Days three and four of ATX TV Fest s12 include everything that makes this festival so unique. The big screenings and panels are always exciting, but often the more intimate and unexpected panels make this fest so special. Those undersung, unusual inclusions that help define what storytelling is or where it is going are hotbeds for attendee discussion. Hearing from industry voices, particularly underrepresented ones, gives insight into how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go. ATX TV Fest 2023 Days 3 and 4 were filled with a mix of both making it a perfect close-out to a hot Austin weekend.
Day 3 Highlights
Beginning Saturday by attending a conversation with TV icon Ted Danson is a dream. The Cheers legend and his wife of 28 years were very candid about what Cheers did for him professionally and how it ended, quite possibly paved the way for his romantic life. There are very few festivals fans can attend where they get this kind of personal access to their TV idols.
Micro panels Into The Dark and Unscripted POV: Shaping The Story were surprise treats that offered rare glimpses into the psyche of those who produce our favorite guilty and often dark pleasures. Into the Dark featured Gina Fattore, the writer and producer of Dare Me and Californication, and Julie Plec, Creator/Showrunner, EP, and Director of Vampire Academy, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies. They discussed how an antihero becomes the one we lust for and how that looks different to the next generation. The women were engaging and insightful, and the small enthusiastic crowd hung on every word. No other fest offers this access.
For reality TV fans, Unscripted POV delivered hope that even though there has been more slashing and burning than greenlighting on traditional television series, the unscripted category is going strong. The hard-to-define category has something for everyone. Romance, true crime, social commentary, genre adjacent treasure hunts, and searches for aliens. The minds behind some of our favorite unscripted shows like Queer Eye and Growing Up Hip Hop offer hope that TV will always have a future.
Fans of the horror series From got to screen a selection of early clips from the upcoming episode and listened to star Harold Perrineau and Directer Jack Bender explain what is going on in our favorite nightmare town. HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones closed out the panels on ATX TV Fest 2023, day 3, with the world premiere of Season 3 followed by a conversation with the cast and directors of the irreverent show. The first two episodes of Season 3 were filled with the raucous humor the series is known for, and the Q&A that followed was just as much fun, even if it was a tad too brief. Particularly fun was watching Adam DeVine wax on about getting to play the son of John Goodman, every millennial’s sitcom Dad. The sold-out crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative.
Day 4 Highlights
Although ATX TV Fest 2023 Day Four was shorter, it still had plenty of reasons to stay until the end. The micro panel Singin’ In The Frame with Kevin McHale and Ashley Fink(both of Glee) discusses the challenges of adding song and dance to a scene. Women take center stage in Leading Ladies of Prime Video and The Women Of The Good Doctor. Both were fascinating looks at what these stories mean to women and how working in the industry is changing.
Prime Video’s The Ride invited fans into the world of Professional Bull Riding and their new Teams Competition. Following the screening, bull riders and stars Eli Vastbinder and Ezekiel Mitchell, along with Austin Gamblers CEO JJ Gottsch and the creatives from Kinetic Content responsible for the series, talked about the life of a bull rider and the brand loyalty the Teams Competition brings. The honest-to-goodness cowboys were a hoot and the real deal.
The Festival Finale Brunch: Sending You Off With Love was a great time to say goodbye to old friends and ones newly made until next year. Lastly, Sustainable Stories For A Climate In Crisis provided a heady dose of science. Director of Research at USC’s Annenberg Norman Lear Center and Writer and EP Zoanne Clack, MD of Grey’s Anatomy, cracked open the door on climate change language and its role and inclusion in media today. The illuminating panel made you think about how and why we consume entertainment and what effects those stories have on our political opinions, specifically as it pertains to the environment. Find all our ATX TV Fest coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.