The writers of “Alias,” an ode to “Parks and Rec” and more coming to the ATX Television Festival

First season promo photo of "Alias" cast. We and they were so young.
First season promo photo of “Alias” cast. We and they were so young. Gotta love Bradley Cooper waaay in the back.

Remember “Alias,” the show that launched Jennifer Garner and creator J.J. Abrams, brought us Victor Garber as a concerned dad/CIA lifer, substituted someone called Milo Rambaldi for Leonardo da Vinci and acted as a fun allegory for how women have to do it all (grad student/maintain a relationship/ special agent)? Yes, that one.

The writers room, including Ken Olin, Lawrence Trilling, Sarah Caplan, Monica Breen and more, will reunite for the ATX Television Festival, it was announced today. No word as to whether Abrams will attend the fest, which will take place June 8-11.


This year’s community screening (which is open to badgeholders and non-badgeholders alike) will feature “Parks and Recreation.” It’s slated to take place June 9 at Hotel San Jose.  The event will include live music, food and drink and additional activities inspired by Pawnee’s annual Harvest Festival. (Will a miniature horse play Li’l Sebastian? One would hope.)

These panels and programs join such previously announced events as the “Designing Women” 30th anniversary reunion, a cast/creative reunion of the iconic series “Northern Exposure” and retrospectives for Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s series “Evening Shade” and “Hearts Afire,”

Creator/executive producer Mara Brock Akil (“Being Mary Jane,” “The Game”), and “Sweet/Vicious” creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and showrunner Amanda Lasher will join this year’s lineup as first-time panelists for a variety of conversations, along with returning ATX advisory board members David Hudgins (“Shut Eye,” “Parenthood”), Liz Tigelaar (“Casual”), Graham Yost (“Sneaky Pete,” “Justified”), Michael Rauch (“Royal Pains”) and Kathleen McCaffrey (vice president of programming at HBO).

Advisory board member Glen Mazzara (“The Shield,” “The Walking Dead”) will present a panel titled “The Anti Hero: History of an American Myth,” an in-depth look at pop culture’s revered and reviled male anti-hero, from its origin in colonial storytelling to its well-documented presence in TV’s golden age and its current impact on society.

Paul Scheer (“Human Giant,” “The League”) will host a screening and panel conversation about the independent pilot process, discussing the intricacies and decisions behind the departure from the traditional “pitch, pilot, pick up” model.

Co-creator/executive producer Marta Kauffman will return to the festival with fellow Okay Goodnight! producers Robbie Rowe Tollin and Hannah K.S. Canter for a discussion with the creative team behind the original series “Grace & Frankie,” among other panels.





Five things we want to see in the Ransom Center’s ‘Mad Men’ archive

On Thursday, the Ransom Center announced that the archive from the smash hit AMC TV show “Mad Men” had been donated to their collection.

The archive from show creator Matthew Weiner and production company Lionsgate, includes scripts, drafts, notes, props, costumes, digital video and research materials that went into creating the show’s richly detailed presentation of the American 1960s — to the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center humanities library.

(L-R) Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 5 - Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

PHOTOS: ‘Mad Men’ archives coming to Harry Ransom Center

Here are five things we would love to see on display at the University of Texas research library (UPDATE: Jen Tisdale, director of Public Affairs for the Ransom Center, says some of Don’s suits will be there, as will be the costume Betty wore during the shooting scene.)

Don Draper’s suits: The show’s late ’50s to early ’60s style, full of thin lapels, crisp haircuts and slim ties, continues to influence menswear today.

"Inspiration board" for the character of Don Draper. Photo by Pete Smith. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.
“Inspiration board” for the character of Don Draper. Photo by Pete Smith. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.

The full text for the anti-smoking letter: In season 4, Draper (played by Jon Hamm) gets into trouble when he takes out a full-page ad in the New York Times expressing relief that he no longer has to work on tobacco campaigns. This does not go over all that well, but we never really got to see the full letter.

The storyboard for Peggy’s final scene, as she’s walking down the hallway, a very not-safe-for-work painting under her arm: The scene with Elisabeth Moss was memed almost instantly. Speaking of the painting, it would be great to see some of the Edo period Japanese art (and the reproduction of the Rothko) that populated Bert Cooper’s office.

