Last week, I headed down to Austin for me second go-around with the ATX Television Festival. It's no secret I love television. It's my entertainment medium of choice, and I hold no aspersions of any refined taste. I can love cheesy schlock as much as any critically acclaimed series, and I will never draw a line of distinction. It's all wonderful to me. OK, maybe not wonderful, but if I start a series and don't bail after a few episodes (which is rare), I'm with you until the end, bitter or otherwise. In fact, I've been known to watch a series finale for a show I've otherwise never watched. I'm that dedicated.
Someone on Twitter once asked what your dream job would be (training and salary notwithstanding), and my answer would be television critic, if not television writer outright. How I didn't drift into this over the years is a mystery and sadness to me. Eh, maybe there's still time.
Anyway, this time, I hopped in my car and made the trip solo this year (thank you, husband and parents). I have to say, it's much better to have someone in the passenger seat and I hope I can rectify that in the coming years. I made it in time to get all registered up and in line for the first panel I wanted to attend, only to see my friend and kind hostess Regan standing in the I Already Have a Golden Ticket So I Get in First line. We texted (yes, texted - I am new to the 21st century and could finally do this) to make seating arrangements, and headed in.
Now, listen. Last year, I got mad at myself halfway through the weekend for not talking to the celebrities and panelists when clearly other attendees were doing just that and no one seemed to mind. That's when I decided to toss my shy business to the birds and approach anyone I darn well pleased. Did I look sound like an idiot sometimes? YES. But I got some nice pictures and shook some hands (or uncomfortably hugged people, I don't remember) and got over my darn self, so WIN. This was my approach going into this year.
Until this first panel about ratings and reviews (which was information and interesting and awesome), which included Tara Ariano or Mighty Big TV and Television without Pity fame (late of Previously.tv) whom I've followed forever and admired for truly mining the essence of snark and the television recap, and well, I just couldn't. I should have because she seems like a class act who doesn't think her sushi won't spoil, and I'm kinda bummed I missed that opportunity. Tara, I think you're amazing. I hope I get a chance to make a fool of myself in front of you another time.
There were other talented critics whom I enjoy reading as well, but I went fangirl for Tara (whom I'm calling by her first name because obviously we are best friends even though we haven't met).
The rest of the day passed with me feeding my parking meter, nearly spraining my ankle in a pothole, and developing a migraine that kept me from eating much at the awesome restaurant Regan picked (I am certain she now thinks I try to eat like a supermodel when I was actually dying to munch down on the waffle fries she ordered), until it was time to drive across downtown to meet up with Jennie and her mom at the Friday Night Lights outdoor screening. Let me make a long sub-story short (heh, like I'm slowing down on the overall story) and tell you that one of the circles of hell surely must be trying to park in Austin, Texas, on a Friday night. I drove around for - no joke - an hour trying to find someplace I didn't think I'd get towed before I gave up and went back to celeb-watch in the hotel lobby. Jennie assured me the evening was more about swatting mosquitoes than hanging out with actors. I'm taking that cold comfort.
*Brisk clap* OK, Saturday. Regan and I rendezvoused with Jennie, her mom, and Erica that morning, then went off to the screening we wanted to see. First up for me was a conversation with Fonzie himself, Henry Winkler. I felt like last year's luck was riding with me, and sure enough, I scored a front row center seat. The man is exactly who you want him to be - kind, self-deprecating, truthful, and a fantastic storyteller. He spoke for an hour and then took questions. Remembering my new tactic, I stuck my hand in the air, ready to use the line I'd worked on a few days prior. When he pointed at me, I told him that my husband had me promised that if I got to speak to him, I'd tell him that he was Chris's role model growing up, and what did he think of that title. First, he asked my name and Chris's name, answered the question, and then said, "Give Chris my best." Classy. (There's a YouTube video of the talk and at 50:20, you can see the exchange. Chris actually got choked up when I showed him. Softie.)
You look' at me? Wait, wrong show.
The Fonz showed up for a moment. It was greaaaaaayyyyyyt. (Too much?)
They ushered us out of the theater before I could get a picture with the man, which is one of the great tragedies of the event for me. Sigh.
Next was a reunion for the cast of Everwood. I know you didn't watch t, but you've probably seen at least one actor in another role. Treat Williams - heard of him? He wasn't there, but he was in the show. Again, I scored front row seats and lo, it was very cool. So many of the cast came that I couldn't get them all in a picture, and those that couldn't come sent videos. About three quarters of the way through, Chris Pratt, another cast member who couldn't be there, called via Facetime to David Hudgins, who was moderating, so we got to hear from him "live" as well. What a neat little surprise. And I asked a question again (pats self on back for hutzpah).
