Every summer, television lovers from Hollywood and the nation alike converge upon Austin, Texas for a magical weekend of sun, fun and as much programming as can safely be consumed in a four-day span. From Thursday to Sunday, fans mingle amongst a mix of fellow fans, industry bigwigs and a few of the actors who bring their favorite characters to life.
It all sounds amazing, right? Almost surreal? Maybe dreamlike?
What we’ve just described is not a dream- we promise. It’s the fantastic reality that is ATX Festival.
The fourth season of ATX Festival kicks off this Thursday with the premiere of USA’s newest drama, Complications. From there, the programming only gets better with panels for popular shows such as Empire, Dawson’s Creek, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and of course, the much anticipated Gilmore Girls reunion. Three of us here at RLR will be down in Austin and WE. CAN’T. WAIT. If you’re not able to make it to ATX Festival’s fourth season this weekend, well, we will miss you, but fear not! We will have wall-to-wall coverage both here at the site as well as all over social media. Here are a few of the things we’re looking forward to, in addition to where to follow us!
Everyone’s big draw this year is the 15-year Gilmore Girls reunion, but there is much, much more that draws me in this year than just the folks at Star Hollow. See below for the panels and screenings I am most looking forward to this year:
1. Hannibal- Hannibal is without a doubt my current favorite show on TV. It’s gorgeous, compelling, grotesque, and absolutely horrific. I love it. ATX will be showing the first two episodes for the audience, while creator/writer/director Bryan Fuller does a Q&A after. The worst part is that it’s taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse which means I will not get to eat anything while I’m there since the show is so disgusting. Woe is me, since I’ll take the trade off gladly. Mostly I just can’t wait to see my wife, Gillian Anderson, on the big screen with a hundred other “Fannibals”.
2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine- The season two finale was an incredibly strong episode which shifted every plot around. I’m anxious to hear where the show can go from here and how Captain Holt and Gina will remain tied to the 99. Three cast members and Dan Goor, the show’s co-creator, will be in attendance while we watch the season finale.
3. “It’s Debatable” Panel- Last year, there were over 1,700 television shows in primetime alone. How do television critics decide which ones to write about regularly? How do they sift through the detritus to find the series that are worth watching? The panel hopes to answer those questions and more. This one will be a great conversation to attend, especially since one can feel so overwhelmed when writing about television.
4. Fox Comedies and Dramas- Last year, Fox debuted Red Band Society and The Mulaney Show before anyone else ever got to see them. They are doing the same thing this year, right after the new Fox fall schedule was announced at the May upfronts. It’s nice that Fox and ATX TV Festival have such a great relationship and trust bringing their shows there for world premieres.
5. The “Final Finale” Panel- This panel will feature writers and show runners who have the unforgiving, daunting task of writing a series finale. Do they tend to do it in a way that satisfies viewers or in a way that will wrap up the series without being perfect? Knowing they can’t please everyone, I look forward to hearing about the different approaches to finales and how the final decision is made.
It’s another year, another season with ATX TV Festival and I cannot wait to return for the fourth time. It’s crazy! Four summers ago I attended this festival because of a small Friday Night Lights reunion. Never in a million years did I think I would not only fall in love with such an awesome festival, but also keep coming back every year.
What I love about the festival is it’s literally all about TV. Shows from different networks all come together for one weekend to talk about their show, interact with the fans, and have some fun in Texas. Each year the festival has gotten better, improved, and continues to be blast. Sure, some years had too many shows I was interested in and some of those panels had an overlapped schedule, which made me force to make a decision of which panels to skip out on. Other years, I’ve had very few shows I’ve liked attending and gave me the option to explore new shows and panels. This year I have so many panels I want to see and only have one overlap scheduling conflict yet still manage to try new panels. YAY!
So here’s what I’m looking forward to this season:
1. Conversation with Marta Kauffman and screening of Grace & Frankie- I just finished watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix and it was just the funniest comedy show I’ve seen in a long time. The fact that Marta Kauffman (who created FRIENDS) created this show makes me excited to see how this show came about.
2. Boy Meets Girl Meets World- ATX TV Festival hosted a Boy Meets World reunion last summer and it was so great to see most of the cast back to talk about my all time favorite 90s show, the behind the scenes stories, and how they’re all still very close. This time around, I’m looking forward to meeting the new generation, Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter, along with Ben Savage and show creator Michael Jacobs.
3. Friday Night Lights Tailgate- Out of the few the events ATX TV Festival hosts, the Friday Night Lights Tailgate Screening continues to be my favorite. It’s a perfect place to be under the stars with your friends you’ve met before and the new ones you just made, and watch an episode with some of the cast members.
