Interview with actors from “Safe Room”

TV Interview!

Nicole Ari Parker and Nik Sanchez

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Woo hoo.

BORIS KODJOE: Hey, what up?

NICOLE ARI PARKER: What up?

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

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

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

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Our next question goes to Rick Bentley.

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

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

[LAUGHTER]

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

QUESTION: If I can quickly ask Nik to respond.

NIK SANCHEZ: Yeah.

QUESTION: How was it working with Nicole?

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

QUESTION: Thank you.

NIK SANCHEZ: Yeah.

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Hi, Drea.

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: So do you.

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Suzanne, go right ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you hear me now?

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Yes, thank you so much.

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: I think it’s Gerstle.

BORIS KODJOE: Nneka Gerstle is her name.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Suzanne.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And it’s N-N-E-K-A.

BORIS KODJOE: N-N-E-K-A, Nneka.

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

(Laughter.)

DREA DE MATTEO: This is my favorite conversation.

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

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

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

QUESTION: That’s not me talking.

BORIS KODJOE: Okay. Can you hear me?

QUESTION: Yeah, I can hear you.

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Very quickly.

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Because she’s the bomb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BORIS KODJOE: Cicadas came and descended down —

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

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

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

BORIS KODJOE: In the camera truck.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yeah.

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

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

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

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah.

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Thank you both for doing this today.

BORIS & NICOLE: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Hi, Karen.

BORIS KODJOE: Hey.

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

MODERATOR: Ask a question.

BORIS KODJOE: Wow.

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

DREA DE MATTEO: Go Mack.

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

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: And then killed it.

BORIS KODJOE: And he slaughtered and incinerated the audition.

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yeah. He shut it down.

BORIS KODJOE: He took the role.

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

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

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

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

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Wow.

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

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

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

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

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah. Definitely.

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Yeah.

BORIS KODJOE: Nik’s energy —

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

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

NIK SANCHEZ: Thank you.

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

(Laughter.)

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: No pressure.

MACKENZIE ASTIN: Yeah.

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

MACKENZIE ASTIN: Hundred percent.

NIK SANCHEZ: Yeah.

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

BORIS KODJOE: Wow. Thank you.

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

BORIS KODJOE: Oh, my goodness.

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

BORIS KODJOE: Thank you so much.

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

(Laughter.)

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

QUESTION: Thank you, guys.

MODERATOR: The next question is for Starry Constellation Mag.

BORIS KODJOE: Wow.

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

BORIS KODJOE: Hang on a second, hold on.

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

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

NIK SANCHEZ: Thank you.

BORIS KODJOE: Well said.

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

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

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

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

BORIS KODJOE: Yeah.

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

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

(Laughter.)

NIK SANCHEZ: What?

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

NICOLE ARI PARKER: Oh, man.

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

Preview

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

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

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

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

LIFETIME ANNOUNCES AIRDATES FOR “SAFE ROOM” AND “VANISHED: SEARCHING FOR MY SISTER”

LIFETIME SETS AIRDATES FOR
NEW ORIGINAL THRILLERS FOR JANUARY 2022

 SAFE ROOM
DEBUTS JANUARY 15
STARRING NICOLE ARI PARKER, DREA DE MATTEO,
MACKENZIE ASTIN, NIK SANCHEZ
AND BORIS KODJOE, IN HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT

 VANISHED: SEARCHING FOR MY SISTER
PREMIERES JANUARY 22

STARRING TATYANA ALIJUSTIN BRUENING, JASMINE GUY,
CAROLYN HENNESY AND ANTHONY “TREACH” CRISS

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

Full movie descriptions below.

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

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

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

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

VANISHED: SEARCHING FOR MY SISTER
Premieres Saturday, January 22nd at 8p/7c

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

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Interview with Fiona Rene

TV Interview!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thane: What drove you to get into acting?

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

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

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

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

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

Thane: Are you inspired by any actors or actresses?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Video!

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

MORE INFO:

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

“I Know What You Did Last Summer” TRAILER

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

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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

Interview with the cast of “Resident Alien”

TV Interview!

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

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

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

NBCUNIVERSAL VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR

SYFY

Resident Alien

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

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thanks.

ALAN TUDYK:  Thanks, man.

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

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

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  A video.

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

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

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

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.

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

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

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  We will.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Oh, you know we will.

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

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.

ALICE WETTERLUND:  So, you kind of ‑‑

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  I had to go back to it.

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

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  I think so.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

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

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

ALAN TUDYK:  I recognize you.

QUESTION:  Hello.

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

QUESTION:  Good.

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  The first three episodes.

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

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

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

SARA TOMKO:  I was like this?

ALAN TUDYK:  It was a little odd.

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

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

SARA TOMKO:  Yes.

ALAN TUDYK:  Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALAN TUDYK:  Yes.

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  You guys went to Newcouver.

SARA TOMKO:  Newcouver.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Newcouver.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Jamie.

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

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.  That’s enough.

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  “Longer than ever.”

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

SARA TOMKO:  I can relate that way too.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

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

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

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

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

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

ALAN TUDYK:  You are comedy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Yeah.

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  ‑‑ Corey was arresting Alice.

COREY REYNOLDS:  Oh.

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

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

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

ALAN TUDYK:  Thank you.

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Yes.

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

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

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

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

SARA TOMKO:  Yeah.

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

SARA TOMKO:  Definitely.

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Absolutely.

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.

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

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

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

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

CHRIS SHERIDAN:  Yeah.  Does anybody else have anything?

ALAN TUDYK:  Chris.

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

ALAN TUDYK:  And it made no noise, right?

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Yeah.

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

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

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

ALAN TUDYK:  We are intelligent?

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  No pressure, Arlene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Uh‑huh.

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  Apparently, there are.

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

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

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

ALICE WETTERLUND:  Hey, don’t knock it.

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

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

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

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

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  This finger is radicular.

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

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

COREY REYNOLDS:  Right?  Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

Scifivision Interview with Chris Sheridan

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

Alan Tudyk

Harry Vanderspeigle, “Resident Alien”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is represented by The Coronel Group and Gersh.

Sara Tomko

Asta Twelvetrees, “Resident Alien”

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

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

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

Tomko is represented by Bohemia Group and KMR Talent.

Corey Reynolds

Sheriff Mike Thompson, “Resident Alien”

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

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

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

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

Alice Wetterlund

D’Arcy Bloom, “Resident Alien”

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

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

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

Chris Sheridan

Executive Producer, “Resident Alien”

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Interview with the cast of “Grand Crew”

TV Interview!

"Grand Crew" cast on NBC

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

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

NBCUNIVERSAL

VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR 

NBC

Grand Crew

Nicole Byer, Talent, “Nicky”

Justin Cunningham, Talent, “Wyatt”

Aaron Jennings, Talent, “Anthony”

Echo Kellum, Talent, “Noah”

Grasie Mercedes, Talent, “Fay”

Carl Tart, Talent, “Sherm”

Phil Augusta Jackson, Creator/ Executive Producer/Showrunner

Dan Goor, Executive Producer

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAN GOOR:  These questions got deep real fast.

NICOLE BYER:  They did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Great.  Thank you for talking about it.

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

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

GRASIE MERCEDES:  Yeah.

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  And the wine.

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

NICOLE BYER:  The wine.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thanks again.

AARON JENNINGS::  Thank you.

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

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Thanks so much.

AARON JENNINGS::  Thank you.  Thank you.

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

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

QUESTION:  Thank you.

CARL TART:  I was a grip on the show.

AARON JENNINGS::  Yeah.  Carl (inaudible).

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

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

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

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  Absolutely.  Go ahead, Justin.

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

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

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

DAN GOOR:  Watching Carl do his grip work.

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

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

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

AARON JENNINGS::  No ADR for anybody.

ECHO KELLUM:  So, no ADR, yeah.

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  We hope that answered your question.

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

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

NICOLE BYER:  Um ‑‑

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

NICOLE BYER:  No.  You go.

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  Me too.

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

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

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

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

GRASIE MERCEDES:  Touche.

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

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

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

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

GRASIE MERCEDES:  We are all east‑siders.

AARON JENNINGS::  We are all east‑siders.

CARL TART:  I’m from the west side.

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

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

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

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

ECHO KELLUM:  No.  Go ahead, Phil.

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

AARON JENNINGS::  You walk to Paramount every day?

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

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Six miles.

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Whatever six miles is.

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

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

ECHO KELLUM:  It’s, like, nonstop.

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

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

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

DAN GOOR:  You guys just flip him off.

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  Oh, yeah.

QUESTION:  Congratulations again.  Thank you so much.

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

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

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

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

AARON JENNINGS:: (Inaudible.)

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

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  What are you doing, Dan?

DAN GOOR:  My internal thoughts are coming out.

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

(Laughter.)

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

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

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

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

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  To me or her?

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

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

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

ECHO KELLUM:  The cast?

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

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

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.

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

AARON JENNINGS::  Yeah, most of the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHIL AUGUSTA JACKSON:  Dan, what are you doing?

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

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

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

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

CARL TART:  I’m Norm.

(Laughter.)

DAN GOOR:  No, you aren’t.

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

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

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

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

DAN GOOR:   What was the second part?

QUESTION:  ‑‑ in real life?

NICOLE BYER:  What was ‑‑

ECHO KELLUM:  Can you say the second part again.

DAN GOOR:  What would you order in real life?

QUESTION:  What would you order in real life?

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

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

(Laughter.)

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

ECHO KELLUM:  It does, doesn’t it?

NICOLE BYER:  Yeah.

AARON JENNINGS::  That sounds good, colored water.

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

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

AARON JENNINGS::  Sparkling.

ECHO KELLUM:  ‑‑ sparkling red.

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

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

CARL TART:  It was disgusting.

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

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

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

ECHO KELLUM:  Uh‑huh.  Uh‑huh.

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

NICOLE BYER:  That’s classy.

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

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

CARL TART:  I drive my Vespa down the Boulevardier.

(Laughter.)

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

(Laughter.)

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

DAN GOOR:  Phil, what are you drinking?

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

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

NICOLE BYER:  Always has it.  Always drinking.

ECHO KELLUM:  Yeah.

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

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

Echo Kellum

Noah, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

 

 

Nicole Byer

Nicky, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Byer currently resides in Los Angeles.

Grasie Mercedes

Fay, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

Justin Cunningham

Wyatt, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

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

Aaron Jennings

Anthony, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

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

Dan Goor

Executive Producer, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil Augusta Jackson

Creator/Executive Producer, “Grand Crew”

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

cast of "Grand Crew" on NBC

Interview with the cast of “American Auto”

TV Interview!

the cast of "American Auto" on NBC

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

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

NBCUNIVERSAL

VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR

 NBC

 American Auto

 Jon Barinholtz, Talent, “Wesley”

Harriet Dyer, Talent, “Sadie”

Ana Gasteyer, Talent, “Katherine”

Humphrey Ker, Talent, “Elliot”

X Mayo, Talent, “Dori”

Michael B. Washington, Talent, “Cyrus”

Tye White, Talent, “Jack”

Justin Spitzer, Creator/Executive Producer

Virtual via Zoom

December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

(Clip shown.)

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

We are now ready for your questions.

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

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

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

So, go ahead, Mike.

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

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

QUESTION:  Okay.

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

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

QUESTION:  Well, thanks.

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

Jay, go for it.

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Thank you.

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

Go ahead, Valerie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION:  Very good.  Thank you.

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

Jamie, go ahead.

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

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

(Laughter.)

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

(Laughter.)

Sorry.  Can I cuss?

(Laughter.)

But I just did, so …

(Laughter.)

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

(Laughter.)

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

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

QUESTION:  And then, Justin, we know that you’ve worked with Jon in “Superstore.”  What was it about this role that made him right for “American Auto”?

JUSTIN SPITZER:  I mean, obviously, I would work with Jon on anything.  He’s, like, aside from being a delight to work with, just hilarious.  You know, there were so many times on “Superstore,” you know, if there was a scene he was in, and it wasn’t working, and I didn’t know how to get out of it, I would say to the editor, like, “Just check through Jon’s improv, like, if he has an ad‑lib, we could, like, go in, and then, that’ll get us out of it.”  So, I wasn’t writing the role specifically for him.  It, actually, probably felt different from him on the page.

And Jon, I think we were talking ‑‑ I think it was the episode I directed of “Superstore,” and you had just recently reread the script ‑‑ that was the week it got picked up ‑‑ and you said you liked it, and it was, like, “Oh, man, I would ‑‑ if you could come aboard.”  Then, I just felt bad about taking you away from “Superstore,” potentially, and had to have the big talk with the guys over there.  But, yeah, I love Jon, and I think he’s amazing in this role.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  That’s so nice of you to say.  Yeah, I remember.  I remember reading the script that week, and it was ‑‑ it was amazing.  And I think it was, like, maybe written for, like, a little bit older of a role, but, yeah, it was ‑‑ I would jump at the opportunity ‑‑ right back at Justin ‑‑ to work with him on anything.  He’s just such a great writer, and really ‑‑ really addresses the world honestly.  And most importantly, he gives really good, wrap gifts, so…

(Laughter.)

I’m in it for the gifts.  And the scripts are secondary, for me.

HARRIET DYER:  You guys all got a car, right?

ANA GASTEYER:  I’ve got a bike.  I don’t know how to drive.

X MAYO:  I’ve got a scooter; it’s got a little bell.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  A funny little thing, also about Jon ‑‑ and this was not intentional, but on “Superstore,” he played, like, the most down‑and‑out ‑‑ like, the warehouse guy who ‑‑ like, whose car didn’t have doors, and he was homeless for a while, and now, we bring him over to this show where he is the most privileged and wealthy of all.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah.  I mean, the difference ‑‑ like, someone asked me, like, “What’s the difference between Marcus and Wesley?”  And I think the answer is 58 million dollars.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Thank you all so much for your time.

ALL PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  We’re actually going to go to Steven Prusakowski next, and then, Suzanne, you will be on deck.

So, Steven, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hey, how are you doing?  The show looks great.  I can’t wait to watch.

