TCA Winter 2017 Tour: Quick Takes from the AT&T Audience Network (DirecTV) Presentations

Twice a year, various cable and networks attend the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour where they promote new and returning television shows through a series of daily panels and exclusive preview clips spanning over a two week period.  The tour presentations provide a way for television shows to get traction and attention of the hundreds of TV critics who then in turn will hopefully write about and promote those shows to their various audiences via online and print media outlets.

This Winter’s TCA tour included presentations from AT&T Audience Network (DirecTV), who presented on the 1st day of the tour.  Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:



Network tagline:  “Always original, never ordinary.”  In the spirit of this, AT&T Audience Network is committed to continuing to produce original content for its subscribers, including its gritty dramas KINGDOM, ROGUE, ICE and the envelope-pushing comedy series YOU ME HER, by adding its new talk series UNDENIABLE WITH JOE BUCK and FEARLESS WITH TIM FERRISS.  AT&T Audience Network wants to be known for “taking chances” and it feels that its current slate of original shows exemplify that.   Thus, its criteria is:  great, provocative and differentiating content.  In addition, in order to make its shows available to an even wider audience, all its shows are available on the DirecTV Now app for viewers who do not have AT&T and DirecTV satellite/cable subscriptions.


What’s new: Season 3 looks to expand the scope of the MMA world as portrayed in previous seasons, Kirk Acevedo joins the series as a former fighter and new coach at  the gym, and Alvey (Frank Grillo) may be revisiting a prior personal relationship.  Appearing at TCA were stars: Frank Grillo, Nick Jonas, Kiele Sanchez, Jonathan Tucker, Joanna Going, Matt Lauria, and executive producer Byron Balasco.  When asked about the realism of the fight scenes, Frank Grillo said that they actually train with real fighters to prepare for their fight scenes and that they all are constantly trying to top what they have done before in the fights.  Grillo also noted that MMA is currently a multi-million dollar sport that now pulls in nearly as many viewers as U.S. football.  When asked about transitioning from music to television, co-star Nick Jonas said that to get the role he initially he had to prove that he was serious and just ready to work.  Co-star Joanna Going humorously chimed in to say that her character is doing pretty well with her newfound sobriety. As for what flaws they appreciate in their characters: Nick Jonas said it was his character’s insecurity, Jonathan Tucker’s favorite flaw in Jay is that he is an addict, Kiele Sanchez said that she appreciated that her character is her innocent and vulnerable, Frank Grillo said it is Alvey’s narcism, Joanna Going said it was Christina’s manipulativeness to survive, and for Matt Lauria it is Ryan’s appetite and hunger for more of everything.  As Jonathan Tucker emphasized: “There’s tragic flaw with all of these characters, which is so exciting about our show.”  KINGDOM Season 3 premieres May 31, 2017.


This daring comedy explores the challenges and charming appeal of being in a “throuple” aka a polyamory relationship.  Appearing at the panel were:  stars Greg Poehler, Rachel Blanchard, Priscilla Faia, as well as executive producer John Scott Shepherd and Sara St. Onge.  In YOU ME HER, the show’s goal is simply to make an epic romance and fully intends to lean heavily into its rom-com roots but with a twist. It also plans to offer big laughs and big moments.  So Season 2 explores what’s the next chapter after the typical rom-com movie ends in exploring how these three people make their relationship work, all the while still embracing the rom-com moments that arise in the midst of it.  Shepherd said that sexual fluidity seemed to be more discussed in recent years and that was what sparked the idea of creating the series. He emphasized that the show as a polyamorous relationship was initially made as “meet cute” rom-com and that while Season 1 was about these characters falling in love, Season 2 explores the committed and openly acknowledged relationship.  The show wants to portray normal and likable people, not just the stereotypical fringe type if threesome relationships.  Thus, the story is not told from the male gaze point of view — it is not a mere male fantasy — the  story is told more as a comedy with cute moments blended in.  As Priscilla Faia explained, Season 2 moves beyond the lust-phase into the love-phase.  Co-star Rachel Blanchard added, “there’s definitely romance involving the three characters.”  They also want to show how their friends and neighbors are affected and not just that they may initially disapprove of the relationship.  For example, Greg Poehler laughingly noted, “When you tell parents you’re in a relationship it’s a big deal — especially when there are 3 of you!”  Season 2 of YOU ME HER premieres Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017.


