ABC at TCA: Highlights and Scoop from the Television Critics AssociationABC has an ambitious new lineup coming to your TVs and DVRs this fall. Snakkle was at the 2012 Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills to preview the new comedies and dramas and, of course, the announcement of the Dancing with the Stars all-star cast! Get all the important news nuggets below! By Erin Fox
Thank goodness Connie Britton got snapped up again by ABC to play former country singing superstar Rayna James on Nashville. There just shouldn’t be a world without Connie Britton kicking some acting ass on a TV show (or film for that matter).
As Nashville begins, we see that Rayna’s status as the leading lady of country music is being threatened by a gorgeous—and much younger—rising star, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). But it’s not just a story about country music! Nashville is also about family drama, the politics of the town, and so much more. Written by Thelma & Louise scribe Callie Khouri, Nashville promises to be a juicy new hybrid of drama and soap opera… with a little bit of country mixed in.
Executive producer R.J. Cutler says they will have to balance all those different aspects of the shows like “a juggler on a high wire, I think. We’re going to include it all throughout. I mean, that’s the exciting part of the show is for us… there’s music, there’s drama, there’s family story, you’re in the music business world, you’re in the political world. But at the core of it are these relationships, and they drive through everything.”
The most exciting thing about the new series is that there will be original music in most of the episodes and Connie and Hayden are both singing their own songs. When asked how they felt about singing, Britton said, “Well, I think that Connie and Hayden would have very different conversations about this. I can talk to you about Hayden because she’s a great singer. She’s a legitimately great singer.” She further joked, “Connie is having a journey. It’s a journey, and it’s an exciting journey because it’s a journey with T-Bone Burnett.” You heard us right, peeps. That’s right, the legendary T-Bone Burnett is producing the show’s music! Commencing “we’re not worthy” bowing now.
Nashville premieres Wednesday, October 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
DANCING WITH THE STARS - Cast Announced!
As you may have heard by now, the new “all-star” cast has been announced at TCA in a head-spinning sizzle reel. The lucky all-stars are:
APOLO ANTON OHNO
But wait! There’s a twist! You, the fans, will choose the final Dancing star! Whaaaa? Can you even stand it! Okay, sorry, the dramatic music is affecting our emotions. Your choices for the final dancer are:
Let’s talk about this list. The one stand out is Bristol Palin (All-star? Really?), especially after her own reality show Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp has been bombing over on Lifetime. She was asked why she wanted to participate, given all the press attention she gets, and she said, “I just think that God provides opportunities like this, and you can either go out and do them or not do them. I figure that the press is going to be talking about me no matter what, so I might as well be having fun.”
The press members at TCA wanted more, and repeatedly asked (okay, badgered) Palin about why she would want to come back to TV given the intense media scrutiny surrounding her life. Although patient at first, when a reporter asked if there was an aspect to the media attention she enjoyed, Palin became frustrated and cut off reporters, saying, “Do I enjoy providing for my son? Yes.” This should be a fun season.
Dancing with the Stars’ new season will premiere Monday, September 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
ABC has a new high-concept comedy premiering this fall with The Neighbors. The Weavers move from the city for a better life in the burbs and meet their bizarre new neighbors, who happen to be aliens disguised as humans… named after famous athletes.
Seem strange? Well the show is really grounded in the roots of family—a really dysfunctional family. Executive producer Dan Fogelman said, “I want it to feel timeless.… I grew up in The Cosby Show and Family Ties. And I think this show can be a throwback in that we’re exploring family issues in a very kind of family‑friendly way. I want this to be a show an entire family can sit and watch together.”
As much as the Weavers have to adjust to aliens as neighbors, the aliens also get a chance to experience our human culture by doing things like going to the mall and watching in horror as “we” drag kids around on leashes and pig out at food courts. They also explore the differences between the way the adult humans and aliens experience things like emotional intimacy. Fogelman explained, “So when the [alien] adults connect, as adults do, it’s all spiritual and emotional and verbal.… But humans, we kiss, we touch, we hug. When Jami [Gertz] explains that to Toks [Olagundoye]’s character, when Toks explains it to Jami, each woman becomes fascinated by the other’s form.”
We’ll get to see an interspecies “Jim and Pam” romance with teens Reggie Jackson and Amber Weaver, played by Tim Jo and Clara Mamet. We’re hoping this includes lots of awkward glances and inside jokes.
