Interview with the cast of “Yellowjackets” Part 2

TV Interview!

Christina Ricci, Samantha Hanratty, Tawny Cypress, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Ella Purnell of "Yellowjackets" on Showtime

Interview with actresses Christina Ricci, Samantha Hanratty, Tawny Cypress, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Ella Purnell, and producers Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Jonathan Lisco and Karyn Kusama of “Yellowjackets” on Showtime by Suzanne 8/25/21

SHOWTIME SUMMER 2021 TCA VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR
YELLOWJACKETS
Virtual via Zoom August 25, 2021
© 2021 Showtime Networks Inc. All rights reserved.

Part 2:
Christina Ricci (she/her), “Misty Quigley”
Samantha Hanratty (she/her), “Teen Misty Quigley”
Tawny Cypress (she/her), “Taissa Turner”
Jasmin Savoy Brown (she/her), “Teen Taissa Turner”
Ella Purnell (she/her), “Teen Jackie Taylor”
Ashley Lyle (she/her), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Bart Nickerson (he/him), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Jonathan Lisco (he/him), Executive Producer/Showrunner
Karyn Kusama (she/her), Executive Producer/Director

This was a two-part panel for the show, and this is the second part. See the first part here. The show premieres Sunday, November 14. Don’t miss it!

It has a large cast, but the focus for both panels was on the women (the stars of the show). I asked Tawny Cypress and Jasmin Savoy Brown if they could speak a little bit about what it was that drew them to this project, how they got to know each other, and whether they did anything to try to sync their characters teen-Taissa and adult-Taissa together.

Cypress loved the project right away, in part because she’s from New Jersey (where the characters are from), so she enjoyed being right in there with her character and the soccer team. She told us, “Her vulnerabilities come out fairly quickly, so it was great to see where she cracked. It’s always fun to play people who crack a little bit. Like when she had the scene with Shauna and the pilot, you know, You can see her — that she’s not — maybe not the one in charge. And that drew me to her. Because it’s easy to play somebody powerful, but it’s more fun to play somebody who just thinks they’re powerful. And then as far as connecting with Jasmin, it was very easy. We connected early on. We get together a lot. We talk about the character a lot. We talk about the scripts a lot. We lived one building away from each other. We actually have the same landlord. All this weird stuff.”

Brown pointed out the “weird random” fact that they were the only ones in the entire cast and crew that both brought their cats there (to the filming) and that both are the tortoiseshell breed. Cypress agreed that they had a lot of things in common that were cool and led to a connection between them. She added that they do talk about the scripts a lot. One time Brown texted her at the beginning to ask if they say “EE-ther” or “EYE-ther.” They also go through different types of movements. They “try and keep her a nice through line.” Cypress added that the fact that the script is so well written shows the through line.

Brown chimed in to agree that “The writing is incredible. And that’s what drew me to this project. Along with what the women said in the prior panel. Women are the most important thing in my life. My female relationships, friendships. I was raised by a single mom. I have a ton of aunts. And I was an only child, and so my female friendships were the most important thing from early on. And I love any script, any piece of art that examines female relationships and how complex they are. I felt the writing was incredible. I love dark, mysterious stuff. And, also, I hadn’t worked for a few months and was on vacation when I got the audition. And that’s always how I know that something’s good, if it brings me home from vacation. So, I went — because I’m turning right back around.”

The next reporter asked the actors to answer a hypothetical question, “if you crashed on an island, how do you think you would fare? And not meaning killing people and eating people, but just in general with survival… How do you think that you would do?”

Christina Ricci jumped right in to answer that she loves TV shows like “Survivor,” so she thinks she would do really well. Also, she added, “I know how to do pull—ups, because I know if you fall off a cliff, you need to be able to pull your body weight onto things.”

Brown joked that she wouldn’t want to crash with Ricci, then. The women kept joking around about what they would do. Samantha Hanratty mentioned the show “Naked and Afraid.” Ricci thought that Hanratty would shoot first. Cypress piped up to say that she definitely would shoot first. Ricci also mentioned that she could be helpful and build a fire.

The next journalist asked a long question that was a bit hard to follow. He spoke a little about Ricci and Hanratty’s character, Misty, who starts out as a bit shy (and bullied), but then changes quite a right once they crash. He/she asked what it was like playing such a “quirky” character and wondered if she knew girls like this in school (not the extreme part of the character, of course).

Ricci spoke at length about how she and Hanratty met and discussed the character. She there could be “many different interpretations” of Misty. She described Misty as “socially inept” as well as “so emotional and emotive, but unable to really mold those emotions to fit with other people and to be socially successful.” Then, once this type of person becomes an adult, and life has punished her, and she doesn’t have the protection of childhood, she’s left just “”functioning, getting through with the passive aggression and the artifice. Because I feel like artifice is something you learn as a coping mechanism in adulthood.”

Hanratty took her turn to talk about how much fun it was to play Misty. We learn more about her in the second episode as we see her at age 13 and her past (before the crash). She wants people to like and accept her instead of bullying her, yet she’s constantly rejected. She’s a very optimistic person that refuses to be sad about how she’s treated. We see when she does get broken by what happens. She finished, “I think we see glimpses of it with me, and then you definitely get to see with Christina kind of where those shattered pieces are. It’s really magical to be able to work with Christina on that.”

The producers were asked about the plane crash and what happened, which she describes “pretty graphic.” She wonders how they decided where to draw the line for what viewers would see.

Nickerson answered the question. They never talked about it specifically. He just feels that he can watch it as an audience member and decide whether it’s too much (“distracting”) or not.

Lyle agreed with what he said and explained that they didn’t want to focus on the plane crash and the aftermatch so much as why it happened, such as “How did they get from point A to point B?” They start out as a championship team, working together. She joking interjected, “It really wasn’t so much about, you know, the sports, by any stretch of the imagination. Spoiler alert: not really a soccer show.” The show is about how they worked together as a group, and then they start falling apart over the season. She quoted the actress who played young Shauna, Sophie Nélisse, who said, “the circumstances bring out both the best and the worst in them.” They wanted to answer the question, “Who do these women become?”

Nickerson thoughtfully said that other producers probably have a different because they’re “”laying the groundwork to … shoot it,” but he and Lyle are “reacting to some of what you created in terms of the visuals of it.”

Karyn Kusama felt that the extreme moments in the flashbacks help to answer the bigger question of the series, which is, “What are human beings capable of?” As she put it, “to go from keggers and carpools and, you know, winning a soccer match in high school, to something so extreme that’s meant to happen, you know, 18, 19 months later, it begs that question.” It creates a set of question inside the women that “help drive the whole series and enrich the larger question of the series.”

The next question was for Ella Purnell, who plays Jackie. We see her before the plane crash, where she’s the team captain and able to get everyone to do what they need to do. However, when they’re on the island, she loses her grip after she makes one bad choice (leaving someone on the plane). The journalist asked Purnell what might Jackie be going through during this drastic change? And for her, or the producers, should we make any assumptions about the fact there’s no adult Jackie either in this panel or in the first episodes we’ve seen (unlike the other characters), and she wants to know if they’re worried the audience might predict something happened to her.

Purnell seemed a little bit surprised by the long question. What she loves about the role she said, is that Jackie’s attitude is really all just “a front,” which no one knows until she makes that mistake in the second episode. “And the stark contrast between Jackie’s social stand in Episode 1 and 2 is amazing. I love playing it. I think that when you — you take these kids out of the society that they’re in and that they’re building of high school, you know. Who’s the popular one? Who’s the nerd? They’re all athletes. But that kind of hierarchy system that they’ve created and participated in. And you put them in this unbelievable life or death scenario.” She says that people can surprise themselves, and in many different ways, when “the true essence of who you are comes out.” Jackie is interesting because instead of “flight or fight,” she freezes. She wants to take control and act like she did back in Jersey, she’s frozen in place, because she’s so young and in shock. She believes that’s very frustrating for Jackie – not knowing where she stands. It’s not normal for her. “She loses her footing. She has no idea who to be out here. Whether she picks that up or doesn’t pick that up throughout the rest of season, you’ll find out. But it was definitely fun to play, like, that very sharp decline of sort of social standing between the episodes.”

Lyle repeated that show has “a lot of twists and turns over the course of the season,” but what’s imoprtant is “why” rather than “what.” She concluded with, “take that as you will.” Obviously, she didn’t want to give too much away. Nickerson countered that he would rather viewers “read a lot into everything and sort of, like, go in like a million different directions with it and just have like a great time.”

The next press person asked Ricci and Hanratty about their character, Misty. He said, “The character that you’re playing has absolutely no cachet, zero, prior to the plane crash, and then suddenly she is the linchpin for this entire survival. But in the process of doing that, one action that she takes creates the fact that they’re going to be stuck there for a very, very long time. And I’m wondering what — how does that psychologically affect her in her later life, knowing what she has done? It’s got to have some type of ramification in her adult life.”

