ABC Presents ‘Chasing Life,’ ‘Forever’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Manhattan Love Story’, ‘Selfie’ & ‘black-ish’ [TCA 2014]

abc tca summer 2014

ABC made an appearance at the Television Critics Association Summer 2014 Press Tour this week. The studio brought out ABC Family’s new summer show Chasing Life and ABC’s new Fall series including Forever, How To Get Away With Murder, Selfie, black-ish, and Manhattan Love Story, on stage to share what we can expect from them.

ABC FAMILY

Chasing Life (21)

Chasing Life

ABC Family’s new summer series, Chasing Life, follows April (Italia Ricci), a young journalist trying to make a name for herself who finds out she has cancer. With five episodes already aired, Chasing Life has already proved itself to be a wonderful and heartwarming show and from the clip and previews shown during the panel, it looks like it will continue on that trajectory for the rest of the season.

The presentation panel for the series featured series stars Italia Ricci (April), Haley Ramm (Brenna), Mary Page Keller (Sara), Steven Weber (George) and executive producers Patrick Sean Smith, Joni Lefkowitz, and Susanna Fogel.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– When asked how she approached the part of April, Italia Ricci explained that there isn’t a right way to portray it and that she did the best she could with with the tools she has. She added that she is really proud that so many people feel like they have been given a voice thanks to the show.

– Lefkowitz explained that the use of pop culture and humor is a way to soften the subject matter a bit and not to make it a depressing show. Patrick Sean Smith shared that someone who had watched their show told him they appreciated the fact that there was humor in it.

– Haley Ramm explained that she has known a lot of people in her life who have had cancer and that there is something in you that makes you step up and be there. Her favorite thing about Brenna is that she’s messy in the first episode, but when she finds out about April, she really steps up and helps out her family and her mom.

– The mid-season finale will find April seven days in chemo. There will be hair loss and physical repercussion of having those chemicals in her body.

– They have already completed the 21 episodes for Season A and B.

Chasing Life airs on Tuesdays at 9pm.

ABC

FOREVER (ABC) IOAN GRUFFUDD

Forever

In ABC’s new drama, Forever, we meet Doctor Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), a medical examiner with a secret: he is immortal. For 200 years, he has been trying to find the mystery surrounding his inability to die without much success. But after helping Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza) solve a case thanks to his remarkable observation skills, Henry partners with her on a new case each week which will also reveal bits from his past. In the first episode, we also meet Henry’s best friend and confident, Abe (Judd Hirsch), who knows Henry’s secret.

The presentation panel for Forever included series stars Ioan Gruffudd (Henry Morgan), Alama De La Garza (Detective Jo Martinez), Judd Hirsch (Abe), and executive producer Matt Miller.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– The inspiration for the show came to Miller when his son asked him if he was going to die. This led him to think about a character who couldn’t die and wonder the impact of him not dying if his son wasn’t immortal.

– Henry works as a medical examiner for research in order to find out about his curse.

– The show is a procedural. Every week they find a body and try to resolve the case by the end of the episode. On top of that we get the arch story that there is someone out there who knows Henry’s secret and who might be like him. However, that story device will be used sporadically. It will be touched in the second episode as well, but then might not come back for another 4-5 episodes. It’s not the thing that drives every episode.

– Henry does experience the pain of each death. So they don’t want to kill him every episode. However, because it’s the device of the show, they’ll do it in the first two episodes, but after that it might be for more special occasions.

– The mythology surrounding Henry’s immortality will be unfolded over a long term plan. Miller shared that it won’t be revealed in the first season, but they will give out tidbits. And each tidbit will lead to new and exciting clues.

– We’ll also see how Henry came to realize he was immortal. At first he didn’t realize, he just thought he had survived a shipwreck.

