ATX TV Festival Review and Recap

by Ursula Rogers

The ATX TV Festival’s 12th season was one of its best yet despite scheduling changes due to the writers’ strike. The show went on. Celebrity guests made sure to show respect to writers and give them well-deserved accolades. The tv shows and films we love all start with a story created by the writer. They are a major reason this festival can exist. Overall, the venues were within a few blocks of each other. Which helped festival goers navigate the Texas weather with a little more ease.

There were so many amazing events such as camp activities, badge holder events, and panels. Not only was there a screening of Manifest (Netflix), but a photo op with a flight pin, brochure, flight attendants, etc. were included. I enjoyed the Canva activity where campers had the chance to design their own juice bottle with Canva and get tasty juice. The Sunday farewell brunch was another highlight.

Check out all our photo galleries from the festival- Here’s our Day 1 highlights.

There were several screenings combined with cast and crew Q&A. The Justified: City Primeval (FX/Hulu) panel reintroduced fans to Timothy Olyphant Raylan Givens as we meet Willa Givens portrayed by his real life daughter, Vivian Olyphant. We meet Boyd Holbrook as Clement Mansell aka the Oklahoma Wildman. Raylan Givens finds himself as a fish out of water in a new city (Detroit) and on the hunt for the Oklahoma Wildman. Givens must juggle caring for his daughter and assisting the Detroit Police capture Clement Mansell. Cast chemistry was great during the episode and at the Q&A. I was so intrigued by the first episode of Justified: City Primeval I was convinced to start watching the original show, Justified.

That wild family of megachurch televangelists has returned for its 3rd season. Max’s The Righteous Gemstones fans new and old had the fortunate opportunity to view the first two episodes of the 3rd season at ACL Live with cast and creators present. Followed by a Q&A which had the audience, cast, and crew doubled over with laughter. They aren’t just funny on the screen. I only wish Walton Goggins (Uncle Baby Billy), Tim Baltz (BJ), and Tony Cavalero (Keefe) had been present.

The iconic show Cheers (Paramount+) reunion was one of the biggest draws at the fest. The panel utilized the table read in a way I hadn’t seen before. Actor attendees did a script reading of the pilot episode of Cheers with the stage set up like that infamous bar (which recently sold on auction for $675,000). The panel featured cast members such as John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, and Ted Danson. Notably Rhea Perlman and Woody Harrelson were not present. Though Danson mentioned during his conversation with wife Mary Steenburgen he and Harrelson have a podcast coming out. During the reunion, cast and crew spoke about Kirstie Alley and reminisced about how special the show was. While there will be a Frasier reboot, the iconic James Burrows (director) mentioned there are no plans for a Cheers reboot. Love and appreciation were in the air. It was great to see some of the gang back together.

The Mystery Guest conversation highlighted actor Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad, Accused). She was a delight and incredibly humble when describing her journey through acting. Fans also got a chance to see Betsy during the Accused panel with fellow actors Whitney Cummings and Ian Anthony Dale. The show Accused is a legal anthology that features everyday people as they take on “complex and timely explorations.” The show airs on Fox.

Marcus Scribner and his castmates showed how they have evolved while discussing the final season of Grown-ish (Disney+, Hulu). I enjoyed hearing Scribner describe his growth from “Junior” to “Andre.” He is excited about where the character (he’s portrayed for 10 years) is going but also looking to future opportunities. He mentioned he’d like to try action or romantic comedies. I’d be curious to see him expand his comedy chops and play the nephew of Eric Andre’s Righteous Gemstones character. He could hilariously exact revenge on the Gemstones in his uncle’s honor.

The TV Sing A Long, a camp activity hosted by Glee Alumni Ashley Fink (Glee) and Kevin McHale (Glee), had “campers” sing along to classic TV theme songs from hit shows such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Fraggle Rock,” The Brady Bunch”, and “The Addams Family”, to name a few. Ashley and Kevin had a wonderful time and encouraged audience members to grab the mic and take the lead in singing.

My little spooky heart thoroughly enjoyed the “Are You Afraid of Driskill” camp activity. The combination of spooky tales and popcorn in a “haunted” hotel went well together. I think the perfect companion to “Are You Afraid of the Driskill” night would be Saturday morning cartoons with cereal for the early birds.

The Ride (Prime Video) panel was a great. Many local Austin connections for this show. It is interesting that bull riding is normally an individual sport and some of the guys were apprehensive about joining a team. They ended up finding camaraderie. The Austin Gamblers are one of eight teams in the inaugural PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Team Series, a new elite bull riding league that showcases world-class athletes and bulls competing for their city’s pride. The Gamblers were the first pro sports tenant in the new, state-of-the-art Moody Center and host other teams from around the nation. They will be at the Moody Center August 25-27 this year.

With the Leading Ladies of Amazon Prime (Prime Video) panel, both ladies are Latina leads of their respective shows. It’s not only that these shows are led by Latino actresses but they are fully realized human beings, which is what we all want. Emeraude Toubia show “With Love” features multiple generations. The farewell brunch was inspired by the show. Justina Machado’s show, “The Horror of Dolores Roach” is based on a podcast and hasn’t premiered yet. I think horror is a new genre for her. I’m used to seeing her in comedies.

The ATX TV Festival was a surefire hit. Full of positive energy, engaging activities, and wonderful people. We can’t wait for next year!

Check out all our photos and interviews from the event on Austin 101 Magazine.

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