guys have seen so little of her journey, I guess, and I don’t want to give anything away. So, let me give a silly answer. She has an accent, and I like accents. So, that’s why.

Thane: Shantae, was that you on the motorcycle, or a stunt double? And if it was you, how did you prepare?

Shantae: No, that was my stunt double, Tess. She’s my perfect stunt double. She’s like, you know, same skin type, a little bit shorter. So, it looks exactly like me, but it wasn’t. What they did is they would put her on the motorbike, and then they’d quickly get me at the end, just getting off the motorbike. So, yeah, they cut it really well. I really wish I’d learned how to ride motorbikes, because it’s really cool.

Yael: I mean, it sounds like you’re pretty into stunts. We had an amazing team, and I’m just not gonna say that [my stunt double] did any of my stunts. I’m just gonna be like, “Yeah, I did all of that.” [laughs] Everything you see, it’s all me, but actually, Rob, you maybe did everything, didn’t you, like did pretty much everything yourself?

Rob: I did everything but anything that looked a bit “hurty.” So, Cory, my stunt double, did that and all the driving as well. There are over 2500 manholes in Coober Pedy, so they didn’t trust me to drive a car at speed, weaving through those poles. And I have to say, Cory did an amazing job there. In fact, this is a good point to shout out to our amazing stunt team, led by Nathan [Lawson], that were not only great people, really supportive, but the fight sequences in this show are something else. They’re certainly the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of pretending to be in.

Yael: They also played a lot of the vampires. They got dressed up a lot, and they got killed a lot.

Rob: Yeah.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of




June 08, 2021

High-Octane Fantasy Follows Two Indigenous Australians on Quest to Battle Last Colony of Vampires in South Australia 

NEW YORK, NY, June 8, 2021 – AMC Studios today announced that it has greenlit a new original series called Firebite. A co-production with See-Saw Films, the series will be filmed in Australia this summer and is expected to appear on AMC+ later this year.

Firebite is a high-octane, highly original spin on the Vampire genre and fantasy series that follows two Indigenous Australian hunters, Tyson and Shanika, on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the South Australian desert.

Created, written and to be directed by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country) together with Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards), the series is set in a remote desert mining town, a hive for the last vampire stronghold shipped from Britain to Australia in 1788 by the colonial superpower to eradicate the Indigenous populations.

Sheltering from the sun in the underground mines and tunnels that surround the town until the present day, the colony’s numbers and hunger is growing. War is coming. Tyson and Shanika stand vanguard to the war. But what hope does an expertly reckless man full of bravado and a 17-year-old orphan possibly have to defeat these vicious blood-thirsty parasites, when legions of warriors before them have failed?

Executive Producers for See-Saw Films are Rachel Gardner, Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, alongside Thornton and Fletcher. See-Saw’s Simon Gillis serves as Co-Executive Producer.

Paul Ranford (Stateless, True History of the Kelly Gang) will produce the series alongside Indigenous filmmaker Dena Curtis (Elements, Grace Beside Me), who is co-producing. The writing team include Kodie Bedford and newcomers Devi Telfer and Josh Sambono.

The season will be comprised of eight, one-hour episodes and will be filmed on the traditional Country of the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people of the Western Desert and Kaurna People of the Adelaide Plains in and around Adelaide, the regional town of Coober Pedy and at the Adelaide Studios in South Australia.

The deal was negotiated by Rebecca Hardman for See-Saw Films and Scott Stein for AMC. The series has received major funding from the South Australian Film Corporation. The production is providing employment opportunities for First Nations practitioners.

“This is an original and highly entertaining series we can’t wait to bring to AMC+, and one that expands our already fruitful creative partnership with See-Saw Films after very successful collaborations on the wildly original State of the Union and the rare gem that was Top of the Lake,” said Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and co-head of AMC Studios. “We are excited to tell this story authentically, in Australia with Indigenous storytellers, cast and crew and on Indigenous lands.”

Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher said, “We are really proud of the worthy and important stories we’ve brought to the screen over the last twenty years. Now it’s time for some rock and roll.”

Rachel Gardner, See-Saw Films’ Head of Drama Australia and Executive Producer said, “It’s incredibly exciting to be bringing Warwick and Brendan’s unique vision to the screen with a high-octane explosive story that draws on the complex themes of colonisation and racial prejudice, driven by Indigenous storytellers.”

See-Saw’s Managing Directors, and Executive Producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning said, “We are thrilled to be working with Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher, who are such formidable storytellers, on this hugely original, action packed new show, headlined by so many wonderfully talented Indigenous voices. It’s fantastic to be collaborating once again with our friends at AMC who champion such original programming, and continually back great talent.”

Warwick Thornton is one of Australia’s most notable directors and Indigenous voices. Thornton (Samson and Deliah, Sweet Country) and Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) are both known for their powerful and gritty feature films. Samson and Delilah won the Camera D’Or at Cannes and Sweet Country won the Special Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival as well as the Platform Prize at the Toronto Film Festival. Mad Bastards was nominated for the Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Together Brendan and Warwick were commissioned by the Australian Government to co-direct the first ever International TV campaign to promote Aboriginal Tourism. The campaign was seen by over 30 million people worldwide. They collaborated again on the Award-Winning documentary We Don’t Need A Map, which opened the 2017 Sydney Film Festival. Firebite is their first television series as Creators – their goal was to create something they want to watch – fast paced, highly imagined and entertaining.

Warwick and Brendan are repped by UTA and by attorney Darren Tratter.

About See-Saw Films

See-Saw Films is a world leading film and television production house, founded in 2008 by Academy Award®, BAFTA and Emmy winning producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, with offices in London and Sydney.

See-Saw’s first television series was the multi-award winning first season of Jane Campion’s ‘Top of the Lake’. Campion returned with ‘Top of The Lake: China Girl’ starring Elisabeth Moss, Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe.  ‘State of the Union’, written by Nick Hornby, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2019 and won three Emmy Awards. Recent projects include Samantha Strauss’ ‘The End’ for Foxtel, Sky Atlantic and Showtime, starring Harriet Walter and Frances O’Connor. Upcoming projects include ‘The North Water’ for BBC Two written and directed by Andrew Haigh, starring Colin Farrell, Jack O’Connell and Stephen Graham; ‘Slow Horses’ for Apple TV+, starring Gary Oldman; a second season of ‘State of the Union’ written by Nick Hornby, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Brendan Gleeson, Patricia Clarkson and Esco Jouléy; ‘The Essex Serpent’ for Apple TV+ to be directed by Clio Barnard, starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston; and ‘Heartstopper’ for Netflix, to be directed by Euros Lyn.

See-Saw produced the six-time Academy Award® nominated Lion, starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara, as well as The King’s Speech, which was nominated for twelve and won four Academy Awards® in 2011 including Best Motion Picture. Recent projects include Widows directed by Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis and Ammonite, written and directed by Francis Lee, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Upcoming film projects include Operation Mincemeat, directed by John Madden and starring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kelly Macdonald; The Unknown Man starring Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris; and The Power Of The Dog, written and directed by Jane Campion, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons;

About AMC Networks Inc. 

AMC Networks is a global entertainment company known for its popular and critically-acclaimed content. Its portfolio of brands includes AMC, BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, IFC Films, and a number of fast-growing streaming services, including the AMC+ premium streaming bundle, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK. AMC Studios, the Company’s in-house studio, production and distribution operation, is behind award-winning owned series and franchises, including The Walking Dead, the highest-rated series in cable history. The Company also operates AMC Networks International, its international programming business, and 25/7 Media, its production services business.


August 23, 2021



NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 23, 2021 – AMC+ announced today the start of production on the Original Series Firebite in South Australia this week, with Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Rob Collins (Cleverman, Extraction) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game) in leading roles. The series will also introduce Indigenous Australian star Shantae Barnes-Cowan. A co-production between AMC Studios and  See-Saw Films, Firebite is a high-octane, highly original spin on the Vampire genre and fantasy series that follows two Indigenous Australian hunters, Tyson (Collins) and Shanika (Barnes-Cowan), on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the South Australian desert. The series is comprised of eight, one-hour episodes set to debut on AMC+ this winter.

Created and written by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country), who also directs along with Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) and Tony Krawitz (The Tall Man, Dead Europe)Firebite is set in a remote desert mining town, a hive for the last vampire stronghold shipped from Britain to Australia in 1788 by the colonial superpower to eradicate the Indigenous populations. Sheltering from the sun in the underground mines and tunnels that surround the town until the present day, the colony’s numbers and hunger is growing. War is coming. Tyson and Shanika stand vanguard to the war. But what hope does an expertly reckless man full of bravado and a 17-year-old orphan possibly have to defeat these vicious blood-thirsty parasites, when legions of warriors before them have failed?

Thornton and Fletcher said, “Our only rule was to find great people, no matter where they came from. We have actors who’ve worked on big Hollywood blockbusters, and others that are flying in from remote Aboriginal communities who light up the screen with natural presence. To us, they are all movie stars.”

Executive Producer Rachel Gardner said: “We love our cast. They bring these characters to life with authenticity, power and a solid dose of naughty. It feels like this is going to be something special.”

Kristin Jones, Executive Vice President, International Programming and Program Innovation, AMC Networks said: “We are committed to creating compelling programming with diverse voices and representation for our viewers, and Firebite delivers on this goal. We’re thrilled to bring this unique original series to life authentically with a stellar cast and crew on Indigenous lands with Indigenous storytelling.”

See-Saw’s Managing Directors and Executive Producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning said: “As we start principal photography, we’re delighted to announce our exceptional cast and the addition of our friend Tony Krawitz to the directing team. Led by visionary director Warwick Thornton, we’re going to be in for an exciting ride”

Kristin Jones is overseeing the series for AMC Networks. Executive Producers for See-Saw Films are Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, alongside Rachel Gardner, Thornton and Fletcher. See-Saw’s Simon Gillis serves as co-executive producer, with Libby Sharpe as co-producer and Billy Bowring as associate producer. Paul Ranford (Stateless, True History of the Kelly Gang) will produce the series alongside Indigenous filmmaker Dena Curtis (Elements, Grace Beside Me), who is co-producing. The writing team include Kodie Bedford and newcomers Devi Telfer and Josh Sambono.

Yael Stone is represented by Lisa Mann and Elly Speer, Lisa Mann Creative Management (Australia) and, in the US, by Jason Gutman, The Gersh Agency, and Andy Corren, Andy Corren Management. Rob Collins and Callan Mulvey are represented by Sarah Nathan, Shanahan Management (Australia). Rob Collins’ US representative is Matt Shaffer, Innovative Artists. Callan Mulvey’s US representatives are Kim Hodgert, Anonymous Content, and Jim Dempsey, Paradigm. Shantae Barnes-Cowan is represented by Peter Gunn and Ali Roberts, Actors Management International.

The series has received major funding from the South Australian Film Corporation. The production is providing employment opportunities for First Nations practitioners.


November 04, 2021

An AMC Studios Original Production with See-Saw Films, the Eight-Episode Series Stars Yael Stone, Rob Collins, Callan Mulvey and Shantae Barnes-Cowan

NEW YORK – November 4, 2021 – AMC+ released today first-look images from its highly original vampire fantasy series Firebite, which is set to premiere Thursday, December 16 on the premium streaming bundle. The eight-episode series, rolling out with new episodes every Thursday, stars Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Rob Collins (Cleverman, Extraction), Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game) and Indigenous Australian star Shantae Barnes-Cowan. An AMC Studios original production with See-Saw Films, Firebite takes a new spin on the vampire genre, following two Indigenous Australian hunters, Tyson (Collins) and Shanika (Barnes-Cowan), on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the South Australian desert.

Created, directed and written by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country) alongside Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards), with Tony Krawitz (The Tall Man, Dead Europe) joining as director, Firebite is set in a remote desert mining town, a hive for the last vampire stronghold shipped from Britain to Australia in 1788 by the colonial superpower to eradicate the Indigenous populations. Sheltering from the sun in the underground mines and tunnels that surround the town until the present day, the colony’s numbers and hunger is growing. War is coming. Tyson and Shanika stand vanguard to the war. But what hope does an expertly reckless man full of bravado and a 17-year-old orphan possibly have to defeat these vicious blood-thirsty parasites, when legions of warriors before them have failed?

Kristin Jones is overseeing the series for AMC Networks. Executive producers for See-Saw Films are Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, alongside Rachel Gardner, Thornton and Fletcher. See-Saw’s Simon Gillis and Kodie Bedford serve as co-executive producers with Kodie Bedford as script producer, Libby Sharpe as co-producer and Billy Bowring as associate producer. Paul Ranford (Stateless, True History of the Kelly Gang) produces the series alongside Indigenous filmmaker Dena Curtis (Elements, Grace Beside Me), who is co-producing.

AMC Studios Content Distribution is managing worldwide sales.


December 09, 2021

AMC+ released today the trailer and key art for the original vampire fantasy series Firebite, premiering Thursday, December 16 on the premium streaming bundle with new episodes to follow every Thursday. The eight-episode series takes a new spin on the vampire genre, following two Indigenous Australian hunters, Tyson (Rob Collins, Cleverman, Extraction) and Shanika (Indigenous Australian star Shantae Barnes-Cowan), on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the South Australian desert. The series also stars Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game), amongst others.

Created, directed and written by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country) alongside Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards), with Tony Krawitz (The Tall Man, Dead Europe) joining as director, Firebite is an AMC Studios original production with See-Saw Films.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Press panel for "Firebite"

Interview with Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos

TV Interview!

Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos in Lifetime's "The Holiday Fixup"

Interview with Ryan McPartlin, Jana Kramer and Maria Menounos of “The Holiday Fixup” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This is a fun movie, particularly if you like DIY projects, and the press panel for the movie was highly entertaining. These are some very attractive people, for one thing. Ryan was on “Passions” years ago, and he still looks great! Of course, it goes without saying that everyone’s acting is top of the line, too. I’ve enjoyed all of the Lifetime holiday movies this year. I hope you do, too.


Hi, everyone. Our next panel is “The Holiday Fixup.” Please welcome EP and stars, Jana Kramer, and Ryan McPartlin, and star Maria Menounos.


Hi. Hi, guys. Hi, Ryan. Hi, Maria.


Hi, guys.




Hi. Can you guys hear me?


The team’s all back.


I know.


Before we get into the questions, today we have a pre-submitted question. What was it like filming a holiday movie all together in the dead of summer in Connecticut?




(Laugh.) I love your laugh.


Exactly that. Exactly that.


It’s perfect. That’s it.




It was hot. It was so fun though. I love these guys so much. Jana and Ryan are gems, and we just have the best time.


Yeah. I will say that, I feel like we got pretty lucky guys. Like it could have been —




I mean, we had a few (hot) days, but the days that we were outside I felt like we were blessed with not like, you know (not too hot)– And I think there was only one day, I was like “I think I might pass out.” But, Ryan, it doesn’t matter if it was sunny or not, Ryan was going to always have a fan —


Oh, yeah.


Whether it was sunny, not sunny. I mean, that man sweats so much, like, thank God it wasn’t hotter —


It didn’t help that I was taking a supplement that I found out afterwards —




— causes excessive sweating.


Uh huh.


And then we’re in sweaters in the dead of summer, and I’ve done this multiple times, as Jana has as well, — so I’m always preparing the crew and production saying, hey, we need some ice packs. We need fans standing by. I need dryers to dry the hair. I didn’t want to hold up production…and somehow it’s always like the afterthought, right? And then when the sweat starts coming and you’re holding up production everybody’s like send as many people to the store as possible. We need to get fans. We need dryers. We need everything.


I needed Gatorade. That was my ask. I was like I need a Gatorade. I’m feeling lightheaded…but it was so fun —


I was a little upset that when I was pouring sweat, I’d look at you guys and you’re like, no, not a drop.


We glisten. Ryan sweats. Maria and I didn’t —


Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.


Suzanne. Please let us know your question.


Oh, hi, guys. I enjoyed the movie. I’m not really into DIY, but what about you? Ryan, do you do DIY in real life? (Laughter.)


Wait, can I answer that, please?


Go ahead. Go ahead.


Because the first time that I ever met Ryan — Suzanne, thank you for watching the movie — but the first time that Ryan and I actually Facetime’d he was trying to hang blinds, I think it was, and doing a terrible job. So, Ryan,  —


And that was the last time I’ve done anything around the house. Well, no, no, no…I had to fix a doorknob last night. I went to Home Depot and then Loew’s – had three different people explain to me how to do it, and I was like, I’m just going to hire somebody. It’s not my jam.




Okay. Well, and the snowball fight was the most fun of all the movie, I thought. Was that as fun for you to shoot as it was for us to watch?




It was super fun, and that was the hottest day, too, you guys. That was the only day that was excruciating —


It was the hottest day.


Yeah. That was the hottest day, and then I feel like, Maria, you and I became a little competitive. Like we were legit pushing each other at the start of doing that. We’re like “it’s going down” —




That was Brian Herzlinger, our director – he wanted to have his “Saving Private Ryan” moment where he was going to get all this camera action and get the really artistic movement as — Well, you see it in the trailer as Maria and Jana are just unloading on each other and getting very competitive with each other.


It was so fun




Oh, thank you.


It was kind of funny, too, Brian wanted a “Saving Private Ryan” moment. Like you do know this is a Christmas movie, right? But it was so much fun —


Oh, and actually these guys championed my husband having a cameo in the movie, and that was the scene he made the snow. He’s Nick the Snowman.


Nick the Snowman.


Um hm.




Oh. Great. Thank you so much.


Thank you.


Thank you. That’s awesome. Damina, your question next?


Oh, you’re muted, sweetie. Can we unmute her?


We can come back. We’ll come back – – Oh, there you are. Damina? Okay, we’ll come back. Steven, you’re up next. Steven.


How’s the photo, Ryan? Do you need your ID?


I got you. I got you. You always get me every time and I never know it until later.


Did you guys call me?




Yeah, it’s your turn, buddy.


Thank you. Here we go. All right. So, yes, talk to us about this amazing film. Ryan, I see that you’re doing your thing. You’ve still out here ever since the “Passions” days.


Thank you for that.


Oh, yeah. You look amazing. All of you look great.


Thank you.


Happy holidays.


Yeah. Happy Holidays to you. Go ahead, Jana.


So, talk to us about the film, and how is it? Is it challenging coming up with the chemistry between cast members? How long does that normally take?


Ryan, you kick it off.


Well, we got to Zoom…Jana and I, fortunately, had all these Zoom’ing sessions with our writer who is amazing, Jessica Etting. And so there was a couple times that Jana and I were on the same page — but not some of the other voices, because there’s a whole lot of voices — and you just look at the camera in one of these Zoom meetings and you’d kind of look at each other and try and stifle a little of laughter…it was like being in class and just locking eyes with somebody who was in on the joke. And so Jana and I felt like we were in on the same joke that everybody wasn’t in on, and that kind of kicked off our friendship.


Yeah. No, we had…I mean, pretty much instant chemistry. The same with Maria and I. Every time I’ve been with Maria, we had that and I’m like, oh, that’s going to be easy to play best friends with her, because every time I see her I feel like she’s such a close friend. And then with Ryan it’s like we had that kind of, you know — that brotherly/sister, fun banter, fun – it’s that good energy. So that part was really easy, to have the chemistry. And then we were all teammates together. We all helped each other out, and when I got super tired, Ryan was there to pump me up.


There was no pumping you up when were that tired. When you’re that tired nobody can do anything about it. But I will say, back to the chemistry with Maria, too — Maria and I started talking about trying to do something in the Christmas space together at least two years ago, right? Sometime around two years ago…


Oh, yeah. Yeah.


And when I saw her at a Christmas party, I was like, oh, my God, I got to talk to Maria about being in this space…and Maria and I have known each other for years. I threw a touchdown pass, or was it you to me? No, it was me to you, right?


You to me, yeah. (I throw it back @ 00:28:34) —


Yeah. It was, yeah, we have the footage. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


I’m such a giver.

Ryan McPartlin and Jana Kramer in "The Holiday Fixup" on Lifetime 11/8RYAN MCPARTLIN:

Yeah. Well, you did throw an extra point then. You were playing quarterback and played like — did a two-point conversion. It was amazing. I got the footage.


Oh, you’re right.


Yep. But, no, Maria — when I saw her at this party that we were at, I was like, Maria, you have to be in this Christmas space and then…you go, Maria, I don’t want to monopolize this conversation.


Not at all. Yeah, I’ve said this, I think it was just super cool. Ryan saw a little doc that I did on my experience with my parents getting COVID at the same time, and I did this little like 19-minute piece, and he saw it and sent me this beautiful email about how much it moved him, and how he was going to really kind of cherish those moments with his family even more, and it was just a beautiful letter…and one thing led to another and all of a sudden, I was getting on a plane to Connecticut to make this movie with them. And it was very much needed for me at the time. I just lost my mom, and I got to go back to Connecticut, and stay in my bed, and be with my dad, and get to have fun with these guys every day. And I do think that it’s super rare to have just such instant chemistry with everybody, and we all just clicked so fast and so easily. I was doing Jana’s makeup at one point. Jana’s fanning Ryan. Like everybody was helping each other, and it was really special. So, I told them, I’m like, I just want to be able to do this every summer with you guys, because I love them so much, and we have just such a great team all around.


That’s really beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much. And, Jana, wow. Ryan really coming for you about being tired on set. We have your back.


Thank you.


And, Jamie, the next question is from you. Jamie Ruby, sorry. We have another Jamie.


I was going to say which Jamie.


Sorry, Jamie Ruby.


It’s okay. And, Maria, I think you sort of just answered this partially but maybe you can add more to it, but for all of you, what was it originally though that made you want to do this film?


I’ll start — because I had had a meeting about a different movie a few days prior to talking to Ryan and the producers of this film, and it was something about… Well, one of the reasons I really wanted to do it, because I’ve always wanted to work with Ryan and it was cool because there wasn’t a script, so I was able to kind of put my two cents into it. This is Ryan’s idea that he’s had for a long time, so it was cool to be able to actually collaborate and help bring the story to life as opposed to showing up on the page. Because usually we just get the script and we read it, we like it, or we don’t. But to be able to kind of have a say was really cool and one of the main draws of doing this film. I was like, okay, cool, I can actually have a little bit of a say in it, and Ryan was open to all of that. So that was neat.


She had a lot of say in it, not just a little bit of say, because when — It’s not that you’re that over opinionated, Jana –It’s like I really respected her opinions and she had very good input, ideas, story points. She’s done this, you know, she’s done as many of these as probably I have, I’d say. And you don’t want the redundancy of doing the same story over-and-over-again. So, you look for ways to say how can it be different? How is it different than the other stuff out there, and that’s what I’m really proud of — especially how we would talk out some of these things, if it was a real relationship and a real life and we were playing real exes. And the way that I saw the story ending is not necessarily the way that Jana saw it from her perspective. So, when our writer, Jessica Koosed Etting, heard her response if I said one thing and then Jana said, well, I would say this — it just turned everything. So, you got to kind of play like you would in, you know, onstage in a theater, in a class together. And you go, oh, that’s interesting…if that’s how you would really react let’s work that into the story and still tie it up nicely to deliver to the audience what they expect, but in a different way than that expect it.


Sure, yep.


Our next question is from Jamie Steinberg.


Hi, thank you guys so much for your time. Jana and Ryan if you could talk about how you stepped in as executive producers. Was this something of a passion project that came across your desk, or did they offer you a role of EP after you singed on to the film?


No, this was something where if you are involved creatively as an actor, from the get-go, like we both were you know — this started with Jessica Koosed Etting and I flushing out a different story, but then we adapted it towards Christmas a little bit, and then quite honestly the whole thing changed when Jana came onboard. We just started talking about the movies we loved. Jana, if you want to talk about that and some of the romantic comedies, some of the Christmas movies we loved…and we started saying, okay, what are those themes that we want to play with.


Yeah, and that’s something, too, because Ryan and I have done so many of these Christmas movies it was something that I had a conversation with Lifetime about and was like, I really want to be able to bring my ideas to the table. So, I would like to moving forward be able to executive produce, just so that way I, you know — because making Christmas movies are so much fun. They’re easy. They’re light. They’re fun — but I also want to bring a little bit of complications to things, or a little bit of my own touch to things and to have that voice, and that way. I don’t know, Ryan, if it felt the same way for you, but I felt really, really, really, proud of this one, because I felt like I had so much more to…I offered so much more in this film than I have in the other ones. And, yeah, I loved all the other ones, but this one…I was like, man, this is — It’s the first thing I’ve ever executive produced! So that was kind of cool to just be like — I was proud of myself and I was proud of you. It was fun.


Yeah. And I feel like, you know, Maria, hopefully, you felt your voice was the heard the same as, any producer or actor would be — come on in if they had ideas and wanted to play. It was nice because it was like a safe artists’ space, you know. That’s what we wanted to create.


A hundred percent. I will say they were amazing executive producers. Not only did they feed the crew, got coffee trucks — they did all the things that really great producers do to keep everybody happy, keep everybody going. They always say it starts at the top and literally it was a perfect experience all the way through for everybody. We all loved it. We all had the best time. Everybody was excited, and everybody was onboard with making the best movie we could while having fun. So that is why I’m committed to how do we do this every summer together? How do we add in some time where we always can make a movie together, keep the same crew, keep the same thing…


Yeah. I’d love that. And we also got to give credit to Stephanie and Margaret, our other executive producers —




— they really gave us that freedom to jump in and produce alongside them. They did a lot of the hard, dirty work, I’d say, as producers dealing with the budgets and the overtime and the schedules and all that stuff since we really want to stay in the creative space, and that’s what we were able to do, thank God.


Although, I think that part’s fun, but I’ll do that later.




Thank you. Our next question is from Jay Bobbin.


Hello, everyone. Maria, have you ever interviewed Jana? Is that where this friendship started, and if that is where it started, how do you remember the interview going?


Well, I will say that I have zero memory. This is where I throw my brain tumor card down. I can’t remember anything. My husband’s my USB drive…but, yes, I know I’ve interviewed Jana — but we were also friendly just in the business and with Ryan the same thing. So, I can’t say I remember the first moment I laid eyes on this beautiful woman.


I remember you helped me out with “Dancing with the Stars” because I remember you were there at “Dancing with the Stars” and Val was your partner, right? He was like you —


Yeah. No, Val, he was like the fake doctor on the set.


Yeah. He’s like you need to talk to Maria, because she also hurt her ribs or something like that. So, I just remember you being so nice and just so willing to… I mean, we talked for a while and then it just, again, it just felt like — man, we’re talking like we’re real friends. It was such a friendly conversation —




I just remember hanging up on that and being like, wow, she’s special, a special person.


