Interview with Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and Paul Sciarrotta

TV Interview!

"Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" actors in panel

Interview with actors Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and EP Paul Sciarrotta of “Flowers In the Attic: The Origin” on Lifetime by Suzanne 6/22/22

This was a Lifetime event where we watched the first episode of this series and then asked the actors and executive producer questions.  It was unusual that we watched the episode first, live, right before the Q&A. Usually they put the episodes up on their press site for us to watch on our own time. It was nice to chat with these nice people, most of whom are British! The characters they’re playing are all Americans, though. I enjoyed the show and the panel. I hope you like the show! It’s a four-part miniseries that airs every Saturday starting tonight, July 9, on Lifetime.

 

Here’s the transcript, but it’s not edited yet. Check back to see it!

Please welcome our panelists for today’s Q&A with stars Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and executive producer Paul Sciarrotta. Hi everyone.

Thank you for being here today. Paul, our first question is for you. You both executive-produced and co-wrote “Flowers in the Attic: The Origin.” We understand that you were in close contact with VC Andrews ghost writer, Andrew Nierman. Can you please tell us a little bit about that process?

Paul: Sure. Yeah. We started about four years ago when the project was brought to me, and I, of course, had read Flowers in the Attic,” you know, maybe a long time ago. and I wasn’t, at the time, even aware there was this prequel book… and when I found out it existed and that Andrew wrote it, I was very excited. So it’s actually the first book that he wrote in the VC catalog…The first of, I think over a hundred, now, that he’s written. So it’s been a valuable resource to have him on speed dial all the time. I would call him, always. I still do for any questions I might have, if I’m ever unsure about story point or if something is totally correct. Or, you know, of the world. I can just check with him, and he has his finger on the pulse of all things VC. So it was…I was very lucky to have him be a part of the project.

Awesome. I will take some questions from the audience. Just a reminder. If you can, please make sure you have your first and last name so I can call upon you correctly. Our first question is from Suzanne at TVMEG.COM. Please unmute yourself to ask your question.

Suzanne: Hey, how are you all? I really enjoyed that. That was a good movie… or, it wasn’t a movie, I know, but it was. Let me ask you, Max: What did you do to prepare yourself for this role of being this horrible, horrible person?

Maxi: Hi, Suzanne. Well, I think for me, firstly, I had to get past the fact that he was horrible quite quickly. I had to look and find why he was the way he was, how he had learned to cope with the world as the world presented itself to him. So, the formative things I think in Malcolm’s life were his mother and father. His mother was the center of his universe was taught him about emotions, about love, about, you know, everything. They coexisted for the first few years of his life almost entirely. And then, all of a sudden, she left, and his father wasn’t around to help him process that or make any sense of that. You know, there was no modern psychology to come to his aid. He had tutors. He was sent away to a boy’s school, and he had to make sense of that. And so he did, and he hardened himself to the world and where his father had been through his, you know, through Malcolm’s understanding headness and not particularly capable. Self-serving Malcolm discovered duty and, and, you know, rigid a rigid work ethic and, you know, uh, where Malcolm had shame, he, he sought to, to, to elevate the Foxworth name and his business and make himself triumphant and powerful. And so, yeah, it was just looking at his younger self and yeah, and, and going from there.

All right. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Our next question is from my cues. Yeah, this is a question for Elena. Um, this is a really unusual role for you. Um, it’s, it’s not pretty unusual to have a romantic scene with someone who’s 43 years older than you are, but it’s not the cliche kind because you warmly like the man and he warmly liked you.

So it’s, it’s not any kind of cliche. So tell us a little bit about playing it, getting in the mood. And were you really familiar with Kelsey grammar ahead of time? To what extent did this become kind of a, a, a big challenge. Yeah. Um, I mean, Kelsey is absolutely fantastic and he made me feel so comfortable for some of the, some of the scenes, because like there is, there is like that really, um, really big age gap.

Um, But I think in terms of getting prepared, you know, we, we just took some time to, we worked with an intimacy coordinator. We took some time to figure out, um, how we think their relationship would be, how, what we were comfortable with. Um, and yeah, it was, it was actually really, really interesting to sort of work on that.

And, um, you know, I think for me, it’s, it is genuine love between the two of them. So to make sure that was, that was how it, how it was, you know, Perceived as the audience was, was really important. Um, but yeah, it was, yeah, it was really, it was really interesting Dean, like I say, he’s fantastic. And he was, you know, always making sure I was feeling comfortable and, um, just really worked with me and we worked together to hopefully create something that, that comes across really genuine.

Okay. Thanks. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Hanta Smith.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Oh, okay. Is there, um, video on here? No video, just audio and we can hear you. Oh, okay. Perfect. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your time. I’m so excited for everyone and it’s exciting series. I would love to know what was it like, you know, interacting with everyone on set and also what can the viewers expect when watching this awesome series?

Anyone can take that question, right? Uh I’ll I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll jump in. Um, uh, it was, we shot the series, um, sort of in the height of the pandemic. We all relocated to Romania for four months. Um, and we became, uh, a lovely family, not quite the twisted family of the show. Um, and I think, uh, You know, I, I adored working with every single person on set and, uh, what was amazing is that as we were there after more time, the episode that you’ve just watched is very much just sort of the beginning, but from episode two and three to four, the whole thing opens up the children grow up.

Um, they come into it, um, the, the whole sort of premise six fans and, um, the whole S. Expands. And, uh, that was what it was like for us. Uh, in Romania, we suddenly got this injection of, uh, new minds and hearts and then while we were working and, um, and it was just. You know, gorgeous in, in every respect and despite, you know, how dark some of it gets.

Um, it, it was always a very happy set. I think sometimes when you’re doing things that are a bit darker or a bit more serious, you kind of find the fun a bit more on set. So it’s more enjoyable. Um, I think people are sometimes more miserable during comedy . Um, we had, yeah, we just had, uh, a beautiful time with, uh, a lot of really amazing people and we all just felt really happy to be working at a time.

Uh, it definitely felt like a luxury. Awesome. Thank you so much. thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Jared Horton.

Hi, can you guys hear me? Yes. I am. Well, first of all, congratulations on the series. I thought it was great. Um, when I’m watching movies and TVs, I’m really big on dialogue and I thought you guys had some great dialogue within the series. I was wondering it was something that you picked up within your character that you took from, um, Um, afterwards in your own personal life, like she made the comment that a mother said forgiveness and revenge.

And I was just wondering, did is anything that you guys picked up far as wisdom or life lessons that you picked up from your character or just in general? Great question. I’ve started doing voiceovers in my everyday life. I now describe everything’s doing I’m going downstairs in the morning. Um, uh, no, I really, um, that’s a great question.

Um, No, I don’t think I, I sort of, sort of hope I haven’t taken anything of Olivia into my day to day life, but I tell you what I was thinking about this earlier today. Um, playing, playing that part, playing that kind of a role, um, playing this character that. I, I feel like it’s very far removed from who I am as a person, but she was so vivid on the page.

Uh, Paul’s writing what he did. Um, I sort of never had any questions as how to play her. And, uh, there’s something about playing Olivia. That for me was incredibly empowering and I sort of feel like that element of it I’ve taken. I hope that’s great. That’s great. Well, I think you did do a great job with the role.

Thanks. Um, I think it’s a great series. I look forward, um, to watching it more and congratulations to you guys, especially pulling it off during the pandemic. I just think you guys did a great job, pulling it off. KU kudos you guys over there. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Dominique Clark from Ben worthy media.

Hello, all. Congratulations on this series. I mean, the trailer gave me goosebumps and I’m so excited that we’re finally getting the origin story of the grandmother who locked our children in the attic. Um, Seeing the story through Olivia’s eyes shows how evil isn’t born, it’s made. Right. And specifically for the ladies here, how did Olivia’s transformation throughout this series transform your individual characters?

How did you change as she did? I think, I will say with, um, Nell’s character, I think as she was a, a longstanding staff member at Foxworth hall and was quite used to, as max was saying, like the rigid rules of how it works. Um, I think meeting. Olivia and seeing that she had a bit of bite and spark really kind of opened up their friendship a little bit and it made it grow, which was really quite interesting to discover with Jemima.

Um, yeah, cuz I think, yeah, I think she, her character really like challenges him and um, and yeah, and I think with N working there for so long, um, and I guess. Conforming in, in a way until she kind of meets Olivia. I think it’s, um, I think she definitely, um, like made an impact on her arrival for vanilla.

Thank you. Any other other ladies or folks wanna share? No, that was too

Okay, great. Thank you guys so much. And congratulations again. Thank you our next, oh, thank you so much. Our next questions from Pauls.

All right. Hello? Hello. Thank you so much for being with us today. And, um, congratulations, uh, on this, this is fantastic. Uh, I gotta note because these characters are so different from you personally, um, everything about them, where they’re from, you know, and different time, everything, uh, what kind of Headspace do you have to for each of the actors?

