The 2016 TV Land Icon Awards are coming up this Sunday. The ceremony features icons across multiple genres and generations—from 70s sitcom legend Norman Lear to edgy duo Key & Peele. With George Lopez as the host, it’s sure to be the party of the year.
George Lopez joins Viacom staffers to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange on March 30, 2016. All photos courtesy of © 2016 Nasdaq, Inc.
Before George Lopez showed up on screens across the continent last Wednesday night as the eponymous character in his new original series Lopez on TV Land, he made a pit stop at NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square to ring the opening bell.
Emmy Award-winning television producer Darren Star visited Viacom’s New York headquarters last week to discuss his career and personal experiences in the media industry. Employees packed the lobby-level event space to watch the event live.
The event was the second installment in our Conversations at Viacom speaker series, which pairs CEO Philippe Dauman with notable creators and personalities who inspire creativity through their stories.
Recognized as one of the most successful television producers to date, Star has created hit television series we all know and love such as Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, Sex and the City and of course, TV Land’s latest hit, Younger.
One big reveal: even with such a mountain of critically acclaimed successes, Star is no stranger to failure. “Rejection is never easy and it’s never happy, but you have to take chances. I used to have an amazing batting average with developing shows and then it went down after a few hit shows,” said Star. “Staying calm is something you learn over time just by doing it and not freaking out so much, but just dealing with the idea that you’ll find solutions as things go on. You have to learn by doing it.”
Fast Company launched its first-ever Innovation Festival in New York City this fall with speakers that included Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steve Aoki, Neil Blumenthal, Ava Duvernay and more. The event brought together trailblazers and extraordinary personalities for talks to spark conversation and inspire creativity.
A festival highlight was a keynote session with the creator and cast of the hit TV Land series, Younger. Hundreds lined up outside of NYU to take in the conversation. TV icon and Younger creator Darren Star took the stage with legendary costume designer Pat Field and actresses Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar to share a behind-the-scenes look at how the show is created and reveal the secrets behind the scene-stealing fashion.
Fast Company’s Nicole Laporte moderated this conversation, highlighting how Younger tackles the realities of pursuing your dream job, trying to make it, dating, ageism, feminism and more. The comedy has been lauded by critics and the show uniquely addresses the generational divide in the workplace with humor and fun. Set in New York and Brooklyn, Younger, with its fresh take on real issues, has multi-dimensional appeal and is swiftly winning over fans of all ages.
Creator Darren Star – who is no stranger to hit shows and has brought Sex and the City, 90210 and Melrose Place to TV –explained his creative process. “I start with the character and an idea” said Star. “Especially for a TV series, I want it to thematically say something about the time that we’re in and talk about the world.”
Younger follows 40-year-old Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a recently divorced mother that pretends to be in her 20s to re-enter the workplace. “I love this concept of a women who has to lie about her age to get back into the workforce,” said Star. “I know women who have been out of work for a while, raising their kids, and they go back to work and it’s not so easy.”
Star pours these real experiences into his characters, and it’s addictive to watch the charming and witty plot unfold. He admits that casting and chemistry are everything for a show, because the actors bring depth to the characters and make it believable.
“Darren’s a pro at many things like casting,” said Field. “When I read this script and here’s a 40-year- old woman and she’s going to be 25 and I’m like how am I going to do this? I’m a costume designer, I’m not a magician. Then I met Sutton Foster and thought this is perfect casting – she has an energy all her own that’s wide-eyed, a youthful energy inside of her.”
The show is a creative force from start to finish; from the smart script to the incredible cast to the amazing outfits Field imagines – fans can’t get enough.
“This is fun for me, people are watching for the clothes,” Star shared with a laugh. “The audience gets so much enjoyment from watching the actors and what they’re wearing. It’s another way to watch the show.”
On the panel, even Hillary Duff couldn’t hide her anticipation at discovering the upcoming plot twists. “I want to know what we’re doing next season,” she exclaimed. If you feel the same way, here’s a sneak peak of the next season, which debuts with a one-hour premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 13 on TV Land.
Get More: Younger Official TV Show Website
In addition to the Younger panel, attendees were treated to spots featuring creators and talent in the Viacom family discussing key themes like innovation, collaboration and driving culture throughout the weeklong festival. This video series, like the all-star Younger panel, will hopefully inspire the next generation of groundbreaking show-runners, writers and actors to tap into their own creativity, pursue their passions and innovate often.
TV Land has long been a destination for nostalgic TV viewers seeking reruns of the black-and-white stage sets that defined some part of their past. And while during the day the network remains the place to catch your favorite episodes of Gunsmoke or The Golden Girls, the primetime headliners today are TV Land’s original programs: the generation-shifting heroine of Younger; the pastor-impersonator on Impastor; the raucous blend of humor, family and food on The Jim Gaffigan Show.
You may have caught episodes of TV Land’s critically acclaimed Younger starring Sutton Foster and Hillary Duff earlier this year. This evolution from the home of classic TV to a go-to spot for new, funny, fresh original series continues with the debut of The Jim Gaffigan Show. This new comedy explores comedian Jim Gaffigan’s struggle to find a balance between fatherhood, stand-up comedy and an insatiable appetite. Get a taste of the show with the clip below. The series premieres Wednesday, July 15 at 10 p.m. eastern/9 p.m. central.
The Jim Gaffigan Show
Get More: The Official Jim Gaffigan Show Website