Betty’s gun from season 1, episode 9: Before she became one of the most exhausting characters on television, Betty Draper (January Jones) was initially kind of a badass. In the season 1 episode “Shoot,” we see her trying to pick off pigeons in a suburban New York yard with a BB gun, cig dangling out of her mouth while wearing a pink negligee. Season one Betty Draper, we’ll never forget you.

Script revisions for the finale: The “Mad Men” finale, which sees Don Draper meditating at what is supposed to be the Esalen Institute as he dreams up the iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ad, was one of the most hotly debated series finales since everyone maybe went to heaven on “Lost.” It would be fantastic to see how Weiner and company ended up there.What would you like to see the Ransom Center put on display? Let us know in the comments.

Matthew Weiner's production binder. Photo by Pete Smith. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.
Matthew Weiner’s production binder. Photo by Pete Smith. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.

Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Jaclyn Smith among Texas Medal of Arts honorees

In February, Jaclyn Smith will be honored for her work in television, Kris Kristofferson will be honored for his work in all sorts of things and Kenny Rogers, the Gambler, gets a lifetime achievement award from the Texas Cultural Trust.

They are but three of the Texans to be honored at the ninth biennial Texas Medal of Arts Awards Feb. 21-22.  The awards will take place for the first time ever at the University of Texas at Austin.

This celebration will include a Stars of Texas brunch at the Governor’s Mansion, an awards show with special musical performances and a gala dinner.

“The Texas Medal of Arts Awards recognizes those whose artistic talent and generous philanthropy have shone a spotlight on the vibrant artistic culture of our state,” said Texas Cultural Trust Executive Director Jennifer Ransom Rice.  “People from all over Texas and from all artistic disciplines are honored and celebrated as we raise awareness about how vital the arts are to our state’s economy and our children’s education.  We hope for continuing and expanding support for the arts for future generations to appreciate, embrace, and enjoy.”

October 12, 2016 - Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration held at ACL Live at the Moody Theatre, in Austin, Tx., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / RODOLFO GONZALEZ)
Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration at ACL Live on Oct. 12, 2016. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards honorees:

Corporate Patron:  John Paul & Eloise DeJoria, Paul Mitchell/Patrón Tequila, Austin — The hair care mogul is one of the state’s most enthusiastic and well-respected philanthropists.

Multimedia:  Kris Kristofferson, Brownsville — Songwriter, singer and actor. If you have never seen him in Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” you really should get on that.

Television: Jaclyn Smith, Houston — One of the greatest Charlie’s Angels who ever lived.

Individual Arts Patron:  Lynn Wyatt, Houston — Vanity Fair called her “the best little socialite in Texas.”

Dance:  Lauren Anderson, Houston — The brilliant ballet dancer became, in 1990, only the second African-American female dancer to be promoted to principal dancer at a major American ballet company.

Music:  Yolanda Adams, Houston — Pretty much the most popular gospel singer alive, Adams has sold more than 4 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Arts Education:  Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas — The company, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, is the only predominately minority professional dance company in the five-state area of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Film: Janine Turner, Euless — Sure, she was in “Cliffhanger” and “Dr. T and the Women,” but she will forever live in our hearts as Maggie O’Connell on “Northern Exposure.” (She was also note-perfect as Katie McCoy on “Friday Night Lights”).

Theatre:  Renée Elise Goldsberry, Houston — She originated the role of Angelica Schuyler Church in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” for which she won the 2016 Tony.

Foundation Patron:  The Tobin Endowment, San Antonio — One of the state’s biggest private charitable foundations.

Visual Art:  Leo Villareal, El Paso — The visionary installation artist grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso.

Architecture:  Frank Welch, Dallas — You may recognize the master Texas Modern architect from such work as a lot of homes in Highland Park and some really cool looking schools.

Literary:  John Phillip Santos, San Antonio — The poet and filmmaker was the first Mexican-American Rhodes scholar.

Journalism:  Scott Pelley, San Antonio — Pelley has been the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” since 2011 and was the CBS News chief White House correspondent during the second Clinton administration.

Lifetime Achievement:  Kenny Rogers, Houston — Incredibly popular country singer. Actor. Chicken magnate. Extremely good sport on “Reno 911.” The man has done it all.

The Texas Medal of Arts Awards has presented 99 medals to 105 Texas luminaries. Former award winners include: Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, Margaret McDermott, Barbara Smith Conrad, Tommy Lee Jones and more.