Do you have to put yourself in to, to play these really dark roles? Cool. My personal experience, which may well be very different to the others. So, um, they, they must say as well, um, uh, the, the sort of amount that Olivia had dialogue wise, um, and scene wise, especially sort of at the beginning, it kind of eased up a little as we got into it.

Um, Sort of so full on. Um, I remember I just had to be, I just to get one foot in front of the other and to know my lines and turn up on set was what I could manage at the time. Um, which in a way is really liberating and kind of makes it easier because otherwise you can. Get, I very often get stuck in my own head and think too much about everything.

Um, and sometimes, you know, after the event, you look at things and think, oh, I wish I wish I’d thought about this, or I wish I’d done that differently. Um, but. Such a sort of big undertaking in so many ways is actually in some ways easier and, and, uh, yeah, more, more freeing, more liberating, um, than sometimes not having so far to go with a character.

Um, it’s, you know, I find it easier to be further away from myself, I think, but, and normally I do lots of research, but, uh, in this. I, and I, I think with regards to Malcolm, um, you know, a lot of credit goes to Paul for, for, you know, when, when the writing’s good, it helps those neurons connect sort of effortlessly, and you don’t have to.

To force anything, but sort of, it returns to my first, um, thing I said at the beginning that, you know, when, when you are evil, when a person’s evil, they don’t wander around thinking they’re evil. You know, they, they wander around thinking what they’re doing is right and proper. And just, but I, I do know, um, I spent quite a lot of time in the early days trying to convince people that I wasn’t an asshole.

There was a, there was a picture of me in the production office. You know, all the actors have their faces up in the production office. And my everyone elses was lovely. My picture, I looked like an asshole, like really smug. And then I thought, oh shit, they’ve seen that. Now I’m cast as this, this asshole.

How is your so I, I, I dunno if I can say anyway, I spent a lot of time giving people cups of tea, that sort of thing. And, and trying not to be an asshole. Um, yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Todd was one thing there too. Um, like Jeremiah was saying we had a lot to do in a limited amount of time. And, um, I, I can’t necessarily speak to what everyone did individually creatively to prepare for that, but I certainly can speak for when they showed up, everyone was on point, smiling, prepared, professional, lovely.

Um, and that is, you know, that’s pretty special when that all comes together. So I felt like the lucky recipient of all that on my end. So thank you to you guys. Thank you so much, Paul and max, that was a great answer. And you are allowed to curse here, so it’s okay. oh really? Oh, great. Let’s go away. OK.

Thank you so much. Thanks, Paul. Our next question is from women for the culture.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. There you go. Okay. Hi. Thank you guys for having me. My name is Natasha and I’m with women for the culture. My question is for, to Sean. Um, I just wanted to ask you, so from the moment we meet your character, Noah, we can tell just by looking in her eyes that she’s compassionate, caring and knows something that everybody doesn’t know right now, especially when we see the scene from your daughter.

But I just wanted to know why do you think black women’s first instinct is to go into protective mold, even when we barely know, um, their person. Well, I think if you think about the time that this is set in, um, it’s a very, very good question. And I found myself asking that question in my process as well.

Um, especially in scenes where I found myself helping, um, Olivia and. Because in some ways, she’s very much the more compass of, of, um, the story when all of this madness is going on. And sometimes I find myself asking that question as well, um, for my process, but, um, I think is she’s a rock for her family and she’s also a very fiercely loyal friend and, um, And I think if, if we look at the time, as I was about to say, if we look at the time that this is set in, it would be very unlikely that her and Olivia would probably even strike up a friendship with one that’s lasting anyway.

So it’s just a, a very specific circumstance that they have kind of built their friendship on. And I guess you’ll see more, more about that when the other episodes come out and more be clear, um, about, um, maybe ask, answer your question more, but, um, yeah, I can say that. She’s got a really good heart, I think.

Yeah. Thank you so much for that answer. And I can’t wait to see Noah’s, uh, story unfold more throughout the series. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Karen Mo from sci-fi vision. Hi everybody. Um, thanks for doing this. My question is for Paul, I’ll try to keep it short. Um, flowers in the attic has been adapted before.

I think the last time lifetime did so was in 2014 and 15. Um, in the, since then audience standards and industry standards for how you adapt and present some of this really sensitive, uh, material rape incest abuse. Um, Has really changed. And I wonder if you could speak for a minute about your approach and lifetime’s approach and how it may have evolved in the last few years.

Sure. Um, I can’t speak to how their other, um, flowers movies were produced. I wasn’t a part of those back then, but I do know that from the very beginning of my working with them, they were, um, incredibly supportive, incredibly collaborative. Um, and what we had was this, um, this source material. Where so much of the main character story was based on this sexual assault.

And it was a balancing act that I worked with with my, um, my, my producing team in Los Angeles and all the great executives at a and E in lifetime, trying to figure out just how much of that assault do we show and how do we show it. Um, and in order to tell the story best, uh, and I hope we struck. A good balance.

Um, I was very grateful to have such, um, open partners with it. And the other piece of it was Jemma for the, um, on set. We talked, um, a lot with the intimacy quarters and everyone else, but even about certain lines, you remember, we were talking about a line in the fourth movie, um, with Paul Wesley and, and Jemima.

And it was something about how she didn’t wanna, like, I think the line I had written was allow someone to control me again. And we talked a lot about that in that tent of all the mosquitoes. I remember that. Um, we changed the line. Um, and I think it’s that kind of conversation, um, that I hope helped tell Olivia’s story in a thoughtful and sensitive and productive way.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Mr. Dark eye podcast.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Thank you. Yes. All right. Can Y. Yes, we, yeah. All right. So my question is for max, um, in your role, like with you having to be evil and, um, you know, play that role so well, what was your inspiration to be so into the character the way you was and how did you really tap in?

Oh God. Um, I, for fear of repeating myself, um, You know, there there’s, there was a few, obviously the cast, uh, helped enormously. Um, you know, also as an actor, when you have wonderful costumes and you have wonderful sets that also helps a great deal. Um, but yeah, I just, I like, like I said, I sort of just had to tune into the, the child inside of Malcolm.

That was the tapping in, uh, and, and, you know, these days we, we are so there’s so much modern. There’s therapy available. There’s psychology and there’s, you know, the way parents work with their children. Now it was these things were unheard of in those days. Um, and we, we take these things for granted, modern parental thinking and, and trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder and all these sorts of things.

Um, Malcolm was just left to figure it out and it didn’t, he didn’t figure it out. He didn’t. Do a good job, but he, he, he did so in a way that enabled him to survive. Um, and that’s how I have to look at Malcolm. Uh, and, and out of that way of thinking comes his evil. And, and that for me is, is a byproduct of that, that interior life think.

Thank you for that. And you did a very convincing job, so that just means you’re good at what you do. thanks. You guys also very kind and put a lot of people on set at ease with his kindness with, with, with that kind of material. Um, and it takes a very special to person to do that. And we had that in that, so, yes.

Oh, thanks. Cool. I’d like to add as well that, um, I know probably a lot. Male actors who would just a approach it as is wouldn’t, wouldn’t struggle playing this sort of a role would probably quite enjoy it. And max is, you know, the opposite of Malcolm. He is, um, such a lovely person. And for him to get to those places was a struggle.

And the struggle is what makes the character more interesting and more layered. And so it’s only better for that. I. I agree. Nice guys go. This is nice. Thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Towanda Blake.

Hi. Um, my question is what was it like filming inside of a, the pandemic? And did, do you think that offered you more? I’d say it stretched you more to bring perfection to your characters.

Yes, I think, uh, in a way it did, it was this sort of quite surreal bubble. Um, I think for us all to be away from home for as long as we were, um, normally people, if you are filming, you know, outside of home, you are in and out or, um, You’re not really with each other. And it was such a shared experience, the whole thing, onset and offset, and, uh, Yeah, I think there was such a, a lovely feeling because you did, everyone felt really grateful and really privileged to be working.

And it was also really interesting work and everyone really looked out for each other, the, the credo all the way through the crew from the top to the bottom, um, it, it felt very collaborative and very supportive. And I think that’s quite rare to that extent. And, um, and that made. Very special. Um, it wasn’t just another job, I think.

Thank you. Awesome. Thank you. We have time for one more. Our last questions from Aries, urban bridges.

Hi, everybody. I’m gonna echo everybody else. You guys did a great job. I love the movie. I’m gonna address my question to Taan. Besides it being an epic book. First, what made you want to be a part of this role and play Nella and flowers on the. Oh, because, because she’s not part of the books because, because I could, because I could, um, Paul really gave me the reigns to like build on her from the ground up and I kind of just got to implement her story, um, where it wasn’t there before.

