Les had a blast attending his first ATX Television Fest here in Austin, Texas and has charted his journey in a series of blog posts.
First up: Thursday!
ATX Television Festival Season 6 wrapped up one week ago! I've been resisting writing up my recap, I think, because I don't want the feeling to end. This was a great weekend for me.
A little backstory:
Like most children of the 80's, I spent a lot of time ignoring adult arguments and divorce proceedings by immersing myself in television. The cast of 'Night Court' will forever hold a place in my heart like family, and I can only hope if I ever meet them I can keep myself together. Suffice to say that I love TV and cannot believe the uptick in quality of it during my life. Television then versus television now looks like commedia dell'arte compared to Ibsen. It was with this passion that I joined The TV Dudes podcast last summer. Always one to enjoy extemporaneous opining, I quickly fell in love with co-hosting. Then, at the beginning of 2017, I stepped away from a full-time job to begin freelancing. This gave me the open schedule necessary to attend all of ATX Fest.
I was primed and ready, y'all.
I woke up and took care of some chores around the house until noon, then I bolted toward downtown Austin from my home south of the river. I was a little too late to make the 'Ghosted' panel, but that gave me time to settle in at the Press Lounge of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel, which would become my homebase for the weekend. After getting my bearings and downing more coffee, I headed back to the Ritz theater for the 'Nashville' panel.
The 'Nashville' panel screened episode 5.13, "Til I Can Make It On My Own". Afterward, writers Jesse Zwick, Scott Saccoccio, Geffrey Nauffts, and Executive Music Supervisor Tim Lauer spoke and took questions. Season 6 was confirmed. They discussed the death of Rayna and the realities of inheriting an ongoing show at a major turning point. I was impressed by the amount of research done by the writers into past episodes, making sure seemingly new elements like Juliette's dad are grounded in existing canon. Overall, I came away with more faith in the direction of the show and the people steering it. They love 'Nashville', and CMT looks like the right home for it. I'm excited that it's continuing, and not just for the inside-baseball intrigue of it jumping networks. (Also, the songs are still a treat.)
After that, I made a beeline back to SFA Ballroom for the Digital Viewer's Lament panel. Jina Jones and Hannah Macpherson from AwesomenessTV (makers of 'T@gged'), Burnie Burns and Josh Flanagan from Rooster Teeth ('Day 5'), Kulap Vilaysack ('Bajillion Dollar Propertie$'), and Spencer Griffin (CollegeHumor) all spoke about their streaming shows and the challenges of bringing the audience to them. I had expected more of a discussion about the years of digital not being included in show ratings, of the issues with getting real budgets and setting an expectation of "real TV" quality to dispel the assumption of web content as disposable. I got some of that. There are certainly more legitimate players in the streaming content game than even three years ago. SeeSo, backed by NBC, has made a huge foray into the market with a solid channel of original comedy programming. YouTube Red has done similarly. Still, noted Spencer Griffin, the difference in television and streaming television is clear - two decimal points. The money is more present than before, but still not to the level to compete with broadcast or cable offerings.
After a beer at Easy Tiger, we headed back to catch the premiere of 'Snowfall'. I had no interest in this show, and thought the ads looked downright tacky. It was a strong pilot, and I came away wanting to see the next episode. Well done. Give it a look if you want to see something between 'Boys in the Hood' and 'Traffic'. John Singleton has made an interesting show.
At the end of it all was Trivia Night, which I had hoped to turn into a huge paragraph on our amazing TV knowledge. Instead, we tied for 14th. I'll just leave it at that, except to say, "Fuck a whole round of Shark Tank questions! Who watches that shit?".
Next up, Friday (because that's how weeks work).
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