Audience Network’s new talk series UNDENIABLE WITH JOE BUCK. Appearing at the panel were:  Joe Buck, Tim Ferriss, Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley. The new series UNDENIABLE WITH JOE BUCK is a talk show featuring extraordinary sports figures that seeks to “lift the veil” on the greatest sports stars of this generation.  It also aims to ask the questions that fans never get answered and are burning to know.  Host Joe Buck was specifically chosen because he has won 7 Emmys for “Most Outstanding Sports Personality” and his vulnerability is what gets iconic figures to open up and share their lives on camera. It is his unique combination  of passion and curiosity that Joe Buck brings to every interview which makes his guests more comfortable.  Featured special guests on UNDENIABLE WITH JOE BUCK include:  Pete Rose, Emmitt Smith, Royce Gracie, Tony Hawk, Jerry Rice, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Terry Bradshaw, Ozzie Smith, Dennis Rodman, Roger Clemens.  UNDENIABLE WITH JOE BUCK is produced by Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Television and premieres February 15, 2017.


The second new talk show to premiere on Audience Network this year is FEAR{LESS} WITH TIM FERRISS.  Appearing at the panel were: Joe Buck, Tim Ferriss, Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley.  In explaining the significance of the show title, it was explained that in FEAR{LESS} WITH TIM FERRISS that the goal is “not to be fearless, but to fear less.”  Vince Vaughan said he was drawn to Tim Ferriss for self-improvement and wanted to create show about him and his approach to life.  So they created a show with a small setting for in-studio interviews, with video clips and photos used to draw attention to the stories being shared.  By keeping it simple and placing the audience so close to watch the interview, it makes it a more communal and shared experience. FEAR{LESS} WITH TIM FERRISS as produced by Vaughn’s Wild West Productions premieres May 30, 2017.


Produced by Ricky Schroeder, this documentary is about one man courageously documenting the fight against ISIS in Syria from an inside perspective behind the combat lines.  Featuring River Rainbow Haag as the shooter-producer who took the raw video footage, River, who had previously trained as fire fighter and had been in the Navy, acted as a war medic whose job it was to run straight into the trenches to provide medical aid on the front lines.   In the process, River documented the Kurdish men and women who are fighting back against ISIS.  One of the things River did was work to assist in the fight against ISIS was to locate medical equipment and medicine in order to aid those caught up in the war.  As River explained, for him, “the most frightening part is when you have a child in your hands and you can’t save it.” SodDuring his six months there, River treated over 300 Kurdish fighters and others as they fought to establish a form of self-government. Ricky Schroeder   explained that what sparked his interest to make this documentary was that he finds it fulfilling and rewarding to show stories of patriotism.  He also sagely noted that heroically, “war correspondents run into the fire, not away from it.”   When asked how he first connected with River, Ricky said that when they filmed his previous documentary together and it was River who always knew and told him where the bullets are coming from.  That experience created a special bond of trust between them.  Thus, when River was detained in an Iraqi prison after he tried crossing the border from Afghanistan, Ricky did everything in his power to ensure River’s safe release.  It was imperative as when River was detained, he was kept with 80 other suspected ISIS men, many who were tortured while River was held there.  It should be noted that River’s eventual release was  made without any official US Embassy intervention after months of petitions.  Amazingly, in the end, over 700 hours of raw video footage was obtained and then Ricky’s son Holden had the task of editing all that footage for the documentary as they all really felt that this is an important store and that it needed to be told.  So Ricky is not only committed to getting this story, but to showing it to the world.  This as yet untitled Syria documentary will air on Audience Network later in 2017.

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 1 of the Winter 2017 Television Critics Association Tour.  As a reminder: be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming new series and specials as you do not want to miss out on the next great TV show that everyone will be talking about.