My question is for Ana.  I have one for Ana, and one for all.

So, you were on “SNL,” and then, it seems like you’ve been working continuously since you left the series.

What do you credit your success to, and what about “American Auto” attracted you to the series?

ANA GASTEYER:  Gosh, I don’t know what to attribute my success to.  I mean, obviously, “Saturday Night Live” is an insane launching pad, as my mother would say.  Meaning, you know, the visibility is just nuts.  I mean, you get recognized pretty quickly just for being in that cast.  And then, just, honestly, hustling a lot of different angles.  I mean, I’ve worked on Broadway; I’ve worked on television; I’ve worked, you know, wherever I can work.  And I like working, so I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone, if you will.

“American Auto” ‑‑ you know, I’ve been waiting my entire career to be in my 50s.  I’ve been waiting for this part since I was 30.  So, you know ‑‑ and frankly, 10 years ago, this role wouldn’t have existed, I don’t think.  And Justin ‑‑ or I guess he said he wrote it 10 years ago, but, I mean, within that range.  I think just the opportunity to play a female CEO was really exciting to me because I like characters who are, sort of, lost in moral dilemma, and Katherine definitely is, as Justin said.  I think she definitely personifies the aspirations to do right by the company, but maybe not always ‑‑ there can be a human sacrifice in that.  And it’s just fun.  It’s a fun gray area, comedically.

My best friend ‑‑ I told Justin this before ‑‑ has characterized the, sort of, ethos of the show as Americans being bad at being good, which I think is, kind of, really fun to play, you know?  And, yeah, so, that’s ‑‑ I think that’s ‑‑ is that your question?

QUESTION:  That’s my question.  I have to say, I spoke to Kenan today, and now you, and as a big “SNL” fan, this is a dream come true.  So, thank you so much for your time.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  And I put in three different tapes for “SNL.”  So, if you want to include someone associated with “SNL” that you’ve talked to.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Now, I have that connection, too.  Thank you so much.

And one more question real quick.  Are any of you big car fans, or do you actually drive?

X MAYO:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Or it depends on, yeah, your type of auto reliance.

HUMPHREY KER:  L.A. leaves little choice but to drive.  There is no alternative.

TYE WHITE:  Well, I’m from Michigan.  So, yeah, I’ve been driving since I was 12.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  My grandfather was one of the first used car salesmen in Chicago, because used cars are, like, a newer thing.  And then, my great, great, great grandfather on my mom’s side was Studebakers.

X MAYO:  Wow.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  This is true:  There are four Studebaker brothers, and Jacob was the one I’m a descendant of, and he was the one who thought cars weren’t going to take off, and he was, like, “I’m going to stick with farming.”

(Laughter.)

And I have the legacy of Studebakers.

ANA GASTEYER:  It was the slower Studebaker; is that what you’re saying?  You’re a descendant of the slower Studebaker.  Got it.

(Laughter.)

I live in New York City, so I, pretty much, stopped it.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  All right.  Our next question ‑‑

TYE WHITE:  Cars aren’t going to work.  I don’t see it.

(Laughter.)

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue, and Bruce Miller on deck.

So, go ahead, Suzanne.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Good morning.  Jon, my question is for you.  Your character is so unlikable.

(Laughter.)

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED PANELIST:  In real life.  In real life.

QUESTION:  Will we get to see him change and grow a little more this season, or show us a nicer side?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but I think all the characters, as we go throughout the season, we see people exist together more and more, and it really ‑‑ yeah, I think there is growth and change in everyone, but in that really, you know, pinpointed way, where we’re always able to reset and still be the same characters that you, kind of, you know, fell in love with, whether it’s fell in love with because of who they are, or fell in love to hate them, I think we all ‑‑ we strut that line pretty well throughout the season.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  I was just going to say, I think he will become more likable.  I think, you know, as the episodes go on, you want to start people with an edge, you know, or at least I like to.  You know, I would never want to create characters that are all soft, all immediately too easily likeable.  There’s no place to go.  But, you know, I think we’ll see ‑‑ I can think of one or two, you know, moments of real vulnerability in Wesley, and when you see those moments, they give you little windows, and you empathize with them, and with all the characters, as we learn about them, we’ll grow to like all of them.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah, I just want to change my answer to what Justin just said.

(Laughter.)

So, put his voice to my mouth.

QUESTION:  Sure, I can do that.  I enjoyed the first two episodes a lot.  Thank you.

PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question comes from Bruce Miller, and Rick Hong will be on deck.

So, Bruce, go for it.

QUESTION:  This is for Jon, too.  Jon, when you’re on a big show like “Superstore,” what do you do when you’re not on camera?  Are you trying to be seen so that you can get a bigger role, or what is that process like?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Wait.  What do you ‑‑ do you mean, like ‑‑ in what way do you mean?  Do you mean, like, literally, like, off the camera, but still in the scene, or is it, like, I’m just, like, hanging out in my trailer?

QUESTION:  Because on “Superstore,” you guys were around a lot; you could see you in the background and doing things.  And would you just try to, like, “I’ll be a little more active here, so, then, they’ll pick me to be in more scenes”?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  I would show up on days when I wasn’t even scheduled to come in, and I would come in in uniform.  No.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  You’re background for the first season, right?

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Yeah.  I just yell things.  I steal a mic and put it on me.  No, I think I know what you mean.  It’s in these big, like, ensemble shows with workplaces, I think the best thing you could do is just, kind of, exist there.  And, like “Superstore,” I think this is a world that when we were all there, we felt very much of this world.  We were in this office; we were people who worked there.  And just a testament to how good, really, everyone on the screen is, and our BG&R show is so great, and it allows a sense of ‑‑ the looseness allows a sense of play, and us to, you know, kind of, take things wherever we think they may go, as long as it’s in a place of ‑‑ coming from a place of honesty.  So, I guess, that just the long way of saying that as long as we’re playing it real, there’s no, like, fudging your way in to, like, get more lines, or anything like that, but I think there’s always an opportunity to toss a little extra something in, and, again, it’s because, like X said, that’s how good the writing is here, that it’s such a strong foundation of us to, kind of, jump off and play in.  Whether you have one line in the scene, or thirty lines in the scene, it really ‑‑ it gives that safety net.

ANA GASTEYER:  And for sure ‑‑ I’m going to jump in.  It’s not my question, but just to say that, especially NBC has developed these really ‑‑ this ethos of a workplace comedy as the sense of the ensemble and the workplace being the star, but for me, that was part of the attraction.  Like, not having to carry something so much all by myself.  I love working with other people.  So many of us come from improvisation and, you know, ensemble backgrounds, that it’s critical that you work as a team.  That’s actually what ends up being the most fun.

And I remember ‑‑ actually, not being gross and, like, mention my last credit, but I did this show called “People of Earth,” and there were these group therapy sessions.  And every year, like, the showrunner would be, like, “We’re going to try to not have as many group therapy sessions.  I know they’re long days,” and I was, like, “But that’s the best part of show.”  Like, the best part of the show is when you’re hanging with your colleagues and all improvising together.  To me, that’s, you know ‑‑ sorry.  Did I kill the fun?

X MAYO:  No.

TYE WHITE:  Never.

ANA GASTEYER:  That’s what my theater games taught me.

HARRIET DYER:  Never, Ana.

JON BARINHOLTZ:  No, but it’s true.  When you have, like ‑‑ like, on “Superstore,” I wasn’t a regular, but you had this cast of regulars that were amazing, and would allow for play to happen.  I think like ‑‑ I feel we have the same thing on our show, where we had people come in, and it would just ‑‑ they may have, like, one or two lines in the scene, but there was always the opportunity to play, and we got so much more out of ourselves, and so much more out of these people who would come in and be these phenomenal guests on our show.  So, there’s more of that that goes along with that, you know?

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Our next question is from Rick Hong, and then, our final question will be from Francine Brokaw.

So, Rick, go for it.

QUESTION:  Hello, everybody.  Well, Jon, since you brought up Chicago, I just want to say, “Whazzup?”

(Laughter.)

JON BARINHOLTZ:  Whazzup?

QUESTION:  Okay.  So, actually, for everybody.  What was it like seeing the Ponderosa from script in your mind, to going to set and seeing the thing actually built?  What is it made of?

HUMPRHEY KER:  Many different cars.

TYE WHITE:  Yeah, it was, like, a smorgasbord of different car pieces put together.  And I remember the first time I saw it, I just busted out laughing because you just have to ‑‑ when you see it, there’s no choice but to laugh.  Like, how did they assemble this vehicle?  Like, literally.  Not just in terms of the show, but in real life, what made them grab these different pieces to put this car together?  So, I just laughed, like, uncontrollably.  And the color.  The color, too.  Like, it’s such a bright red that, like, it’s usually reserved for, like, Ferraris, and things like that.  It was, like, it’s so obnoxious to put that red on that car.  Yeah, it’s so good.  It’s red.

JUSTIN SPITZER:  It was a very difficult needle to thread, that one.  I mean, on the page you’re, like, “Oh, they put together something,” and then, there’s a reveal, and it looks, like, crazy.  And then, you do it, and then, it’s got to be crazy enough to be a bad idea, and for the comedy to play, but, like, these are smart, sensible, competent people who’ve worked at a car company, or who know cars.  So, it’s true crazy, you know?  Currently, there’s acknowledgement that it’s bad, but, like, at a certain level, you’d be, like, this is insane.

(Laughter.)

So, it was hard to find that level of grounded, but still funny.  And, yeah, the set is amazing.  The guys were constructing it, and we’d go down and try to give notes.  And I know nothing about cars, so I’d be, like, “Yeah, something like that.”  And I’d look on my phone for, like, pictures, and ‑‑ I don’t know.  But, yeah, it turned out good.

QUESTION:  Congrats to you all.  Thank you so much.

PANELISTS:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  And our final question comes from Francine Brokaw.  Francine, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Can you hear me?

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Okay.  This has happened twice.  You’ve called on Francine, but you’ve unmuted me, and I’m Luaine Lee.  So, I’m going to go ahead and ask my question.

So, Ana, is it true you don’t know how to drive?

ANA GASTEYER:  My character doesn’t know how to drive.  I do drive, but I live in New York City, so I don’t do it a lot, and my family doesn’t like it when I do it.  Let me just say that.  And I didn’t learn to ‑‑ actually, this is even worse.  I learned to ride a bike in ‑‑ I grew up, like, in the city‑city, in Washington D.C., and I wasn’t allowed to cross the street on my bike.  So, I learned to ride a bike.  And then, I’m the one example that the adage is not true.  I forgot.  I forgot how to ride a bike.  And my husband didn’t believe me, and I got on one, and I immediately ran into a mailbox and hurt myself badly.  And then, later, I took bike‑riding classes.  So, I’m not very comfortable with things on wheels, is what I’m trying to say.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Well, my question is, how did you learn to drive?  Who taught you, and what was that like?

ANA GASTEYER:  In real life?

QUESTION:  Yes.

ANA GASTEYER:  My mother taught me.  I grew up on Capitol Hill in D.C., and she taught me in rush‑hour traffic, with a clutch car, going uphill.  So, that might be why I don’t like to drive.  Let me say, she’s not great under stress.

QUESTION:  I have the same question for Michael.  How did you learn to drive, Michael?  What was it like?

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  I learned to drive ‑‑ my parents were reared in Louisiana in backwoods dirt roads.  So, when I was 10 ‑‑ this is, like, right after my 10th birthday.  We went down to my grandparents’ house, and my dad put me on his lap and just said, “Start steering,” and then, he slid out from under me ‑‑ because I was, kind of, tall, so my foot hit the pedal, and I just started ‑‑ and he got terrified.  I mean, because it’s dirt roads, but there still are trees and things.  Because “Dukes of Hazard” was my favorite TV show.

(Laughter.)

And I asked him, like, “Can I just please get in the car through the window, like the Duke boys?”  And he’s, like, “No.  No, you’ll ruin the paint.”  So, I learned to drive after, you know, my 10th birthday.

HUMPRHEY KER:  Is that why you still have a Confederate flag in your trailer?

(Laughter.)

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  Oh, that’s what we call British humor.

ANA GASTEYER:  That’s British humor.

MICHAEL B. WASHINGTON:  And I deal with that 13 hours a day.

ANA GASTEYER:  It means something different over there.  It means something different.

HUMPRHEY KER:  It’s very different.  It’s a very different ‑‑

ANA GASTEYER:  It’s a popular pub sign.  That’s it, right?

(Laughter.)

HUMPRHEY KER:  I saw Michael’s trailer door open, and there it was.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  Thank you.  If Francine wants to ask a question ‑‑ I feel bad.

ANA GASTEYER:  Francine, Francine, Francine.

HARRIET DYER:  Francine.

MATTHEW LIFSON:  We’ll have to get to the bottom of that on our end.  But thank you to our panelists.  That concludes our session for “American Auto.”  We’ll take a short break, and get back up at 11:30 with SYFY’s “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Here is the audio version of it.

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

MORE INFO:

American Auto

"American Auto" castPreviews: Monday, Dec. 13 on NBC (10-10:30 and 10:30-11 p.m. ET); Moves to Tuesdays (8-8:30 p.m. ET) beginning Jan. 4

From the creator of “Superstore” comes a new workplace comedy that takes the wheels off the automobile industry. Set in Detroit, the corporate executives of Payne Motors are at a crossroads: adapt to the changing times or be sent to the junkyard. Shaking things up is the new CEO, whose leadership, experience and savvy is only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars. Luckily, her team has some of the best minds in the business – when they aren’t fighting or trying to outwit each other. From the corporate office to the factory floor, the crew of Payne Motors is driving home the laughs.

The cast includes Ana Gasteyer, Harriet Dyer, Jon Barinholtz, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White and X Mayo.

Justin Spitzer (“Superstore”) will write and executive produce. Jeff Blitz will direct and executive produce the pilot episode. Aaron Kaplan and Dana Honor will executive produce.

“American Auto” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Spitzer Holding Company, Kapital Entertainment.