– In terms of what happens to Henry’s body when he dies, Miller explained that it disappears along with everything on him. So if he has something on him that is important, it would disappear. However, the evidence of him dying stays, for example if he falls on a car, the indentation would still be there.
Miller did acquiesce that it is a bit of a logistical nightmare because technically Henry would lose his papers every time. He joked that the Forever spin off would be “Henry Morgan at the DMV.”

– Henry can reproduce and has over the past. He had children and watched them pass away and the pain of that is what made it difficult for him to ever do it again.

Forever will have a special sneak peek on Monday, September 22 at 10pm and return to its regular time period on Tuesday September 23 at 10pm.

how to get away with murder viola davis

How To Get Away With Murder

ABC’s new legal thriller from Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal), How To Get Away With Murder, focuses on Law Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and four of her law students who get entangled in a web of murder.

The presentation panel featured series stars Viola Davis (Professor Annalise Keating), Billy Brown (Nate), Alfred Enoch (Wes), Jack Falahee (Conner), Katie Findlay (Rebecca), Aja Naomi King (Michaela), Matt McGorry (Asher), Karla Souza (Laurel), Charlie Weber (Frank), Liza Weil (Bonnie), and executive producers Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Bill D’Elia.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– When asked how he came up with the story for the show, Peter Nowalk explained that he finds his life very boring and that he likes putting normal people in extreme situations. He finds that fascinating.

– When asked about the title, Nowalk shared that it was always the title he wanted the show to have because he liked the fact that it was what Keating called her class.

– The series will focus on finding out what drives Keating on her path.

– “The theme of the show is no one’s who they seem to be,” Nowalk said.

– Davis found Keating to be a realistic protagonist and very human.

– “The attraction was the material,” Davis said on why she took on the part. She added that while she has gotten some great film roles and other not so great ones, she really wanted “to be The Show.” She added, “I wanted to have a character that took me out of my comfort zone.”

– Nowalk teased that the show won’t be going where we think it’s gonna go in season 1. He added that they also have a plan as to what they want to do in season 2.

– Nowalk doesn’t think he could have gone to law school. He thinks that it would have been incredibly boring, but he does think it’s fun to try to make law school fun in the show.

– The character of Bonnie (Liza Weil) has a very small presence in the pilot, but Nowalk teased that we’ll find out “juicy stuff” about her in the upcoming episodes.

How To Get Away With Murder premieres on Thursday, September 25 at 10pm.

SELFIE (ABC) TIM PEPER, JOHN CHO, DA'VINE JOY RANDOLPH, KAREN GILLAN, ALLYN RACHEL, DAVID HAREWOOD

Selfie

ABC’s new comedy series, Selfie, follows Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), who has 263,000 followers that follow her on social networks, which she takes great pride in. However, one day she realizes that having online “friends” is not the same as having actual friends. In order to ‘rebrand’ her image, she asks marketing guru Henry (John Cho) to help her.

The presentation panel for Selfie featured series stars Karen Gillan (Eliza), John Cho (Henry) and creator/executive producer Emily Kapneck.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– Karen Gillan is learning new words thanks to being in the show.

– Kapneck joked that she doesn’t find Karen’s Scottish accent very convincing. (Note: Karen Gillan is in fact Scottish.)

– When asked why Gillan didn’t keep her Scottish accent in the show, Kapneck explained that it would have been harder to tell a story about a Scottish girl being shunned by her co-workers in the US.

– Kapneck explained that she knows plenty of people connected to their phones, but doesn’t know anyone exactly like Eliza.

– Gillan said that she knows people who have aspects of her character, but she has exaggerated them a bit.

– Expect Eliza to take one step forward and two steps back over the course of the season.

– The line between student and teacher with Eliza and Henry is going to get blurry. She picks up that some of the things he is preaching he’s not applying. Kapneck explained that she wants to grow Henry into a character that’s right for her and vice versa.

– There will be an episode in which Eliza introduces Henry to social media and has him open a Facebook account.