Thanks. Thanks, friend. Yeah, I never remember how I meet anybody, to be honest, because I am just I’m so excited to see everybody and meet people when I meet them that it just floats away.


Except for when someone throws you a touchdown pass.


Yes. But you just had to remind me that I threw you a two-point conversion. I don’t remember —


Yeah. That’s right.


Thank you.


Thank you.


Thanks, (Jay @ 00:38:09).


We have time for one last question. Samantha.


Hi. Jana, I’m really curious about with the social media aspect of this role, I loved how you all really leaned into the positive aspects of it just with the world complaining so much about the problems, and I’m just curious about the intention behind making that such a large part of your character’s job in the film.


Yeah. It was fun. I mean, especially because I’m like “I don’t know how to do this.” Meanwhile, my whole entire life is social media, so that was kind of fun to do that. But also, I think what I learned…actually, yes, we showed how it can bring people together. But, for me, personally, what I took away from the movie the most is actually about putting the phone down. It’s what we always talked about, the one character, Rita’s character — where it’s back in the day when we didn’t have the cell phones and we were able to just disconnect and be in a room together and not be glued to Instagram or the phone. And that’s what I took away from it the most – it is just having that distraction away to really just be present with the people in front of me. So that’s something that I would like to lean more into.


I think that social media caught us all by storm, you know, and there were no rules. There was no teaching moment. We didn’t come up in school with teachers saying you should compartmentalize this. And then the job of these apps and the social media companies is to see how many hours they can get out of your day spent on these apps. So, there is a lot of benefit to it and there’s a lot of, you know, businesses that thrive from it. Our small business that we have came about because of social media and there’s a lot of charities that do very well — but it is a danger, and it’s going to be. It’s interesting that the back-and-forth that our characters had about compartmentalizing and what to use it for, and how to use it, and I think that’s a real conversation that should be had in every household right now.


Um hm.


Thank you so much. Thank you to the cast and Eps of “The Holiday Fixup.” Please make sure to tune in on December 11.


Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you very much —


Thank you.


Thank you very much.




Do we hang up now? Okay. Bye, guys.


Bye, guys.


Okay, bye.


We’ll talk to you all later.





Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual


Programming Event Beginning November 12th

Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days

Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes

Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st.  Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

The Holiday Fix Up

Starring Jana Kramer, Ryan McPartlin & Maria Menounos

12/11 at 8pm / 7c

When Sam (Jana Kramer), the designer behind a popular home renovation show, returns to her hometown during the holidays to help renovate the Bell Harbor Inn, she gets paired with Coop (Ryan McPartlin) as her lead contractor. The only problem – he’s the guy who broke her heart and she’s the one who got away.  Sparks fly as they work closely to get the renovations done in time for the inn’s annual Christmas Eve Harborfest. Will they be able to fix the mistakes of their past to build a future together? Maria Menounos also stars.

The Holiday Fix Up is produced by Off Camera Entertainment with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston, Jana Kramer and Ryan McPartlin as Executive Producers. Written by Jessica Koosed Etting and directed by Brian Herzlinger.

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poster for "The Holiday Fixup"

Interview with Alexa Mansour, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston and Julia Ormond

TV Interview!

Alexa Mansour, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston and Julia Ormond

Interview with Alexa Mansour, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston and Julia Ormond of “The Walking Dead: World Beyong” on AMC by Thane 12/3/21

This was my first interview for the site. We had some technical problems, but it worked out well in the end. It was great to listen to the actors talk about the final episode of the show.

Question:   Congratulations on a great season of the show. Now, the show was, as far as I know, entirely filmed in Richmond, Virginia, or if not, mostly filmed there. I was wondering if each of you could give me a recommendation for a great restaurant or spot to do or to go to the next time I’m in Richmond?

Alexa:  The Jefferson Hotel. Go to the Jefferson hotel; get a dirty martini. It’s great.

Hal:  Yeah, the Jefferson hotel is awesome. They’ve got an alligator out at the front, because apparently they used to have alligators walking around the hotel there in the 30s or something. What else is there? Where did we all go for that dinner by the river? That was awesome.

Alexa:  What was it called?

Nick:   The Lilly Pad? I’m pretty sure it’s the Lilly Pad.

Alexa:  It was the Lilly Pad. It was the Lilly Pad.

Hal:  The Lilly Pad. Hell yeah.

Nick:   My shouts out for Richmond are this hot chicken sandwich place called Hot Chick.

Hal:  Yeah, I was about to say “Hot Chick.”

Nick:   Hot Chick sandwich place, and I would go to the skate park a lot called Treasure Island. It’s a DIY; that place is sick. Those are my two shout outs for the city of Richmond. And the river is just beautiful, like just finding little stuff to do along the river. That’s great, too.

Question:   Did ever of you go to GWARbar ever, or that was off limits?

Nick:   What’s GWARbar?

Hal:  I walked past it once.

Question:   The heavy metal band GWAR has a bar/restaurant in Richmond.

Nick:   Wait, what? Do they? My friends just went to a GWAR show. I didn’t know they had a bar in Richmond.

Hal:  [unitelligible] skating now.

Nick:   I didn’t know they had a bar. Man, I missed that. Thank you.

Hal:  You could have taken photos at it and pretended you were cool.

Question:   Congratulations on this amazing season and wrapping up the show. It’s just been fantastic. My question to you, and this is open to anyone, looking back, your character started the series with a very distinct view of how the world worked, and most importantly, how it should work and what those rules should be and how you should function. I’m wondering how your character’s vision changed by the end of the series. Who wants to go?

Nick:   I’ll go. I’ll go. I think Elton has changed was very much from kind of spectating to being a part of everything now, but, also, he saw the gray area of the world more in season two. Season one you see him just kind of being this, I guess, more of a pacifist, but in season two as he accepts the world for what it is, he starts participating in the more gray aspects of apocalypse life.

Hal:  Yeah, that was a real same this season…I also thought growing up was it a theme of the show.

Alexa:  Yeah, I agree with that. I think growing up for sure. I’m just realizing what’s important and what’s worth actually stressing yourself out over, you know, like, I feel like in the first season, at least for Hope, she was really very bitter towards everybody. She just was so ready to destroy anybody that she thought was bad. Second season, she became a little bit more methodical about the way that she approached things, like realizing like sometimes you do have to kind of – not sleep with the enemy, but sleep with the enemy, to get what you want and to get ahead. Nick’s looking at me like –

Nick:   What do you mean by that? Sleep with the enemy?

Alexa:  Like the CRM was the enemy, and she went undercover in that area, which I feel like first season she would have been like, “Screw this; I’m not doing this.”

Nick:   True.

Hal:  I’ve never slept with anyone let alone the enemy.

Alexa:  I’ve never slept with anyone either.

Julia:  I’ve [unintelligible] slept with people, but, I don’t know, I sort of feel with Elizabeth, the pragmatism of being committed to an agenda that was really tough and seemed really clear just became much more complicated for her and clearly hadn’t worked [unintelligible] defeated by that.

Question:   This is what it’s for Alexa, how was it manag[ing] to get the F bomb in on the last episode?

Alexa:  I didn’t even know I had an F bomb in the last episode.

Hal:  Yeah, what the hell? You fully got a fuck in there.

Question:   No, that was the previous episode, sorry.

Alexa:  I didn’t know that that was as big deal. I didn’t know that was like an actual thing that you couldn’t do. I figured because it’s television and whatnot, but people actually think it’s a really big deal, and I say that word all the time.

Hal:  Alexa is awesome like that. She’s such a swear bear.

Alexa:  [laughs]

Hal:   She doesn’t sleep with anyone, but she sure as hell swears a lot.

Alexa:  Yeah. No, I’m actually pretty excited that I got that F bomb in there, because Hal didn’t get it.

Hal:  Yeah, I didn’t even get as much as like a “crap” or a “shit.”

Alexa:  Because Silas doesn’t talk. You have to talk more.

Hal:  It is so weird with the ruling. I think, because there’s so much violence, they’re not really allowed to like swear and have violence, but it’s like is killing someone not a little bit more offensive than swearing?

Alexa:  Not if what you’re killing was a rotting piece of flesh.

Nick:   We kill people in this show.

Hal:  There’re people being killed.

Nick:   Yeah. We don’t shy away from human death.

Hal:  I’ve killed nearly as many people as I’ve killed zombies.

Alexa:  You’ve killed people on the show?

Nick:   People die in the show.

Hal:  I kill two people, I think. Yeah, I do…My two father figures.

Nick:   That’s a shame.

Hal:  That is a shame.

Thane:  Nicholas, tell us how they did the special effects and such at the end, where you lost part of your arm.

Nick:   So, for that last shot, we were kind of coming over the hill in Portland, and they gave me like a blue like sleeve to put my arm through. They just kind of said, “Don’t move it.” So, I just kind of stood with my arm just still. Then, I guess they blue screened it out. But then for one scene where I had my arm chopped off and I’m sitting in that hospital bed, my arm is just a pool noodle. I always thought that was funny that they just put a pool noodle and wrapped and bandaged, like, “That’s his arm,” and my actual arm was under some covers. So, that’s how they achieved the effect of me not having an arm.

Hal:  They toyed with the idea of actually doing that.

Nick:   They were thinking about actually chopping it off. It was not them thing; it was a me thing for the character, where I wanted to go all the way. But my doctor said “no.” So, we had to do blue screen and pool noodles.

Alexa Mansour, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston and Julia Ormond

Hal:  His therapist said “yes.”

Nick:   Therapist said “yes;” Doctor said “no.”

Alexa:  Did you tell the doctor how much they were gonna pay you for the arm?

Nick:   Ah, it’s a weird thing with me and my doctor. So, I feel like they would raise my prices if I did something like that. So, I just kept it chill.

Hal:  Nick’s sleeping with his doctor.

Nick:   I kept it chill. So, it was able to be figured out basically with special effects and movie magic

Thane:  When you read in your script that you were bitten and then cured, were you disappointed that you didn’t get to be a walker and/or die on screen?

Nick:   A little bit, actually, because ever since I signed on to The Walking Dead thing, I was like, “Okay, the whole experience would be, get in the show, kill some things, and then get killed,” because that’s like the cycle of The Walking Dead universe. So, I was wanting to be a part of it, but, hey, maybe my day will come someday. I got my arm chopped off. That’s part of it. I’m getting like drip fed little apocalyptic checkmarks on a bucket list. So, maybe one day I’ll get to die. It’s a start, but you know, zombies. [laughs]

Question:   Pollyanna came from the main show, The Walking Dead, as Jadis, but now she’s on World Beyond. She’s a completely different character. So, what was it like working with her? Because compared to the main show and this one, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Alexa:  I didn’t know. I mean, I knew she was on the original one; I didn’t know that she was playing a completely different character. I thought that it was like, maybe just a different side of her of the character. Like maybe the character went through some shit and came out. You know, when you go through a hard time [and] when you come out you’re like a completely different person, but that’s kind of interesting to know. She’s awesome to work with. She’s like, insanely talented. So, regardless of like, different character or not, she was great to work with.

Hal:  Yeah, Pollyanna. Very fun to work with. Yeah.

Alexa:  And it was sick, knowing that someone from the original show was crossing over. Because I was like, “Oh, there’s there’s hope.” Not no pun intended.

Hal:  I like getting to work with my British brothers and sisters. They’re a little bit less American, so it’s fun.

Question:   Julia, the moment at the end of the series finale, it was just so beautiful, and watching Elizabeth, the realization come across Elizabeth, as she kind of gets a sense of what’s going on. I’m curious, do you think she knew that Huck was torn as much as she was between this life she’d been living undercover and her duty to the CRM?

Julia:  I have to confess, I haven’t actually seen how they ended up cutting it together, but I do feel the Elizabeth buried any fears that she had about Jennifer and her relationship. And I know that is something that kind of is in pretty much every scene that they have together, is this question of how much Elizabeth cares or connects and the things that Jennifer’s gone through. But I don’t think Elizabeth, by the time that she’s arrested and put into [a cell], I don’t think she has completely been able to – I think she’s emotionally distracted. I don’t think she’s been completely able to quite admit the degree to which she’s made some – she’s made some legitimate sort of mistakes, as a leader, in terms of the vulnerability. So, it’s understandable to me that Jadis does comes at her with the things that she does, and I think Elizabeth just hasn’t really realized how much of a distraction it’s been, the emotional stuff. So, I think it’s gut wrenching for her that Jennifer’s not connecting with her as a mom as a result of choices that Elizabeth has made and found family in other people to be worthy of being loyal to, and I think that destroys her.

Hal:  Things are so bleak for Elizabeth at the end there.

Alexa:  I mean, she kind of deserves it, no offense.

Hal:  Everyone is throwing hate.

Alexa:  She destroyed our home.

Julia:  Well, she does have to make some tough decisions, but yeah, I guess so.

Question:   For all of you, did any of you get to take home any kind of either weapons, or items from the set?

Hal:  Hell yeah, they sorted us out.

Alexa:  Yeah.

Hal:  I’ve got my wrench. I’m moving to a new house and I’m going to get it in a glass box.

Alexa:  I took my S-pole

Nick:   I don’t know if you can see it. I’m gonna get the pocket fisherman. I’m going to bring that out.

Hal:  Gotta get the pocket fisherman Nick. Do your mother fucking thing.

Alexa:  I have the S-pole.

Question:   Oh, it’s somewhere in the other room?

Alexa:  Yeah, mine’s in the other [room].

Nick:   The pocket fisherman; rock it up with the pocket fisherman. It’s got all the action. It’s just sitting here. I got to keep the suit. I got to keep this. They gave me like the little archeology bag; they gave me the whole thing.

Hal:  Nick uses that fisherman as like a pickup line.

Nick:   Yeah, when I’m bored.

Hal:  Nick, demonstrate. What do you do? Go on; demonstrate.

Nick:   I say, “Hey, baby. I’m trying to do this interview. So let’s move on.”

Hal:  He always says baby.

Nick:   Always with the baby.

Question:   How about you Julia?

Julia:  [laughs] No, I got a great mug as a takeaway that had a Walking Dead design on it from one of the crew members that was super fun, but no. I don’t want to take home weapons. I take home my memories.

Hal:  Did Elizabeth really have weapons? I feel like other people did her dirty work sort of.

Julia:  Excuse me! No, she had like the stiletto pen thing.

Hal:  Oh, true. I remember that from the show.

Julia:  But I mean, also, kind of like the way that we had set about it in terms of Elizabeth’s stuff is that she could kind of…turn anything into a weapon instead of sort of – yeah, she had a stiletto that was sort of kept [in] the jacket somewhere, but the idea is that she could take any weapon and use it sort of as somebody who’s got a military background and training to do that stuff, but you don’t really get to see that in the series.

Hal:  There wasn’t enough time for anything.

Thane:  [Hal], all of the characters went through so much; yours seemed to go through the most changes all throughout the series. Which part did you enjoy the most, and, in your opinion, does Silas stay loyal to his friends, or does he [go over to] the dark side or the CRM?

Hal:  Well, yeah, he does really change, because at the start he’s scared to say anything or look anyone in the eye. Then, at the end of it, he’s almost like a pretty normal, normal-ish person, which maybe just is my acting not making sense that I came back and decided it was a new character, or it’s really good emotional range, or like range to go from that, from the start to the end, but who knows? That’s for the people to decide as to whether he’s loyal or going to the CRM. Again, I’d like to think that he thinks for himself, and that’s an option for him that he doesn’t know. Maybe he is half seeing what’s going on with the CRM and checking it out and then seeing if he really wants to take it down. But I do get the sense that now that these little young rebel rebel kids have got a taste for taking down the establishment, I feel like that’s gonna happen again. They’re not able to sit still and just deal with living in the post apocalyptic world. They have to be like fighting something constantly. They’re all going to Portland and stuff. I mean, they could just chill out. That’s what I like to do, just chilll.

Thane:  Were you a fan of The Walking Dead before you auditioned for the show?

Hal:  I’d never seen any of it…I hadn’t seen it before, but, obviously, because I hadn’t lived under a rock, I knew what The Walking Dead was. It’s like a humongous thing, but then I got to watch, and it was actually pleasant. I was sort of surprised. I thought it would be this particular thing, but I watched the first two seasons as I was getting the callbacks. You get to another point, they’re like, “Oh, I think they’re gonna make an offer, blah blah blah,” and it was my first American audition. So, it was all very surreal for me. Then I’m able to watch the show, and I’m like, “I actually like this show. This is crazy. It’s a pretty cool [show].” The first season, it’s almost a bit like it has an independent movie feel, but with a budget, and the acting is pretty awesome and fresh and interesting.

Alexa:  Yeah, I only watched the first couple seasons. I think I stopped at season three, but I really liked it. I just tend to fall out with TV shows and just forget to keep watching them, and I lose my spot.

Nick:   Yeah, I watched the first two seasons as well, I think, when they put them on Netflix, and then I tapped out, because I was like ten or something, and it was just a lot of blood and guts. But my older brother kept watching it, and it was always in the household. Then, he was like, “Hey, come check this out,” when Glenn died, and he just showed me his brains getting splattered on TV. I was like, “Oh, great, dude. Awesome.” So, it was always in my house, but I only kept up with seasons one and two.

Question:   All of you, for the final episode, were there any scenes that were very hard to pull off when it came to either the dialogue or during the stunts?

Alexa:  Yeah, there was, I think it was in season two, either episode one or two, but when Hope has a fight with Candice, before she gets pushed against the wall and eaten alive or whatever, that scene took all day, because we had to keep switching between me and the stunt double. So, that was probably one of the longest, hardest scenes that I had to do. Yeah, I’m very happy that I made it through it in one piece.

Nick:   Yeah, by the end of season two, we were there, I think, from January to June, so once it got it started getting closer to summer, the days were getting hotter, and the season was ending, so we had to do all of our stunts. We shot every season in Richmond; it was really nice, but once we got to the summer, it got hotter, and [there were] just bigger set pieces. There was the whole battle at the the community village where the CRM comes in and Elton’s about to get executed, that whole like battle piece where the building blows up and everything, that was multiple days. That was a lot of prep, but it turned out awesome. That was probably the hardest.

Hal:  They blew up the barn. That was nuts.

Nick:   That was crazy. Did you see that?

Hal:  Remember there was a fire; the whole fire department was just sitting there having to watch it burn.

Nick:   Yeah, because it was a controlled burn or something. They’re just sitting on the sidelines.

Hal:  Yeah, the fire people couldn’t handle it.

Nick:   Yeah, but it was sick.

Hal:  It was like Pavlov’s dogs.

Question:   How about you Julia?

Julia:  I think, honestly, as an actor, the the first episode scene, just from a technical point of view, I had so much. [laughs] I had this six page speech for Elizabeth. I don’t think [unintelligible] all of it, but I was absolutely terrified, because I think the way that it shot, it’s kind of like you don’t have – I think when you see it come together, it looks as if it could have been chopped up. [laughs] It was just kind of –

Alexa:  You killed it, though.

Julia:  Oh, my God. Thanks, I appreciate that. Yeah, it was just really challenging, because it was also, how do I make this interesting instead of kind of having people go, “Oh, my God, when is she going to shut up?” But yeah, I think just that I sort of ended up with something that was a bit kind of technical, but that was probably my most challenging…I think, as an actor, the scenes that I love are the scenes where you don’t have any tech, so being given something [laughs], it was sort of like, “Oh, no!”

Hal:  What was the question?…Sorry, my phone ran out of charge; now I’m on my computer.

Question:   I was asking, were there any scenes of stunt work or dialogue that was very challenging during this whole season?

Hal:  I don’t know; everyone else has answered. I don’t know, the scenes where I don’t – like a lot of the time, Silas doesn’t have many lines, and that’s a little bit like odd sometimes, like sort of the opposite. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t mind a few extra lines, so I don’t have to do all this, like, “I’m not saying anything, but I’m acting.” Sometimes it’s fun just to be able to go to set and say some shit. We’re there for so long, like six months. So, honestly, I feel like the challenging part probably was there was so much time in between, because all the storylines were so caught up. So, actually, we weren’t really  working that much. Well, I wasn’t. I love being on set. I love being on set.

Julia:  I think one of the really hard things was actually doing it under COVID circumstances, because when you’re rehearsing, you’ve got all this stuff around your face. You can’t really kind of see the reactions of people; you’re not interacting. I felt like I [wasn’t] able to interact with crew in the same way. So, there’s this kind of block from having this human experience. That is the sort of joy of of putting together a story and a collaborative process. The COVID restrictions has had a huge impact, I think, on the experience, just in general, of being an actor.

Hal:  Yeah, I’m so glad hopefully it’s [over]. I mean, I don’t even know. Is it coming to an end? But, yeah, it gets a bit depressing a little bit when everyone’s wearing masks. Also, yeah, taking direction from a director, and you can’t really see what their emotions are or how they’re feeling, because they’re wearing a big mask and a face shield.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Scene from the end of the last episodeThe Walking Dead: World Beyond – Series finale airs December 5th at 10pm ET/9c on AMC and will be available one week early on AMC+

Season two of The Walking Dead: World Beyond concludes the epic story of Iris (Aliyah Royale), Hope (Alexa Mansour), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Silas (Hal Cumpston) — four friends who journeyed across the country on a mission that transformed everything they knew about themselves and the world.  As they face off against the mysterious Civic Republic Military and fight for control of their own destiny, goals will shift, bonds will form and crumble, and innocence will be both lost and found.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond is executive produced by co-creator Scott M. Gimple, co-creator and showrunner Matt Negrete, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert and Brian Bockrath, and is produced and distributed by AMC Studios. In addition to Royale, Mansour, Cantu and Cumpston, the series stars Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru, Julia Ormond, Joe Holt, Jelani Alladin, Natalie Gold and Ted Sutherland.

Episode 210: The Last Light

The remaining members of the group fight back enemies, both living and dead, on their quest to save the future.

Written by: Matthew Negrete, Maya Goldsmith, Carson Moore

Directed by: Loren Yaconelli

SciFiVision article and interview with the same actors

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

"The Walking Dead: World Beyond" Season 2 poster

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman

TV Interview!

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of “Christmas Dance Reunion” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This was part of a Lifetime Christmas press panel. I really enjoyed seeing the movies and speaking everyone. What made this movie so special is all of the great dancing. It was nice to chat with these two. Corbin used to be on “One Life to Live,” so I was thrilled to speak with him.

MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone, and welcome to our third panel for today.  I would like to introduce Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu of this year’s “A Christmas Dance Reunion”.  We’re gonna go ahead and get the questions started.  Noah has the first question.  Noah?

QUESTION:  Hello.  It is so great to be here with you guys.  By the way, you look fabulous and happy holidays to both of you.  My first question is to you, Corbin.  We see two high school dance partners get back together for the holidays.  So many fans from “High School Musical”, including myself, will watch this and think this is the perfect holiday storyline for the two of you, as you both have worked together on the Disney Network in “High School Musical”.  But how does this holiday story throw us back to some of the “High School Musical” memories?  Because I did see a photo when I screened of you and Monique, and it was back during — I think in the gym of “High School Musical”.  I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic.”

CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, getting to work on this project settled so many dreams coming true.  At this time, I mean, it was October of 2020 when we went out to go shoot, so coming on the tail end of a quarantine and not working for a period of time.  It was also election time.  There was a lot of — just a lot of chaos at the time and in our minds.  And all of a sudden, we go on this journey to go to Canada, get out of the U.S. for a minute.  And we get to reunite in this film that we haven’t been on screen together in 13 years.  And when I tell you every single moment on set was just comfort.  And there are a lot of moments in the film that when I watched it looking at just how easy the romance comes and how easy the connection came, and that was real.  I mean, it just — it’s…it truly is such a beautiful, wonderful thing to be able to work with a person that you love from the bottom of your heart.  I mean, Mo, I love you.  You’re, like, you’re —


CORBIN BLEU:  You’re my sis.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’m like, oh my God.

CORBIN BLEU:  There was just so — honestly, I could go on and on so much because then on top of it, my wife, Sasha Clements, is also another lead part in the film.  So there was all of this just love, just this lovefest on camera and on set.

QUESTION:  Now, Monique, just speaking of “High School Musical”, there was a lot of dance that would go on in the show.  Because it was a musical, there was a lot of dance routines that would happen.


QUESTION:  I really think dance brings us together and I think that definitely shows in this holiday movie.  So lastly, how was the process of nailing down a dance routine with Corbin Bleu when you guys got to reprise and really just do this again, just be able to dance together?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  I think Corbin really said it well.  The thing is that we were safe, you know?  We felt like we were safe, we were comfortable.  And that is such an important part of telling any story is making sure that you have that connection.  But another thing that I think is really interesting is Corbin started dancing when he was two or three years old.  I started dancing when I was in fourth grade.  And something that’s really interesting is that our lives didn’t begin with “High School Musical”.  Obviously, that is an amazing part of our journey, and it’s a peak, and we’re so — we will always be so proud of it and excited to talk about it and share.  But what I thought was really interesting was that this story to me brought the two of us back further than where we were when “High School Musical” started.  It brought us back to the roots of who we are and it reminded me that I danced as a kid.  And this moment didn’t make it in the movie, but there are photos in the hallway of my fictional house that are pictures of me when I was 10, 12, 15, 17 years old with these big dreams in my mind.  And to see that and then to actually see photos of us from when we were on tour — one of the photos is actually from the Macy’s Day Parade.  And I remember that so distinctly.  And I remember how I felt in that moment.  And then to fast forward to today and to be able to bring all of who we are together and for that to be on screen, I think it absolutely captures the magic that you all felt when you saw “High School Musical”.  But I also think that this movie is going to do something really special and allow you to get to know Corbin and I in a way that you probably honestly haven’t seen prior to now which is really, like, who we’ve always been.

QUESTION:  Thank you guys for your time.  I appreciate it.


CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.


MODERATOR:  Thank you, Noah.  Alright, up next I have Mike from TV America.  Mike?  I’m gonna give him a moment.  Oh, there he is.

QUESTION:  Okay, can you hear me now?


QUESTION:  Can you hear me okay now?


QUESTION:  Okay, good deal.  Hey, Corbin, I wanted to ask you to kind of continue on what Mo was saying a minute ago.  Because we have a lot of movies that are about singing, not as many movies that are based on dance.  And dance has been so much a part of your life forever.  I mean, talk about starting to take dance when you were two or three years old.  Talk about what it was like as a kid and how important it is to be able to get back to a dance-based show like this sometimes.

