The six-month search for a new 93.3 KGSR-FM morning host has come to an end.
The station has hired longtime Austin broadcaster Chris Mosser, who most recently was heard mornings on 103.1 iHeartAustin and afternoons on 98.1 KVET-FM.
Mosser replaces Kelly Jordan, who left KGSR late last year.
“I’ve been a loyal KGSR fan since I moved to Austin in the early ’90s, and it’s a total honor to become part of this legendary station and hugely talented team,” he said. “Glad to get to hang with the cool kids.”
His first day on the air is July 6. “Mosser in the Morning” will run from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays.
“Chris is the queso for our chips,” KGSR program director Haley Jones said. “He’s a student of the arts and culture that make up Austin, a ginormous music fan and all-around nice guy.”
Loris Lowe, who had been filling in on the morning shift, will slide to evenings, KGSR said.
Nelson’s son, Coty, was a match and ready to donate – but there was a problem. The U.S. Veterans Administration said that, because Nelson’s son wasn’t a veteran, the procedure wouldn’t be covered under its “Choice” program.
Ultimately, Charles had to qualify for Medicare and rely on that program to pay for the life-saving surgery instead.
“When his wife first contacted the station, this sounded like such an injustice,” Thomas said. “Being a living kidney donor, I know what’s involved and how tough it is. This was an undue burden for them.”
Thomas did some digging and found that the VA didn’t appear to be interpreting the rules for the Choice program as lawmakers had intended.
In a statement provided to Fox 7, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said the VA had “created a technicality that doesn’t exist, as basic common sense dictates that in cases of transplants, the donor’s medical care is an essential part of the procedure.”
Not long after that, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) introduced the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act, which seeks to clarify the Choice program’s rules.
“Our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation deserve the best possible health care we can give them, but unfortunately, the VA bureaucracy is not doing everything they can to help those who need life-saving transplant procedures,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I thank Sen. Kirk for his leadership on this issue, and I hope we can pass this bill to help veterans in Texas and across the nation cut through the red tape and receive quality, life-changing care.”
The goal, Thomas said, is to keep other veterans from facing similar obstacles.
“The family is very happy a fix is coming down the line,” she said. “Advocacy journalism is wonderful. How many other veterans are there who don’t have someone advocating for them? It’s scary. Being able to expose a wrong and see some action is incredibly gratifying.”
As for Thomas and her mom, they’re both doing well, post-surgery. Thomas was back on air just a couple weeks after the procedure, and her mom is showing no signs of rejecting the donated kidney.
Miguel Gaytán, news director for Austin Univision station KAKW-TV, is bound for Phoenix, where he’ll head up the newsroom for KTAZ-TV, that city’s Telemundo station.
Gaytán, who spent two years at Univision 62, takes over effective immediately, KTAZ said.
“Miguel is a seasoned newsroom leader with 20 years of experience working in local broadcasting,” said Araceli De León, president and general manager for the Telemundo stations in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. “His knowledge coupled with his passion and commitment to delivering quality news content will help our station get to the next level while continuing to be the local news leader that our communities can trust. We are very excited that Miguel is joining our news team.”
Before arriving in Austin, Gaytán worked at TV stations in San Antonio and Laredo.
The ATX Television Festival canceled a scheduled panel discussion of violence on Sunday because of the mass killings in Orlando, Fla.
The session, titled Viewer Discretion Advised, was described as dealing with the violence show in various series and how appropriate it might be to tell a story.
The announcement came via Twitter and Facebook, from festival co-founders Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland. They said, “Out of respect for victims of the tragedy in Orlando last night, we won’t be holding the Viewer Discretion Advised panel today. While it is a very important conversation to have, today does not feel like the the time to have it. Viewer Discretion Advised panel is cancelled.”
The panelists who were scheduled to appear were Austin’s Noah Hawley, the showrunner for “Fargo”; Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jack Amiel (“The Knick”), Brian Michael Bendis (“Powers”) and Universal TV VP of drama Stacey Silverman.
