Thursday, June 25, 2015

My day at the Four Seasons covering NBCUniversal's TV shows

Zachary Levi
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending NBCUniversal's New York Summer Press Day at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. I have covered several NBC-related events this year, including the "Celebrity Apprentice" finale and the "America's Got Talent" pajama party premiere.  But the thing I attended yesterday was a much larger event -- 28 TV shows, with the talent available for roundtable interviews for each show.

The way these interviews worked is that a certain number of journalists/bloggers (usually four or five) are at each round table, and the actors/reality show stars go from table to table to talk about their show. These interviews usually take 10-15 minutes, which sounds like a short period of time, but a lot of topics can be covered in that time frame.

I thought I was going to be nervous, because this was my first time at as big an event as this. But I really wasn't, and I actually enjoyed asking questions in the interviews!

Some of the shows were new programs, while others have been on the air for a while. The shows I met talent from were:

"America's Got Talent": Mel B and several acts on the show
"The Carmichael Show": David Alan Grier and Jerrod Carmichael
"Mr. Robinson": Craig Robinson and Peri Gilpin
"The Player": Philip Winchester
"Law & Order SVU": Peter Scanavino
"Aquarius": Grey Damon and Emma Dumont
"Welcome to Sweden": Josephine Bornebusch
"Miss USA": Cheryl Burke, Thomas Roberts, and Nia Sanchez
"I Can Do That": Jeff Dye
"Heroes Reborn": Zachary Levi (he also is host of Syfy's "Geeks Who Drink")

"Suits:" Meghan Markle, Rick Hoffman, Sarah Rafferty, and Gabriel Macht
"Graceland": Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit
"WWE Tough Enough": Chris Jericho
"Complications": Jessica Szohr

"Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!": Ian Ziering
"Defiance": Jaime Murray

"House of DVF": Diane Von Furstenberg
"Hollywood Cycle": Aaron Hines, Nichelle Hines, and Nick Hounslow
"Sex With Brody": Dr. Mike Dow, Stevie Ryan
"The Comment Section": Michael Kosta
"Total Divas": Brie Bella and Nikki Bella

"Odd Mom Out": Jill Kargman and Abby Elliott
"Secrets and Wives": Liza Sandler, Andi Black, and Cori Goldfarb

"Car Matchmaker": Spike Feresten

"Difficult People": Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner

"Sisterhood of Hip Hop": Nyemiah Supreme

I am going to write separate articles on the most compelling shows I heard about yesterday, but in the meantime, here are some anecdotes of the highlights of the day:

It was great to talk to Daniel Sunjata and Aaron Tveit of USA's "Graceland" about what difference it makes in portraying a TV role when the actor knows all of the arcs of the season beforehand, such as in HBO's "True Detective," or when the same director works on multiple episodes. Both men are smart and thoughtful.

I remembered hearing about how MLB players and other athletes are huge fans of USA's "Suits," so I asked the cast about that. They got very animated in explaining why this is, and talked about corresponding with some of these famous fans.

If the interview with "The Carmichael Show" stars Jerrod Carmichael and David Alan Grier is any indication, the NBC show is going to be the funniest thing on the air this year. Carmichael had a riff involving "The Golden Girls" and our table that had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

Another show I think is going to be a huge hit: NBC's "The Player," which stars Philip Winchester. The actor explained the high-concept plot to us, which involves rich people gambling on the crime rate in Las Vegas. He even pulled up a trailer of the show on one of the reporter's iPad to show us scenes from the program. Extremely charming man. The show, which is from the producers of "The Blacklist," will be airing right after that program on Thursdays.

Hearing Zachary Levi expound on two projects he is involved in: the 13-episode "Heroes Reborn" series (which Levi made sound interesting, even to a non-sci-fi person like me!) and the "Geeks Who Drink" game show, which evolved from the popular pub game (Squawker Jon and I have played and won at this game in Manhattan!) Very bright, savvy actor.

If you think pro wrestlers are dumb, think again. Chris Jericho of USA's "WWE's Tough Enough" and the Bella twins of E!'s "Total Divas" were intelligent and thoughtful. I asked Jericho about the changes in wrestling over the years, and he explained it in great detail. Brie and Nikki Bella were very smart about branding themselves, and building a future in a tough business.

I am a big fan of "The Soup," so I can't wait to see "The Comment Section," which Joel McHale is producing, and which will air after "The Soup" each week. The idea of the show? Finding the craziest things in comments sections on news websites! (Speaking of which, I got my share of wacky comments this week!)

I ended up watching an episode of "Odd Mom Out" when I got home after meeting Jill Kargman and Abby Elliott. It is a pretty funny show, with a plotline about spinning that I could totally relate to.

Anyhow, I will expound more on the interviews of the day in separate articles. I have a lot of audio recordings to go through!

No comments:

Search This Blog