Journos gathered in a packed ballroom at the Universal Hilton on the second day of TCA to listen to Patrick Swayze discuss his new A&E series “The Beast,” as well, of course, to hear of his ongoing battle with cancer. What they soon learned, however, was that the actor was hospitalized Friday morning for pneumonia.
A&E president Abbe Raven said that Swayze was planning on returning to promote the show as soon as felt better and passed a message on from him, thanking everyone for their support.
The panel quickly took on a somber and much more serious tone than most TCA sessions.
“He’s been an inspiration for me,” said co-star Travis Fimmel. “You can’t help but respect him. He makes the little things seem so not important.”
Later on, in trying to lighten the mood, Fimmel said, “The sickest thing about him are his jokes.”
Added showrunner John Romano: “Everyone is aware that he’s bringing his personal struggle to this. We work in the shadow of a tremendous act of courage. He does it five days a week, 12 hours a day.”
The show is shot in Chicago, and the panel, which also included exec producers Michael Dinner, William Rothko and Vincent Angell, said the wintery conditions were often difficult to deal with, and certainly could’ve made Swayze’s condition even more tenuous.
The pilot, however, was shot before his illness was known. Production on the 13-episode first season has already been completed.
“The Beast,” in which Swayze stars as a veteran FBI agent who takes on a rookie partner (Fimmel), is from Sony and premieres on A&E Jan. 15 at 10 p.m.
Swayze chatted with Barbara Walters earlier this week on ABC and the show got a big ratings number.
— Stuart Levine