Ana Gasteyer

Katherine, “American Auto

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Ana Gasteyer as Katherine Hastings -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Ana Gasteyer plays Katherine on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

During her six years on “Saturday Night Live,” Gasteyer created several iconic characters, including middle school music teacher Bobbie Moughan-Culp, NPR radio host Margaret Jo, Lilith Fair poetess Cinder Calhoun, as well as spot-on impressions of Martha Stewart, Celine Dion and Hillary Clinton.

This holiday season Comedy Central will premiere “A Clüsterfünke Christmas,” which Gasteyer and fellow “SNL” alum Rachel Dratch wrote, executive produced and star. The special is a parody of the corny and ubiquitous traditional holiday TV movie. Previous TV credits include “The Goldbergs,” “Lady Dynamite, “People of Earth,” “Suburgatory and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

On stage, Gasteyer has starred on Broadway in “Wicked” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Royal Family” and “Three Penny Opera.” Other stage credits include “Funny Girl” and “Passion” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which earned her a Jefferson Award nomination. At the Hollywood Bowl, she played Miss Hannigan in the musical “Annie.”

Gasteyer is also a highly accomplished singer and songwriter. This winter she’ll embark on a Christmas tour in support of “Sugar and Booze,” her recent album of seasonal favorites and holiday originals.

Gasteyer attended Northwestern University and honed her comedy skills at the Groundlings in Los Angeles. She resides on the East Coast with her husband, children and rescue pup, Gloria.

Harriet Dyer

Sadie, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Harriet Dyer as Sadie -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Harriet Dyer stars as Sadie on the new NBC comedy ”American Auto.”

Dyer most recently starred in the NBC drama series “The Inbetween,” appeared in the sec-ond season of the CBS’ All Access comedy “No Activity” and co-starred in the feature film “The Invisible Man,” opposite Elizabeth Moss.

A native of Australia, Dyer’s other television credits include local series “The Other Guy,” “No Activity,” “The Letdown,” “Kiki & Kitty,” “Black Comedy,” “Rake,” “Janet King” and “Love Child.” She’s earned her a Logie Award nomination for Most Outstanding Supporting Actress and two 2015 Logie Award nominations as well as the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Out-standing Newcomer and the Most Popular New Talent Award. Dyer has also received an AACTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama.

Dyer’s film credits include “Killing Ground,” which premiered at the 2016 Melbourne Interna-tional Film Festival and screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; “Down Under,” which premiered at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival; and “Ruben Guthrie,” which opened the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.

Harriet has also appeared on stage in “A Flea in Her Ear,” “Hay Fever,” “Travelling North,” “Machinal” and “Pygmalion” for the Sydney Theatre Company; “Brisbane” for the Queens-land Theatre Company; “Peter Pan” for Belvoir; “Time Stands Still” for the Darlinghurst Thea-tre; “Suddenly Last Summer” for the National Art School; and “The School for Wives” for the Bell Shakespeare Company. In 2013, she made her Broadway debut in “Peter Pan” at New York’s New Victory Theatre.

Dyer received the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Leading Role in a Main-stage Production for her performance in “Machinal” with the Sydney Theatre Company, and was nominated for the same award for her role in “The School for Wives” for the Bell Shake-speare Company.

She graduated from the Actors Centre Australia in 2011.

Michael Benjamin Washington

Cyrus, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Michael Benjamin Washington as Cyrus -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Michael Benjamin Washington stars as Cyrus on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

Washington most recently reprised his role of Bernard from the Tony Award-winning revival of “The Boys in the Band” in Netflix’s feature adaptation. He can previously be seen opposite Cynthia Nixon in Ryan Murphy’s “Ratched” and has had roles in “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

On stage, Washington wowed audiences and critics in 2019 with a tour-de-force performance playing 25 different characters in the revival of Anna Deavere Smith’s landmark 1992 one-person show, “Fires in the Mirror.” He also wrote and starred in “Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin,” which premiered regionally at La Jolla Playhouse and KC Rep in 2015.

X  Mayo

Dori, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: X Mayo as Dori -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
X Mayo stars as Dori on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

She is an Emmy Award-nominated actor, writer, producer and comedian known for her work on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Her other credits include supporting roles in Amazon’s “Yearly Departed” and the dramatic feature “The Farewell.”

Mayo is also the creator and host of “Who Made the Potato Salad?,” a sketch comedy show/party starring BIPOC creatives and talent.

 

 

Jon Barinholtz

Wesley, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Jon Barinholtz as Wesley -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Jon Barinholtz plays Wesley on the new NBC comedy “American Auto.”

Barinholtz is an actor and improvisor born and raised in Chicago, and a proud alum of the Second City Conservatory, iO, the Annoyance Theater and Steppenwolf Theater.

He is the creator, writer and voice on Netflix’s animated series “Chicago Party Aunt.” Previously, he was in the cast of NBC’s “Superstore.” Other credits include “Veep,” “With Bob and David,” “The Mindy Project,” “Key and Peele,” “New Girl,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Happy Endings” and the indie feature “The Oath,” co-starring Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Meredith Hagner and Ike Barinholtz.

Tye White

Jack, “American Auto”

AMERICAN AUTO -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Tye White as Jack -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Tye White stars as Jack in the new NBC upcoming comedy “American Auto.”

White is best known for his role as Kevin Satterlee on OWN’s hit series “Greeneleaf.” Other TV credits include “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Chicago Fire” and “American Crime Story.”

He hails from Detroit and resides in Los Angeles.

 

 

Justin Spitzer

Executive Producer, “American Auto”

Justin Spitzer is the creator and executive producer of the NBC comedy series “American Auto.” Prior to that, he created and executive produced “Superstore,” which ran on NBC for six seasons, wrapping in 2021.

His other credits include seven seasons writing for and producing the NBC comedy “The Office,” as well as stints on “Scrubs,” “Committed,” “Courting Alex” and “Mulaney.”

He resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Jenna Bans, and daughters Lucy and Phoebe.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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scene from "American Auto" on NBC

Interview with the cast of “Kenan” on NBC

TV Interview!

The cast of "Kenan" on NBC

Interview with the  cast of “Kenan” on NBC by Suzanne 12/9/22

This was a fun virtual press tour with NBC and Syfy shows. I really liked chatting with these actors. This is a pretty funny show. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

Mine are the first two questions, and the rest are from other journalists on the panel.

NBCUNIVERSAL

VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR

NBC

 Kenan

 Don Johnson, Talent, “Rick Noble”

Dani Lane, Talent, “Aubrey Williams”

Dannah Lane, Talent, “Birdie Williams”

Kimrie Lewis, Talent, “Mika Caldwell”

Taylor Louderman, Talent, “Tami Greenlake”

Kenan Thompson, Talent, “Kenan Williams”

Chris Redd, Talent, “Gary Williams”

David Caspe, Executive Producer

Lisa Muse Bryant, Executive Producer

Kenny Smith, Executive Producer

 Virtual via Zoom December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NBC Universal’s scripted press day. I’m Matt Lifson with the corporate communications team, and I’ll be your virtual mic runner for the day. After my quick housekeeping spiel here, I will just be the voice behind the curtain. But I wanted to first put a face to that voice for those of you that don’t already know me.  And with that, we’ll get things rolling in just a few minutes with NBC’s “Kenan.” So hang tight.

LESLIE SCHWARTZ: Hi. I’m Leslie Schwartz, here to introduce our first panel of the day “Kenan.” “Kenan” follows the life of busy, single dad Kenan Williams, who is juggling a high profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up with Kenan.” He’s also raising two adorable preteen daughters, Aubrey and Birdie. As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live in father in law Rick, his brother Gary, and his colorful coworkers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life. A special holiday episode of “Kenan” will air Wednesday, December 15, at 8:30 on NBC before the second season begins Monday, January 3rd, with back to back episodes at 8 o’clock. Here’s a clip from the Season 2 premiere. (Clip shown.) In the top row are Don Johnson, Chris Redd, and Dani Lane and Dannah Lane. In the second row are Kimrie Lewis, Kenan Thompson, and Taylor Louderman. In the bottom row are executive producers David Caspe, Kenny Smith, and Lisa Muse Bryant. We are now ready for your questions.

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

SUZANNE: Good morning, everyone. My question’s for Don. You’ve had such a great, long career. What’s changed the most about TV since you started back in the 1970s?

DON JOHNSON: I’m going to go with the money. No. I think it’s just gotten smarter and better and more inclusive and diverse and spicy, you know? I’m into television. I think television is the– I think it’s the greatest thing we have in America.

SUZANNE: Kenan and Chris, you guys are both so busy with this show and “SNL” and other projects you’ve got going on. What do you do to keep it straight and have a real life on top of all that?

KENAN THOMPSON: A lot of sleeping sitting up in chairs, you know? Catch naps when you can find it. But I don’t know. You take it day by day, I think. You know, the sun comes up. We get up and do stuff. And the sun goes down, try to get some rest, basically. What happens in between, hopefully there’s a lot of love surrounded in it and, you know, taking care of our individual pursuit in our lives. For me, it’s my home life and family and my wife and stuff like that, but for everybody, it’s a different version of that. So, it takes a lot of dedication to be an actor, and it’s a long road to get up to a point where you can audition for a network sitcom even. And the amount of dedication it takes, I think our family members know that and understand that and help us with that sacrifice of our time and just help us offset that with open arms whenever we do come around. So that’s the beauty of not worrying about being busy necessarily, because when I do have a moment, I go get best moments of my life. So…

CHRIS REDD: (Unintelligible.) I’m having a whole lot of fun (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) I mean, I just have a fire in me and I box every day. So, I fight a grown man. That keeps me humble. Humble is like a punch to the gut real quick.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I never, never heard you guys complain ever, which is so admirable.

KENAN THOMPSON: You hear that? We don’t never complain. You hear that?

CHRIS REDD: Never.

KENAN THOMPSON: I’m tired.

CHRIS REDD: But I will roast you, though. I will roast you, but I won’t complain.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us today. I’m just wondering if you could maybe tease a bit about what you’re most excited for fans to see this season.

KENAN THOMPSON: Any one of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Kenan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Kenan, yeah. (Panelists laughing.)

KENAN THOMPSON: I would say I’m most excited for fans to see the comedy. I mean, we definitely get the chance to explore our characters now that we’re done explaining the show. So, it’s just all about finding those funny moments like we just saw on the dance floor, you know? So, I’m very excited about all of the comedy really coming forward and all of our beautifully talented cast being able to perform that for you.

CHRIS REDD: And I’m excited for everything Kenan just said and just how we dive into relationships more this season and how that just everybody’s personality and their character is just defined a lot more in this season and it’s just really nice to see.

DAVID CASPE: I’m excited for the money because we don’t get paid until each of our episodes airs. So, once it airs, the check comes. So, it’s like that’s sort of, this season, my thing, you know.

KENAN THOMPSON: That’s David Caspe, everybody. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

CHRIS REDD: You think he’s in a house, but he is in a closet.

DAVID CASPE: Yeah. This is tiny. I’m going through a pretty tough divorce right now, so this is all I got, was this corner. I just got this corner. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DAVID CASPE: We’re very happy. I’m just kidding.

KIMRIE LEWIS: But, yes, the money also.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DAVID CASPE: Yeah, sure.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Our next question is from Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin is on deck.

CHRIS REDD: Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin? Oh, that’s crazy. It’s the same person.

QUESTION: We’re starting a musical group after this.

KENAN THOMPSON: Oh, great.

QUESTION: With many accolades that you have right now, “Kenan Plays Well with Others” is one of the ones that stands out in the top. How do you feel about this cast of people? Is this one of the funnest shows that you’ve worked on?

KENAN THOMPSON: Most definitely. I mean, I think we have done an amazing job bringing amazingly talented people together, and it’s just a reflection of how wonderful they are because they gelled almost overnight. And then we started in the middle of pandemic building a show together, which was, I guess, maybe a blessing and a curse because we were to ourselves, in our own little bubble, which gave us the chance to really get to know each other and

LADY IN BACKGROUND: Go, go, go, go, go.

KENAN THOMPSON: get to know (inaudible) works. And we’re just figuring it all out. You know what I’m saying? So, it that threw me off a little bit. But everything will be fine. But yeah, no. This is an amazing cast. Like, as you can see, we have an incredible time whenever we get together. All we do is laugh. And people have, you know, fun excursions in the background.

CHRIS REDD: “Go, go, go, go, go.” (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

DANNAH LANE: Our dog is in the back, screaming.

KENAN THOMPSON: Get your mom. Get the dogs.

QUESTION: Thank you, guys. And don’t forget to buy mine and Jay’s mix tape after this, please.

CHRIS REDD: Actually, I got you would be, B.

QUESTION: Hi. Not the same person, by the way. Just want to clarify that. Hi, everybody. Don, my question is for you. Don, when we talk about your “Nash Bridges” movie recently, you said that if that led to more “Nash Bridges” installments, be it series or movies, you’d be able to do both jobs by virtue, probably, of what the schedules would be. Now that the “Nash Bridges” movie has aired, what kind of future is there there? Have you had those conversations yet?

DON JOHNSON: No. I just came out of a coma 12 hours ago, so I haven’t talking to anybody about anything. You know, I’m just kind of cruising along here, kind of seeing how everything plays out and stuff. I’m going to let the Phi Beta Kappas figure out how to work a schedule, if there’s going to be one between the two shows. But I have to tell you, it’s a pretty for me, doing “Kenan” is it’s the part of a lifetime for me and I love working with this cast. And Kenan and I are brothers. That’s just the way it is. And I love working with Kenny and Kimrie and the girls and Chris and, I mean, just everybody. This is a very, very special group of people and cast. And if the other thing works out, then we can do them both. That would be great. But I’m loving this right here.

QUESTION: Thanks.

QUESTION: This is for Taylor. Coming from theater where you were working really intensely, what is it like being on a sitcom? Is it just a breeze? And what surprised you about that whole world?

