Well, friendos, we certainly had an eventful weekend. If you’ve been following along at home, last week was Gilmore Girls week (read them all here), and besides the fact it’s one of our most favorite and sacred shows of all time, we dedicated our posts to GG in prep for our weekend in Austin, Texas for the ATX Television Festival. Despite the fact our generation has a tendency to use the word ‘epic’ to often describe non-epic things, this our experience at ATX was by far, the most EPIC (in all caps) in the classic sense of the word.
We gave lil’ nuggets of our time on social media, but here’s a little bit more in depth info from what we learned from our jam-packed weekend in TV nerd heaven!
Within a few hours, Traci shared a plane to Austin with Amy Sherman-Palladino (ASP) and her husband, Keiko Agena walked by her at baggage claim, and Scott Patterson (Luke) favorited our tweet. Off to a good start.
Per usual, we get totes and rando items when we check-in, but this year, Southwest was kind enough to give everyone credit to use towards a flight! We attend a TV nerd fest, and get money back. Perfect.
Our first panel of the fest is from the Cancelled-Too-Soon category, beloved dance dramedy, Bunheads, which was cancelled by ABC Family after 18 episodes. ASP, Sutton Foster, Kelly Bishop and Stacey Oristano were there representing, as select clips were shown while the ladies talked about their experience in between each one.
First off, this was the first time we had been in the presence of Broadway queen Sutton and Gilmore matriarch Kelly Bishop, so that was a little jarring. Jarring = amazing.
– ASP threw SO much shade at ABC Family for pulling the show way before its time. But, even ASP in her ultimate wisdom, had a feeling that it might be the final curtain for them before execs gave the official word.
“We had some ideas, but we knew. When you’re on a network that revolves around 13-year-old girls who haven’t menstruated yet, it’s tough to continue stories about life and emotion. It’s not really ABC Family’s game. Maybe that game will change, but at the time, they didn’t know what to do with us.”
Stacey added, “We didn’t have the word ‘liars’ in the title.”
– “She is, as we say in the biz, ‘The Best’.” ASP loves Sutton Foster as much as we do. She saw Sutton on Broadway in Anything Goes, and she immediately wanted to work with her. Sutton, who is/was incidentally a huge Gilmore Girls fan, was already working with Kelly in Anything Goes. But Sutton wanted the part of Michelle real, real bad. Who wouldn’t?
“I never wanted something so bad, and I worked really hard. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
– Stacey originally auditioned to be Michelle’s dancer BFF, but there was an intense dance call, and ASP asked her to read for another part – that of Truly. Stacey also revealed that she had been hiding a secret from ASP and ASP got super mad at her for not saying her secret talent sooner. TBH, I am too.
Stacey: “Amy actually got mad at me one time because she didn’t know I’m a tap dancer.”
ASP: “Not a fucking word! I find out, not from her, but from Sutton, who said, ‘You know, Stacey’s a great tap dancer.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck you!’
Sutton: We were pitching … a duet, a tap-off between Michelle and Truly.
The Final Finale
Panelists: Marta Kauffman (Friends), Graham Yost (Justified) Daniel Lipman and Ron Cowen (Queer as Folk)
– The talented executive producers/creators of the iconic shows came together to talk about how to end a series. Marta said one of the best and most true things I’ve ever heard and believe about media: “Film is a one night stand. You’re married to TV.”
– Since we’ve only seen Friends, I feel like a lot of our takeaway were from Marta. There was no way Ross and Rachel weren’t going to end up with each other, FYI. Something a little different than Dawson’s Creek, which you’ll find out about later.
– Marta said all the scenes they wanted in the finale were in the finale. But if something was cut, she would here about it.
“Every single person I knew – my agent, my lawyer, David’s (Crane) partner – everyone was in the background of the show. So the only way I knew if something got cut was if someone asked, ‘Where was my scene?”
– Billy Dreskin, the unseen guy Rachel sleeps with on her parents’ bed in high school, is actually the name of Marta’s friend who became a rabbi, and he got a whole lot of backlash after the episode aired.
– “The Joey series was something I had nothing to do with.” – Marta making it clear she wasn’t part of that trainwreck.
– After talking about how to create the perfect and most satisfying series finale for fans and cast and crew, Marta ended the panel with this:
“Oh and I have one more thing to say.” Then she stood up and started walking away.
Boy Meets Girl Meets World
– We were sitting fairly close to the front, and for some reason we both feel like we’ve made awkward eye contact with Ben Savage and we don’t know how to handle it. This happened to us separately.
– Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter are just pure delights. They are wise beyond their years. Someone during the Q&A asked if Ben and Danielle gave the girls advice about being a child actor and growing up ‘normal’, but as a person in the audience to see them IRL, these two girls do not even seem like “child actors”. They’re regular tween girls who happen to be very talented, and seem super down to earth. They’re like the Kiernan Shipka of Disney Channel.
– Michael Jacobs said we’ll find out who Farkle’s mom/Minkus’ wife is this season. And it’s someone we’re very familiar with. Our guess: Morgan Matthews. And Michael confirmed we would see Morgan again. But Cory would know if he had a nephew, right??
“She’s the last person you would believe is married to Minkus. She will be radically different and evolved, and I believe you will love the reappearance of this character.”
– Also coming back: Minkus, Jack (meets up with Eric and Rachel closure is involved), Angela (to maybe break up Shawn and Maya’s mom), MR. TURNER.
“You guys are going to kill me for what we decided to do with Shawn and Angela, but I will tell you that it is right, it is real, and you’re going to have to watch the episode six times before you put the guns down.”
