Home #Hwoodtimes TCA Winter Press Tour featuring CW’s “Wild Cards”, “Sight Unseen”, “All American”...

TCA Winter Press Tour featuring CW’s “Wild Cards”, “Sight Unseen”, “All American” & “Son of a Critch”

By Judy Shields

Pasadena, California (The Hollywood Times) 02/20/2024

Another beautiful day at the Langham Huntington hotel for CW’s press tour.  We had ourselves a delicious breakfast before the 1st panel which was the Executive Session.

Judy Shields, THT writer covering CW TCA panels Feb 15 2024

As I was having my breakfast and wearing my new The Chosen teal long sleeve shirt, a gentleman saw me and said “that’s a great shirt” and asked if he could take a picture of me.  That was alright by me!  After asking my name and the outlet I was covering for, he took the photo said he was going to send the photo to Dallas Jenkins, who is the creator of The Chosen and that they were close friends and he did just that via text. Way cool…I asked his name and he said Brad Schwartz, who is the President of Entertainment at the CW. It was my lucky day so far. What a nice guy.

Here are a few photos of the lobby area:

It started off with some words from Beth Feldman, SVP Communications, The CW Network, who welcomed us all. She said that some of her favorite memories as a network TV publicist took place here and she was looking forward to connecting with us in person instead of through a screen.

Beth introduced the two network executives: Dennis Miller, the President of The CW Network. Beth had this to say: “Dennis may not be as well-known as the comedian who shares his name, but in my book, he’s one of the funniest TV presidents I know.”  She next introduced the network’s President of Entertainment, Brad Schwartz.  She said that the man who has greenlit everything from the multiple Emmy-winning comedy Schitt’s Creek to bringing Jesus to broadcast television in The Chosen.

Brad Schwartz thanked us all for being here and went on to say that they have a panel for their big new hit show, Wild Cards, a panel for their next big hit show, Sight Unseen, a panel for their biggest show, All American, and a panel featuring an absolute legend in Malcolm McDowell.  Brad went on to say: “we have footballs to throw, we have news to break, and we have magic.”

The CW will premiere season 4 of Walker on April 3rd at 8pm.  Walker deals with the terrifying return of an elusive serial killer who once turned the ranger’s world upside down. On April 3rd at 9pm, CW will present their newest scripted series, Sight Unseen.  It’s a fresh take on a traditional cop partnership. In this exciting new procedural thriller, they introduce a former homicide detective who finds out she’s losing her vision and teams up with a virtual guide. The clip they showed was really one to capture our attention and now want to see the premiere of this new show Sight Unseen.

On Thursday, April 11th, The World’s Greatest Matchmaker returns for 10 episodes with Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker.  The show is followed at 9pm by a new season of the FBoy Island spin-off, Lovers and Liars, where the tables are turned, and this time it’s three guys sorting through 24 women to decide who is in it for love and who is in it for the $100,000. Hosted by Nikki Glaser.

On Friday, April 26th, the second season of 100 Days to Indy premieres. Airing in almost real time, the series gives fans unprecedented access to IndyCar, leading right up to the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500.  Police 24/7 from Jersey Shore producer Sally Ann Salsano premieres on April 30th. Much like what Laguna Beach did for The OC, this is an unscripted show that feels like a Dick Wolf procedural. On April 30th at 9 pm, Police 24/7 is followed by a riveting documentary series from Vice called Hostage Rescue. The show tells the real-life stories of hostages and the brave heroes who risk everything to save them.

Brad made some announcement of upcoming shows like David Thewlis leading in their newest scripted series, Sherlock & Daughter. The reimagining of the classic franchise follows a young American woman, played by Blu Hunt from The CW’s The Originals, who after witnessing her mother’s mysterious murder learns that her missing father may be the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Dougray Scott stars as Holmes nemesis, Moriarty. They are currently in production for a 2025 premiere.  He said they will have two brand new game shows coming to primetime on The CW this summer, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. In partnership with Hasbro and both shows go into production this spring.

Dennis Miller finally had a chance to say a few words:  “I think it’s going very well. We’ve been here about a year and a couple of months since the acquisition occurred. And Brad was my only and first choice to come join me in this adventure we were in to turn a network around with brand-new programming.”

The next panel was introduced by Penn: “Ladies and gentlemen, from The CW hit series, Penn & Teller: Fool Us and live from the Huntington Ballroom at the Langham, Pasadena, please welcome Brooke Burke.”

Brooke said that it was nice to be part of the CW family and she loves making live television.  It was a magical experience for her in Vegas last year bringing magic to the Friday night lineup, week after week.  “A sense of wonder, uncertainty, we made people laugh, we confused people. And I have to say, in all honesty, they blew my mind week after week and it was so much. Season 10 Fool Us is over, we are looking forward to Season 11. So at this time I want to invite the boys to enjoy me on stage for a little bit of magic.”