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: Yeah. It’s so incredibly different. I think the main adjustment that I found was in theater, the audience tells me what’s funny or not very quickly. And in our on set, I don’t know. I rely on my cast mates to tell me, or our director, whatever. And I had to really learn to trust myself. I think everyone probably remembers me feeling very insecure when we started. But they lifted me up and made me feel comfortable really quickly, so

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: That was a beast, yo.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I was about to say, if there was any insecurity, I couldn’t tell.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah. It escaped me too.

KIMRIE LEWIS: And coming from theater, like, her work ethic, when you’re in that theater, like, a grind, you know, eight shows a week, there’s nothing Taylor’s never tired.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. And it’s not just theater. It’s “Broadway,” you know.

DAVID CASPE: Yeah.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah.

KENAN THOMPSON: At this level.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I certainly won’t complain about the schedule.

KENNY SMITH: And real quick, I just want people to know we took advantage of Taylor’s singing this year in two episodes. And my biggest fear is people won’t believe that it’s actually her singing — so amazing. The two episodes sound great.

KENAN THOMPSON: Ladies and gentlemen, Adelec Dazeem. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: All right. Hi. How’s everyone doing? Kenan, this question’s for you. How do you do it all, and how do you do it all so well? You portray all these numerous characters, different characters every weekend “SNL,” each with their own flavor, and then you come in here with a series and show a whole different side of yourself. So where did this superpower originate, and how do I get it?

KENAN THOMPSON: Thank you. I mean, it’s in the blood, so I’ll give you a couple drops and you’ll water (inaudible). No. I mean, I really appreciate. That’s beyond complimentary. We just go out there and focus and try to stay professional and work hard, but I’m also surrounded by incredible professionals and brilliant minds. Like, everyone on this panel, I cherish their opinions and points of views. And they actually have a vantage point that I don’t have, which is being able to watch what we’re doing, you know. Like, I can only see out and they can see the whole thing. So, it’s advantageous for me to be open to any notes from anybody, because that way, like, yes, I have my instincts, but the person that’s actually watching probably can give me some tips on what I can’t see. So, you know, I always definitely give it up to, you know, the people I work with and, you know, this great community of artists, whether it be writers or showrunners or actors or producers or our crew. Like, I just keep my ears open and listen. That’s one of the main jobs of an actor, is to listen, basically. So, yeah, I just try to lean on my own personal, like, what I think is funny and exciting to me, but as well as “is this rubbing people the wrong way” type.

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: And we’re always happy to let him know.

KENAN THOMPSON: They not scared to tell me.

QUESTION: Let me know where I can pick up that blood, please.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think I’ll be at Del Frisco’s later if you’re in the

QUESTION: All right. I’ll be there. It’s a date. Thank you.

KENAN THOMPSON: Pleasure. (Silence.) Mm hmm. I think Michael Jordan is the GOAT.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Hmm, well. (Unintelligible) all day, but then there’s Kobe.

KENAN THOMPSON: Right. There is Kobe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Kobe, Kobe.

QUESTION: I love the connection between Kenan and Mika. Talk about where things stand between them this season and where they might go.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. So, I think last season kind of left off on a cliff hanger, had a lot of folks on pins and needles what’s going to happen. And I think this season, you know, they continue to deepen their friendship. But I think that fans will be excited to see both of them kind of dipping into the dating world. You know, especially for Mika, we haven’t really seen that. She has that work life balance that she’s always trying to juggle. So, it was a lot of fun seeing both of them kind of struggle in their own ways with relationships this season. So, I’m looking forward to folks seeing that.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’m on the strongness of our friendship. You know what I mean? That’s always been a well established thing from the first episodes, is she’s my rock and reflected in real life too. Like, throughout our entire shooting process, like, she’s been right by my side, right in step with comedy and jokes and just laughing through the day. Like, we have so much fun when we’re working, it doesn’t seem like work and it makes 12, 14 hours fly by like it’s nothing. So that, I think, is coming onto the on camera part of it as well like, how close we are and how close we’ve gotten in a very short amount of time. And our characters, yeah, are just exploring, you know, was it messy for us to get involved, whatever, after my wife passed, or are we better off friends? Or am I just being kind of just, like, timid or am I afraid or whatever? Or am I still hurt? It was a lot to explore. Now, we can just be like I think we can figure out as grown adults whether we want to get busy or not, but let’s just go about our lives, basically. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. It can get complicated. Shout out to my exes, who I’ve worked with (inaudible). Y’all know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Thank you. Next. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)

QUESTION: OK. Yeah. For Kenan, you were talking a little bit about shooting in a COVID bubble like that. What’s it like on the flip side? Because this was a time when a lot of people don’t like to do much flying, and yet you’re constantly getting on a plane, flying out to “SNL,” flying back and so forth. Do you get nervous by that? What’s it like? Does it make your life complicated or what?

KENAN THOMPSON: I mean, it’s tiresome because you’re masking the whole time and trying to stay safe and it’s always on your mind and stuff like that. But we’re in a heavy testing cycle, so that’s one good thing about going from job to job to job, is that I know my status all the time and that makes me feel a lot more at ease as far as everything is concerned. Plus, I’m balling,so it ain’t like I’m flying like everybody else. But at the same time

DAVID CASPE: Very relatable. Very relatable.

KENAN THOMPSON: You can all relate to that.

DAVID CASPE: You haven’t changed, man. You have not changed.

KENAN THOMPSON: Never change. You know what I’m saying? Still the same old humble Kenan, you know. But, yeah, I mean for safety reasons, I’ve only taken one or two commercials, basically. But we don’t need to talk about that. But as far as, since we’re talking about trying to stay safe, that’s why I’ve been burning through my savings like that so I can go from job to job in a safe manner. You know what I’m saying? But the work has to get done. Like, we’ve been building towards something, you know, outside of “SNL,” like, personally for years and years. Like, this is the third time around, the development cycle. And in this cycle, it’s been a couple of years before we got the first season on the air, even. So, it’s been a long road. And then when we did get the green light to shoot, it was like we were the first show to ever even get that consideration to come back and actually go to work. So, we all had this kind of “we got to make it happen” kind of attitude, you know. And that’s still going because we are still hunkered down and we do have protocols. And it was the same attitude going into Season 2, and we knocked it out of the park and it’s in the bag and it’s coming out. So

QUESTION: OK. Cool. Thanks.

KENAN THOMPSON: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: I had to come out the booth real quick. (Panelists laughing.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Yeah.

QUESTION: This question is for David. They always say a good plan, when it comes together, is amazing. So, was this everything that you expected when you wrote it up and more with the cast, the cast that you have together right now?

DAVID CASPE: I mean, beyond, you know? I will say I learned very early on in my career that if you just get truly funny people, it makes your job so much easier because they add like, everything you think you’re putting on a script that’s funny, they make funnier. And then a lot of, like, straight lines, it’s just, like, a word or something that you didn’t even realize was a joke. Like, you know, Kenan or Kimrie or Taylor or Chris or Don or whoever, the girls say it in such a funny way that there’s, like, added laughs where you thought was just like a serious line. So, yeah, beyond. The cast is so good that they just they make everything so much better. And then, also, the great Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and all our great writers, you know, just wrote such great stuff. So, I didn’t do that much, Bobby. I sort of sat back. If you get a bunch of funny, smart people together and let them do their thing, it’s quite easy. So that

KENAN THOMPSON: You haven’t changed, David. You haven’t changed.

DAVID CASPE: Thank you. Thank you. Now, my personal life has changed, as I’ve told you. I’m going through a pretty tough time.

KENAN THOMPSON: Easy, easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: He flies commercial. He flies commercial.

DAVID CASPE: Yes. Oh, my God. I’m driving everywhere now. Anyway. Actually, she got the car. But I had a lot of fun. No. I love everybody up here. And it was just a blast, and they’re so good. Anything else?

QUESTION: Kenny, what do you feel about it?

KENNY SMITH: What I do feel about the show? I feel like it’s amazing to get opportunity to come in in Season 2 with Lisa and to build on what they did in Season 1. It was a great opportunity in a long career to be a part of this and to work with Don and Kenan and Chris and meet Taylor and Kimrie. You don’t expect those things sometimes. Like, hey, this is you know, these guys are history. These guys are special. And I was honored to be a part of it.

QUESTION: There you go. Thank you, guys. And, Kenan, that was ultimate flex and some fresh off the Spirit Airlines trip from Miami, sitting up for four hours.

KENAN THOMPSON: I’ve been there, done that. I was doing that when it was called what was it? Value Jet. Remember Value Jet?

QUESTION: Value Jet. Oh, my God. Thank you, guys.

CHRIS REDD: Man, you sound like you need a massage, my guy.

QUESTION: You felt the pain.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Want to say real quick, our cast, we get a ton of credit, as we should. But I will also say that it starts on the page. Like, we wouldn’t be able to have these funny moments, these funny lines without such an incredible team of writers and executive producers. And I think it really shows this season, and I can’t wait for everybody to see it. But, you know, these guys don’t get enough credit. So, Lisa and Kenny and David even David.

DAVID CASPE: Hey.

KIMRIE LEWIS: and our entire writing team, like, they killing. We can’t wait for y’all to see it.

DON JOHNSON: I will second that notion. And I will also tell you that our Christmas episode, which, I think, is the first one up, it airs next Monday night, I believe. Or, no, next Wednesday night, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Yeah.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah. That is not to be missed. That is a wonderful episode. And I don’t usually single out anything or anybody, but the writers, the directors, all the cast, everybody did such a great job. I’m excited. This will be about my fourth or fifth time seeing it. I’m excited to see it again. Sample that.

KENAN THOMPSON: Wow.

DON JOHNSON: See how nice these people are? They are so nice.

QUESTION: OK. Kenan, I’d like you to talk more about your work ethic. I like that you said that you don’t worry about being busy. You’ve built your long career since you were Dani and Dannah’s age. So, what gave you the work ethic at that young age? I actually was on the set of both “All That” and “Kenan & Kel” several times and saw that even as a kid, you took the business seriously. You had fun, but it was a job and you did it well. Where did you get that work ethic at such a young age?

KENAN THOMPSON: Well, I’ll tell you my story right after the girls tell theirs, because I think they’re the closest to the beginnings of that and it might be like a fresh perspective. You know, it might be interesting to hear what’s driving them. Because they’re beasts. You know, if you follow them on Instagram, you’ll see them taking photo shoots and doing posts and choreographing and all of that. So, I kind of want to ask them what has been motivating y’all so far? Because they work just as hard as we do.

DANNAH LANE: Actually, it’s all you guys. Seeing how y’all do and being around you really inspires us to keep going and get to where you guys are.

DANNAH LANE: It’s like this giant cast, amazing actors and mentors are always around us, showing us how to act, what emotions to bring out. So, it’s kind of you know.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, I can totally relate. I can totally relate to that, because I had the same wonderment in my eyes when I first got to a real set with, you know, a person that I recognized. I think it was Emilio Estevez. You know what I’m saying? And I was like, yo, I know this guy from “Young Guns,” from, you know what was his cool one when they were in detention? What was that one?

KENNY SMITH: “Breakfast Club.”

KENAN THOMPSON: And it was just like, oh, wow. I’m standing next to a famous person and he’s, like, “looking back at my eyes” type thing. And that’s got to be such an amazing experience to just feel like, oh, snap. Now I get a chance to actually be in the mix of something that I’ve wanted to do. So, the drive, once I learned how hard the job was was just all about setting personal goals for what I wanted in my career basically and who I looked up to in trying to get to those levels basically. So, I can totally relate to what the girls are saying.

QUESTION: So, what are your personal goals now?

KENAN THOMPSON: God of the universe. What else?

DAVID CASPE: Sorry. To be God of the universe, you said?

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I want to start that job.

DAVID CASPE: Oh. OK.

DON JOHNSON: Well, he’s going to audit. He’s been auditing for over a year, I mean.

KENAN THOMPSON: I have. So, I’ve

DAVID CASPE: But he hasn’t had a very good year. In your work, is this (unintelligible)?

KENAN THOMPSON: Well (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) This is a democratic universe. So, I’ll run for God of the universe.

DAVID CASPE: OK.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Get your résumé together.

KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’ll get elected and serve my I think it’s an eight year term. Yeah, an eight year term. No. I just, you know, born to work the business. Trying to do the production company thing or, you know, put other people to work and stuff like that and just, you know, start owning our properties and all of that good talk. So as far as the acting trajectory, it’s just to stay in front of the cameras as long as, you know I don’t know, you know, whoever has done it their entire lives. To me, it’s always been a lifelong dedication. So hopefully we’ll have, you know, the “Kenan” reunion in 30 years and do another, like, five seasons or something. That would be so fun.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Then they can do a remake and Kevin Hart can play you.

KENAN THOMPSON: Exactly. And Todd Bridges can play Chris. That will be fun. That will make sense.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Due to time, we have time for final question and it comes from Francine Brokaw.

KENAN THOMPSON: Is she related to Tom?

DAVID CASPE: Yeah. Any relation?

KENAN THOMPSON: (Buzzer sound.)

DAVID CASPE: I think you’re muted.

KENAN THOMPSON: Oh, you can see her?

DAVID CASPE: No, I’m just guessing because I’m hearing nothing.

CHRIS REDD: Ah, that’s a solid guess. It was very confident.

DAVID CASPE: Thank you.

KENAN THOMPSON: Francine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Francine, can you hear us?

DON JOHNSON: Francine, we’re sorry if we, you know, paired you up with any other Brokaws.

KENAN THOMPSON: We didn’t mean it.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah.

DAVID CASPE: We think she stormed out of the Zoom when we asked if she was related to Tom Brokaw. (Laughter.)

KENAN THOMPSON: Just put it in the chat and we’ll read it and we’ll answer it.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Brokaw jokes.

DAVID CASPE: “Every day of my life since grade school.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: “Brokaw.”

QUESTION: We’ll move on for the final question.

DAVID CASPE: Sorry, Francine.

DON JOHNSON: Man, we really pissed off Francine. Man.

QUESTION: Hi. Don, you’ve been doing this so long. I’m just curious. Even now, this many years later, do you still learn? Is there still something new to learn as you do a show? And if so, what have you learned about yourself or about, you know, acting, whatever?

