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Winter TCA: The People and Panels We Want to Hear From

If it’s January, it’s time for television industry insiders to convene in Pasadena, Calif.

The winter Television Critics Association press tour begins its annual two-week stand at the Langham Huntington Hotel Tuesday afternoon with presentations from ESPN and indie cablers Ovation, Outdoor Channel and Up. Streaming, cable and broadcast are all slated for later in the schedule, hoping to make an impact with their dizzying lineup of A-list stars and showrunners.

In the Peak TV era, there’s entirely too much information to process amid a non-stop schedule of panels, interviews and parties. But here’s our best guess at the people we won’t want to miss during the cable portion of the tour this week.


Alison Brie: With “Mad Men” and (likely) “Community” now in her rear-view mirror, Brie comes to TCA wearing a producer hat as part of the panel for TV Land’s comedy “Teachers,” which she championed as an exec producer.

Jon Favreau: The versatile director is part of the team behind MTV’s effort to get into the fantasy sword-and-sandal biz, “The Shannara Chronicles.”

Harvey Weinstein: He’s an exec producer of Lifetime/BBC’s “War and Peace,” starring Lily James and Paul Dano. It’s Oscar season, and there will be microphones aplenty. Anything can happen.

Constance Zimmer: No one would begrudge her yelling at a few reporters (in character of course) just for fun before the start of the session to promote the second season of Lifetime’s compelling reality TV-inspired drama “Unreal.”

Craig Ferguson: He has never been shy about sharing keen-eyed observations. And there has been a lot of change in his old neighborhood of late-night TV in the year since he hung up his desk. He’s there to tubthump History’s roundtable discussion series “Join or Die With Craig Ferguson.”

Morgan Freeman: He’s hosting the docu-series “The Story of God With Morgan Freeman” for National Geographic Channel. Because he’s Morgan Freeman.


Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup: We’re hoping “The Powerpuff Girls” make an appearance at Cartoon Network’s themed breakfast event — but not in a way that reminds us of Times Square.

Rashida Jones: The star of TBS’ much talked-about “Angie Tribeca” spoof of procedural dramas will share the stage with her former “Office” mate, “Angie” exec producer Steve Carell. What’s not to like?

Gloria Vanderbilt: The fashion icon who grew up as New York royalty in the Yank version of “Downton Abbey” will be joined by her youngest son, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in talking about her biographical HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid.”

Bryan Cranston: The actor takes a break from Oscar campaigning as Dalton Trumbo to jump back into the skin of President Lyndon Johnson, the role that won him a Tony in 2014, for HBO’s rendition of “All the Way.” What’s the over/under on how quickly someone asks a “Breaking Bad” question?

Wendell Pierce: The former “Wire”and “Treme” star goes toe-to-toe as Clarence Thomas with Kerry Washington’s Anita Hill in HBO’s “Confirmation.” We’ll come just for that mellifluous voice.

Mick Jagger: The legendary Rolling Stone frontman will only be there via satellite to promote “Vinyl,” but still… Mick Jagger.


Anthony Hopkins: He’s starring in Starz’s remake of the film “The Dresser,” opposite Ian McKellen — marking his first TV appearance in 20 years. And surely his first TCA appearance.

Peter Tolan: This veteran writer-producer is a TCA regular who is proven money on any panel. He’s an exec producer of WGN America’s Appalachia drama “Outsiders.”

Christina Hendricks: She’s left the 1960s of “Mad Men” behind for the late 1980s setting of SundanceTV’s “Hap and Leonard.”

Hugh Laurie: Because we’ve missed us some Dr. House. The British actor stars in the AMC/BBC espionage thriller “The Night Manager.”



Hallmark Channel on Friday evening promises a sneak peek at this year’s “Kitten Bowl III” telecast with a live scrimmage — no kidding. Adding to the potential for pop culture craziness: “Full House” alums (and “Fuller House” troupers) Lori Loughlin and Candace Cameron Bure are scheduled to attend.

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