CBS has named the creative and writing team that will lead the studio’s actors showcase in 2020, formerly known as the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase. The event, intended to highlight diverse talent, is attended by senior CBS network execs, showrunners and casting directors on CBS series, as well as talent agents and managers.
Returning to direct Showcase, as it is now known, is Stephen Guarino, an actor-writer-director known for “EastSiders” and “I’m Dying Up Here,” while Tess Paras (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Just Add Magic”) is joining as associate director. Tien Tran, who has appeared on “Easy” and “Hot Date,” will serve as head writer of the writers’ room of 11. Guarino, Paras and Tran are all Showcase alum.
“Showcase is one of my favorite events and one I look forward to year after year,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, CBS’ executive vice president of entertainment diversity, inclusion and communications. “I’m excited for the entertainment community to see another group of talented actors perform original sketches under the direction of Stephen, Tess and Tien, who are all tremendous actors and immensely creative. For a second year, we are pleased to also bring back the writers room staffed with former alumni allowing them to share their experiences and guide the new participants through the showcase process.”
The 11 writers that make up the room for Showcase are: Bill Posley, E.R. Fightmaster, Frank Garcia-Hejl, Jimmy Fowlie, Lilan Bowden, Mike Lane, Mike Millan, Peter Kim, Shukri R. Abdi, Sofia Gonzalez and Wilder Smith.
The 2020 Showcase will take place at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles, with nightly shows at 7:30 p.m. PT from Jan. 14 through Jan. 17, with additional 1 p.m. PT shows on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16.
Guarino, whose credits include “2 Broke Girls,” “Superior Donuts” and “Happy Endings,” earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for his performance on Netflix’s “EastSiders.” As a comedian, he has performed at Upright Citizens Brigade, the Groundlings, Second City and RSVP/Atlantis cruises. In addition to performing and writing for for the 2011 Showcase and directing last year’s event, Guarino has also written, produced and directed at Funny or Die, and directed at the Groundlings and UCB. He is repped by APA and 3 Arts.
Paras, comedian, actress and writer, performed and wrote for the 2014 Showcase. A series regular on Amazon’s “Just Add Magic: New Protectors” this year, she has also recurred on “Just Add Magic,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “The Good Wife,” “Grimm,” “White Collar” and “Weeds,” among other series. Her sketch writing spans political and musical satire, including the videos “Trumping Makeup Tutorial” for Fusion Digital Comedy, “Typecast” and “What If Catcalls Were Cheeseburgers?” She also premiered short film “The Patients” — inspired by her own life, which she wrote, directed and starred in — at the 2019 L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival. The short also screened at Bend Film Festival and was recognized with an award from the Asian American Psychological Association for its mental health awareness advocacy. Repped by Gersh and Haven Entertainment, Paras performs with Quick and FUnny Musicals! and the Asian AF Show at UCB.
Tran, a comedian and writer, was recently named a New Face of Comedy at the 2019 Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and acted and wrote for Second City’s 106th Mainstage revue, “Dream Freaks Fall from Space,” and its 41st revue, “Fantastic Super Great National Numero Uno.” Her credits also include NBC’s “A Legendary Christmas,” IFC’s “Sherman’s Showcase,” and Comedy Central’s “Southside.” She has also written for Showtime’s “Work in Progress.” Tran is repped by CAA and Mosaic.