A Saturday-night reunion panel at the Paramount Theatre brought back 10 cast members and showrunner Silvio Horta from the ABC telenovela adaptation, which began in 2006 and ran for four seasons.
Before the end of the panel, actress America Ferrera, who played Betty Suarez on the show, was coming up with hashtags for fans to prod Hulu, the streaming service that currently offers all episodes of the show to revive the series as a two-hour movie.
Since the panel came together so quickly — it apparently only took an email to Ferrera to her fellow cast member and 20 minutes to get them to all agree to come to Austin — she said the panel itself was the negotiation that would lead to the revival. “This is the talk!’ she exclaimed, before settling on “#HuluBringBackUglyBetty” as the hashtag fans should use.
The reunion, moderated by Entertainment Weekly Radio’s Jessica Shaw, made it clear the cast members and Horta miss the show and still get along famously as an extended family unit. The reunion also featured actors Judith Light, Vanessa Williams, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, Ashley Jensen, Eric Mabius and Rebecca Romijn. Of the primary cast, only Becki Newton was missing; she had to bow out due to illness.
Through its four seasons, “Ugly Betty” was known for several important TV landmarks; among them, featuring a loving Latino family at its center, introducing TVs first trans character (played by Romijn), and for its careful handling of two coming-out storylines, including one involving Indelicato’s character Justin, who was only 12 when the show started.
Cast members said they went into a depression after the show ended. Plana likened it to a plane crash, while Ferrera said, “It was like losing a family.”
Ferrera described how her involvement in the show began with a conversation with producer Salma Hayek at a Los Angeles hotel while Horta described going from a series about a secret agent to something more direct about a young woman who is perceived as unattractive, but, “She turns every one else beautiful from the inside out.”
Much time was spent on the show’s outrageous, but always on-point fashion sense, with much praise going to ace designer Pat Field, on its roster of guest stars including a then-unknown Adele, Patti Lupone and Octavia Spencer, and what the actors and Horta think the characters might be doing now.
Ferrera pitched her idea for where the show could pick up, something she says she had been thinking about seriously: “It’s been six or seven years, depending on when Hulu launches this. Betty has been in London the whole time and is coming home.”
The actress, who was also at the fest promoting her current NBC sitcom “Superstore,” sounded very serious. Don’t be surprised if Hulu takes the hint.
The only possible answer to TV President Josiah Bartlet’s signature question on Saturday? “More ‘West Wing!’”
One of this year’s main events at the ATX Television Festival, the 10-year reunion of the cast and creative minds from the NBC drama packed the Paramount Theater. The panel delivered much of what people loved about the White House show: smart, often rapid-fire dialogue; serious topics mixed with humor; and a call to make the world a bit better.
Near-constant ribbing of Joshua Malina aside, the affection felt for each other and the show was clear among cast members Malina, Melissa Fitzgerald, Dulé Hill, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney, executive producer Tommy Schlamme, writer and creator Aaron Sorkin, and writer Lawrence O’Donnell. That same love was reflected back from the audience, a good chunk of which appeared way too young to have seen the show on first airing. Sorkin said it was gratifying to see so many young people in the audience, and “I’m honored that people are inspired to go into public service” because of the show.
Speaking of service, part of the purpose of the reunion was to support Fitzgerald, who played C.J.’s assistant Carol on the show and is now senior director of Justice for Vets, a nonprofit that creates veterans courts for veteran defendants, whose military service and its effects are not always understood by civilian courts. Fitzgerald’s “West Wing” castmates have pledged their support to the cause, even recording a PSA (above) that was shown at the panel.
Sorkin is not known for brevity, as he pointed out, and the panel ran almost two hours. Malina said ATX TV Fest folks agreed to let him use the audio for an episode of his “West Wing Weekly” podcast. Before that, here are some tidbits:
We’re walking and talking: The panel opened with “The West Wing’s” first “walk-and-talk” from the pilot. Sorkin deferred to Schlamme when O’Donnell asked if he knew in the writing that it would become the show’s signature. Sorkin said he wrote it, but Schlamme found the style as director of the episode.