Ricci explained that for Misty, everything is about her, and her “wants and her longing and her needs. And, so, when they crash, you know, and she does finally become important…she creates a situation in which she will stay important.” She didn’t want to speak for the younger version of the character, but she doesn’t think Misty has any regrets (about what she did) as an adult. Instead, when things get interesting for her as an adult, she’s “thrilled that her life might become exciting again.” Her adult life is not great. Being stranded on the island was the highlight of her life (unlike the other characters on the show).

Hanratty added that before the crash, Misty “was always everybody else’s biggest cheerleader.” She was really rooting for the team to do well. Hanratty discussed with the producers that “maybe Misty is not so good at love, but obsession. And she kind of replaces those two. And, so, she is really obsessed with these girls, and just loves them, but, you know, in her own way. But has never really felt that in return.” When the plane crashes, she takes over while everyone else is still in shock. She has “some medical background and kind of does what she can.” They talked about whether her parents were doctors, so she’s looked at medical books growing up as well as taking the “Red Cross babysitter training class twice.” She finally hears people talking about her in a positive, which thrills her and gives her a reason to go on. She makes this decision (as the reporter mentioned) to keep going with that purpose for as long as possible, and doesn’t feel bad about it. To Misty, “”It’s exciting and it’s liberating and thrilling.”

The producers were asked about whether there might be “something” out in the woods with the soccer team, and it’s possible that it came back with them and is still around in the present. He asks if there might be some sort of supernatural element to show, or something more realistic. He added that in case they can’t really answer that question, he would like to know “what was the human meat actually made out of, and how does it taste?” Ha ha! Good way to handle that question.

Lyle said that the meat was venison (deer meat), which was difficult for Hanratty, who’s a vegan in real life. Hanratty answered that she didn’t eat the venison. She and Brown both at “Beyon Meat” instead (a vegan alternative beef).

Lyle tried to answer the supernatural question. She said they discussed what types of inspirations they would draw on, such as “Rosemary’s Baby.” They were interested in the line between “genuine supernatural phenomenon or sort of a mass hysteria or some sort of madness that takes hold. And so that’s a line that we’re going to be playing throughout the show.” Very interesting.

Nickerson explained that it was difficult to answer the question without spoiling things for the viewer.

Kusama had an interesting way to answer the question. She mused, “I do feel like what the show does in Season 1 that is surprising — and I’m going to throw this — I’m going to throw this bit to Jasmin and to Tawny. Because I think what we’re doing is we’re exploring what ‘supernatural’ means. In this case, it’s about the mysteries of human behavior. And in many respects, Jasmine’s Taissa is one of the most competent in the wilderness, but also suffers terrible trauma very deeply. And when we see Tawny as adult Taissa, she in many respects is the most together and competent, and yet there’s still so much mystery underneath all of that.” She then asked Brown and Cypress to talk a little about how they played Taissa with the idea in their heads of of “what’s possible in human behavior.”

Brown thinks that Taissa’s strength and weakness is the same: she’s very competent and smart, and she can see the world in a realistic way. It “offers solutions, but it doesn’t offer a lot of comfort, at least not on a deeper emotional level… I’m a nerd for the enneagram, so I did a lot of enneagram research and presented her with what I think Taissa’s enneagram number is, and everything that means, and we discussed that. It was a really good tool for me, and she is a very practical person.”

Cypress agreed that “practicality is her strong point. She’s definitely most comfortable at the helm. And as far as the genres go, she seems, like, to have her entire life together. Everything’s on the up and up, and then of course the mysteries start happening, and all of the sudden we’re in, you know, a completely different feeling for the show. And coming to that as an actor, you know, it’s — I don’t really have a reference to have started with, so it was really just acting mystery as drama for me. And that’s how I approached it, anyway.”

The last press person asked if it was difficult for the younger actresses to put their careers on hold (when they’d barely started) wait for the show for two years (between the pilot and filming the rest). Hanratty nodded, so he asked her what it was like during those two years, and what did she do in the meantime, and how did it feel?

Hanratty confessed that she’s an impatient person, so she was a bit on pins and needles, waiting to hear if they would film the rest of the series. Then, because of COVID, she moved home with her parents, so she wasn’t as focused on getting work as she normally is. She started getting more anxious later on.

MORE INFO:

ABOUT THE SHOW

Created and executive produced by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (Narcos), the one-hour drama series, YELLOWJACKETS stars Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock), Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Juliette Lewis (Camping), Emmy® nominee Christina Ricci (Z: The Beginning of Everything) and Tawny Cypress (Unforgettable).

Equal parts survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama, YELLOWJACKETS is the saga of a team of wildly talented high school girls soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later, proving that the past is never really past and what began out in the wilderness is far from over.

The series also stars Warren Kole (Shades of Blue), Ella Purnell (Sweetbitter), Samantha Hanratty (SHAMELESS), Sophie Thatcher (Prospect), Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief), Steven Krueger (The Originals) and Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers). Jonathan Lisco (Animal Kingdom, Halt and Catch Fire) joins Lyle and Nickerson to serve as executive producer and showrunning partner.

Produced for SHOWTIME by studio Entertainment One (eOne), Karyn Kusama (Destroyer, Girlfight) executive produces and directed the pilot. Drew Comins of Creative Engine also serves as executive producer.

Christina Ricci (born February 12, 1980) is an American actress. She is known for playing unconventional characters with a dark edge. Ricci is the recipient of several accolades, including a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Satellite Award for Best Actress, as well as Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Independent Spirit Award nominations.

Ricci made her film debut at the age of nine in Mermaids (1990), which was followed by a breakout role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel. Subsequent appearances in Casper and Now and Then (both 1995) brought her fame as a “teen icon”. At 17, she moved into adult-oriented roles with The Ice Storm (1997), which led to parts in films such as Buffalo ’66, Pecker and The Opposite of Sex (all 1998). She garnered acclaim for her performances in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Monster (2003). Her other credits include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Prozac Nation (2001), Pumpkin (2002), Anything Else (2003), Black Snake Moan (2006), Speed Racer (2008), and The Smurfs 2 (2013). Despite being known predominantly for her work in independent productions, Ricci has appeared in numerous box office hits – to date, her films have grossed in excess of US$1.4 billion.

On television, Ricci appeared as Liza Bump in the final season of Ally McBeal (2002), and received acclaim for her guest role on Grey’s Anatomy in 2006. She also starred as Maggie Ryan on the ABC series Pan Am (2011–12), and produced and starred in the series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) and Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017). As well as voicing characters in several animated films, Ricci provided voices for the video games The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon and Speed Racer: The Videogame (both 2008). In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in Time Stands Still.

Ricci is the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

Samantha Lynne Hanratty (born September 20, 1995) is an American actress. Her first lead role took place in 2009, portraying Chrissa Maxwell in An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. In 2011, she played the role Whitney Brown in the film The Greening of Whitney Brown. Hanratty is considered a Celebrity Friend for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Tawny Cypress (born August 8, 1976) is an American actress. She has appeared in various television and stage plays. She starred as Cherie Rollins-Murray on the television series Unforgettable, on the second and third seasons. She previously had recurring roles on several TV series, including Fox‘s drama K-Ville as Ginger “Love Tap” LeBeau, Simone Deveaux on the TV series Heroes, and Carly Heath on House of Cards.

Her mother is of Hungarian and German extraction and her father is Accawmacke American. Tawny Cypress was born and raised in Point Pleasant, New Jersey and now lives in New York City.

Jasmin Savoy Brown (born March 21, 1994) is an American actress best known for her role as Evangeline “Evie” Murphy on HBO‘s The Leftovers. She also provided the voice and motion capture for Phin Mason / Tinkerer in Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Ella Summer Purnell (born 17 September 1996) is an English actress best known for her roles in the films Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016), Churchill (2017), and Army of the Dead (2021).

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Girls in "Yellowjackets" on Showtime

Interview with the cast of “Yellowjackets” Part 1

TV Interview!

actresses Melanie Lynskey, Sophie Nélisse, Juliette Lewis, and Sophie Thatcher, and producers Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Jonathan Lisco and Karyn Kusama of "Yellowjackets" on Showtime

Interview with actresses Melanie Lynskey, Sophie Nélisse, Juliette Lewis, and Sophie Thatcher, and producers Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Jonathan Lisco and Karyn Kusama of “Yellowjackets” on Showtime by Suzanne 8/25/21

This was part of Showtime’s TCA Virtual Press Tour for this show. There were two panels, and this is the first. It’s a really good show that jumps back and forth between the past (when the girls were teenagers) and the present (when they’re all older). They’re part of a soccer team that is flying to the finals when their plane goes down in the Canadian wilderness. They have to do terrible things to survive.

I also enjoyed these panels because the person who ran them was a really nice guy, and he ran them very efficiently. The show premieres Sunday, November 14. Don’t miss it!

SHOWTIME SUMMER 2021 TCA VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR
Virtual via Zoom August 25, 2021
© 2021 Showtime Networks Inc. All rights reserved.

