It’s hard to describe the two-week long Television Critics Association Press Tour, which is going on now through August 8th in Los Angeles.
But, just so you know, it’s a flurry of new television show panels, one-on-one interviews and parties where you try to chat with as many actors, network executives and producers as possible about their respective shows.
A few have stood out so far since the TCAs started last week and so I empty out this Notebook with some insight into both the new (The Blacklist, The Originals and Hostages) and returning (Dallas) programs that I know I’m excited about...
THE BLACKLIST The much-anticipated NBC series features James Spader as the FBI's Most Wanted, who turns himself in and helps the organization find other baddies. But the one hitch is that he will only talk with Megan Boone’s new agent.
While part of the mystery of the show will be why Spader’s Red Reddington is drawn to Boone’s Elizabeth Keen, Producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath had to first get the casting right: “We were very close to not being able to push in the pilot and not getting it done,” Eisendrath told me of how Spader signed on at the eleventh hour, while Bokenkamp added: “Spader has a very strange sense of humor and a presence that, frankly, wasn’t in the script that has started to inform who the character is.”
As for Keen, Boone brought what the producers felt the role needed and that showed in her audition. “I remember in the audition,” Bokenkamp recalled. “Megan stopped three times and [physically shakes hands and head] and started over and I was like, ‘Wow, okay, I guess we’re just kind of going on her ride’ and, warts and all, you just get it. I think there’s something very endearing about that.”
And, yes, while there might seem to be a Silence of The Lambs similarity to the set up, I can tell you from watching the pilot that it definitely is its own journey. (The Blacklist premieres September 23 on NBC.)
THE ORIGINALS If you took one thing from the episode of The Vampire Diaries that introduced The Originals, it was the handsome and sexy Charles Martin Davis. While it will undoubtedly be interesting to see how his character of Marcel keeps control over New Orleans when we all know Klaus likes to rule the roost, I asked Davis if he’s ready for those CW-requisite shirtless scenes.
“I mean, you’ve got to own it,” former model said, all smiles. “I’ve had to take my shirt off for commercial casting. There’s a commercial of me in a hot tub. With modeling you just kind of take your shirt off, take your pants off, put on a new outfit in front of people and go and do the thing. It’s not sexualized... I’m okay with my body and I’m not shy about it as far as a job.” (The Originals premieres October 3 on The CW.)
HOSTAGES With shows like The Following and Homeland, we’re used to seeing unexpected twists and turns in both plot and character. Will we find the same thing with the upcoming CBS drama starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott?
“We're trying to keep the show as credible as possible, and real as possible,” Executive Producer Rick Eid told me. “The trick with a conspiracy show is you can turn over every card, and he's in on it, and he's in on it, and Godzilla. Before you know it, everybody in America is in on this conspiracy. So we're trying to have limits, have integrity to the show and not just when you think this is a family, they're from Mars.”
That said, don’t expect to trust everything you see in the first episode: “There will be big twists and turns,” Eid explained. “And there’ll be things we didn't see. It's fair to say that the family is as presented because we look at it as really as a family drama masquerading as a big geo-political thriller. That's really important to the show, it's the family dynamic and the relationships and their issues. (Hostages premieres September 23 on CBS.)
DALLAS Remember that great scene last season when Bobby finally laid into Ann for keeping secrets? I asked Strong at the recent Turner 25th Anniversary Party how they did that scene when it’s known what a joker Duffy is on set.
“Here’s the thing,” Strong said. “Patrick will joke right up until its time not to joke. Then, he’s all business but he respects the work so much that he will never try to take you off your game during a scene. As soon as the scene is over and we’re moving on, we’re laughing again. He’s very respectful of the process. He’s absolutely a pro.”
She added about her co-star: “[Patrick] was brilliant in that scene and the reactions were so authentic and it was just the only reason we did it more than once is because we had to cover the scene. He was absolutely prepared emotionally for it and it literally took the breath out of my chest because he was so good.” (To find out what’s coming in 2014 when season 3 launches, check out the Dallas Season 3 scoop filed earlier this week).
That’s a wrap for this week and I’ll continue reporting from TCAs through August 8th! Anything else you’re dying to know about your favorite show? Leave a comment here or you email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember: follow @TVFanatic for all your TV scoop!
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.