Penn performed a great card trick with Brooke assisting, who was wearing a beautiful yellow dress.  It was a really a cool card trick.  Brooke didn’t have pockets in her dress for the cards she drew from Penn’s card deck, so she put the cards she had chosen, placed them in her underwear. Too funny!

Penn went on to welcome to the stage the cast and executive producer of CW’s hit crime-solving procedural series Wild Cards and asked Brooke to introduce them.

Brooke did just that: “We’ve got Jason Priestley, Vanessa Morgan, Giacomo Gianniotti and Michael Konyves.”  (Jason Priestley, “George Graham,” Vanessa Morgan “Max Mitchell,” Giacomo Gianniotti “Cole Ellis,” Michael Konyves (Exec. Producer))

A question was asked of Jason Priestley: “Jason, can you give us a little bit more insight into your character and who you think he is?

Jason said:  “George is Max’s father, obviously. We’ve been sort of slow rolling the back story out to the audience as the season goes on. But what we’ve discovered so far is that George is in prison because of a con that he and Max were running together that went sideways. Max is determined to get her father out of prison.  George is well connected in prison, has access to a lot of things that other prisoners don’t because he is just such a charming, affable character. And I think as the season goes on, we’re gonna get to see more of George and as I said, we’re slowly rolling out the backstory, which I think people will find quite compelling.”

Executive Producer Michael Konyves said that when he wrote the show, it was because he had missed these kind of shows on TV.  He missed the blue sky, Moonlighting, and Castle, that they just seemed to disappear.  He wanted to write something that was fun to write every day.  Michael went on to say: “I was home, and I was up at night and I stumbled on 48 Hours, the Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte movie. That was sort of, one of the initial, like sparks, because that movie is great. I was like, oh, there’s a take in here that we could sort of modernize and change and sort of, so the initial idea was basically sort of like the Max character.  This is very early on as the Eddie Murphy character and how to do that.”

Catch the show on Thursday nights on CW. Click here to find out more about Wild Cards

Teller was up onstage with actor Malcolm McDowell for a magic trick.  Malcolm McDowell was holding an apple with small nails poked in the apple. Teller went over to the apple in McDowells’s hand and started swallowing pin after pin, yikes.  McDowell was trying to figure out what was going on with Teller and those pins.  Teller, without saying a word motioned to McDowell to come look at Teller’s open his mouth so see that there were no pins in Teller’s mouth and McDowell said indeed there were no pins in his mouth.  Teller then pulled out some string to put into his mouth to start swallowing that string. He slowly started pulling out the string, which had the pins attached to the string. Great illusion trick!

Next panel was for a new show Sight Unseen with Dolly Lewis “Tess Avery,” Agam Darshi “Sunny Patel,” Daniel Gillies “Jake Campbell,” Jarod Joseph “Matt Alleyne,” Karen & Nikolijne  Troubetzkoy (Writer/Creators)

First question asked was “what was it like to kind of come up with a visual language to sort of understand the visuals that these characters were experiencing?”

Karen Troubetzkoy said she loved that question and that the whole show turned out to be a giant experiment. She went on to say: “I have had experience of sight loss and have had operations on both my eyes, and times when I could not see and would be blind by many people’s definition. And 90 percent of people who identify as blind still see something, so we wanted to show that perspective.  We used a combination of my own experiences to develop a look with the DP, and with the cinematographer.”  Karen went on to say that they had a whole video stream of footage that they had to incorporate into the show and ended up being multi-layered and kind of complex, like there were three different streams of footage.  She explained it: “The POV of Dolly, who plays Tess, her sight-impaired POV, the video stream is, which is sort of a kind of full immersion, like a first-person shooter game, in a way and then the regular show. So, it was like three times as challenging as we expected.”

Dolly Lewis said that it was such a heartwarming experience because she chose not to wear any lenses or anything on set and that the sound stage was very dark. Getting around was actually pretty emotional for her the first few days and she said that she didn’t think she left her house without doing everything she could to make sure she could see clearly.  She went on to said that everybody on set was incredibly kind and helpful and that they had this gaffer tape that would light up if you shone a flashlight at it, like it would glow in the dark.  She was grateful that people were able to laugh about using symbols for a bathroom door versus the exit door.  They made it warm and a very safe place. “I had fun helping the crew learn about it. You know, they would say, watch your eye line, and I would say, I have no idea where you’re pointing. You’re ten feet away, I can’t even see where your arm is. So, you know, training people to get really specific with their language, that was just fun. Because for them, it was very new, and they were intrigued by it,” says Dolly.

Dolly Lewis as Tess Avery in CTV’s Sight Unseen

Agam Darshi said that being on set was great, kind of changed the culture on set for her.
“Like it just became a place where a lot of people who do have sight divergence were as able to navigate a little bit better, felt a little bit more included, Agam said.