YELLOWJACKETS
Part 1:
Melanie Lynskey (she/her), “Shauna Sadecki”
Sophie Nélisse (she/her), “Teen Shauna Sadecki”
Juliette Lewis (she/her), “Natalie Scatorccio”
Sophie Thatcher (she/her), “Teen Natalie Scatorccio”
Ashley Lyle (she/her), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Bart Nickerson (he/him), Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner
Jonathan Lisco (he/him), Executive Producer/Showrunner
Karyn Kusama (she/her), Executive Producer/Director

The Upcoming drama “Yellowjackets” premieres on Sunday, November 14th.

Here was my question: “Good morning everyone. My question is for EP Bart Nickerson. There have been quite a few “Lord of the Flies” type shows with teens, like “100” and “Society,” etc. Can you tell us what you think makes your show different – besides the fact that it’s a female soccer team and that we see them later, in their 40s?”

Nickerson replied that he hadn’t really seen those other shows, so he couldn’t speak to the comparison. He feels that the two elements I brought up (being a female soccer team and seeing them later on) were important parts of the premise that give them “a lot of different places to go.” He felt that other shows probably wouldn’t be that similar without those elements. These elements are able to give us insights into the characters’ psyches in ways we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

I thanked him and then told him how much I enjoyed the episodes I saw (there were two, I believe).

The rest of the questions were from other journalists in the panel. Melanie Lynskey was asked what she thought when she first read the script, whether she wanted to do it – what her first impression was (particularly since she has to do a lot of really strange things, particularly “where small animals are concerned.” She replied that she was “so excited to read something that was so different” and with a real edge to it. She said the writing was “tense” and also centered on women, each of which was interesting and well written. “By the end of the pilot, I felt like I knew everybody, and they were all unique individuals.” She jumped at the chance to sign up, even though she normally doesn’t like to sign long-term contracts for shows. She didn’t have her usual doubts about the show.

That journalist then asked Sophie Nélisse and Sophie Thatcher (“The Sophies”) what they thought of the “pretty harrowing plane crash sequence” and compared it to various movie plane crashes. Nélisse said that the plane set was “very claustrophobic” and somewhat “tilted to the side” which helped with the realism of their situation. When they saw it in person the first day, it helped them feel scared and get into their characters more. Thatcher added that she felt, “it was a really immersive experience.” They didn’t have to act very much. Also, it was their first day since they’d shot the pilot (two years before, because of the pandemic), so they went right into shooting and all felt “this adrenalin rush” that they all had. It added to the intensity of the situation.

Lynskey was asked to compare her role in “Heavenly Creatures” to her role here (since it was a similar role in the 90’s). She also asked if Nélisse was aware of Lynskey’s past roles in the 90’s and whether she used any of her earlier performances for playing her as a younger person.

Lynskey noted that “probably wasn’t alive” when she started in the business. She didn’t think of that role specifically, but she did think about her own life and relationships with women. She said that her feelings for the women she made friends with on this show made her want to cry. She said, they “are the most precious thing to me.” She really loved how the story “got to the heart of female relationships,” since her own female friends were so important to her growing up. It was a more complex writing of girl friends than most scripts have.

Nélisse agreed that she was born in 2000 and added that she hadn’t watched Lynskey’s work before she got the part. Once she did get cast, she watched some of her work online. She knew she wouldn’t be able to match the high pitch of her voice, and she didn’t think they looked that similar. However, she’s “very honored to be able to play her younger self.” She added that this character of Lynskey’s is so different from any others that she just focused on having chats with her over coffee and discussing the character, so they would make sure they were in the same place about her and what happens to her in the show.

The next question was for the executive producers. The reporter asked about the casting of the actresses, since they had to match up so well (even taking hair, makeup and costuming into account).

Ashley Lyle revealed that, “It was a long and tortured process.” However, they were lucky to be able to cast some of their actresses, such as Lynskey, fairyl early on. She added, “Which was an absolute dream come true.” They mostly focused on getting the most talented people for the roles instead of making sure they all looked alike. Then they matched up photos of the people they wanted to try to see if it would work. She credits the actors with being talented, understanding the story and filling the shoes of their characters. She finished with, “it’s really about the spirit of the character more than anything else, in my mind.” She answered that question so well that no one else had to say a thing.

Lynskey was asked what it was about the character that really made her want to do the show. Lynskey hesitated, thinking of what to say, so Juliette Lewis jumped in. I guess she felt left out because no one had asked her a question yet! That was kind of funny. She said that the script was one of the best she’d read in over 10 years. She praised it a lot, saying it was “riveting,” just reading it, which is very unusual. She also said, “I’m always interested in dichotomies or contrasts and all these multi—layered problems within a human being. And I just loved the way my character is bourgeois on the surface, or, you know, faking her way through life. And then with this, like single—purposed mission to go home and find out a few things.” She admitted that when you say yes to a role, you’re always hoping that it will turn out as well as you think it will. She liked hearing the way the whole season will play out. Also, she’s a big fan of Lynskey’s, mostly because of her earlier work in “Heavenly Creatures.” She said the role was a dream because of the story being so exciting and how much potential it has for future stories.

Nélisse agreed with Lewis. She stated, “The arc of the characters is so interesting. I think what I really loved about it is that for our storyline, we’re just — the younger kids are kind of put in a situation where you get to know yourself on, like, a deeper level. And I think we’ve all imagined what it would be like to be facing a life and death situation. And it brings out the worst in us, but also the best in us.” She found that conflict to be the most interesting. You think you know how you might act in that type of situation, but you don’t really know until you’re faced with it. We get to see “how far these women will go, and how they have to rely on each other but are also kind of against each other.” She loves her character and how introverted she is. She watches the action that’s going on, but as the show progresses, “inside of her a slow burn, that will develop as the show goes on, and you can see how she’ll start to, like, speak for herself and have a voice and find her voice.” The character’s arc is what interests her.

Thatcher spoke up to say that she admires her character’s “grit and her resilience, and how from the very beginning she just remains true to herself, and her lack of filter.” She admitted that in real life, she’s been trying to “incorporate a lot of those qualities into who I am. And it’s cool, because I get to live — like half of my time is living that on camera, and just to, like — it’s empowering. And I think that says a lot about the script and how rich and complex Natalie is. Yeah, there’s a very — she’s incredibly layered. She has this sensitivity that’s not really brought out until a couple episodes in. And I don’t think anybody was expecting that side. She has this — so much lightness in her that she’s really hiding and masking. Because — I don’t know. She’s a teenager. But she’s really, really complex. And she’s made a profound impact on me, which is rare.”

The next press person asked Juliette, who started acting in some pretty tough roles when she was very young, what did she think of it then, and did she have any advice for these younger actresses now who are doing this “really serious series.”

Lewis answered that she really took a shine to her “Sophie,” Sophie Thatcher, whom she admired for being an incredible young actor. She loves that their speaking voices are similar (deep). She pointed out that, “I’ve always been attracted to what I call the “primal energies” and “high stakes” genre or dramas, which is what I cut my teeth on early on. That’s so fun…I always had this empathy as a kid for hardship in others. And when I would look at people and imagine their worlds, I just had a sensitivity, oddly, to pain. And emotionality. I don’t know why, but I had it in myself.” She spoke more about this ability to transfer others’ pain to herself for her character, using her imagination. She thinks children already have the ability to play “make believe” when they’re young, and they can develop that into “theatrics” as they get older, for acting.

The next man wanted to know about what the actors who each play the adult and teen versions of the character talk about, when they get together to discuss the characters, and whether they include “the cadence of their voice” or other things.

Lynskey let us know that the characters had certain secrets that they didn’t know at first, so they had to find them out from the producers, which is usually the case with TV series. They had to piece the parts of her together, based on what they were told. They also had a long discussion about “Shauna’s kind of innate self—confidence and belief in herself, and the fact that she’s like quite a sexual being who is quite secure in her sexuality.” She enjoyed the fact that they were “subverting the expectation of” Jackie being “the beautiful, popular one, while Shauna held her own and knew who she was. The two actresses came at it from the same place and built the character together.

Nélisse agreed that Lynskey had it dead on. She did admit that it was difficult because the adults and teens don’t shoot at the same time, so they didn’t always have time to speak about it. She didn’t always know what Lynskey was doing. However, they kept Shauna’s “personality and her spirit and her journey in mind” while adding in some personal details from her own life because she relates to the character very well.

Lewis credited the “magic of casting” because she and Thatcher “felt a kinship.” Their character, Natalie, is “expressed in her exterior, in her clothes and her music.” Lewis spoke to EP Ashley Lyle quite a bit about Natalie’s attributes. She’s an artist who didn’t really express herself. She is “a natural athlete.” Most importantly to her is that she and Thatcher shared music from that era that the younger version of her character would like.

Thatcher agreed that the music was important to Natalie, so it was important to her as well. She recalls speaking with Lewis on the phone about how Natalie dresses is important to her. She brought up specific things that she hadn’t thought of. It really opened up her mind to the possibilities. She and Lewis both can really relate to the character, so she agreed that they did have a “kinship.” They discussed people Natalie would admire, such as (German singer) Nina Hagen. They both had a very clear image of what she would be like, and what she strived for. They were very lucky to be on the same path about the character.

