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ATX TV Festival Adds Panels on ‘The Big Cigar,’ Strikes Impact, Future of Late-Night and More (Exclusive)

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ATX TV Festival has added panels on Apple TV+’s The Big Cigar, the impact of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the future of late-night and more to its upcoming 13th season.

The 2024 edition is taking place May 30-June 2 in Austin. 

The new programming includes:

The Big Cigar Screening and Q&A – The series “tells the incredible true story of Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton escaping from the FBI to Cuba with the assistance of famed producer Bert Schneider in an impossibly elaborate plan — involving a fake movie production — that goes wrong every way it possibly can.” A screening will be followed by a conversation with creator-showrunner-ep Janine Sherman Barrois (Claws), writer-ep Jim Hecht (Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty) and more panelists, who will be announced soon. 

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“Casting Ensembles” presented by Casting Society – A conversation about the art of casting ensembles large and small, the intricacies of assembling comedies vs. dramas and how the evolution of virtual auditions and self-tapes have changed how your favorite casts come together. Panelists include Susie Farris, CSA (Jury Duty), Sherry Thomas, CSA (The Righteous Gemstones), and Bonnie Zane, CSA (Suits), with more to be announced soon. 

“Bottle Episodes 101” Vulture critic Kathryn VanArendonk and Rolling Stone critic Alan Sepinwall set the record straight on what is and isn’t, by definition, a bottle episode; how to contextualize the growing trend of not-quite-bottle episodes (and what to call them); and why the distinction matters.

“Break the Mold” – Panelists will discuss authenticity, inclusion and the reality of working in entertainment, with an array of artists who are breaking the mold by using their creative voices to shape a more interesting and exciting future for TV. Confirmed participants include Brian Tee (actor, Expats), Daniel Kyri (actor, Chicago Fire), Debby Wolfe (showrunner-ep, Lopez vs. Lopez), Octavio Pisano (actor, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Travina Springer (actor, The Irrational).

“Case of the Week: How Procedurals Keep Us Coming Back” – This panel takes a look at the ever-popular procedural, investigating the mechanics of the case-of-the-week format, their ability to survive (and thrive) in a Peak TV climate and why we just can’t quit them. Confirmed panelists include Daniel Kyri (actor, Chicago Fire), David Hudgins (showrunner-ep, FBI: Most Wanted), Octavio Pisano (actor, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Travina Springer (actor, The Irrational). 

“From Book to Script to Screen” – This panel explores the unique process, challenges and opportunities of bringing beloved books to TV with the showrunners and producers who adapted them. Confirmed panelists include Graham Yost (creator-showrunner-ep, Silo), Jessica Rhoades (ep, Station Eleven, Sharp Objects) and Mike Flanagan (creator-showrunner-director-ep, The Fall of the House of Usher). 

“How the Strikes Affected … Everything” – WGA and SAG-AFTRA members reflect on how the strikes impacted (and continue to impact) them, their fellow unions, their relationship to their work and how we make TV going forward. Confirmed panelists include creator-writer-producer Beau Willimon (WGA East), writer Greg Iwinski (WGA East) and actor Dulé Hill (SAG-AFTRA), with additional panelists to be announced soon. 

“Showrunner Summit” – A wide-ranging conversation about the state of the TV industry from the showrunner POV, including how the role has (or hasn’t) evolved in the wake of a pandemic and multiple strikes and what they envision for the future of TV, as both an artistic medium and a business. Confirmed panelists include Graham Yost (Silo), David Hudgins (FBI: Most Wanted) and Janine Sherman Barrois (The Big Cigar), with additional panelists to be announced soon. 

Telling Authentic Immigration Stories” presented by Define American – A conversation about the importance of amplifying immigrant voices, the challenges they face in ensuring authentic representation that defies stereotypes and the many stories they envision for the future of storytelling. Confirmed panelists include Rafael Agustin (writer, Jane the Virgin), Hoa Xuande (actor, The Sympathizer) and Brian Tee (actor, Expats), with additional panelists to be announced soon. 

“The Pitch Competition Finale” presented by Canva – After narrowing down from hundreds of applicants, the judges are ready to hear the top 10 finalists pitch live. Each finalist will have four minutes to pitch their scripted series, then the judges will have a chance to ask questions. The winner will be mentored by an ATX TV alum to then pitch to studio/network partners. Confirmed judges include Ryan P. Hall (president, YMH Studios), Alison Mo Massey (executive vp, Pacesetter Productions, Inc), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (creator-showrunner-ep, Pretty Little Liars: Summer School) and Ashley Nicole Black (writer-actor, A Black Lady Sketch Show), with additional judges to be announced soon.  

“An Actor, a Casting Director and a Casting Executive Walk Into an Audition …” — A unique look at how the audition process has evolved (for better and worse) since the beginning of the pandemic — from virtual auditions and self-tapes, to chemistry reads and table reads — from both the acting and casting perspectives. Confirmed panelists include Felicia Fasano (casting director, Survival of the Thickest) and Steven O’Neill (executive vp casting and talent development, UCP), with additional panelists to be announced soon.

“Where We Are on TV and Where We Need to Be” presented with GLAAD – This panel delves into the findings of GLAAD’s 2023-24 “Where We Are on TV” study and where Hollywood needs to move in terms of LGBTQ representation on screen. Journalist Dino-Ray Ramos will lead the conversation with Raina Deerwater, GLAAD’s lead author on the study. Additional panelists will be announced soon. 

The Future of Late-Night Comedy – A craft conversation for people who love watching late night, from people who make it, this wide-ranging conversation is among three veteran late-night writers: Greg Iwinski (The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver), Sal Gentile (Late Night With Seth Meyers) and Ashley Nicole Black (Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, A Black Lady Sketch Show).

These panels join previously announced programming that includes a Suits retrospective, a Halt and Catch Fire 10-year anniversary with the creatives and cast, the Industry season 3 premiere and Q&A with the creators, a Fargo screening and conversation with Noah Hawley, the Orphan Black: Echoes U.S. premiere presented by AMC Networks, a Girls5eva Karaoke Night presented by Universal Studio Group and more. Opening night will feature the Fantasmas world premiere with Julio Torres, while the closing night will be Norman Lear’s TV for the People: Script Reading and Conversation.

Badges for all four days (May 30-June 2) are on sale now. See the entire festival schedule here.

ATX TV Festival is owned by Penske Media Corporation, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.

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