– Kapneck said that if there is an opportunity to bring some of the ABC’s Suburgatory actors to the show in an organic way, she’d love to do it.

– “I’m really talented at falling over,” Gillan said about physical comedy, which she enjoys.

– “I’m schizophrenic, I like doing whatever it is I’m not doing,” Cho said on whether he likes comedy or drama better.

Selfie premieres on Tuesday, September 30 at 8pm.

BLACK-ISH (ABC) ANTHONY ANDERSON, LAURENCE FISHBURNE

black-ish

In ABC’s comedy black-ish, we meet Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson (Anthony Anderson), his beautiful wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), and their four kids, who live in a colonial home in the ‘burbs. It seems he has the perfect life, but Dre starts to wonder whether success has brought too much assimilation for his black family. With the help of his dad (Laurence Fishburne), he sets out to “teach” his family about their culture and roots.

The presentation panel for black-ish featured series stars Tracee Ellis Ross (Rainbow Johnson), executive producers and stars Anthony Anderson (Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson) and Laurence Fishburne (Pops Johnson), as well as executive producers Kenya Barris, Larry Wilmore.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– Wilmore explained that at the heart of it, this is a family show. “The show has less to do with race than culture,” Barries explained.

– Anderson recounted a personal experience in which his son came to him and said, “Dad, I don’t feel black.” Anderson realized that his son was talking about the privileged life he was living which is very different from Anderson’s upbringing. Anderson told him, “Son this is your black experience.” His son then went on to tell him “ok dad for my 13th birthday I want a Bar Mitzvah.” Anderson told him that he couldn’t have one, but that he would throw him a Hip Hop Bromitzvah instead. To this day, Anderson said that all of his son’s Jewish friends still say that was the best Bar Mitzvah ever. That story made it into the series.

– They originally pitched the show by saying, “this is the life that we are living and that’s why we want to tell this story,” Anderson explained. Every network they pitched it to wanted the show, but ABC was the best fit for them.

– All of the stories in the show are coming out of their experiences and lives.

– Ross shared that as a mixed girl you’re always asked whether you are white or black and she wonders why you have to be either.

– The shows exposes four perspectives: Pops, Dre, Rainbow and the kids.

– Fishburne will not do a full season of black-ish and he won’t be doing a full season of Hannibal either which allows him to do both.

black-ish premieres on Wednesday, September 24 at 9:30pm.

MANHATTAN LOVE STORY (ABC) KURT FULLER, CHLOE WEPPER, JADE CATTA-PRETA, NICOLAS WRIGHT, JAKE MCDORMAN, ANALEIGH TIPTON

Manhattan Love Story

ABC’s Manhattan Love Story, follows a new couple, Dana (Analeigh Tipton) and Peter (Jake McDorman), who have just begun dating, and their unfiltered thoughts, which also exposes the differences between men and women.

The presentation panel featured series stars Analeigh Tipton (Dana), Jake McDorman (Peter), Jade Catta-Preta (Amy), Nicolas Wright (David), Chloe Wepper (Chloe) and executive producers Jeff Lowell, Robin Schwartz and Peter Traugott.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

– You will keep hearing Dana and Peter’s thoughts throughout the series.

– McDorman said that the good thing about hearing Peter’s thoughts is you get to see the egoless version of him. He added that it feels like playing two different sides of a character.

– When asked about recording the voice over, McDorman said that it’s weird because when they do a scene, they know the dialogue that will be added later, so they had awkward pauses where the voice over would be added. But he added that it worked out in the end. Tipton also explained that it was a challenge for her because her strength lies more in her facial features and poses. And because she is soft spoken, it was difficult for her to go back and do something that felt honest and not sound monotone.

– The actors themselves thought Dana’s list of things to do in New York was a great one.

Manhattan Love Story premieres on Tuesday, September 30 at 8:30pm.

ABC also presented a panel for its other comedy series Cristela, but I unfortunately was not in attendance to cover.