TCA Winter ’15 (BLOG): Entering ‘Virgin’ territory

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If a narrator was following me during TCA yesterday, she would have had to hold her tongue. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have wanted her to weigh in on how great it was (and it was), but quite frankly I was kind of hogging the mic, wanting to get multiple words in with stars of shows I actually know and love.

The day started off on a pretty cool, cool, cool, cool note, what with Yahoo bringing  in Dan Harmon and a few cast members from Community to support the upcoming sixth season. It was a bit sad to see the ballroom only half-full for the panel considering that a few years back, critics would have been all over getting to talk to Harmon. But on the plus side, with less journalists around, that made the post-panel scrum a lot more intimate and easy to navigate. I didn’t get a question in with Harmon because I was too busy trying to get some Britta scoop from my supposed celebrity doppelganger Gillian Jacobs, and that I did. She seemed to enjoy me asking about whether or not Ms. Perry would continue to be “The Worst” and was excited to talk about the fact that Martin Mull and Leslie Ann Warren are playing her parents in Episode 2.

I did manage to catch the tail-end of the Harmon scrum, which meant I got to take down his feelings about a possible Community movie. I scrambled to put a piece on that together while also trying to listen in on Crackle’s odd, but intriguing panel for Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. Although tempted, I didn’t rush over to David Spade about possible sequels to all his other movies (Dickie Roberts 2: Current Adult Film Star?), nor did I go up to his co-star Mark McGrath to remind him to never forget Don’t Forget the Lyrics. Instead, I tried to prep for the next half of the day, which might prove to be the highpoint of this tour thus far. (Yes, I’m even counting my Twin Peaks moment from “Day 3”!)


Not even the cheesiest photo of the day

After wrapping a panel for a sports-themed TMZ spinoff, a couple dozen critics and I boarded some buses for this tour’s set visit day. The first portion of our off-site adventure (a visit to the main set of Scorpion) wasn’t quite to my taste, but I couldn’t help but eat up everything else that followed with a ferocity that suggested I hadn’t eaten a scrap since I arrived on Friday (and y’all know that’s far from true). After the Scorpion Q&A, we were ushered to a food truck where we were treated to assorted grilled cheese sandwiches (full disclosure: I got a French onion soup-themed one that I am still thinking about a day later). This wasn’t a random treat either, but rather a taste of the next set visit to come.

If you’re watching Jane the Virgin, you’ll know that grilled cheese could be considered its own character on the show. That’s why it was the perfect gateway to a set visit to Jane‘s main stage, where us writer types were treated to a Q&A with the entire cast (including recent Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez and an intro by that irresistible narrator!), followed by a photo op with faux telenovela star Rogelio (a.k.a Jaime Camil) and his two infamous co-stars (his purple jacket and the boat). I got one question in at the Q&A, where I managed to snag a seat on one of comfy chairs used in the show’s hotel bar set, and was thoroughly charmed by the excitement in the room as others chimed in with theirs. It’s clear that TCA members really do love the series as much as they thought they would after seeing the pilot during the summer tour and what’s more, the cast is actually so genuinely grateful for the support. While Rodriguez could easily be full of herself after winning that statue on Sunday night, she was the first to thank us for getting the word out and the second to tear up talking about her win (the first was her screen mom Andrea Navedo). I hope she stays this way as the show takes off more and critics and fans alike start swarming around her.

After the Q&A wrapped, I was quick to try and corner a few cast members for some more private questioning. I beelined for Ivonne Coll, who plays Jane’s abuela Alba on the show, and to my surprise, I was the only one with the idea. It’s no matter seeing as we had a short, but totally sweet chat about the future of Alba, particularly her love life. I didn’t realize that the Cheech Marin was set to romance her this season, but hearing her talk about his role makes me think he could stick around for a couple more installments later on. I’ll have a full story on this, plus the famous friend Coll is trying to get on the show, sometime after I get back home from tour.

After talking with Coll, I snuck in some time with Navedo to follow up on her character’s emerging singing career and the other guest stars to look out for this year. Then I moved over to executive producer Jennie Synder for a few more plot-based questions. It seems like Synder has a real handle on where she’s taking Season 1, especially when it comes to upholding Jane’s moral standpoint on her virginity. It’s refreshing to see a show not afraid to represent the experience of an adult virgin in a realistic, yet respectful way and I don’t think Synder is taking doing this lightly.

What I did approach with a light attitude was that photo opp I told you about. I got real hammy with Camil when he offered to join me and his jacket in that boat and I thank Toronto Star reporter Tony Wong for documenting the experience in great detail. I have never thought of being an actress, but I think that my overly expressive eyes might be right for a regular role on The Passions of Santos. Either way, it’s obvious that I was pretty damn excited to be visiting this great little show and it’s ginormously talented cast

I left the Jane set with a burning desire to head back to my room and light the themed candles they gave us as a parting gift. But after a long bus ride back to the hotel and plans with a local pal on the horizon, I had to put that off. I’ll make sure they get use when I get home and want to fire up the feel of another successful day at TCA. For now, however, it’s time for the 1-2-3 of ABC.


Emily is covering the 2015 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour live from the Huntington Langham Hotel from January 9 – 18. Tune in every day for new pieces and follow her tweets at @Cinefilles and @emilygagne.


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