Over at The Hollywood Reporter they have conducted several roundtable events in the lead up to the Emmy awards in the same way they did for this year’s Oscars. The Emmy nominations won’t be announced until July 14th but I think it is safe to say that many of the participants of these roundtables will feature on the ballot and they are certainly among the best that television has to currently offer.
So far there have been discussions with drama actresses and drama showrunners posted and both offer up an insight in to the world of television drama. Those featured on the actresses panel are Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Regina King (Southland), Melissa Leo (Treme), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy) and Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire). There is some crossover on the showrunners panel with the shows that these actresses work on with Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire), John Wells (Southland, Shameless), Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood). The other showrunners are Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), Graham Yost (Justified) and Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age).
Depending on where your interests lie in regards to the inner workings of a TV show will probably dictate which of these discussions will entice you; if you want to know what goes on at the top level of a TV show then the showrunners panel is for you and if you want to learn more about the process of the faces in front of the camera then the actresses one will please you. If like me, you want to devour anything possible about all the inner workings of your favourite shows then I would recommend that if you have a few hours spare (yes they are long but worth it) then you should check out both.
With the showrunners the focus is on the creation process; from the differences between network, basic cable and premium cable which includes budgets, creative notes and ‘standards of practice’ which covers content regarding language, violence and sex. There are some pretty hilarious and ridiculous language restrictions that are implemented by networks that are truly baffling in places. The discussion is lively and shows what compromises have to be met in attempting to produce a show that is both a hit in terms of money and creativity. The panel opens with the question of what had occurred recently with the contract issues between Matthew Weiner and AMC, and there are some differing opinions amongst the group of showrunners in this debate. The main point that comes across here though and what they all agree on, is that these negotiations should not have been made public and that the cast and crew should be thought of when the show is getting delayed this much, though this is something that the studio will use as leverage.
The actresses also discuss issues of art versus commerce and it is funny to hear both Katey Sagal and her husband Kurt Sutter use the same example that at the end of the day TV is there to sell soap, so unfortunately issues of business have to come in to practice alongside any creative element. The women talk about the process of their job, from line learning to the importance of the crew on a TV show who become like a second family. There is the inevitable discussion of balancing family and professional responsibilities and whilst this is never a question a man would be asked in a similar position, the answers given by the actresses are both thoughtful and demonstrates that both can be achieved. Family is also why a TV job is more enticing than film as it allows a certain stability, but it is also an area that these woman like as the roles for women are much more expansive and there are not many roles in film that celebrate women the way TV does.
Head over to The Hollywood Reporter to check out shorter clips of the panels or watch the full ones below. I look forward to the discussions that will be released in the coming weeks, from this excellent series that is definitely filling in some of the gaps from the hiatus that has only just started.
Do you enjoy these kind of panels? Which other Emmy hopefuls would you like to see in this series? Let us know in the comments below.