And, um, yeah, so I just got to bring this completely fresh character to such a huge franchise of, of a book. Um, Book series and I just, and I thought her character was really interesting, um, and layered and, um, Yeah. And quite exciting and important as well to the story. Yeah. Um, as I said, like her being, um, like the moral compass of, of the story for a lot of the, a lot of this, um, episodes, um, and her family, which you’ll get to meet in the other episodes and, and yeah, you get to see a bit more of her when you see her family as well.

And that’s all really exciting and they’re all brilliant actors as well. And yeah, so it, I mean, it. It wasn’t hard. That’s, that’s an easy, it wasn’t very hard. yeah, it makes a lot of sense, but you brought the character. Great job again. Continued success. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you everyone for such great questions.

Thank you to our panelists. You guys were amazing as always. And thank you all for joining today’s advanced screening of part one. If we did not get to your question, I know we dropped this in the chat as well.

MORE INFO:

Official Site and Preview

"Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" key art

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin tells the story of the headstrong and determined Olivia Winfield (Rooper) who is working alongside her beloved father (Hamlin) when she finds herself unexpectedly wooed by one of the nation’s most eligible bachelors, Malcom Foxworth (Irons). After a whirlwind romance, Olivia finds herself as the mistress of the imposing Foxworth Hall, where she soon discovers that the fairytale life she expected has quickly become a nightmare.  Under Malcolm’s debonair exterior lies a dark heart, and a twisted evil lurks inside Foxworth Hall that will threaten Olivia’s happiness and that of her children. Her attempts to keep them all safe ultimately push Olivia to become to most terrifying version of herself, leading to her inevitable—and notorious—decision to lock her grandchildren in the attic…

Dodd stars as Olivia’s daughter, Corinne; while Williams takes on the role Foxworth Hall’s longtime staff member and Olivia’s observant housekeeper, Nella. Mulgrew plays Mrs. Steiner, Malcom’s loyal house manager and head of the Foxworth Hall staff. Grammer portrays Malcom’s illustrious father Garland Foxworth, who is married to new wife Alicia, played by Boden. Wesley stars as John Amos, Olivia’s cousin whose revelations change her life forever and Callum Kerr stars as Christopher, a close relative of the Foxworth family whose life will be eternally intertwined with Corrine’s from the moment they set eyes on each other.

Additional talent starring in the four-part miniseries event includes Luke Fetherston, Buck Braithwaite, Jordan Peters, Evelyn Miller, Rawdat Quadri, Emmanuel Ogunjinmi, David Witts, Carla Woodcock and Peter Bramhill.

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is an A+E Studios production in association with Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Paul Sciarrotta serves as executive producer. Jennie Snyder Urman and Joanna Klein serve as executive producers for Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Zoë Rocha serves as executive producer for RubyRock Pictures, Gary Pearl executive produces for Aquarius Content and Dan Angel executive produces. Declan O’Dwyer also executive produces and directed part one and part two of the miniseries. Robin Sheppard serves as director for parts three and four. Scripts are from executive producer Paul Sciarrotta, as well as Amy Rardin and Conner Good. Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is based on the prequel novel, Garden of Shadows by Andrew Neiderman. The miniseries was made with support of the Romanian Government.

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Irons and Rooper in "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" on Lifetime

Interview with “Dark Winds” cast

TV Interview!

Dark Winds poster

Interview with TCA panel Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, Jessica Matten, Rainn Wilson, Noah Emmerich, Chris Eyre and Graham Roland of “Dark Winds” on AMC/+ by Suzanne 2/10/22

“Dark Winds” premieres today, June 12 on AMC and AMC+. I’m most interested in its star, Zahn McClarnon (who plays Joe Leaphorn), because he was so great on “Longmire,” a show I loved. Noah Emmerich is also great (you might know him from “The Americans” on FX); and, last, but certainly not least, the cast also has Rainn Wilson, who’s always wonderful. This was a fun virtual panel back in February for the TV Critics Association.

AMC NETWORKS
CTAM PRESS TOUR WINTER 2022
AMC+ and AMC
Dark Winds
Graham Roland, Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
Chris Eyre, Director, Executive Producer
Zahn McClarnon, Cast, Executive Producer, “Joe Leaphorn”
Kiowa Gordon, Cast, “Jim Chee”
Jessica Matten, Cast, “Bernadette Manuelito”
Rainn Wilson, Cast, “Devoted Dan”
Noah Emmerich, Cast, “Special Agent Whitover”
2022 Virtual Tour
Los Angeles, CA
February 10, 2022
© 2022 AMC Networks. All rights reserved.

Here is the introduction from the clip they showed us:

Our new series “Dark Winds” is 35 years in the making. It’s based on the popular Leaphorn & Chee Book Series by Tony Hillerman. Robert Redford optioned these books more than three decades ago and we’re honored that this remarkable series has found a home with us. Our dream team is comprised of Native American Director and Executive Producer Chris Eyre, Native American Actor and Executive Producer Zahn McClarnon, who also starred in AMC’s “The Son,” Native American Writer-Creator Graham Roland, and Redford as well as George R.R. Martin who also serve as Executive Producers. We’re proud of this show for so many reasons. For starters, Leaphorn & Chee are two iconic characters that will live right alongside Don Draper, Walter White, Rick Grimes, and others in the AMC Hall of Fame. It’s a thrilling murder mystery that takes place in and around the lands of the Navajo Nation in the Monument Valley, which hasn’t been accessed for filming since the days of John Ford. And also, the series features the rich and vibrant Navajo culture and community in ways it’s never been seen before. “Dark Winds” is set to premiere this summer on AMC+ and AMC.

Zahn McClarnonZahn told us that the cast and his experience on the show were “wonderful,” and he believes the series will be a hit because of George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford being Executive Producers. He’s excited to be working at this current time because not only are there more indigenous actors in TV shows that ever, but he hopes that this show opens doors for more indigenous talent behind the scenes of the shows. He’s glad to see it happening in our “unique time … with Native representation in media.”

Zahn was then asked a specific question about his role on the show as Joe: how torn is Joe as a “police officer trying to solve this crime” and as a member of his Native community? He was also asked if he had any trouble wearing two hats (that of actor and executive producer).

Zahn reminded us that Joe “is a Navajo tribal cop who is tasked to solve these double murders and also a bank robbery.” He pointed out that many tribal police members don’t get much cooperation from the people in “indigenous communities,” and they’re made to feel like they’re outsiders. Joe is also struggling with losing someone in his family and juggling all of these things at once. He has to make peace with both the people in his community as well as the FBI, and it’s very difficult for him. Zahn is new to being executive producer, but he admits that he was given a lot of support from his fellow cast. He learned quite a bit, which he found to be very positive. He hopes to be able to use his experiences next time, either in another season of this show, or in another show. He has his “fingers crossed” for all of that.

The other actors were asked about working with Zahn and how much they knew about him before filming the series.

Kiowa said that he met Zahn in 2013. “We were working on ‘The Red Road’ for Sundance TV and he immediately was just like the coolest guy ever. And I was taking a liking to him, and I followed his career throughout there. And he’s been a huge inspiration for me, so it’s great to be able to work with him in such a capacity.”

Jessica added that she met both Zahn and Kiowa on the set of the show “Frontier.” She commented that they’ve both been like family to her, so “it was a complete joy to hop on board this and do it with family. It’s been so collaborative.” She added about Zahn, “First and foremost, I knew him as a human being and a person, and he was wonderful. And then I was like, oh, he’s kind of a big deal.” There was a bit of joking around after that.

Jessica then continued seriously about how great it is to make these friendships and then to “uplift our community in the best way that we can.” She also admitted that she is a big fan of Rainn’s, so it was extraordinary to meet him. She also confided that she “drove almost two hours to set” to meet Rainn, even though she wasn’t shooting with him. She was very nervous, so she didn’t tell him that. She joked around a bit and then said that she called him “The Beyoncé of my life.” Rainn was amazed and flattered to hear this, and he made his own jokes.

Rainn thanked her and then went on to praise the show’s scripts, set design, costume design, etc. He especially loves the ’70s feel to it and said it’s “just such a pleasure to be a part of this show.” His part is a fun supporting role, which he describes as “the epitome of corruption, which was super fun.” He predicts that Zahn will win many acting awards because of his performance in this show.

Zahn thanked Rainn as well. He mentioned his age a few times during the panel but said that he feels like he must have worked with every single Native actor or actress in the TV and film community. He noted that the cast is “exciting,” and he can’t wait for us all to see the show.

Jessica Matten and Kiowa Gordon of "Dark Winds" on AMC and AMC+.Jessica went on to praise their director, Chris Eyre: “for us Native kids growing up, the film ‘Smoke Signals’ was a very big film.” She mentioned that it “really put Natives in a very contemporary setting, so it’s very full-circle for me to be able to work with Chris…because I grew up in awe of that movie and what he created. And to be able to work [in this], it’s just magical.” She gushed quite a bit, but it was very charming.