CORBIN BLEU:  Well, again, this movie is a lot of art mimics life and vice versa.  There’s a lot of meta moments.  I started dancing when I was about two years old.  And I started with tap and ballet, and that was always my first love.  And I started acting early, as well, and I started singing early, as well.  But dance was just always my form of expression.  And to this day, it’s just the one thing that just comes naturally, just comes easy.  If there’s ever — you know, there are times when people just — they just want to sing and it just needs to come out of them.  And my body just expresses it through dance.  And when I tell you the character, both of them, both of the characters are just so rooted in realism.  They both found this joy and this love of dance at an early age.  My character, Barrett, actually continued on with it and went on to become a Broadway stage performer, very much like real life.  And Monique’s character goes on to actually become a lawyer and dance is still this joy, this love that’s just hanging right behind her that she’s just wanting to turn back and find again.  And I know — I’m gonna just speak for Mo a little bit, yeah, I know that she has gone on to do just such incredible serious, wonderful things in this world.  I mean, she’s a U.N. ambassador.  So again, I know for me getting to dance with her and her getting a chance to also re-find a joy of dance and that love in this, it was incredible.  And I’ve got to also do one more shoutout to our director and our choreographer —


CORBIN BLEU:  …Brian Herzlinger and Christian Vincent because the turnaround on this was not “High School Musical”.  You know, “High School Musical” we had…


CORBIN BLEU:  …like, at least — at least — two days per number, at least.


CORBIN BLEU:  This we shot — I think majority of the final dance routines were shot in one day.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  In a day, yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  One day.  And the other dance routines, everything else that you see was shot in one other day.  So just an insane amount of hard work.  And to top it all off, there were things that were implemented that weren’t originally in the script, one being my tap number.  One number in the movie that really is such a pivotal story moment that you actually get to really see Barrett’s love for dance and where his spirit really flies is this tap number that was never in the script, was never a part of rehearsals, until we were like three — I think we were three or four days from getting ready to start shooting.  And I knew that they were gonna do this other tap number and I said to Brian, I was like, “Brian, you know that I tap, right?”  And he goes, “Wait, what?”  I was like, “Yeah, I love tapping.”  And he said, “We should implement that.”  And Christian, freaking incredible man that he is, threw together this tap number.  And we worked on this over the next couple weeks before we had to shoot it and implemented this number.  And it turns out to be such a beautiful moment in the movie.  Just really, really wonderful that they allowed such input and organicn-ess to free flow.


QUESTION:  Okay, cool.  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Mike.  And our next question is from Suzanne.


QUESTION:  Hi.  I really enjoyed the movie.  I loved watching it.  It really made me wanna go to the Winterleigh.

CORBIN BLEU:  Awesome.

QUESTION:  Where was it actually filmed?

CORBIN BLEU:  We shot up in Vancouver.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.  Toronto.

CORBIN BLEU:  I’m sorry — Vancouver — Toronto.  We filmed up in Toronto, I’m sorry.


CORBIN BLEU:  The other side of the country.  We shot up in Toronto at the…

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Where were we?  I’m like…

CORBIN BLEU:  Horseshoe.  Horseshoe.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  That’s right.



CORBIN BLEU:  Yeah, the hotel.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  Great.  And Monique, what was the thing about it that was the most challenging for you?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I think letting it be easy.  That was the most challenging thing was just allowing it.  You know, we’re in an industry that can just be so difficult in so many different ways.  And this was an experience that Corbin was speaking of earlier that was in the midst of a very active world pandemic.  We were in the midst of a very intense election in the U.S.  And we’re storytellers.  And we kept reminding ourselves that we got to be the magic makers of the moment.  We get to be the lightworkers.  We get to be the ones that are going to be a part of helping people to have the joy that we all deserve when this all is over.  And so for me, to be honest, yes, learning the dances was challenging.  Spending two weeks in quarantine and then going from basically zero to hero and having not worked pretty much all year long, having definitely not danced or been in a studio at all.  And I actually turned 40, so I was like my knees are not — they’re not capable of doing this which is actually really hilarious because that is something that Lucy talks about as her character.  But it’s very real for me ’cause I’m like no, but really.  I can’t just jump in like that.  But at the end of the day, I guess I always knew that this was supposed to be fun and it was supposed to bring joy.  And if there was anything that I felt like I couldn’t do, I knew that I had the support to change that.  So I knew that with Corbin that I was safe with my partner.  I knew that with Christian, he wanted to make sure that we looked good.  And Brian is just like all-around so incredible that there wasn’t really any pressure.  There wasn’t any extra tension.  So you know, I think, yeah, obviously the most challenging part was going from not dancing or doing anything and being in a pandemic to going full throttle.  But even that is a blessing and it’s a gift.  And so I don’t even like to look at that as really any more than just the challenge that comes with being privileged to be able to do something that you love for a living.

QUESTION:  Awesome.  Thank you guys so much.

CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thanks, Suzanne.  We’re going now to our final two questions.  Cynthia?

QUESTION:  Hello, can you hear me?

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes, we can.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Hi.  I’m Cynthia Horner from “Right On! Magazine” and “Word Up! Magazine”.  And Corbin, you and Monique used to appear in our magazines all the time.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes!  Absolutely!

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I know!  I was like “Word Up!”!

QUESTION:  Yeah.  What is it like now being grown people that really got your start as teenagers and you continued on with your craft?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  One of us was a teenager.  The other one wasn’t.

CORBIN BLEU:  (Laughs.)

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’ll let you guess which one.

CORBIN BLEU:  Homegirl, you still look fly as hell.


CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, just like life, there are aspects that just get better and better and then there are other parts that you go, oof, that hurts a lot more.


CORBIN BLEU:  You know, I think that there truly was an appreciation on this film.  When we were working back then, at least I can speak for myself to say that I was just a teenager.  And as much as I really was a hard worker and I was always focused on what I was doing and I appreciated everything that was going on, it still was just about enjoying that ride.  And it all happened so quickly that there are times where you have to — you forget to remind yourself, let me really take in this moment.  And I feel like I was able to do that a lot more working on this project.


CORBIN BLEU:  Just as an adult, in general, those times where it really is special.  One thing that I would love to talk about that I was able — a moment that I was able to look around and go, wow, this is really beautiful, was the representation in this film.


CORBIN BLEU:  And its diversity.  I mean, what’s so beautiful is to see these lead actors, Black actors, and that has nothing to do with the driving force of the storyline.  The storyline is a romance story.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we’re Black.  And yet, you get to see all of this diversity and all of this representation in there.  And I feel like that to me is something that as a kid, I don’t necessarily — I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint as much.  Now, I see it and I go this is something that I wish I was able to see a lot more of on screen when I was a kid and watching all these holiday movies.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, that’s literally exactly what I was feeling, Corbin, was that that is the biggest shift that has happened since that time.  We were just in a different era and now to be these characters that are not just supporting someone else’s story but to be the story and yeah, that is definitely different and exciting.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you so much.  And merry Christmas in advance.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you.  You, too.

CORBIN BLEU:  Merry Christmas in advance to you, too.  And happy Thanksgiving.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Cynthia.  We’re gonna wrap with Samantha.  Samantha?

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thank you both so much for touching on the diversity piece because that’s really what I wanted to ask about.  I was reading about Monique you know just a part of how Taylor’s — the headband became — like, a piece was not really having people that could do Black hair.  And I’m just curious what your experiences have been through the start of your career to now being in the industry where it’s really embracing and prioritizing diversity?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  It’s definitely shifted so much.  The fact that we can even have this conversation and be open about it is I think definitely progress.  And I think one thing that Corbin and I both do is we are very collaborative in the process.  So we don’t take a backseat to what we’re doing.  We really want to be involved every step of the way.  And so it’s been really wonderful to watch the industry catch up and also personally to be able to make stronger and different choices about how I want to be presented and so forth.  So I feel like there’s a lot more room.  And not just diversity amongst — like racial diversity, but also diversity within a race.  I think oftentimes, I have been cast in roles that someone could perceive as a token role.  Like, oh, here we’re fulfilling the diversity quota because we’re both very safe people.  And that’s not to…it just is what it is.


MONIQUE COLEMAN:  And so oftentimes, we’re put in this position and it’s like there’s so much diversity within being Black.  It’s not just, okay, we’ve got someone that’s it.  And that is something that is so special and beautiful about “A Christmas Dance Reunion” is that you just have this family.  You’ve got these people and they just are different shades of Black and it’s not just one note or one tone.  And that is really very exciting to see what the possibilities are now that these other universes are opening up where we can see ourselves from here.

CORBIN BLEU:  One hundred percent with everything Mo just said.  And it’s such an important, important thing for what she’s talking about, as far as diversity within the diversity.


CORBIN BLEU:  And this movie by the way, there’s representation with LGBTQIA community.  There’s–


CORBIN BLEU:  In age, in differently abled.


CORBIN BLEU:  And our writer, one of our co-writing team, you know, Brian Herzlinger but majority of the heavy lifting on the writing was Megan Henry Herzlinger.  We have a female writer.  Yeah, right?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  It’s so good.

CORBIN BLEU:  So really, I mean, all that is there but again, what’s so amazing and so important to me about this film is that all of that goes unsaid.


CORBIN BLEU:  To me, for what I grew up watching, the stuff that I — you know, I grew up watching all of the MGM classic musicals and never really getting a chance to see representation of myself in that character.  And most of the time growing up, if I was watching someone of color, then it was the token.  And usually the phrases that were coming out of that person’s mouth or the kind of demeanor of a certain — it always was a very specific category.  Or they were there because the driving force of their storyline was because they’re Black.  It has to do with their struggle.  It has to do with the fact that they’re not represented.  And we have romance stories, too.


CORBIN BLEU:  We have positivity without the struggle, as well.


CORBIN BLEU:  That’s always there.  That struggle is always there because we aren’t represented in that way, but we will only see that struggle and only see that representation if those are the only stories that we continue to tell.  So that’s why this really to me was such a beautiful, beautiful experience and really important.  And I want to see more of it and Mo and I need to do more of that together.


MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Well, thank you both so much for participating today.  We all love that you’re here together and reunited.  So be sure everyone to tune in to “A Christmas Dance Reunion” on Friday, December 3rd, at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.


Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on LifetimeA Christmas Dance Reunion
Friday, December 3 at 8pm / 7c

Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Dance Reunion is produced by Off Camera Entertainment and Brain Power Studio with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston and Beth Stevenson as Executive Producers. Megan Henry Herzlinger and Brian Herzlinger serve as writers. Brian Herzlinger also directs.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with Lisa Arch

TV Interview!

Lisa Arch of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and more

Interview with Lisa Arch of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO by Suzanne 11/18/21

I enjoyed chatting with Lisa on Zoom! She is so funny. I can see why they like her on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I learned some valuable insights from her about the way that show is run, how the people on it are, and how show business can be. It was very informative. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Suzanne:  I was watching some of your YouTube videos last night…

Lisa: Which one? The reviews? The podcast?

Suzanne: The thing where you’re interviewing people with another lady. I can’t remember her name.

Lisa: The Leslie and Lisa Show.

Suzanne: Leslie and Lisa, yeah.

Lisa: Yeah.

Suzanne: I was watching the one with the the actress from The Flash…So, I noticed that the last one was awhile ago. Are you still doing that?

Lisa: No, it was kind of an experiment. It was kind of an experiment we were doing during quarantine. We had a really good time, but it just wasn’t floating our boat enough, I guess, to keep it going.

Suzanne: Yeah, seems a lot of work.

Lisa: And there’s so much work…It just wasn’t clicking for me. I love working with her. She and I are actually working on another project now, but, yeah, for some reason that was too much. It was just too much with everything else I had going on.

Suzanne: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to do that kind of thing. I tried it once. I’m like, “Oh, I’m terrible at this. Nevermind.”

Lisa: It’s hard. Everybody makes it seem so easy, but it’s just, it’s a lot.

Suzanne: Yeah. There are a lot of bad YouTube videos where people try to do that. And it’s like, “No, I can’t watch this.”

Lisa: One hundred percent.

Suzanne: Not yours. Yours I enjoyed.

Lisa: Thank you.

Suzanne: It probably helps you’ve done a lot of comedy, both of you.

Lisa: Yes, exactly, and I’ve hosted a ton. So, I love that medium. I still love hosting, and I love interviewing people, but it’s just a lot, when you’re booking all the talent, and you’re doing all the stuff.

Suzanne: And the editing, and you’re trying to promote it; the promotion is hard.

Lisa: You need a team; you need a team of people. We just don’t have it.

Suzanne: I completely understand, because I do all mine, [but] not solo. I have volunteers. I can’t afford to pay anyone to promote, do that kind of thing.

Lisa: But you have volunteers that do it?

Suzanne: I have volunteers who do a lot of writing and proofreading and different things, not promotion so much. I need to get somebody to help me with promotion. That would be great. I spend more time on my own social media, my personal social media, than I do for the site, so that’s a problem.

Lisa: Exactly. Yes. Priorities.

Suzanne: Yeah, I’d rather take a lot of pretty pictures and post them on Instagram than promote my site. [laughs] Well, I realize everybody has their strengths.

So, I’ll get to my questions. You were on Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2009, and then not again until [2020], so what happened in between?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" group scene with Lisa ArchLisa: Well, so I mean, the show took six years off. I did a season; then they did one more season. Then, they took six years off. I think it’s how it was. No, it might have been two more seasons, and then they took six years off. So, yeah, when I was on the first time, it was just a one shot deal. It was just “come do this role,” and that’s it. There was no indication that there would ever be more.

So, a decade later, when I’m picking my son up from school, my manager and agent called me, and whenever they call me at the same time, it’s good news. But I hadn’t auditioned for anything recently. So, I was like, “I don’t know what this is.” And they said, “Curb wants you back,” and I was like, “Okay. I’m sure they want me back.” They were like, “No, they want you back, and it’s for multiple episodes.” And I just started sobbing, because it was so unexpected, because the day, or the several days, I had done the first time were so magical and everything I had ever wanted this industry to be, and it had never been before. So, to know I was going back to that was just the greatest feeling ever.

Suzanne: I know. He gets a lot of wonderful actors to come in and do their parts. They all love the show so much, and he lets them be different characters, even though they’re playing themselves. They get to be like, the jerk version of themselves.

Lisa: Absolutely, exactly. You’re so right. Yeah, and it is such an amazing, creative environment, and everyone there is such a powerhouse in their own right. So, it’s just an incredible place to be. It’s magical; it’s the Disneyland of the entertainment industry.

Lisa Arch with Richard Kind and Larry David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"Suzanne: Right, I understand. So, on the show, you’re paired with the amazing Richard Kind. What’s that been like, for you?

Lisa: He is spectacular. He is so adorably insecure in a way. I just don’t even think he understands how brilliant he is. So, it just makes him even more brilliant. He’s so funny and lovable. He’s also just been in everything, literally. There is not a television show or a movie he’s not in, nor is there a Broadway show he hasn’t performed in.

Like, off camera he’s talking with Larry about musicals that he’s been in. Larry’s grilling him about certain shows. You know, “Have you ever been in Fiddler on the Roof? Did [you] ever do this? Were you ever in that?” And the answer is always “yes.” “Yes, I was in that. Yes, I did do that.” He is adorable. When I first did the show…When was it?

Suzanne: 2009.

Lisa: So, I was in my late thirties. I was like, thirty-eight, and he’s like, fifteen years older than me, I think. So, when I was first paired with him, I was like, “This is interesting thing.” But then I just immediately felt like, “Yeah, I see it. He’s my husband. I totally get it.” Then, the more we work together, the more I’ve kind of just like literally fallen in love with him, and I completely see us as a married couple.

Suzanne: That’s cool. Yeah, I interviewed him years ago. Did you ever see “Red Oaks” that he was in? He is wonderful in that. You need to see it; it’s a good show anyway.

Lisa: I have it on my list. I watched like part of the pilot episode, and then something happened. I don’t know, but I have to get back on my list. He told me that I would love it.

Suzanne: I think it’s only two seasons, but it’s really good. He is he just even better than usual in that. It was just like, when I was watching, I was thinking, “What else can you do?” This is like the role of a lifetime. There’s more after that, but still.

Lisa: Yeah, there’s nothing he can’t do.

Lisa Arch on "MadTV"Suzanne: Yeah, and I saw that you were on Mad TV in the late 90s. Was that a great training ground for you?

Lisa: So, actually, I consider my training ground what I did before Mad TV, which was years and years of sketch comedy live. That was really my training ground. I started when I was fifteen doing sketch comedy in my brother’s sketch comedy troupe, which was really a lot of work. We did it every summer for years, and we sold out every show in Hollywood. Then, after that, I was with ACME Comedy Theater for several years, and I did a couple one-woman shows. So, that that my training ground, and that’s what led to Mad TV. Mad TV was definitely a training ground for how to get the crap kicked out of you on a daily basis and react well to it, which I did not do at the time, but now I know how to, so yes, it was a training ground for the toughest parts of this business.

Suzanne: Would you like to elaborate on what you mean by that?

Lisa: Any sketch comedy show – I mean, you hear this, especially from Saturday Night Live, not only because it’s an incredibly competitive show, but also it’s live. Mad TV, we had the luxury of being taped, so you could screw up and do it again. Although that didn’t happen very often; we memorized our lines instead of having cue cards. So, it was sort of like – I don’t know, but it’s just a very competitive genre. I am a competitive person with myself, if that makes sense, but I’m not super competitive against other people. So, to be thrown into that atmosphere was very difficult for me, and I did not respond super well to it.

I met some wonderful people. I actually met my husband on that show, which is the entire reason I think I got that show was to meet him, but it was a really difficult year for me, very hard. A lot of good times, a lot of fun, and a lot of lessons. I was thrown from being a waitress literally right into being a series regular on a show.

So, you go from struggling to people throwing Nikes at you and going, “Here are these for free,” and you know, “Here’s a bracelet from Tiffany,” and all this stuff that you had never had, unless you’re being driven to parties and stuff like that. It really kind of messes with your head. So, it’s also a good training ground and learning how to be grounded, because that stuff is beyond temporary, and nobody actually loves you as much as you feel like they do. So, I learned a lot of lessons and how to trust the right people [and] how to trust myself and not get caught up in the BS of the industry, because [in] the industry, there’s a lot of BS.

Suzanne: Right, I’m sure. I’m always talking about the people just in PR, who their whole business is [PR], and I’m a Mass Comm major, so I learned about PR, but I already sort of knew about it from this job. Their whole business is to hype everything and pretty much lie almost at times. I’m not putting them down; that’s their job, and it’s a hard job. Acting is also a form of lying in a way, and then the people in charge of actors, do they even look at the stuff? I can see why you would have a lot of that.

Lisa: Yes, it’s definitely a lot of BS. I mean, look, I have some friends in PR, and I definitely think what they do is very real and very hard, but, yeah, what you’re saying is true. It’s a lot of like, “How can we make this one part of your life seem even better than it actually is?” Yeah, for sure.

Suzanne: And the network’s do do that a lot too. It’s so funny, because it can be like, “Oh, this is the great hit of the season,” and then two weeks later, they cancel it. [laughs]

Lisa: But look, what’s so funny is what has completely been modeled after that is social media. I mean, yeah, technically every post is a lie. Anything that has a filter on it is a lie. You know, how many couples do you know that have terrible marriages, and then they’re on a vacation with their family, and they’re kissing in front of a Joshua Tree or whatever. You’re like, “Oh, my God. You just you hate him.” [laughs] You gotta weed through the BS and keep your inner circle small.

Suzanne: That’s true. Yeah. Actually, yeah, you’re right, because I always tell people, “Online friends are not the same as real life friends. Don’t believe anything people say to you. They could be lying. Everything they said could be a lie.”

Lisa: And yet, ironically, I feel as though I have learned so much from online friends that I’m not even super close with in real life. Yeah, there’s definitely a balance.

Suzanne: Yeah, I mean, I have I have people that I’ve known before even what they call “social media” where they was just message boards and forums things like that I’ve known for a long time, and I feel like I know them but, yeah, you never know how much you know about them.

Lisa: Absolutely.

Suzanne: My criteria is always, would you invite them to your house? Would you let them sit sit with your kids or your dog or house sit? Would you loan them money? If you answer yes to all that, either they’re friends, or you’re very gullible. [laughs]

Lisa: Exactly. You’re exactly right.

Suzanne: So anyway, you’ve done a lot of kids comedies. Is acting in those very different from acting in regular comedies?

Lisa: It really is. It really is. Nickelodeon and Disney, it’s such a blast. First of all, it’s so stupidly fun, but I never feel as much like I’m acting as I think I feel like I’m just like at a playground. You have to be so much broader. And I have to tell you, I did so much of it that I think a lot of my auditions for many years were way too big, because it’s hard to get out of that mindset. It’s like, you’re playing a mean principle, and then everything you do is really big and angry. So, it’s so much fun, but it is very different. For sure. It’s a heightened version of what I normally would think I would do.

Lisa Arch with Michael Richards on "Seinfeld"Suzanne: Yeah, that makes total sense. You were on Seinfeld in 1996. Did that help you at all get the role of Cassie in Curb?

Lisa: I don’t think so. Honestly, to this day, I don’t know if Larry knows that I was on Seinfeld. I imagine he does, but I don’t know for sure, because it was so many years in between. When I came in, there was no indication that he knew who I was.

It did help me get Mad TV, believe it or not, because right after I did Seinfeld, Mad TV was auditioning, and the person who cast me on Seinfeld was casting Mad TV. I didn’t have an agent at the time, so I called her and just said, “Hey, can I come in? I should be in there.” And she said, “Absolutely. We’ll see you Monday.” So, definitely, Seinfeld was a huge kickoff for my career.

Suzanne: Well, that’s great. Yeah. A lot of careers.

Lisa: Yes.

Suzanne: So, you’ve been on a lot of different TV and movie sets. What sets Curb apart from the others?

Lisa: So, first of all, Curb is all improv. You get a scenario, but nothing’s written for you. So, in that respect, it takes the pressure off, because you don’t have any lines to memorize. A lot of people I’ve spoken to, other people who’ve been on the show, thought it adds pressure, because you have to come up with your own stuff, but, to me, that is my favorite thing to do.

Suzanne: Right, you have all that experience.

Lisa: Yeah, and the thing is, it’s such a supportive environment. Beyond that, it is easy to do, because everyone there is rooting for you to be funny. It’s basically the opposite of what Mad TV was. Mad TV, you felt like everybody was rooting for you to screw up. And when I say everybody, I’m generalizing. There were a lot of wonderful, wonderful people there, but on Curb, it’s literally everybody there…But everyone at Curb is just rooting for you to be funny, because they want the show to be good.

Suzanne: That makes sense.

Lisa: So, it’s insanely supportive. It is, genuinely.

When I wanted to get into this business, it was to do everything that happens on Curb. It’s to play, it’s to feel creative, it’s to feel challenged and supported, and to laugh. And all of that happens there. And, honestly, I can’t stress enough, when I tell you that I sobbed when my managers told me I was going back, I promise you that’s the truth, because it is a magical land filled with magical people. Then, all of a sudden you’re at a table with friggin Larry David and Susie Essman and Cheryl Hines and JB Smoove and Patton Oswald. My head, literally, every time I walk into one of those dinner party scenes, my head just like explodes a little bit, and then I’ve got to put the pieces back together, but it’s a dream. It’s a dream.

Suzanne: You mentioned Patton Oswald. He’s another one who’s in everything, between him and Richard.

Lisa: You’re so right. I actually said that exact thing to my husband. Patton is in everything. And what’s so funny is he and Jeff Garlin and Richard Kind, we’re all sitting at this dinner party scene, talking about how they’re all on The Goldbergs, because Richard and Jeff are on it, and Patton does the voiceover. He’s in everything.

Suzanne: Yeah, and he tours too. I don’t know how he finds time for a real life.

Lisa: I don’t either. And he’s an absolute genius, brilliant mind. He’s just insane and so kind.

Suzanne: Oh, that’s nice. That’s good. It’s good when you hear that people are nice.

Lisa: But by the way, also, and not that he is, because I’ve met him before; he is lovely, but you can’t be a dick on the set of Curb.

Suzanne: I’m sure. Yeah. If it’s that supportive, then, yeah, they wouldn’t put up with that. It’s funny, because you’re all acting like that on the show.

Lisa: You’re so right. Yeah, everyone on that set is so sweet. It’s ridiculous.

Suzanne: That’s good. So, can we see you on other Curb episodes this season?

Lisa: Not this season. I might show up for literally like five seconds on screen in one other episode, but that’s it, unfortunately, because I want to be there every day.

Lisa Arch with Larry DavidSuzanne: And have you heard about whether there’ll be a season twelve, or is that something that only Larry knows?

Lisa: That’s something that only Larry knows, and that’s the absolute truth. It’s funny, because the whole crew – I would say, conservatively, eighty percent of the crew has been the same since the very beginning, and the only reason anyone would have fallen off is because they got a job that they just can’t leave, but everyone shows up for him. But he is the only one [who] knows if, and he’s the only one that knows when, so you never know. Every time it’s been a surprise for me.

Suzanne: Well, I’m sure he’ll keep doing as long as he enjoys it. It’s not like he probably needs the money. [laughs]

Lisa: Yeah, I do not think he needs the money, and I do think he absolutely is having a blast. He’s also like, the coolest human being alive. No one believes me; he’s super sexy, because he so couldn’t care less what anybody thinks, and it’s so authentic. He just emanates, cool. Literally, he’s like Fonzie, but better.

Suzanne: No, I can understand. A little bit of that comes across on the on the screen, even though he’s being a jerk on the show. You can tell. And I don’t think you could produce a show like that if you were a real jerk in real life. It’s funny how many people in the audience in that Facebook group think that’s what he’s like in real life. I’m like, “Are you kidding?”

Lisa: Oh, yeah. And of course there are aspects, I’m sure; that all comes from his brain. So, that’s definitely indicative of what he is thinking, and I do believe there’s a lot of that; that is who he is, but it’s just obviously a much more heightened version of that.

Suzanne: Right. Well, yeah, he’s probably thinking about things that do bother him, but he wouldn’t be obnoxious enough to say it to people. [laughs]

Lisa: Exactly.

Suzanne: Like he wouldn’t have any friends or be invited to dinner parties if he really were that obnoxious.

Lisa: Exactly. And yet, I think he also probably takes advantage of the character to use as needed.

Suzanne: Oh, yeah, because some of the things he says are very political in a very sneaky way and a commentary on society.

Lisa: Absolutely, absolutely.

Suzanne: That’s one of the things that makes it great, I think, because you watch it because it’s funny. Then something gets in there that you go, “Oh, yeah, that’s right.”

Lisa: Little stupid things, like the towels. Like, my husband has said, and I’m not joking, my husband has said a million times, “Please don’t give me one of the new towels.” And I’m like, “I don’t get you.” And he goes, “It’s just different; it doesn’t dry you right.” So, when we saw [that], like, who would think that anyone else on the planet would have that thought? So, when we saw that on the show, we were like, “What?” That freaked us both out.

