After my first TCA Awards, where I had a couple too many tasty beverages (which gave me the ability to tell Amy Poehler that she was a “total inspiration” and the reason I’ve kept trucking with Cinefilles, but also a raging headache the next day), I promised myself I’d never get to the point where I was anywhere near experiencing a post-ceremony blackout. I’ll be honest in saying I broke that promise real fast this Saturday evening.
No, I didn’t go overboard with the beer, or wine, or any other alcoholic offering at this year’s Television Critics Association Awards. In fact, I’d say I went pretty light on the sauce this particular evening, as the Beverly Hilton ballroom was too packed with stars for me to even get a view of the bar. The TCA Awards usually result in a pretty decent talent turnout (see: last year’s Amy Poehler moment), but this year was particularly stacked in that department, and with folks from shows that I actually worship. Everyone and their mom was freaking out at the fact that Matthew McConaughey showed up to accept his True Detective award, meanwhile I was just trying to accept the fact that I was in the same room with Elaine Benes herself, and the rest of the cast–even Jonah!–of Veep.
I’d love to say that I got my Elaine dance on with Julia Louis-Dreyfus at some point during the evening, but I actually couldn’t find her until the ceremony started and she went up to accept two awards: one for her individual performance, and one for the show itself. That’s not matter, though, since she completely charmed the room with her self-deprecating speech, and just general babeliness (talk about a girl in glasses to make passes at). Veep creator, Armando Iannucci, killed it as well, telling a fucking great story about the word “fuck” and one crew member trying to relate it to his mother. It was so great, in fact, that Bryan Cranston, master comedian at the best of times, brought it up again later while accepting an award (Program of the Year) for Breaking Bad alongside adorable creator Vince Gilligan.
After watching Bry Cry (that’s what everyone calls him, right?) tear up the TCA stage, I made it my personal mission to shake his hand, or at least say “Bitchin’ job, Mr. White!” I roped my date for the night, Rogers publicist Stephanie Leslie, into this quest and somehow, we managed to exceed our goal. Not only did we get to speak to Bryan, but we also got a lingering–LINGERING!–hug a piece from him. For this, I would like to thank Amber Dowling and Will Harris, as they received hugs before us (they’ve both have a history with him) and we just joined in on the train. I would also like to thank my brain for only mentioning the fact that I had seen Bryan play Lester Burnham in the TIFF live reading of American Beauty, and not going on to ask him about being on one episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Oh, and thanks to Steph for thinking of the idea of taking a reactionary selfie of us looking Bryan Cranstunned (see that below).
While we were on our Bry high, we didn’t realize that when the lights went 5ive–that’s “out” to you that weren’t tweenaged in the late ’90s–suddenly, it wasn’t just an attempt to get us out of the ballroom, but a hotel-wide blackout. At this point, most of the celebs had shuffled out of the room, so perhaps you can attribute it to them taking all the power with them. But no matter the reason for the outage, we had to all take refuge at Trader Vic’s, the Beverly Hilton’s infamous poolside bar, and wait things out. After about an hour surviving on ginger ale and some sort of mixed nuts concoction, I decided to venture up to my room (although there was no power, our room keys still worked) and try to get some shuteye. I will admit that my pal Bill Harris was right when he said the dim hallways channeled the Overlook Hotel, but since I wasn’t in Room 237, I wasn’t worried. And plus, the lights came back on about half an hour after I stumbled into, and then onto, my bed.
I will admit that it was kind of wonderful to see how all the critics, publicists and network heads banded together during this, well, dark period. Sure, we were all helped along by still-flowing drinks and leftover buzz from the awards, but we all could have easily used the blackout as an excuse to fade into standard wallflower mode. But we didn’t. We made like Matthew McConaughey earlier in the evening–or Rust Cohle in any social scenario–and put on our game faces and made the best of situation we might not have wanted to be in. (Let’s face it, even though he seemed super happy to be on stage, the fact that he and his wife pretty much ran out the door after the ceremony told another story. But hey, maybe they just wanted to get home to their kids and/or bongos.)
Not to get all Cohle on you, but there really is a undeniably carefree aura to the TCA Awards, and it clearly has an effect on everyone–journalists, guests, guests of guests–in attendance. With the exception of a few bigger-than-big stars like Matthew or Julia, all of the talent seems more than happy to interact with the people who got them to the event: the critics. Sometimes that means simply being sweet-as-pie when a shy Canadian writer comes up to you to say hello (Orange is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba actually remembered me from an interview we did last month when I approached her, and without prompting!), or offering up free hugs to a few geeky blonde ladies clearly in awe of your mere presence. In return, us critics are totally respectful of the talent, not pestering them for photos or interview opportunities (although, I did see someone–not I a journalist, I think–ask Matthew for a selfie, and he obliged). I mean, sure, I would have loved to have gone up to Mr. McConaughey and asked him some pressing questions about Magic Mike XXL, but this simply wasn’t the time for it.
Today I’ll get back to the good ol’ interview grind though, as we are sitting here in the ballroom awaiting the first show panel of Fox’s TCA day. Call me a dork, but I might be even more excited about today than I was about last evening’s events, simply because it gives me a chance to talk to two of my comedy idols, Liz Meriwether (showrunner of New Girl) and Mindy Kaling (showrunner and star of The Mindy Project). And, at this moment anyway, the lights seem to be working as mighty fine as RuPaul’s wig in her TCA Award acceptance video.
Yes, Ru she missed the ceremony, and yes, I am sickened–not in the good way–about it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to sashay away from what could be another ridiculously awesome day at TCA.
Emily is covering the 2014 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour live from the Beverly Hills Hilton from June 12 – 22. Tune in every day for new pieces and follow her tweets at @Cinefilles and @emilygagne.