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Friday, March 8, 2013

PARENTHOOD PALEYFEST 2013 by Marco Elorreaga

One would assume that you were in for a cry-fest at the PaleyFest this year when it was announced that one of the panels would be for Parenthood.  They were giving out tissue packs at the door!  But, as much as the show has come to be associated with crying, it has also made a name for itself as a show with heart, laughter and family chaos. The latter three were in store for the audience last night at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills.

Stars made their way into the theater.  A good amount of them circled the press tent for pictures and interviews, a lot of them having extensive interviews instead of mingling in the back room before the panel started.  One of the first to arrive was everyone's favorite Coach and patriarch, Craig T. Nelson, who plays Zeek Braverman, and made his way around with his wife, but it was slowly delayed as more of the cast started to filter in. With such a big cast, the interviews halted the tent to a stop, and actually ran late, but fortunately, there was a screening of an episode so the stars did not have to leave right at 7 PM.

Monica Potter, who plays Kristina Bravermanlooked stunning in her grey dress and boots, posing beautifully to every photographers' whim and request, even blowing out kisses to them.  It was any man's dream come true.  Having one of the meatiest storylines this season (her character was diagnosed with breast cancer) it was interesting to hear during the panel that this idea originated from her (although she modestly credits creator Jason Katims) during her annual breast exam as she waited for a the results.

Monica Potter blowing kisses to photographers
The Braverman children were out way past their bed time and ready to play.  They seemed to relish the attention and bask in the spotlight, especially Max Burkholder, who plays Max Braverman and whose character had a lot of growing up to do this season.  Like the character, he was the funniest of all the other young actors, cracking jokes with journalists but also answering the questions thoughtfully and earnestly.

Unfortunately, even with the extra time, there still wasn't enough of it for everyone to get to everyone, so stars like Lauren Graham and Peter Krauss were rushed through, only answering a couple questions per interview or just skipping sections completely.  I was lucky enough to get in a quick question to Krauss before he was ushered along.

After a screening of an episode of Parenthood, moderator, Michael Ausiello, called out the cast of Parenthood and each one came out to the beat of their own drum, with a standing ovation for Craig T. Nelson.

It was definitely an interesting panel.  The biggest question on everyone's mind was whether there would be a season five.  Creator Jason Katims dodged the question by passing it on to the real man in charge...Max Burkholder, who said he was optimistic.  I was lucky enough to speak to Katims backstage and ask him about his thoughts.  He felt optimistic, too.  He wasn't worried that he would have to go the same route with Parenthood like he did with Friday Night Lights with the DirecTV exclusivity deal before it airing on NBC.  When asked about being a show with consistent ratings on the struggling network, he said that as long as it's on a network, he would be happy.

Returning back to the panel, topics ranged talking about the multiple storylines in the fourth season: from Kristina's breast cancer to Erika Christiansen's Julia Braverman and Sam Jaeger's Joel Graham's adoption.  There was a lot of speculation on whether Jason Ritter's Mark Cyr would return after his news that he was starring opposite Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham's previous faux daughter, in the new tv show Friends and Family.  When asked about how she felt, Graham wittingly responded "They always trade you in for a younger one."  Have we seen the last of Mark Cyr?  Ausiello and the audience hope not as the crowd erupted in applause when asked if they would rather see Graham's Sarah Braverman end up Mark Cyr instead of Ray Ramano's Hank Rizzoli.  I guess everyone doesn't love Raymond.

There were more serious topics discussed on the stage, especially with young actor Miles Heizer's storyline about abortion.  On the episode that had Heizer's Drew taking Amy to the clinic regardless of his own feelings, director Peter Krauss had nothing but praise for the young thespian.  The feeling was mutual as Heizer was awestruck working with Krauss as a director.  

Katims discussed about how dealing with controversial issues is definitely hard because he doesn't want to politicize it through his show.  When asked by an audience member if he ever thought about doing a gay storyline, Katims said he definitely thought about it, but because these characters are so well established, it might be hard to do it organically within the family and not just bringing in a brand new character that no one cares about.  Not opposed to the idea, Craig T. Nelson made a crack about having him come out of the closet in his signature deadpan comedic delivery.

While the panel was definitely touching, seeing how much of a family the cast really is, they know that with a show with some many characters with different story lines, some will naturally leave.  With Heizer's Drew Holt going to UC Berkeley and Sarah Ramos' Haddie having left for college already and Ritter's Mark Cyr breaking it off with Sarah, some cast members felt the pangs of pain with this realization.  Just like they have created a family within the show, their family have become our family and we didn't want them to go as the panel ended.  Here's hoping for a season five for this critically acclaimed show that shows that TV series don't have to have antiheroes or violence to be great.

Special thanks to Samsung Smart TV for sponsoring my coverage of PaleyFest 2013. Make sure to like Samsung TV USA on Facebook for an insider look at red carpet photos, video highlights, recaps from the day's events and more. Also, don’t forget to follow @PopCultureBeast on Twitter for live updates during the screenings and panels.

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