Much missed: John Spencer, who played White House chief-of-staff Leo McGarry, carries that scene and died of a heart attack during the final season of the show. A special moment was given to Spencer on Saturday. “He was a gentleman among gentlemen,” Schlamme said, and as kind a human being as he was a great actor.
She quit her day job: Moloney had decided to quit acting before auditioning for the show. She wasn’t a regular cast member at first, but the chemistry between her Donna and Whitford’s Josh was clear fast. Moloney said she decided Donna would die for Josh before even meeting Whitford and played every scene that way. O’Donnell said the development of that relationship and decision to keep Moloney showed the dynamic feedback loop between the set and writer’s room; actors and writers influenced each other. (Another example: Schiff pitched the idea of Toby bouncing a rubber ball in his office when stuck on a problem. Sorkin took it to another level in the episode “17 People.”)
Elevating their own bar: “I was always left slightly unsatisfied after every episode,” Sorkin said. “That’s what you’re supposed to be.” He left the series at the end of season 4, and has not watched seasons 5-7. He followed the advice, which he didn’t believe at first, of Larry David, who left “Seinfeld” before it ended. David warned him that he’ll be miserable if the show is good without him and miserable if it’s bad.
Character development: Sorkin had the most trouble finding the “true north” for characters Toby Ziegler (Schiff) and C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney, perhaps tied with Martin Sheen for cast member most wished could make it Saturday). He found Toby’s when he came up with the idea that Toby was not Bartlett’s first choice for communications director, because Bartlett felt judged by Toby when Bartlett was not being the person he should be.
Rhythm and poetry: Schiff said he doesn’t usually watch things he’s in, but he watched the pilot recently before appearing on Malina’s podcast. He judges situations by how he feels in them, and “The music of (Sorkin’s) language was so beautiful.” He always thought Toby was the oboe of the orchestra: always playing, even if you don’t realize it, and dark. “It squeaks every once in awhile,” Whitford pointed out.
Prolific prose: Whitford pointed out that Sorkin wrote the equivalent of 11 feature films for four years. “No human being will ever again write 22 one-hour episodes for four seasons,” he said.
Worth checking out: a “West Wing” podcast that came before Malina’s called “Wingin’ It.” I met the hosts, Andrea Howat and Sallie Gregory, in line on Saturday. They are up to Season 5 on their show and have been interviewing cast members while in town for the fest.
So much more was said on Saturday — there is no line between the political beliefs of Brad Whitford and his character Josh Lyman, guest star Karl Malden used the same Bible from his role in “On the Waterfront,” a lunch with Stockard Channing sparked the multiple sclerosis storyline, Yo-Yo Ma was the best guest star ever — let’s get that podcast up post-haste Malina!
Three showrunners of some of the most influential TV dramas of the so-called golden age of TV shared the stage at the ATX Television Festival Saturday morning at Google Fiber Space, describing the birth of HBO’s original dramas, what it was like to create iconic shows such as “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” and why despicable characters still make for great TV.
“House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon moderated the panel which featured “The Wire” creator David Simon and Tom Fontana, who mentored Simon through his transition from newspaper crime reporter to TV writer and show creator. Fontana originated “Homicide” as well as “Oz” for HBO, the network’s first drama in a streak that would continue with “The Sopranos” all the way up to its current behemoth “Game of Thrones.”
For fans unaware of how Simon went from crime reporter to author to TV auteur, it was a good opportunity to get up to speed on how the shows are connected. Simon’s book “Homicide: Life on the Street” let to the NBC TV show run by Fontana. Simon declined to write the pilot episode (“Do you take me for a fool?” he told the network) but eventually came onto the show in its fourth season, writing an award-winning script with David Mills that guest starred Robin Williams.
Fontana said that he initially had no interest in doing a cop show, but that in order to do something like a hospital or police drama, “You really have to blow them up for a new audience,” especially with such easy access to streaming TV today. (Ironically, “Homicide” is a show that’s been difficult to find.)
