ATX Festival PARENTHOOD Screening and Lovefest (with Dax Shepard, Mae Whitman, Jason Ritter and more)

The Parenthood Screening which rounded out the ATX Television Festival in Austin this weekend was much fun.  I am a big fan of the show and my very favorite actors were in attendance.  I was relieved that unlike other screenings at the festival, they did not show the last episode of the season or I would have been bawling in the middle of the theater as I did when I watched it the first go ’round.  Instead they chose to screen the ‘Nora’ episode in which the newest Braverman baby is brought into the world, bringing the clan back together after a series of arguments that are sparked among members of the family.  It’s a great episode to show all the dynamics of the Braverman family, the comedy, the drama and the love.

The screening opened with this adorable video that the cast put together with Landon Pigg‘s rendition of  LFO’s “Girl on TV”, showing all the boys in the cast (including Craig T. Nelson) paying homage to the lovely Braverman ladies.  Watch for the nineties boy band video tribute by Jason Ritter and Sam Jaeger, my personal favorite moments.

In attendance at the panel were Executive Producer/Writer/Sometimes Director Jason Katims, Music Supervisor Liza Richardson, Musician Landon Pigg and Cast Members Mae Whitman, Dax Shepard, and Jason Ritter.  It was evident from the get go that this crew genuinely enjoy working together.  Jason Katims truly creates an environment in which his actors feel as though they are being heard and can work freely.

Katims shared that the writers have just begun working on Season Four and they are all still excited about the show.  This season will focus on Amber (Mae Whitman) and her new life on her own, possibly with her getting a job at The Luncheonette, her uncles’ recording studio and delving more into her musical side.  We will also get to see Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) as they enter their first year of marriage and all the challenges that can bring.   Dax for his part, though he loves working with Joy, laments Crosby’s monogamy and asked about any possible flashbacks involving Minka Kelly‘s character, Gaby.  Speaking of guest stars, we will see Jason Ritter as Mark again in this season.  Everything is still fresh going into Season Four, having fifteen regulars along with a host of guest stars definitely helps to keep things moving.  There are all kinds of story lines and relationships that have yet to be explored.  This also takes  lot of professionalism and efficiency to pull off.  Managing five people at a time can be a challenge, managing fifteen plus is nothing short of a balancing act of Cirque du Soleil proportions.

Along with the professionalism that must be exuded by the cast, the crew have just as big a hand in keeping everything rolling and on schedule.  The cast couldn’t be any happier with the crew they work with.  Mae credits everyone from their amazing DP to their make-up department for their skill and hard work.  Mae specifically mentioned Mike Weaver, director of photography as a genius in the way he is able to get the amazing, personal shots that make the show feel so real.  Dax spoke about the crew in terms of being cooler than the cast, citing one world traveller and another who was in a Beastie Boys video.  He also mentioned the benefits of working with a crew on a TV show over a film crew in that much more time is spent with the TV crew so they have an opportunity to really become a working family.  Mae believes it helps them to really work well together, get to know one another to create some really great TV.  Katims and Richardson had nothing but good things to say about the cast as well.  This truly was a lovefest of a panel.

I learned more about Parenthood than I knew before, one fact I am ashamed to say I was unaware of is that the character of Max Braverman (Max Burkholder)  is based on Katim’s own son who has Asperger’s.  Katim praised Burkholder for his ability to play the character so well and his dedication to doing so with the amount of research he did prior to taking on the role.  No small feat for any actor, not to mention one so young.  The show is based in reality and though Katims struggled with the decision, he believed it would be a travesty not to include Asperger’s in the show’s storyline.

The cast shared how they ended up on Parenthood, and all their stories were different.  Mae knew someone on the casting staff and found out about the role that way.  She said it helped tremendously to have someone she knew in the audtion room.  Once she met Sarah Ramos who plays Haddie Braverman and read with her, she said the family element was immediately apparent between the two of them since the two actresses hit it off immediately.  Dax had just come off set on his film, Freebie and while in a meeting for  different project was pegged as a “good Crosby” and invited to audition, and as it turns out, he does make a good Crosby.  Jason Ritter was invited on after being in an episode of Mercy on NBC.  He was only signed on for three episodes but as fans of the show know, he is well liked and has returned again and again.  Ritter said he was more nervous not having to audition for the part and meeting Lauren Graham who plays his love interest, Sarah Braverman on the show.

It was much fun to watch the dynamic between the cast members and to see how much they truly enjoy working together, as well as the respect they have for one another.  Those who follow Mae on Twitter know of her affinity for calling Dax “Dad” and that spills over into real life as she called him dad several times during the panel.  Dax’s humor was evident through the entire event, citing Ritter’s lovely head of hair and charm, as well as joking with musical guest Landon Pigg about everything from his tie to instrument that he was playing.  The panel ended with a lovely rendition of  Pigg’s “Gardenia” performed as a duet by Landon and Mae.

I am looking forward to the upcoming fall season of Parenthood and watching the new adventures in store for the Braverman clan.  I feel very fortunate to have been part of the group that was treated to this very enjoyable panel.  Parenthood will be returning to NBC this fall at 10/9c.

For more updates, interviews and reviews follow @CatEdison and @ScreenInvasion on Twitter.  To see more ATX Festival news Click Here!

What was your favorite moment from this past season of Parenthood?  Share in the comments below!




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Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.