One journalist asked Rainn about his character, “Devoted Dan,” and how he compares to Rainn’s other characters from his past work. Rainn replied that he’s never played a character like this before. He joked a bit about showing some skin in the series. He also described him in this way: “he’s a car dealer, and a double dealer, and a born-again, and a preacher, and wherever there’s corruption happening around, you’ll find Devoted Dan right in the middle of it.” He also added, “I asked for the largest cowboy hat they could find and it dwarfed my already enormous head.” He said that he’s very happy to be part of the show.

The director agreed with Rainn and also pointed out how great Noah was in this show.

Noah also said that he was grateful to be part of it, “a project that is so fundamental in bringing unheard voices to light in our culture that have not been recognized, that have not been paid attention to, that Hollywood has sort of reduced and presented cliché. This is a full, three-dimensional examination of these characters and I just was grateful to be the outsider, to be the minority. It was a new experience.”

Zahn joked with Noah by saying that he was “around a long time, too” and also praised his long and impressive résumé. There was more joking around. Noah, too, loved Chris’ movie “Smoke Signals,” which he saw in the theater.

The moderator also asked everyone how they felt to be involved with the series, which took 35 years to get here. Of course, they’re all glad to be a part of it. Kiowa was somewhat philosophical about it, saying, “I’m just saying it’s a long time coming. Good things happen to those that wait and I think we’re all born to be here and making this right now, so here we are. So thank you all for coming together and making this awesome story.”

Jessica is Canadian. She said that up there, they’re called “First Nations” and have a small network called “the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network,” where they were able to tell many stories. However, getting past that into other networks has been difficult. She’s very grateful to AMC and the others to be their allies and to “continue to humanize the experience of being indigenous in this day and age or even in the 1970s where this show is taking place.”

Chris told us that the writers on the show were all “Native American writers,” including three that were of Navajo origin. They also had support from the president of the Navajo Nation as well as Navajo consultants. He also said, “It’s been 35 years in the making, but George and Bob were both fans of Hillerman, and all of us were as well. So, to bring that to the screen now is just a dream come true.”

Graham credited Chris for being on this project the longest, along with George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford. He added, “it shows the passion that Robert Redford had for this project and the importance he thought of getting a story like this put in front of a mainstream audience. So, a lot of credit goes to him for keeping up that fight for so long. ”

Another person from the press asked Chris a tough question. He thought that the show attacks the old western movie-making from the John Ford days and disparages the actors from them, and the hotel that had rooms named after the actors. He asked if there were some bad feelings about those days. He also asked about filming in the same areas where those old westerns were made. Chris took the second question, saying he loved those areas, such as Monument Valley, and the rest of the Southwest. He thinks of it all as part of the American story, and it’s all mashed together and seen through the eyes of their characters. He avoided the first question.

Graham answered the other question with great finesse. He pointed out that the hotel, which is based on a real one, had rooms with the names of the famous actors, but many of of them were white people playing the Natives. He was quick to point out that he loves those old westerns. They had to acknowledge in this series what it was in reality, and he doesn’t think that he went out of his way to intentionally put the westerns down. It was a great end to an amazing panel!

MORE INFO:

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Based on the iconic Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, Dark Winds is a psychological thriller that follows two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest, as their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts. Created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Returned, Almost Human, Fringe), the series stars Zahn McClarnon (The Son, Westworld, Fargo), who is also an executive producer, Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road, Roswell, New Mexico), and Jessica Matten (Tribal, Burden of Truth). Vince Calandra (Castle Rock, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Sharp Objects) is showrunner and an executive producer. Chris Eyre is director and executive producer. Executive producers include George R.R. Martin, Robert Redford, Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis.

AMC and AMC+ today released the trailer and key art of its upcoming original series, Dark Winds. The noir thriller, based on the iconic Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, premieres Sunday, June 12 on AMC and AMC+, with the first two episodes available on AMC+. One new episode will debut every Sunday on AMC, and AMC+ subscribers will have advance access to an additional episode each week, beginning June 19.

Set in 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley, Dark Winds follows Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnonThe Son, Westworld, Fargo) of the Tribal Police as he is besieged by a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. The closer he digs to the truth, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He is joined on this journey by his new deputy, Jim Chee (Kiowa GordonThe Red Road, Roswell, New Mexico). Chee, too, has old scores to settle from his youth on the reservation. Together, the two men battle the forces of evil, each other and their own personal demons on the path to salvation.

Created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), the AMC original series stars award-winning film and television actor Zahn McClarnon, who also serves as an executive producer, Kiowa Gordon and Jessica Matten (Tribal, Burden of Truth) as Bernadette Manuelito. Dark Winds also stars Noah Emmerich (The Americans, Suspicion) as FBI Special Agent Whitover, Deanna Allison as Joe’s wife Emma Leaphorn, and features Rainn Wilson (The Office, Backstrom) as Devoted Dan, a full-of-faith car salesman.

Vince Calandra (Castle Rock, Sharp Objects) is showrunner and executiChris Eyreve producer.  is director and executive producer. Executive producers include George R.R. Martin, Robert Redford, Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis.

About AMC

AMC is home to some of the most popular and acclaimed programs on television. AMC was the first basic cable network to ever win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series with Mad Men in 2008, which then went on to win the coveted award four years in a row, before Breaking Bad won it in 2013 and 2014. The network’s series The Walking Dead is the highest-rated series in cable history. AMC’s current original drama series are Better Call SaulFear the Walking Dead, Kevin Can F*** Himself, The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond and the forthcoming series 61st Street, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, Dark Winds, Moonhaven, Pantheon, Ragdoll and Tales of the Walking Dead, among others. AMC also explores authentic worlds and discussion with original shows like Talking DeadAMC Visionaries and Ride with Norman Reedus. AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, SundanceTV, BBC America and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile.

About AMC+

AMC+ is the company’s new premium streaming bundle featuring an extensive lineup of popular and critically acclaimed original programming from AMC, BBC America, IFC, and SundanceTV and full access to targeted streaming services Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited, which feature content such as A Discovery of WitchesCreepshow, and Boyhood. The service features a continually refreshed library of commercial-free content, including fan favorites Mad Men, Halt & Catch Fire, Turn: Washington’s Spies, Hell on Wheels, NOS4A2Orphan Black, Rectify, Portlandia, and series from The Walking Dead Universe, among many others. The service also offers a growing slate of original and exclusive series including Gangs of London, Kin, The North Water, RagdollThe Beast Must Die, Too Close, The Salisbury Poisonings, Cold Courage, Spy CityUltra City Smiths, Anna, Anne Boleyn, Firebite, La Fortuna, That Dirty Black Bag and upcoming The Ipcress File. AMC+ recently launched in Canada, Australia, and India and is available in the U.S. through AMCPlus.com, the AMC+ app, and a number of digital and cable partners.

Zahn McClarnon

Zahn McClarnon is an award winning film and television actor who has appeared in over 80 film and television productions. He is most known for his role as “Hanzee Dent” in the second installment of the critically- acclaimed series Fargo, his recurring role of “Akecheta” on HBO’s award- winning series Westworld, and for his portrayal of “Officer Mathias” on the television series Longmire.

Zahn was also a series regular on National Geographic’s Barkskins, starring opposite Marcia Gay Harden and David Thewlis, and on the AMC show The Son. McClarnon has most recently co-starred in the crime-thriller The Silencing starring alongside Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and in the Stephen King film, Doctor Sleep. Zahn is currently recurring on the upcoming FX series Reservation Dogs, the much anticipated Disney+ series Hawkeye, and stars in the upcoming film The Last Manhunt with Jason Momoa. McClarnon is currently starring in and an executive producer for the AMC series Dark Winds.

Kiowa Gordon

Kiowa is a prolific Native American actor with award winning film and television credits. Born in Berlin, Germany, he moved to the States shortly thereafter to live on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Peach Springs, AZ and moved around quite a bit growing up until settling down in Phoenix, AZ where he landed the role of Embry Call in THE TWILIGHT SAGA. In 2013, Kiowa won Best Supporting Actor at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco for his role in the indie film, THE LESSER BLESSED. On the small screen, Kiowa had a Series Regular role in the Sundance original series, THE RED ROAD, starring Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson and Martin Henderson and Guest Starred on the Netflix series FRONTIER. In 2019, he had lead roles in 2 features which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival – BLOOD QUANTUM (multiple festival nom and winner) from director Jeff Barnaby and CASTLE IN THE GROUND (TIFF nominated for best Canadian feature) from director Joey Klein. That year he also had roles in the Netflix comedy LADY DYNAMITE, a recurring in the technologically groundbreaking series THE LIBERATOR from A+E Studios for Netflix, and a recurring role on the CW series ROSWELL.

More recent work includes a lead in the feature TWO EYES, directed by award winning filmmaker Travis Fine which was the closing film at Outfest 2020, and a cameo in Taika Waititi’s RESERVATION DOGS (FX).

Up next, he just wrapped his Series Regular role as JIM CHEE on the forthcoming series DARK WINDS for AMC, based on the book series from Tom Hillerman, and produced by George R. R. Martin and Robert Redford.

