The Austin Chronicle

ATX TV Festival Adds Apple TV+ Miniseries The Big Cigar, Plus Panels on an Industry in Flux

By Kimberley Jones, May 10, 2024, 10:00am, Picture in Picture

It’s T-minus 20 days to the launch of this year’s ATX TV Festival, and one thing organizers don’t have hanging over their head this time around is the threat of a writers’ strike.

The WGA strike – which kicked off shortly before last year’s festival – and the subsequent SAG-AFTRA strike have now come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the strikes’ ripple effects aren’t still being felt. That will be the subject of the How the Strikes Affected… Everything panel featuring creator/writer/producer Beau Willimon (WGA East), writer Greg Iwinski (WGA East), and actor Dulé Hill (SAG-AFTRA), one of several scheduled panels announced today that will take a closer look at the evolving television industry.

That also includes Break the Mold, which convenes panelists Brian Tee (actor, Expats), Daniel Kyri (actor, Chicago Fire), Debby Wolfe (showrunner/EP, Lopez vs. Lopez), Octavio Pisano (actor, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), and Travina Springer (actor, The Irrational) to discuss a growing diversity in the stories being told and the artists tapped to do the telling; Where We Are on TV and Where We Need to Be, which breaks down GLAAD’s recent findings on LGBTQ representation onscreen; Telling Authentic Immigration Stories with panelists Rafael Agustin (writer, Jane the Virgin), Hoa Xuande (actor, The Sympathizer), and Brian Tee (actor, Expats); and a Showrunner Summit with Graham Yost (Silo), David Hudgins (FBI: Most Wanted), and Janine Sherman Barrois (The Big Cigar).

The latter, creator/showrunner/executive producer of The Big Cigar, will be repping her brand-new Apple TV+ miniseries about a wild plan to ferret Black Panthers founder Huey P. Newton (André Holland) out of the country to Cuba under the guise of a fake movie production. (If that sounds a little familiar, know that the show is inspired by an article by Joshuah Bearman, whose Wired article about a CIA rescue operation pulled off under the cover of a made-up schlocky sci-fi production was mined for the Oscar-winning Argo.) An episode of The Big Cigar will screen at the fest, followed by a Q&A with Sherman Barrois, writer/EP Jim Hecht, and more panelists to be announced.

Today’s lineup additions join previously announced programming including a Closing Night tribute to the legendary writer and producer Norman Lear; a Girls5Eva karaoke party; Hacks Season 3 finale and Industry Season 3 premiere screenings; a Funny AF panel with creatives from Hacks, Girls5Eva, Resident Alien, and Lopez vs. Lopez; a Suits retrospective; Halt and Catch Fire 10-year anniversary event; and Opening Night world premiere of Julio Torres’ Fantasmas.

Badges, passes, and single tickets are still available for the fest, which runs May 30-June 2. A limited number of discounted badges and passes are available for Austin locals. More info, including the entire schedule, at

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