Karen Trobetzkoy said the scripts were large, often all of them, because they had another sight-impaired actor who plays Mia, who’s extremely sight impaired, who actually asked that everybody have the special large-print scripts so that she didn’t feel isolated and that made Karen’s day. “Everything was so much easier for me. And all the flagging tape, especially when I eventually couldn’t see out of one eye.  It was just like, thank God,” Karen said.

Daniel Gillies told us that the DP was just stunning at the way he would sort of grab shadow and light. And that he felt like the show has this incredible cinematic quality.

After Jarod Joseph was asked about doing uplifting Christmas movies to come to something that’s maybe a little bit darker and balancing out those elements, he said that he gravitates towards the darker stuff as a preference and he was excited about coming back to that kind of world in a group, in a reality sense, a few characters different dynamics. He said he lives for that kind of stuff and was excited to be in something real worldly, dark aesthetic, his kind of thing and he was happy.

Sight Unseen can be seem on CTV on Mondays. Click here for info.

We all had the pleasure to be welcomed virtually by Inside the NFL host Ryan Clark who said: “Hello, television critics. I am Ryan Clark, the host of Inside the NFL. We have just wrapped our first season with my all-star cast: Channing Crowder, Chad Johnson, Jay Cutler, and Chris Long. Now, the NFL football season is over, but football never stops, especially here on The CW. So it is my pleasure to introduce the cast and producers of my favorite show, All American.

Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Exec. Prod., Bre-Z, Samantha Logan, Daniel Ezra, Michael Evans Behling, Greta Onieogou, Jamie Turner, Exec. Prod.

A question was asked: “I’m wondering, have the conversations with new ownership at all sort of shifted your perspective on where the show is heading and how to manage those elements in any way?

Nkechi Okoro Carroll said No.  That what’s been amazing about the new CW, Brad Schwartz, everyone, they’ve been so communicative with her. They sat down, they had lunch. She talked about her vision of the show, which had not changed since Season 1.  “we’ve been so supported in executing that vision the way we feel we need to, to tell these authentic storylines. Everything we’re doing now in Season 6, everything that, you know, exists in, in my head and Jamie’s head, and quite frankly, all of ours, because it really is a collaborative process. We sit down, we talk to the actors at the start of every season, at the end of every season, what we envision for their lives has not changed under the new CW,” said Nkechi.

Another question was: “if somebody was scrolling through a streaming platform and saw your title and you had the opportunity to jump out and say, “stop, here’s why you should watch All American, what would you say in that moment?”

Daniel Ezra said: “I would say it’s a really dynamic reflection of what kids are going through today. You know, when you look at the way we’ve explored mental health, the way we’ve explored addiction, the way we’ve explored the pressures of student athletes, it’s a good way to understand the minds and turbulations of young people in America today. But it’s the good and the bad. You know, the love, the fun, but also the struggle of what it is to be a kid today, and the joys and the highs and lows of that. So, for that reason alone, I think it’s worth watching.”

Greta Onieogou answered: “I think it has all the makings of a traditional good teen show. It’s in LA, which I feel like growing up, I loved to see. We have young people, we have a cast of people who you don’t typically see, especially in the circumstances that we are in. And like Daniel said, I think really important messaging and football’s having a really big year, so you get to get more football, which is fun. But yeah, I just think it’s the type of show that I loved and love watching, so I think it’s just got all the makings of the classic, in my opinion.”

BRE-Z replied:  “It’s good TV. Great TV. It’s not anyone who can’t watch it.”

Nkechi Okoro Carroll responded with:  “I think for our young girls out there, I would also tell them that you get these dynamic, phenomenal, powerful female characters who are breaking stereotypes and just pushes the boundaries on what TV has often depicted for us, especially for young black women. And so to me, that’s very exciting to be able to play any part in sort of bringing those different images to television.”

The moderator comes up to the podium and tell us all this:  Thank you. So, before everyone leaves, we have a special surprise. I know you saw the intro from Ryan Clark from Inside the NFL. And I have Brad Schwartz, our President of Entertainment, coming out here to bestow some signed footballs from the hosts of Inside the NFL. And he has some signed footballs for everyone at All American. But for a few of you out there, we’re going to ask, I don’t know who, to throw…who would want to try to catch? All right. I see some takers out there. I love it. He’s going underhand. Oh, my God. Whoa! I love it. Okay. Did we break it?  Alright, that was just one light. One more? Oh, okay, did we break your computer? Alright, underhand. Yay! Alright, thanks everyone.

To find out more about All American, click here

That was way cool and I was able to go up to the stage and actress Samantha Logan threw me one of those awesome autographed football.  Here is a photo of that football. It will not be going up on eBay either. I will be handing it over to my 31 year old cousin who does all of our NFL coverage at The Hollywood Times. I feel he will greatly appreciate the autographed football.