Jessica Mattsen

Jessica Matten is of Red River Metis-Cree descent and is directly a descendant of Cuthbert Grant, the first rebel Metis leader famously known for the Battle of the Seven Oaks in Canada. Most recently, Jessica is set to star in Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Graham Roland’s produced “Dark Winds” television series opposite Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon for the AMC Network this Fall 2021.

Jessica is the star and Associate Producer of the new critically acclaimed Crime Drama “Tribal” Season 2 the on APTN Network.

Jessica stars in Season 3 of Discovery Canada & Netflix’s TV show “Frontier” starring Jason Momoa. She also can be seen in the new CW Network and CBC drama alongside Kristin Kruek in “Burden of Truth”. Jessica also can be seen in the upcoming comic adaptation movie “The Empty Man” for Disney/20th Century Fox studios.

Jessica can be seen on 3 Canadian Screen Award nominated and winning shows: Frontier, Blackstone and Mohawk Girls.

Jessica has developed a small cult following in North America for her performance in the starring role of Elle-Maija Tailfeather’s short film, “A Red Girl’s Reasoning”. Other TV and films include the Gemini award winning show “Blackstone” and “Pilgrims” written and directed by Marie Clements that Jessica starred in, was an official selection for the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival 2013.

Besides acting, Jessica runs an Indigenous wellness and fitness company with her family called Lemon Cree where they have helped thousands of Indigenous people achieve their fitness, wellness and health goals. She also runs the viral campaign #N8Vgirls to help spread awareness globally on the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada.

She is currently in development with Herd of 1 Media with Julian Black Antelope creating an Indigenous Film Academy. The Counting Coup Indigenous Film Academy (“CCIFA”) is a progressive, state-of-the-art, holistic educational environment for intense creative work, where emerging and aspiring First Nations artists can effectively and successfully gain expertise and experience and establish the foundations of a professional film career.

Jessica ran multiple monthly articles and the magazine “Active Cree” distributed monthly to 60,000 people and 10 communities across the James Bay area throughout Northern Ontario. She is a guest speaker along with her mother across North America called: “Indigenous Women Breaking Barriers: A Mother and Daughter Story”. Jessica also instructs acting workshops, and has had many wonderful success stories with the youth over the years.

Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson is an American television and movie actor, director, writer, and producer. He became a household name in 2005 with his inimitable portrayal of ‘Dwight Schrute’ in the U.S. version of the popular British sitcom, The Office. His first breakthrough role came when he played assistant mortician ‘Arthur Martin’ in HBO’s Six Feet Under, winning him a Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.” He then went on to appear in films like Almost Famous, House of 1000 Corpses, and America’s Sweethearts. Wilson catapulted to fame during his nine seasons on the Emmy-winning comedy, The Office, in which he also directed three episodes. He has starred in films like The Rocker, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Meg, and Don’t Tell A Soul. On the TV side, Wilson has also starred in the Fox crime drama Backstrom, where he played the lead role of ‘Everett Backstrom,’ and in Amazon Prime’s Utopia as ‘Michael Stearns.’

Wilson has an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and spent ten years doing theatre in New York before moving to Los Angeles. Wilson founded the YouTube channel Soul Pancake, which has over 3.5 million subscribers, and he published his memoir The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy in 2015. He is originally from Seattle, Washington.

Rainn Wilson will next be seen opposite Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening in the film Jerry and Marge Go Large for Paramount+ and as ‘Devoted Dan’ in AMC’s Dark Winds.

Noah Emmerich

Noah Emmerich recently completed the Netflix feature “The Good Nurse” opposite Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne. He is currently shooting the AMC series “Dark Winds” and will next be seen starring in the Apple series “Suspicion” opposite Uma Thurman. On the comedic side, Emmerich continues his role of “General Kick Grabaston” opposite Steve Carrell in the Netflix series “Space Force.” He was last seen co-starring in the Netflix mini-series “The Spy” opposite Sacha Baron Cohen.

Emmerich’s breakout performance was in Ted Demme’s cult hit “Beautiful Girls” alongside Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, and Matt Dillon. His next role, opposite Jim Carrey in Peter Weir’s Academy Award-nominated “The Truman Show,” firmly established his outstanding talent.

Emmerich’s film work includes Todd Field’s Academy Award nominated “Little Children” (Kate Winslet), J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” Gavin O’Connor’s “Pride & Glory” (Edward Norton, Colin Farrell), Doug Liman’s “Fair Game” (Naomi Watts, Sean Penn), “Sympathy for Delicious” (Mark Ruffalo), “Miracle” (Kurt Russell), “Frequency” (Dennis Quaid), “Beyond Borders” (Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen), “Windtalkers” (Nicolas Cage), “Life” (Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence), “Copland” (Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel), Guillaume Canet’s “Blood Ties” (Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, and Zoe Saldana), “Warrior” (Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton), and “Jane Got A Gun” (Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor) and “The Wild Wedding” (Glenn Close, John Malkovich).

Emmerich played FBI Agent Stan Beeman opposite Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on F/X’s critically acclaimed drama series “The Americans.” His performance was recognized with a Critic’s Choice Award and a SAG Award nomination. He also appeared to great acclaim as Dr. Edwin Jenner in Frank Darabont’s long running hit series “The Walking Dead.” He has guest starred on shows including “The West Wing,” “Monk,” and “Master of None.”

Emmerich’s stage work includes Stephen Belber’s “Fault Lines” at the Cherry Lane (dir. David Schwimmer) and the Kennedy Center’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” opposite Patricia Clarkson.

Emmerich received an honors degree in history from Yale University and studied filmmaking at New York University. He was born and raised in New York City, where he currently resides.

Chris Eyre

Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) is an internationally recognized film and television director and producer who has received many awards for his work including, a Peabody (1998, 2009), an Emmy (2005) and the Sundance Audience Award and Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy (1998).

Eyre began his career by attended the graduate film program at New York University and went on to the Sundance Institute’s Directors’ Lab being mentored by Robert Redford in 1995.

Chris Eyre’s directorial debut was the Miramax Classic Film “SMOKE SIGNALS (1998),” which won Eyre the 1998 Sundance Filmmakers’ Trophy and the 1998 Sundance Audience Award. 20 years later, in 2018, “SMOKE SIGANALS (1998) was inducted by the U.S. Library of Congress to the National Film Registry for movies “of historic and cultural significance to be preserved for all time.”

Eyre’s television credits as a director include multiple episodes of “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS” (NBC) and work on “LAW AND ORDER – SVU” (NBC), as well as directing the award-winning dramatic mini-series “WE SHALL REMAIN” (2009) for PBS.

Eyre’s film “EDGE OF AMERICA (2004)” was selected as the “Opening Night” film at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, and garnered Eyre the highly prestigious, Outstanding Directorial Achievement from the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in 2005.

Eyre has directed and/or produced over fifteen-feature films. Including Eyre’s SXSW award winner for Best Cinematography “HIDE AWAY (2012)” starring Josh Lucas and James Cromwell released theatrically in May 2012.

In 2015, Eyre executive produced the documentary feature film “THE SEVENTH FIRE (2015),” with fellow producers Terrence Malick and Natalie Portman. In 2016, THE SEVENTH FIRE was invited to screen at The White House in Washington, D.C.

In 2017, Eyre was named annual-honorary Chair at the University of Hawaii in memory of the late Senator Daniel Inouye. Later 2017, Eyre’s company created and supervised the cultural team that advised language and Cheyenne Native American culture for the Christian Bale feature film “HOSTILES (2018)” directed by Scott Cooper.

Chris Eyre is currently directing a television series, DARK WINDS with fellow producers George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) and Robert Redford for AMC Networks.

Chris Eyre resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chris Eyre is represented by Frank Wuliger at the Gersh Agency, manager Andrew Hersh at Thrive Entertainment and attorney Eric Feig in Los Angeles.

Graham Roland

Graham is a former US Marine and has written on PRISON BREAK, LOST, FRINGE, and THE RETURNEDGraham would later co-create JACK RYAN with Carlton Cuse, which has already been ordered for a fourth season. In addition to his work in television, Graham also wrote and executive produced MILE 22 for Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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The actors, director and creator of "Dark Winds" at the TCA panel in February.

Interview with the cast of “All-American: Homecoming”

TV Interview!

"All-American: Homecoming" poster

Interview with actors Geffri Maya, Peyton Alex Smith, Sylvester Powell, Cory Hardrict, Kelly Jenrette, Camille Hyde, Mitchell Edwards and Netta Walker, and executive producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll of “All-American: Homecoming” on The CW by Suzanne 1/27/22

This was a really fun panel. These actors really seem to enjoy their work and have a lot of congeniality with their fellow cast and crew.   I watch MANY shows on The CW (mostly superheroes).  I watched 5 episodes of this new spin-off. It started slowly but started to get better by the end of the third episode. It’s basically a soap opera set in a fictional HBCU, just as the original show is a soap opera set in a high school. That one is mostly about football. This one is about baseball and tennis. I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of the actors from the first show. However, you can watch this and enjoy it even if you’ve never seen the show from which it’s spun off.