The penultimate journalist asked how Lynskey and Lewis felt about the two younger actresses acting like them (whether they were successful or not). Lynskey answered that she felt like she really “won the lottery” after watching Nélisse play the character in the pilot. She praised her for having “so much emotional intelligence and depth.” She said that the younger actress was just natural at playing the character and that it really wasn’t like an imitation of her. There were a few things she noticed that they did in a similar way, such as “looking out from under their eyebrows.” Also, they both gave her a certain type of “physicality.” Mostly, she was just very grateful.

Lewis said that she felt the same way that Lynskey did, that she really lucked out. She wants to claim her, but says that Thatcher is really her own person. She said, “The casting was phenomenal. And Sophie’s phenomenal, because she’s Natalie. She’s our Natalie who’s all in the teenage land.” She talked about how teenage girls are before they evolve into womenhood and put on certain faces for life. She really praised her voice placement once again. Thatcher told her that she watched her to find that low pitch. Some of her expressions were also similar.

Lynskey was asked what the best and worst parts of her job are, since she’s been acting since she was really young.

Lynskey put it very well when she replied, “I think any of us would probably say the best part of the job is the moments between action and cut.” She went on to explain how she feels when acting, “something transcendent happens where you leave your body a little bit and you don’t know what’s going on, and something magical happens between you and another actor.” She also added that it’s “beautiful” seeing the talented young actors on a project like this one, who have so much enthusiasm and are so good at what they do, and they have strong voices. The worst part, she admitted, is “having to get up early. Even though I have a two year old now and I have to get up early every single day, it’s just still — just not how I’m made.”

MORE INFO:

ABOUT THE SHOW

Created and executive produced by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (Narcos), the one-hour drama series, YELLOWJACKETS stars Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock), Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Juliette Lewis (Camping), Emmy® nominee Christina Ricci (Z: The Beginning of Everything) and Tawny Cypress (Unforgettable).

Equal parts survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama, YELLOWJACKETS is the saga of a team of wildly talented high school girls soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later, proving that the past is never really past and what began out in the wilderness is far from over.

The series also stars Warren Kole (Shades of Blue), Ella Purnell (Sweetbitter), Samantha Hanratty (SHAMELESS), Sophie Thatcher (Prospect), Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief), Steven Krueger (The Originals) and Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers). Jonathan Lisco (Animal Kingdom, Halt and Catch Fire) joins Lyle and Nickerson to serve as executive producer and showrunning partner.

Produced for SHOWTIME by studio Entertainment One (eOne), Karyn Kusama (Destroyer, Girlfight) executive produces and directed the pilot. Drew Comins of Creative Engine also serves as executive producer.

Melanie Jayne Lynskey (born 16 May 1977) is a New Zealand actress. She is known for playing quirky, soft-spoken but headstrong characters, and works predominantly in independent films. Her accolades include a New Zealand Film Award, a Hollywood Film Award and a Sundance Special Jury Award, as well as Critics’ Choice Award, Gotham Award, and Golden Nymph Award nominations.

Sophie Nélisse (born March 27, 2000) is a Canadian actress. She is known for her Genie Award–winning performance in Monsieur Lazhar, as Liesel Meminger in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, and as Caroline in The Kid Detective.

Juliette Lake Lewis (born June 21, 1973) is an American actress and singer. She is known for her portrayals of offbeat characters, often in films with dark themes.[2] Lewis became an “it girl” of American cinema in the early 1990s, appearing in various independent and arthouse films. Her accolades include a Pasinetti Award, one Academy Award nomination, one Golden Globe nomination, and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

The daughter of character actor Geoffrey Lewis, Lewis began her career in television at age 14 before being cast in her first major film role as Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). She went on to garner international notice for her role in Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear (1991), which saw Lewis nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as the Golden Globe in the same category.

Sophie Bathsheba Thatcher (born 2000)[1] is an American actress who made her feature-film debut in the 2018 American science fiction feature length film Prospect. Thatcher’s work on stage includes productions of Oliver, Seussical, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Secret Garden.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

The cast of "Yellowjackets" on Showtime

Interview with the cast of “Queens”

TV Interview!

TCA panel for Queens on ABC

Interview with actors Eve, Brandy, Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez, Taylor Sele, Pepi Sonuga, and executive producers of “Queens” on ABC by Suzanne 8/26/21

ABC ENTERTAINMENT / DISNEY TELEVISION STUDIOS

SUMMER 2021 TCA VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR

Queens

Eve, Cast
Naturi Naughton, Cast
Nadine Velazquez, Cast
Brandy, Cast
Taylor Sele, Cast
Pepi Sonuga, Cast
Zahir McGhee, Executive Producer
Sabrina Wind, Executive Producer
Tim Story, Executive Producer
Swizz Beatz, Executive Music Producer

Virtual via Zoom
August 26, 2021

This was a fun chat with the cast and producers of the show. I asked Brandy (Norwood) and Eve (Jihan Jeffers) about the differences they’re feeling between doing their comedies long ago and this show now. Brandy starred in “Moesha” in the 90’s and Eve starred in “Eve” 2003-2009. They had great answers to my question. I had said “a long time ago” and then stopped myself because I didn’t want to sound like I was calling them old! I said, “And I don’t want to make it sound that long…” and Eve said, kindly, “It was a long time ago. A long time ago.”

Brandy spoke about the differences between doing that sitcom, where they would rehearse all week and then shoot before a live audience. This show is shot like a movie. She admitted, “It’s a little bit more challenging, but I love the challenge. So, I absolutely love the way that we shoot and how we have to learn things quick. And it just keeps you on your toes.”

Eve answered that she was very young, “the youngest person on the cast. So I was running from clubs to table reads, which is — I never recommend that at all.” She beamed that it’s nice to be back working as a woman and to be “working with an ensemble again that I actually feel really close to.” She was close to the people on “Eve” as well, and she enjoys that. She loves being able to create a new character that has some parallels to her own life. She said, “Definitely, I’m finding some, like, new things and being able to do — and to be like a rapper, a different rapper, an alter ego, to a certain extent. So I mean, it’s — there’s a lot. There’s a lot. And I would have to say, as much as I loved my show then, I’m able to enjoy it even more now, with maturity.”

Brandy chimed in again to say that the fact that this new show has music is a bonus for her.

Normally, I refer to all interviewees by their last names, as a sign of respect and professionalism, but since these actresses/singers go by their first names, it seems kind of silly to do that in this particular interview, so I’m not going to do that.

Other questions were asked by journalists at this TCA panel. One asked them whether the show will be playing up the rivalry between the characters or whether it will be more about their friendship. He/she observed that from what he/she had seen already, “it seems like you’re laying the groundwork here for more sisterhood.” Brandy and Eve agreed with that last statement. Nadine also agreed that they’re showing more of the friendships between the women. “I think our show is about sisterhood and family. And you fight with your family, and these are people that have been brought back together after a long period of time. And we have fights, but we want to see people supporting one another and coming back together. There’s always going to be arguments. There’s always going to be a hierarchy that exists, and shifting. But we do want to be on the friendship more so than a rivalry or bickering or backstabbing.”

A reporter asked Swizz Beatz how he chose his name (he was formerly “Kasseem Dean”) and how he found his voice and style as producer. Swizz Beatz replied that he got the name growing up in the Bronx. The name started out as “K-Swiss” because he wore Kicks sneakers, and then he became “DJ K-Swizz,” which evolved into “Swizz Beatz.” He answered the second part of the question that he just found his voice by doing the music. He asserted, “I just wanted to be disruptive, and I just wanted to make people happy.”

A member of the press noticed that the premiere had some connections to their real-life pasts and wondered if that was something that would continue throughout. Eve said that they want to be very authentic, especially about the times they lived through. There will be “moments” from them. “When people listen to the music, when they see our outfits, they see our hair, everything, we want them to be transported back to that moment. So it’s all about the authenticity.” Brandy agreed with that.

He/she also asked whether Eve will be coming out with a new album (besides the music from the series). Eve pointed out that Swizz would be the one to determine that, and Brandy would be involved as well.

Sabrina Wind suggested that the music from the show will be great, and she can’t wait for us to hear it. Eve jumped in on that to agree that the music is “incredible.” She liked doing the music for the series because it was a way to dip back into music “without having the actual pressure of an album.”

This was the next question for the cast, which was a good one: “Do you find doing rap more like singing or more like acting, or is it its own performance style completely? Or is it a blend of the two?”

Naturi Naughton answered first that she thinks rap has it’s own style but is a lot harder work than just singing. She’s a singer but felt that doing the dancing, performing, etc. was exhausting, and that she wasn’t in shape enough for it. She added, “I’m having so much fun. I never knew I could really rhyme, and I actually feel like I’m — I’m feeling myself a little bit.”

Brandy replied that she always loved rap and has “been a hip-hop head from since the ’90s.” She loves to rap as well as sing, but she says the rapping they do on the show “is really, really difficult. It’s so fun and so challenging, and I absolutely love it.”