Fontana went on to create what was up to that point an unsellable prison drama that would become “Oz.” HBO’s then-chief Chris Albrecht bought 13 episodes after seeing a 15-minute test version that, Fontana revealed laughingly, was partly shot with equipment used on “Homicide. “I ended up using NBC’s money,” he laughed. “Oz” turned out to be a gamechanger for Fontana, who found the biggest dramatic change was not having to deal with commercial breaks.
Eventually the panel got to “The Wire,” Simon’s seminal Baltimore drama about why institutions fail us, which followed a six-episode miniseries, “The Corner.” He says that “The Wire” was more influenced by “Oz,” than “The Sopranos,” which had not yet aired when he began working on it.
“The Wire” was never a hit on HBO; is had perpetual low ratings that dipped in the third season, but was kept on the air, subsidized by the success of “Sopranos” and other shows including “Sex and the City.” Willimon described it as “The Velvet Underground of TV,” a series that only caught on long after it had concluded.
Simon and Fontana said that the anything-goes ethos of HBO quickly went away after their biggest hits. “Success breeds fear as much as failure does,” Fontana said, with the network trying to replicate the “Sopranos” formula with diminishing returns. (At least until “Game of Thrones.” About Simon’s excellent, little-watched miniseries about housing segregation “Show Me A Hero” from last year, Fontana joked, “I told him to put a dragon in it, but he didn’t listen.”)
During a brief Q&A Willimon described his characters on “House of Cards” as despicable characters you somehow still root for and that are very fun to write, while Simon addressed a question about which death was hardest emotionally to write. “Wallace’s death on ‘The Wire,’ was the most upsetting,” he said, referring to Michael B. Jordan’s character. “He was beloved by the crew. Grips were saying, ‘You can’t kill Wallace. What kind of asshole kills Wallace?’ ”
Simon noted that the star of “Creed” has gone on to have a pretty great career despite it.
Fans of “Friday Night Lights” got Texas heat, Texas stars and a big dose of Texas love with the ATX Television Festival’s tailgate party, pep rally and screening of the show. The event, which was open to non-badgeholders of the festival, attracted stars of the show Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, Jesse Plemmons, Brad Leland and many others, who all took to the stage together escorted by Del Valle high school football players for a brief Q&A before a screening of one of the show’s best episodes.
“We really knew we couldn’t ask them to come every year of the festival,” said festival co-founder Emily Gipson on stage. “Five years they’ve been doing this, five years since the show ended, 10 years since the show started, let’s just blow this out.”
The organizers chose Del Valle field, which was unused and overgrown, and transformed it into Panther Field for the event, which included a tour through the field house (gotta tap that Panthers P for good luck!), food trucks, selfies with some cast members and a screening of “The Son,” the wrenching, Emmy-nominated fifth-season episode about QB1 Matt Saracen coming to grips with very bad news about his dad.
On stage, cast members were asked a few questions about what props they took home when the show ended (Britton took a Tami Taylor parking marker home and still uses it at her house, she revealed) and what cast member/character they each have a crush on. Some answers were disturbing (not cool to say “Lyla Garrity,” Brad Leland!), but the vote was overwhelmingly for Britton, whose subsequent show “Nashville” has just escaped cancellation and will continue on CMT with the actress. A few of the lead actors missing from the event included Kyle Chandler, Michael B. Jordan, Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch, but the show’s deep bench of characters filled out the stage, drawing huge cheers for actors including Louanne Stephens, who played Grandma Saracen; she also got into the act dancing on stage during a music set by Crucifictorious. That was led by a bearded Plemmons, who has gone on star in acclaimed shows including “Breaking Bad” and “Fargo.” He acquitted himself well through several songs and in their closer, “She Don’t Use Jelly” by The Flaming Lips.
The TV Fest continues through the weekend with “West Wing” and “Ugly Betty” reunions on the schedule for Saturday.