Monday morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, AT&T Audience Network staged an impressive breakfast to dish their Emmy contenders and their new slate of original programming (listen above). As the sold-out conference room crowd chomped on scrambled eggs and bacon and sipped coffee and orange juice, network head Chris Long was joined by actor/producer Vince Vaughn and moderator Michael Schneider. The event was sponsored by the Hollywood Radio & Television Society (HRTS) as part of their Spotlight Breakfast Series.
Vaughn, who’s best-known for his starring roles in “Old School” and “Wedding Crashers,” is now a talk show producer on the Audience Network with “Undeniable with Joe Buck,” now in its second season. Vaughn says that he loves “the long-form interview … kind of like an autobiography,” which is what appeals to him most about the sports-themed talker. As for “Fear(less) with Tim Ferriss,” the self-help variety show that Vaughn produces, “I like hearing different ideas or different ways of doing things, and Tim I think does a very nice job of bringing in different people.”
“Every time you go to the network, you want to have something new and fresh and premium,” remarks Long about the type of content most in demand at the channel. “It’s a journey for someone who comes to television … whether it’s our documentaries, whether it’s our scripted dramas or comedies, or whether it’s our long-form talk shows. What we do is we find holes in the ecosystem and we fill them with premium content, and we’re proud of that content.”
With the long-running series “Kingdom” and “Rogue” concluding this year, Long is looking forward to a new generation of shows, including “Mr. Mercedes” from Emmy magnet David E. Kelley that is based on Stephen King‘s bestselling novel. “It was a horrible Sunday,” Long recalls about when he heard the news that Anton Yelchin, who was originally set to star in the series, had passed away at the age of 27. “We’ll definitely never forget Anton and we miss him terribly.”
“Hit the Road” is Jason Alexander‘s new comedy that’s being billed as “The Partridge Family” meets “Shameless,” and Long teases that this is the most “salacious” we’ve ever seen the former “Seinfeld” star. Ron Livingston and Will Sasso‘s “Loudermilk” focuses on Livingston’s character, a recovering alcoholic who tries “very hard to be a good guy and do the right thing.” And “Condor,” based on the hit film “Three Days of the Condor,” is a taut thriller about a CIA agent (Brendan Fraser) who leaves for lunch and when he returns, “everyone is dead at the office.”
Rounding out the network’s 2017 Emmy slate are the poly-romantic comedy “You Me Her,” the crime drama “ICE” and the concert special “Garth Brooks Yankee Stadium Live.” Vaughn declares he loves working at Audience Network because of its pioneering atmosphere. “It’s a very eclectic group of shows that all are kind of brave in their own way, which I think makes it dynamic and interesting,” Vaughn declares.
Long is looking for shows with authentic characters, environments and stories that are not being told. “You can’t program out of fear,” concludes Long about his personal strategy in choosing series to develop for Audience Network. “That’s the biggest mistake I’ve seen. I see a lot of networks program out of fear, change the course and go different ways. I refuse to do that.”
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.