DON JOHNSON: Well, I’ve learned that acting is something that you learn every day. And this cast, if you don’t get up early and get your act together, they will leave you in the dust. So, I make sure that I show up and show up on time or maybe a little early, and I watch very closely to what these brilliant, brilliant comedians and comediennes are doing. Because, man, I’m lucky to be a part this cast and part of this show. I’m just lucky to have a long career. I’m happy to be here today.

KENAN THOMPSON: He’s a happy person. We’re the luckies. Well, thank you shadow warriors for interviewing us today. We appreciate it. Always nice when we can get together and see each other. So, we appreciate you giving us an excuse to do that.

KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah, we can’t wait for Season 2.

DON JOHNSON: Yeah. You’re going to go crazy. Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and David everybody’s killed it this year. It’s so much fun. We had fun last year and we quadrupled it this year. I’m thrilled for y’all to see it.

KENAN THOMPSON: Lisa, do you want to say something else?

DAVID CASPE: Say something.

LISA MUSE BRYANT: Yeah. Everybody check out “Kenan” Season 2. Revisit Season 1. Catch up on some of the loose ends they’re going to be tying up. Like Chris said, we’re diving deeper into characters and relationships and coming up with some amazing nuggets. And I was so privileged to join this group and so excited to have a chance to write for them and just have everybody just push their range to the limits. And it’s going to be so fun and surprisingly emotional and poignant. So, check it out for sure.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you so much to all the panelists.

MORE INFO:

another "Kenan" poster“Kenan” follows the life of busy single dad Kenan Williams (Kenan Thompson), who is juggling a high-profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up With Kenan!” He’s also raising two adorable pre-teen daughters – the too smart Aubrey (Dani Lane) and the silly, unpredictable Birdie (Dannah Lane).

As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live-in father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson), his brother/manager/roommate Gary (Chris Redd) and his colorful co-workers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life.

Rick was a carefree sax player when his own daughter was young and missed out on a lot of her childhood. He’s trying to make up for lost time as a larger-than-life grandad despite his penchant for getting into trouble.

Gary has long been in his older brother’s shadow and he’s ready to branch out on his own – with dating, business development and potentially his own place.

Kenan excels at his job with the help of his driven executive producer, Mika (Kimrie Lewis), and despite his ambitious co-host, Tami (Taylor Louderman). Mika can be tightly wound, especially when Gary, as Kenan’s not-so-managerial manager, tries to insert himself. She’s a steady force and confidante to Kenan as he manages a demanding career and chaotic personal life.

Lorne Michaels, Kenan Thompson, Andrew Singer, David Caspe, Kenny Smith Jr., Lisa Muse Bryant and Bryan Tucker serve as executive producers. The series was created by Jackie Clarke and David Caspe.

“Kenan” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Broadway Video.

Kenan Thompson

Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Star / Executive Producer, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Kenan Thompson as Kenan -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Kenan Thompson recently completed his 18th season on “Saturday Night Live” as the show’s longest-running cast member. He also stars in and executive produces the NBC comedy “Kenan,” which will return for its second season.

Thompson received two Emmy Award nominations in 2021 for performance – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “Kenan” and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “SNL.” Thompson previously received two Emmy nominations in 2018 and 2020 in the supporting actor category for his work on “SNL.” Thompson received an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2018 for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack,” and received a nomination in the same category in 2017 for co-writing “Last Christmas” from the popular “Jingle Barack” “SNL” music video.

Thompson has made numerous contributions to “SNL” with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of “Deep House Dish,” “Weekend Update” correspondent Jean K. Jean, “Black Jeopardy” host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch “What Up With That.”

Thompson served as producer and judge alongside Chrissy Teigen, Jeff Foxworthy and Amanda Seales on NBC’s comedy competition series “Bring the Funny,” which debuted in 2019.

A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series “All That.” Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 “All That” reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff “Kenan and Kel” in 1996. Thompson also had a recurring role on the WB’s “Felicity.”

His past projects include Netflix’s Adam Sandler film “Hubie Halloween,” starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes on a Plane,” “Wieners” and “The Magic of Belle Isle” with Morgan Freeman. Other film credits include “Fat Albert,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” “Good Burger,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Brother Nature, “Heavyweights,” “My Boss’s Daughter,” “Barbershop 2,” “Going in Style” and “They Came Together.”

Thompson showcased his voice talents as Bricklebaum in “The Grinch,” which made history as the #1 Christmas movie of all time. Thompson has also lent his voice to the animated films “Trolls World Tour,” “Wonder Park,” “The Smurfs,” “The Smurfs 2” and “Space Chimps,” the television series “Sit Down, Shut Up” and the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Nike puppet campaign during the 2009 NBA playoffs. He was the voice of Austin “Impresario” Sullivan in the Hulu animated series “The Awesomes” and Riff in the film “Rock Dog.”

Upcoming projects include Paramount’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and Disney+’s “Home Sweet Home Alone.”

Don Johnson

Rick, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Don Johnson as Rick -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Don Johnson plays Rick on the new NBC comedy “Kenan.” Johnson is best known as Det. Sonny Crockett on the hugely successful iconic TV series “Miami Vice.” He earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1985 and won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series in 1986 and 1987. Born in Flat Creek, Mo., Johnson studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco where he made his professional debut in “Your Own Thing,” a rock musical modeled after William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” The young actor got his big break by starring in the controversial Off Broadway play “Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” which was directed by and starred Sal Mineo. During the run of “Miami Vice,” Johnson starred in the critically acclaimed TV film “The Long Hot Summer” as well as starring opposite Susan Sarandon in the feature film “Sweet Hearts Dance” in 1988. When “Miami Vice” ended, Johnson focused on his film career with “Dead Band,” “The Hot Spot” and “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.” His film work has given Johnson the opportunity to collaborate with legendary filmmakers such as John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper. Johnson co-wrote a two-hour movie in 1995 with neighbor “Hunter S. Thompson.” While the movie was not picked up, CBS bought the story and he returned to television in 1996 with the cop show “Nash Bridges” as creator and producer. In 2016, Johnson appeared in several episodes of the Netflix series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” as well as appearing in the Sky Television series “Sick Note.” He was recently seen in “Watchmen,” the Emmy-winning Damon Lindelof series for HBO as well as the box office hit “Knives Out.” Johnson has been married to Kelley Phleger since 1999. They have three children in addition to son Jesse Johnson and daughter Dakota.

Chris Redd

Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Gary Williams, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Chris Redd as Gary -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Chris Redd is a repertory player on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” Redd also portrays Gary Williams on NBC comedy “Kenan,” which will return for its second season.

Redd is an actor, writer, rapper and stand-up comedian who performs across the country and has toured the United States and Europe with the Second City Touring Company. He received the Emmy Award in 2018 for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack.”

In 2019 Redd released his debut stand-up album, “But Here We Are.” Redd starred in the independent horror film “Scare Me” and can be seen in the comedy films “Vampires vs. the Bronx”, “Deep Murder,” “The House” and “A Futile and Stupid Gestures.”

He appeared in the 2016 film “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” and opposite Kathy Bates in the Netflix original comedy series “Disjointed.” Other TV roles include “Wet Hot American Summer,” NBC’s “Will & Grace,” Netflix’s “Love,” TV’ Land’s “Teachers,” ”Comedy Central’s “Detroiters” and “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents.” Redd has also loaned his voice to many projects, including Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” Audible’s “64th Man” and Disney’s “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.” Additionally, Redd was featured as a 2016 Standup New Face at Just for Laughs in Montreal. Redd was previously a performer at Chicago’s Second City and iO Chicago.

Redd is the co-creator and will star in Peacock’s new scripted comedy series “Bust Down.”

Redd is from St. Louis, Mo., and his birthday is March 25.

Kenan with Aubrey and Birdie Williams on "Kenan" on NBCDani and Dannah Lane

Aubrey and Birdie Williams, “Kenan”

Dani and Dannah Lane star as sisters Aubrey and Birdie Williams on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

The sisters, who recently appeared in NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” saw their video “Call Jesus” go viral and accumulated 1.8 million views on YouTube. Their huge impact with audiences led to further success in performing and branding. The girls have appeared on talk shows such as “The Real” and “Today” and had a special segment on “The Steve Harvey Show” called “The Advice Sister.”

Dani and Dannah have grown an impressive social media following, with roughly 1.5 million followers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. They are beyond humbled by their successes as their brand continues to grow exponentially, including opportunities in media and motivational workshops. Dani and Dannah are inspired to use their influence to be a voice for their fans and followers who are not too young to change the world.

Kimrie Lewis

Mika, “Kenan”

KENAN -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: Kimrie Lewis as Mika -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Kimrie Lewis plays Mika on NBC’s new comedy “Kenan.” For two seasons, Lewis played Poppy Banks on the ABC comedy “Single Parents” and recurred on “Scandal” for five seasons. She has made numerous TV guest appearances across the dial, including “Superstore,” “Brockmire,” “The Mindy Project, “2 Broke Girls,” “New Girl” and “Fake News with Ted Nelms.” As a writer, she studied at UCLA Extension’s Writers Program and has written for Kevin Hart’s LOL Network and sold a script to IFC. Lewis also directed and associate produced the short film “He Was Asking for It,” which was an official selection for the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Cordillera Film Festival. Lewis is a South Los Angeles native and graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Lewis performs stand-up comedy at clubs and colleges across the country and is an active supporter of the Innocence Project.

Taylor Louderman of "Kenan" on NBCTaylor Louderman

Tami, “Kenan”

Taylor Louderman plays Tami on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

She made her Broadway debut originating the role of Campbell Davis in “Bring It On: The Musical” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green. She went on to play Lauren in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway and originated the role of Regina George in Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls,” for which she received a 2018 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Television credits include “The Loudest Voice,” “The Good Fight,” “Sunny Day,” “Evil,” “Peter Pan Live” and “High Maintenance.”

Louderman founded the non-profit Write Out Loud Project, a songwriting competition for young, new musical theater writers. She volunteers at Ozark Actors Theatre where she participated in her first professional show at 10 years old and writes youth musicals to support arts education.

David Caspe

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

David Caspe is executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

Caspe grew up in San Francisco and Chicago. He spent most of his life pursuing visual art before moving to Los Angeles in 2007 to focus on writing.

In television, he created/executive produced “Happy Endings” and “Marry Me,” and co-created/executive produced “Black Monday,” “Champaign Ill.,” “Kenan” and the upcoming “Blockbuster.”

Lisa Muse Bryant

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

Lisa Muse Bryant is executive producer on season two of the NBC comedy “Kenan” and co-executive producer on Peacock’s “Field of Dreams.”

Muse Bryant has been a co-executive producer on “Blackish” for the past three seasons. In addition, she wrote the NBC music-driven comedy project “Dream,” starring Amber Riley. Additionally, she co-wrote the pilot “Princess of Philly” for HBO Max.

A proud mom of four, Muse Bryant also has experience in the kids space, and served as consulting producer on Marvel’s “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” concurrent with her “Blackish” responsibilities. Muse Bryant’s background also includes working as a news producer while spending four years at VOA Television, the international news agency in Washington, D.C.

Kenny Smith

Executive Producer, “Kenan”

Kenny Smith is an executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Smith is a graduate of Hampton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media and membership in three honor societies. Just out of college, he moved to Los Angeles where he got his start in the entertainment industry as a production assistant on the sitcom “Martin.” Two seasons later, Smith began his writing career on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” soon becoming co-producer. After completing four seasons on the show, he moved on to several UPN series, including “One on One” and its spin-off “Cuts,” where he served as co-executive producer.

Smith joined the staff of “The Game” in 2006, becoming executive producer in the show’s third season and showrunner in its sixth. For his work on “The Game,” he has been nominated twice for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and has three nominations as a producer in the category Outstanding Comedy Series, winning the latter in 2013. After a nine-season series wrap of “The Game,” he moved on to ABC’s “Uncle Buck,” where he served as co-executive producer.

In 2016, Smith joined ABC’s “Black-ish” as co-executive producer and director, earning another NAACP Image Award as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination. The following season while developing for Universal, he served as co-executive producer on NBC’s “Marlon.” Under Smith’s first overall deal, he returned to ABC Studios for season five of “Black-ish” as director, executive producer and co-showrunner.

Smith has written a pilot for TV Land in collaboration with Jamie Foxx, a pilot for BET starring Morris Chestnut and three additional pilots — two for NBCUniversal. Recently, he shot his comedy pilot “None of the Above” for Freeform.

Currently, he is working with UTV under his second overall deal and developing multiple projects of different genres.

Lorne Michaels

Creator/Executive Producer, “Saturday Night Live”; Executive Producer, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; Executive Producer, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”; Executive Producer, “Kenan”

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: Lorne Michaels -- NBC Photo: Frank Ockenfels

Lorne Michaels is an award-winning producer and writer, best known as the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” the most Emmy Award-nominated show in television history.

Born in Toronto in 1944, Michaels attended the University of Toronto and later began his television career in Canada and Los Angeles. He arrived in New York in 1975 to begin “SNL.”

Michaels’ television credits as an executive producer also include “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “30 Rock,” “Portlandia” and  “Kids in the Hall,” among others. His motion picture credits include “Three Amigos,” “Wayne’s World,” “Tommy Boy,” “Mean Girls,” and “MacGruber,” to name a few. His TV specials have featured Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, the Rutles, Flip Wilson, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, and Adele. On Broadway, he produced and directed “Gilda Radner – Live From New York” and recently produced “Mean Girls,” the Tony-nominated Broadway musical based on the hit movie.

Michaels’ 94 Emmy nominations are the most ever for an individual. He received the 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and in 2013 earned the rare honor of an individual Peabody Award. Michaels was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2018. Michaels will receive a 2021 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievement.

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"Kenan" poster from NBC

Interview with Ajay Friese

TV Interview!

Ajay Friese

Interview with Ajay Friese of “Lost in Space” on Netflix by Thane 12/22/21

This was my first one-on-one interview with TVMEG.COM. I was thankful it went smoothly and enjoyed talking to Ajay.

Thane:  Were you happy at how Lost in Space ended?