Nkechki (whom they refer to as “NK”) answered the first question from a journalist about what role will HBCU* experiences play in the series. She said Bringston University, where the show is set, is a character itself on the show. Even though it’s not a real institution, it seems real because it’s the “life force of the show” and it’s everything for the students. She also asked whether the show is still about football, and whether there are new characters (besides the ones from the original show). NK answered that show is about tennis and baseball, as well as about “HBCU life in general.” She also took a moment to praise the cast as beautiful and amazing. She can’t wait for us to get to meet the characters of the show because she feels like they’re her friends. She continued on to explain that the cast is mostly new people who represent “”the absolute spectrum of what it is to be young and Black and at an HBCU.”

I then asked her if there was a particular real-life campus that she based Bringston on. She replied, as expected, that it’s “an amalgamation of a few different campuses.” She complimented their production designer as “brilliant” because they sat down and envisioned what they wanted, and then they brought it to life. Viewers who went to an HBCU should recognize the campus as being similar to the campuses in DC, Atlanta and other places. NK confided that she didn’t go to an HBCU, so she wanted to create her own. I asked a followup question about whether she directed her actors to train in tennis and baseball ahead of time, or did they hire actors who already knew how to play. As I’d hoped, she asked the stars Peyton and Geffri to give their two cents. Peyton, whom you may know from “Legacies” on The CW, plays baseball star Damon Sims. Geffri plays tennis star Simone Hicks. I was happy to be in a conversation with Peyton because I was so unhappy when they wrote him out of “Legacies.” Now I see that it was for the best because he’s able to go on to bigger things in this show.

Peyton joked, “Uh, honestly I’m just a natural-born talent in like whatever I do.” There was laughter and NK jokingly said he was going to let him talk. Geffri told us truthfully that she hadn’t ever held a racket until they found out about this backdoor pilot. Once they knew it was going forward, she found a good tennis coach and started working hard on the sport. She said that tennis is “beautiful” and that it takes respect and work with your “full mind, full body and full spirit.” She hopes we can see it and feel it. I assured her that it worked out great from the four episodes I saw.

Peyton then answered more seriously. He used to play but hadn’t played baseball in about 17 years. When they shot the pilot, he was very scared as soon as he got up on the mound, since he was playing “super athlete.” After that, he and Sylvester worked on pitching and batting with a scouting coach with the Atlanta Braves. They did a lot of work not only baseball, but just working out in general as well. Then he flew to Bellingham, Washington to work with the college kids there at Western Washington University. He said he “had no idea that was a place.” Ha ha! I have a friend who teaches there, and I felt the same way when I heard he was moving there. “Where the heck is Bellingham?” Anyway, he said it was great to see the kids in their environment, and it not only helped him with playing but with his acting. He gave an example: “we see how those kids react to the coaches.” He gave baseball props because he discovered that it’s not an easy sports. He used to think it was boring to watch, but now he knows more about it and finds it interesting. NK then praised him for being “so incredibly locked.” I’d never heard that term before, but I assume she means that he’s very focused.

NK then praised Camille. She really nailed the part in her audition, and then she was asked if she played tennis, almost as an afterthought, and she answered with a list of her tennis accomplishments. They were shocked but knew they found the right actress to play Thea. They never have to use her double because Camille is “unbelieveable.” She’s their expert, in fact, if they want to know how they’re portraying tennis correctly.

Camille said that it was lucky for her that she and her character had a lot in common. She never lost a match when she was in high school. She brought some of that “can’t lose” attitude in her acting as well. The mentality includes, “even if we come close to losing and we win, it wasn’t good enough. So you train harder, you work harder and that’s, that’s definitely just scratching the surface of what it means to be a college tennis athlete. Um, there’s never enough serves you can hit in a day. There’s never enough drills you can do in a day. That’s how I was until, you know, my hands are bleeding and the blisters were all popping on my feet, but you know, that’s what it means to be a college athlete.” She says they definitely earned their respect.

The cast was also asked by a journalist about whether they tell people when they go in to audition whether they can play the sport or not. He said he would be worried that someone said he got it wrong if he wasn’t very good at it.

Cory joked, “Fake til you make it.” He was joking, but Geffri confided that she was always told to say yes on auditions when asked if she could play something, and then go practice to make it real. She did say that it “just depends on the person.” Peyton said he’s seen that go wrong before where someone said they could play basketball but had to leave, embarrassed. Mitchell admitted that happened to him. He told the people at the audition that he could play basketball, but he couldn’t. He was terrible. Sylvester jokingly consoled him by reminding him that he’s a football player. Then Geffri joked, “But you know what they said, Mitch? They said, That boy got beautiful skin, though.'” They joked around some more.

Cory added in that you should always tell the truth, get the job, work hard and “keep your faith.”

Geffri admitted that she told them for this part that she can’t play, but she promised to learn. NK confirmed that Geffri did say exactly that. They just hoped that would be enough so that they could do the spin-off. Geffri joked that she would never tell NK no. She jokingly said, “’Are you an astronaut?” Yes. I am going to spacecamp. Yes.'”

A reporter asked how good they think they’ve become. Peyton joked that after the series was over, in about 6 years, he’s going to play professional baseball. Geffri teased that he woudl be going pro in the spinoff of the spinoff.

Geffri then answered seriously that she definitely sees growth in everyone’s playing. She already knew Camille before the series and thinks that she has grown as a person. She thinks, while “there’s always room for improvement” she thinks she’s improved at tennis and will continue to work hard at it because it “requires dedication.” She added that it’s also very fun to play.

NK praised them all for their hard work, which she saw in the many hours of footage that she had to edit for the series. They had very little notice to get in shape for the pilot and learn how to play well. She applauded them for not only their hours of commitment to playing but also acting, learning lines, and showing up for long days of shooting. Also, some of them had to learn to dance. Netta plays Keisha, who’s a dancer and choreographer, so she had to really work hard to “nail the routines we give her,” and Mitchell has to sing as well. She saluted their “bringing excellence, which is the theme of the show.” She felt honored for them to all bring their A games to the series.

Peyton also added that he felt if he worked really hard on the baseball, then it became easier, so then he could focus more on his character and the art of acting.

Another journalist asked about what the characters find out or learn as they go through this time in their lives where a lot of change happens.

Netta talked about playing a college age young person on the show, which she can really relate to because she made a lot of the same mistakes and going through self-discovery. She feels like they’re doing it in a way that’s not filled with bias, which is unusual. Then having the “extra layer of Black excellence on top of it” makes it even more enjoyable. She told us that when you’re at an HBCU, you have to be at your best: “you gotta be on. You can’t slack, edges better be laid, hair better be pressed, outfits better be on top, and everyone’s been doing it for it.” She’s happy to be playing Keisha, who’s the top girl socially at the school.

Cory cracked that Keish is the one they all wanted to be in college; “She’s the “it” girl.” Netta joked back at him that he couldn’t possibly think that way because his face “is perfectly symmetrical”.

Camille added that her face is symmetrical, too, but she credits everything to their stylists, who put together their clothes, hair, makeup, etc. It makes their jobs easier because it “represents us in our community and Black excellence and the hair and you know, how much, you know, young, Black culture, a lot of it is hair. A lot of it is style.” She believes that it will translate well on the screen. Geffri agreed with that and went on at length about HBCU and the black excellence they represent. She feels privileged to show what this life is like to young kids who might be thinking about going to college.

Cory took the opportunity to praise NK for creating this world. He’s happy to be a “positive influence in these young male figures lives, and especially this Black experience.”

NK redirected the praise toward the cast, saying that she capture “lightning in a bottle” with all of them. Meeting Geff, in particular, inspired her to create this world. There was a lot more to this panel, but you get the idea about the show and how much this cast loves each other.

*HBCU refers to historically black colleges and universities, in case you didn’t know. Famous examples include Spelman, Howard and Xavier University.

MORE INFO:

"All-American: Homecoming" posterALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING”

Mondays (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) on The CW

ALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING is a young adult sports drama set against the backdrop of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) experience at Bringston University, where Black excellence is a way of life. The series follows Simone (Geffri Maya, “All American”), a young tennis hopeful from Beverly Hills who is trying to fight her way back to great after some time away from the court, and Damon (Peyton Alex Smith, “Legacies”), an elite baseball player from Chicago who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. After Simone’s aunt Amara Patterson (Kelly Jenrette, “Manhunt”), a journalism teacher and activist, exposes a scandal that threatens to derail the school’s beloved baseball program, new coach Marcus Turner (Cory Hardrict, “The Chi”) is determined to bring a championship back to Bringston the honest way — with Damon’s help. Damon will adjust to his new normal with fellow baseball player and childhood friend JR (Sylvester Powell, “Five Points”) by his side. Meanwhile, as Simone struggles to find her footing, she will get a little guidance from Thea (Camille Hyde, “Katy Keene”), the super-competitive queen bee of the Bringston tennis team, and Keisha (Netta Walker, “Come as You Are”), the school’s unofficial mayor, who will help Simone learn how to live her best life. As they contend with the high stakes of college sports, Simone and Damon will also navigate the highs, lows, and sexiness of unsupervised early adulthood at a prestigious HBCU.

ALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING stars Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks, Peyton Alex Smith as Damon Sims, Kelly Jenrette as Amara Patterson, Cory Hardrict as Coach Marcus Turner, Sylvester Powell as JR, Camille Hyde as Thea Mays, Mitchell Edwards as Cam Watkins and Netta Walker as Keisha McCalla.

ALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING is from Warner Bros. Television and CBS Studios in association with Berlanti Productions, with executive producers Nkechi Okoro Carroll (“Rosewood,” “The Resident”), Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Riverdale”), Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Riverdale”), David Madden (“You”) and Robbie Rogers (“All American”).

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All American: Homecoming -- "Start Over" -- Image Number: AHC101a_0697r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Rhoyle Ivy King as Nathaniel Hardin, Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks and Netta Walker as Keisha McCalla -- Photo: Ser Baffo/The CW -- (C) 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Interview with Charisma Carpenter and Nancy Grace

TV Interview!

Charisma Carpenter, star of "The Good Father," and Nancy Grace, Executive Producer.

Interview with Charisma Carpenter and Nancy Grace of “The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story” on Lifetime by Suzanne 9/14/21

This interview was from Lifetime’s Fall Movies Press Day. It was very enjoyable to chat with many stars during the panels.

Unfortunately, this movie’s star, Tom Everett Scott (Dr. MacNeill), couldn’t make the interview. Most of the movie centers on him, and his daughter, Alexis played by Anwen O’Driscoll. She wasn’t there, either.  Carpenter plays his wife, Michele, who gets murdered  fairly early on in the movie. Grace is seen briefly (as herself) and was responsible for bringing the story to Lifetime.

I really hadn’t planned to speak to Grace, since I’m not a fan of her style of jouranlism. However, when I asked Carpenter my question, she really didn’t have much of a response, so I decided to ask Grace a question after that. She didn’t like my question (which was partly my fault because I didn’t really phrase it very well), so she went on and on about it.  Oh, well. It was a good movie, and an interesting panel interview, nonetheless. I just wish I could have asked Carpenter about some of her other roles (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” “Veronica Mars” et al.).

MODERATOR:  Our next panel is “The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story” executive produced by Nancy Grace and starring Charisma Carpenter.  Hi, ladies.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  Hello.

NANCY GRACE:  Hello.

MODERATOR:  Thank you for joining us.  We’re going to kick it off with a question from Jay Bobbin.

QUESTION:  Hello, thank you.  Nancy,  my question is for you.  A lot of what you’ve done in the TV-Movie realm, it seems like these are stories you’ve dealt with in other ways on your other programs in your other appearances.  Is this one of those stories for you?

NANCY GRACE:  Well, yes as a matter of fact, it is.  I covered the Martin MacNeill prosecution when it occurred.  And felt that I became friends with various members of the family, specifically Alexis.  I remember distinctly like yesterday — as a matter of fact we just showed the promo you just saw?  It literally gave a chill on my arms because when I see that, it’s so realistic, it reminds me of the actual case.  And I can still remember the night of the verdict and speaking with Alexis.  And she was telling me about how she had gotten married her mother wasn’t there because her father murdered her mother and what that felt like so this movie means a lot to me.

QUESTION:  A follow up on that if I could, when you talk about the chill that it gave you bringing back the real case, how are you on the set when a dramatization of a case you’ve actually covered is being done?  I would imagine you want it to be as truthful to the fact as possible, yet it is still a dramatic movie.  How are you with that?

NANCY GRACE:  Well, I will say that I went — I combed over the screenplay over and over and over.  And actually pitched this to Lifetime with the intent of one day telling the true story of Dr. Martin MacNeill.  But you know what?  I don’t like calling it the Dr. Martin MacNeill story.  I like calling it the Michelle MacNeill story because in my mind that’s the real star.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Jamie.

QUESTION:  Hi, thank you both for being here.  Nancy, how involved was Martin’s daughter when it came to Anwen’s portrayal?

NANCY GRACE:  Oh wow, well her wishes and her desires were paramount in my mind.  Because as I always like to say and I have said from the beginning of my TV career, these are not stories.  They’re real.  This is a real fact scenario with a real victim who died in the family’s bathtub.  Her daughters — they had eight children, four natural, four adopted.  They no idea what had really happened to their mother.  So when we talk about how much Alexis had to do with it, this is the telling of the story through her eyes.  So she had a lot to do with it.  These are real characters.  It’s not a made-up plot that someone came up with or dreamed up.  This is real.  And that makes it in my mind even more critical that it’s true to life.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Jamie Ruby.

QUESTION:  Hi guys.  Thanks for talking to us.  Charisma, what was it that initially drew you to the part?

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  Well, I think any time you mix true crime with scripted television, you do have to walk and extra careful line.  It was super challenging to honor her memory and to be able to get across her love of family, to be able to get across the behaviors that she was experiencing and her confusion about his behavior, the pathological lying and the sociopathy behind it all.  So I feel like whenever you’re approaching a character, you have these insights that you bring to the table, but when it’s a real-life story, you have to take the insights that you understand from whatever the history is of the story.  You have to do a lot of reading, a lot of research and then you know the importance of getting that across was a true challenge and something that I took to heart and wanted to pay the utmost of respect to.  So that was a new thing for me.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Howard Benjamin.

QUESTION:  My question is for Nancy.  How difficult is it to get life rights?  You’ve taken to task a lot of ripped-from-the-headlines stories and getting the cooperation from the family and the estates, how difficult is that?

NANCY GRACE:  Well, since — being a crime victim myself, usually tell stories from the point of view of the crime victim.  And I’ve never had any problem with their cooperation.  Very often they want their story told and not just within the confines of the witness stand.

QUESTION:  Is it difficult for them to relive this all over again?

NANCY GRACE:  Yes, it is.  It’s very difficult for them to relive it.  I’ve had many, many crime victims that don’t want to talk about it.  It brings it all back to them and including the pain that they went through.  And that’s one thing about Alexis of many things that was so significant and so critical in this project because it did bring back a lot of sadness and a lot of emotion for her that she had to relive, but she did.  And I’m so glad she did.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  She was impressive in doing that.  You know, and also I think you know to add to that is Anwen, you know, it being Alexis’s story portrayed by Anwen, it is a story of empowerment.  You know, it is a story of reclaiming your power and not allowing yourself to be manipulated and gaslighted any longer by this perpetrator you know, that was unfortunately her own father who she admired and adored and loved and was well-respected.

NANCY GRACE:  Mm-hmm.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  In the community and at work and within his church.  So I mean what a powerful place, what an unfortunate thing to have to be confronted with, but then to understand the strength of character, her perseverance, her desire for truth to support her siblings while she was in medical school.  I mean, this is an incredible person.  This is an amazing woman.  So yay to be able to tell this story because it is in fact, Michelle, it may be her story in that sense, but it’s also a story of empowerment which I could really hold onto and clamp onto and why I also wanted to be involved.

QUESTION:  Thanks.

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

QUESTION:  Nancy, I have two questions for you.

NANCY GRACE:  Okay.

QUESTION:  What crime were you a victim of?  And what are the qualities required for you to decide to  take on a project?

NANCY GRACE:  People think I always wanted to be a violent crime prosecutor.  That is not true.  I studied Shakespearean literature and hoped to teach at a university level Shakespearean literature.  That was my dream.  My fiancé was murdered shortly before our wedding.  I dropped out of school.  I lost all interest in being in a classroom or in life, period.  I ultimately did go back to school with the aim of becoming a felony prosecutor and helping other crime victims who I believe very often, especially women and children, do not have a voice in our system.  This story, as I call it, although it is a true fact scenario, was especially poignant to me because not only were the victims women and children, it was at the hands of one of the most prominent men in that social setting, that community, a doctor and a lawyer who manipulated everyone as Charisma just said very accurately.  And they had no voice and it makes what Alexis did even more powerful bringing her own father to justice.

QUESTION:  So when you decide on a project, what does it have to have for you to do it?

NANCY GRACE:  I’ve never liked — people often ask me, “What’s your favorite case?”  There’s not really a favorite murder.  I don’t know really how to put it in any other words.  But I look for a story to be told, a narrative, not a case that’s open and shut.  To turn a scenario like this into a movie, there must be mystery.  The characters must be riveting to grab your attention.  And I always think that it requires some sort of a mind twist.  For instance in that community, the last person anyone would suspect molestation or murder would be Dr. Martin MacNeill.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Our next question is from Suzanne.