The final panel of the day was Son of a Critch.   It starts off with a video call from actor Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and he had this to say:  “Hi there, I’m Benjamin Evan Ainsworth from Son of a Critch, and I just wanted to say hello, and sorry I couldn’t be here at TCA today. We’re really proud of the show we’ve created, and we hope you really like it too. And representing the show here today are two people I admire so much. The first, my father in the show, and the voiceover in my head, Mr. Mark Critch. And the second, my grandfather in the show, and a very dear friend, the legend, Malcolm McDowell.”

He is followed up by Mark Critch sitting up onstage next to Malcolm McDowell and Mark says: “hello, thanks, everybody. My name is Mark Critch from Son of a Critch. I am the Son of a Critch, spoiler alert. And of course, the great legend Malcolm McDowell. I know what you’re thinking. Yet another sitcom with a legend reading, “If,” I know. We don’t see that everywhere, but we have a unique show and we’d love to tell you about it. Right there.”

First question was asked of Mark: So from the perspective of creating this originally in Canada for the CBC, what were those initial conversations like about trying to break into the American market? You have Malcolm McDowell sitting next to you. And kind of how did it feel to sort of get that call that actually you were going to go south of the border?”

Mark responded that it has been a fascinating experience, that he just wanted to tell these stories and tell his life stories. He said he never expected, having Malcolm McDowell, but then to have a great partner like CW come in and they had a stellar team behind the scenes as well. Marks co-creator is Tim McAuliffe, who was a writer for The Office and Last Man on Earth, a dear friend. “He said to me, ‘you should make this show based on a book that I wrote.’ “I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t know if there’s anything there.’  He pushed it. We have Andrew Barnsley, who of course, was executive producer of Schitt’s Creek. So we had this, this wonderful team that I thought really saw it as what it could be and what it could become, you know, it might be a very unique show about this little island, and in Canada, Newfoundland, and this one family. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about heart. It’s, everybody’s had those experiences, being bullied and things like that. So, it was really something that had more reach than maybe we initially thought.”

Mark went on to say that partnering with CW and Brad Schwartz, another Canadian legend, he guessed he had an eye, and maybe he figured to take a chance. Mark said that he has a great home and that they are very much supported and it’s lovely to hear from folks who are seeing it there and relating to it and just enjoying it as part of their Thursday night.

Mark was asked “when you were creating the show, it’s based on your life and a book. But was there anything tonally that you were trying to evoke, particularly something like The Wonder Years or A Christmas Story?”

Mark said A Christmas Story…”When I was a kid, I’d never talk about my childhood. When I was a kid, Wonder Years was on. And I hear from kids now who watch the show and will watch it with parents or the family, is they really got it and dug it, not because it’s ‘60s nostalgia, but because they’re going through the same things, right? It wasn’t a show set in the ‘60s, it was a show about a family, you know, was he gonna get with Winnie Cooper and all these things. The earliest film I remember really digging, totally, was maybe A Christmas Story. I loved that film and having an older dad and stuff like that. I had a lot of old people in my life, so when something is set in the ‘40s, I totally got that, like, oh, Little Orphan Annie. Ovaltine, I know what that is, so I would run with it.”

Malcolm McDowell was asked: “This has gotta be, in some respects, a great, a dream-come-true job.  You imbue this guy with such nuance, such love, sometimes stern, but still the love is there. And I’m wondering, how much was on the page and how much was in your own art?”

Malcolm’s response was: “I can’t give you a percentage. You know, it’s good casting, I’ll tell you that. I just, you know, love what he writes. He’s a wonderful writer. I don’t want to make him blush. Actually, it’s impossible. But, you know, when I read the scripts, I just knew that it was something really special. I’d been playing too many serial killers, God knows what else, scums of society. And, you know, I’m really just a comedian at heart. And I love doing more, you know, family kind of show. And I just read this and I just absolutely loved his writing, and I just knew I wanted to do it. So I just called my manager and I said, ‘Make this work. I don’t care what you do, but I want to do it.’ So, you know, if they’re offering it, I’m doing it. And then we had a FaceTime call and, and it was great. You know, of course it’s a beautifully written part and, the actor brings to it what he feels about it, and fills in, I mean, the script, and I think Mark would be the first to tell you is a skeleton. You fill it out and make it alive and work.  I remember saying to my mother, well, I’ve gotta rehearse and she went, ‘Rehearse? What do you mean rehearse?’ I went well, you don’t think I just get up and say these things? She goes, ‘oh, I thought you just did that.’ I went, Good god, no mom, no. So it’s gotta be on the page and it is on the page.”

What a great conversation it was.  Great panels for The CW.

To find out more about Son of A Critch, click here