Ajay:  You know, I was really really happy, I felt sad naturally about the show ending, but when I read the final scripts, and I saw all the storylines and the plot arcs concluding, I was actually really surprised I felt a ton of closure, and it just felt like the perfect ending. So, I was very, very happy with how it ended.

Thane:  You have been in a few TV shows. What has been your favorite role to play and why?

Ajay:  Probably my favorite role to play was honestly probably Lost in Space, just because that was such an important role to me. It was five years of my life that I was playing that role. And the characters on that show and the actors who played them kind of became really close friends. So, it just holds a really special place in my heart. Yeah, so I’d have to say, Vijay.

Thane:  I see that you are also releasing music, what inspires your music?

Ajay:  Music just comes out of me. Like growing up there were some kids in class who would always be doodling on like the edge of their homework. Me, I can’t draw. I can barely draw cube. But for me, I would always be humming and making up songs. Music just runs through me. it’s ran through me ever since I was a kid, ever since I was a baby, actually. It’s just the most natural thing to me. And I think even if I didn’t want to do it, I would still just be doing it. So, yeah. I forgot what the question was actually, but I love music so much. It’s really natural to me.

Thane:  What drove you to get into acting?

Ajay:  My sister was doing community theater, my older sister. She was doing community theater in our hometown of Victoria, Canada, and it looked like fun. So, I went along to the auditions when I was like 11 or 12, and I just kept on doing theater.  I did school theater but also did community theater, and I got to miss a whole bunch of school for rehearsals and stuff. It was just always something I did as a hobby. Then, eventually, I started making connections with the professional theatre companies in town and with the opera, and I started doing more and more productions. I probably did about 15 theater productions in my teen years. Yeah, more and more opportunities kind of just started naturally coming my way. So, it just kind of happened.

Thane:  What kind of star do you want to be in future? A movie star, a TV star, a musician, or all of the above?

Ajay:  You know, I don’t know if I can answer that question. As I get older, the more and more I realized that being like a star in something doesn’t really actually matter and that what matters is just being connected, I think with who you are, and being connected with the present moment and with doing art. So, I think as long as I just keep on pursuing art, I’m going to be getting fulfillment out of that.

Lost in Space Season 3 poster

Thane:  Have you made any strong friendships with any of your former cast members?

Ajay:  Yes, I have. Raza Jaffrey, who plays my dad on Lost in Space, has given me tons of great acting advice and great life advice. Mina Sundwall, who plays Penny on Lost in Space, [she] and I are really good friends, and she actually directed one of my music videos this past summer for my song “Blackberry.” And Max Jenkins from Lost in Space, he’s awesome. Charles from Lost in Space season three, plus, yeah, just just so many people from Lost in Space and other shows.

Thane:  If you could play any character who would you play?

Ajay:  I mean, it’d be cool to play Harry Potter even though I don’t really look look like him or something, but, yeah, it would be cool to play Harry Potter. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.

Thane:  Is there an actor and or a director who you would love to work with?

Ajay:  I really like Bill Nighy. Not Bill Nye. I do like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but Bill Nighy, he is a British actor who’s really really good. Yeah, I really like him. I like Maggie Smith, who’s actually… Toby Stephens from Lost in Space, his mom is Maggie Smith. And Maggie Smith, for those who don’t know, plays Professor McGonagall on Harry Potter. And I don’t know; I just think they’re such talented actors.

Thane:  As a young male actor in the Instagram age, do you feel pressure to look good?

Ajay:  Yeah, sometimes I do. And sometimes I feel excited when I post something where I just look normal, or where I haven’t showered or something and I’m just living normal life, because I think it’s cool when I see other people post stuff like that. But yeah, there definitely is a pressure to look good, but, you know, maybe that’s something I can also combat with sometimes looking good and sometimes not looking the best.

Thane:  How do you feel when people call you a heartthrob?

Ajay:  I don’t really think about it very much. I mean, I guess it’s exciting or cool or whatever, but it’s not really something I take that much thought in.

Thane:  This is the end of the interview. Is there anything that you want to tell the TV make audience including plugs?

Ajay:  Well, Lost in Space three is out on Netflix, and it is super amazing, my favorite season we’ve ever filmed. And also I just released an album. You can find it on your streaming service, if you just search my name Ajay Friese, and I hope you enjoy it, and thank you so much, Thane.

Here is the Video!

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

MORE INFO:

AJay FrieseThe hottest and most talented rising Canadian/Indian star, Ajay Friese, stars in the finale season of Netflix’s hit TV series, LOST IN SPACE, which premiered December 1st, 2021. Friese plays Vijay Dhar, Victor’s (Raza Jaffrey) son and Penny’s (Mina Sundwall) love interest.

Season 3 Trailer

Friese’s leading role in LOST IN SPACE comes off the heels of his star turn in the indie film RIOT GIRLS, opposite Madison Iseman, which the Los Angeles Times called, “[a] splashy, bloody take on “Lord of the Flies” with a rock ‘n’ roll spirit.” Ajay also recurs on several TV shows including Max Landis’ BBC series DIRK GENTLY, the CW smash hit RIVERDALE and THE ORDER for Netflix. On the film side, Friese is already tapped to star in the 80’s homage Still from "Lost in Space"thriller COMING SOON..

A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Ajay (pronounced ah-jay) is primed to be a true breakout star with his starring roles on both TV and in film. In addition to acting, Ajay is an accomplished singer/songwriter who is gearing up for a Dec. 2021 release of an extended version of his EP “light a match…then run” on Friday, December 10th. In 2020, Ajay released his debut album with Bon Jovi producer Everett Bradley.

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Ajay Friese

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman

TV Interview!

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of “Christmas Dance Reunion” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This was part of a Lifetime Christmas press panel. I really enjoyed seeing the movies and speaking everyone. What made this movie so special is all of the great dancing. It was nice to chat with these two. Corbin used to be on “One Life to Live,” so I was thrilled to speak with him.

MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone, and welcome to our third panel for today.  I would like to introduce Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu of this year’s “A Christmas Dance Reunion”.  We’re gonna go ahead and get the questions started.  Noah has the first question.  Noah?

QUESTION:  Hello.  It is so great to be here with you guys.  By the way, you look fabulous and happy holidays to both of you.  My first question is to you, Corbin.  We see two high school dance partners get back together for the holidays.  So many fans from “High School Musical”, including myself, will watch this and think this is the perfect holiday storyline for the two of you, as you both have worked together on the Disney Network in “High School Musical”.  But how does this holiday story throw us back to some of the “High School Musical” memories?  Because I did see a photo when I screened of you and Monique, and it was back during — I think in the gym of “High School Musical”.  I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic.”

CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, getting to work on this project settled so many dreams coming true.  At this time, I mean, it was October of 2020 when we went out to go shoot, so coming on the tail end of a quarantine and not working for a period of time.  It was also election time.  There was a lot of — just a lot of chaos at the time and in our minds.  And all of a sudden, we go on this journey to go to Canada, get out of the U.S. for a minute.  And we get to reunite in this film that we haven’t been on screen together in 13 years.  And when I tell you every single moment on set was just comfort.  And there are a lot of moments in the film that when I watched it looking at just how easy the romance comes and how easy the connection came, and that was real.  I mean, it just — it’s…it truly is such a beautiful, wonderful thing to be able to work with a person that you love from the bottom of your heart.  I mean, Mo, I love you.  You’re, like, you’re —

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I know.

CORBIN BLEU:  You’re my sis.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’m like, oh my God.

CORBIN BLEU:  There was just so — honestly, I could go on and on so much because then on top of it, my wife, Sasha Clements, is also another lead part in the film.  So there was all of this just love, just this lovefest on camera and on set.

QUESTION:  Now, Monique, just speaking of “High School Musical”, there was a lot of dance that would go on in the show.  Because it was a musical, there was a lot of dance routines that would happen.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  I really think dance brings us together and I think that definitely shows in this holiday movie.  So lastly, how was the process of nailing down a dance routine with Corbin Bleu when you guys got to reprise and really just do this again, just be able to dance together?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  I think Corbin really said it well.  The thing is that we were safe, you know?  We felt like we were safe, we were comfortable.  And that is such an important part of telling any story is making sure that you have that connection.  But another thing that I think is really interesting is Corbin started dancing when he was two or three years old.  I started dancing when I was in fourth grade.  And something that’s really interesting is that our lives didn’t begin with “High School Musical”.  Obviously, that is an amazing part of our journey, and it’s a peak, and we’re so — we will always be so proud of it and excited to talk about it and share.  But what I thought was really interesting was that this story to me brought the two of us back further than where we were when “High School Musical” started.  It brought us back to the roots of who we are and it reminded me that I danced as a kid.  And this moment didn’t make it in the movie, but there are photos in the hallway of my fictional house that are pictures of me when I was 10, 12, 15, 17 years old with these big dreams in my mind.  And to see that and then to actually see photos of us from when we were on tour — one of the photos is actually from the Macy’s Day Parade.  And I remember that so distinctly.  And I remember how I felt in that moment.  And then to fast forward to today and to be able to bring all of who we are together and for that to be on screen, I think it absolutely captures the magic that you all felt when you saw “High School Musical”.  But I also think that this movie is going to do something really special and allow you to get to know Corbin and I in a way that you probably honestly haven’t seen prior to now which is really, like, who we’ve always been.

QUESTION:  Thank you guys for your time.  I appreciate it.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Noah.  Alright, up next I have Mike from TV America.  Mike?  I’m gonna give him a moment.  Oh, there he is.

QUESTION:  Okay, can you hear me now?

MODERATOR:  We can.

QUESTION:  Can you hear me okay now?

CORBIN BLEU:  Hi, Mike.

QUESTION:  Okay, good deal.  Hey, Corbin, I wanted to ask you to kind of continue on what Mo was saying a minute ago.  Because we have a lot of movies that are about singing, not as many movies that are based on dance.  And dance has been so much a part of your life forever.  I mean, talk about starting to take dance when you were two or three years old.  Talk about what it was like as a kid and how important it is to be able to get back to a dance-based show like this sometimes.

CORBIN BLEU:  Well, again, this movie is a lot of art mimics life and vice versa.  There’s a lot of meta moments.  I started dancing when I was about two years old.  And I started with tap and ballet, and that was always my first love.  And I started acting early, as well, and I started singing early, as well.  But dance was just always my form of expression.  And to this day, it’s just the one thing that just comes naturally, just comes easy.  If there’s ever — you know, there are times when people just — they just want to sing and it just needs to come out of them.  And my body just expresses it through dance.  And when I tell you the character, both of them, both of the characters are just so rooted in realism.  They both found this joy and this love of dance at an early age.  My character, Barrett, actually continued on with it and went on to become a Broadway stage performer, very much like real life.  And Monique’s character goes on to actually become a lawyer and dance is still this joy, this love that’s just hanging right behind her that she’s just wanting to turn back and find again.  And I know — I’m gonna just speak for Mo a little bit, yeah, I know that she has gone on to do just such incredible serious, wonderful things in this world.  I mean, she’s a U.N. ambassador.  So again, I know for me getting to dance with her and her getting a chance to also re-find a joy of dance and that love in this, it was incredible.  And I’ve got to also do one more shoutout to our director and our choreographer —

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.

CORBIN BLEU:  …Brian Herzlinger and Christian Vincent because the turnaround on this was not “High School Musical”.  You know, “High School Musical” we had…

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Time?

CORBIN BLEU:  …like, at least — at least — two days per number, at least.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  This we shot — I think majority of the final dance routines were shot in one day.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  In a day, yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  One day.  And the other dance routines, everything else that you see was shot in one other day.  So just an insane amount of hard work.  And to top it all off, there were things that were implemented that weren’t originally in the script, one being my tap number.  One number in the movie that really is such a pivotal story moment that you actually get to really see Barrett’s love for dance and where his spirit really flies is this tap number that was never in the script, was never a part of rehearsals, until we were like three — I think we were three or four days from getting ready to start shooting.  And I knew that they were gonna do this other tap number and I said to Brian, I was like, “Brian, you know that I tap, right?”  And he goes, “Wait, what?”  I was like, “Yeah, I love tapping.”  And he said, “We should implement that.”  And Christian, freaking incredible man that he is, threw together this tap number.  And we worked on this over the next couple weeks before we had to shoot it and implemented this number.  And it turns out to be such a beautiful moment in the movie.  Just really, really wonderful that they allowed such input and organicn-ess to free flow.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Okay, cool.  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Mike.  And our next question is from Suzanne.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Hey, Suzanne.

QUESTION:  Hi.  I really enjoyed the movie.  I loved watching it.  It really made me wanna go to the Winterleigh.

CORBIN BLEU:  Awesome.

QUESTION:  Where was it actually filmed?

CORBIN BLEU:  We shot up in Vancouver.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.  Toronto.

CORBIN BLEU:  I’m sorry — Vancouver — Toronto.  We filmed up in Toronto, I’m sorry.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Up — yes.

CORBIN BLEU:  The other side of the country.  We shot up in Toronto at the…

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Where were we?  I’m like…

CORBIN BLEU:  Horseshoe.  Horseshoe.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  That’s right.

CORBIN BLEU:  Mm-hm.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yeah, the hotel.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  Great.  And Monique, what was the thing about it that was the most challenging for you?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I think letting it be easy.  That was the most challenging thing was just allowing it.  You know, we’re in an industry that can just be so difficult in so many different ways.  And this was an experience that Corbin was speaking of earlier that was in the midst of a very active world pandemic.  We were in the midst of a very intense election in the U.S.  And we’re storytellers.  And we kept reminding ourselves that we got to be the magic makers of the moment.  We get to be the lightworkers.  We get to be the ones that are going to be a part of helping people to have the joy that we all deserve when this all is over.  And so for me, to be honest, yes, learning the dances was challenging.  Spending two weeks in quarantine and then going from basically zero to hero and having not worked pretty much all year long, having definitely not danced or been in a studio at all.  And I actually turned 40, so I was like my knees are not — they’re not capable of doing this which is actually really hilarious because that is something that Lucy talks about as her character.  But it’s very real for me ’cause I’m like no, but really.  I can’t just jump in like that.  But at the end of the day, I guess I always knew that this was supposed to be fun and it was supposed to bring joy.  And if there was anything that I felt like I couldn’t do, I knew that I had the support to change that.  So I knew that with Corbin that I was safe with my partner.  I knew that with Christian, he wanted to make sure that we looked good.  And Brian is just like all-around so incredible that there wasn’t really any pressure.  There wasn’t any extra tension.  So you know, I think, yeah, obviously the most challenging part was going from not dancing or doing anything and being in a pandemic to going full throttle.  But even that is a blessing and it’s a gift.  And so I don’t even like to look at that as really any more than just the challenge that comes with being privileged to be able to do something that you love for a living.