If you want to take a trip to see The Neighbors, it premieres Wednesday, September 26, at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
666 PARK AVENUE
A gorgeous couple, Jane (Rachael Taylor) and Henry (Dave Annable), are given an incredible opportunity to move into a super-duper fancy apartment building (with Henry as manager) called The Drake. There they meet the wealthy owners Gavin (Terry O’Quinn) and Olivia (Vanessa Williams), who seem oh-so-friendly and take the couple under their wing to show them how to live the high life in New York City. Of course, things aren’t always as they seem, and Jane starts to feel that things are a bit off in her new home.
The show will be part horror, part drama, part character study, and even soap! But once again, the producers are hoping that 666 Park Avenue is anchored by the rich characters that they develop along the way. Executive producer David Wilcox told journalists, “We were influenced very much by, I think, clearly Rosemary’s Baby, films of the ’70s and ’80s that were much more psychologically driven horror, movies like The Shining, The Omen, even films like Blue Velvet and Jacob’s Ladder. And this was sort of, for us, kind of the juice that we were looking at and trying to pull that into the show to really make kind of a twisted, fun, dark show that still has this kind of edge, wish fulfillment, and an aspiration…”
Much like with American Horror Story, we have to wonder why these people (seemingly savvy, modern, and smart) would stick around a haunted and/or evil apartment building. Wilcox wouldn’t give much away but did say, “I would just say that that’s part of Gavin’s plan as well. And that when this young couple signs that lease at the end of the pilot, it may have been more than just a lease, and they may find leaving The Drake to be a little bit more difficult than they had thought.”
666 Park Avenue premieres Sunday, September 30, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Basically, if you mixed Two and a Half Men and The Good Wife in a “broad sitcom” blender, you’d get Malibu Country. The ever-likable Reba McEntire is back in sitcom land and plays Reba (who else?), who takes her family from Nashville to Malibu after her husband’s affair hits the tabloids.
Luckily the producers brought in the amazing Lily Tomlin to play Reba’s medical-marijuana-loving mama and Sara Rue as her wealthy, intrusive, very Malibu neighbor.
The obvious reaction is that this story is a bit too close to Reba’s old show… called Reba. (We’re sensing a theme here). But executive producer Kevin Abbott assures us it is, in fact, not the same show. “You know, it’s a very different beast than the old Reba. The old Reba was woman gets cheated on; she has to deal with her ex‑husband and the mistress that he then married and how they parent together. This is much more about a woman moving from Nashville to Malibu and how do you start life over when the entire culture is alien to you and just everything you kind of assume doesn’t really hold true out here.”
But seriously, let’s cut to the chase. Lily Tomlin’s on the show. ‘Nuf said.
Malibu Country premieres Friday, November 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT
Men of a Certain Age’s Andre Braugher and Felicity’s Scott Speedman (Sam) headline this ambitious political and military thriller. Deep below the ocean’s surface, the U.S. nuclear submarine Colorado receives their orders. Over a radio channel, for use only if their homeland has been destroyed, they’re told to fire nuclear weapons at Pakistan. Holy!!!
When Captain Marcus Chaplin (Braugher) tries to confirm these outrageous orders, he’s relieved of duty by the White House. His XO, Sam Kendal (Speedman), finds himself in charge and just as perplexed by these orders. When he also balks at firing the nukes, the Colorado is fired upon and hit. Even more insulting, they are now considered rogue officers. Chaplin and Kendal decide to take the battered sub to a very Lost-like island where they may have a chance at a new life, and maybe even at finding a way home. It’s intense, people.
But this show is not Lost. Last Resort will go in a lot of different directions, with a Tom Clancy aspect to it. But it is about relationships as well. Executive producer Shawn Ryan told critics, “TV is about characters, and so it will come characters first. We’ve described this… not as a show about war, but it’s a show about people in a time of crisis. So in the same way that Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and Reds and Doctor Zhivago were personal character stories about people in the middle of crisis, that’s what we’re hoping to do in a weekly series.
And one of the most intriguing and enigmatic characters is Braugher’s Chaplin. Producers view the captain as a chess master, and at the end of the pilot, he knows getting home won’t be so easy. The audience will learn in episode two how desirous he is to get home versus finding the truth about why they were targeted. Braugher told the crowd at TCA, “The admirable things about Marcus Chaplin is I believe that he is a patient, loving, optimistic, disciplined man; that the safety and the flourishing of this crew, that the protection and the following through with his mission is of utmost importance. Now, doing the right thing and protecting your crew are not necessarily the same thing, you know, and that another captain would follow the order. And Marcus Chaplin follows legal orders. So there is a weight of history that comes into play in being the man who fired on Pakistan, and getting it right is of utmost importance.”
Last Resort premieres Thursday, September 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
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