Suzanne: Where’s the hidden camera, that he was spying on you with?

Lisa: Exactly. Exactly.

Suzanne: That’s funny. Yeah, today I was looking up Pirate’s Booty. I mean, I already know what it is; I’ve had it before, but I thought, “I wonder if they take they were really happy about this episode,” but apparently they were bought out by Hershey, so they don’t care.

Lisa: That’s funny. That is very funny.

Suzanne: Then, I found another wonderful article about what the Talmud would say about what Larry did on that episode.

Lisa: I read that.

Suzanne: Did you read that? Wasn’t that a great article?

Lisa: That was phenomenal. So, I love how specific the Talmud is. That’s the funniest thing ever.

Suzanne: Yeah, I said that to my husband. We both love the show.

So, you already pretty much said your favorite part of working on Curb is the supportive environment and the people.

Lisa: And how fun it is and how funny you get to be. You get to be as funny as you can possibly be on the day you’re working. That’s a great feeling.

Suzanne: When you’ve been on, have you ever seen anybody where you thought, “Ah, they probably won’t come back,” because they didn’t do that great of a job? Or is that all pretty much taken care of before they get on the screen?

Lisa: No, I don’t think that is, because, genuinely, I don’t know that I was supposed to be ever back. I think it’s just Larry populates the show with whoever he thinks would fit. So, I don’t think he ever knows if you’re coming back. I don’t know. But no, I’ve never – But then again, I haven’t worked with a ton of guest stars. I worked with more stars this time than I ever have before, but usually I’m just working with the regulars. So, no.

Suzanne: That’s funny. So, do you have any other projects going on that you want to tell us about?

Lisa: Not really anything that I can talk about right now. I’m doing a behind-the-scenes thing right now that I hope turns out well, but I can’t really talk about it yet. Otherwise, no. I’m a character actress, so much of my life is just auditioning and waiting. And during the pandemic, there was so little going on. Now, it’s just gotten very busy again, audition-wise. So, my fingers are crossed that work is coming, and in the meantime, I’m in school, and loving that.

Suzanne: Are you working towards a particular degree?

Lisa: I am. I never [graduated]. I quit school to pursue acting. So, over quarantine, I decided it was time to try to get my Bachelor’s degree. So, I am working toward my Associate’s degree right now, and then I’m transferring for a psychology degree.

Suzanne: Oh, nice. That probably would have come in handy back when you were on Mad TV, right?

Lisa: Oh, my God so much. You have no idea. Yes. I probably should have finished school, although I would have finished with a theater degree. So, I don’t know that it would. Yes, it would have been very helpful.

Suzanne: Are you finding it challenging at all? Are all your classes online?

Lisa: All online, yeah. I decided there was no way I was going to do it if I had to go to school. So, yeah, all online. And it’s been challenging. It’s hard. You know, I’m a mom, and I’ve got all my house duties, plus all my auditions, plus whatever else comes up. So, it’s been tough, but I’m loving it. I’ve never been a good student, and I’ve never liked school, and I’m absolutely loving it. I feel myself becoming a more well-rounded person, just because I’m learning things that I never knew.

Suzanne: I think, in some ways, it’s better to go when you’re older, because you’re more mature; you take it more seriously. Your writing is probably better, all these different things.

Lisa: Absolutely. I mean, I think if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it’s an important thing to do, to go to school. Look, to be frank, I wish I had finished back then, but I didn’t; that wasn’t my path. And I do feel that I am one hundred a better student now and learning so much more than I would have back then.

Suzanne: And are you going full time or part time?

Lisa: Oh my God, no, part time. [laughs]

Suzanne: That makes it easier too.

Lisa: Exactly. No, there’s no way it could be a full-time student. And what’s cool is there is a program that does classes in an accelerated fashion. So, a sixteen-week class takes eight weeks, but it also packs more work into those eight weeks, but if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t get my AA until I was 60.

Suzanne: …I really like your curtains by the way. Those are pretty.

Lisa: Oh, thank you.

Suzanne: I like looking at the background when I interview people.

Lisa: I know, it’s hilarious

Suzanne: [I see] interesting things. Who’s the actor? Jeff Daniels, I was on a TCA thing with him. There’re lots of people there, but he had like fifty guitars behind him hanging on the wall. He apparently has an addiction to buying guitars.

Lisa: That is awesome. I don’t collect anything. I’m not a collector. I collect dust. I don’t have any cool collections of anything.

Suzanne: Oh, you do enough as it is.

Lisa: Yeah, I do, darn it.

Suzanne: All right. Well, I thank you so much for meeting up with me.

Lisa: Thanks for asking.

Suzanne: Oh, it was great. I will see you on Facebook and hopefully more in Curb.

Lisa: Yeah, hopefully more. Fingers crossed. Thank you so much.

Suzanne: All right, bye bye.

Here’s the video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Lisa Arch is an American actor and comedian, known for her roles in the 1997–98 season of the FOX Network comedy show, Mad TV, as cohost of TBS’s Dinner and a Movie from 2002 to 2005, and as the recurring character of Samantha Samuels on Disney Channel’s Cory in the House. Arch has also been in movies, such as 2007’s Evan Almighty.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American television sitcom that has been produced and broadcast by HBO since October 15, 2000. The series was created by Larry David, who stars as a fictionalized version of himself. The series follows Larry in his life as a semi-retired television writer and producer in Los Angeles, and for one season, New York City. Also starring are Cheryl Hines as his wife Cheryl, Jeff Garlin as his manager and best friend Jeff Greene, and Susie Essman as Jeff’s wife Susie. Curb Your Enthusiasm often features guest stars, many of them playing fictionalized versions of themselves.

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Lisa Arch of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and more

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor

TV Interview!

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

Interview with Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of “Miracle in Motor City” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This is a fun movie, set in Detroit. In most ways, it’s your usual holiday TV movie, but the Motown music makes it a little extra-special, as does using Smokey Robinson as a major plot point. The acting also elevates it above the usual films we see this time of year.  Tia Mowry-Hardrict (Sister, Sister; Family Reunion) is effervescent as busy social worker and foster mom Amber (who’s volunteered to take over the church Christmas pageant), and Canadian Mark Taylor (Coroner, Frankie Drake Mysteries) is great as her ex-boyfriend, Eddie.  Smokey doesn’t appear right away, and he has a relatively small part, but the real star that outshines them all is Markeda McKay, the adorable actress who plays Lily, Amber’s foster daughter.

Lifetime had a press day for some of their upcoming Christmas movies, so it was great to be invited to be there and ask questions. I had a fun time chatting with them. Make sure you watch the movie Sunday, November 28 on Lifetime.

MODERATOR: Hi, all. Thank you for joining us for our last panel. Please welcome our panelists, executive producer and star, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, guys!


SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Makes kissing face.) Back atcha!

TIA MOWRY: Oh my gosh, I miss you guys!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I miss you, too. Yeah.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, you guys look so great!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You’re the one.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: How you doing, Mark?

MARK TAYLOR: I’m good, man. Good to see you again.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Good to see you, man. Yeah.

MARK TAYLOR: How you doing?

MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here. Our first question is from Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Oh. We’re — right off the gate.


TIA MOWRY: Hi, Suzanne!

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Happy holidays.

MARK TAYLOR: Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays to you.

Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor of "Miracle in Motor City" on LifetimeQUESTION: I just finished watching your movie this morning. I really enjoyed it.

TIA MOWRY: Yay! (Claps.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Wonderful. Yeah.

QUESTION: I like that it was set in the city because so many of the Christmas movies are set out in the country somewhere, and they imply that the city is bad and the small town or country is good. So… I’m a city girl, I like that yours was different.


QUESTION: Mark, I love your character in “Coroner,” and I really love that show.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, thank you. Wow, thank you.

QUESTION: The singing and guitar playing that you did in the film, was that something that you’ve done a lot of before?

MARK TAYLOR: I sing in the shower and…

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I know that tune.

MARK TAYLOR: And guitar, I used to play guitar when I was about 12. I did that for maybe a couple of years and, you know, real minute stuff, so…I had to take lessons and kind of relearn it.

TIA MOWRY: But you guys, here’s a little kind of behind-the-scenes situation. I thought what was really cool about Mark is he’d always walk around with the guitar. Like, when you weren’t on camera, behind the scenes, he was always walking around with it. I guess was that an actor’s choice to just feel really comfortable with the guitar?

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, I just wanted to get it as good as I could and make it as realistic as possible.


MARK TAYLOR: And it was fun. It was also fun, you know? So it was good to learn some songs and connect.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, I’ve tried to learn to play the guitar about three or four times. I cannot do it.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: It just would not — and the tricky part was my favorite instrument.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: The guitar is my favorite —


SMOKEY ROBINSON: And I wanna play it so badly, but I just can’t get it. My right hand and my left hand do not coordinate on the guitar, you know. But my guitarist told me, he says, “Man, if you wanna learn how to play the guitar, keep it in your hands at all times.”

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, yeah.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: I understand what you were talking about, man. But I did that and that didn’t work, either. So…

TIA MOWRY: I don’t — you guys, I don’t know how to play any instruments. Like, I…I’m terrible.


TIA MOWRY: That is one thing — no. Like, that’s — sports and music is I just — I can’t. So kudos to you guys.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Not sports, don’t say sports.

TIA MOWRY: Oh God, no, I can’t even — when I was a kid —


TIA MOWRY: No, no, no sports. Like, when I was a kid, my dad, he tried to put me in what is it t-ball? You know, where the ball is like teed up for you?


TIA MOWRY: I would strike out on that. So I’d like —


TIA MOWRY: What is it, hand and eye coordination? No. Not good. Thank God, you know, I have other things that I can do.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, t-ball is over, honey, by the time you’re six or seven.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: You don’t even play t-ball anymore, so that was way back when.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) Okay?

QUESTION: Tia, can you sing at least?

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, you know, I can sing.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: She’s got a good voice.

TIA MOWRY: I mean, I grew up with singers in my family. My mother, she actually sang in the choir at church. So I can sing but what’s so funny about this character, Amber Dupont, she doesn’t know how to sing. And actually, Eddie, he picks on me throughout the movie about how I can’t carry a tune. So I thought that was pretty funny. But yeah, I mean, I can carry a tune.

QUESTION: Well, the voice is an instrument, so it counts.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Yeah, she can. She’s got a good voice.


QUESTION: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you! Thank you!


MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION: Hi, guys.

TIA MOWRY: Hi, Jeannie.


TIA MOWRY: Or Jamie, is it Jamie?

QUESTION: Jamie. Jamie, yes.

TIA MOWRY: Hi Jamie!

QUESTION: Hi. This is for all three of you. I was wondering, is there anything filming this that surprised you that you found out? Like, what was the most surprising thing?

TIA MOWRY: How hot it was in Canada.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: My most surprising thing was that I could do it at all.

TIA MOWRY: Aw. I mean —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: That was my most surprising.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great. You were great.

TIA MOWRY: Look, y’all, Smokey —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I love you, too, Mark.

MARK TAYLOR: You were great.

TIA MOWRY: You were fantastic. I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean? Come on, Smokey.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (inaudible @ 01:26:29)

TIA MOWRY: You’re awesome. You’re wonderful. Go ahead, Mark. You wanna answer?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a wonderful time.


SMOKEY ROBINSON: I had a great time. And everybody was so beautiful, you know? Before it even happened, I was looking forward to seeing Tia because Tia is like my daughter. I mean, you know, I just —


SMOKEY ROBINSON: …I love her so much and so happy to see —

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I love you, Smokey!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: …that she was gonna be there. That was great. And then, meeting everybody and getting the chance to — everybody. I mean, the crew, everybody was just fantastic. So I had a wonderful time.


TIA MOWRY: Aw. What about you, Mark? Was there anything that you were surprised about?

MARK TAYLOR: What was I surprised about? Um…you know what? I don’t know if I was surprised, but it was just an amazing experience.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, I like that.

MARK TAYLOR: Everyone’s so cool and everyone had a good time. And it was just — I guess maybe the experience I didn’t know was going to be so amazing you know?


MARK TAYLOR: But I’m definitely happy that I was a part of it, and I feel like it was meant to be.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, that’s awesome.


TIA MOWRY: I think, yeah, for me I think the most surprising part — I mean, I don’t know why it’s always surprising but I think a lot of people, they expect for — you know, these Christmas movies they’re — it’s supposed to be snow on the ground, it’s supposed to be wintertime. But in reality, we film a lot of these movies during the summertime. So we’re wearing jackets, and coats, and scarfs, and it’s so incredibly hot. So you have to —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Except for at night.

TIA MOWRY: Except for nights. Yeah, except for night.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: It was like the instant drop, like it’s 75 until six o’clock and at 6:01 it’s 30. (Laughs.)

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.) No. Wait, I will say this though, too, you guys. I think we film these movies in such a short period of time, right? So when I first started doing these Christmas movies, I think the thing that I was most surprised about is how many scenes you shoot in a day. Just for perspective on some movies, most movies, you’ll shoot maybe two-to-three scenes a day. But with these movies, you’re shooting, like, eight or nine scenes a day. So it’s a lot of dialogue to memorize and you’re working long hours. So that can be kind of surprising I think for viewers to know about.

MARK TAYLOR: It’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: It’s a lot of work.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it’s a grind.

TIA MOWRY: We shoot these movies in such — I think it’s what, 15, 16 days? When a lot of movies go for 21 maybe even 30 days. So it’s a grind. But it’s a good grind.

MARK TAYLOR: Oh, yeah.

QUESTION: I was gonna say, too, coats in the summer may be better than wearing a bathing suit when it’s freezing out or something. I don’t know.


QUESTION: I guess it depends.

MARK TAYLOR: They’re both bad. They’re both bad.

QUESTION: Yeah, that’s true.

TIA MOWRY: You know what? I’m with you, Mark. I think they’re both just ew. But I mean, hey, you know, you do what you love.


TIA MOWRY: And I love what I do, so…it’s all worth.

QUESTION: Alright, thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Jamie.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Jamie. Our next question is from Mike from TV America.

QUESTION: Yeah, for Smokey. One of the good things about this movie is it reminds us of how important those church Christmas pageants are. So could you recall, back when you were a kid and so forth, what was important to you about it? Did you do church Christmas pageants? What did they mean to you?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, you know what, Mike? I was involved in a few of them but my mom was one of those people that went to church three, four times a week, you know? She was a real lady, though. She would cuss you out in a minute but she would go to church three, four times a week.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: And actually, to be truthful with you, when I was a child, man, church used to scare me because of the fact —

QUESTION: (Laughs.)

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I’m serious about that, man. I was scared to death at church because the church that I went to was a Baptist church, Baptist preacher. And he’s preaching and hollering and hooping and just falling out. And the women are coming up there and they’re putting smelling salts and they’re passing out. I was afraid to death of church, man, until I got to be grown. I really was. I wasn’t really, like, a church-going person as a kid. I went if my mom made me, if she made me. So when she made me go, I went. And she would send me to Sunday school in the morning and then I’d have to go back to church with her in the afternoon. That was really a grind for me, man. But like I said, after I got to be grown and I understood a lot more spiritual things, I understood it more. And so I got to be more relaxed with it. But as far as growing up, man, I was…it was a trip for me.

TIA MOWRY: (Laughs.)

QUESTION: Thanks. I wanted to ask you one other thing, Smokey. Even though you shot it in Canada, this gives Detroit a really good look because it used a lot of stills, second unit shots. It makes life in Detroit look very attractive. Do we kind of underestimate how good Detroit is right now?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: I hope so, Mike. I really do because Detroit has been devastated for a while. But it’s because of the economy, because of no jobs and all that. See, Detroit is a job city. And when I was growing up, the auto industry was what kept Detroit going. Detroit was the auto industry, really. So after all the auto plants moved out and the manufacturers and stuff and then we had Motown and…I’m so proud of the fact that right now, they even call Detroit Motown. So we created a lot of jobs and things like that in Detroit, also. And we left and the auto industry left, so Detroit suffered for a long time. And I’m very, very happy to see that it is kind of on the rebound.

QUESTION: Oh, thanks.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike. Our next question is for —

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Mike!

MODERATOR: Thank you. Noah, you’re up next.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. It is so great to be here with you guys. By the way, Tia, I feel your holiday energy. I have the holiday energy, too. I feel like you’re just gonna bust out into a Christmas tune. Yes, yes, oh yes!

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Go, Tia. Bust it out, Tia.

QUESTION: Come on, Tia.

TIA MOWRY: Aw, thank you.

QUESTION: Give us a little “Jingle Bells”.

TIA MOWRY: No! Oh my God! Jingle bells, jingle bells. I’m, like, nervous to sing in front of Smokey.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you, Noah.

TIA MOWRY: You know, Christmas happens to be one of my favorite holidays. I really look forward to it every single year and that’s one of the main reasons why I love doing these movies. It’s something that my family — especially my mom, like, she’s a huge fan of every Christmas movie I do. And we sit down and we have hot cocoa, glasses of wine, and just really enjoy ourselves. So…

QUESTION: Now, Tia, I want to ask you first off, what attracted you to wanna be part of this? Because we have seen you and your sister, Tamera, be part of a lot of Christmas movies. And I just must say I love watching you two on screen.

MARK TAYLOR: Aw, thank you!

QUESTION: I’ve been a longtime fan since “Sister, Sister”. I just recently binged that, by the way, just aside.

TIA MOWRY: Really? With — yes. Okay, yeah, because it’s in syndication right now.


TIA MOWRY: Thank you! You know, what really attracted me with this script in particular is Mr. Smokey Robinson. You know, they had told me that he was going to be a part of it and I was like no way. I didn’t believe them at first. I was like I have to see it to believe it. I’ve known Smokey ever since I was a young, little girl and I’ve been a huge fan. And I just feel like Motown, it’s been very influential, especially within the African American culture and the community. So to be able to have that Motown flair and to have, like, Smokey be a part of the story, I was on-board from the beginning. And then when they told me that Mark was gonna be a part of it, Mark and I, we had done a movie over 20-something years ago, like aging ourselves but —

SMOKEY ROBINSON: When you guys were babies? You did a movie when you were babies?

TIA MOWRY: A baby! A baby! We were, like, in our 20s.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Twenty years ago.

TIA MOWRY: Yeah, basically. So I just — when I found out who the cast was and all of that and then just the story. I’m a huge believer in just giving women an opportunity. And Rhonda Baraka who is the writer of this movie, she wrote such an incredible script. And she’s also an African American woman which I just think is so phenomenal. So yeah, I was really excited about this project and I hope people enjoy this movie as much as all of us did making it.

QUESTION: Now, Mark, you have worked with Tia and Tamera on a movie in the past titled “17 Again”. I don’t know if that’s what you were just talking about, Tia, but that’s the movie that I’m talking about.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it is.

TIA MOWRY: Yes, it was. “17 Again”, that was what I was talking about.

QUESTION: So now, we see you and Tia, you have feelings for each other in this holiday movie that we’ll see on Lifetime. What was it like to personally work with her once again for this project?


MARK TAYLOR: I mean, Tia, you know, she got the big, bright energy, you know? Her spirit is so giving and bright and caring. She’s always checking in with you, making sure that you’re alright.


MARK TAYLOR: And she just makes everyone feel involved, like everyone’s on the same level. So it was great. Like I said, it was a great experience.


QUESTION: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. You have a good day.

TIA MOWRY: Thank you, Noah!



QUESTION: Bye. Happy holidays.

TIA MOWRY: Happy holidays.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one final one. Jay, you’re up.

QUESTION: Oh, thank you very much. Hi. Smokey, my question is for you. You’ve got such a catalogue of songs, obviously, and quite a few of them actually are Christmas songs. What kind of conversation went into exactly what you would perform in the movie?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: You know, Jay, not too much because I was gonna be on board — see, first of all, they sent me the script. And it’s a beautiful, warm, wonderful, warm story. And it was like Tia said, about Black people and about how they celebrate Christmas and what they do and all that. So that got me right there. And then, they told me Tia was gonna be involved. I hadn’t met Mark before filming this, but Tia like I said is my baby. I love her. And they told me she was gonna be involved and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. And then, it’s about Detroit and all that. So I was on board from getting the script and finding out all that information about what was going on. And like I said, the script is beautiful. It’s a warm, wonderful, Christmas story and I was very flattered to be a part of that.


QUESTION: Just to follow up, when it came to the songs, did they ask for your input about what you might like to perform, maybe from your own catalogue?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: No, no, no, no, no, man. They had some songs in mind that they wanted me to do and I did those. Because whatever they wanted me to do, like I said, I was gonna be on board for. And so I didn’t really pick any songs to sing or anything like that. I just wanted to be a part of it because it seemed so wonderful.

QUESTION: Thanks very much, Smokey.

TIA MOWRY: You know, wait, Smokey, I have to say one of my favorite moments in the movie is when you walk through the church doors. And you have this — I mean, you have this, like, swagger to you, the way you’re just walking. (Laughs.) Down the aisle. And then you start singing. It is just — I just cannot wait for people to see that moment. I mean, I just started bawling and I just started crying because it’s just — it’s such a beautiful moment. And I know that you’re saying that you’re very grateful to be a part of this movie, but I just want to say thank you for being a part of this movie. I mean, you’re such a legend. And Mark and I, we talk about you all the time. You’re just — you’re so — I mean, you’re a legend, you know what I mean?

SMOKEY ROBINSON: (Over-talking @ 01:38:44) And so I really, really want to take this time — I’ve already told you so many times before, but thank you for lending just your energy and your talent to this story because you did an incredible job. So thank you.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: Well, thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate that. And I got your vitamins, too. I got the vitamins.



TIA MOWRY: Yay! I love that!


MODERATOR: That’s awesome. Thank you so much to the cast of “Miracle in Motor City”. Make sure to tune in November 28th at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.




Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual


Programming Event Beginning November 12th

Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days

Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes

Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st.  Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

Miracle in Motor City

Starring Tia Mowry, Mark Taylor & Smokey Robinson

11/28 at 8pm / 7c

Amber Dupont (Tia Mowry) bites off more than she can chew when she takes charge of her church’s annual Christmas pageant and inadvertently promises to deliver a special performance by Motown Legend Smokey Robinson. When her best friends secretly enlist Amber’s former flame Eddie (Mark Taylor) to help – the pair reconnect in a quest to find Smokey and convince him to appear. With the clock ticking, family, friends, and superstar Smokey Robinson come together to stage the most special pageant yet.Miracle in Motor City is produced by Cineflix Media with Tia Mowry, Charles Tremayne, and Jeff Vanderwal serving as executive producers. Gaylyn Fraiche consults on behalf of Tia Mowry. Alfons Adetuyi directs from a script by Rhonda Baraka.

Markeda McKay, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, and Mark Taylor in "Miracle in Motor City" on Lifetime

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Interview with Chrystee Pharris

TV Interview!

Chrystee Pharris of "Monogamy" on ALLBLK

Interview with Chrystee Pharris of “Monogamy” on ALLBLK by Suzanne 11/23/21

This was such a fun interview! Chrystee is just great. She’s smart, passionate, funny – and an amazing actress! I’ve enjoyed reading her Facebook posts for years as well as seeing her on TV. I’m so glad we were able to do this.

Chrystee: How are you doing today?

Suzanne: All right. I’m not quite awake.

Chrystee: Where are you located?

Suzanne: I’m in Arkansas right now. I’m from San Diego originally, and then we move around a lot for my husband’s job.

Chrystee: Oh, I was gonna say, “San Diego to Arkansas?”

Suzanne: Oh, it’s worse than that. I haven’t lived to San Diego since 1982. We went here from Hawaii.

Chrystee: Oh my gosh. Is he military?

Suzanne: No, he’s a professor.

Chrystee: Okay, because as soon as you said San Diego and Hawaii, I was like, “Oh, that sounds like military.”

Suzanne: Yeah, actually, the reason I was in San Diego is because my dad was in the military, and he had been there and then liked it. So, we went back after he retired.

Chrystee: My dad was in the military as well.

Suzanne: Which branch?

Chrystee: He was in the Air Force. So I was born on Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Suzanne: Oh, nice. Yeah, my dad was in the Air Force too. I was born in Northern California. It used to be Travis Air Force Base, but I guess it’s gone now, or the hospital’s gone. One of them’s gone. I can’t remember. I was too young to know anyway.

Chrystee: I feel you on that one.

Suzanne: Yeah. So, we’ve been Facebook friends for a long time. I don’t know if you recognize my name. You actually have a lot of Facebook friends.

Chrystee: Oh, wow. No, I don’t think I’ve paid that much attention. There’re so many people. That’s so wonderful.

Suzanne: It’s so great to finally meet you, because I had thought about asking you for an interview at one point, but I thought, “Well I don’t know what she’s doing,” and then I sort of forgot about it, because I got busy.

Chrystee: Oh, yeah. I would have said yes. You know, what else? It also just depends. I mean, like, a lot of times we are super busy, but a lot of times we’re not. And because we’re all independent contractors, it’s a hustle market. It’s not like you have a nine to five where you know what doing and you have a steady paycheck. But in the acting world, you’re an independent contractor, and you’re constantly trying to find work. So, you have to stay busy, otherwise you don’t have income coming in. So, we’re always busy, but yet we’re not busy. You know what I mean?

Suzanne: Yeah. So, so what attracted you to the role of Diandra?

Chrystee: You know, it’s interesting, I know, Caryn Ward and Craig Ross Jr., they’re both married, they created the show. Craig called me out of the blue and said, “Hey, Chrystee, I have this show, kind of an experimental situation. It’s a new network -” which at the time it was called, I can’t remember; now It’s called Allblk, and that’s owned by AMC. He was like, “We’re not really sure what’s going to happen, but I would love for you to play this role.” And I was like, “Okay, of course,” and then he was like, “Do you want to read the script first?” And I was like, “Oh, I guess I should do that, but, yeah, of course, I’ll do this role.”

Then, next thing you know, I remember reading it and kind of getting a little nervous, because I was like, “Wow, I’ve never played a character like this before.” It was definitely a challenge. I remember the first day, and we were doing it, and I’m just “Da da da da,” and he’s like, “No, no, no. You gotta – she’s not – she’s more like this,” you know, because I have to be opposite of Caryn’s character.