QUESTION:  Awesome.  Thank you guys so much.

CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thanks, Suzanne.  We’re going now to our final two questions.  Cynthia?

QUESTION:  Hello, can you hear me?

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes, we can.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Hi.  I’m Cynthia Horner from “Right On! Magazine” and “Word Up! Magazine”.  And Corbin, you and Monique used to appear in our magazines all the time.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes!  Absolutely!

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I know!  I was like “Word Up!”!

QUESTION:  Yeah.  What is it like now being grown people that really got your start as teenagers and you continued on with your craft?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  One of us was a teenager.  The other one wasn’t.

CORBIN BLEU:  (Laughs.)

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’ll let you guess which one.

CORBIN BLEU:  Homegirl, you still look fly as hell.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you!

CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, just like life, there are aspects that just get better and better and then there are other parts that you go, oof, that hurts a lot more.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  You know, I think that there truly was an appreciation on this film.  When we were working back then, at least I can speak for myself to say that I was just a teenager.  And as much as I really was a hard worker and I was always focused on what I was doing and I appreciated everything that was going on, it still was just about enjoying that ride.  And it all happened so quickly that there are times where you have to — you forget to remind yourself, let me really take in this moment.  And I feel like I was able to do that a lot more working on this project.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  Just as an adult, in general, those times where it really is special.  One thing that I would love to talk about that I was able — a moment that I was able to look around and go, wow, this is really beautiful, was the representation in this film.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  And its diversity.  I mean, what’s so beautiful is to see these lead actors, Black actors, and that has nothing to do with the driving force of the storyline.  The storyline is a romance story.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we’re Black.  And yet, you get to see all of this diversity and all of this representation in there.  And I feel like that to me is something that as a kid, I don’t necessarily — I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint as much.  Now, I see it and I go this is something that I wish I was able to see a lot more of on screen when I was a kid and watching all these holiday movies.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, that’s literally exactly what I was feeling, Corbin, was that that is the biggest shift that has happened since that time.  We were just in a different era and now to be these characters that are not just supporting someone else’s story but to be the story and yeah, that is definitely different and exciting.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you so much.  And merry Christmas in advance.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you.  You, too.

CORBIN BLEU:  Merry Christmas in advance to you, too.  And happy Thanksgiving.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Cynthia.  We’re gonna wrap with Samantha.  Samantha?

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thank you both so much for touching on the diversity piece because that’s really what I wanted to ask about.  I was reading about Monique you know just a part of how Taylor’s — the headband became — like, a piece was not really having people that could do Black hair.  And I’m just curious what your experiences have been through the start of your career to now being in the industry where it’s really embracing and prioritizing diversity?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  It’s definitely shifted so much.  The fact that we can even have this conversation and be open about it is I think definitely progress.  And I think one thing that Corbin and I both do is we are very collaborative in the process.  So we don’t take a backseat to what we’re doing.  We really want to be involved every step of the way.  And so it’s been really wonderful to watch the industry catch up and also personally to be able to make stronger and different choices about how I want to be presented and so forth.  So I feel like there’s a lot more room.  And not just diversity amongst — like racial diversity, but also diversity within a race.  I think oftentimes, I have been cast in roles that someone could perceive as a token role.  Like, oh, here we’re fulfilling the diversity quota because we’re both very safe people.  And that’s not to…it just is what it is.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yeah.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  And so oftentimes, we’re put in this position and it’s like there’s so much diversity within being Black.  It’s not just, okay, we’ve got someone that’s it.  And that is something that is so special and beautiful about “A Christmas Dance Reunion” is that you just have this family.  You’ve got these people and they just are different shades of Black and it’s not just one note or one tone.  And that is really very exciting to see what the possibilities are now that these other universes are opening up where we can see ourselves from here.

CORBIN BLEU:  One hundred percent with everything Mo just said.  And it’s such an important, important thing for what she’s talking about, as far as diversity within the diversity.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  And this movie by the way, there’s representation with LGBTQIA community.  There’s–

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.  Age.

CORBIN BLEU:  In age, in differently abled.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.

CORBIN BLEU:  And our writer, one of our co-writing team, you know, Brian Herzlinger but majority of the heavy lifting on the writing was Megan Henry Herzlinger.  We have a female writer.  Yeah, right?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  It’s so good.

CORBIN BLEU:  So really, I mean, all that is there but again, what’s so amazing and so important to me about this film is that all of that goes unsaid.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Mm-hm.

CORBIN BLEU:  To me, for what I grew up watching, the stuff that I — you know, I grew up watching all of the MGM classic musicals and never really getting a chance to see representation of myself in that character.  And most of the time growing up, if I was watching someone of color, then it was the token.  And usually the phrases that were coming out of that person’s mouth or the kind of demeanor of a certain — it always was a very specific category.  Or they were there because the driving force of their storyline was because they’re Black.  It has to do with their struggle.  It has to do with the fact that they’re not represented.  And we have romance stories, too.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  We have positivity without the struggle, as well.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.

CORBIN BLEU:  That’s always there.  That struggle is always there because we aren’t represented in that way, but we will only see that struggle and only see that representation if those are the only stories that we continue to tell.  So that’s why this really to me was such a beautiful, beautiful experience and really important.  And I want to see more of it and Mo and I need to do more of that together.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes!

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Well, thank you both so much for participating today.  We all love that you’re here together and reunited.  So be sure everyone to tune in to “A Christmas Dance Reunion” on Friday, December 3rd, at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.

MORE INFO:

Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on LifetimeA Christmas Dance Reunion
Friday, December 3 at 8pm / 7c

Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Dance Reunion is produced by Off Camera Entertainment and Brain Power Studio with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston and Beth Stevenson as Executive Producers. Megan Henry Herzlinger and Brian Herzlinger serve as writers. Brian Herzlinger also directs.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with the cast of “Ordinary Joe” on NBC

TV Interview!

cast of "Ordinary Joe" on NBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe's three paths after graduation

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

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

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

breaking news | March 31, 2021

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

•    W/EP: Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner

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

•    D/EP (pilot only): Adam Davidson

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

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

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

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

James Wolk

Joe Kimbreau, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolk resides in Los Angeles.

Charlie Barnett

Eric Payne, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Lail

Jenny Banks, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

Natalie Martinez

Amy Kindelan, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

Originally from Miami, Martinez currently resides in Los Angeles.

Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend

Executive Producers, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Ordinary Joe" premieres 9/20 on NBC

Interview with Carrie Genzel

TV Interview!

actress Carrie Genzel

Interview with Carrie Genzel of “The Walking Dead” on AMC by Suzanne 8/10/21

It was very nice to speak with Carrie! We had a great chat. I was so pleased to see her on the first two episodes of “The Walking Dead.” Don’t forget to watch it Sunday on AMC or AMC+. She plays Clark, an interrogator with the Commonwealth.

We gabbed a lot about non-TV-related topics, so make sure you watch the audio below… the transcript skipped the first ten minutes of chatting.

Suzanne:   So, tell us about your how your audition came about for The Walking Dead season eleven.

Carrie:   Oh, my God. First off, I am so excited to be able to talk about this. I’ve been like holding this in since February, because, you know, you sign a very hefty NDA. Even to audition for The Walking Dead, I had to sign an NDA, as did the person who was reading with me off camera. So, they keep things pretty secretive, as as you know, with The Walking Dead.

It just came about like any other audition. The Walking Dead is a show that, first off, when you’re an actor, and you live in Atlanta, that’s like one of those ones you want to check off and be like, “That’s the show I want to do when I’m here.” And I’ve been a fan of the show since the first season. So, it’s a world that I know; it’s characters that I know. So, anytime I get an audition for something that I’m familiar with, and that I’m a fan of, it’s special. Having said that, you want to just do your best work and then let it go, because you don’t want to put too much expectation into it. And that’s exactly what happened.

I got the material. They kind of piece together stuff that was actually from the scripts, which sometimes is done and not done. Sometimes they make up fake sides or use material from other episodes or what have you, but this was actually real material from that first episode. And, you know, it was just an audition. I just really tried not to put a lot of pressure on myself, because I was like, “I want to do this so bad.” I had auditioned for the show previously and didn’t get it, and I had also auditioned for one of the spin-offs. So, you know, there’ve been times I’ve been disappointed before. So, I just went in with an open mind and did did my best work and then forgot about it.

And I actually really did forget about it, because I booked a recurring role on Sistas for Tyler Perry. And again, this is back in winter when they were still quarantining and so forth. So, with Tyler Perry’s productions, we actually had to live at Tyler Perry Studios and live in a bubble the whole time we were there. So, I was all, “Okay, I’m going to be away from [everything].” I’m like on location, in my hometown, you know, my home city, this is weird. And what’s really funny is I had some time. You know, you’re in lockdown, essentially, and I was like, wandering around the studio lot.

And I walked around, and I’m looking at this area, and I’m like, “Why does this looks so familiar to me?” I’m standing there. And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, this is the Kingdom. This is where they shot the Kingdom. I recognize that theater with the round balcony, and I’m standing there, and it was very funny to me. I was like, “Oh, this is where they shot that; that’s really cool.”

And it was a day or so after that, that I got a call from my agent saying, “They want you for this role.” And she’s like, “But there’s a little bit of a problem.” And I’m like, “What? No, no problems.”

Now, because of COVID protocols, it’s not as simple as “are you available for these shoot dates?” anymore. Now you have to be available for testing for all kinds of different things, even before going to a wardrobe fitting.

And because I was in this bubble, I was at Tyler Perry Studios, and I could not leave. There was some crossover in terms of dates where they needed me, and so my agent knew how much I love The Walking Dead and what a great opportunity this was. And so, oh my gosh, between her and the casting director, Tyler Perry’s casting director, and the casting director for The Walking Dead in Atlanta, God bless them all, because they all like moved mountains for me to be able to be available when I needed to be available. And I have so much love for Mr. Perry, because he actually moved up my scenes earlier in the week so that I could leave earlier and be available to The Walking Dead so I could do my COVID testing. So, I’m so grateful to him for doing that. Teamwork.

Suzanne:   Yeah, that’s great that they can do that.

Carrie:   And I have to say, working on The Walking Dead during a global pandemic is very surreal. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but driving up to the studio for the first time, and just seeing not prop signs, but real signs that are saying, you know, COVID, masks, protocols, test site. There’s a trailer, you know, all kinds of things that normally would just be leftover props from the show, but were actual real signs and was very weird.

Suzanne:   Yeah I can imagine.

Carrie:   It was very, very weird.

Suzanne:   When the whole COVID thing started, it reminded us of The Stand, because we were in Las Vegas when they filmed the first Stand, and they were filming right downtown where we were staying, and they put all these side fake signs up. So, I know exactly what you’re talking about now.

Carrie:   It feels really bizarre. And, you know, I did a movie for Crackle, called Dead Rising Watch Tower, which was about a zombie outbreak, so, I’ve been down that road. And I was like, “This is so weird.”

It’s no joke, we had to wear – and they may still be doing this, I don’t know – we had to wear tracers. So, if someone did come back with a positive test, they could go back and see who you were in contact with, which was also very weird. So, we’d always have, and they’d always ask when you get to set, “Do you have your tracer?” “Yes, I do.” And we had our masks and goggles, and we had our z shields, and there was a lot of equipment. They kept us really safe, but it is very, very odd, because you’d be working on this type of material during COVID, and I’m sure all of the actors have said that.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I’m sure. So, how many episodes are you in?

Carrie:   I’m in the first two.

Suzanne:   There’s two. Okay, I didn’t know if you were going to come back later for another episode.

Carrie:   I don’t know. I hope so. I feel like there’re so many other fun things that she could be doing. She’s still around; she’s in the community. So, I’m hoping she pops up again, because I’d love to be able to go back. It really was such a great experience for me.

Like I said, having been a fan of the show, it was really cool to be able to step into those sets and interact with characters that I’ve watched for years. They have such an incredible cast on The Walking Dead. I mean, every one of them, at some point, has made me cry. Every single one of them, at some point, has made me angry.

You know, the thing that really grabbed me about The Walking Dead when I first started watching it was the characters, and I was drawn into the characters and what they were going through, and the whole apocalypse and zombie stuff was just kind of a another part of the show, but it for me it was really about that. And, as an actor, it was watching these incredible performances that would just gut you sometimes. [laughs] That seems like an appropriate way to describe that. But it’s really just heartbreaking. There’re so many moments I think for for anyone that’s a fan of this show that you remember, and just like, wow, and there’ve so been so many surprises along the way, too. Like, really, nobody’s safe on The Walking Dead. So, it was just such an incredible treat to sit down in front of the actors that I worked with, and, in my case, really kind of put them through the works.

Suzanne:   Yeah, it’s it’s very well written. I could see why it has so many fans,  because it is, as you say, great characters, and they just write it so well, and there’s always something happening, and at the end, there’s always a shocking thing. It just makes you want to watch the next episode.

Carrie:   And there’s a lot of humor, too, which I always enjoy, because you got to have that humor to kind of release the pressure. That’s what I loved about what I got to do in the two episodes is that what we shot was really intense, but there’re some humorous moments there too.

Also, what I thought was really cool, as a fan, is I got to learn a lot about those characters. Like there are things that I didn’t know and that fans don’t know. So, it was interesting for me that way, where I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”

Suzanne:   Yeah, they do a lot of revealing in those episodes of the characters that are there with you and what their backstories are. I like that.