Nadine Velazques said honestly that she’s never rapped before, but she’s loving it now. She’s been finding new rap music, listening to it and studying rappers to hear things that she’s never heard before. She concludedthat  it definitely used her acting ability because she’s never done it before.

Pepi Sonuga said thoughtfully that acting like her character, Muffin is all about acting. She tries to break the script down into different acting techniques. Then, when it comes to the rap, it’s different. “When I’m breaking down a rap, I get to colors and animals. I might say ‘This chunk reminds me of rapping like a fox, and then a bunny.’ Or like, ‘This is green,’ you know. So it’s really cool. I break down the raps just how I would break down a script. Because she’s so out there, I get to use all these techniques I’ve learned but never got to use before.”

They were asked more about the raps – some of them are more like soliloquies with a beat behind them, rather than a conventional song.

Eve agreed, saying, “I think what we want to convey is that, you know, we want to bring the artistry back to hip-hop. We want to bring back those amazing stories. We want to bring back the lyricism, which is what I’ve always been attracted to as an MC. And really rap means rhythm and poetry. You know what I mean? So we want to — you know, we want to give emotion and really show how skillful hip-hop really can be, used to be, is, depending on who the artist is.”

Zajor McGhee put in his own two cents that they always want the music tied to the story. When people have asked him before about the show, he explains that they’re not just a show with music, but more of a musical show. They use the music to help us learn about the characters and what’s going on. “And those are little tidbits that I think make the music not only amazing, with the job Swizz had done, and the amazing job these women do performing it, but we are always pushing our story forward if you were paying attention to the lyrics. And then on top of that, you can just dance. When I get to practice to Swizz, I just dance in my house.” Swizz Beatz thanked him for that.

A journalist reminded Brandy that she and her husband interviewed her (Brandy) quite a few times in the past (early in her career), and she was very ambitious back then during those interviews. Brandy had said that she wanted to do it all. She wanted her own show, to sing in records, concerts and movies, and to produce. She said, “You wanted to be a queen back then.” Brandy was surprised to hear from her. She said that Brandy had “ticked off a lot of those boxes” and asked, “What boxes are left, and what gave you that ambition to be Queen Brandy way back at the start?”

Brandy suggested that the passion is something you’re born with. She said you go after the things you dream about. She’s always wanted to sing and inspire people. She felt it was her purpose, so she pursued it. She tied the question into “Queens,” saying that it’s a blessing because she gets to do all of the things she loves in one show, “with amazing people. And I’m just so excited. I can’t even believe this is happening or that it’s even real. So I’m just in the moment, excited.”

Brandy was asked about her future and long-term goals. She would like to do this for as long as she can and to do more film and more music. “I love music, until the day I die. So it’s more to do.”

About the show, the cast was asked where the names came from and whether it would really be possible for a group like this to “reboot” and try to make it in the music business again. Nadine quipped, “Not without a Valeria.” Naturia thinks it might be easier to reboot because they “have things like Verses, for example. We should revive the music and give even a new generation an opportunity. So thanks, Swizz, for doing things like that. Even things like social media. We are able to bring old school to the new school. So if a group like New Edition or a group like Nasty B’s wants to revive themselves — I actually think it’s very possible and attainable if they want to. That’s actually what our show explores. Do you really want this life again? That’s the question.”

Saladin pointed out that Backstreet Boys did a reunion tour as well as New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men… “We’re seeing it happen a lot in the world. So I think people are passionate for the good times that they had back in the day, and what those memories are.”

Zahir couldn’t give specific reasons how he came up with the characters’ names. He said, “one by one, when I was thinking about the show, the names sort of came to me first. And I would pitch them to, like, my reps as they’d come up with a new name. But how they came about, I really don’t have any idea.” Then the cast members joked around for a minute about the names.

A reported noted that the group of artists is unusual “you have …former solo artists and girl group singers, rappers, and singers.” She asked how they got them together and whether it was a big adjustment for Nadine (who never rapped or sang before).

Nadine admitted, in a very sweet speech, that she was intimidated by the idea, but she “was ready to face the things that I’ve been keeping from the world. So, you know, I am musical in my soul. I am a poet in my soul. I am a dancer. And she’s in there. And this job is making her come out. And I’ve been hiding her forever. I’m going to cry. And like — the support of Eve, and the way that Tim Story supports, and Brandy supports, they gave me life to just, like, every scene bring her out more and more. And I’ve had a really traumatic experience in the entertainment business, because I was so afraid to show so much. But I get to be that here. And so, like, kind of like the character; it’s like a second chance, and it’s like an opportunity to become something, to redefine myself, just like these characters are.”

No one answered the reporter’s first question after that, unfortunately. That happens sometimes in these panels.

A reporter reminded Nadine that when he/she interviewed her a few years ago, she said that she doesn’t do singing and dancing. He/she asked how she was handling choreography for the show. Nadine replied that she feels like she has two left feet, but she’s getting it. She’s had tremendous growth since the pilot and feels a lot more comfortable and free with her dancing.

Taylor was asked if he’s playing “a composite of producers and managers that we’ve heard about from the past.” Taylor answered in a sort of roundabout way. “I think I’m playing a full and complex human being who is on a quest for self—discovery and searching for meaning. And I think producers in the past have been on that journey themselves. They’re human beings. So I’m trying my best not to be a caricature, but behind the scenes, when they get to see this character, he’s confronting himself in many ways. And that’s where his growth will come from. And hopefully people can relate to that.”

Brandy and Eve were asked this question, “each of you are adapting sort of different aspects of your styles in these characters. How did that combination work?”

Eve said that when they all first got together, they just instantly clicked. The others agreed. She did specify that they all were used to working different ways, so they had to make adjustments. She was used to doing dance rehearsals a certain way, for instance. She admitted that she got frustrated because she was having trouble with the steps. She added, “But it just was like Nadine said, it’s the support of each other that has helped all of us be able to gel together. And the respect for one another. And the understanding that we all do work in different ways. And we’re still learning and gelling. It’s honestly been incredible, really.”

Brandy added her own feelings, that she wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else because it’s “magical” with this group. Naturi added, “I always wanted sisters growing up, and now I feel like I’ve got them.” Brandy said, “And you’ve got them, girl.” It was a very sweet, genuine moment.

Zahir was asked who inspired him for the character Li’l Muffin. He said that he was “just inspired by the freedom and the character of all of the rappers that are out today, whether that’s Nicki or, you know, Cardi, Megan. You know, Rico Nasty, right? Like, they’re just out there. And part of it is an image thing, but also there’s a level of self—expression with these young artists today that didn’t exist. Megan, in one of the songs, is rapping about Sasuke. And I looked it up, and it’s an anime character, or whatever. And I’m like, ‘Wow, hip-hop has changed.’ But that’s cool, you know.” He went on to say that Li’l Muffin is a combination of all of these artists. He was impressed with the way Pepi came in and just nailed the character and then brought it to another level.

Swizz Beatz was asked how he keeps the lyrics of the music “fresh and entertaining and on trend.”

Swizz said that he grew up doing this type of thing in the 90’s and liked reliving his youth. He said, “doing it in 2021, it just feels good. It feels natural. And being that it’s a show, I get to have extra fun, you know. I don’t have to be so serious with the music. You know, we can have fun and put risky things in there and, you know, make the characters come out even more. So it’s been a fun journey.”

A journalist asked Brandy about going from “Disney Princess” to “ABC Queen” – what will her fans from “Cinderella” think about this new show?

Brandy thinks they’ll enjoy it because it’s versatile and very different. She’s definitely not a princess on this show.

The others commented that Brandy is very different on “Queens.” Nadine said, “She’s very powerful on the show, very. Very badass and raw and beautiful.”

Taylor chimed in to say that, “Zahir has been able to capture with his writing, the evolution of human beings, with the spirit and people fighting for what they want and fighting themselves. Just watching these women work every day, just not only as artists but as performers, has been inspiring to learn something from them every day. So I think that’s what fans will really grasp and feel when you watch this.”

Another reporter asks what makes this show different from shows like “Star” and “Girls5eva.” I would have asked this question, too, so I’m glad someone did. Zahir answered that he thinks there is room for all of their shows, although he’s not a regular viewer of the other shows. He wasn’t able to compare them very well. As he said earlier, this is more of a musical and character drama about the women and their lives, “and second chances.” He thinks those other shows “were potentially a little more focused on the music business.” Actually, I would say it’s a lot like a combination of both shows.

He also pointed out that many of the people in their cast were around in the music business back in the 90s, so that gives their show, “a certain level of authenticity.” He also doesn’t think most networks have a show with “five women of color and a man of color front and center.” He said, “we have the opportunity to tell the breadth of stories about the experience of women of color and Black women in this country that isn’t the pressure of Eve having to be the one Black character to say the thing that matters, right? Like we are varied; we’re great. We are beautiful. And I think that the time was yesterday for this show, and the time is today, and the time is tomorrow for this show.”

MORE INFO:

QUEENS (Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT) Series Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

Starring Eve, Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez and Brandy, “Queens” follows four women in their 40s who reunite for a chance to recapture their fame and regain the swagger they had in the ‘90s when they were legends in the hip-hop world.