And from there, I just was able to slip into this wonderful character that’s changed my life in a lot of ways. I mean, she’s so complex. Things have changed a little bit now, just because the industry has changed. Especially with Black Lives Matter, black people are hot at this moment. So, I say that with a joke. Of course, nobody would understand that, because they’re reading it as opposed to seeing this interview, but when you look at things that are like, I don’t know, different shows, the black girl was always the side chick, the best friend. She didn’t have complex dialogue, storyline. This character is so complex. She has so much stuff going on in her life. This third season, I mean, you just see so much come out that the fans are like, “Wow.” The first season they loved me. Second season, they did not like me. Third season, they were like, “Oh, my God, I completely understand her. Wow, been through that. Wow.” Then, they had compassion for me. Then, the next episode after that, after the first episode, they were like, they had compassion for me. They’re like, “Oh, man, I understand her. Wow.” The next episode after that, episode three, they hated me again. Then, by the end of the season, they’re just like, “Oh, my God, we’re pulling for her.” I’ve never seen fans go through the emotional up and down with the character that I played before. It’s just beautiful. I mean, I just I love Diandra. She’s probably my favorite so far.

Suzanne: And what would you say that you and she have the most in common and what you have that’s very different?

Chrystee: Well, one thing that is not in common is that I’m not worth $10 million. I mean, this character is worth – her parents left her money before they died. That portion of it, I definitely cannot relate to, and being calm and collected, but people would look at me and go, “No, what are you talking about? That is you,” Like, I suppress my emotions, but yet I can’t suppress my emotions. So, it’s like this dual battle.

What I probably can relate to is just the complexity of marriage and divorce and the complexity of family and the trauma that you can go through with family. I think I can relate to that. Not to say that my family went through crazy times, but enough that you think you’re the only person who’s gone through this, and you realize, no, a lot of people have complex relationships with their families, you know? Like my brother passed away. Actually, it’ll be three years now, but he was bipolar, schizophrenic, homeless, you know what I mean? So, you try to hide those things. You don’t want people to see what’s really going on in your family. You try to hide those, and then you realize, “Oh, maybe you don’t have to hide it,” that a lot more of us have gone through these things, and you try to deal with it. Then, the heartbreak of losing them without even being able to say goodbye is the hardest thing in the world, you know?

Suzanne: Yeah, I can imagine. I watched season one yesterday, and I really enjoyed it.

Chrystee: Thanks.

Suzanne: I’m sure I’m not the only one that is playing catch up, because people nowadays, they’ll binge watch some show they never watched.

Chrystee: Yeah.

Suzanne: So, what can you tell me do I have to look forward to in seasons two and three?

Chrystee: Well, part of the thing that you look forward to is that the production value is better. laughs

Suzanne: I did see the first episode of the second season, so I know what you’re talking about.

Chrystee: Yeah, I mean, it’s like night and day, because we actually finally had gotten a budget. That’s definitely number one. But that journey of season two, now you’re pulling for you know, who do you want to stay together? Who do you want to split apart? And for the people who are reading this article, the show, Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy is about four couples who are going through marital issues, and they decide to do a spousal swap through an experiment to work out their relationship. Which is crazy in itself, but that second season, you’re really sitting there going, “Oh my gosh, which relationship do I want to stay together?” Like, who do you want to to stay? You get to season three, and you’re not expecting any of what happens in season three. I remember getting the script and going, “What in the world?” You know what I mean? Like, “What the what?”

"Monogamy" on ALLBLKAnd that’s the great thing about the writers, for this show, is you think that the show is going to go one way, and it completely goes left, and you’re kind of in shock. Nothing in the show is predictable, like nothing. Even I remember this particular season – I’m watching the show in real time, because we don’t get to see it ahead of time, and, literally, I remember when I got to episode three or four, and I remember saying, “I cannot remember what happens. I have to go back and reread the script.” And I reread the script, and my significant other was so mad, because he was like, “Well, let me read it.” And I was like, “No, you gotta watch it.” And he’s like, “That’s not fair! You’re gonna read it, and I don’t get to read it. That’s just not fair.” And I was like, “I don’t care.” And I went back and read the whole entire last season of episodes.

But yeah, I promise you, people are going to go through an emotional roller coaster ride, because it’s just so unpredictable. It really isn’t predictable. It almost makes me go, “Really Diandra?”

Suzanne: It has a sci-fi vibe to it, even though it’s not sci-fi, because of the people that you never see and that kind of thing.


Suzanne: It makes it interesting. Or one of those weird Korean dramas that may or may not be sci-fi.

Chrystee: Yeah, like it seems like some extraterrestrial, although it’s not in any way, shape, or form, but it’s kind of like, it’s not quite like Squid Games, but Squid Games –

Suzanne: It has that vibe.

Chrystee: Yeah. Where you have these people that are talking, and you never see their faces and so forth. Just a little bit, yeah.

Suzanne: And it kind of goes back all the way, if you want to go back all the way to a show like The Prisoner from the 1960s, which I don’t remember if it was strictly sci-fi or it just felt that way, where they had a man who was being kept prisoner. They wouldn’t give him a name. He had a number.

I never saw that.

Suzanne: Yeah. It’s a little obscure, but sci-fi fans know it.

Chrystee: Gotcha.

Suzanne: So, that kind of thing is very interesting, and even though they’re not really prisoners, they sign up to be prisoners. So, it’s similar in a way. They have to follow the rules. It struck me interesting that they all followed the rules, I guess because their financial finances were on the line. It would make me wonder how people would act that would do that if their finances were not on the line. It was almost like a reality show, in a way. It was scripted. I guess they did have a Wife Swap reality show, but it wasn’t quite the same way. It wasn’t really wife swapping; they called it wife swapping, but it was family swapping. It didn’t have the whole sexual aspect to it.

Chrystee: Yeah, and, I mean, in season two, there’s a financial challenge, and it makes you wonder how people are going to react, and Diandra goes through that a little bit, in the second season, and it takes her out of her cool, calm collected, “I know how to handle this stuff.” I mean, I think that’s why season two has its own journey.

Suzanne: Yeah, and it struck me as odd that the show is on a streaming channel, and it’s very sexual, but at least what I’ve seen so far, there’s no actual nudity.

Chrystee: No.

Suzanne: You know If this was on HBO, Showtime, Netflix there would have been nudity. So, do you know why they chose that?

Chrystee: Well, I mean, I just think because of the streaming network; this particular network is still limited. I’m not sure if they can take it that far, but I think also, out of respect – I mean, which is why the director is so amazing is that he makes sure that you’re all comfortable with what’s happening. Like in season three, it gets, for my character, in my opinion, a little more riskier, to a certain degree. He and I had had a talk about it, what I was comfortable with, but because of the fact that we shot it during the pandemic, and you want to be COVID safe, he had to change things around and be sure that they could still get the story across without compromising anything or putting us in jeopardy, our lives in jeopardy, because of COVID.

Suzanne: Right. So, that was why there was a year between season two and three with COVID, but you didn’t take the whole year off?

Chrystee: Yes. So the reason why it was it prolonged the first season to the second season was because it was a new network, so they had to do whatever you do. Then, finally we got greenlit; we shot it. We were getting ready to shoot the next season. The pandemic hit. Okay, so, we were like, “Hey, we’re gonna be shooting.” “Wait; hold on. Something’s happening. Oh, wait a minute.” Like, you know, “I’m scared. I don’t want to go anywhere.”

Suzanne: Yeah, I know. So, what’s it been like working with Brian White and Darius McCrary? What a choice your character had.

Chrystee: Yeah, yeah. Well, it was it’s so interesting, because Darius, Wesley Jonathan, and Caryn and I, we all did this movie that really wasn’t the best movie in the world, but people love it. So, I don’t say anything bad about it, but we all did a movie together back in the day, which is how we all met. Then, fast forward to doing this together. I mean, Darius is a very energetic, sweet, breezy, lovable teddy bear. He’s just the sweetest guy, and it was it’s always a joy. Brian is completely opposite. Brian is a little more low key, very business oriented. You know, “let’s get this done” kind of thing. Very focused, you know, that type. Darius is more like, “Hey, everybody, I love you guys! What are we doing today?” So, they’re completely different character people, like just people in general, and they fit their characters to a tee, because Brian’s character is really intense; he’s so intense. Then, you have Darius’s character, who’s kind of like, you know. So, it was a joy to work with both of them, because they’re completely opposite. Completely opposite, but great people. Great people.

Suzanne: Good. Brian has been in so many great things. I just love him. And Darius was on The Young and the Restless. So, you actually have that in common with the soap. It’s funny, because he was brought in to sort of replace Shemar Moore’s character, and it didn’t really work, and I think it might have had to do with the directing or something, the writing, because this character that he’s playing in your show reminds me a lot of Mr. Moore’s character when he played him, and I think if they had given him the right writing and direction then he would have worked better as that character, because…they sort of made him boring in the show. That’s unfortunate, because he’s obviously a very good actor.

Chrystee: Yeah, yeah.

Suzanne: So yeah, I know that a lot of times fans blame the actor when it when a lot of it has to do with the writing and the directing and other factors that we don’t even know about.

Chrystee: Yeah, I mean, it happens, and it’s not it’s also not easy to replace somebody. I came in replacing — her name was Lena Cardwell on Passions, and I remember, in the beginning, people were a little, you know, “Well, no.” Then, I stood my ground. I had good skills, and people accepted me and loved me, and I didn’t have any issues with the transition.

But when the new girl came in, Cathy Doe, she came in, and I’ll never forget, because I remember, we ended up the week that I left was the day that she started, but that same day, we worked on a film together, and we happened to go [unintelligible] film. I know she thought I wasn’t going to like her, or would be standoffish or whatever, because she’s taking my role. And the first thing I did, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, we get to meet! Do you have any questions? Make sure you do you. Don’t try to be like me; just create your own character.” And she was just like, “Oh, my god, she was so nice to me.” She said this in an interview, and I responded back, because the same people who interviewed her interviewed me. I said, “Well, I had to tell her, and for everybody out there, I chose to leave the show.” I wanted to give another woman, another black woman, in particular, the opportunity that I had. It was just time for me to move on. But it’s always love. It wasn’t like she came in and auditioned or something and talked her way in and took my role away from me. No, that’s not what happened. I chose to leave. I wanted to give another opportunity to another amazing actress, and she got the opportunity to do it.

But I just think, in this industry, people can be so insecure about somebody taking over. And not to say stuff like that doesn’t happen, but I just don’t see it that way. I don’t hate on reality star people, or Instagram, people who are getting roles now. I don’t hate on other actresses who are younger than me or whatever the case may be, or have a better body than me or are better actors than me or are prettier than me. I know that I’m talented, and no one can take that away from me.

And now, we’re in a place where you can create your own destiny. It wasn’t like that when we started back in the 90s, in the 2000s and stuff. Things were not like that. You couldn’t create your own projects, because we didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t have little cameras and stuff like that that we could create our own projects. So, now, if you’re hating on other people, then you have an issue, because you can create your own shit.

Suzanne: That’s right. So, I used to watch you on Passions,. Do you still keep in touch with any of the actors on that show?

Chrystee: I keep in contact with Donn Swaby, who played Chad, the original bad. I still speak to Rodney Van Johnson who played my father, and I still keep in contact with Tracey Ross who played my mom on the show. Then, Brook Kerr and Lindsay Hartley who played Whitney and Theresa, a lot of them, and Sam, I keep in touch with all of them on Instagram or Facebook. So, I feel like I talk to them, but then I’m like, “Oh, but do I?”…I’m like, “Oh wait, this is on Facebook.” So, I never know if Facebook is a false – Like, is it a false communication or is it really real? You know what I mean? Because in my mind, I’m like, “Oh yeah, Jade Harlow. I talked to Jade,” but the question is do I really?

Suzanne: Yeah, I think it depends on the actor and how active they actually are on Facebook. I mean, some people just post on Twitter, and they have it set up to go directly to Facebook, and they don’t interact very much, whereas others like yourself are more active.

Chrystee: Yeah. So, I still talk to them all the time, via Facebook, like, even the character that played Ivy, we all keep in contact but, but then I’m like, “But do I?”

Suzanne: Hey, it’s like the rest of us who keep in contact with our old friends or old ex-coworkers or high school friends or whatever. It’s the same thing. Nobody has time to call up every single person that you ever knew.

Chrystee: Right, but I can say that if I ever needed something, I’m sure that I could hit any one of them up and say, “Hey, I need something. Can you help?”…I mean, all of them – They, actually have reached back out and were like, “Oh, what do you need,” blah, blah, blah. So, I mean, I keep in touch with them enough in that sense, but yeah, I talk to most of them.

Suzanne: Great. Brook is on General Hospital right now.

Chrystee: So happy for her. She just had a birthday too, yesterday.

Suzanne: Oh, okay. Cool. And then the actor who plays Sam, he was just in a Lifetime movie over the weekend. I don’t remember the title off the top my head. So, you have something coming out called The Myth of Control. Can you tell us about that?

Chrystee: Oh, yeah. So The Myth of Control is a web series that I had the pleasure of acting and directing an episode. There’re seven episodes. And Mikail Chowdhury, the creator, he reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’d love to collaborate with you, and would you like to not only act, but I would love for you to direct.” And I was like, “Direct? What?” I’ve done stage plays and musicals and stuff, but I hadn’t really direct anything via film or television. So, after putting it off, and kind of sending other directors his way, he was like, “Hey, no, I still want you to do it, do one of these episodes.” And I was like, “Um okay.” So, I said “yes,” and oh my God, that was the best experience that I I’ve had in so long. It felt like the first time I’d ever seen myself on TV. It was that excitement, that joy, because we shot – This was the special part about it is that we shot during COVID, the height of COVID. We sent everybody – because we were sitting around. We were like, “Okay, what are we going to do? What can we do? Why don’t we send everybody a cell phone and lighting and send it to each actor?” None of the actors got a chance to rehearse. None of them saw each other. They didn’t interact with the other actors, if they had somebody in the same scene with them. Everybody shot at their own house; they had to use their own significant other to do the lighting and sound, blah, blah, blah. I had to direct over Zoom. And on top of the fact that I’m directing it over Zoom, my two actresses were deaf. So, imagine trying to communicate via Zoom, which we’re on right now, and communicate with deaf actors, when you don’t even know sign language.

Suzanne: So, what how did you do it?

Chrystee: There is something called Google Meets. They translate. They’re amazing. Thank you Google Meets. But they translated the words so that they could read what we were saying.

Suzanne: So, they had a life transcript, essentially.

Chrystee: Yes. So, that was how we were able to communicate, but it was so amazing, so beautiful. It made me realize that I have so much to give, like I’m a great director. I know how to interact with the actors. I know how to get out of them what they need. Some directors are more technical directors. They don’t know how to speak to actors, but I’m an actor’s director. Every actor communicates differently. You, as a director, have to figure out instantly, “How does this actor communicate? How do they receive information?” Because one person, you can just tell them. Another person, you have to show them. Another person, you just have to give them the psychological background of a character, and then they know how to do it. So, you have to know. And some directors just have to let the actors figure it out, because they’ll get there. They’ll get frustrated if you tell them. So, you really figure it out. You’re like a teacher. I have no idea how to –

Suzanne: I was just gonna say, it’s very much like being a teacher.

Chrystee: Yeah, you have to really be so present, to look at your students, your actor, whatever and really, like, figure out in two minutes how they [unintelligible].

So, this young actress, her name is Natash Ofili, and she is phenomenal. It made me realize how we separate ourselves, how there’s another group of people that we don’t communicate with, that either we’re afraid to communicate, or we just are oblivious to. And it made me realize – I have no deaf friends. Then, it made me realize how we do not cater to all the people in the world, because there’re events that I wanted them to come to, but they didn’t have any interpreters. It was like, “Hey, we want to do this; we want them to come to the film festival,” but they didn’t have any interpreters.

So, you realize that – you know, being a person of color, it’s tough. Things happen that, you know, no sense of even going through all the things, but I can only imagine being a person of color and being deaf and going through that trauma. Because one of the things that she said was during Black Lives Matter, like the deaf community is already small, but Black Lives Matter and the Trump era started happening, and it made it even smaller, because that community became separated. She said it was even worse. I mean, there were things that she was talking about that I didn’t even have a clue. I thought sign language was common amongst, just that world. She was like, “No.” Even from New York to LA, east coast, west coast, the south, they’re all different, because at one point in time, she was saying in the south, they would not teach the black community who are deaf sign language to [unintelligible]. So, if you go to the south, they don’t speak the same language as the west coast or the east coast. And even the east coast and the west coast talk differently. Like west coast, I think they talk with both hands and maybe the east coast talk with one hand? She was like, “Oh, yeah, it’s completely different.” And I was like, “I can only imagine.”

Suzanne: That’s interesting.

Chrystee: So, my point of all of me saying all of that was that directing this has opened my world to something I didn’t even know I was missing, and now I cannot live without them.

Suzanne: Right. And you won an award recently for directing something right?

Chrystee: I did. We won two awards so far. It’s been in twenty festivals. I won Best Director, and it won Best COVID film as well.

Suzanne: So, you’re going to have to do more directing, I guess.

Chrystee: Yes, that would be the goal. That would be the goal.

Suzanne: That’s great. It’s always great when somebody can seize the opportunity and then make something great out of it.

Chrystee: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing about like how I told you we’re always busy, and yet we’re not busy all at the same time. You’ve go to create your own opportunities.

Suzanne: Is there anything else you have coming up that you want to tell us about? Or that you can tell us about?

Chrystee: I mean, I’m at a place in my life where, you know, you always hear those sayings where they say, “Enjoy what you do, and the money will follow?” I used to always look at people and go, “What?” In the beginning, I used to have fun, and then at some point in time, I stopped having fun, because I was always in hustle mode, trying to make sure that I stayed on top of whatever. I mean, I make a living off of this, what I do: voiceovers and acting and directing and whatever. So, the pandemic just opened my eyes to realize life is short, and you need to have fun and enjoy the process. So, now, I am learning how to do in my 40s martial arts and sword fighting, and now my new thing is learning how to do motion capture in animation.

…They did a video, because I was like, “Oh, I should videotape what I just learned.” And I looked at myself, and I was like, “Oh, my God, I look a hot mess.” And normally I’d be like, “There’s no sense in me starting this, because I just look a hot mess” during the sword fighting, and then I was like, “Yeah, but are you having fun?” “I am having fun.” “Okay, then why don’t you just keep going?” And don’t do it because you’re trying to get to this destination of doing motion capture being a kick-ass action hero on some TV show or film, do it because you’re enjoying it. Then, if something happens from it, okay. So, if you want to learn how to play the piano, don’t do because you’re trying to do something at Carnegie Hall, do it because you always wanted to play the piano, and it’s going to make you happy. So, if I die tomorrow, I would be happy, because I learned how to play the piano.

Suzanne: Right. Yeah, a lot of people don’t understand what you’re saying, and I get it, totally. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what’s going on in your life, do what makes you happy. If you enjoy learning new things, learn new things. It’s not like you have to be fantastic at it. It’s just for you.

Chrystee: And I never looked at it like that. I was always like, “How am I going to make money off of this?” It’s like, when the pandemic happened, first thing I said was, “How am I gonna make money during the pandemic? What in the entertainment industry is still happening?” And it was, “Oh, voiceover work is still happening.” So, what did I do? I built that right there. [unintelligible] So, that’s what I mean. Like, are you having fun with it? You should do it, because it’s fun, not because you get to some destination.

So, yeah, that would be the wisdom that I would leave with my audience is to make sure that you’re having fun, because this life can be long; it could be short, but really, what you want to make sure is that no matter when it comes to an end, you enjoyed every single day of your life. And I don’t think I learned that until the pandemic.

Suzanne: Wow, okay, well, that’s good. That’s a good lesson to learn. It wasn’t a totally wasted.

Chrystee: Exactly. You’re right. You’re absolutely right. It wasn’t. Actually, as many people as I lost and I saw die and go through crazy stuff, it was a good time for me to sit back, because I’ve never taken a break before in my twenty years of doing this; I’ve never taken a break. I don’t take breaks for my birthday, holidays, none of that. I took my first vacation, and, I mean, it was like, “Wow, how come I haven’t been doing this this whole time?” Why was I not doings stuff with my friends when everybody’s like, “Yeah, we’re going on a cruise. You want to roll?” “No, can’t roll. I got to stay here to see if there’s any income coming in from a job.” I was always doing that, and the pandemic made me go, “Wow, all those people who I knew were hustling all the time, and they’re gone,” and they never made it to their destination either. So, you better enjoy this life, because we don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Suzanne: That is true. And thank you. Those are great words of wisdom to end an interview, and I appreciate it.

Chrystee: I appreciate it as well, and thanks so much for the interview.

Suzanne: Oh, thank you. I’m glad I got to watch Monogamy; it’s great.

Chrystee: Yeah, if you get a chance to get to that third season, it’s a doozy. It’s a doozy.

Suzanne: I’m gonna definitely try. I watch a lot of TV.

Chrystee: Of course, of course. That’s why I said if you get a chance.

Suzanne: Yeah, I really enjoy it though. Yeah, I will add it to my list.

Chrystee: All right. All right. Thanks so much. Have a good one.

Suzanne: Thank you. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Chrystee: You too. All right. Bye bye.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Chrystee is a television/film actress. She is a native from Middletown, Ohio. She is known for her work on Passions (2004), Scrubs (2005), Steppin’: The Movie (2009), Nashville (2015), Greenleaf (2017),  Spiderman: into the Spider-Verse (2018), Goliath (2019), 911 (2019). 
Currently, she is a co-star on the hit show Monogamy available via Amazon Prime (2021).
She Graduated with a B.F.A. in Theater from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.





NEW YORK, NY – August 11th, 2021 – ALLBLK announced today, the AMC streamer’s popular and tantalizing series, MONOGAMY, returns with a third season! Created by husband and wife producing team Craig Ross, Jr. and Caryn Ward Ross, MONOGAMY follows 4 couples who agree to undergo a new type of treatment called “Swap Therapy” to repair their broken relationships…pushing past the limitations and boundaries of traditional marriage. MONOGAMY Season 3 premieres on ALLBLK, Thursday, September 2nd.

Last Season, a dramatic cliffhanger left audiences on the edge of their seat. This season picks up right where they left off, as the couples begin to unravel after the rooftop shooting in Las Vegas takes a toll on their lives. Connor(Darius McCrary) becomes obsessed with finding Harvey(Roy Fegan) and Sincere (Caryn Ward Ross) has to decide if she needs to move on. Sawyer(Blue Kimble) hasn’t healed from a past trauma causing a wedge between he and Caroline(Vanessa Simmons). Caroline gets closer to finding out just who she is, and realizes that revelation could be bittersweet if she has to go on alone. Carson(Wesley Jonathan) and Maggie(Jill Marie Jones) have to take a hard look at their relationship and aren’t sure they like what they see. How far will these couples have to go to save their marriages? Tune in Thursday, September 2nd on ALLBLK.


ALLBLK is an invitation to a world of streaming entertainment that is inclusively, but unapologetically – Black. Featuring a diverse lineup of content that spans across genres and generations, the ALLBLK library includes exclusive original series such as Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy, A House Divided, and Double Cross; must-see independent films, nostalgic Black cinema, popular network TV, lively stage plays, and so much more. ALLBLK is available everywhere streaming services are found – iOS, Android, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV and Apple TV Channels, Roku and Roku Channels, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, Cox, DISH, Sling TV, Charterand more. ALLBLK content can also be found on WEtv+. At, ALLBLK offers a free 7-day trial and thereafter is just $4.99/month or $49.99/year. Keep up with ALLBLK on Facebook at and Twitter/Instagram @WatchALLBLK.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Chrystee Pharris of "Monogamy" on ALLBLK

Interview with Reba McEntire, Candice King and John Schneider

TV Interview!

John Schneider and Rebe McEntire in "Christmas in Tune" on Lifetime

Interview with Executive Producer and star Reba McEntire, and stars John Schneider, Candice King, Justin David, and Norm Lewis of “Christmas in Tune” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This press panel was a lot of fun… and I like this movie, which airs 11/26 on Lifetime. It was hard to choose which person to interview, since I love the top three stars. I asked my questions of Reba and Candice, and John chimed in, so it worked out well.

MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Thank you all for joining. Our first panel for today is Reba McEntire’s “Christmas in Tune.” Please welcome executive producer and star Reba McEntire, and stars John Schneider, Candice King, Justin David, and Norm Lewis. Thank you, guys, all so much for being here today. Our first question —

REBA MCENTIRE: Our pleasure.

MODERATOR: Our next question is from Suzanne.

QUESTION: Hi. It’s great to see you all. Reba, I was wondering if you could tell us who wrote the music, the original songs, and will there be an album from this movie?

REBA MCENTIRE: Ooh, we haven’t talked about an album for the music from this album — from the movie. I’m trying to remember the lady’s name who wrote “I Needed Christmas Too”. It’ll come to me about the time we all hang up, but my band and Doug Sisemore did all the arrangements and put the music together. We went in to Dark Horse Studios where we got to shoot part of the movie and record the songs there. So I’ll get back with you on that young lady’s name, and the other songs had been recorded before, but I think the selection of the songs were to the point and just wonderful. Oh, her name was Trannie Anderson who wrote that song “I Needed Christmas Too.” Thank you, Mark.

QUESTION: Thank you. And, Candice, you used to sing backup, I read, on the “Hannah Montana” show. Did you have any spare time where you got to sing with these folks for fun, or —

Executive Producer and star Reba McEntire, and stars John Schneider, Candice King, Justin David, and Norm Lewis of "Christmas in Tune" on LifetimeCANDICE KING: Oh, no. Oh, no. Nope. I save these dusty pipes just for my little baby.


CANDICE KING: They’re a little rusty —

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Dusty pipes. Dusty, rusty pipes.

CANDICE KING: Yeah. No, in another life, yes, I was a singer and a backup singer for Miley Cyrus on the “Hannah Montana” tour. So it’s a great ice breaker, conversation starter but, no, luckily, I just got to listen to the legends.

QUESTION: Oh, maybe a sequel movie where Candice gets to sing…?

CANDICE KING: We’ll see.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys.

MODERATOR: Jay Bobbin, would you like to give your question?

QUESTION: Why, sure. Hello, everyone. Good to see you.

NORM LEWIS: Thank you.

QUESTION: Reba, Reba and John, both of you have, I mean, Reba, it geos without saying and, John, you are certainly well known for your singing voice, can the two of you talk about singing together? And then I’ve got a follow-up for you, Reba.

Reba McEntire on Zoom with usREBA MCENTIRE: I thought it was a lot of fun. I had a blast singing with John. He’s, um —

WOMAN: John Schneider and Reba McEntire.

REBA MCENTIRE: Thank you. I had a great time working with John singing. He was fun. He knew what he was going to sing and prepared and —

WOMAN: She’s going to be in a show called Christmas, “Christmas in Tune.”

QUESTION: This is not me, by the way. This is Jay. I’m not doing the narration.

