Variety TV FYC Fest Recap: Virtual Reality Dramas, a ‘Frasier’ Reunion, TV Icons and Creators Talk the Future of Television

Variety TV FYC Fest Recap: Virtual Reality Dramas, a ‘Frasier’ Reunion, TV Icons and Creators Talk the Future of Television

Variety’s 2024 TV FYC Fest was packed with back-to-back talent and the best storytellers in the biz. Hollywood insiders gathered at the 1 Hotel in Los Angeles to partake in several discussions with creators, executives and stars about the best of television this year. The curated list of the industry’s premiere talent included Dakota Fanning, Ricky Martin, Phaedra Parks, Kristen Wiig (who was honored with the Inaugural Mary Tyler Moore Visionary Award), and many more.

A few exciting panels included a conversation with CBS Chief George Cheeks on Paramount Global uncertainty and the future of Broadcast TV, a deep dive into the beloved reality TV series “Traitors,” a conversation about the 80th anniversary of D-Day with the “Masters of the Air” creators and a surprise “White Collar” reboot announcement.

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Check out a few of the conversations below:

Supporting Actors Roundtable

As part of the Variety TV FYC Fest, Dakota Fanning (“Ripley”), Jennifer Jason Leigh (‘Fargo”), Ricky Martin (“Palm Royale”), Lewis Pullman (“Outer Range”), Lisa Ann Walter (“Abbot Elementary”) and Greta Lee (“The Moring Show”) joined Variety senior TV features editor Emily Longeretta to discuss their supporting roles on some of this year’s hottest television shows.

Leigh joined the fifth season of “Fargo” this year as billionaire CEO Lorraine Lyon, a character she first interpreted as a “juicy villain.” But as the seven months of shooting went on, she began to appreciate the “incredible arch” of her character and relished the opportunity to “get inside this woman who really is so different and kind of phenomenal.”

“I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about other people,” Leigh said. “She’s always looking down at everyone, so even if she’s the shortest person in the room, she can figure out a way to look down her nose at everyone, and she’s got the heart of a lion.”

Meet the Makers: Investigation Discovery’s ‘Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV’

During Variety‘s “Meet the Makers: ‘Quiet on Set'” panel on Thursday, Senior TV Features Editor Emily Longeretta spoke with co-executive producers and directors, Mary Robertson and Emma Schwart, and executive producer Kate Taylor about the series’ investigation into allegations of child actors being mistreated on set in the 1990s and 2000s.

During the wide-ranging conversation, the trio spoke about the importance of educating viewers with dark stories from the set without being exploitative to the victims, and how they could maintain that line.

“An important part of how we approach people who are survivors is you share what you feel comfortable sharing,” Schwartz said. “It doesn’t have to be graphic for us to understand the emotional trauma that you’ve been through. But even in our conversations in the edit, that would be a space where we would say, ‘Let’s pull back on that music. We just want to listen,’ because we don’t want to put our hand on that needle. We want you to feel their presence like we felt it when we sat in that room during the interview.”

They also spoke about the current state of child safety in the entertainment industry.

“I think we can say that there has been progress here, but I think that we also believe there’s more to be done,” Taylor said. “Just as the entertainment industry continues to evolve and change, I know something that we’ve spoken about before is thinking about child influencers and what protections they might have. It’s not a one-to-one comparison always. There has been progress and people have been working to make change here, but I don’t think that we can say, oh, ‘This problem’s solved. This is a problem of the past.’ I think that something that we all hope is that change can take place now, so in 20 years there’s not a new ‘Quiet on Set’ being made.”

Game Show Fan Favorites

Jane Lynch, who currently hosts “The Weakest Link,” joined “The Price is Right” host Drew Carey, “Wipeout” co-host Nicole Byer and “Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba on a game show panel moderated by Variety Senior TV Features Editor Emily Longeretta.

“It was crazy, crazy times,” Lynch said about hosting a home shopping show in Glencoe, Ill. “Working on your feet with no script, and it made me a great improviser.”

Carey said when he joined “Dancing With the Stars,” he was also hosting “The Price Is Right,” doing stand-up on the weekends and dancing all at the same time as a contestant. “I couldn’t wait to get kicked off that show,” he recalled. “When it was the four of us, I was like, ‘Anybody else can’t wait to get out?’”

Meet the Makers: CBS Studios’ ‘Frasier’

“Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer and executive producers Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli shared how Season 2 of the Paramount+ revival is well underway, with the first four episodes already shot and six to go. As previously announced, guest stars this season include Grammer’s daughter Greer, who will play Alice Doyle — the daughter of the original “Fraiser” character Roz, played by Peri Gilpin (who also returns to guest in Season 2). Grammer said Greer has temporarily moved back in with him as she prepped for the role — and noted that his daughter had never watched the original “Frasier” and needed a bit of a refresher. Grammer, Harris and Cristalli discussed updating the character of Frasier for this stage of his life, where he’s had a bit more success and is a bit more comfortable in his skin. They also noted that finding the right tone was key, as was helped by the return of veteran “Frasier” auspices like director Jimmy Burrows.

Meet the Makers: FOX’s ‘Animal Control

During Variety’s TV FYC Fest, Variety television editor Michael Schneider sat down with actor and executive producer Joel McHale to discuss his new Fox comedy series “Animal Control.”

“Animal Control” takes place in McHale’s hometown of Seattle and features the comedian as an erratic animal control officer Frank Shaw. Heading into the show’s third season, McHale is excited about its success thus far, considering how volatile the industry can be.

“You never know. It’s like surfing where you’re like, ‘I caught this wave. Maybe it’ll crash me onto rocks, or we’ll ride it all the way into shore and have a margarita,’” McHale said. “[We got] season three on a network television show. People kept telling me how hard that is and I’m like, ‘I agree.’”

Step Into the Future of Filmmaking With ‘Stay Alive, My Son’

“Stay Alive, My Son” is an interactive virtual reality experience based on Yathay Pin’s experience surviving the Cambodian genocide and being separated from his family. Victoria Bousis wrote, directed, produced and served as a production designer for the project, which her company UME Studios developed.

Bousis said she traveled to Cambodia a decade ago and read Pin’s novel when she came back home. As a Greek American, she felt a connection to the story of the Cambodian genocide because of the Syrian refugee crisis, which started in 2011 and is still ongoing.

She explained that she chose to use VR after trying the technology and seeing other people’s reactions to the immersive experience. She said Pin’s reaction was especially a driving factor in her decision: “[Pin] decided not to live in sorrow, not to live in hopelessness, not to live in loss, but really live in that courage to live so that his family could still be alive again through this story.”

Bousis said she used AI to allow Pin’s digital self to respond to viewers: “By building that emotional connection, when we become him, we really care about this story and we really care about this man.”

Meet the Makers: CBS Studios ‘Colin from Accounts’

“Colin from Accounts” creators and stars Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall were just back from the Gotham TV Awards, where “Colin” won the breakthrough comedy award and Dyer landed the breakthrough comedy actress prize. It’s a nice boost here in the U.S. for the Paramount+ comedy, which has been a hit throughout the globe, particularly in the show’s Australia base and in the U.K. Season 2 of “Colin From Accounts” just premiered in Australia, and will be coming to the U.S. later this year. During the panel, Brammall and Dyer — who are married in real life — described how they decided to write the show together on a lark and how, ultimately, their chemistry made it clear that they needed to star in it together.

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