“Queens” stars Eve as Brianna aka Professor Sex, Naturi Naughton as Jill aka Da Thrill, Nadine Velazquez as Valeria aka Butter Pecan, Taylor Sele as Eric Jones, Pepi Sonuga as Lil Muffin and Brandy as Naomi aka Xplicit Lyrics.

“Queens” is produced by ABC Signature, a part of Disney Television Studios. The pilot episode was written by Zahir McGhee and directed by Tim Story. Zahir McGhee, Sabrina Wind and Tim Story are executive producers. Swizz Beatz is executive music producer. The series will be filmed in Atlanta.

BIOS

Eve, star of "Queens" on ABCEve is a GRAMMY®, Daytime Emmy®, BET and MTV Video Music Award winning artist. Previously, she served as the host of CBS’ “The Talk” and appeared in the Netflix show “Feel Good.”
Eve is best known for her multimillion-selling records “Who’s That Girl,” “Gangsta Lovin’” and “Let Me Blow Your Mind” featuring Gwen Stefani, which won the inaugural GRAMMY Award for Best Rap/Song Collaboration in 2002. She has released four multimillion-selling albums and 32 singles, and she has collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the world throughout her career – Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Jill Scott, DMX, Swizz Beatz, Juicy J, The Roots and Missy Elliot. Currently back in the studio after seven years, she is working with some of the biggest producers and writers from around the world – Dallas Austin, Jin Jin, Jessie Ware and Toddla T.
In July 2019, Eve released her first single in six years, “Reload,” to a huge wave of applause with plays across BBC 1Xtra from Mistajam and BBC Radio 1 from Annie Mac and Clara Amfo. She embarked on her biggest UK dates ever last year playing over 10 UK arenas with Kiss FM. 2021 looks to be the year Eve debuts her new live shows at UK and U.S. festivals, marking her debut at any festival in the world.
In October 2020, Eve announced joining the BBC and BBC Sounds exclusively for her debut podcast “Constantly Evolving,” where she speaks to cultural figures from all backgrounds talking about life, how they got through their struggles in both personal and business life, and how they are still “Constantly Evolving.”

Brandy, star of "Queens" on ABCBorn to a musical family, Brandy, the Mississippi-born daughter of Willie and Sonja Norwood, became one of the most successful multimedia stars of the ’90s thanks to her constant presence on both the pop and R&B charts, her popular hit sitcom “Moesha” and the classic made-for-TV movie phenomenon “Cinderella” (starring Whitney Houston), which attracted more than 60 million viewers and broke new ground with its multicultural cast.
Since emerging with her 3x-platinum self-titled debut album in 1994 (released when Brandy was only 15 years old), this trailblazing pioneer has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide (including the 5x-platinum-selling “Never Say Never”) and is ranked one of the bestselling female artists in American music history by the RIAA, having sold over 11 million albums in the United States. During her reign, she recorded five albums: “Never Say Never” (1998), “Full Moon” (2002), “Afrodisiac” (2004), “Human” (2008) and “Two Eleven” (2012).
Brandy has also earned scores of awards, including a GRAMMY®, an AMA, two Soul Train Music Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, three Billboard Awards, four MTV Awards, six Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, two Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and three BMI Awards. While maintaining a recording career, she also gained fame for starring in several film and TV projects including the popular UPN sitcom “Moesha” (1996-2001), a 1997 version of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” a supporting role in the 1998 horror sequel “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,” BET’s series “The Game” and as a judge on the No. 1-rated talent competition “America’s Got Talent.” All of this success landed Brandy features in Billboard, Uptown Magazine, Essence Magazine, NY Daily News, Rolling Stone, The Today Show, PlayBill, and more. Additionally, she has also been a spokesmodel for Cover Girl, DKNY and Ultima/Kaneka brand by Brandy.
Taking things to the next level in spring 2015, she made her Broadway debut in the Tony® Award-winning, record-breaking musical smash “Chicago” as Roxie Hart. “Chicago” is the No. 1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history and Brandy is now a part of that history.
At the top of 2016, Brandy released “Beggin & Pleadin,” a bluesy trap-soul melody that was greeted with much admiration. Her first studio album in eight years, “b7,” was released on July 31, 2020, to critical and fan acclaim, and debuted at No. 1 on the Independent and Current R&B Charts. Recently, Brandy teamed up with singer Monica in a Verzuz celebration. The celebration of R&B and the culture garnered 6 million views and 5 billion impressions on the virtual platform, making it the most-viewed Verzuz battle to date.

Naturi Naughton, one of the stars of "Queens" on ABCSinger, songwriter and actress Naturi Naughton is known most recently for her globally recognized role as Tasha St. Patrick in the six seasons of Starz Network’s No. 1 hit series “Power,” created by powerhouse producer/writer Courtney Kemp and executive produced by 50 Cent. Having wrapped the sixth and final season of “Power,” Naughton’s character has been extended into the “Power” franchise spinoff, “Power Book II: Ghost,” which debuted on Sept. 6, 2020, and has already been renewed for a second season in which she will continue her role as Tasha St. Patrick. Naughton is the two-time recipient of the 2017 and 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “Power.”
She has also been honored at the 2019 Triumph Awards, as well as been recognized by the Women in Entertainment Executive Network (WEEN), Black Women in Film Summit and the National Urban League of New York for outstanding works in TV and film.
Naughton’s critically acclaimed work as an actress includes her compelling performance as Lil Kim in Fox Searchlight’s hit film “Notorious,” as well as her role as Denise Dupree in MGM’s remake of the classic film “Fame.” In August 2020, Naughton starred as Sarah Green in the film “Emperor,” based on an escaped slave who travels north and has chance encounters with Frederick Douglass and John Brown. She has also starred in various other projects including Warner Bros.’ “Lottery Ticket,” opposite Loretta Devine, Ice Cube, Mike Epps and Bow Wow. On the small screen, Naughton is known for her memorable guest performances on “Mad Men” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and her roles on “The Playboy Club” and “The Client List.” She also appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award®-winning musical “Hairspray” for three years.
Before her transition into film and television, Naughton was a member of the platinum-selling pop trio 3LW. She was greatly inspired Nadine Velazquez, one of the stars of "Queens" on ABCby Whitney Houston as a child and knew by the age of 5 that she wanted to be a singer and an actress. In 2021, Naughton will begin releasing fresh music as a solo artist and is excited to dive back into the craft that launched her ever-blossoming career.
She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York and is the mother of 3-year-old daughter Zuri.

Nadine Velazquez is an American actress and writer. In addition to her work on “Queens,” she wrote and will star/produce her series “La’Tina” at Showtime with Will Smith and Frankie Shaw. She previously starred in HISTORY’s series “Six” with Walton Goggins and starred opposite Kevin Hart in “Real Husbands of Hollywood.” Other features include Paramount’s “Flight” opposite Denzel Washington, Summit Entertainment’s “Snitch” opposite Dwayne Johnson, and 20th Century Fox’s “The Bounce Back” opposite Shemar Moore and Bill Belamy. Velazquez also starred in NBC’s “Love Is a Four Letter Word,” the FX beloved series “The League,” and as recurring characters in CW’s “Hart of Dixie” and TNT’s “Major Crimes.” She is also known for her lead role as Catalina in NBC’s Golden Globe-winning series “My Name Is Earl.”

Taylor Sele, one of the stars of "Queens" on ABCBorn in Monrovia, Liberia, Taylor Sele immigrated to Queens, New York, at an early age and has always been drawn to performance and entertainment. First finding a love of sport, his athleticism landed him a football scholarship at Boston College followed by the opportunity to play professionally in the NFL.
As an actor, Sele is compelled by the nuanced choices characters make and the inherent drama of that decision-making process. A grounded yet versatile talent, he has starred opposite Claire Danes in “Homeland” (Showtime) and Forest Whitaker in “Godfather of Harlem” (Epix). Sele is honored to star alongside the four female forces of “Queens.”
His additional credits include “The Deuce” (HBO), Ava Duvernay’s “When They See Us” (Netflix), “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix), “P Valley” (Starz), “Blue Bloods” (CBS) and “FBI” (CBS).