QUESTION:  Hi.  First question, Charisma, did you do any sort of special research or preparation before filming the role?

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  Well, I obviously read up about him and about the family story and the family history.  You know, I had to get familiar with the story.  I didn’t know the story personally so this was an education.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And Nancy, I was wondering, do you know why in the movie there was never any mention made of the fact that they were Mormons and they were in a Mormon community?

NANCY GRACE:  Well honestly, that may be significant to some people, but we had so many miles to cover and I don’t believe in my mind what religion it was that mattered.  It mattered to me like in my religion, I’m a Methodist.  And within a church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church, the synagogue, there are deacons or those people that are looked up to or revered, typically men.  So whatever milieu you may be in, there are those people that are seemingly put up on a pedestal as he was, not only within his church community, the Church of Latter Day Saints, but within his medical community.  I mean, he had been appointed by the governor to run a state facility.  This guy was revered by everyone.  Whether he was Mormon or a Methodist or a Catholic or Jewish doesn’t matter.  He had the respect of everyone which made it so much more difficult for people to believe he would do this thing.  I gotta tell you I remember sweating it out waiting on the jury verdict.  And I was worried that people would fall for him and his con.  Everybody else believed him, why wouldn’t a jury?  I was worried.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  You know, you brought up a good point, Nancy, too.  The revere of the community and the medical community and his own family, you know, the police department, they didn’t take imperative steps to determine her cause of death.  They took his word for it.  Like he just said she had an accident and they didn’t — because of who he was, they didn’t investigate further.  So that’s a commentary on our society as a whole.  You know, just because you are a prominent figure and it just seems unfathomable that you’d be capable of doing such a thing, it is imperative that people do their job and due diligence.

NANCY GRACE:  You said that so well.  Because even in the initial police reports, do you know what Alexis had to do to even get the autopsy re-examined to just basically pry the police into believing this could have happened. They had to change the determination on that autopsy report.  That’s like moving a mountain.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  And also just the fact that the daughter was Alexis, played by Anwen.  She was in her dad’s corner.  It took a lot.  She didn’t believe her own mom when her mom was trying to tell her things that things weren’t adding up and he was spending a lot of time away and he had all these suspicions.  You know, it’s very common for women to be considered hysterical or paranoid or bitter or jealous or you know all these different things when you know our intuition is continually being gaslit and dismissed.  And so it’s really important that we as a society do consider and trust the matriarchs of our lives and that we do re-evaluate no matter how high a standard you know our — you know, and this could go either way.  You know I’m sure there are prominent women, too.  But I don’t mean to make this anti-men, but to make a point that predominantly speaking, the patriarch is not questioned.  And it is important that people be heard especially women.

NANCY GRACE:  You know why, Charisma?  You just said a word that really rubbed me the wrong way.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  What did I say?

NANCY GRACE:  If I hear one more woman referred to as hysterical, I’m going to shoot my foot.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  I mean…

NANCY GRACE:  Because that’s exactly how they acted when Alexis tried to tell them her suspicions.  They acted like she’s been through too much.  She’s hysterical.  She was anything but.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah, it’s difficult to be dismissed that way especially when you’re a 100% right.

QUESTION:  All right, thank you.

MODERATOR:  That is all the time we have today.  Thank you, guys, Charisma and Nancy —

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  So much for being with us today.  We really appreciate your time.

NANCY GRACE:  Thank you.

CHARISMA CARPENTER:  No problem, thank you.  Good to see you, Nancy.

NANCY GRACE:  Likewise.

MORE INFO:

Preview

Based on actual events, The Good Father tells the story of Dr. MacNeill (Scott) and the incredible life he led with his former beauty queen wife, Michele (Carpenter) and their eight children.  A pillar of the community, he was respected and loved by all especially by his daughter Alexis (O’Driscoll) who adored him and even wanted to follow in his footsteps to become a doctor.  But everything soon changes after Dr. MacNeill convinces Michele to have plastic surgery, ultimately leading to her drowning while on prescription medication.  Just a few short weeks after his wife’s suspicious death, Dr. MacNeill brings home Gypsy Willis, a new live-in “nanny” for his children but who is in actuality his mistress. Shocked by her father’s actions, Alexis begins to question everything she has known about him and discovers the depth of his lies, including his bogus medical credentials, falsified military records, and that the man and good doctor she once revered, was capable of murder.

The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story is produced by Good Doctor Films Inc. for Lifetime. Nancy Grace and bestselling author Josh Sabarra executive produce alongside Howard Braunstein. Annie Bradley directs from a script written by John Fasano and Abdi Nazemian.

Lifetime Unveils Full Fall Schedule Featuring Top Names All Season Long

LIFETIME UNVEILS FULL FALL SCHEDULE
FEATURING TOP NAMES ALL SEASON LONG
INCLUDING JILL SCOTT, HEATHER LOCKLEAR, SHANNEN DOHERTY, KELLY HU, TOM EVERETT SCOTT, CHARISMA CARPENTER, NANCY GRACE, MEGHAN MCCAIN, SHERRI SHEPHERD, NIA SIOUX, JUDY REYES, GLORIA REUBEN, ELISABETH ROHM, JUSTINA MACHADO,
BARRY WATSON, SKYLER SAMUELS AND MANY OTHERS

August 25, 2021 (Los Angeles, CA) – As summer comes to an end, Lifetime ensures the fall is full of excitement with new premieres every weekend, starting on Labor Day, Sept 6th with the premiere of Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace. Presenting stories that entertain, intrigue and inform, the fall slate features top names like Jill Scott and Barry Watson in the Highway to Heaven reboot, to Heather Locklear and Meghan McCain in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Shannen Doherty and Kelly Hu in List of a Lifetime, and more.

Full Fall Schedule and Descriptions Below.  All times at 8pm/7c.

Sept 6            Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace
                       (Sydney Morton, Jordan Dean)

Sept 18          Imperfect High
(Sherri Shepherd, Nia Sioux)

Sept 24          Dying to Marry Him
(Only on Lifetime Movie Club)


Oct 2              The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story
                       (Tom Everett Scott, Anwen O’ Driscoll, Charisma Carpenter, EP Nancy Grace)

Oct 9              Dying to Belong
(Shannen Doherty, Favour Onwuka, Jenika Rose)

Oct 10            List of a Lifetime
                       (Kelly Hu, Sylvia Kawn, Shannen Doherty, Patricia Velasquez)

Oct 16            Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
                       (Heather Locklear, Natasha Bure, EP Meghan McCain, Kris Carlson)

Oct 17            Fighting for Her Life

Oct 23            Switched Before Birth
                        (Justina Machado, Skyler Samuels, director Elisabeth Rohm)

Oct 24            The Fight That Never Ends

Oct 30            Torn From Her Arms
(Judy Reyes, Gloria Reuben, Fatima Molina)

Nov 6             Highway to Heaven
(Jill Scott, Barry Watson)

Lifetime’s popular annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime holiday lineup will begin following the fall movies.

The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story
Premieres October 2 at 8/7c

Based on actual events, The Good Father tells the story of Dr. MacNeill (Tom Everett Scott) and the incredible life he led with his former beauty queen wife, Michele (Charisma Carpenter) and their eight children.  A pillar of the community, he was respected and loved by all especially by his daughter Alexis (Anwen O’Driscoll) who adored him and even wanted to follow in his footsteps to become a doctor.  But everything soon changes after Dr. MacNeill convinces Michele to have plastic surgery, ultimately leading to her drowning while on prescription medication.  Just a few short weeks after his wife’s suspicious death, Dr. MacNeill brings home Gypsy Willis, a new live-in “nanny” for his children but who is in actuality his mistress. Shocked by her father’s actions, Alexis begins to question everything she has known about him and discovers the depth of his lies, including his bogus medical credentials, falsified military records, and that the man and good doctor she once revered, was capable of murder.

The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story is produced by Good Doctor Films Inc. for Lifetime. Nancy Grace and bestselling author Josh Sabarra executive produce alongside Howard Braunstein. Annie Bradley directs from a script written by John Fasano and Abdi Nazemian

ABOUT LIFETIME
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®, 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.

Follow Lifetime Publicity on  Twitter  and  Instagram
A+E Networks Official Press Site: http://press.aenetworks.com

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poster for The Good Father: The Martin MacNeill Story

Interview with the Cast of La Brea

TV Interview!

Some of the cast of "La Brea" on NBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

David Applebaum, La Brea Creator

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

David Appelbaum

Executive Producer, “La Brea”

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

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

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

Eve Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon SedaJon Seda

Dr. Samuel Velez, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

Eoin MackenEoin Macken

Gavin Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

As

Zyra Gorecki

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

Zyra Gorecki

Izzy Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

Chiké OkonkwoChiké Okonkwo

Ty, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

Jack MartinJack Martin

Josh Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"La Brea" scene in the pilot episode