“A lot of writers really love TV, because they never have to end the story” – Brad Turner, Executive Producer of TNT’s Legends.
I may not be a television show writer, but Brad Turner summed it up perfectly. I love TV, because I get to escape into another world and live a foreign life for 60 minutes a week. I get to make new friends, laugh, cry, and fall in love with characters that I adore… or sometimes hate – but even then I really love them.
ATX is a unique festival. I’m no stranger to conventions like DragonCon and of course what I dub my Christmas every year – San Diego Comic Con. I’ve attended both for 6 years now, but neither hold a candle to the experience that I had in Austin, Texas this last weekend. Being surrounded by TV fans that feel as passionate about television as I do, took me out of the press world and threw me back into the world of fandom in-between each and every press panel or press event.
Two of the biggest highlights of the festival for me were the Everwood cast reunion panel and the 15 year Roswell anniversary panel – two of the shows that started me down the path in life that I’ve carved out for myself over the last 15 years. I started fansites for both of these shows, Roswell in 1999, and Everwood in 2002 – both sites lead to the birth and evolution of FanBolt. Saying that I feel a personal connection and tie to those shows would be an understatement.
But I digress.
So what is ATX… I’m glad you asked.
Though there are thousands of film and music festivals, in and out of Austin, there is nothing like ATX. Our focus is on the celebration of the medium: looking back at its history, where it is now, and where it is headed. Our weekend will consist of events where attendees can interact with actors, writers, directors, creators, showrunners, music supervisors, casting directors and studio executives involved in all stages of bringing their favorite series to the small screen.
Team FanBolt, myself (Emma Loggins) and our associate editor Jasmine Alyce, flew into Austin last Thursday morning. We grabbed some BBQ and then went to the festival hotel to get our passes… and so I could go crazy on some festival merchandise. Roswell t-shirt with a silver handprint on it? Yes, please!
We made our way to the opening night event – the premiere of TNT’s new series Legends, starring Sean Bean. After the screening, we had a brief Q&A in which Brad Turner assured us that Sean wouldn’t be losing his head in this series.
“I think Sean Bean was really happy to play a role where he didn’t have to die.” Turner joked with the crowd.
Following the Q&A, we made our way to the afterparty at Maggie Mae’s. I grabbed a picture with Nick Wechlser from Revenge (but more importantly to me – he played Kyle in Roswell). I joked with him about his decision to wear a leather jacket on an outdoor red carpet in Austin in June (Amazing though he did look). He laughed and replied with, “Yeah. That was a mistake.”
We enjoyed specialty drinks for Orange Is the New Black, Justified, Legends and The Fonz (Henry Winkler was honored at the festival).
Jasmine also grabbed a quick picture with Arielle Kebbel who played Lexi on The Vampire Diaries – but is also a member of ATX’s advisory board.
Friday morning, we were up bright and early. I headed to the Netflix press lounge to work on a couple stories for the site before my first interview. As I was eating breakfast and typing away – I notice several Texas state troopers walk in surrounding the cast members of Orange Is the New Black. Talk about a surreal moment… Almost felt like I was in an alternate reality and in prison – but the food was much better than Red’s, so that couldn’t be the case.
Next, I had a one-on-one interview with Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, writers and producers for Revenge. As soon as I sat down with them, I told them Revenge was my guilty pleasure – and I had a TON of questions for them. They told me to bring it – which I did.
Revenge Interview Highlights with Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts
- Victoria may get to David before Emily
- The series will honor the loss of Aiden
- Jack and Emily will start moving towards each other and getting closer, but it’s going to take a lot of time. Emily will need to fully move on from Aiden first and figure out who Amanda Clarke really is.
- Nick Wechsler says his favorite part of the series for his character was the end of season 2 – he loved Jack getting a little bit darker.
I should also note that I learned they worked on Pushing Daises and Roswell. These two spoke my language, and I was honored to get the chance to meet them!
— Emma Loggins (@emmaloggins) June 6, 2014
Next off it was a one-on-one interview with Mark Johnson, executive producer for Rectify and Halt and Catch Fire. I have had admiration for this man for a long time – as an executive producer on Breaking Bad and a number of other incredible projects. Raw and real seem to be the outcome of anything that Mark Johnson is attached to – and Rectify, one of his latest projects, is no exception. The series films in Griffin, Georgia, and airs on The Sundance Channel (Season 2 starts June 19) – telling a story of man released from death row after 19 years. His personal journey of transformation back into small town society is fascinating and vivid.
So often you’ll see, especially period films or regional films or television – they’ll just feel like they’ve been designed, and they’re not quite real. In some cases, you’ll have a sense that if someone hit the camera and it panned off you’d see crew members and the set would discontinue. What I love about Rectify is that you feel that it is real. And that is very much a goal, because you want to feel not as if you’re watching someone act – but that you’re watching a piece of real life drama. I love the pace of this show, it’s very specific. It has the courage of its conviction that it’s not trying to speed it up because there’s probably a much larger audience that would prefer it move quicker. – Mark Johnson
Next up, I headed over to the Alamo for the Revenge panel. Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, and series star Nick Wechsler were all present to talk about where Season 4 will pick up, and what the future now looks like for Emily and Jack. Gretchen J. Berg stressed that Emily will need to rediscover Amanda before she can ever really be with Jack, and that the series will honor Aiden and how important he was to Emily.
