You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SundanceTV’s ‘The A Word’ Shines Light on Family Grappling With Autism

Leaders from New York’s community of autism service orgs gathered Tuesday night at the Museum of Arts and Design for the premiere of SundanceTV’s “The A Word,” a warm and funny drama that depicts a British family coming to grips with their 5-year-old son’s diagnosis.

“It really is a beautiful piece of television,” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for SundanceTV and AMC.

The series, which bows July 13, hails from Keshet International and Fifty Fathoms. “A Word” aired earlier this year on the BBC to much acclaim. It’s based on the Israeli series “Yellow Peppers.”

“It is so universal,” said Alon Shtruzman, the Los Angeles-based CEO of Keshet International. “We are proud of this important work.”

David Remnick, New Yorker editor and board member of the non-profit New York Collaborates for Autism, moderated a post-screening discussion with “A Word” creator Peter Bowker, NYCA president Ilene Lainer and Eli Gottlieb, author of the recent novel “Best Boy,” which also deals with autism.

Bowker, a season British TV scribe whose credits include “Blackpool” (adapted by CBS as “Viva Laughlin”), said the 14 years he spent as a schoolteacher prepared him well to tell the story of 5-year-old Joe. The boy’s loving parents struggle to acknowledge that his sweet-natured behavioral quirks are signs that he is on the autism spectrum.

Being asked to adapt “Yellow Peppers” for British and American audiences “gave me permission to use all the information I’d had stored for 25 years,” Bowker said.

For the crucial role of Joe, producers auditioned more than 250 kids, boys and girls, through open casting calls. Actor Max Vento had the mix of innocence and sensitivity required for the show.

“I wanted to give the audience some sense of Joe’s experience,” Bowker said. The music-obsessed Joe lives in his head under headphones and yet “he’s acutely aware of the emotional turmoil around him.”

Among those in attendance at the screening were AMC/SundanceTV president Charlie Collier, writer Gay Talese and NBC’s Al Roker.

(Pictured: Charlie Collier, Peter Bowker, Ilene Lanier, David Remnick and Eli Gottlieb)

More TV

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Say He Was Victim of Police 'Spectacle'

    Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the “Empire” actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution. Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. He was released after a court hearing on $100,000 bond, [...]

  • Carra Patterson Sarah Levy Paola Lazaro

    Fox Casts Four Leads in 'Patty's Auto' Pilot

    Fox has announced the casting of four lead characters for its multi-cam comedy pilot “Patty’s Auto,” including the eponymous Patty. Inspired by Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, the project centers on Patty, the intimidating owner of Patty’s Auto who will be played by “Straight Outta Compton” alumna [...]

  • Adam Pally Abby Elliott

    Adam Pally, Abby Elliott Join Cast of NBC Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured'

    NBC pilot “Uninsured” has cast four of its series regulars, with Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “The President Show”) and Abby Elliott (“Saturday Night Live,” “Odd Mom Out”) playing the young married couple at the center of the show. Pally will play Dave, who is described as a “natural hype man with a good heart.” Elliott [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Appeared in Documentary on

    Jussie Smollett Recently Hosted Doc on Lynching, Filmmaker Talks 'Coincidence'

    In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series “America Divided” that explored the subject of hate crimes, specifically lynching, in the state of Tennessee. Now that the “Empire” actor has been charged with filing a false police report and Chicago police are convinced he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content