Friday, January 6, 2017

End of Year Roundup: My Top 10 Panels of 2016

One of the perks of the gig? Sitting down with actors, producers and executives to discuss TV – sometimes in front of hundreds (or, at Comic-Con, thousands) of screaming fans... and sometimes in front of jaded industry audiences. Either way, it's a unique way to get a bit more insight into the personality and professionalism of some industry heavy hitters. Some come to play, some are a bit more introspective and some are... a bit crazy. Here were my fave panels to moderate in 2016:

10. "Salem" stars Janet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, Iddo Goldberg, Elise Eberle and executive producers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon (San Diego Comic-Con, July 22); and "Salem" stars Shane West, Elise Eberle, Joe Doyle and executive producer Brannon Braga (Savannah Film Festival, October 28)

So nice, I did 'em twice. "Salem" isn't for everybody -- just ask the elderly couple that walked out of the "Salem" screening at the Savannah Film Festival. But the stars couldn't be friendlier.

9. Endemol Shine's Charlie Corwin, Warner Bros.' Mike Darnell, FremantleMedia's Trish Kinane, NBC's Paul Telegdy and WME's Sean Perry (HRTS newsmaker luncheon featuring reality TV execs and producers, May 24)

We made some news with this one, getting Telegdy to admit on the record that "The Apprentice" was pretty much the launching pad for Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Trust me, he heard from Trump pretty quickly!

8. Katie Couric (Panel for Epix's documentary "Under the Gun," May 3)

This was a tough one, a difficult subject -- and this was before the controversy surrounding the doc. But it was a good conversation, and one that offered hope (well, before the election season really got under way) that perhaps the tide was turning in the gun debate.

7. Kris Jenner and Todd Chrisley (NATPE, January 20)

Yes. This happened.

6. Damon Lindelof, Ali Adler, Melissa Rosenberg, Scott M. Gimple, Craig DiGregorio, Paul Scheer (Wondercon Showrunners Panel, March 26)

Nothing better than getting a bunch of chatty, amiable showrunners together to talk shop. The Wondercon Showrunners panel is always one of my favorites, because these folks rarely get to see each other and swap stories.

5. Pharrell Williams (Variety's Inclusion Summit, November 1)

Interesting, introspective and passionate. Pharrell Williams wasn't an easy interview, but when you get him going, he's got a lot to say.

4. "The Simpsons" Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, David Silverman, Matt Selman (Google VR Event at YouTube space, October 14)

I could talk for hours about "The Simpsons" with "The Simpsons" crew. Always fun, and I'm still not sure if Matt Groening was mocking me when he said my hair looked like Bart's.

3. Steve Harvey (NATPE, January 20)

Another fun one -- this came just weeks after Steve Harvey's infamous Miss Universe flub, and we had a ton of fun dissecting that and other things. A great way to kick off the year.

2. Christian Slater (SAG-AFTRA Foundation, October 6)

Fun, playful and willing to chat at length about "Mr. Robot" and the evolution of his career.

1. "The Good Place" Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Mike Schur, Drew Goddard (San Diego Comic-Con, July 21)

What can I say, Ted Danson is a national treasure -- and I told him that, an embarrassingly several times. Kristen Bell was great, and Mike and Drew are always fun. This year's Comic-Con highlight.

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