Pepi Sonuga, one of the stars of "Queens" on ABCPepi Sonuga is one to watch on both the big and small screen.  Sonuga also stars in the Hulu limited series “Pam & Tommy” opposite Lily James, Sebastian Stan and Seth Rogen.
On film, Sonuga appeared in A24’s neo-noir crime drama thriller “Under the Silver Lake” opposite Andrew Garfield, Jimmi Simpson, Riley Keough and Topher Grace. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the film premiered at Cannes in 2018. She also starred in the Netflix feature “Thriller” opposite Mykelti Willamson and RZA.
Sonuga got her first start in 2013 in the drama “The Life of a King.” The film is based on the true story of Eugene Brown, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., an ex-convict who starts the Big Chair Chess Club for inner-city youths in Washington, D.C. Other film credits include the SyFy feature “Leprechaun Returns.” On television, Sonuga plays a young Angela Bassett on Fox’s “9-1-1” and the lead in an installment of Hulu’s “Into the Dark” anthology series. She previously starred in Freeform’s drama series “Famous in Love” for two seasons and Starz’s comedy horror series “Ash vs Evil Dead,” created by Sam Raimi.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Sonuga currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Episodes:

Queens: SERIES PREMIERE – 1999 (10/19)

“1999” – Starring Eve, Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez and Brandy, “Queens” follows a fractured girl group living in the shadows of their once prominent hip-hop dynasty. After their popularity skyrocketed with the success of their chart-topping single, “Nasty Girl,” they were once regarded as one of the greatest girl groups of their generation. Despite critical and commercial success, the group was plagued by internal conflict and jealousy. Estranged and out of touch, the four women, now in their 40s reunite for a chance to recapture their fame and regain the swagger they had in the ‘90s when they were legends in the hip-hop world. The series premiere of “Queens” airs TUESDAY, OCT. 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (TV-14, DLS) Watch episodes on demand and on Hulu the day following their premieres.

“1999” was written by Zahir McGhee and directed by Tim Story.   Repeats 10/24.

Queens: Heart of Queens (10/26)

“Heart of Queens” – While Brianna deals with the shattering truths of her marriage, Jill risks losing the safe community she has built for herself when she decides it is time to stop living a lie and comes clean about who she really is. Meanwhile, after a fateful meeting with Cam’ron, Naomi struggles with finally putting herself first on an all-new “Queens,” TUESDAY, OCT. 26 (10:01-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (TV-14, DLS) Watch episodes on demand and on Hulu the day following their premieres.

Guest starring is Cam’ron as himself.

“Heart of Queens” was written by Zahir McGhee and directed by Tim Story.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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poster for "Queens" on ABC

Interview with creators of Covenant, Lace and Partners in Rhyme

TV Interview!

TCA Panel for ALLBLK shows

Interview with creators of Covenant, Lace and Partners in Rhyme on ALLBLK by Suzanne 8/17/21

AMC NETWORKS
CTAM PRESS TOUR SUMMER 2021
ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, and Lace
Nikki Love (VP, development and production for ALLBLK)
MC Lyte (Star/Co-Creator, Partners in Rhyme)
Kaye Singleton (Creator, Covenant)
Katrina Y. Nelson (Creator, Lace)
Michelle Ebony Hardy (Creator, Lace)

“Covenant” premieres October 14th. There are no exact premiere dates set yet for “Lace” or “Partners in Rhyme” – they’re premiering “in the fall.”

This was an interesting TCA panel because it wasn’t about just one show. There were a few panels like this, where the panel consisted of a group of people from different shows that they had united under one umbrella topic. The problem with that is that we only get one or two questions, and if they have a lot of different stars that we want to talk to, it makes it difficult to choose. This one, though, was mostly writers and producers. I wasn’t familiar with most of them. I believe MC Lyte was the only one I’d heard of before.

I greeted them all and said, “It’s great to see an all-female panel. That’s wonderful.”

Kaye Singleton agreed with a “Yes.” I asked Nikki Love, “Was there a push from the networks to have more female-centered shows on the network?”

She replied that women are their target audience, “so obviously we want to give them characters that they can look at and see themselves or a sliver of themselves and get some representation for them. So yeah, like I said, it wasn’t necessarily a huge push for it but it was kind of ingrained in what we do, content for our women, yeah, for our subscribers.”

I was surprised she said that women were their target audience because when I looked around on Google, I didn’t see anything about that. As far as I knew, their target audience was African-Americans. I guess I learned something here! I felt a little stupid, though.

MC Lyte and Precious Way on "Partners in Rhyme" on ALLBLKI asked MC Lyte about working with Precious Way, who was on “Days of Our Lives” for a while and now plays her niece. I asked her if she saw Precious on Days. She thanked me for the question and said that Precious is also on another show where she plays Brandy’s daughter (that would be “Queens” on FOX). She said, “She’s super talented, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and excited about being in the business so it works out really well.” I pointed out that she seems like the character she plays on her show, “Partners in Rhyme.” She agrees that she is.

MC Lyte was also asked, by another reporter, about the change in rap over the years, since there are more women in it now. She pointed out that hip hop can open the door for artists to go into other fields, even though sometimes “there is a box sometimes that’s put around us” as well as people in the industry that can help you pursue those dreams. She went on to say that it makes sense for women to be rapping their own points of view…”And quite frankly hip hop wouldn’t be the same without the touch of a woman.”

She was also asked how she feels that being an influential rapper has improved her life. She seemed a little flummoxed by that question, but said that “hip hop has been a complete blessing for me through and through.” She thanked her mom for letting her become who she wanted to be, as well as pushing her and supporting her. She thinks that what she achieved is possible for anyone who can work hard. She also said, “But that’s just like all of the women, the creators that are here today. I’m sure that they have been told no at some point in their lives and it didn’t stop them. They continued on with the mission. And so I’m happy to be here amongst all the creators.”

Kaye Singleton produces the drama “Covenant,” which is an anthology show based on bible stories. She was asked how much religion was a part of her life, how she thought of the series, and did she try to shop it to other networks before coming to ALLBLK as well as asked to tell us how the show came about.

Singleton replied that she grew up in the church and since she’s been in Hollywood for 6 or 7 years, has wanted to do something like “Covenant.” She agreed that there was a lack of faith-based programming, and she wanted to make something that spoke to church-goers. She named some religious movies from the past and said that she wanted something that was more modern that younger people would like. She didn’t shop it to other networks. She said she went straight to ALLBLK with the idea. “And thankfully they were really, really receptive to it. And I think Nikki and Brett, that they saw the vision like I saw it. And so when I pitched that show along with the slew of other shows, I was surprised that that was the one — even though that was the one closest to my heart — that they chose it because sometimes it is a little hard trying to figure out how faith-based is going to look and feel in this secular world. But I think the way it’s posed, because it’s not scripture-heavy on the surface, it is really welcoming to all and not polarizing, it’ll appeal to all different kinds of crowds.”

Then Love was asked why she liked it so much. She agreed with Singleton that it was very different from other shows, being faith-based in a modern setting. “So there are a lot of stories that we don’t necessarily hear a lot about in the Bible. So to kind of shine a light on what it would look like today is great and we kind of stayed away from the typical like Noah and the Ark-type of stories. We had Kaye diving into that Bible and plucking out some stories like, ooh, this would be great and it totally applies to today. So it was just something different, something edgy, and told from a different point of view that we really, really gravitated towards.”

Singleton added that they tie in modern dilemmas, such as COVID, infertility and the Capitol insurrection, which is what makes it exciting.

The questions went back to MC Lyte about her show. She was asked about the raps in her show – who writes them and do the raps or the story come first?

She responded that she, Precious and the producers are all writers, and they have two other writers as well. They all write the raps. First they wrote the shows and raps, and then they recorded the songs before they filmed the shows. She added, “we looked at the different episodes and the storylines and said, “Okay, what is going to be most fitting for this area?” And so, we really strategically worked it out and was purposeful with every rhyme.”

She was asked to clarify if “the rhymes are written towards commenting on the episode in some way rather than having the rhymes and then structuring an episode around them?” She agreed with that. She gave an example of two songs that fit into the story but not into the storyline.

Another journalist called MC Lyte, “a hip hop icon and a female influencer in this space who has spent the past several years transitioning into film and TV,” which MC Lyte seemed flattered by. She was asked how the show represents or adds to her legacy.

MC Lyte says that it took her a long time to get to where she is. She feels that other rappers that came about at the same time as she did have already done sitcoms and then moved onto other things, but she’s just starting it. She had been in other sitcoms, but this is the first one where she’s the star. She spoke about those shows, “For Your Love” (1998-2002) and “Half and Half (2004-2006).” She enjoyed having fun on those shows. She felt it was time to do this show now. She wanted to commit to it and to give opportunities to others to be writers, actors, wardrobe and other production people on the show. It brings joy for her to see others “working in their super power…to me, it’s just an extension of being in hip hop.” Her objective is mainly to inspire, so however that works out, she’s happy about it. She likes to try different types of things. “There’s nothing that can stop me if I want to be a photographer one day, and then be an engineer the next, a music supervisor — which I’ve actually done, I spent four years doing not too long ago. For me, it’s just about really creating opportunities for other people. And in that legacy, my thing is to give. So, whatever I’m giving, I get it, then I give it back. So, you know, hip hop sisters, we give away scholarships to young people attending HBCUs. Our partnership is with Dillard University right now. And so I’m just earning money to put kids through school, honestly, part of the legacy.”

Maryam Basir as Lacey McCullough on "Lace" on ALLBLKThe panel was asked what they specifically bring to TV, as black women, that hasn’t been seen before. Love insisted that “Lace” creators Michelle Ebony Hardy and Katrina Y. Nelson talk about their shows first.

Nelson explained that they started their project in 2012, when there weren’t many black women in lead drama roles. Their lead is an attorney, and all of the cast is very diverse and beautiful. They wanted to see black women that weren’t portrayed as drug dealers or crackheads. They wanted to see women that were like them, such as businesswomen…”that as women, we get that moniker that we’re strong, but there are vulnerabilities to us, you know?”