Michael also assured us fans that they have a clear vision of where they want to go with the series, and said, “Like Mr. Feeny said in the finale, ‘Do you mean do well?’ ‘No, I mean do good.’ We will do good for you.” CHILLS.
Friday Night Lights Tailgate
One of the free events of the fest is the FNL tailgate, where you sit in a parking lot and watch an episode of FNL with a bunch of fans, and some of the actors are usually there too.
We also finally met the awesome and talented Sage (and Kim) from Head Over Feels! Actually getting to hang out with Internet friends is fantastic and we had so much fun seeing Sage this weekend!!!
But the highlight was when we saw on Twitter from John Cabrera (Brian) that Hep Alien YES, FICTIONAL BAND HEP ALIEN was playing a ‘secret show’ in 45 minutes at the FNL tailgate. AKA the place we were already at. We saw it hoped it was early enough that not a lot of people saw it yet, so we got prime spots. And ASP was there, hand in hand with ultimate GG fan Sutton Foster, who had two cute buns in her hair. Jackson Douglas (Jackson) was there to intro the band a la Tippicanoe and Taylor Too – well he actually intro-ed Daniel Palladino dressed as a 60s guy who then introduced the band. IDK. All I know is that we found ourselves watching Hep Alien (AGAIN, A FICTIONAL BAND) in concert, with ASP in the front row, playing songs like Daydream Believer and a cover of Single Ladies and the GG theme song, during a Friday Night Lights event. It was Stars Hollow meets Dillon and our brains could not. Still cannot.
OH AND THEN WE MET JACKSON
As a preface, I (Traci) had been to this festival twice before, and this was Molly’s first time. Because of the GG reunion, more people than ever before came to the fest, selling out with like, 1,700 attendees. The fest itself has smaller venues, which I loved about it since it feel intimate with your fave TV stars. However, taking into account the hundreds more people this year, there was a good chance you might not get into things.
Enter: anything to do with ASP. Coffee with Amy was a panel set for 10am. We got there at like, 8am, and there was absolutely no way for us to make the cut for a room of about 80. Rumor has it folks were waiting since 5am. Bitch, please. We weren’t that concerned about not getting in, but the first panels of the day start at 10am, so we had time to kill. We figured we’d wait in the hotel lobby, where not only the panels are, but the same hotel where the celebs were staying.
So there we were, sitting in the lobby, checking social media, and Scott Patterson tweet THIS photo of him in bed.
Swear to God, like 15 minutes later, I notice some girls near us get up and approach some person for a pic and IT WAS SCOTT FUCKING PATTERSON. All my chill was lost, my sanity out the window, my conscience had gone bye-bye and I lept up towards him and was feet away before his people rushed him off to a room.
I proceeded to freak out (Luke is … Luke is #LUKEDANESDREAMMAN to me) and maybe 10 minutes later he came back out and it looked like he was going somewhere so I held back a bit, but then he stopped to take pix with people, and I lit’rally said, “no. no no no. NO NO NO” outloud, and ran over as if “I had been waiting long before these other bitches”. This part starts to get hazy, because I remember his publicist saying he can take pix just don’t crowd and push, and I held back. I held back until I noticed no one moved fast enough and said, “Can we take a picture with you?” and he said, “sure!” and like went to shake my hand, and we snuck in there. A lovely girl offered to take our pic (SHOUT OUT TO MYSTERY PHOTOG ANGEL) and she took it and i felt his back it was muscular (like Lauren has said publicly) and he kind of did the linger on the back but not in a creepy way and for the next 15-20 minutes I couldn’t sit down and felt like I was going to vom and was on the verge of crying, PER THE PHOTO.
Actual footage of my brain during this time period:
SO LET THIS BE A LESSON KIDS – SOMETIMES IT’S OKAY IF YOU DON’T MAKE IT INTO A PANEL WITH ASP AND FREE COFFEE BECAUSE YOU’LL HANG OUT WITH THE MAN WITH THE COFFEE HIMSELF. SANS COFFEE. JUST ALL MAN.
Luckily, we had some time before going to our backup panel, A Kiss is Just a Kiss, focused on the LGBTQ portrayals and relationships on TV. The Queer as Folk folk were back, also Dawson’s Creek writer Gina Fattore, Peter Paige from QaF & The Fosters, and moderated by My So-Called Life’s Wilson Cruz. It was very interesting, and we learned a lot, including facts about An Early Frost, one of the first TV movies dealing with the HIV/AIDS dilemma in the 80s, and we were surprised we’d never heard of it before. On the queue. Also, we had just met Luke ‘Butch’ Danes, so that was kind of distracting.
The Empire: Creatives panel featured writer/co-creator Danny Strong (yes, Doyle) and Wendy Calhoun, writer. Showrunner Ilene Chaiken was a no show!
– It was Danny’s birthday and he offered to give the audience a prize: “For my birthday I will be performing Drip Drop.” He did not do as promised.
– Danny on getting the idea for Empire: “Hip-hop is cool. I gotta do something in hip-hop.”
– Wendy Calhoun has an impressive resume, with her latest being a writer on Nashville. She was eager for something closer to home, and turns out Danny and Lee were making it.
“Oh my God, they wrote the black version of Nashville!”
– Wesley Snipes with the OG Luscious Lyon. Negotiations didn’t go in his favor, so Terrence Howard slipped in instead.
– On disagreeing with Terrence about the use of the N-word on the show: “It’s not a documentary about hip-hop. It’s a soap opera set in the hip-hop world.
– Danny playing with us and Jamal’s future: “Just because you get the Empire, doesn’t mean you get to keep the empire. Ohh snap! Rock the Vote”