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[03/06/07 - 05:08 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: ABC's "Brothers & Sisters"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:07 p.m.: Pat Mitchell and William C. Paley once again greet the crowd and intro Robbie Baitz, the creator of the show. And once again we're treated to an episode of said show, "Valentine's Day Massacre," written by Cliff Olin (son of executive producer Ken Olin and co-star Patricia Wettig) and Peter Calloway.

8:00 p.m.: Pat sticks around to moderate the panel - Sarah Jane Morris (Julia), John Pyper-Ferguson (Joe), Matthew Rhys (Kevin), Sally Field (Nora), Balthazar Getty (Thomas), Calista Flockhart (Kitty), Patricia Wettig (Holly), Dave Annable (Justin), Emily VanCamp (Rebecca), Rob Lowe (Senator McCallister), Greg Berlanti (executive producer) and Robbie Baitz. There in spirit: Rachel Griffiths (who left early due to a bout with the stomach flu), Ken Olin (who's off directing Berlanti's pilot for ABC) and Ron Rifkin (who's working in New York).

8:09 p.m.: Calista on the show's familial connections: "I have a brother and I have a mom and I have a dad. And even though it's a small family I still know what it means to have a brother. I know what it means to have a mother. And I know what it means to have a dad. So everybody can kind of identify - I certainly can."

8:17 p.m.: Calista on why she signed on to the show: "First of all it was Robbie. It was all about [him]. I've known him for years and have been a big fan of his forever and when I got the call that he had this script I said, "Wow!" When you read a pilot you don't really know where the series is going to go but you put your faith in the creator. At least I did. So that was the biggest reason why. And also it affords me to be in L.A. I have a kid who's in school. I wanted to be in L.A. and it seemed like the right time for me to go back to work."

8:18 p.m.: Patricia on why she left "Prison Break" for this show: "It was like okay do I continue with that - which was a successful show - or to do this pilot which was only a pilot. And I love Robbie's writing. I've done a play of his before. And then there's a little family pressure. But also how could I not put my heart and soul towards this show which was all about family. And then my daughter was in this episode as well that you just saw. My son wrote it, my husband is an executive producer. It's like [the] family thing is all over the place." This statement causes Rob Lowe to cough into his hand, "Nepotism!"

8:20 p.m.: Matthew Rhys on the challenges of covering up his Welsh accent for the show: "There was a moment when Ken was directing [in the] last episode - he shouted, 'Cut! Could you not sound like you're from Middle Earth?'"

8:22 p.m.: Sally Field on how she came aboard the show after its original pilot: "I came in to talk to Robbie and Ken and I too have been a longtime fan of Robbie's work. And when I spoke with them, the thing that certainly turned my head is that Robbie said he wanted to make a story about a matriarchal family and that he wanted to explore how American women aged. And I went - 'whoa!' - no one else is doing that! They're aging but they're not talking about it."

8:25 p.m.: Robbie gives a shout-out to a nearby Peter Coyote, who will appear as a love interest for Nora in an upcoming arc.

8:26 p.m.: Rob Lowe talks about how he got involved: "They had this idea of a character. They had written it for me and I didn't really know much about it. They just said, we want to have a man on television that is not neurotic, he's not 40 acting 20 and that we're going to deal with things of consequence, things of substance and also be funny. And I just thought - 'Wow, that's a really enticing, enticing offer.'"

8:27 p.m.: Pat asks if he'll be an uncorrupted politician. "There are all kinds of things afoot, [to Robbie and Greg] aren't there boys?" To which, Robbie adds: "No one that handsome can be trusted. That's why God makes them that handsome, there's something wrong with them."

8:30 p.m.: Dave Annable on why he joined the cast: "Besides getting to meet Harrison Ford...," causing Calista's jaw to drop.

8:31 p.m.: Like all good sons, Matthew gives his jacket to a chilly Sally Field.

8:32 p.m.: More shout-outs, this time to an also present Jason Lewis. Between him and Rob Lowe, I haven't felt less handsome in my life.

8:34 p.m.: Berlanti being the awesomeness that is Berlanti: "I definitely think that that's one of the joys of... you come to Hollywood, you kill yourself to make it and then you get this opportunity. And you have to think, 'Well, how am I going to use it? Am I going to use it to say something that's just sort of generic and make a lot of money or am I going to use to try and say something special and really affect people and be a part of their lives even if it is just through a TV set?' I think that's one of the best things about 'Brothers & Sisters,' in addition to just how familial it feels from the Olins outward, is how we the writers hit the ball across the court and it always comes back faster and better from all these actors. I sort of came in in episode two or episode three, somewhere thereabouts, and I can remember going to the first read-through and feeling like a fan, feeling like someone from completely outside... to actually be around all these people that are so remarkably talented and raise our game. When we go into the story room... we want to impress them as much as they impress us."

8:35 p.m.: Berlanti on the show's slow rise to success: "It's the best kind of hit, it's a hard earned hit, you know? It was totally counted out by this community, by a lot of people. And there were certain early critics that kept it alive and really the fans kept it alive. And what I kept saying to Robbie in the beginning was all these critics, they have family members who watch TV, who call them up and tell them they're an idiot, 'I love this show.'"

8:36 p.m.: Time for audience Q&A. Someone asks if we'll see Tom Skerritt again. "Definitely," Robbie says. "He's such a wonderful actor... I think there will be moments during the [run] of the show where his relationship to those children will be explored and re-examined in flashback."

8:37 p.m.: A fan asks if we'll see any more "Everwood" and/or "Jack & Bobby" connections to the show (i.e. Treat Williams, Emily VanCamp, Rob Lowe's character being named Senator McCallister). "I think we're going to have a cut off for a brief period of time," Berlanti says. "Otherwise it would seem like I'm trying to just recreate 'Everwood.'"

8:38 p.m.: Matthew on how the cast initially bonded: "[They] all took me to Hooters."

8:42 p.m.: Robbie on the show's "sexual versatility": "Touchstone and ABC have been nothing but wildly supportive, nobody ever blinked. Nobody ever said, 'less guys kissing,' and so it never occurred to anybody not to have equality amongst them in the lust department." Berlanti adds, "And so much of the praise actually goes to Matthew for his courageousness. We can be courageous when we come up with these stories but, you know, if someone's resistant inevitably they just win and you stop trying to write that kind of storyline. He has been anything but. And it's inspiring."

8:46 p.m.: Not to be outdone, Matthew adds: "If you close your eyes, sometimes you can't tell the difference between a boy and a girl."

8:47 p.m.: Someone asks if we'll see Warren (Josh Hopkins) again, leading to this exchange:

Rob: "I had him killed." [Laughs.]

Calista: "The other day, I was thinking, 'What about Warren?"

Rob [points to Calista]: "Fickle, fickle, fickle!"

Pat: "But this one might be President?"

Calista: "Yeah, whatever."

8:54 p.m.: The panel wraps early! I'll see you cats tomorrow.

COMING WEDNESDAY: TNT's "The Closer."





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· BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC)
· PALEY CENTER (TFC)









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