Just a few of them. No one has aged.
Isn't technology cool?
A note about David Hudgins. He moderated the Friday Night Lights panel last year and Everwood this year, and he is just my favorite. It's obvious why he is such a successful TV writer, plus he's fabulously witty in person. I could with him for hours. David, call me! Heck, hire me! I work cheap and make good coffee.
That was all I had on tap officially, but Jennie and her mom (Peggy, I suppose I should use her actual name) were going to the Parenthood panel and could save me a seat since they had special golden ticketed and I didn't. And it's a good thing because they had to turn people away from this one. Why? Well, it's a really good show but also because Lauren Graham and Peter Krause surprisingly showed up. This Q&A was entirely too short, of course. Also, Ray Romano is on the show and was there for just about every panel, so bonus there. (Love the man, but he seemed awfully uncomfortable talking to people about the work he's chosen to do with his life and also he could shave and put on a nicer shirt once in awhile since he's not inside his house.)
I wanted to put these side by side, but apparently, this is where technology breaks down for me.
Then I did some people watching in the hotel lobby while Jennie and Peggy went back to their hotel and Regan and Erica were embarrassing Sean Astin at his show's premiere, and I finally scored a picture with some famous people.
Mission accomplished. This is mostly for my dad, who watches Rookie Blue and Grey's Anatomy and therefore knows Gregory Smith and Sarah Drew. I managed to get this by offering to take a picture for the girl who originally approached them and them asking her to return the favor. Clever, yes?
I'd like to take a moment to award Sarah Drew the Connie Britton Award for Hair Excellence at this year's festival.
Sunday, I had a golden ticket to the reunion of the cast of Roswell (I know, you didn't watch that either), but I knew this was one of the biggest tickets of the weekend and it was in one of the smallest venues, so I wanted to make sure I was early enough to get a good seat. That's when I had to brilliant idea to check out the Goldbergs screening which was happing immediately prior to the reunion in the same room. I'd seen a few segments of the Goldbergs over the season, but this was the first full episode I's seen, and it's pretty adorable, and not only because it was about the son doing karate to his own neat kind of like Sammy. It's charming and brought back a lot or memories for this 80s raised kid. I think I'll watch more next season.
I saw Wendy McLendon-Covey at the hotel Saturday, and I didn't recognize her. I thought I was watching some CW starlet get hounded by festival goers, and was shocked when I realized she plays a mom of teens on TV. You go, WMC.
The Roswell reunion was good, although I think I'd prefer clips over the life of the show to watch the pilot in its entirety. Another cast member (Jason Fehr) surprised the audience, and it was clear they all loved each other still (except for Katharine Heigel , who was neither there nor mentioned, so it makes you go hmm...), which makes for a nice experience. The real cock-your-head-and-raise-your-eyebrow moment was when the last question asker turned out to be Snooki. Yes, that Snooki. I guess she has enough slush fund to fly down to Austin to reminisce about a TV show she once watched. Key, whatever. She's a fan.
They look the same. 15 years later, I do not look the same.
Another note: Jason Katims is a supremely talented showrunner and I'll watch almost anything with his name attached, but he should probably take a public speaking seminar.
OK, enough recap. I had a wonderful time staying with Regan and cannot thank her enough for giving me a roof over my head and coffee in the morning. He children a ridiculously gorgeous and her husband very gracious to let a random internet stranger come into his house for 2 days. I really wish she was my next door neighbor (and that Erica lived on the other side, she's just that awesome, too). It would be the snark center of the world. Ladies, you are the best. Please come visit me anytime. And Erica, I apologize for teasing you about your Ray Romano affection. You have excellent taste and are not at all stalkery (he would totally talk to you). I also loved hanging out with Jennie and Peggy some more and hope that continues when our book club get back up to speed. Hey, did Snooki write a book? Should we read that next?
Let me show you the fantastic picture of Regan and me:
And Erica and me:
And Jennie, Peggy, and me:
And Ray Romano and me:
Yeah, I failed big time on the picture and it pains me. I WILL do better next time.
Which won't be next year. It killed me not to buy an advance ticket with this wonderful ladies, but I already know I have a conflict next year. Even though it's a REALLY good reason, it's still a bitter pill to swallow. But you better believe I'm writing in 2016 in red marker on my calendar and tasking someone with buying my advance ticket when they go on sale at next year's festival. Because my camera and I will be back, and I will be timidly yet certainly approaching Hollywood type people. I'm coming for you.