Austin is replete with festivals - that's no surprise. We've got music offerings in spades, and films in abundance. And now, thanks to Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson, we've got a TV Festival that's really blossoming in its second bout. This year, the festival attacted tons of high profile talent, reunions aplenty, and much more. So just what did I learn? Here are some of my main takeaways from season two of the ATX Television Festival
The Veronica Mars Movie Is Happening. Finally.
In a panel devoted to the kickstarter financing model that made his Veronica Mars movie possible, showrunner Rob Thomas admitted that the pressure is on, to live up to the expectations of both backers and fans. “There’s immense pressure,” Thomas said. “We are a guinea pig for this kickstarter model. All goes out the window if we don’t stick the landing.” Fan support of the cult favorite TV show has been the real saving grace of the project, echoed recently confirmed cast member Chris Lowell, set to reprise his role as Stosh "Piz" Piznarski in the film, which begins production this week. And while Thomas wasn’t too forthcoming with script details, he did reveal that he’s been able to stick pretty close to the story he intended to tell all along, except for one minor detail. “All of the actors kept getting older…
It’s hard to think of a show that brings out rabidity in fans like Friday Night Lights, and if the show’s presence at ATX S2 was any indication, that fervor isn’t going away any time soon. At a panel entitled “Friday Night Lights: The Cast Diaries,” festgoers were treated to the ultimate in surprise guests – Coach and Mrs. Coach (otherwise known as Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, respectively). News hit the twitterverse in an instant, and the jealousy could be heard from miles away. With even more FNL fan fare – a screening of the season 1 finale episode with cast in attendance, it’s clear that those in support of the Dillon Panthers aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Texas Forever.
Life Worked Out for Brian Krakow
So-called or no, life seemed to turn out OK for lovelorn nerd Brian Krakow, one of the central characters of the cancelled-too-soon cult classic My So-Called Life. The show’s panel, which followed the angst-filled pilot, brought several of the actors to the stage, including Krakow (Devin Gummersall) mom Patty Chase (Bess Armstrong), Enrique Vasquez (Wilson Cruz), Devon Odessa (Sharon Cherski), and writer Winnie Holzer. More than that, it caused many of the female writers in attendance to realize that watching the show in adulthood is far different than an adolescent viewing. Patty Chase wasn’t so bad after all. She had real problems, you guys.
Boy Meets World Meets Austin in a Big Way
If you grew up in the TGIF nation, it’s hard to imagine a show as memorable as Boy Meets World. The tale of a somewhat precocious kid, navigating his way through elementary school with the help of his pals and a neighbor who just so happened to be his teacher and later principal. Many of us watched Cory and Topanga grow up as we did, navigating their troubles in a similar circumstance as our own. So when a cast reunion was announced early in the fest’s planning, fans went nuts. Ben Savage! Mathew Lawrence! Rider Strong! Rider Strong! (That’s not a typo. My childhood crush on him was so massive, that his name deserves double billing.) And nuts, did they go. The State Theater was packed to the gills with fans eager to hear tales of this 90’s classic, and it’s upcoming sequel series, Girl Meets World, which will document the trials and tribulations of Cory and Topanga’s daughter.
Joshua Molina is a Gem
As one of the biggest fans The West Wing has ever had, I can tell you that spotting Joshua Molina, aka the show’s fill-in speech writer, following the departure of Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn. When I stumbled upon the actor at the Stephen F. Austin bar, it should come as no surprise that I had to chat him up about Aaron Sorkin, Sports Night, and of course, his turn on Scandal. And it was totally worth it.