Dawson’s Creek

ATX Television Festival: A Time of Highs and Lows

Sometime last Monday night my mom and I pulled into the driveway after what ended up being a pretty insane whirlwind of an experience. 2,200 miles, 6 states, 9 TV panels/screenings, 2 historic home tours, 46 celebrity encounters, 2 sketchy hotels, 5 days. Yeah, I think whirlwind is the right word.

We left home early on Wednesday, June 3 with the short-term goal of reaching Graceland in Memphis for a quick tour. Despite the shocking absence of a single billboard advertising Elvis’s home, we made it to the estate and enjoyed our weird little tour. Here are a couple of my favorite features of the incredibly lavish home.

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After Graceland, our only intention was to make it to somewhere around Dallas. The drive from home to Austin, TX is 15 hours, so we figured stopping in Dallas (a mere 3 hours north of Austin) would be an appropriate end to our day. This was a fine goal, but we unintentionally ended up in a shady hotel that reeked of smoke. Note to self: if a hotel is the only one available at a given exit, keep driving.

THURSDAY

After departing Thursday morning, we drove the final three hours to Austin, stopping only for a quick breakfast and trip to IKEA. We headed into downtown Austin to register for the festival. Here’s a rundown of the highlights of what happened that afternoon and evening:

  • First celebrity encounters: seeing Todd Lowe, Keiko Agena, and John Cabrera (all of Gilmore Girls) and having a quick conversation
  • Ran into Sabrina Carpenter and Rowan Blanchard (stars of Girl Meets World) for the first of about a million times
  • Talked to Derek Phillips and Stacey Oristano (Friday Night Lights) and took a photo, bonding over our mutual love of our pets and the gross Texas heat
  • Saw and talked quickly to Liz Torres (Gilmore Girls) — she looks awesome, by the way
  • Attended the premiere screening of Complications, a new USA show
  • Had a moment with the show’s stars, Jessica Szohr and Beth Riesgraf, on our way into the theater and they were really cute
  • Other celebrity sightings for the day: Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show, From Dusk Til Dawn), Louanne Stephens (Friday Night Lights), Nick Wechsler (Revenge), Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights), Sutton Foster (Broadway star, on TV in Bunheads and Younger), Wilson Cruz (My So-Called Life), Sarah Ramos and Miles Heizer (Parenthood)

Here are some photos of the people and places mentioned:

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FRIDAY

Friday began bright and early with our first real panel of the festival: “A Conversation with Marta Kauffman,” plus a screening of her new Netflix show, Grace and Frankie. In case you aren’t aware, Marta Kauffman is part of the creative team responsible for Friends, which is my favorite TV show ever (and probably yours, too). It was a pretty big deal for me to sit in a room with her.

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Here are some other highlights from Friday:

  • Running from one Marta Kauffman panel (pictured above) to another — she spoke with the creators of Justified and Queer as Folk in a panel on final episodes
  • Accidentally becoming part of a mob formed around Ben Savage (Boy Meets World), who is tiny, friendly, and left-handed — we also saw the girls of Girl Meets World again and snapped a few pics

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  • Running into Marta Kauffman and saying something kind of dumb to her but I STILL TALKED TO MARTA KAUFFMAN, PEOPLE
  • Sitting front row at the panel called “Drunk History‘s History,” featuring the show’s creator, Derek Waters, and two of the narrators from the upcoming third season, Duncan Trussell and Dan Harmon (the creator of Community)

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  • Meeting Nick Wechsler, star of Revenge, after the Drunk History panel

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  • Stumbling upon Judy Greer (Married) doing an interview outside the women’s restroom
  • Walking behind a man and commenting on his terrible hair before realizing said man was Denis Leary (to be fair, he was there to promote his new show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll which I think is the reason for the hair)
  • Running into Louanne Stephens (Friday Night Lights) in the hotel lobby and getting a photo, taken by her daughter, as well as signed and personalized postcards she’d had made at Kinko’s

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  • Attending the wonderful Friday Night Lights tailgate and being smart enough to sit in the shade directly in front of the special reserved section for the show’s attending stars
  • Seeing Amy Sherman Palladino (creator of Gilmore Girls) just before a surprise performance from Hep Alien, the fictional band from Gilmore Girls
  • Other celebrity sightings for the day: James L. Brooks (creator of all important television), Danny Strong (actor on Gilmore Girls, writer of Game Change, Mockingjay, Empire), Jackson Douglas (Gilmore Girls), Adrianne Palicki, Derek Phillips, Stacey Oristano, Angela Rawna, Libby Villari, Katherine Willis, Stephen Walters (all of Friday Night Lights)

Here are some photos from the tailgate:

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SATURDAY

Saturday started with a low: not getting into the “Coffee with Amy Sherman Palladino” panel, because the line had started at 5:00 AM and the panel was in the smallest venue at the festival. Not perfect planning. On the upside, our minutes spent wasting time were quickly filled by the appearance of Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls). He pulled us in for this “mother-daughter picture” (his words), so that was pretty cool.