How to watch the shows that won big at the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes is, outside of the Emmys, television’s most significant prize-giving  event and, not unexpectedly, streaming services and cable TV cleaned up while traditional broadcast shows went away with exactly one (well-deserved) award.

Here’s what won and how you can watch:

Best drama series went to the first season of the Netflix series “The Crown,” all of which is currently streaming on the ever-increasingly-powerful service.  (Claire Foy also won best actress in a drama for her role as Queen Elizabeth in the show.)

 (l-r) Keith Standfield as Darius, Golden Globe winner Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles in "Atlanta" (Guy D'Alema/FX_
(l-r) Keith Standfield as Darius, Golden Globe winner Donald Glover as Earn Marks, Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles in “Atlanta” (Guy D’Alema/FX)


The stunning first season of the FX comedy “Atlanta” won for best comedy, and its insanely talented creator Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) picked up a best actor in a comedy trophy.

Sadly, the whole thing can not longer be seen on the FXNow app (cable login required). Nor can “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which won best television movie or miniseries. (Sarah Paulson won best actress in a miniseries in her role as Marcia Clarke for “O.J.,” for which she also picked up an Emmy). Both can now be purchased on Amazon.

The AMC miniseries “The Night Manager,” based on the John le Carré novel of the same name, picked up three acting awards: best actor in a mini for Tom Hiddleston, best supporting actress for the perpetually underrated Olivia Colman and best supporting actor for Hugh Laurie. The totally excellent thriller can be found on Amazon Prime.

Amazon is also the home of “Goliath,” for which Billy Bob Thornton picked up lead actor in a drama.

"black-ish" (ABC)
“black-ish” (ABC)

And last but very much not least, we come to Tracee Ellis Ross, who won best actress in a comedy or musical for her role as Dr. Rainbow Johnson in the wonderful ABC comedy “Black-ish,” which deserves absolutely every viewer it gets. It’s in the middle of its third season, and its writing has never been stronger. Check out all three seasons on Hulu.

RELATED: Red carpet photos from the 74th annual Golden Globes

RELATED: Photos from the 74th annual Golden Globes


This week: ‘Nashville,’ ‘Portlandia’ and the Dropkick Murphys all return for 2017

“Nashville” (CMT). The much-loved series moves from ABC to CMT for its fifth season. Hayden Panettiere is back, Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples are not, and Connie Britton will appear in only 10 of the 22 episodes. (Jan. 5)

“Portlandia” (IFC). The comedy that pokes fun at the only people who could possibly care about it goes into its seventh season. Guests include Abbi Jacobson, Maria Bamford, Run the Jewels, the B-52s, Andy Richter and more. (Jan. 5)

220px-11shortstoriesDropkick Murphys, “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” (Born & Bred). The Boston-based Celtic punk outfit decided to record their ninth album in El Paso and the world may never know why. (Jan. 6)

Gone Is Gone, “Echolocation” (Rise/Black Dune). The debut album from a 21st-century rock supergroup features Mastodon singer/bassist Troy Sanders, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, At the Drive-In drummer Tony Hajjar and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin. (Jan. 6)

“Emerald City” (NBC). As stated earlier, NBC’s “Wizard of Oz” reboot is a dark, adultish take on Dorothy and pals. Here, our heroine is 20 and Toto is a police dog. Look for a Game of Thrones for network thing, with Tarsem “The Cell” Singh directing all 10 episodes. At least it will probably look good. (Jan. 6)

 “The 74th Golden Globe Awards” (NBC). Jimmy Fallon hosts television’s potentially drunkest live broadcast. (Jan. 8)

ATX Television Festival announces ‘Designing Women’ and ‘Northern Exposure’ reunions

The sixth ATX Television Festival, which takes place June 8-11, 2017, announced the first new panels and programming Thursday, including a 30th anniversary reunion of the sitcom “Designing Women,” and a cast and creatives reunion of the iconic drama “Northern Exposure.”

"Designing Women" cast photo, 1991
“Designing Women” cast photo, cir. 1991

The “Designing Women” reunion will feature creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, along with stars Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Jean Smart, Gerald McRaney, Hal Holbrook, and Douglas Barr. (Co-0star Meshach Taylor died in 2014.)