MODERATOR: Hi, everybody. If anyone that’s not speaking can please mute themselves that’d be very helpful.

REBA MCENTIRE: Okay. Now we ready?

QUESTION: Yes, Reba. You were saying? I’m sorry.

REBA MCENTIRE: Okay. Yeah. John and I had a wonderful time on the movie getting to sing together, act together, and he’s a lot of fun to sing with, and the songs we got to sing were marvelous, some of my favorite songs to get to sing.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: And what was so great about this is we got to sing in the studio, the real studio. Before we filmed, we got to hear all the music and work on the music, and then we got to come to the set and sing that music again. So we really kind of had the opportunity to do everything that in the music world we’d been doing for decades, dare I say it, and it was so wonderful to sing with Reba. I’ve never sung with Reba before, at least she didn’t know. I mean I was singing with her on the radio, but it was so wonderful to be singing with her on the same mic and on the same stage, wonderful to share a stage with you —

REBA MCENTIRE: Thanks, John.

QUESTION: Thank you, John. Reba, my follow-up for you. Christmas has become kind of a tradition for you whether you’re doing a movie, or you’re hosting “CMA Country Christmas” or whatever. Could you talk briefly about your relationship with Christmas TV, your thoughts about it?

REBA MCENTIRE: I love it. I think it’s a warm, wonderful way to express your feelings. Music goes a long way with getting everybody in the holiday mood, and it’s also given us a chance to reflect on the year that we’ve had, all the wonderful things that have happened and our many blessings, and we remember the reason for the season. So, I love to be a part of television during the Christmas holidays.

QUESTION: Thank you both very much.



MODERATOR: Thanks, Jay. Our next question is going to be from (Steven McCoy @ 00:08:06).

QUESTION: Hi, how are you, everyone?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Hello, Steven.

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. John and Ms. Reba. I wanted to ask you, I mean, this is such a beautiful story, by the way. You have a parent who was once (in a group @ 00:08:20) in the past, and now get a chance to reunite. Now for you individually, have you guys ever gone through anything like that where you had to reunite with someone from your past and try to get into a warm spirit such as this one in the film?


JOHN SCHNEIDER: I tried it once. It didn’t work out so well for me. It worked out much better in the movie.


REBA MCENTIRE: In those situations it is pretty much like acting, and you have to move along with things to make it great for the rest of the family; yes.

QUESTION: What is a good moment that happened between you guys on set? Like what is the most funnest moment that you can give us?

REBA MCENTIRE: (Inaudible @ 00:09:09).

JOHN SCHNEIDER: You know, my fun, my most memorable moment was when we were doing that scene where we were being interviewed, and we started to look at each other. Our timing became exactly the same, and I don’t think we realize it, but the crew breaking up because we were so funny together. So that was my favorite part, kind of like doing what we’re doing right now, but the Zoom thing makes it a little awkward. We’re much funnier when we’re not on a Zoom call.


QUESTION: Thank you, guys, so much.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: You’re welcome.


JOHN SCHNEIDER: And have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas —

QUESTION: Happy Holidays.


MODERATOR: Thank you. We’re going to try Jamie Ruby again.

QUESTION: Hello, can you hear me this time?




QUESTION: Oh, sorry about that before. Hi, guys. So you talk about what’s so much fun, can you talk about what you found the most challenging doing this film?

REBA MCENTIRE: I think the most challenging thing that all of us can speak for was trying to film a Christmas movie in the heat and humidity of Nashville, Tennessee. That was the hardest part, but we endured. We got through it, and everybody had a wonderful time.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Yeah. The hours were not bad at all. It was hot, obviously, but you always do a Christmas movie in July, as you always do a beach movie in November and December. I didn’t have any difficulty with anything except maybe not eating all the snacks, because they were great.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you so much.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: You’re welcome. You have a great day.

QUESTION: You too.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We actually have a question here for Norm. Norm, your character is Duke who plays the musical director, and he also sort of plays the mediator between Georgia and Joe. Can you talk a little bit about your role?

NORM LEWIS: Yeah. First of all, being in this movie was exciting for me with these two OGs right here. And then working with — You know, we’ve seen Candice grow up on television, and now she’s got her own family now, you know, with a blended family. And then this amazing young man Justin, working with this great crew, it was so much fun. But to answer your question, yeah, I was happy to be a yenta. I was happy to be that person knowing that these two actually are meant to be together. I’ve actually had situations like that before, so I pulled from those experiences to try to bring that into the movie.

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you so much, Norm. Our next question is from Jamie Steinberg.

QUESTION: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for your time this afternoon. Candice, it’s so incredible to see you have these iconic actors as your parents. Talk about working with Reba and John.

CANDICE KING: Yeah. I mean, that was one of the most exciting things when I was flying into Nashville to do this was just knowing immediately being in a room with so many talented people that I’ve admired for years. It couldn’t have been a warmer welcome. I think that, you know, the tone on set usually starts from the top, and the tone on set was happy, jolly, you know, beautiful — all the Christmas feelings you could ever imagine, and I think that is attributed to, you know, Reba and John, the joy that you each brought to work every day. So, and, honestly, I just had to try not to geek out the whole time every time they were singing live. I mean, they had to rehearse in front of us, and it was so beautiful. John was always just strumming his guitar whenever he had a guitar in the scene, and I think that it’s just imperative on sets that someone’s always in a room playing a guitar.


CANDICE KING: I think that needs to be a new like rule —


CANDICE KING: –because it is so soothing, and just it was a blast of an experience.

QUESTION: Justin, you and Candice have such great onscreen chemistry as well. Did you feel that instantly as well, or did you guys spend some time together to flesh out this on-screen relationship?

JUSTIN DAVID: I think right off the bat when we met each other we had a good, you know, relationship right there and just like also just getting to know each other on like a friendship level just because we’re going to be working so closely together, you know. And it was very nice. Like it flowed in the story and like, you know, work alongside everyone, because it is essentially like a family that I’m working with, you know. Like we got Reba being Belle’s mom and John being Belle’s dad. Like it was really easy. It was awesome, honestly. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you all so much for your time.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Thank you, Jamie.


NORM LEWIS: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Rick Bentley.

QUESTION: John and Reba, both of you have done projects where you’ve had to sing in them, and then other projects where there was no singing involved. When you have a role where you have to sing, does that feel like I’m going to do something with an old friend, and it makes it more comfortable? Or does it add another layer of, “Oh, my gosh. I now have to not only know my lines and do the acting, but I also have to sing.”

REBA MCENTIRE: Go ahead, John.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Well, I tell you, it was — thank you — it was, it truly was getting to work with an old friend. Reba and I met each other quite some time ago, and for me — because I’m a theater brat, I started doing theater like Norm. I started doing theater when I was very young, eight years old — so when the opportunity came about for me to do this, this is actually the biggest musical production that I’ve ever done on camera. So I very much looked forward to it. It didn’t scare me. It kind of wrapped itself around me like a warm, Christmas blanket, to be honest with you, and to be able to do it with Reba was icing on the cake, absolutely.

REBA MCENTIRE: Aww. I echo those sentiments exactly. I had a wonderful time singing with John, adding music to the story was wonderful for me, and I totally enjoyed it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: You’re welcome.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Noah Wilson.

QUESTION: Hello, everyone. It is so great to be here with you guys. By the way, I must just first off say, I don’t think anyone has said this yet, you guys look phenomenal. You loo amazing. Festive. All holiday-ish. I love it. And my first question is to you, Reba. I want to ask you playing Georgia Winter in Reba McEntire’s “Christmas in Tune,” could you see similarities between yourself in Georgia as she’s also a country artist in this film?

REBA MCENTIRE: Definitely. And I think that’s what made it so much more easy for me to perform and play that part, because a lot of the decisions that Georgia made are the decisions that Reba would make.


REBA MCENTIRE: And the things that she would say Reba would say, so I definitely think there was a similarity there.

QUESTION: Now, John, we see Georgia and Joe have had some bad blood between them from years past as a singing duo, but eventually we see them rekindle their relationship in the movie through the power of music. What was one of your favorite songs to perform with Reba in this holiday movie?

Zoom panel with the actorsJOHN SCHNEIDER: Oh, it must have been “The Mistletoe.” Hands-down. What a beautiful song.


JOHN SCHNEIDER: Got a wonderful meter to it. I can’t remember who did the orchestration and the recording of the music, but it is fantastic. And we talked earlier about it. It’s very difficult to write and perform a new, great, Christmas song, because there’s a lot of wonderful Christmas songs out there. I think that this particular song is going to withstand the test of time. I think it’s going to be a new favorite Christmas song on radio for years to come,

QUESTION: And my last question is to you, Candice. We will see your character Belle work with the U. S. Army to put on their holiday fundraiser for the Snowball Event. How important is it to think of our troops during the holiday season as they fight to serve our country —

JOHN SCHNEIDER: (Right @ 00:17:07).

QUESTION: — as they fight to serve our country every single day out of the year?

CANDICE KING: I think it’s incredibly important. I mean, I think collectively, as a world, we experience what it’s like to be separated from family and not be able to immediately see people we want to see when we were all, you know, quarantined last year. And so those that are not only sacrificing their lives, but their time away from loved ones for very long periods of time, I think it’s important to just keep them in our minds and our hearts, especially — you know, all year round — but also during the holidays.

QUESTION: Absolutely. Thank you for your time.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

CANDICE KING: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. That’s all the time we have today for the “Christmas in Tune” panel. We want to say a big thank you to the entire cast for joining us today, and everybody please tune into the movie on November 26th.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Thank you, everybody.


NORM LEWIS: Merry Christmas.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Bye-bye. Merry Christmas.

REBA MCENTIRE: Merry Christmas.

CANDICE KING: Thank you.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t forget Thanksgiving.

NORM LEWIS: Oh, yeah. That.

QUESTION: And, Norm Lewis, good luck on Broadway and everything. I’ve seen you on Broadway on —

NORM LEWIS: Thank you. Thank you so much.


It's a Wonderful Lifetime Press Day invitationLifetime Unveils Full Slate for “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” 2021

Lifetime Reveals Full Holiday Movie Slate for Annual IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFETIME Programming Event Beginning November 12th, Including 30 New Premieres In 30 Days Kicking Off After Thanksgiving to Count Down to Christmas

Talent Around the Tree This Year Includes Kelly Rowland, Reba McEntire, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Tia Mowry, Smokey Robinson, Jana Kramer, Marie Osmond, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Tatyana Ali, Roselyn Sánchez, Jacky Lai, Mýa, Ryan McPartlin, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Candice King, Emeraude Tobia, Aimee Garcia, Haylie Duff, Ricki Lake, Kirk Franklin, John Schneider, Maria Menounos, Chad Michael Murray, AnnaLynne McCord, and Many Others

Los Angeles, CA – September 28, 2021 – Get ready for the most cheerful holiday season yet! Lifetime announces its largest holiday movie slate ever for the network’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event, kicking off November 12th with five new movies Fridays and Saturdays, and a premiere on Sunday, November 21st. Then, once the Thanksgiving feast is over and for the first time ever, Lifetime will premiere 30 new movies, in 30 days, with a new movie EVERY DAY from November 26 through December 25. As the #1 holiday movie destination, Lifetime’s 2021 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate will feature 35 new movies and over 1000 hours of holiday programming.

In case that’s not enough excitement for you – get ready for It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Preview hosted by Tia Mowry (star of this year’s Miracle in Motor City)! This special will preview Lifetime’s upcoming 2021 Christmas Movies and will be available on VOD beginning October 24 and will premiere on Lifetime November 7 at 10am ET/PT. In addition to sneak peeks and cast interviews, Tia will share a special holiday treat or cocktail recipe to go with each movie previewed!

At Lifetime it’s never too early to get in the spirit! Beginning October 15, Lifetime VOD will have 10 of your favorite holiday titles available to screen. And if you just can’t get enough – starting November 12, LMC will have 50 of Lifetime’s best holiday movies available to stream!

An Ice Wine Christmas

Starring Roselyn Sánchez & Lyriq Bent

11/12 at 8pm / 7c

One of Philadelphia’s top wine sommeliers, Camila (Roselyn Sánchez) goes home to the magical vineyards of Evergreen, NY, to take part in the town’s annual Ice Wine Christmas Festival and harvest. While there, Camila spends time with her mother Sunny (Maria del Mar) and sister Beth (AnnaMaria Demara), who manages the local winery for Camila’s former ice wine mentor, Henry (Richard Fitzpatrick). But Camila discovers changes are coming as Henry plans to retire, scaling down the Christmas Festival. Beth also recently hired wine specialist Declan (Lyriq Bent) who plans to take the operation to full year production. Believing in the importance of preserving the magic of ‘Christmas in a bottle’, Camila shares with Declan her passion for Christmas and what an authentic ice wine harvest can bring.

An Ice Wine Christmas is produced by Cineflix Media in association with Wishing Floor Films. It is executive produced by Danielle von Zerneck, Jeff Vanderwal, Sherri Rufh & Charles Tremayne. Jill Carter directs from a script by Kelly Fullerton.

A Picture Perfect Holiday

Starring Tatyana Ali, Henderson Wade & Dina Meyer

11/13 at 8pm / 7c

Fashion photographer Gaby Jones (Tatyana Ali) is eager to make a name for herself and finally gets her chance when she lands a coveted job at a magazine. Encouraged by an editor (Dina Meyer) to attend the annual Christmas Photography Retreat in the small town of Pine Falls to ramp up her skills, Gaby reluctantly signs up despite not being a huge fan of the holidays. When she arrives, she learns her rental has been double booked with wildlife photographer, Sean (Henderson Wade) but soon discovers there’s more to a photo than what you see through the lens. As the two fall for each other, their life choices start to get in the way and the two must decide if they’re willing to take a risk in order to share a picture perfect holiday together.

A Picture Perfect Holiday is produced by HYBRID, LLC and includes an original song sung by Tatyana Ali.

Dancing Through the Snow

Starring AnnaLynne McCord, Colin Lawrence & Bianca Lawrence

11/19 at 8pm / 7c

Michael Foster (Colin Lawrence) is a firefighter and devoted single father to 8- year-old Lily (Bianca Lawrence), an aspiring ballerina. After a video goes viral of Michael and Lily doing an adorable ballet routine, Michael becomes the most eligible bachelor, as women everywhere want to date this adorable Dad. However, the only woman Michael has eyes for is Lily’s ballet teacher, Olivia (AnnaLynne McCord). Will Michael be able to dance his way into Olivia’s heart?

Dancing Through the Snow is produced by Champlain Media. Barbara Fisher, Tom Berry and Gilles Laplante serve as executive producers. Paul Shapiro directs from a script by Adam Rockoff.

You Make it Feel Like Christmas

Starring Mary Antonini, Michael Xavier, Stephanie Sy & Alex Poch-Goldin

11/20 at 8pm / 7c

Emma (Mary Antonini) is a talented designer who finds herself too busy to return home for the holidays after her work catches the eye of design guru Kate Marguiles (Stephanie Sy), much to her father, Tom’s (Alex Poch-Goldin) dismay. When her ex-boyfriend and childhood best friend Aaron (Michael Xavier) returns home after active military duty, he makes it his mission to get her home to celebrate their Christmas traditions.

You Make It Feel Like Christmas is produced by MarVista Entertainment. Suzanne L. Berger, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew and Marianne C. Wunch serve as executive producers. Lisa France directs from a script by Jessica Glassberg, Michael Varrati and Guy Yosub.

Baking Spirits Bright

Starring Rekha Sharma, Dion Johnstone, Aadila Dosani, Praneet Akilla, Manoj Sood & Nimet Kanji

11/21 at 8pm / 7c

Mira Varma (Rekha Sharma) takes pride in her family’s business of making fruitcakes, despite the decline in its popularity of once being America’s most-gifted holiday confection. When Mira’s parents decide to hire Brady Phillips (Dion Johnstone) and his high-powered marketing company to boost sales for the holidays, Mira must fight to hold onto the heart of the company she loves so much.

Baking Spirits Bright is produced by BRB Pictures and Nicely Entertainment. Executive producers include Kristofer McNeeley, Chaya Ransen, Vanessa Shapiro, and Jenni Baynham. Aubrey Arnason directs from a script by Alison Spuck McNeeley and Casie Tabanou.

Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune

Starring Reba McEntire, John Schneider, Candice King & Justin David

11/26 at 8pm / 7c

Years after their personal and professional breakup, the singing duo of Georgia (Reba McEntire) and Joe Winter (John Schneider) agree to reunite after their daughter, Belle (Candice King), asks them to participate in a Christmas Charity concert, only to find themselves getting back in tune on stage and off.

Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune is produced by Hartbreak Films with Paula Hart, Reba McEntire and Melissa Joan Hart serving as executive producers. Emily Moss Wilson directs from a script by Juliet Giglio and Keith Giglio.

Merry Liddle Christmas Baby

Starring Kelly Rowland, Thomas Cadrot, Bresha Webb, Latonya Williams, Jaime M. Callica & Nathan Witte

11/27 at 8pm / 7c

This holiday, the Liddles have much to be merry about! Jacquie Liddle (Kelly Rowland) and her husband Tyler (Thomas Cadrot) are preparing for the arrival of their first baby. Meanwhile, Jacquie’s sister Treena (Latonya Williams) and her husband Julian (Jaime M. Callica) are thinking about adopting a baby themselves, and spirited, fashionista sister Kiara’s (Bresha Webb) relationship with Chris (Nathan Witte) is heating up. With Jacquie’s family expanding in ways she could never have expected, the Liddles are headed for a crazy Christmas filled with merry mayhem and lots of love and laughter.

Merry Liddle Christmas Baby is produced by Liddle Road Productions III Ltd and Charles Cooper. Kelly Rowland, Loretha Jones, Tim Weatherspoon and Denielle Jackson serve as executive producers. Allen Lewis and Bianca Versteeg serve as supervising producers. Kelly Fyffe-Marshall directs from a script by Andrea Stevens.

Miracle in Motor City

Starring Tia Mowry, Mark Taylor & Smokey Robinson

11/28 at 8pm / 7c

Amber Dupont (Tia Mowry) bites off more than she can chew when she takes charge of her church’s annual Christmas pageant and inadvertently promises to deliver a special performance by Motown Legend Smokey Robinson. When her best friends secretly enlist Amber’s former flame Eddie (Mark Taylor) to help – the pair reconnect in a quest to find Smokey and convince him to appear. With the clock ticking, family, friends, and superstar Smokey Robinson come together to stage the most special pageant yet.

Miracle in Motor City is produced by Cineflix Media with Tia Mowry, Charles Tremayne, and Jeff Vanderwal serving as executive producers. Gaylyn Fraiche consults on behalf of Tia Mowry. Alfons Adetuyi directs from a script by Rhonda Baraka.

Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion

Starring Michelle Argyris, Alonzo B. Slater & Asia’h Epperson

11/29 at 8pm / 7c

Event planner Amy (Michelle Argyris) helps rising singer Tiffanie Christmas (Asia’h Epperson) plan her holiday family reunion. Along the way Amy must navigate some challenging family dynamics, especially amongst Tiffanie’s aunts as well as her own growing feelings for Tiffanie’s cousin, Calvin (Alonzo B. Slater). Will she be able to pull off an amazing Christmas family reunion? Vanessa Williams, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Catherine Haena Kim co-star.

Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion is produced by The Ninth House and Nicely Entertainment. Feras Khatib, Raed Odeh, Vanessa Shapiro and Melody Tsai serve as executive producers. Jake Helgren writes and directs.

Saying Yes to Christmas

Starring Erika Prevost & Romaine Waite

11/30 at 8pm / 7c

A magical Christmas wish makes a career-obsessed June (Erika Prevost) say “Yes” to every invitation while she’s home for the holidays. But when an old flame, Blake (Romaine Waite) joins her hectic schedule of Christmas activities, past feelings are reignited. June must choose between saying yes to her career and life in the city or to her heart in her hometown.

Saying Yes to Christmas is produced by Champlain Media. Laurence Braun, Barbara Fisher, Tom Berry and Suzanne Chapman serve as executive producers. Graeme Campbell directs from a script by John Dion.

Match Made in Mistletoe

Starring Natalie Lisinska & Damon Runyan

12/1 at 8pm / 7c

When talented interior designer Emily Barnes (Natalie Lisinska) is hired by a foreign embassy in DC to decorate for their annual holiday charity ball, the newly appointed ambassador Magnus Andersson’s (Damon Runyan) “minimalist” approach creates a roadblock between them. As Emily’s undeniable love for the holiday season begins to thaw his heart, an unexpected romance begins between the two.

Match Made in Mistletoe is produced by Champlain Media. Suzanne Chapman, Laurence Braun and Tom Berry serve as executive producers. Adrian Langley directs from a script by Jennifer Edwards, Jennifer Miller and Shannon Latimer. Story by Jennifer Edwards and Amy Taylor.

A Christmas Village Romance

Starring Jake Epstein, Jeni Ross & Oliver Renaud

12/2 at 8pm / 7c

When romance novelist Diana (Jeni Ross) learns that Maple Creek, a charming pioneer village, is struggling to stay afloat, she uses her notoriety to help generate interest in the town by sponsoring a Christmas gala. Diana rallies her family and friends to pitch in, but she’s challenged at every turn by the village blacksmith and town historian, Carter (Jake Epstein). Sparks fly as the two must work together to save the village in time for Christmas. But when her gorgeous cover model and secret crush, Greg (Olivier Renaud), surprises Diana the night before the big Christmas gala, she’s torn on who to choose and must take a page out of her novels to figure out her true happily ever after.

A Christmas Village Romance is produced by Neshama Entertainment and MarVista Entertainment. Marly Reed, Marianne C. Wunch and Arnie Zipursky serve as executive producers. Max McGuire directs from a script by Scotty Mullen.

A Christmas Dance Reunion

Starring Corbin Bleu & Monique Coleman

12/3 at 8pm / 7c

Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Dance Reunion is produced by Off Camera Entertainment and Brain Power Studio with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston and Beth Stevenson as Executive Producers. Megan Henry Herzlinger and Brian Herzlinger serve as writers. Brian Herzlinger also directs.

Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas

Starring Demetria McKinney, Chaz Lamar Shepherd & Kirk Franklin

12/4 at 8pm / 7c

When Olivia (Demetria McKinney), a young assistant pastor, gets assigned to be a lead pastor at a new church a month before Christmas, she’s fearful she can’t manage the transition, including getting the choir ready to open the town’s annual Winter Jamboree. Banding together with her new congregation, Olivia discovers a new home for herself, and even finds a little Christmas romance along the way! Featuring a special appearance and songs written and arranged by Kirk Franklin.

Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas is produced by Swirl Films and Big Dreams Entertainment. Executive produced by Kirk Franklin and Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd and produced by Leslie Greif, Eric Tomosunas and Ron Robinson. Erica Sutherlin directs a script by Kourtney Richard.

My Favorite Christmas Melody

Starring Mýa & Rainbow Sun Francks

12/5 at 8pm / 7c

Once a promising singer-songwriter, Abby (Mýa) now finds herself writing uninspired jingles for commercials. As she heads home for the holidays, she’s enlisted by the local high school music teacher to help save the school arts program. In the process, Abby rediscovers her voice and regains the confidence to go after her dreams and lets the possibility of love in too. Rainbow Sun Francks also stars.

My Favorite Christmas Melody is produced by Champlain Media. Lexi Lewis, Barbara Fisher, Tom Berry and Suzanne Chapman serve as executive producers. Michael Kennedy directs from a script by Lauren Balson Carter. Story by Josh Brekhus and Lauren Balson Carter.

Secretly Santa

Starring Alicia Dea Josipovoc & Travis Nelson

12/6 at 8pm / 7c

Miranda (Alicia Dea Josipovic) and Paul (Travis Nelson) are business rivals who accidentally meet at a costumed Santa crawl and spend a romantic evening together without learning each other’s identities. As their anonymous romance continues online, their businesses merge, forcing them into an unwanted partnership. As they clash while working together on a holiday gift-giving app, their hearts must reconcile their online love when unexpected feelings develop for one another.

Secretly Santa is produced by Champlain Media. Laurence Braun, Jayde Siwy, Tom Berry and Suzanne Chapman serve as executive producers. Sharon Lewis directs from a script by John Dion.

Christmas Movie Magic

Starring Holly Deveaux & Drew Seeley

12/7 at 8pm / 7c

When entertainment writer Alli Blakeman (Holly Deveaux) is assigned a story covering the anniversary of a classic Christmas movie in the small town where it was filmed, she agrees on the condition that it could lead to a big promotion. When she meets a local theatre owner Brad (Drew Seeley), they unravel the mysterious origins of the movie’s signature song and Alli learns that movie magic isn’t always just on-screen.

Christmas Movie Magic is produced by Chesler/Perlmutter Productions. Lewis Chesler, David Perlmutter, Robert Vaughn, Julie Di Cresce, Robin Dunne, Fariba Jahanbin, Jennifer Gibson, Alan Mintz and Marek Posival serve as executive producers. Robert Vaughn directs from a script by Rickie Castaneda & Megan Hocking. Story by Caitlin English and James Blakeman.

Christmas With a Crown

Starring Marcus Rosner & Lisa Durupt

12/8 at 8pm / 7c

After Cassie (Lisa Durupt) returns to her hometown to revive her family’s traditional Christmas festival, she meets a dashing stranger, Nicolas (Marcus Rosner), who’s volunteered to help organize the event. Sparks begin to fly between them, but little does she know that he’s really a prince in disguise, longing to find the true spirit of the holidays. It will take a Christmas miracle of royal proportions for their hearts to meet as one.

Christmas with a Crown is distributed by Vision Films and produced by Northern Gateway Films. Lisa Durupt and Marcus Rosner serve as executive producers. Andrew Scholotiuk, Michell Molineux, Michael Lazarovitch and Dylan Pearce serve as producers, Dylan Pearce directs from a script by Michael Varrati.

A Fiancé for Christmas

Starring Marie Osmond, Amanda Payton & Adam Gregory

12/9 at 8pm / 7c

Perpetually single Sawyer (Amanda Payton) makes a fake wedding registry, hoping a shopping spree with a scan gun will be the ultimate retail therapy. But when the registry is discovered and the whole town throws her a surprise bridal shower, she’s too embarrassed to tell the truth. Instead, she finds a fake fiancé to help her navigate through the lies and holiday festivities. However, as real feelings develop between Sawyer and her fake fiancé, they may turn into the real deal after all. Adam Gregory and Marie Osmond also star.

A Fiancé for Christmas is produced by GO FILMS and Happy Wives, LLC. Greg Sperry, Darla Sperry and Stephen Craig serve as executive producers. Ryan Little directs from a script by Angeline Olschewski.