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Other moments from Saturday worth remembering:

  • Finding Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls) outside and taking an accidentally dramatic black-and-white photo with her

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  • Attending one of my favorite panels of the weekend: “Empire: The Creatives” featuring the brilliant Danny Strong and the beautiful Wendy Calhoun

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  • Sitting front row for the presentation of the ATX Award for Excellence in Television to James L. Brooks, the man responsible for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, and Taxi, among many others. This was MAJOR.

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Now things turn in a bit of an upsetting direction, and I’m going to do my best to condense this story. Our main reason for attending the festival was the Gilmore Girls Reunion panel, held at 7:00 PM Saturday night. This was going to be the highlight of our weekend, though we were plenty excited for many of the other panels and events, too. The line for the GG reunion was supposed to start at 5:00 PM, and the festival’s Head of Security promised us that anyone attempting to get in line ahead of this time would be sent to the back of the line. She also told us that staying in the hotel lobby until 5:00 was a good idea, and we’d be fine to still get into the reunion.

This turned out to be a big lie. We anxiously waited until 5:00 to go to the line, at which time we found that the line had already wrapped around two street corners (though it wasn’t yet 5:01). The big mob at the front of the line wasn’t sent to the back as promised; instead, we at the end had to continually move back further so space could be created at the front of the line. Counters came by more than once, and still told us we should be fine to get into the event. We waited in line for two-and-a-half hours in the 90-plus degree heat, and sometime around 7:30, just as we approached the theater’s front doors, we were told that the reunion had already begun and all seats were occupied.

So, we didn’t get in.

There were tears and lots and lots of frustrated fans. We heard from several people inside that there were, in fact, empty seats. It was generally a giant bummer. I’m doing my best in retrospect to keep it from clouding my overall experience. If we’d known earlier that we wouldn’t get in, we would’ve at least gone around the building to watch the red carpet, but we were stuck in line. We ended the night trying to hang around any entrances/exits we thought the GG cast might use, and ended up only seeing the very tall Jared Padalecki from a far distance. Not the best end to an otherwise good day.

Other celebrity sightings for the day: Yanic Truesdale, Jackson Douglas, and Milo Ventimiglia (all of Gilmore Girls).

SUNDAY

As far as the festival was concerned, we really only had one thing on the agenda for Sunday: attending the Dawson’s Creek script reading of the show’s pilot episode, featuring special guests. This was actually the best thing we did at the festival on a purely entertaining level. We ended up waiting in line for 2 hours for the event, but it was worth the wait, and we also saw Matt Czuchry (Gilmore Girls, The Good Wife) walk by, so that was fun.

The primary four cast members were all gender swapped, which obviously provided for some pretty blatant fun, and the level of drama found in basically any Dawson’s Creek script provides the perfect backdrop for a live script reading. Kevin Williamson, the show’s creator, also served as a narrator of sorts for the reading. I truly hope this is an event the ATX Television Festival can do every year, because I loved being part of it.

Here’s a list of the cast for the script reading:

  • Dawson Leery, played by Mae Whitman (Parenthood)
  • Joey Potter, played by Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
  • Pacey Witter, played by Abigail Spencer (Rectify)
  • Jen Lindley, played by Kerr Smith (original Dawson’s Creek cast member!)
  • Grams, played by Louanne Stephens (Friday Night Lights)
  • Mr. Leery, played by Derek Phillips (Friday Night Lights)
  • Mrs. Leery, played by Stacey Oristano (Friday Night Lights, Bunheads)
  • Tamara Jacobs, played by Arielle Kebbel (Gilmore Girls, The Vampire Diaries)
  • Bessie/Nellie, played by Kristian Bruun (Orphan Black)
  • Bodie/Mr. Gold, played by Nick Wechsler (Revenge)

Here are some photos from the script reading:

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You might also note that the last picture features Mae Whitman with a framed photo of Tim Riggins. This was a prop from the Riggins house on the Friday Night Lights set that Stacey Oristano brought as a special present for Mae. I’m kind of super jealous that she owns it.

After the script reading, we went back to the hotel quickly, where we found Liza Weil (Gilmore Girls, How to Get Away with Murder) and got a picture. We bonded over being lefties.