Cast members Rob Morrow, John Corbett, Barry Corbin, Janine Turner, and Darren Burrows (the latter of whom no longer looks anything like his character Ed Chigliak) are confirmed for the “Northern Exposure” reunion, along with creator Joshua Brand (“The Americans”), writers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess (both created “Blue Bloods”) and network executive and producer Cheryl Bloch.

Retrospectives for Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s other series, “Evening Shade” and “Hearts Afire,” will take place as well, with Burt Reynolds and Marilu Henner confirmed for “Evening Shade,” and Markie Post and Leslie Jordan confirmed for “Hearts Afire.”

“The Black Donnellys” and “The Middleman” will be part of the festival’s “cancelled too soon” track, with creators/EPs/directors Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco, writer Amanda Moresco, and cast member Jonathan Tucker confirmed for “The Black Donnellys,” and creator/EP Javier Grillo-Marxuach confirmed for “The Middleman,” along with star Natalie Morales.

Additional panelists will be announced at a later date.

ATX Advisory Board members Glen Mazzara (“Damien,” “The Shield,” “The Walking Dead”) and Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) will also return as panelists.

Phil Rosenthal, creator/EP of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having,” will return to ATX for another year to reprise his “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having…for Breakfast!” panel.

Mindy Kaling at the Texas Teen Book Festival: “I think I was just a friendly, chubby kid”

In case you missed it: on Saturday Mindy Kaling gave a one-on-one interview with Sarah Pitre of Alamo Drafthouse and Forever YA Book Club for the Texas Teen Book Festival, hosted by St. Edward’s University.

The writer and star of Hulu’s The Mindy Project talked about childhood influences, the start of her writing career, and her upcoming role in the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay. When asked to describe her teenage self as a YA protagonist, Kaling said that at fourteen years old, she was bookish, awkward, and an underdog.

“[I was] painfully shy, acneic, overweight–to the extent where you’re not worried about health but just shy of that,” Kaling listed. “I think I was just a friendly, chubby kid.”

Kaling also said she was ignored in school, which encouraged her writing abilities.

“I liked talking to people but was largely overlooked in school, so I found solace in books,” Kaling said. “I think fairly early on, when I was being ignored largely, I was left alone a lot because both my parents worked. You could either read or you could write. I think I always knew I wanted to write but it wasn’t until I was eight or nine years old that I learned that you could write for television.”

Kaling, who was at the festival promoting her books Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me? said that when she was younger she started writing comedy skits for SNL.

“I was starting to write some short plays,” Kaling said. “I’ve realized that writing fiction felt, for me, so different, and so much harder than writing dialogue, which I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years. The reason I like writing essays so much is because I feel like I’m talking to a friend.”

When asked about the glamour of Hollywood, Kaling credited The Office for teaching her about the aesthetics of writing television shows.

“In order to find happiness for me, I just have to find situations where what is real is beautiful,” Kaling said. “In The Office, the most important thing is not everyone being beautiful. I like comedies where nobody cares about looks, where being funny is what’s most important.”

Kaling said that when she was a teenager, the book that affected her the most was House of Mirth by Edith Warton, and it still influences her writing choices today.

“I went through the whole Jane Austin canon, and then after that Charlotte Bronte, and then I read House of Mirth,” Kaling said. “In this book there was this lead who was stuck in her time, but also wanted selfish things and discovered her sexuality. Especially looking at all of these shows nowadays, that character’s still in my mind. I love flawed characters.”

Kaling also talked about her upbringing and how it influences her material.

“[My parents] were extremely strict but also very chatty. So I couldn’t go out or do a lot of things, but we’d sit inside and watch episodes of Seinfeld and talk a lot about why we liked them. Or we would listen to music on long car rides to Niagara Falls and talk about why it worked for us…people think the best quality in children is being expressive. In my house, it was much more important to be perceptive.”

“What is so cool is that the director, Ava DuVernay, has picked a really inclusive cast,” Kaling said. “And there’s a really interesting thing where she doesn’t want to say ‘diverse’, she thinks that’s a word that turns people off and doesn’t represent the same thing as ‘inclusive’, which I really agree with.”

When asked for more details about the movie, Kaling teased that the movie would be set in Los Angeles.

“If you’ve read the book, you know it takes place in England. If you’re not Caucasian, you feel like you love the book but you feel outside of it, like you’re admiring it in a really anthropological way,” Kaling said. “What’s great about [DuVernay’s] interpretation is just how inclusive it is.”