Carrie:   Absolutely. Yeah, you find out a lot about them, which I thought was really fun.

But it felt intimidating in the space. It’s a very, as you’ve seen, a very dark set. It was an old empty warehouse, so it was very damp and cold. It was freezing. We shot that in February, and there was actually like a cold snap that gripped through this area, so much so that the first day that I was shooting, they actually delayed our start time, because they were concerned about ice on the road. So, they waited until later in the day when it heated up a little there. And no matter what heat they would put in there, you would feel it, because it would all go to the ceiling. All of us actors that shot on that set will talk about how cold it was. I mean, they do what they can. I have silks on under my costume. I had the little hot shot warmers, and I had them I had them on my back. I was sitting on them. At one point I was giving them out to the other actors. I was like, “I have six of these. Does anyone want one?”

Suzanne:   And you were wearing quite a bit of costume too. It’s not like you were wearing something skimpy, so it must have been cold.

Carrie:   I was just wearing like a blouse and a suit, and there wasn’t really a lot of warmth to it. And for the other characters, when they’re captured, they were stripped of kind of a lot of things. So, they’re kind of in their sort of bare bones kind of costumes as well without all this stuff. So everybody, our teeth were chattering quite a bit. And, I don’t know if you see this in the scene; I haven’t seen it yet, but we could certainly see each other’s breath as we were talking in the room, which I thought, “Well, you know, that works too,” because it looks intimidating.

Suzanne:   Sure. A bit of authenticity there.

Carrie:   But really, I can see everyone’s breath. That’s how cold it was. Every night when I would leave, I would crank up the heat in the car and put on the seat warmers, because I felt like a Popsicle. It was just so cold.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I think it can get pretty cold in Atlanta and that part of the country. We had the big surprise snowstorm in February.

Carrie:   Oh, wow.

Suzanne:   You know, the big one that they talked about in Texas where their power all went out? So, we got that. We didn’t lose power, thankfully.

Carrie:   Yeah, thankfully, no.

Suzanne:   More snow than I’ve seen since I lived in Illinois.

Carrie:   Wow. There’s been some weird weather, some very strange weather.

Suzanne:   So, when you had to keep it a secret, did you have to keep it a secret from your friends and family as well, everybody?

Carrie:   Yeah, you know, some people kind of figured it out being in Atlanta. I’m like, “I can’t really talk about it.” They’re like, “Well, it’s The Walking Dead or Marvel.”

Suzanne:   Well, there’re a lot of things going in Atlanta.

Carrie:   They know that’s kind of what people are not allowed to talk about. It was very funny. Everyone’s very educated.

Suzanne:   That’s funny.

Carrie:   So, now, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait until the cat’s out of the bag, and I can really, really talk about this.”3

Suzanne:   So, what was it like when you had to stay at the Tyler Perry compound?

Carrie:   Oh, my gosh, that was like being in a movie too. I mean, it really was quite the experience. When we checked in, we all had to be there for the duration. They didn’t want anybody coming in and out, and so you were there for the whole duration of their shoot. Now, he shoots incredibly fast. He shoots over 100 pages a day. So, to go from that to The Walking Dead, where we shot far less – that main interrogation scene in The Walking Dead we shot over two days, maybe longer. So, that tells you the difference of pace, but it was really nuts.

You know, we checked in to Tyler Perry Studios, and before we could even get on the lot, they took our temperature. Everyone was in a full on suit. We got in there, and they did a COVID test. They wiped out all of our bags. They were not messing around. We then had to go and sit in the army bunker barracks, where you’re in a room by yourself. It was sealed to say that it was clean. You had to take the tape off that it was clean. And anything that we needed, there was an app, and you would ask for a meal or coffee, tea, whatever. You were not allowed to leave that room until you got your test results back. And then when they brought you your meals, they were in the suit. Even though they weren’t coming in, they still were in a suit. They would put your tray down and knock on the door and then walk away like nobody would interact with you.

So, I checked into the studio about 11:30am, and then, I guess, it was about 10pm or so that I got the text message to say your test came back negative; you’re free to leave the room. And I zip down to there, because I’m like, “I need some fresh air,” and I just went for a walk.

And then we moved into our housing. So, because it was an army base, there’s a lot of housing on on the studio lot. So, I actually got to live in a really cool heritage home with another actress from LA, and we had this big four bedroom house to ourselves, and that was our home away from home while we were there for a couple of weeks.

But everything was self-contained. I mean, they really took care of everything. We had catering and food trucks, and the gym was open to us with bicycles. We could zip around on the lot on in golf carts, and there was a lot of things for us to do and to feel safe. And even though we were all tested several times a week, and we all got tested coming in, we still were wearing masks and just being safe. You know, nobody got sick on any of his productions, so he really kept everybody safe. I appreciated it. And it was kind of weird to leave the bubble.

When I was wrapped, I had to zip into the supermarket on the way home, and I felt like very, “So, I don’t know where you guys have been.”

Then, with The Walking Dead, even though we could be at home, they did ask that we definitely wear our masks when we were out and be safe and to not go out and do a lot of stuff we didn’t need it to do while we’re shooting. So, I mean, it’s really such a privilege to be able to work during this time. So, you do whatever you need to do to keep people safe.

Suzanne:   Well, it sounds like they did a good job of keeping you safe.

Carrie:   Yeah, both productions did a really great job.

Suzanne:   Did you know anybody in the cast and crew of The Walking Dead personally? Or had you worked with them before?

Carrie:   No, I didn’t at all, just from watching, but, no, I didn’t know anyone at all. So, it was very much that first day of school feeling of like, “I hope everyone likes me,” even though I’m not that like role on camera. But, I mean, like they are truly a family, and so everyone was so welcoming. They’ve all had their first day on set, so they know what that feels like. Everyone was very welcoming, and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun just to kind of see everything come to life, and to to be a part of those are those first two episodes in the last season was very cool.

Suzanne:   Now, your character was badass. She got taken down a peg or two.

Carrie:   [laughs] That’s why I think she needs to come back. I don’t know.

Suzanne:   Show the nicer side or something.

Carrie:   A different side of her. She’s just doing her job. I mean, look who her boss is. She’s gotta be a badass. When your boss is Mercer? Come on.

Suzanne:   It’s funny to see in the midst of something like an apocalypse and zombies and all that, to see somebody who’s basically a bureaucrat, like you said, just doing her job, trying to bring order to the chaos.

Carrie:   Well, it’s funny, because when I went through hair and makeup, they were saying they were so excited, because they said, “You’re one of the first characters where you’re allowed to wear nail polish.” Like it was a big deal. [laughs] They were like, “You can actually have a manicure.” That’s a big deal on this show. My hair’s done. It’s not done, it’s perfect. I’m wearing a suit. Clark was described to me as the Scully of the Commonwealth, and I was like, “I’ll take that.”

But yeah, that was the thing that was very odd to me, because when you think of The Walking Dead, you think of a certain kind of wardrobe, kind of like grungy, maybe took it off some dead person. You know, it’s all kind of thrown together, although they still manag to make it look cool. And here I am in this perfect little suit, where I look like exactly a bureaucrat, what she’s supposed to look like, and it was very weird. So, I feel like I’m not really getting The Walking Dead experience.

Suzanne:   Yeah, they should bring you back as a walker or something.

Carrie:   Or something, or I don’t know.

At that point too, outside of the comic book, there was nothing really known about the Commonwealth and what it was and the people that inhabit that community. So, we were all kind of learning as we went along. But, yeah, it was very cool.

Having said that, I didn’t see one walker while I was there. [laughs] Very disappointing. I’m like, “Not even at craft service?”

Suzanne:   Of the two sections of the first two episodes is the two groups. You were in the group that didn’t really have any.

Carrie:   Yeah, we were in the cleaner group.

Suzanne:   I like those guys who were with you; they would look like Stormtroopers, those costumes they were wearing.

Carrie:   Yeah, absolutely.

Suzanne:   Like Star Wars stormtroopers.

Carrie:   They do a little bit. And if you look at the comic book, that’s exactly what they look like in the comic book. They really did a great job of bringing that to life.

But yeah, initially, my character was supposed to be in one of those costumes in the, like, trooper outfit. I was a little disappointed. [laughs] I went in for my fitting, and they brought out this rack of suits, and I was like, “I play Clark.” She’s like, “No, they decided to put you in a suit.” And I was like, “Really?” because I really kind of wanted to be in the outfit. And they were like, “You really don’t though, because they’re not that comfortable.” Apparently, they’re hard to sit down in.

Suzanne:   Oh, okay, yeah.

Carrie:   “So, you’re probably gonna be a lot happier in the suit.” But it’s just, of course, I wanted to be, you know, growing up, and like you said, growing up and being such a huge Star Wars fan as a kid, I was like, “This is my moment. I get to put on the armor.” Maybe there’s hope for something down the road.

Suzanne:   Well, you know, I recognized you right away, because I used to watch All My Children when you were on it. I remember–  it’s funny, you know, it was a while ago, and I remember you being on it. I remember Jonathan Kinder, because I really liked the actor, and that they must have said that name about a million times on the show, too. And I remember that you and Susan Lucci and Robin Mattson, and I think there was another woman. I can’t remember; she actually played Marian, Maybe?

Carrie:   Yes. Jennifer Bassey.

Suzanne:   Right, and then, you had a lot of funny scenes and dealing with him.

Carrie:   Yeah, we did. Those were probably – and people still comment about that whole storyline…We laughed so much during that, because it was so fun to do. I mean, parts of it were so ridiculous, like I think Marian ended up rolling them up in a carpet or something.

Suzanne:   Probably.

Carrie:   And Michael Sabatino was such a lovely man in real life, that it was kind of fun to go after him as a group. It was just such a fun storyline, and, for me, as an actor coming on to that show, getting to work with these veterans of daytime was just such a treat, because that was the first contract role that I had in my career, and it was just so incredible to be able to do that right out of the gate and work with these incredible women and Michael, who I’ve seen on TV for many, many years on different shows. I learned a lot from them. And it really, really was fun to be a part of that storyline.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I bet. Like you said, I still remember it. I’ve watched a lot of TV and soaps, so if I remember some of the details this long ago, then it definitely had an impact.

Carrie:   Yeah, it’s one of the storylines that gets brought up the most when All My Children fans reach out to me; they talk about that a lot. And it was really fun. It’s too bad we weren’t able to do something again, just that group of characters, because people really loved it. We had a good time doing it.

Suzanne:   Well, that’s good. Yeah. That’s important, I’m sure. And with all the acting that you’ve done, the fact that you can look back on it so fondly is good, because I’m sure that not every single shoot you’ve done has been that much fun.

Carrie:   It’s so much more fun than others, but I always look back at All My Children with a lot of fondness. Just, like I said, I learned so much from those actors on that show. And working with David Canary was just incredible. I learned so much. It really was like boot camp; there was no safety net. There were no cue cards, no teleprompters. I mean, we were banging out pages and pages and pages a day. And, you know, I said this going back to working for Tyler Perry, he moves even faster than they did back then on All My Children, but because I had that experience in daytime, it didn’t freak me out to see a huge stack of pages. “Oh, we’re going to do this today.” “What?!”

Although I have to say that the very first day I walked on set of Sistas, nobody told me there was no rehearsal, no camera blocking, nothing that lets you see what happened. And I was like, “What, really? You guys just recorded that?” That was what nobody told me. So, what you see in some of those scenes is the very first time somebody’s walked on set and has no clue what’s going on.

Suzanne:   I’ve heard they do that now on the soaps a lot, because they’re so pressed for time, and then COVID has made it even more so.

Carrie:   Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sure. You know, the thing is, with daytime too, because you’re playing a character for such a long period of time, you know, for me anyway, it got easier and easier and easier, because you start to learn how your character speaks, how that character reacts to things, and it becomes easier to kind of get into that groove. And you sort of get in that work pace where you’re always moving really quickly, but when you’re out of that rhythm, and you step into another show, and they’re moving like crazy, you’re like, “Woah.” But I say this all the time, my time on All My Children is really, really a part of the foundation of me as a professional actor and how I’m able to sort of go with the flow in terms of changes, in terms of speed, in terms of improv, all of that stuff. It really, really helps me to build up that those skills that I use all the time.

Suzanne:   I’ve heard it’s an excellent training ground.

Carrie:   It’s incredible. Yes, it’s sad to me that there’s so few now, and there’s less opportunity for people to really get in there and learn it, because it really, for so long, was such a great place for new and young actors to kind of get their feet wet. You know? You think of all the actors that have come from daytime TV, and there’s a lot; there’re so many.

Here is the video version of it.

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

MORE INFO:

The Walking Dead on AMC on Twitter: “A warm welcome from the Commonwealth. Watch the return of #TWD this Sunday at 9/8c or stream it now with @AMCPlus. https://t.co/XjMgWIYVXO” / Twitter

Born in Vancouver, Carrie Genzel has enjoyed a diverse career, working extensively in both her native Canada and the United States, she is most notably known for her role as Skye Chandler on ABC’s ‘All My Children,’ as well as two memorable roles on the CW’s ‘Supernatural,’ and most recently recurring on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead.’

Carrie has built an esteemed career in film including roles in ‘Watchmen, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Dead Rising: Watchtower, They’re Watching, and more. Carrie has received widespread acclaim for her performances in both television and film and in 2012, she won the Best Actress award at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival for her role of Emma in ‘The Ballerina and the Rocking Horse.’

Off set Carrie is an advocate of good mental health having launched the blog State Of Slay(TM) and becoming an advisory board member for the non-profit Attitudes In Reverse® which brings programming to students on anti-bullying and suicide prevention.

About The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard—together forming the core of The Walking Dead franchise. The series features a large ensemble cast as survivors of a zombie apocalypse trying to stay alive under near-constant threat of attacks from zombies known as “walkers” (among other nicknames). However, with the collapse of modern civilization, these survivors must confront other human survivors who have formed groups and communities with their own sets of laws and morals, sometimes leading to open, hostile conflict between them.

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Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Actress Carrie Genzel

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