In the storied ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel (home to the Golden Globe Awards), TV critics and members of the press are gathering for the summer session of their bi-annual event known as the Television Critics Association Press Tour (or the TCAs, for short). Here, TV networks proudly present their upcoming freshman shows and returning hopefuls in hopes that critics will take kindly to, or maybe even champion, them.
We went to observe as happy little flies on the wall, and now we can’t wait for Fall TV. Here are six things we were particularly excited to learn about for the upcoming FOX season:
1. The Bromance between Lethal Weapon’s Clayne Crawford & Damon Wayans
During much of the panel for FOX’s anticipated action-drama series, relative unknown Clayne Crawford (Rectify) casually had his arm on the back of his veteran co-star’s chair. And as Damon Wayans answered questions from the press, including one about whether he wanted any more children, Crawford wiped away tears of laughter as Wayans announced, “I’m too old for that shit.”
Writer/Executive Producer Matt Miller (Chuck) ensured us that these two leading men will be bringing a completely new dynamic to these characters, that viewers will not feel a need to compare them to the stars of the original films. To Crawford’s delight, Wayans admitted he was actually doing a Danny Glover impression, just not a very good one.
All joking aside, Wayans said the secret sauce in this series is the heart. We can vouch that the pilot offers up beautifully emotional moments, right along side some of the biggest action sequences on television. Now that’s a bromance, bro.
2. A Star Is Born: Kylie Bunbury vs. Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Beard
Apparently the former Bayside babe’s new follicle feast for the eyes was Creator/Executive Producer Dan Fogelman’s idea. It truly is the icing on the cake to Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s transformation into a ball player – or as he put it, “I’ve put on some weight.” But what’s a catcher without a pitcher?
Pitch centers around the first female player to play in the major leagues and though the series is fictional, the creative team felt it was “a true story on the cusp of happening.” Filling these huge cleats is Canadian actress Kylie Bunbury who, interestingly enough, was not asked whether she could throw during the audition process. They knew they had found the right actor and had faith (and rightfully so) that with her athletic background and lineage (her father was and her brother is a professional soccer player) she would be able to train to pitch a mean ball. How’s that for pressure?
3. Zorn Endorses Hulu and the Cast Talk About Getting It on With Cartoons Characters
From the team that brought us The LEGO Movie comes the animation/live-action hybrid comedy series Son of Zorn, starring a warrior/defender of the universe turned industrial soap salesman (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) who returns to the OC to reconnect with his non-animated family. Though Sudeikis was unable to attend the panel, Zorn Facetimed the ballroom from a coffee shop in a hilarious (pre-recorded) segment that even shouted out to watching his new show on Hulu (we like a nice shout out).
The panel was then posed with the Sophie’s choice of what animated characters they could see themselves getting intimate with. Cheryl Hines, who plays Zorn’s ex-wife, admitted Zorn, when he didn’t speak, was oddly attractive. Her TV fiancé and SNL alum Tim Meadows decided upon Veronica over Betty from the Archie comics. Johnny Pemberton (Superstore) who plays Zorn’s estranged son, answered Cheetara from Thundercats with very little hesitation – and Artemis Pebdani (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who plays Zorn’s boss, threw out Optimus Prime’s name, as well as Fred from Scooby-Doo.
Meadows also threw Cat Woman into the ring. Perhaps Zorn can make that love connection?
4. The Legends That Are Tim Curry and Ben Vereen
The panel for the upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show revamp kicked off with what sounded like an impromptu ocarina solo by Broadway legend Ben Vereen. Donning a “Spiritual Enforcer” cap, the Tony-Award winner’s phone may have even gone off during the panel, but when you’re Ben Vereen, a flash of his legendary smile and all is right in the world. This fan was tickled pink as he started telling the story of one of his early theatre productions he did with Moses on Mount Sinai. *wink. He did stress how this production is less a remake but rather a tribute paying homage to the film and Tim Curry’s involvement was what made this truly special.
The original Rocky Horror Picture Show was actually Tim Curry's first movie and when asked about Dr. Frankenfurter being his enduring legacy, he joked, “Not a lot I can do about it, really.” Curry, who suffered a stroke 4 years ago, will be playing the narrator in this production, though he offered to play the role of Dr. Scott (played by Vereen), since he was already in a wheelchair.
Fans will be delighted to know that Mr. Curry has given his unconditional endorsement to this production. The “double feature” legends of this panel had us jumping to the left in anticipation, dammit.
5. What Makes Geena Davis's Hair Curl
The star of film and television admitted her love for scary movies, though working on their sets (she mentioned The Fly and Beetlejuice) didn't really spook her, knowing they were "faking" it. However she revealed that watching the original Exorcist film "made [her] hair curl" and championed it as one of the greatest horror films of all time.
The upcoming television series is not a remake of the original film, but rather a continuation that expands the mythology first created by the original novel and film franchise. Still, with nods to the original film in the pilot (including the use of "Tubular Bells") The Exorcist series will certainly make the hairs on your arm stand. We think it might even be the scariest show to come out of network television, even without pea soup.
6. Taraji P. Henson on the Woes of Fame
Empire star and Emmy-nominee Taraji P. Henson is certainly excited about the triumphant return of the #1 show on broadcast – but we couldn't help but feel her pain when she touched upon her new-found challenges. Though both executive producers on the panel felt Henson herself hadn’t changed, Taraji voiced her envy towards being able to go to and from work and leave her job there. Despite the beautiful Swahili name her father gave her, she’s often greeted as Cookie. She's no longer able to buy a bag of bananas in a store for herself without being recognized, and in certain physical interactions with high energy fans, she's left feeling like a rag doll.
So our take away to her fans: a) Enjoy all of Cookie’s antics on the show but know she’s an actress named Taraji and b) please let the poor woman buy her bananas in peace. Oh, and watch and love Season 3. When none of the panel could reveal much about the Season 2 cliffhanger, Taraji chirped, “It’s terrible isn’t it? It’s like a drug isn’t it?” It absolutely is, Taraji – and we are hooked on you.
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