vulture-festival

Last weekend, I attended several panels at the Vulture Festival, an annual pop culture extravaganza thrown by the entertainment wing of New York Magazine. Here’s how it went down.

DAY 1: SATURDAY, 5/21/2016

Breaking Better Call Saul
Vulture TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz chatted with Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, and BCS co-creator Peter Gould. Bob Odenkirk joined in via phone (which was unfortunate because he is not the type of guy who will be all “Awkward setup be damned!” and just jump into the conversation). This was a rather engaging discussion, as these folks are eager and eloquent when discussing their process. One major point was the inevitability posed by Breaking Bad already establishing where Jimmy/Saul’s life is headed. To this end, Peter noted how fans often ask him if Kim and Chuck will die, which he at first thought was due to a lack of imagination but then realized it was more about a concern from people in the hope that their favorite fictional characters will remain alive and well.
I had a chance to talk with Rhea Seehorn after the panel. I asked her if she would be submitting as Lead or Supporting for the Emmys this year. She said that her publicists take care of that, but she was pretty sure they would be putting her down for Supporting. When I mentioned that I blog my Emmy prognostications every year, she asked for my info so that she could check out my stuff.

Difficult People: Table Read
With moderation from Vulture editor E. Alex Jung, the cast of Difficult People plowed through the script of Season 2 Episode 3, in which Billy and Julie attempt to launch a viral charity campaign and at the same time look to find Billy a boyfriend. Guest stars Megan Hilty and Nathan Lane (playing himself) were on hand, as was executive producer Amy Poehler, who read the stage directions. The line with the most uproarious reaction from both me and the crowd as a whole had to do with an abortion clinic’s on-point gift bag game.

Inside Mr. Robot
Vulture editor Abraham Riesman led a panel with Mr. Robot stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin, and Portia Doubleday. (Workaholic show creator Sam Esmail couldn’t make it because he was too busy finishing up Season 2, which he directed every episode of.) The most memorable audience question – from a girl who was missing her senior prom for this panel – asked the cast what their characters wore to their proms. Carly declared that Darlene wore something typically outré, Portia supposed Angela went pretty and lavender, Christian surmised his normal outfit for Mr. Robot, and Rami figured Elliott skipped prom.

How Did This Get Made?
In this live recording of the podcast that covers bad movies and tries to answer the titular question, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, June Diane Raphael, and guest host Tom Scharpling discussed The Avengers – the Emma Peel Avengers adapted from a British spy series, that is. Since basically nothing happens in the movie, much of the discussion centered around the comfort of the beds provided by Casper in the Casper Podcast Lounge. I lucked out in being one of a select few audience members to pipe up with a question (catch me at 55:24).

DAY 2: SUNDAY, 5/22/2016

Vulture TV Podcast: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Vulture TV Podcast hosts Matt Zoller Seitz and Gazelle Emami were joined by CXG co-creators Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna. I have only watched two episodes of their show (I like it – I’ll be watching more), so I felt a little out of place. Still, it was worth it, as I enjoy learning about the inner machinations of TV shows, whether or not I watch them. The big scoop was the reveal that the theme song will change every season.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
In this live edition of NPR’s entertainment podcast, regular hosts Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, and Stephen Thompson brought along Audie Cornish (also of NPR). Finding a thematic connection in keeping with the “Vulture” part of Vulture Festival, they first discussed cultural detritus, i.e., old TV shows that would be long forgotten if not for streaming and other modern viewing options keeping alive just about every program that ever aired. They moved onto political TV, with Glen noting that his D.C. friends say that House of Cards is “just silly,” while Veep gets it right (no surprise from me). They moved onto a round of trivia, with Linda quizzing the others about shows that only ever aired one episode. Glen and Stephen tied with one point each.

PopCultureHappyHourCrew

Happy Endings Reunion
The six main “happies” (Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr., and Casey Wison) along with creator David Caspe and showrunner Jonathan Groff stopped by for a panel moderated by Vulture editor Jesse David Fox. I really should have re-watched some episodes beforehand, because even though this is among my all-time favorite sitcoms, it is so dense, and thus many of the references were lost on me. Everyone shared their favorite episodes, which were as follows:
-Adam: “Pilot” (mostly because he can’t remember any other episode – and he barely remembers the pilot)
-David: “Yesandwitch”
-Zachary and Casey: “Spooky Endings”
-Damon: “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”
-Jonathan: “Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral)”
-Eliza: “Sabado Freegante”
-Elisha: “The Marry Prankster”
The origins of some of the most beloved dialogue were revealed: Jonathan wrote the indelible “I’m not as dumb as I am” as he was figuring out the voice of Alex, while David noted that many lines were brought to life by the actors’ delivery, especially when the script simply said “amazing” but then his wife pronounced it in rather unique fashion.

Steak Me Home Tonight

Pop Culture Trivia Game Show
It was Team Younger vs. Team You’re the Worst in this battle of entertainment knowledge. Adam Pally and Casey Wilson were on hand as hosts, but they spent much of the time bemoaning how they would have much rather been drinking and berating Vulture editor Jackson McHenry for his byzantine rules. Team YtW took the early lead in the opening round, which involved identifying TV characters with their faces obscured. But then Team Younger got ahead in Round 2, in which songs had to be guessed according to a deadpan lyric delivery. Adam noted how easy it was for them when one of their players “wrote all the songs” (Nico Tortorella was dressed just like Mark Ronson). They never looked back, though Team You’re the Worst had one last chance when Chris Geere survived to the end of the final, which covered pieces of pop culture with birds in their titles (because, Vulture). But even when he got a second chance after a question had to be thrown out (because an audience member shouted out the lead female character of The Silence of the Lambs), he could not come through with the main Twilight girl.

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