Last weekend, thousands of TV fans gathered in Austin, Texas for the second annual ATX Television Festival. Celebrating televisions shows of the past, present, and future, the weekend was full of panels and screenings and special events. Among many TV shows in attendance, Scandal had a strong showing, with everyone involved speaking in at least two panels throughout the weekend. The following is a recap of the ATX Scandal panel.
There were a handful of small, intimate panels with less than a hundred people in attendance, and then there were panels with several hundred people squeezing their way in to get a glimpse of their favorite actors, writers, directors and showrunners. Overall, the weekend was a huge success, and a third “season” is already planned for next year.
Scandal was just one of the many shows the weekend paid focus to, which also included reunions of Boy Meets World and American Dreams, both drawing huge crowds. Also making a surprise appearance were Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler, who, as Eric and Tami Taylor, made up one of the greatest couples to ever grace the screen.
The programming of ATX Fest was phenomenal and we were presented with some remarkable panels and top-notch moderators. There was something for every television fan on display, ranging from selecting the right music for a show, directing in a writer’s world, how a show gets picked up and gets made, a fantastic panel on mythology in TV, and a panel focusing on those who do double duty — act, direct, write, produce, create, etc. All in all it was a thrilling, wonderful, exhausting weekend.
On Saturday morning, a group gathered in the iconic Alamo Drafthouse theatre to watch a screening of “White Hat’s Back On,” the second season finale of Scandal. The worst thing about TV is how much of a individual, singular experience it is. You usually just watch it in your living room by yourself, so getting to watch an episode on the big screen in a packed theater is such a great, unique experience. It should happen more often.
After the mostly full theatre laughed and screamed and yelled and clapped as the credits rolled, select members of the cast came out onstage for a Q&A, moderated by ET Online’s Jarett Wieselman. Joining Wieselman onstage were Katie Lowes (Quinn Perkins), Dan Bucatinksy (James Novak), Joshua Malina (David Rosen) and director Tom Verica.
Weiselman started the conversation by mentioning the success the show has seen from social media, and twitter, specifically. Early in the show’s run, the whole cast received an e-mail from Shonda Rhimes, encouraging them to get on twitter and interact with fans. They soon found out that Kerry Washington had been the one to insist, but plead to Rhimes to get the cast involved. Soon, Weiselman opened the floor for questions from the audience, which resulted in some wonderful responses. The whole screening and panel lasted about an hour and a half, and it could have gone on a lot longer. The cast went on to talk about how everyone from props to wardrobe has embraced twitter and made Scandal such a success with social media. Because the entire cast live-tweets each episode, the world wants to watch the episode live, so as not to feel left out and getting spoiled. Watching TV live is a lost art right now, with Scandal being one of the few shows audiences seek out to watch live. They owe the success of Scandal to twitter, which led to word of mouth, which ultimately led to the behemoth it has become today.
The cast also talked about how much fans adore the show, with Dan Bucatinsky saying he gets more tweets as James than as Dan, which he still finds incredible. They all mentioned briefly about using twitter wrong, and learning from their mistakes (Katie Lowes thought she was supposed to follow everyone, so she got some really weird DMs), but now they’ve learned how to use twitter in a way that gets the show publicity without losing themselves in the process.
Some highlights from the panel:
  • Tom Verica said that there is screaming at every table read. Josh Malina grabs his script and reads the last page to make sure his character is still alive. For the finale, the writers wrote Malina a separate ending where his character dies to get back at him since he pranks everyone on set.
  • When David Rosen started spending time at OPA,  Josh Malina told us Kerry Washington thought something was off and didn’t feel right with David being there.
  • Once it was revealed David was helping the mole, Malina got attacked on twitter and loved it. He wished his villainy lasted longer than a week, as he loved being hated. Also, Malina said that he wants his character to have a past because he’s not in the flashback episodes.
  • The scene where James and Cyrus get naked and fight, the cast affectionately called the “naked smackdown,” said Bucatinsky. The cast sold tickets to the crew so they could watch filming.
  • On the James and Cyrus relationship, Bucatinsky said he likes the layers to it, and that the homosexuality is not the thing people notice first. Their relationship is so much more than that. Bucatinksy also said he wants more character development, wants James to survive and to continue having a career and being a dad.
  • In the finale, when Quinn had to drill into Billy’s leg, Lowes said she only got one or two takes because they didn’t have time to redo her hair and makeup every time. Right before they shot the scene, Lowes wasn’t sure if her character would have been into it, but as soon as she started drilling she’s said “yeah, Quinn’s into this.”
  • Josh Malina, a long time Aaron Sorkin player, was asked about Sorkin and Rhimes’ way of speaking and how different they were. Malina joked that in Shondaland you get to have sex and her world’s a bit racier. But both writers are so good and write such dialogue-heavy scripts that as long as you say the words in the right order you look like a good actor.
  • Continuing the conversation on “Scandal speak,” Lowes remarked that it really sets the bar for other shows.
  • Tom Verica said that when bringing in guest stars, they have to make sure the actors can speak fast and keep up. He also said that the average script is 70-80 pages, whereas a normal script is usually around 53 pages. And they only have 9 days to film each episode.
  • A fan asked about the cast chemistry and how long it took to get that established, and all the actors said it was pretty immediate early on. They shot the pilot in three and a half weeks and all at night. That time helped them get close, and it’s been that way ever since.
  • When asked about their favorite moments, they all agreed on “Seven Fifty-Two” and the President getting shot, while Lowes and Bucatinksy especially enjoyed the Defiance episode “Truth or Consequence.” Lowes because she got to work alongside her real-life husband Adam Shapiro (who was in the audience), and Bucatinsky because he got a juicy storyline and uncovered the truth about Defiance.
  • Finally, when asked about dream guest stars, Malina and Bucatinksy said that both Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow are huge fans, but Kudrow would never like to guest star because she’s afraid she couldn’t talk that fast.
 Bonus: check back here tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Bucatinsky, Lowes, and Malina.
Photo Credit: Waytao Shing

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