Holiday in Santa Fe

Starring Mario Lopez, Emeraude Toubia, Aimee Garcia & Gia Lopez

12/10 at 8pm / 7c

Casa de Milagro is a family-owned business that makes holiday ornaments and décor, inspired by Mexican Christmas traditions. Their award-winning designs, created by matriarch Milagro Ortega, are highly sought after each holiday season. Siblings Tony (Mario Lopez) and Magdalena (Aimee Garcia), with help from their dad (Efrain Figueroa), run the shop in Santa Fe, but when their beloved Milagro unexpectedly passes, the family struggles to find its heart. With Milagro gone, Belinda Sawyer (Emeraude Toubia), an executive at one of the largest greeting card and holiday décor chains, sees an opportunity to acquire the company. When sparks fly between Belinda and Tony, Belinda realizes there is more to Casa de Milagro than meets the eye.

Holiday in Santa Fe is Executive Produced by Mario Lopez, Co-Produced by Jeff Stearns and Produced by Mark Roberts. Jody Margolin Hahn directs from a script by Cristela Alonzo.

The Holiday Fix Up

Starring Jana Kramer, Ryan McPartlin & Maria Menounos

12/11 at 8pm / 7c

When Sam (Jana Kramer), the designer behind a popular home renovation show, returns to her hometown during the holidays to help renovate the Bell Harbor Inn, she gets paired with Coop (Ryan McPartlin) as her lead contractor. The only problem – he’s the guy who broke her heart and she’s the one who got away. Sparks fly as they work closely to get the renovations done in time for the inn’s annual Christmas Eve Harborfest. Will they be able to fix the mistakes of their past to build a future together? Maria Menounos also stars.

The Holiday Fix Up is produced by Off Camera Entertainment with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston, Jana Kramer and Ryan McPartlin as Executive Producers. Written by Jessica Koosed Etting and directed by Brian Herzlinger.

People Presents: Blending Christmas

Starring Haylie Duff & Aaron O’Connell

12/12 at 8pm / 7c

The Hacienda de la Sierra is Emma’s (Haylie Duff) favorite place to spend the holiday season and her boyfriend Liam (Aaron O’Connell) has been secretly planning to propose to her there, surrounded by both their families. Emma is delighted when she arrives to find the whole family bunch there. Of course, no holiday gathering is complete without drama, and soon the families are bickering over every detail! The added stress from trying to blend the two families eventually takes a toll on Emma and Liam, who start questioning their own relationship. Now just days before Christmas, the two families realize that they’re going to have to work together in order to reunite Emma and Liam! Blending Christmas also stars Beth Broderick, Christopher Knight, Greg Evigan, Mike Lookinland, Barry Williams, Susan Olsen, Robbie Rist, Telma Hopkins and Jennifer Elise Cox.

Blending Christmas is produced by HYBRID, LLC.

Maps and Mistletoe

Starring Humberly González & Ronnie Row

12/13 at 8pm / 7c

Emilia Martin (Humberly González), a cartographer of school maps, has plans for a cozy Christmas at home until her boss has a last-minute project for her, designing a novelty treasure map of the North Pole. Emilia decides to seek out the expertise of North Pole explorer Drew Campbell (Ronnie Rowe), who reluctantly agrees to help her. As the two work closely, they discover more than either of them ever expected.

Maps and Mistletoe is produced by Christmas Explorer Productions, Inc in association with Johnson Production Group. Executive Producers are Timothy O. Johnson, Andrew C. Erin, and Dawn Wolfrom. Max McGuire directs from a script by W. Stewart.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Starring Annie Clark & Dan Jeannotte

12/14 at 8pm / 7c

Ellie (Annie Clark), a serial “ghoster” on dating apps, is told by a fortune teller that she must resolve her past and make amends with all of those she ghosted before Christmas, or she is destined to never find true love! Over the course of one week, she takes it upon herself to track down all the men she ghosted before the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve and discovers love in the process.

Ghosts of Christmas Past is produced by Champlain Media. Lexi Lewis, Barbara Fisher, Tom Berry and Suzanne Chapman serve as executive producers. Virginia Abramovich directs from a script by Shannon Latimer.

The Enchanted Christmas Cake

Starring Erica Durance & Robin Dunne

12/15 at 8pm / 7c

After recently losing her grandmother, Gwen (Erica Durance) is struggling to run their bakery, regain the Christmas spirit, and figure out her grandmother’s magical recipe for the town’s legendary Enchanted Christmas Cake. So, when a high-end chef comes to town to film a Christmas special, Gwen reluctantly agrees to help the producer Gavin (Robin Dunne) prepare for the shoot to help support the bakery. As sparks fly, will she discover that Gavin is the secret ingredient she was missing all along?

The Enchanted Christmas Cake is produced by Chesler/Perlmutter Productions. Lewis Chesler, David Perlmutter, Robert Vaughn, Julie Di Cresce, Robin Dunne, Erica Durance, Alan Mintz and Marek Posival serve as executive producers. Robert Vaughn directs from a script by Linda Kupecek, Robin Dunne and Robert Vaughn.

Christmas by Chance

Starring Winny Clarke & Jacob Blair

12/16 at 8pm / 7c

Chance Charleswood (Winny Clarke) owns a struggling gift shop called “By Chance Gifts.” As the Christmas shopping season approaches, Chance is hired by William Richards (Jacob Blair), a wealthy and popular entrepreneur, to help him organize the perfect proposal for his girlfriend Leyla Brooks (Celeste Desjardins). When Chance needs to get closer to Leyla to find out what she likes, they devise a plan to have her attend their Christmas party as an old friend of the family. Chance and William continue to spend more time together with the hopes of devising the perfect proposal, but Leyla does not seem to be ready for marriage and each plan seems to fall apart. As Chance and William get to know each other more they begin to bring out the best in one another and are able to find their true selves along the way.

Christmas by Chance is produced by Defiant Empire and Northern Soul Film Company. Andrew Cymek, Brigitte Kingsley and Patrick McBrearty serve as executive producers. Andrew Cymek directs and Brigitte Kingsley writes and produces. Concept by Patrick McBrearty.

Mistletoe in Montana

Starring Melissa Joan Hart, Duane Henry & Jamey Sheridan

12/17 at 8pm / 7c

Welcome to Paradise Ranch, where city slickers get to be cowboys and cowgirls. Merry (Melissa Joan Hart), who owns the ranch has been unlucky in love, but that’s about to change when a single father, Mark (Duane Henry), and his two kids book the ranch for Christmas week. Adventure is on the menu, the holiday spirit is everywhere, and love is in the air.

Mistletoe in Montana is produced by Hartbreak Films with Paula Hart and Melissa Joan Hart serving as executive producers. Kellie Martin directs from a script by Don Perez.

Toying With The Holidays

Starring Chad Michael Murray & Cindy Busby

12/18 at 8pm / 7c

Workaholic designer Danielle (Cindy Busby) returns to her hometown of Holly Pines for the holidays with her young son Paul with hopes to introduce him to some beloved holiday traditions, in particular the town’s North Pole Express train. Once home, she discovers that the North Pole Express has been sidelined. Determined to help, Danielle reconnects with her former high school classmate Kevin (Chad Michael Murray), now a hobbyist and model train enthusiast himself. Together, Danielle and Kevin attempt to pull off a Christmas miracle that would get the old North Pole Express running–and quite possibly give Danielle many reasons, one of them romantic, to consider staying in Holly Pines for good…

Toying With the Holidays is produced by HP Tracks Productions Inc., in association with All Canadian Entertainment and Brad Krevoy Television. Brad Krevoy, Amanda Phillips, Eric Jarboe, Amy Krell, Lorenzo Nardini, Jimmy Townsend, Steve N. White, Susie Belzberg Krevoy and Kathy Ceroni serve as executive producers. Chad Michael Murray serves as co-executive producer. Bradley Walsh executive produces and directs from a script by John B. Mullino and Emily Moss Wilson.

Under the Christmas Tree

Starring Elise Bauman, Tattiawna Jones & Ricki Lake

12/19 at 8pm / 7c

Marketing whiz Alma Beltran (Elise Bauman) and Christmas tree whisperer Charlie Freemont (Tattiawna Jones) cross paths when Charlie finds the perfect tree for the Maine Governor’s Holiday Celebration – right in Alma’s back yard. While they initially spar, romantic sparks soon begin to fly between the two women as the enchanting tree and some Christmas fairy dust from the town’s pâtissière extraordinaire (Ricki Lake) bring out the best in them and spark each other to take leaps of faith and fight for love and Christmas magic.

Under the Christmas Tree is produced by Neshama Entertainment in association with MarVista Entertainment and Wishing Floor Films. It is executive produced by Danielle von Zerneck, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew, Suzanne Berger and Arnie Zipursky. Lisa Rose Snow directs from a script by Michael J. Murray.

Candy Cane Candidate

Starring Jacky Lai & Jake Epstein

12/20 at 8pm / 7c

Natural-born leader, Julia (Jacky Lai), returns to her hometown of North Falls for Christmas to drown her sorrows in eggnog, cookies, and Yuletide after her recent political campaign for city council ended in a landslide loss. It’s the perfect place for Julia’s holiday escape – until she realizes coming home means running into her old high school rival, Parker (Jake Epstein), the arrogant know-it-all who beat her in a race for senior class president. When the North Falls mayor resigns, the town holds an emergency election, and Julia and Parker find themselves once again facing off. But as Julia and Parker campaign their way through the Christmas season and plan a toy drive together, Julia begins to see a different side of Parker, and the ice between them slowly begins to thaw. As their political race comes to a head, Julia and Parker discover winning isn’t everything.

Candy Cane Candidate is produced by Neshama Entertainment in association with MarVista Entertainment. It is executive produced by Megan Ellstrom, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew, and Arnie Zipursky. Pat Kiely directs from a script by Melissa Bustamante.

The Christmas Ball

Starring Deidre Mullins, Nick Hendrix & Caroline Langrishe

12/21 at 8pm / 7c

When lead ballerina Clare Fitzgerald (Deidre Mullins) is let go before the Christmas season’s Nutcracker, she’s beyond devastated and jumps at the opportunity to visit her Aunt Bridget (Caroline Langrishe) in England during the holidays. Once there, she meets Liam (Nick Hendrix), a local professor and historian who is helping Aunt Bridget preserve the family manor. Clare discovers that Christmas Regency balls were once held at the manor, prompting Aunt Bridget to propose they hold a ball as part of Liam’s presentation to the preservation society. As Clare and Liam work together, the two also waltz into a new romance.

The Christmas Ball is produced by Headlong Entertainment and MarVista Entertainment. Milos Djukelic, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew and Marianne C. Wunch serve as executive producers. Amy Barrett directs from a script by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin.

It Takes a Christmas Village

Starring Brooke Nevins, Corey Sevier & Alli Chung

12/22 at 8pm / 7c

In order to make the town’s Christmas market a reality, Mayor Alex Foster (Brooke Nevin) must convince the reclusive Darcy Hawkins (Corey Sevier) to loan out his family’s historic mill, which is no easy task thanks to a long-running family feud. But as Alex slowly chips away at Darcy’s frosty exterior, their feelings grow beyond the interest of the town, leading this unlikely duo to the prospect of love.

It Takes a Christmas Village is produced by Vortex Media. Justin Rebelo and Bill Marks serve as executive producers. Corey Sevier directs from a script by Kate Pragnell.

Rebuilding a Dream Christmas

Starring Meggan Kaiser, Zane Stephens & Bryson JonSteele

12/23 at 8pm / 7c

Successful real estate broker Abbey (Meggan Kaiser) is forced back to her hometown to repair a Victorian house she inherited from her grandmother. She decides to sell the house and hires single dad, Josh (Zane Stephens), to help with the repairs. Working together brings up memories from her past and as her relationship with Josh and his eight-year-old son Noah (Bryson JonSteele) grows, Abbey finds her calling and makes a home for herself.

Rebuilding a Dream Christmas is produced by American Cinema Inspires with George Shamieh executive producing. Sandra L. Martin directs from a script by Amy Bircher, D.F.W. Buckingham and Robert Tiffe.

Hot Chocolate Holiday

Starring Aubrey Reynolds & Jonny Swenson

12/24 at 8pm / 7c

Colette (Aubrey Reynolds) runs a coffee shop that is known for her secret and famous hot chocolate. When Marcus (Jonny Swenson), a new dessert shop owner, starts to draw in Colette’s customers with his very own specialty hot chocolate that tastes exactly like the recipe from her beloved grandmother, she is determined to expose him. But as she gets to know Marcus, sparks fly between the cocoa connoisseurs

Hot Chocolate Holiday is produced by Silver Peak Productions and Candlelight Media Group. AJC Pennyworth and Elisa Jan serve as executive producers. Brian Brough directs from a script by Brittany Wiscombe.

Writing Around the Christmas Tree

Starring Krystal Joy Brown & Curtis Hamilton

12/25 at 8pm / 7c

Mikaela (Krystal Joy Brown) a successful romance novelist who has had bad luck in love, visits a quaint bed and breakfast for a Christmas writer’s retreat near a snowy lake town each year. Upon arriving, she meets dashing writer, Levi (Curtis Hamilton) who soon convinces Mikaela that she shouldn’t be writing about love, if she doesn’t allow herself to get out and actually experience it.

Writing Around the Christmas Tree is produced by The Ninth House and Nicely Entertainment. Vanessa Shapiro executive produces, and Jake Helgren writes and directs.


Celebrating 35 years of entertaining audiences, Lifetime is a premier entertainment destination for women dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning award-winning movies, high-quality scripted series and breakout non-fiction series. Lifetime has an impressive legacy in public affairs, bringing attention to social issues that women care about with initiatives such as the long running Stop Breast Cancer for Life now in its 25th year, Stop Violence Against Women which relaunched in 2018, and Broader Focus, a major global initiative dedicated to supporting and hiring female directors, writers and producers, including women of color, to make its content. Lifetime Television(R), LMN(R), Lifetime Real Women(R) and Lifetime Digital(TM) are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. A+E Networks is a joint venture of the Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corporation.

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John Schneider and Rebe McEntire in "Christmas in Tune" on Lifetime

Interview with Zoë Robins and Madeleine Madden

TV Interview!

Madeleine Madden and Zoë Robins of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon Prime

Interview with Zoë Robins and Madeleine Madden of “Wheel of Time” on Amazon Prime by Suzanne 10/6/21

These press interviews with the Wheel of Time cast were short but a lot of fun. The series is exciting. I’ve only seen a few episodes so far, but I really enjoyed them.

Suzanne: Zoë, you do a lot of swimming in the first two episodes that I saw. What was the weather like in Prague when you were doing that, and was it cold?

Zoë: The swimming that I did, I did a bit in episode three, and that was actually in the studio. So, thank goodness, it was warm; they heated the pool. They really did take good care of us. So, I was okay. I was okay.

Suzanne: Good and had either of you done any sword fighting or any physical stuff before this show?

Madeleine: I’ve done stunts before on jobs, but nothing to this level, I think, with horse riding and sword fighting, and it was a completely different beast on this one. We had a month of prep to do some horse riding sessions with our movement coach and stunts. So, no, for me personally, nothing on this level.

Zoë: Same with me. I also had a little bit of stunt experience, particularly with a TV show called Power Rangers; stunts were kind of a given. But on this level [it’s] like nothing I’ve ever done before. We had an intensive boot camp to get us up to speed, and even still, we’re still training with with the amazing stunt team. So yeah, we all had a lot to learn.

Question: Egwene is getting initiated into the women’s circle. So, I was wondering if there was any traditions, within your family, to like say, “Hey, I’m a woman now,” or any kind of conversations that you’ve had with your moms, or even women in your family, that are similar to what the women’s circle did in the episode?

Madeleine: Yeah, thank you. That’s such a wonderful question. I’m Aboriginal, so I’m a First Nations’ person of Australia, and there definitely are initiation ceremonies that both men and women do to welcome women or men that are of age in a community. So, that was very special seeing that this was part of a tradition and culture in the Two Rivers. Absolutely, I definitely [grew] up in a very matriarchal family. So, there’ve always been conversations about when you’re coming of age, and also, I really look up to the women in my family. They’re all such pillars of strength, and that’s something that we see in this show, as well. So, I feel like my life and my heritage was a wonderful preparation for what I would find in in this series.

Question: That was for Zoë too.

Zoë: Oh, sorry. Similar to me, I have some incredible women in my family. I do remember some very deep and meaningful and raw and honest conversations I had with my mum as a teenager that got me up to speed with with real life and what to expect, but I can’t say anything similar to pushing someone off a cliff like Nynaeve does to Egwene. So, yeah, my conversations were a little bit more [laughs] tame.

Madeleine: Using words, I guess, more than force.

Zoë: Yeah.

Question: You make it look like the most fun job in the world, and sometimes it can be, but some of these things look like they were kind of difficult to do. I’m curious to know, what kind of headspace do you have to put yourself in, or is there something you have to tell yourself to sort of keep on the right path and keep in the right mindset to do everything that you do?

Zoë: Yeah, I think it’s really important to know – I mean, for me, [for] my process, I like to know where my character has just been and also where she’s going. So, that’s really helpful to stay present in the moment. I think we’ve all had a lot of experiences of really traumatic scenes, emotionally and physically, and it becomes very draining. So, learning how to prepare yourself before then, and being kind to yourself and resting and loving on yourself was really important. But I think a lot of us just immerse ourselves completely. I don’t know if that’s the best way to do it in terms of looking after ourselves, but, I mean, I look around at the the work that everyone’s putting in, and everyone just gives their absolute all to some very hard requirements.

Madeleine Madden and Zoë Robins of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon PrimeMadeleine: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s something that you said there, which was, just completely immersing ourselves. I think it is an art form of trying to get in that character’s headspace and just completely staying there in the scene, which can be difficult, but when you have a group of actors that you trust, writers, directors that you can trust, to care for you and your craft, you feel safe enough to kind of push those boundaries, whether that’s physically or emotionally. But it’s been amazing to lose ourselves with these characters and just what they go through.

Question: What’s the relationship like, from each of your perspectives, [between] Nynaeve and Egwene on the series?

Zoë: Nynaeve and Egwene’s relationship is really special. It’s definitely like a sisterly bond, but it’s much more than that. I don’t know, I think we haven’t seen a relationship like this on screen. I think it’s a really beautiful relationship to explore, this purely platonic, sisterly love. I mean, for Nynaeve, she will do absolutely anything for Egwene, and she thinks the world of her. She sees her potential and just wants nothing but the best for Egwene, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing that our show was doing is really highlighting how important these real and truthful relationships are, especially when they want each other to succeed and do well. I think it’s nice to to celebrate those types of relationships.

Madeleine: Yeah, absolutely, I think Egwene really looks up to Nynaeve as a mentor and as like a big sister. They really support each other and champion each other. And I think, like Zoë said, wanting the other to succeed and do well is what gets them through. A lot of the time they survive to make sure the other one lives, which is really wonderful. They’ll do anything for each other, and it’s such a wonderful bond. Yeah, like Zoë said, I think [that’s something that] sometimes, particularly in this genre, that we might not necessarily see.

Question: What’s your favorite part about of this world that The Wheel of Time takes place in? What stands out to you about it and makes you excited about the show and being in it?

Zoë: I think, for me, the level of specificity and detail Robert has obviously put into the world, but in particular, the characters. I mean, for me, it hasn’t been much of a struggle to try and access Nynaeve, because there’s so much on the page already. There’s so much to work with. There’re obviously so many resources. There’re 14 books, as we all know, so, when in doubt, we can search for anything that we’re not sure of, but Rafe has also been an incredible expert and help [to] us. So, yeah, definitely the characters. I’ve never played a character so fleshed out and just real. I think what makes them so beautiful is that they’re so relatable but real humans with complexities and flaws, and they’re not the greatest at times, and you question a lot of their motives and their actions. But yeah, I think that’s what makes them so great.

Madeleine: Yeah, absolutely. They’re just real people in a very fantastical, epic world. I think that’s what makes them such lovable characters is that we can all find a bit of them in ourselves and then relate to them, and exactly like Zoë said, the detail that Robert Jordan has given us with his work is – I remember the first day we walked onto the set of the Two Rivers, and it was exactly how I pictured it from reading the books. So, I think reading the story, and then seeing it come to life, and seeing another artist’s interpretations and their collaborations on the characters or the worlds, has been amazing to just see and be immersed in it.

Question: You’ve got gotten to live with these characters now for a while. What’s one thing that you hope that the audience takes away about your character that maybe they don’t see quite on the screen?

Zoë: That’s a great question.

Madeleine: Yeah. Thank you. I think with Egwene, [I’ve] certainly grown with her. She has this sort of sense of self and determination, and she knows her self worth, which I’ve definitely learned a lot a lot about from playing her. I really hope that audiences can also picture themselves in this world and also relate to our heroes and what they go through.

Zoë: Yeah, and for Nynaeve, I hope people can can understand her motivations and why she acts the way she does. [It’s] often because of her deep, intense love for the people that she’s with. She will do anything for the Two Rivers kids in particular. And oftentimes, I think book readers question whether they are aligned with what Nynaeve does and how she thinks and her as a character, but I, personally, get her and love her. So, yeah, I’d love for people to understand all the complexities and the nuances that our characters have underneath.

Here’s the video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of

The main cast of heroes of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon Prime


Zoë Robins was born on February 19, 1993 in Wellington, New Zealand. She is an actress, known for Power Rangers Ninja Steel (2017) and Black Christmas (2019).

Madeleine Madden (born 29 January 1997) is an Australian actress. In 2010, at age 13, Madden became the first teenager in Australia to deliver an address to the nation, when she delivered a two-minute speech on the future of Indigenous Australians. It was broadcast to 6 million viewers on every free-to-air television network in Australia.  Madden has starred in short films by Deborah Mailman, and Meryl Tankard and co-starred with Christina Ricci and Jack Thompson in Around the Block.[8][10] Her first film acting job was at 8 years old. She aims to become a director in the future. When she was 21, Madden made her big Hollywood debut as Sammy in the 2019 Nickelodeon film Dora and the Lost City of Gold.

More info about the show on our other interview

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Madeleine Madden and Zoë Robins of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon Prime

Interview with Josha Stradowski and Marcus Rutherford

TV Interview!

Josha Stradowski and Marcus Rutherford of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon

Interview with Josha Stradowski and Marcus Rutherford of “Wheel of Time” on Amazon Prime by Suzanne 10/6/21

This was a fun interview with these young men. I had watched a few of the episodes the previous night, so it was great to meet them and two of the other actors who star in the show. We only had a brief interview with them, and there were other journalists asking questions as well.

Josha: It looks tropical over there, more tropical than here in Prague.

Suzanne: Yeah, yeah, this is a fake background. Where are you guys?

Marcus: We’re in Prague at the moment.

Suzanne: Still there. Are you still filming the first season?

Marcus: Season Two.

Suzanne: Oh, you started on season two already? Oh, that’s great. That was one of my questions. So, had you read the books before you started filming?

Marcus: I hadn’t. I hadn’t heard of the books, but as soon as I kind of got the part, I was blown away that I actually hadn’t, because it’s so highly regarded, and there’re so many copies; like ninety million copies have been sold. So, yeah, I quickly started reading The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt before we did season [one].

Josha: Yes, same. When I got the part, I started reading the next day. I haven’t finished it yet. I’m on book eleven now. I’m climbing that mountain. I’m not at the top yet, but the view from up here’s pretty good around.

Marcus: [laughs] Sound bite.

Suzanne: And as a follow up, do you know how closely the series follow the books?

Josha: Well, it’s not a one on one adaption, but I’m sure that it does the book justice. It takes the fundamentals, the essentials of the book, 100%.

Suzanne: Okay, great. I’ll let someone else have a chance.

Question: [For] Perrin, I guess, Marcus, you mentioned that you haven’t really read the books, but Perrin’s an axe wielder himself. Rand, in the early episodes, uses a bow often and then moves more to be a sword master. So, what was it like training with those weapons? Is that something you’ve ever done before, or was it completely new to you?

Marcus: Yeah, it was pretty new to me, but I think, when we started, we had quite an intense sort of stunts workshop. I think in that first episode, it kind of kicks off quite a lot. So, we all had those fight scenes to work with, but yeah, it was really cool to kind of work with an axe. I think, obviously, it’s something that Perrin has a particular relationship with, as we kind of move forward, but from the offset, to kind of work with that particular weapon, was really, really cool.

Josha: I had some sword fighting in drama school, but it didn’t feel like was very useful, because this kind of sword fighting we did was definitely more vicious. But, I guess, like you said, first round [he’s] more familiar with the bow and arrow, so I had archery training, and later on, when we all started, we all had sword-fighting training.

Question: How long did it take for you guys to shoot the Trolloc attack in the Two Rivers?

Josha: I mean, I think the bit of Daniel only took a week on itself.

Marcus: Yeah.

Josha: It took really long.

Marcus: Yeah, Daniel and Rosamund had a lot. They had like the bad short straw in terms of like how many nights shoots they had. I think, overall, I don’t know how many, but it was weeks.

Josha: Yeah, a couple of weeks, I think.

Marcus: A couple of weeks or like three weeks. It was lots of different kind of battles all kind of like merging into one. So, when you kind of see it – we saw episode one – it’s amazing how they jump in between. But I remember walking around Prague, having days off, [being] like, “Who’s filming now?” and it was Rosamund and Daniel [who] were still doing that battle. So, yeah, they did amazing.

Question: Whether you’ve read the books or not, I think it maybe doesn’t even matter, this does a great job of explaining it, but like some of the best sci-fi, even though it’s a fantastical world, there are things that we can learn or things that we can get out of this that are parallel to our lives. So, what is it that you suppose people will will sort of think about or take away that’s relevant to us as well?

Marcus: I do think the aspect of like – within the magical system of The Wheel of Time, kind of that male superiority is kind of flipped with the fact that only certain women are allowed to access magic. I think that is just something that’s quite cool to see on screen and something to think about, you know, if that power dynamic had been altered in that way. What would a world look like, if men were, to put it, the underdogs, essentially. So, I think that’s something that you can kind of think about in a contemporary aspect as well.

Josha: Yeah, and on top of that, I guess, because the world of The Wheel of Time is so, so big in so many different groups of people, cultures, different beliefs, and it’s just as hyper polarized and divided as our world is. I guess, the whole show of The Wheel of Time is about finding finding that balance. I think that nowadays, in this time, that is something that will be interesting to see, for people.

Question: I want to ask you both, you both, especially Perrin, is carrying some baggage and some other feelings, but Rand is also carrying some things as well. Talk about that layer of your character. And I will say, speaking to Robert Jordan in 94, that he said a little bit of King Arthur is in Rand, by the way.

