ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" Praised at William S. Paley TV Festival
MARCH 7, 2007: The cast and crew of ABC's freshman series "Brothers and Sisters" were praised by several audience members on Monday night at the William S. Paley Television Festival at the Museum of Television and Radio for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of gay characters.
The entire cast of ABC's rookie drama (including newest cast addition Emily Van Camp who was welcomed by the audience with huge applause and with the exception of Ron Rifkin who was away in New York) attended the event on Monday night.
Creator Jon Robin Baitz said, "We have come far enough in certain aspects of the culture - Ann Coulter's epithets notwithstanding - and Touchstone Television and ABC have been wildly encouraging. They never said, 'Less men kissing,' or anything of the sort."
Star Matthew Rhys said that frankness was part of what drew him to the role of gay lawyer Kevin Walker. "I loved the fact that his sexuality wasn't the defining characteristic of who he was."
Mr. Rhys also joked that he took the part because "I was about to be deported back to Wales," surprising many in the audience with his natural Welsh accent.
After he was complimented by moderator Pat Mitchell on how American he sounds on the show, Mr. Rhys joked: "We were shooting the last episode, and Ken [Olin] shouted cut and said, 'Can you not sound like you're from Middle-earth?'"
Sally Field (who won huge applause from the attending audience members) said Mr. Baitz won her over by saying he wanted to tell a story about a matriarchal family, and "to explore how women age." Mr. Baitz said Peter Coyote "is visiting us" as a love interest for Ms. Field's character.
Baitz also said, in answer to an audience question, Tom Skerritt would continue to return in flashbacks as the patriarch of the Walker family to explore his relationship with his children. He also praised Skerritt as a great actor.
Rob Lowe was asked whether the senator is really a good guy or not, he turned to the producers. "There are things coming. Right, boys?" as Berlanti and Baitz nodded. "No one that handsome could be [all good]," Baitz teased indicating Senator McCallister may be a corrupt politician after all.
Balthazar Getty, himself a powerful family heir whose great grandfather was John Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company, won laughs with his reason for taking the part: "The money."
When Dave Annable (Justin) was asked if his character interested him because of how he allows the show to deal with the Iraq war, he said, "Yeah, that's one of the reasons, besides getting to meet Harrison Ford...," causing audience laughter and mock angered stare of co-star Calista Flockhart.
"Special Guest Star" Rob Lowe who is in contract negotiations with Touchstone to return to "Brothers & Sisters" for a second season also drew some laughter when he pointed to nepotism of the Olin family.
Patricia Wettig who plays Holly is married to executive producer Ken Olin (formerly of Alias), their son Cliff Olin is a writer on the show - his first episode, "The Valentine’s Day Massacre," was screened at the event - and Patricia and Ken’s daughter, Roxanne, played Jason Lewis’ girlfriend on the show.
Calista Flockhart responded to Lowe's remark: "He says these things, but he doesn’t really mean them."
"Brothers & Sisters" returns with new episodes on Sunday, April 1 at 10/9c on ABC.
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