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Finally, I popped into a brunch sponsored by MTV’s Teen Wolf, where there was a photo booth set up for people to take photos with cast members Shelley Hennig, Tyler Posey, and Holland Roden. Tyler Posey told me I could sit on him or get on his shoulders for the photo, but I opted for something more normal.

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After this, we watched a few actors hop into a car headed for the airport before heading out of Austin ourselves. We took a different route on the drive home to spend some time in Louisiana, where neither of us had been before. After many hours driving in terrible traffic and construction, we got a hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Monday morning we made our way out early, stopping for a bit in Oxford, MS so I could revisit the home of William Faulkner because I love him. About seven hours later, we made it home.

Our few days on the road were exhausting, exhilarating, and occasionally upsetting, but I’m happy for the experience. ATX Television Festival is young and still has many kinks to work out, but I hope I’ll be able to return in the future. Until then, you can find me in front of my own TV, soaking in as much of it as I can.

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Hey, you should go watch “Don’t Trust the B—- In Apt. 23”

My title basically says it all. Go watch this show. It’s funny and clever, and watching James Van Der Beek play a satirical version of himself is an added bonus for “Dawson’s Creek” fans. All I can say is that I’m really sad I only have 7 episodes left.

Year in Review: Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2013

For this list, I’ll just be sticking to the shows I have on my TV Bucket List, because if I attempted to cover all the shows I watch regularly, I’d probably be here for days. 2013 was a year of eclectic TV watching for me, so this will be a rather varied list. Here goes nothing!

Bates Motel

1. Bates Motel, A&E, completed May 2013

I’m a huge advocate for this show, so be prepared for some fangirling here. Bates Motel is a modern-day prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho, and, though that may seem a daunting challenge, the show certainly lives up to its predecessor. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga give fantastic performances as Norman and Norma Bates, who are probably the most compellingly dysfunctional mother-son pairing since Oedipus and Jocasta. This shows moves easily from creepy to sad to hilarious and pulls riveted viewers through lots of twists and turns. Season two premieres in 2014, and I’ll anxiously be waiting for that moment until it happens.

Breaking Bad

2. Breaking Bad, AMC, completed January 2013

I really only watched a season-and-a-half of Breaking Bad in 2013 if you don’t count the final eight episodes, but that certainly doesn’t diminish its status as one of the greatest shows of the year, and probably in TV history. There isn’t much to say about it except that I’m still reeling over the final episodes, and so very happy with the show’s conclusion. In essence, this is a perfect show, despite its many terribly dark and disturbing moments. You’d be surprised how quickly you think meth dealing might be a viable career option.

Dawson's Creek

3. Dawson’s Creek, Netflix, completed December 2013

I’m kind of stretching the truth on my completion date as I’ve still got one season to go, but at the rate I’ve sped through the past three seasons, it’s safe to say I’ll be done before the end of the month. I was looking for an easy and fun show to balance out some of the dramas and comedies I’d been watching, so I turned to Dawson’s Creek on a whim, and I’m very happy with the decision I made. First of all, the show has totally changed my feelings about Katie Holmes (the moment when someone FINALLY happened tp mention Tom Cruise’s name to Joey was probably the highlight of my week) and I’ve developed such a crush on Joshua Jackson (or maybe just Pacey Witter… it’s kind of hard to say). Though the stories can get a bit dramatic, I’ve really enjoyed watching the show, especially because of the varied and well-developed teenage females that are somewhat rare in television. If you’re ever feeling nostalgic for the 1990s, this is a must-see.

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4. Downton Abbey, PBS, completed March 2013

Even though I do a lot of binge-watching, there are only a few shows that with which I become truly obsessed, and Downton Abbey has earned its place among the chosen few. Watching Downton is kind of the equivalent of snuggling up on the coach with a hot tea and a good book on a winter day. It’s comforting, heartbreaking, and hilarious, and just British enough to make Americans feel somehow more cultured. It’s safe to say I’ve never cried harder for TV than I did watching Sybil’s death, largely because Tom Branson is basically my favorite fictional human ever (okay, that may not be true, but I just have a lot of favorites). This is perfect for binge-watching over the holidays, especially since the fourth season premieres in the US in January.

Game of Thrones

5. Game of Thrones, HBO, completed March 2013

I have to admit, I was a bit slow on the uptake with this one, but I’m very glad I persevered. After watching the first two episodes in January and feeling underwhelmed, I decided to give it another try in March before the premiere of season three. After overcoming the difficulty of attempting to remember all the characters’ names, I became totally enraptured with the many layered stories in the show. Nerd culture is cool largely in part to this show, so give it a chance if you haven’t. But be warned, the “it’s not porn, it’s HBO” slogan could basically just be applied to just this one show. A word to the wise: this isn’t the kind of show you want to stream in a public place unless you’re looking for some serious embarrassment.