Josha: That’s nice.

Marcus: Yeah. Just a little bit.

Josha: The Messias, yeah.

Marcus: Yeah, I think in terms of that baggage or what they kind of take with them, I think, for Perrin, especially, from from the start he has a particular relationship with violence, and it’s kind of brought to him in quite an ugly way early on, and I think it’s something that he carries throughout season one. It’s something that kind of is on his mind a lot and something that he’s very deeply affected by, and he has a lot of feelings of guilt surrounding [him]. Violence seems to keep on coming into his world, and he has realize, does he embrace kind of this animalistic side to him or is there a civilized way that he can maneuver through this world that Moiraine’s kind of dragged them into.

Josha: I think with Rand throughout this story, you know, this bag will become heavier and heavier; more weight is being added throughout this story. And I hope you will see what it costs not only Rand, but of all these characters, and I guess, all of these characters have to sacrifice bits and pieces of who they were in order to do what’s right. But, at first, it starts in the Two Rivers, and, yeah, that’s where we have to start first, before we go on this great arc.

Question: There’re a lot of fantasy adaptations coming out right now, as streamers build up their libraries and are looking for things to jump on to, and that means there’s a lot of options for people to watch fantasy now. So, if I’m someone coming from this, and I watched three back to back trailers for fantasy shows with sweeping vistas and gorgeous magic and special effects, what makes The Wheel of Time stand out for that person? Why is this one special, both for you, and in fantasy in general?

Josha: The Wheel of Time is such a rich world with so much complexity, and the books are known for that. It’s not for no reason that ninety million copies have been sold. Apparently, there’s something in it that people can relate to that touches them. And what that is, for me, is besides that in this world of The Wheel of Time, women are the ones who are in control, if men use the One Power, they abuse it, or the fact that it’s not simply black and white, good against evil. It’s all shades of grey in between. Now, for me, what really makes this stand out, is the characters and that you start to care for these characters and that they’re real. They’re no heroes; they have to go on this mission they never sign up for. You can see their failures and their fears and what it costs of them, the sacrifice they have to make. I think that’s what makes The Wheel of Time special, for me, at least.

Marcus: And that global cast, man, I think being able to see that they’ve been able to cast people from every corner of the planet, really experienced actors, new actors, exciting actors who’ve worked in all different fields coming together on one show like this, I think is very, very special and I think reflects how expansive the world is in the books as well, which is really, really cool.

Question: The action scenes are so amazing in the series; talk about a scene that was the most difficult for you to achieve and what it was and how you dealt with that kind of scale and size of the production that you’ve got here and how you dealt with those issues.

Marcus: In terms of like, I mean, there wasn’t too too many bumps in the road, but I think, that first episode, it was just so new to us, everything. So, I think to have a first episode where you’ve got a lot of stunts, and all the characters are involved, you’ve got a lot of background artists, supporting artists, a whole village needs to be built, and then you’ve got a big action scene on top of that, as well. And you’re very new to finding out these characters, and you’ve got very key moments that kind of lay the foundations for these characters. It’s a weird kind of amalgamation of a lot of things happening at once. So, I think that was quite daunting, but I think it was probably the best way to start the show, because it kind of set the tone…The audience will realize in that first episode that it all kind of kicks off quite quickly. And I think for actors on that film in that first episode, it meant that we had to get a grasp of those characters, their trajectories, and what they’re really like, in the books as well.

Question: You, Josha?

Josha: I couldn’t have said it better.

Here is the video!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of


Josha Stradowski is a Dutch actor. He is known for his role as ‘Joris’ in the Dutch film Gewoon Vrienden (2018) and ‘Rand Al’ Thor’ the American television series The Wheel of Time (2021). He started acting as a kid in musicals like The Sound of Music and Ciske de Rat and began playing roles in television as a teenager. He graduated from the AHK theatre school in Amsterdam and worked on multiple plays such as Oedipus directed by Robert Icke at Ivo van Hove’s theater company ITA in 2018. He recently completed filming on a new series. He also played the lead role in an indie feature film, Just Friends, for which he and the film received a number of awards on the international film festival circuit.

Marcus Rutherford is an actor, known for County Lines (2019) and Obey (2018). He is an English actor who will portray Perrin Aybara on Prime Video‘s The Wheel of Time. Rutherford’s casting was announced on August 14, 2019.[1] Showrunner Rafe Judkins stated his character was the hardest to write.

"Wheel of Time" posterThe Wheel of Time is one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all time, with more than 90 million books sold. Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity.

Based on Robert Jordan’s best-selling fantasy novels, The Wheel of Time was adapted for television by executive producer/showrunner Rafe Judkins. Larry Mondragon and Rick Selvage of iwot productions, Mike Weber, Ted Field of Radar Pictures, Darren Lemke, Marigo Kehoe, and Uta Briesewitz will also serve as executive producers, with Briesewitz set to direct the first two episodes. Rosamund Pike will serve as producer and Harriet McDougal and Brandon Sanderson as consulting producers. The Wheel of Time is co-produced by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television.

Executive Produced By

Rafe Judkins, Larry Mondragon, Rick Selvage, Mike Weber, Ted Field, Darren Lemke, Marigo Kehoe, and Uta Briesewitz

Developed By

Rafe Judkins

Directed By

Uta Briesewitz, Wayne Che Yip, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Ciaran Donnelly

Produced By

Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television


Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Josha Stradowski, Madeleine Madden, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris

  • Credits

    Directed By
    Uta Briesewitz, Wayne Che Yip, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Ciaran Donnelly

    Produced By
    Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television

    Rosamund Pike – Moiraine Damodred
    Daniel Henney – Lan Mondragoran
    Josha Stradowski – Rand al’Thor
    Madeleine Madden – Egwene al’Vere
    Marcus Rutherford – Perrin Aybara
    Zoë Robins – Nynaeve al’Meara
    Barney Harris – Mat Cauthon

    Executive Producers
    Rafe Judkins, Larry Mondragon, Rick Selvage, Mike Weber, Ted Field, Darren Lemke, Marigo Kehoe, and Uta Briesewitz

    Developed By
    Rafe Judkins

Prime Video Debuts Official Trailer for The Wheel of Time ​​With First-of-Its-Kind YouTube Experience

Oct 27, 2021

Utilizing YouTube’s 360 player and spatial audio surround sound, The Wheel of Time trailer offers fans an immersive experience that allows them to view the traditional 2-D trailer in a virtual, three-dimensional “wheel”

The world-building fantasy series from Sony Pictures Television will premiere globally
November 19 on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide

Watch Official Trailer HERE

CULVER CITY, California—October 27, 2021—Prime Video today released the official trailer for upcoming fantasy series The Wheel of Time, based on the best-selling book series. The first three episodes of Season One will premiere Friday, November 19, with new episodes available each Friday following, leading up to the season finale on December 24.

Utilizing YouTube’s 360 player and spatial audio surround sound, Prime Video debuted the official trailer for The Wheel of Time in a first-of-its-kind immersive experience that allows fans to view the traditional 2-D trailer in a virtual three-dimensional “wheel.” When fans arrive at the YouTube page to watch the trailer, a quick scan to the left or right will reveal there is much more to experience. To the left of the screen, they’ll discover Moiraine’s (Rosamund Pike) powerful “One Power” channeling—featuring her voice and faces, artifacts, and symbols hidden amongst the energy weaves. On the right, the corruption of the Dark One represents a dissention into madness. The trailer also features spatial audio that gives fans a more immersive experience as objects appear from either side of the “wheel.” The result is a unique utilization of existing technology that creates a trailer experience unlike any other—one that offers multiple viewing experiences for fans of the series.

About The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time is one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all time, with more than 90 million books sold. Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity.

Based on Robert Jordan’s best-selling fantasy novels, The Wheel of Time was adapted for television by executive producer/showrunner Rafe Judkins. Larry Mondragon and Rick Selvage of iwot productions, Mike Weber, Ted Field of Radar Pictures, Darren Lemke, Marigo Kehoe, and Uta Briesewitz will also serve as executive producers, with Briesewitz set to direct the first two episodes. Rosamund Pike will serve as producer and Harriet McDougal and Brandon Sanderson as consulting producers. The Wheel of Time is co-produced by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television.

About Prime Video
Prime Video offers customers a vast collection of movies, series, and sports—all available to watch on hundreds of compatible devices.

  • Included with Prime Video: Watch movies, series and sports, including Thursday Night Football. Enjoy series and films including the newly released Cinderella, the Emmy Award-nominated satirical superhero drama The Boys, limited series The Underground Railroad, and the films Sylvie’s Love and Uncle Frank; and the smash hits Coming 2 America, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, The Tomorrow War, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Upload, and My Spy, as well as Emmy- and Golden Globe-winners Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Golden Globe-winner Small Axe, Academy Award-winner Sound of Metal, Golden Globe-winner and Academy Award-nominee Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and Academy Award-nominees One Night in Miami… and Time. Prime members also get access to licensed content.
  • Prime Video Channels: Prime members can add channels like discovery+, Paramount+, BET+, EPIX, Noggin, NBA League Pass, MLB.TV, STARZ, and SHOWTIME—no extra apps to download, and no cable required. Only pay for the ones you want, and cancel anytime.  View the full list of channels available at
  • Rent or Buy: Enjoy new-release movies to rent or buy, entire seasons of current TV shows available to buy, and special deals just for Prime members.
  • Instant access: Watch at home or on the go with your choice of hundreds of compatible devices. Stream from the web or using the Prime Video app on your smartphone, tablet, set-top box, game console, or select smart TV.
  • Enhanced experiences: Make the most of every viewing with 4K Ultra HD- and High Dynamic Range (HDR)-compatible content. Go behind the scenes of your favorite movies and TV shows with exclusive X-Ray access, powered by IMDb. Save it for later with select mobile downloads for offline viewing.

Prime Video is just one of many shopping and entertainment benefits included with a Prime membership, along with fast, free shipping on millions of Prime-eligible items at, unlimited photo storage, exclusive deals and discounts, and access to ad-free music and Kindle eBooks. To sign up or start a 30-day free trial of Prime, visit:

About Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is one of the television industry’s leading content providers, producing, distributing and carrying programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving global content business, operating a robust portfolio of wholly-owned and joint-venture production companies across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific, as well as linear and digital channels around the world. SPT is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation.

Social Handles
Instagram: @TheWheelOfTime
Twitter: @TheWheelOfTime

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Josha Stradowski and Marcus Rutherford of "Wheel of Time" on Amazon

Interview with the cast of “Yellowjackets” Part 2

TV Interview!

Christina Ricci, Samantha Hanratty, Tawny Cypress, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Ella Purnell of "Yellowjackets" on Showtime

Interview with actresses Christina Ricci, Samantha Hanratty, Tawny Cypress, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Ella Purnell, and producers Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Jonathan Lisco and Karyn Kusama of “Yellowjackets” on Showtime by Suzanne 8/25/21

Virtual via Zoom August 25, 2021
© 2021 Showtime Networks Inc. All rights reserved.

Part 2:
Christina Ricci (she/her), “Misty Quigley”
Samantha Hanratty (she/her), “Teen Misty Quigley”
Tawny Cypress (she/her), “Taissa Turner”
Jasmin Savoy Brown (she/her), “Teen Taissa Turner”
Ella Purnell (she/her), “Teen Jackie Taylor”
Ashley Lyle (she/her), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Bart Nickerson (he/him), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Jonathan Lisco (he/him), Executive Producer/Showrunner
Karyn Kusama (she/her), Executive Producer/Director

This was a two-part panel for the show, and this is the second part. See the first part here. The show premieres Sunday, November 14. Don’t miss it!

It has a large cast, but the focus for both panels was on the women (the stars of the show). I asked Tawny Cypress and Jasmin Savoy Brown if they could speak a little bit about what it was that drew them to this project, how they got to know each other, and whether they did anything to try to sync their characters teen-Taissa and adult-Taissa together.

Cypress loved the project right away, in part because she’s from New Jersey (where the characters are from), so she enjoyed being right in there with her character and the soccer team. She told us, “Her vulnerabilities come out fairly quickly, so it was great to see where she cracked. It’s always fun to play people who crack a little bit. Like when she had the scene with Shauna and the pilot, you know, You can see her — that she’s not — maybe not the one in charge. And that drew me to her. Because it’s easy to play somebody powerful, but it’s more fun to play somebody who just thinks they’re powerful. And then as far as connecting with Jasmin, it was very easy. We connected early on. We get together a lot. We talk about the character a lot. We talk about the scripts a lot. We lived one building away from each other. We actually have the same landlord. All this weird stuff.”

Brown pointed out the “weird random” fact that they were the only ones in the entire cast and crew that both brought their cats there (to the filming) and that both are the tortoiseshell breed. Cypress agreed that they had a lot of things in common that were cool and led to a connection between them. She added that they do talk about the scripts a lot. One time Brown texted her at the beginning to ask if they say “EE-ther” or “EYE-ther.” They also go through different types of movements. They “try and keep her a nice through line.” Cypress added that the fact that the script is so well written shows the through line.

Brown chimed in to agree that “The writing is incredible. And that’s what drew me to this project. Along with what the women said in the prior panel. Women are the most important thing in my life. My female relationships, friendships. I was raised by a single mom. I have a ton of aunts. And I was an only child, and so my female friendships were the most important thing from early on. And I love any script, any piece of art that examines female relationships and how complex they are. I felt the writing was incredible. I love dark, mysterious stuff. And, also, I hadn’t worked for a few months and was on vacation when I got the audition. And that’s always how I know that something’s good, if it brings me home from vacation. So, I went — because I’m turning right back around.”

The next reporter asked the actors to answer a hypothetical question, “if you crashed on an island, how do you think you would fare? And not meaning killing people and eating people, but just in general with survival… How do you think that you would do?”

Christina Ricci jumped right in to answer that she loves TV shows like “Survivor,” so she thinks she would do really well. Also, she added, “I know how to do pull—ups, because I know if you fall off a cliff, you need to be able to pull your body weight onto things.”

Brown joked that she wouldn’t want to crash with Ricci, then. The women kept joking around about what they would do. Samantha Hanratty mentioned the show “Naked and Afraid.” Ricci thought that Hanratty would shoot first. Cypress piped up to say that she definitely would shoot first. Ricci also mentioned that she could be helpful and build a fire.

The next journalist asked a long question that was a bit hard to follow. He spoke a little about Ricci and Hanratty’s character, Misty, who starts out as a bit shy (and bullied), but then changes quite a right once they crash. He/she asked what it was like playing such a “quirky” character and wondered if she knew girls like this in school (not the extreme part of the character, of course).

Ricci spoke at length about how she and Hanratty met and discussed the character. She there could be “many different interpretations” of Misty. She described Misty as “socially inept” as well as “so emotional and emotive, but unable to really mold those emotions to fit with other people and to be socially successful.” Then, once this type of person becomes an adult, and life has punished her, and she doesn’t have the protection of childhood, she’s left just “”functioning, getting through with the passive aggression and the artifice. Because I feel like artifice is something you learn as a coping mechanism in adulthood.”

Hanratty took her turn to talk about how much fun it was to play Misty. We learn more about her in the second episode as we see her at age 13 and her past (before the crash). She wants people to like and accept her instead of bullying her, yet she’s constantly rejected. She’s a very optimistic person that refuses to be sad about how she’s treated. We see when she does get broken by what happens. She finished, “I think we see glimpses of it with me, and then you definitely get to see with Christina kind of where those shattered pieces are. It’s really magical to be able to work with Christina on that.”

The producers were asked about the plane crash and what happened, which she describes “pretty graphic.” She wonders how they decided where to draw the line for what viewers would see.

Nickerson answered the question. They never talked about it specifically. He just feels that he can watch it as an audience member and decide whether it’s too much (“distracting”) or not.

Lyle agreed with what he said and explained that they didn’t want to focus on the plane crash and the aftermatch so much as why it happened, such as “How did they get from point A to point B?” They start out as a championship team, working together. She joking interjected, “It really wasn’t so much about, you know, the sports, by any stretch of the imagination. Spoiler alert: not really a soccer show.” The show is about how they worked together as a group, and then they start falling apart over the season. She quoted the actress who played young Shauna, Sophie Nélisse, who said, “the circumstances bring out both the best and the worst in them.” They wanted to answer the question, “Who do these women become?”

Nickerson thoughtfully said that other producers probably have a different because they’re “”laying the groundwork to … shoot it,” but he and Lyle are “reacting to some of what you created in terms of the visuals of it.”

Karyn Kusama felt that the extreme moments in the flashbacks help to answer the bigger question of the series, which is, “What are human beings capable of?” As she put it, “to go from keggers and carpools and, you know, winning a soccer match in high school, to something so extreme that’s meant to happen, you know, 18, 19 months later, it begs that question.” It creates a set of question inside the women that “help drive the whole series and enrich the larger question of the series.”

The next question was for Ella Purnell, who plays Jackie. We see her before the plane crash, where she’s the team captain and able to get everyone to do what they need to do. However, when they’re on the island, she loses her grip after she makes one bad choice (leaving someone on the plane). The journalist asked Purnell what might Jackie be going through during this drastic change? And for her, or the producers, should we make any assumptions about the fact there’s no adult Jackie either in this panel or in the first episodes we’ve seen (unlike the other characters), and she wants to know if they’re worried the audience might predict something happened to her.

Purnell seemed a little bit surprised by the long question. What she loves about the role she said, is that Jackie’s attitude is really all just “a front,” which no one knows until she makes that mistake in the second episode. “And the stark contrast between Jackie’s social stand in Episode 1 and 2 is amazing. I love playing it. I think that when you — you take these kids out of the society that they’re in and that they’re building of high school, you know. Who’s the popular one? Who’s the nerd? They’re all athletes. But that kind of hierarchy system that they’ve created and participated in. And you put them in this unbelievable life or death scenario.” She says that people can surprise themselves, and in many different ways, when “the true essence of who you are comes out.” Jackie is interesting because instead of “flight or fight,” she freezes. She wants to take control and act like she did back in Jersey, she’s frozen in place, because she’s so young and in shock. She believes that’s very frustrating for Jackie – not knowing where she stands. It’s not normal for her. “She loses her footing. She has no idea who to be out here. Whether she picks that up or doesn’t pick that up throughout the rest of season, you’ll find out. But it was definitely fun to play, like, that very sharp decline of sort of social standing between the episodes.”

Lyle repeated that show has “a lot of twists and turns over the course of the season,” but what’s imoprtant is “why” rather than “what.” She concluded with, “take that as you will.” Obviously, she didn’t want to give too much away. Nickerson countered that he would rather viewers “read a lot into everything and sort of, like, go in like a million different directions with it and just have like a great time.”

The next press person asked Ricci and Hanratty about their character, Misty. He said, “The character that you’re playing has absolutely no cachet, zero, prior to the plane crash, and then suddenly she is the linchpin for this entire survival. But in the process of doing that, one action that she takes creates the fact that they’re going to be stuck there for a very, very long time. And I’m wondering what — how does that psychologically affect her in her later life, knowing what she has done? It’s got to have some type of ramification in her adult life.”

Ricci explained that for Misty, everything is about her, and her “wants and her longing and her needs. And, so, when they crash, you know, and she does finally become important…she creates a situation in which she will stay important.” She didn’t want to speak for the younger version of the character, but she doesn’t think Misty has any regrets (about what she did) as an adult. Instead, when things get interesting for her as an adult, she’s “thrilled that her life might become exciting again.” Her adult life is not great. Being stranded on the island was the highlight of her life (unlike the other characters on the show).

Hanratty added that before the crash, Misty “was always everybody else’s biggest cheerleader.” She was really rooting for the team to do well. Hanratty discussed with the producers that “maybe Misty is not so good at love, but obsession. And she kind of replaces those two. And, so, she is really obsessed with these girls, and just loves them, but, you know, in her own way. But has never really felt that in return.” When the plane crashes, she takes over while everyone else is still in shock. She has “some medical background and kind of does what she can.” They talked about whether her parents were doctors, so she’s looked at medical books growing up as well as taking the “Red Cross babysitter training class twice.” She finally hears people talking about her in a positive, which thrills her and gives her a reason to go on. She makes this decision (as the reporter mentioned) to keep going with that purpose for as long as possible, and doesn’t feel bad about it. To Misty, “”It’s exciting and it’s liberating and thrilling.”

The producers were asked about whether there might be “something” out in the woods with the soccer team, and it’s possible that it came back with them and is still around in the present. He asks if there might be some sort of supernatural element to show, or something more realistic. He added that in case they can’t really answer that question, he would like to know “what was the human meat actually made out of, and how does it taste?” Ha ha! Good way to handle that question.

Lyle said that the meat was venison (deer meat), which was difficult for Hanratty, who’s a vegan in real life. Hanratty answered that she didn’t eat the venison. She and Brown both at “Beyon Meat” instead (a vegan alternative beef).

Lyle tried to answer the supernatural question. She said they discussed what types of inspirations they would draw on, such as “Rosemary’s Baby.” They were interested in the line between “genuine supernatural phenomenon or sort of a mass hysteria or some sort of madness that takes hold. And so that’s a line that we’re going to be playing throughout the show.” Very interesting.

Nickerson explained that it was difficult to answer the question without spoiling things for the viewer.

Kusama had an interesting way to answer the question. She mused, “I do feel like what the show does in Season 1 that is surprising — and I’m going to throw this — I’m going to throw this bit to Jasmin and to Tawny. Because I think what we’re doing is we’re exploring what ‘supernatural’ means. In this case, it’s about the mysteries of human behavior. And in many respects, Jasmine’s Taissa is one of the most competent in the wilderness, but also suffers terrible trauma very deeply. And when we see Tawny as adult Taissa, she in many respects is the most together and competent, and yet there’s still so much mystery underneath all of that.” She then asked Brown and Cypress to talk a little about how they played Taissa with the idea in their heads of of “what’s possible in human behavior.”

Brown thinks that Taissa’s strength and weakness is the same: she’s very competent and smart, and she can see the world in a realistic way. It “offers solutions, but it doesn’t offer a lot of comfort, at least not on a deeper emotional level… I’m a nerd for the enneagram, so I did a lot of enneagram research and presented her with what I think Taissa’s enneagram number is, and everything that means, and we discussed that. It was a really good tool for me, and she is a very practical person.”

Cypress agreed that “practicality is her strong point. She’s definitely most comfortable at the helm. And as far as the genres go, she seems, like, to have her entire life together. Everything’s on the up and up, and then of course the mysteries start happening, and all of the sudden we’re in, you know, a completely different feeling for the show. And coming to that as an actor, you know, it’s — I don’t really have a reference to have started with, so it was really just acting mystery as drama for me. And that’s how I approached it, anyway.”

The last press person asked if it was difficult for the younger actresses to put their careers on hold (when they’d barely started) wait for the show for two years (between the pilot and filming the rest). Hanratty nodded, so he asked her what it was like during those two years, and what did she do in the meantime, and how did it feel?

Hanratty confessed that she’s an impatient person, so she was a bit on pins and needles, waiting to hear if they would film the rest of the series. Then, because of COVID, she moved home with her parents, so she wasn’t as focused on getting work as she normally is. She started getting more anxious later on.



Created and executive produced by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (Narcos), the one-hour drama series, YELLOWJACKETS stars Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock), Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Juliette Lewis (Camping), Emmy® nominee Christina Ricci (Z: The Beginning of Everything) and Tawny Cypress (Unforgettable).

Equal parts survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama, YELLOWJACKETS is the saga of a team of wildly talented high school girls soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later, proving that the past is never really past and what began out in the wilderness is far from over.

The series also stars Warren Kole (Shades of Blue), Ella Purnell (Sweetbitter), Samantha Hanratty (SHAMELESS), Sophie Thatcher (Prospect), Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief), Steven Krueger (The Originals) and Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers). Jonathan Lisco (Animal Kingdom, Halt and Catch Fire) joins Lyle and Nickerson to serve as executive producer and showrunning partner.

Produced for SHOWTIME by studio Entertainment One (eOne), Karyn Kusama (Destroyer, Girlfight) executive produces and directed the pilot. Drew Comins of Creative Engine also serves as executive producer.

Christina Ricci (born February 12, 1980) is an American actress. She is known for playing unconventional characters with a dark edge. Ricci is the recipient of several accolades, including a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Satellite Award for Best Actress, as well as Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Independent Spirit Award nominations.

Ricci made her film debut at the age of nine in Mermaids (1990), which was followed by a breakout role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel. Subsequent appearances in Casper and Now and Then (both 1995) brought her fame as a “teen icon”. At 17, she moved into adult-oriented roles with The Ice Storm (1997), which led to parts in films such as Buffalo ’66, Pecker and The Opposite of Sex (all 1998). She garnered acclaim for her performances in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Monster (2003). Her other credits include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Prozac Nation (2001), Pumpkin (2002), Anything Else (2003), Black Snake Moan (2006), Speed Racer (2008), and The Smurfs 2 (2013). Despite being known predominantly for her work in independent productions, Ricci has appeared in numerous box office hits – to date, her films have grossed in excess of US$1.4 billion.

On television, Ricci appeared as Liza Bump in the final season of Ally McBeal (2002), and received acclaim for her guest role on Grey’s Anatomy in 2006. She also starred as Maggie Ryan on the ABC series Pan Am (2011–12), and produced and starred in the series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) and Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017). As well as voicing characters in several animated films, Ricci provided voices for the video games The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon and Speed Racer: The Videogame (both 2008). In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in Time Stands Still.

Ricci is the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

Samantha Lynne Hanratty (born September 20, 1995) is an American actress. Her first lead role took place in 2009, portraying Chrissa Maxwell in An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. In 2011, she played the role Whitney Brown in the film The Greening of Whitney Brown. Hanratty is considered a Celebrity Friend for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Tawny Cypress (born August 8, 1976) is an American actress. She has appeared in various television and stage plays. She starred as Cherie Rollins-Murray on the television series Unforgettable, on the second and third seasons. She previously had recurring roles on several TV series, including Fox‘s drama K-Ville as Ginger “Love Tap” LeBeau, Simone Deveaux on the TV series Heroes, and Carly Heath on House of Cards.

Her mother is of Hungarian and German extraction and her father is Accawmacke American. Tawny Cypress was born and raised in Point Pleasant, New Jersey and now lives in New York City.

Jasmin Savoy Brown (born March 21, 1994) is an American actress best known for her role as Evangeline “Evie” Murphy on HBO‘s The Leftovers. She also provided the voice and motion capture for Phin Mason / Tinkerer in Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Ella Summer Purnell (born 17 September 1996) is an English actress best known for her roles in the films Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016), Churchill (2017), and Army of the Dead (2021).

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