4. Gilmore Girls Reunion and Coffee with Amy Sherman Palladino- Although I didn’t see Gilmore Girls till after it ended, I’m really looking forward to seeing almost everyone back together in the same room and talking about their journey, behind the scene stuff, and fun facts about the show. Of course, I’d like to see what their answers would be when someone asks where their characters would be today.
5. Conversation with Kevin & Julie- These two are taking over TV and not only are they incredibly talented but they’re also great influences and role models for those who want to go into the TV business as a show creator, producer, and/or writer. That’s exactly why I want to attend their panel.
6. Dawson’s Creek Writers Room Reunion- Like Gilmore Girls, I watched this show after it aired and binged watched the entire series on Netflix. The Dawson’s Creek writers are now show creators and writers for hit shows like Veronica Mars, The Vampire Diaries, The Following, Everwood, Private Practice, and so many more. I’m not only looking forward to seeing all of these writers talk about such an iconic 90s show, but possibly compare and discuss how writing for Dawson’s Creek prepared them for their hit shows.
7. Teen Wolf: Watch Your Pack- I love Teen Wolf and having been watching the show since day one. I’d be a fool not to go to this panel.
Honestly, I’m glad I have so many panels to look forward to attending, but I can’t pick which one I’m looking forward to the most. I just can’t. This weekend can’t get here fast enough.
I’m in a bit of a different boat this year because I’m not a huge devotee of any of the shows in this year’s lineup. I’m still excited, however, as I’m going to use this year’s Fest as an opportunity to attend as many panels and take in as much new programming as I possibly can. Here’s my list:
1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine- This is the only show in the lineup I have watched on a semi-regular basis. I’m very picky about my comedies, but this show checks all of the boxes in things I look for in a show: smart comedy, cast chemistry, entertaining stories and Andy Samberg. Any buddy of Justin Timberlake’s is a buddy of mine.
2. Dawson’s Creek Pilot Script Reading- I was in the seventh grade when Dawson’s Creek debuted in 1998. At eleven years old, I was just a little too young to watch and fully appreciate all that the epitome of 90’s teenage angst had to offer. I do, however, love the 90’s, Wilmington, North Carolina, rewatching shows from my childhood/adolescence and reading scripts. Having just rewatched the pilot episode, I am excited to see who comprises the guest cast and just how certain scenes will play out.
3. Friday Night Lights- You haven’t fully experienced an ATX Festival until you’ve attended this annual event. The Friday Night Lights tailgate is exactly how I would imagine pregame in good ole Dillon, Texas: Shiner beer, Blue Bell ice cream, live music, various Streets, Riggins, Saracens and Taylors milling about and smiles and happiness all around. The tailgate was one of my favorite memories from last year’s festival, and I can’t wait to smile like an idiot at the utterance of “Texas Forever” and do it again.
4. Boy Meets Girl Meets World- I am proud to admit that I am closing in on thirty and yet regularly watch a show that airs on the Disney channel. It is rare to be able to catch up with a character later on in life, and Girl Meets World has allowed us to do just that with Cory, Topanga and the rest of the Matthews clan. Girl Meets World is clearly targeted to Disney’s key demographic- AKA not me- but it’s too sweet of a show not to watch. I’m excited to see the perspectives of Ben Savage- who has obviously been around since the very beginning- and Rowan Blanchard- who wasn’t even born when Boy Meets World started it all.
5. Complications- This year’s Fest kicks off with a sneak peek of USA’s newest drama, Complications. Complications comes to us from Matt Nix, the man who brought us Michael, Fiona and all those glorious spy secrets under the Miami sun. USA shows all have very specific premises- Michael as a blacklisted spy in Miami, Hank as a concierge doctor in the Hamptons, Annie as a CIA agent and even Mike Ross as a fake lawyer- and Complications looks to be no different. The show follows Dr. John Ellison, a doctor who becomes a bit of a vigilante hero when he intervenes in a shooting following his daughter’s death. I’m most excited for the Q&A that will follow the screening as I can’t wait to get some insight into the mind of the man who has brought USA so much success.
We here at RLR are curious: what are you most looking forward to at this year’s Festival? Are there any questions you’d ask anyone in particular, if you could? LET US KNOW! We will be in as many places as possible: red carpets, interviews and every screening and panel possible to try and provide as much coverage as we can! We may even bust out Periscope if the moment is right.
SO. If you’re spending this weekend at home, get your smartphones ready. Set your Twitter app to creep the requisite hashtags (#ATXFestival and #ATXTVS4) and follow along with us for one of the best weekends of the year. If you’re attending the Fest along with us, we can’t wait to see you. It should be a blast, and we can’t wait to share it all with you!