Hardy echoed what she said, saying that viewers will get the chance “to see all the many different layers and personalities and experiences. And again, just being powerful, being intelligent, being beautiful, but also having vulnerabilities, being relatable.”

The last reporter said that he loves “rich and powerful soapy legal stuff” himself, but he wondered if people will want to see that now, since the general public doesn’t love the rich and powerful so much now. He asked if they were concerned that the viewers wouldn’t want to see the rich people “get away with bad stuff anymore.”

Hardy informed him that their character Lace has a lot of enemies, so there are many that won’t want to see her get away with anything. She concluded, “This will be an exciting series. You’ll see.”

Nelson chimed in that she’s a third generation soap opera viewer. She loves the soaps. “Right now, my mom and them, they’re here on vacation. But she’s got to watch her soaps every single day, right? It’s time. I don’t care if she’s on the East Coast or on the West Coast,” she chuckled. She pointed out that Lace may be rich and powerful, but she can also “get down and dirty. And so that’s one of the things that we’re talking about, is that there’s not just one way to be a woman. There’s not just one way to be Black. There’s not just one way for people. Like, you know, she can go in any world, whether it’s the rich and powerful elite, or she can go down in the gutter, into the dungeon. So, just keep watching and you’ll be able to see the diversity with all of our cast in the show.”

MORE INFO:

ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, And Lace

Premiere Date: Fall 2021 

ALLBLK’s original programming slate is full of bold, unique and imaginative storytelling – from the thought-provoking and contemporary portrayal of classic biblical tales in the new anthology, Covenant, to the trials of an up-and-coming female high school rapper and social media sensation in the new sitcom, Partners in Rhyme, to a prolific Los Angeles attorney who often blurs the lines between right and wrong to protect her rich and powerful clientele in the new legal drama, Lace. The ALLBLK panel of talent and creatives discuss their hard-fought journeys to create high-quality scripted dramas featuring predominately Black cast and crew in Hollywood.

TALENT BIOS: 

Kaye Singleton – Kaye Singleton is a full-time writer and actress born and raised in Central Florida. As an actress Dumplin with Jennifer Aniston, Claws, American Soul, Tales, and more. As a writer, to date she has won 3 screenwriting awards including Best Comedy Script (Archive Entertainment Screenplay Competition – Trap Queen), Best Comedy Teleplay (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – The Check List), and Best Web Series (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – Trap Queen). Kaye’s first foray as a writer/producer resulted in her short film, The Check List, which was an official selection and nominated in seven categories for 2019’s Black Women Film Network Short Film Festival, and the 2019 Bronze Lens Film Festival.

Katrina Y Nelson – Katrina Y. Nelson is a multitalented writer, director, comedian and award-winning producer. Nelson produced the web series The Enemy: The N in Me, Life Coach Chronicles (which won the Award of Merit at the Indie Fest), and Breaking Point (winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award – Best Ensemble Cast: Drama at the LA Web Fest), both in 2012. Her short and feature length film producing credits include: Always Remember, A Killer Surprise, Showrunner, and The Wake (which she wrote, produced and directed) Misogynist (winner of the Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2013), Past Impulse (which won the Best Dramatic Short Film Trinity International Film Festival in 2014), and Still (winner of the Audience Award – Best Film-at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2017).

Michelle Ebony Hardy – Writer-Director-Producer, Michelle Ebony Hardy, is the creator of her most recent project, Lace. Hardy’s other credits include documentary short Game Changers: An Exclusive Look at Inclusion in Hollywood and short film Chump City.

Nikki Love – Nikki Love is a skilled producer and line producer specializing in the physical production of filmmaking from development to postproduction. She has produced festival and award-winning feature films, short films, web series and music videos. She creates tight budgets and has great crew and equipment at her disposal. Her specialty is making quality projects at reasonable costs. Putting her skills to use, she most recently signed on as VP of Development & Production for ALLBLK, the number one streaming service for black film & television. As the landscape continues to change for filmmakers, she continues to seek to push the envelope in producing innovative and creative content!

MC LYTE – a legend in the world of music and entertainment – is a pioneering artist and a formidable actress of television and film. Her most recent acting credits include a series regular on last year’s New York Undercover pilot (a reboot of the original Dick Wolf series), and she has recurred on S.W.A.T. (CBS), Power (Starz), and Queen of the South (USA). Lyte’s film roles include acclaimed Sundance Winner Patti Cakes, the Universal hit Girls Trip; Bad Hair, from Director Justin Simien; and the upcoming features Loved To Death, and Sylvie, with Tessa Thompson and Eva Longoria. Her newest venture has her taking on the role of show Creator & Executive Producer alongside Lynn Richardson & Bentley Evans for ALLBLK TV’s sitcom, “Partners In Rhyme.” Recently, MC Lyte made her directorial debut with a feature short film, Break Up In Love. MC LYTE is also an iconic Rapper and DJ. Her groundbreaking music career spans 30 years – this Hip Hop LEGEND was the first female rapper ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award, the first rap artist to perform at Carnegie Hall, and the first female artist to earn a gold single. A true leader in the music industry, MC LYTE has also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House for President Barack Obama. In addition to a busy on-screen career, MC Lyte has several television and film projects — both scripted and unscripted — in various stages of development. She serves as the CEO of Sunni Gyrl, Inc., a full-service entertainment management and production firm that provides executive leadership and customized strategies in the areas of celebrity/artist support, development and management; brand development and management; wealth maintenance; community affairs and outreach; and production / creative services. Her voice work is also well known and admired, representing dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as being the voice of the BET Awards, Emmys, Grammys, Comcast, NBA, and the NAACP Image Awards. As an author, motivational speaker, and philanthropist, MC LYTE has written books and speaks globally on many inspiring topics from her vast knowledge of the entertainment and hip-hop industries, to entrepreneurialism and economic empowerment. Her charity, “Hip Hop Sisters Foundation,” has presented over $1,000,000 in scholarships.

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Covenant on ALLBLK

Interview with the Cast of La Brea

TV Interview!

Some of the cast of "La Brea" on NBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

David Applebaum, La Brea Creator

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

David Appelbaum

Executive Producer, “La Brea”

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

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

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

Eve Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon SedaJon Seda

Dr. Samuel Velez, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

Eoin MackenEoin Macken

Gavin Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

As

Zyra Gorecki

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

Zyra Gorecki

Izzy Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

Chiké OkonkwoChiké Okonkwo

Ty, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

Jack MartinJack Martin

Josh Harris, “La Brea”

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

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

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

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

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

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"La Brea" scene in the pilot episode

Interview with the “Alter Ego” Judges and Host

TV Interview!

Judges and host of "Alter Ego" on FOX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the audio version of it.

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

MORE INFO:

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

fpn slider image in three sizesGRIMES

as Judge

Bio

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

NICK LACHEYfpn slider image in three sizes

as Judge

Bio

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

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

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

fpn slider image in three sizeswill.i.am

as Judge

Bio

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

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

ALANIS MORISSETTE

fpn slider image in three sizes

as Judge

Bio

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

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

fpn slider image in three sizesROCSI DIAZ

as Host

Bio

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

MATILDA ZOLTOWSKI

Executive Producer/Showrunner

Bio

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

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

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Alter Ego ad

Interview with the cast of “Ordinary Joe” on NBC

TV Interview!

cast of "Ordinary Joe" on NBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe's three paths after graduation

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

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

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

breaking news | March 31, 2021

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

•    W/EP: Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner

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

•    D/EP (pilot only): Adam Davidson

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

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

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

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

James Wolk

Joe Kimbreau, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolk resides in Los Angeles.

Charlie Barnett

Eric Payne, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Lail

Jenny Banks, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

Natalie Martinez

Amy Kindelan, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

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

Originally from Miami, Martinez currently resides in Los Angeles.

Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend

Executive Producers, “Ordinary Joe”

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Ordinary Joe" premieres 9/20 on NBC

Interviews with HULU stars at 2021 TCA Summer Press Tour

TV Interview!

Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson of "Dopesick" on HULU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nine Perfect Strangers" on HULU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in "The Great"

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

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

The new HULU shows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hulu Greenlights Comedy Series “This Fool”

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

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

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

“Dead Asleep”

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

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

“Captive Audience”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT HULU

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

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The major stars in our HULU TCA Summer Press Tour

Interview with cast of “Prodigal Son” TCA Panel

TV Interview!

"Prodigal Son" cast at the FOX Spring TCAs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t let them,” said Frank Harts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE INFO:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Prodigal Son second season poster

Interview with Alex Gibney and others

TV Interview!

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

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

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

Today (2/23) I was asked to take the transcript down, for some legal reasons (that has never happened before, but I guess the TCA has different rules than regular TV networks). I will get a summary together for you later.

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

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

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

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

Here is the question I asked:

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

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

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

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

SciFiVision

Indiewire

MORE INFO:

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

TCA | Winter 2021 The Crime of the Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"Crime of the Century" on HBO