Scandal

6. Scandal, ABC, completed October 2013

I was very reluctant to start Scandal, but when my roommate started watching it, I decided to join in, and it ended up being totally worth it. The first season, which is only seven episodes long, drove me a little crazy, but it still kept enough of my attention to keep me moving with the show. Then, at some point in season two, it just got better; the stories got more interesting and less episodic, the characters developed in unexpected ways, and the chemistry between Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant is too hot to ignore. As an added bonus, Jeff Perry and Joshua Malina are fantastic in two secondary roles that can almost always be relied on for a few laughs during tense episodes. This is a total guilty pleasure show, and since it’s only in season three, it isn’t hard to catch up if you’re interested. On an unhappy note, the show’s last new episode for the fall airs this week and it won’t return until February 27, and they recently cut season three’s total run from 22 to 18 episodes. A serious bummer, but still totally worth a watch.

Top of the Lake

7. Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel/Netflix, completed August 2013

Top of the Lake is perfect if you’re looking for an quick and enticing show to stream over the holidays. It’s a miniseries that premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival and is now available on Netflix, and with only seven episodes, you can easily cruise through it in a day or two. Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss stars as a cop searching for a pregnant 12-year-old who goes missing at the end of episode one, and the series follows this search and the lives of the strange characters who populate a small New Zealand town. The show at times is both dark and violent, but the story is so interesting you won’t be deterred. Also, Holly Hunter gives a great performance as a total weirdo, so that’s always a plus.

Twin Peaks

8. Twin Peaks, Netflix, completed June 2013

Twin Peaks is a show I’ve heard my mom talk about for years, so this summer, I finally decided to sit down and watch the 30-episode show on Netflix, and it was definitely worth it. (Side note: it’s interesting to watch this before Bates Motel or Top of the Lake, because you’ll see definite similarities in these newer programs). Twin Peaks is about a small community near the Canadian border in Washington that’s populated by a rather eclectic group of people. When a high school sweetheart’s body washes is found in the pilot episode, an FBI agent is brought in to investigate the case. I would say that some of the show’s intrigue wanes toward the end of season two, but there are many moments that will both freak you out completely (I’m serious) and will haunt your nightmares (there are a few images that I still see every time I wake up in the middle of the night, and it isn’t pleasant). This is a bizarre show, but it’s very fun to watch, especially since it plays with various aspects of comedy, horror, and melodrama in a way that keeps viewers guessing.

Veep

9. Veep, HBO, completed June 2013

If you’re interested in watching Veep, the best advice I can give you is to stick it out through season one to get to season two. On the plus side, season one is only eight episodes, so it’s easy to cruise through the opening season when it appears the show was still figuring itself out. Season two, however, flows perfectly, and viewers will certainly see why Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale took home top awards at the Emmys this year for their performances. One line I repeat over and over is that I think the role of Vice President Selina Meyer was absolutely written for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, because she has an uncanny talent for making unlikeable characters intensely likeable. If you’re looking for something smart and funny, this is the show for you.

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10. The Wonder Years, Netflix, completed August 2013

Aside from Dawson’s CreekThe Wonder Years is the longest show I completed this year (I’m still watching Seinfeld and Cheers, so those don’t really count). This is the kind of show to watch with your family; it has endearing characters, moments of happiness and sorrow, and an historical context that adds a layer of complexity to an often lighthearted show. Watching Kevin Arnold and his friends grow up in often funny, sweet, and sad, especially when you get to the final season and realize how much the actors changed over the show’s course. This is an easy show to stream while you’re doing other things since the plot lines are never very complicated, and it’s a pretty comforting way to spend your time. Also, if you’re at all a fan of the new ABC comedy The Goldbergs, you should absolutely watch The Wonder Years since they’re basically the same show, just set in different decades.

What new shows did you discover in 2013? What are you looking forward to next year?

Now Watching: “Dawson’s Creek”

Earlier this evening I acted on a whim and decided to watch “Dawson’s Creek,” and I’m officially a fan. I was in the mood for a light, uncomplicated show to watch, and this one has both those characteristics and enough silly 1990s costumes and angst that it’s totally worth it. I’m on track to finish season one in the next few days and I’m sure I’ll be continuing from there. However, I’m currently balancing four shows aside from what I watch on “real TV,” so none of the projects are moving very rapidly. Stay posted for updates!