LOS ANGELES — It was an exciting night, not only for television fans, but for any Hollywood entertainment aficionado what with the presence of TV’s game changers in one panel at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, California.
The much-looked-forward-to event, hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) in celebration of the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, gathered some of television’s biggest power players which included no less than Golden Globe winner J.J. Abrams, five-time Golden Globe winner David E. Kelley, four-time Golden Globe winner Norman Lear, four-time Golden Globe winner Ryan Murphy, Golden Globe winner Shonda Rhimes and Golden Globe winner Jill Soloway.
HFPA President Meher Tatna welcomed the panelists, who collectively have earned 209 Golden Globe Awards with 48 of those being wins. “Artists have the power to change the world, and these panelists, all of which are Golden Globe Award winners themselves, are doing exactly that. They have pushed the boundaries and redefined what content can and should be.”
Moderated by HFPA member Jenny Cooney, the discussion was exciting, enlightening, informative and even funny. The award-winning panelists spoke in-depth about their creative process, the media landscape, their inspiration, and more.
The funniest, hands down, was 95-year-old TV writer and producer Norman Lear who produced the 1970s sitcoms “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford & Son,” “One Day at a Time,” “Good Times” and “Maude.”
Asked what his most memorable moment was at the Golden Globes, the witty Lear replied, “All I remember is the chicken breast and cauliflower dinner.”
Jill Soloway, the 52-year-old writer-director behind the hits “Transparent” and “Six Feet Under,” said, “When I turn 90 something, I would like to be like Norman Lear and be in a panel like this and be the funniest in the group!”
The panelists talked about what television shows they personally enjoy watching. Kelley revealed he’s a big fan of Murphy’s “Feud” while Murphy announced he loves watching Kelley’s “Big Little Lies”, as well as “The Real Housewives.”
Murphy, the 52-year-old writer-director-producer of “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story,” got reunited with his “Glee” cast that evening what with the presence of Darren Criss, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison in the audience. Murphy spoke to the audience about his experience with change in the industry. “I never changed. What changed in my life were the executives. When I started, it was tough for me. At work, they would tell me ‘you’re too gay, your writing is too gay, your characters are too gay.’ It was painful for me. By the time I did ‘Glee’ I was still in fight mode but the executives wanted more gay, more of the gay character. I felt very liberated. That has been a great change in my life.”
Kelley, the 61-year-old writer-producer of such shows as “Chicago Hope,” “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public,” “Boston Legal” and “Big Little Lies,” commented that the video that preceded the panel discussion showing the panelists receiving their first Golden Globe awards, “reminded me of how old I am today!”
He reminisced about a moment in his life before his career began where he went to an empty theater to find inspiration. While sitting alone, he was approached by a woman who was no taller than five feet tall. After explaining to her that he was there hoping the theater would speak to him, she paused and said, “Get the f*** out! Go find your inspiration somewhere else.”
Rhimes, the 47-year-old writer-producer of the shows “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” revealed she enjoys the struggle it takes to tell different stories on television. “I have to admit, part of me enjoys going into battle. You can shoot someone in the face at 8:00 p.m. on television, but if a woman puts her hand on another woman’s thigh, people lose it. I love to fight that.” She also touched on embracing diversity when hiring. “It’s all about finding creative voices. It’s not a liability hiring people of color or women. People hire people who respond to them – it’s not a special effort that we take.”
Fifty-one-year-old Abrams (“Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Lost”) spoke about when he won an ASCAP Award for “Lost.” He expressed the importance of music and how integral it is in television.
Lear also gave the audience his take on streaming which has recently changed the television landscape. “The thing that’s very different about streaming is you can’t be topical. You can’t be right on top of the story. There’s also no syndication – it’s a different business mode. You simply don’t make as much because you can’t syndicate the show. It’s there forever, anytime for the world.”
Soloway gave insight into their inspiration behind their work. “I grew up in Chicago in the middle of the civil rights movement and believing that through politics, the world could change. I grew up thinking it was the beginning of the changing of the world. When I became to be in the position to make television, I realized if it wasn’t part of a movement, it didn’t matter to me.”
Soloway also commented on the recent revelations about harassment and settlements in Hollywood. “What struck me the most is that men have invested in women not telling their stories. Women are being paid to shut up, and I want that money to make movies.”
Criss, who is portraying Andrew Cunanan in Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” told us that they are not done filming yet and that they filmed a scene pretending to be Baliuag, Bulacan outside Los Angeles. “My mother even dropped by and checked it out,” he revealed.
Michele, who was last seen in “Scream Queens,” is now doing a new sitcom “The Mayor” with Brandon Micheal Hall. Michele, who wears fashion designer Alan del Rosario clothes during her “Glee” days, told us to say hello to del Rosario whom she last saw at the Golden Globes.
Morrison, on the other hand, whom we last saw portraying the lead role in the Broadway musical production of “Finding Neverland,” told us that he was excited to be reunited with his “Glee” friends that night.
Aside from Criss, Michele and Morrison, other celebrities who attended the event included Matt Bomer (“The Last Tycoon”), Rita Moreno (“One Day at a Time”), Michael Bolton (“Songs of Cinema”), Kathryn Hahn (“I Love Dick”), Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”), Debbie Allen (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Kate Walsh (“13 Reasons Why”), James Van Der Beek (“What Would Diplo Do?”), Justin Chambers (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Amy Landecker (“Transparent”), Camryn Manheim (“All About Nina”), Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) among others. —JST, GMA News