I had to dip out of the Revenge panel a little early for our one-on-one interview with the Archer cast and executive producer. Matt Thompson (EP), along with H. Jon Benjamin (voice of Archer), Chris Parnell (voice of Cyril), and Lucky Yates (voice of Krieger) were all present for our interview. Jasmine took the lead on the interview since she used to be the assistant production manager for the series, and it was her first one-on-one interview. She rocked it – though the guys got extremely and inappropriately off-topic, but having interviewed these guys multiple times, I knew that was coming. My interviews with them are always a source of great comedic relief during a stressful press schedule of interviews. Matt Thompson did reveal that they’re abandoning the Archer Vice theme and going back to the ISIS/spy themes.
(We’ll have our full interview with Archer coming soon!)
That night we headed over to Searsucker for the Netflix party. This night marked the moment that my father probably thinks is the coolest thing I’ve ever done – I met and briefly chatted with Ray Romano. He was attending ATX for the beloved series Men of a Certain Age and was gracious enough to take a photo with me.
We also got to meet and chat with cast members from Orange Is the New Black and enjoy specialty Texas drinks such as the “Alright, Alright, Alright.”
The Everwood panel on Saturday afternoon had me in tears at multiple points. From touching videos to a comment by Tom Amandes on the brutal reality of the CW/WB merger that ultimately killed the series, I was sniffling through the whole thing. Emily VanCamp, Treat Williams, and Scott Wolf weren’t present – but they sent touching videos!
Chris Pratt also couldn’t make it, but Facetimed in from the set of Jurassic World and said hey to all the fans.
Next up for me was the Everwood Press Conference. I had to inquire where each member of the cast thought their characters would be ten years later. John Beasley simply replied, “Dead.” – Which caused an eruption of laughter amongst the cast since he did pass away on the series. Gregory Smith commented that he believed he and Amy would still be together, probably would have tried living in New York together – but ultimately moved back to Utah to start a family. Sarah Drew went back and forth on her answer, but Rina Mimoun jumped in and said that she didn’t think Hannah and Bright would still be together. Hannah would have gone on to Ivy League grad school and probably would have left Bright behind.
I was able to steal a moment with Everwood creator Greg Berlanti’s time after the press conference, thank him for his work on the series, and let him know how it personally touched and changed my life. It was a beautiful exchange that I was very grateful for.
The Closing Night screening was for FX’s Fargo along with the world premiere of The Strain – a new series premiering on FX in July from Guillermo del Toro (based on his book series – which I’m promptly picking up this week). When I first heard that it revolved around vampires, I will admit I had my reservations. I feel that the genre has been flooded with so many shows, movies, and books that really haven’t brought anything new to the table. However, The Strain does. It’s a refreshing and modern take on a classic genre. It’s smart, creepy, and since Carlton Cuse is involved in – has hints of Lost… I mean there’s a plane and something I would classify as a smoke monster-esque thing… only much, much cooler (and we get to see it in the pilot). It’s like Lost and The Walking Dead had a little New York vampire baby. That’s really the only way I can describe the vibe of it.
After the screenings and Q&A, we headed over to the Closing Night party on the rooftop of the The Contemporary. Pork sliders and tacos along with an open bar featuring Bulleit Bourbon greeted us upon arrival. We were able to mingle with a number of celebrities at the event including Gulliermo del Toro, Carlton Cuse, Allison Tolman, as well as the cast members from Roswell and Everwood. I even got to hear Carlton Cuse ask Allison Tolman if she’d be interested in guest starring on Bates Motel, so if that happens – I’ll remember that moment.
FX Party Photos
Sunday morning marked the moment that was the highlight of ATX for me – the Roswell press conference and reunion panel.
Roswell 15 Year Reunion Press Conference Highlights
Brendan Fehr talks about peeing in his pants on the set after Jason Behr dares him
The most memorable fan moment
Right after we finished up the Roswell press conference, we booked it over to the Alamo for the reunion panel. The audience got the chance to screen the pilot episode (though they cut all music from the episode) .
Roswell 15 Year Reunion Panel Highlights
If you’re a fan of Roswell – you may also be wondering what the chances are of a Roswell movie… We have that for you below!
All in all, I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to head out to Austin and be a part of ATX. It meant the world to me to revisit the series that got me into writing about television and were the origins of this site. I’d like to say thank you to Michael McKinney for telling me about this festival and to the festival organizers Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland. You two are inspirations to me. Congrats on the success of this venture!
I look forward to Season 4 of ATX next year! But that being said – check out the rest of our ATX Festival coverage – and stay tune for more!
Your TV & Pop Culture Junkie,