4:20pm PT by Kate Stanhope
Greg Berlanti and 'Everwood' Cast Discuss Origins and Revivals at Emotional Reunion
Greg Berlanti has gone on to produce more than a dozen TV shows since Everwood went off the air in 2006. However, it was clear from the emotional reunion panel for the show Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour that the family drama holds a special place in his heart.
"I'm just so lucky that I had it, that I made it when I did at the beginning of my career," the prolific producer recalled after choking back tears. "People who know this show probably know me better in that way. ... Every four or five years, I try to do something as personal again."
Premiering in 2002, the drama followed the Brown family when they moved to Colorado after the family matriarch's death. "I hadn't suffered a lot of those things when I was 29 years old and I wrote this show," Berlanti said. "I think about how differently I see things now than I saw them at the time."
In the years since its four-season run, several of the series' younger stars have gone onto success, including Chris Pratt, Emily VanCamp and Sarah Drew. (While Treat Williams recalled a dance Pratt did that "had me on the floor laughing," co-star Tom Amandes said it was Pratt's appetite that proved most memorable: "He would sit down and do a take and he would eat and we would call 'cut,' and he would still be eating.")
The reunion was presented by The CW Seed, where every episode of Everwood recently became available to stream. Berlanti recalled the struggle to get the show on the air in the first place.
"At the time that I was going to take the show out to pitch, I was dissuaded by my studio to pitch it because procedurals were doing really well that year and family dramas weren't," he said. "I kind of sold it on the side on my own to [then WB Network president of entertainment] Jordan Levin."
While Berlanti wasn't able to keep his entire original pitch intact — in the first script, Andy (Williams) was supposed to be an abortionist — the WB did allow him to tackle abortion in another season one episode. "People were just appreciative, I think, that we deal with the subject matter in a complex way," he said, "where we did explore the different points of view that go into something like that."
Amandes called the scripts "some of the finest and bravest writing that I've ever had the pleasure of working on," as he himself became verklempt. (Full tears came later in the panel when Vivien Cardone recalled bonding with her TV dad Williams early on in the absence of both of their families while shooting in Utah. "This is one of the nicest days I've ever had," Williams said of the reunion.)
Fellow executive producer Rina Mimoun said the show's ability to tackle then-daring topics has helped it stand the test of time. "The subject matter we were dealing with was so unbelievably ahead of its time," she said. "I hope people find it again. I think it holds up."
While never The WB's lowest-rated show, Everwood also wasn't a smash success. "People used to ask me on almost a daily basis, 'Do you think your show's coming back next season?'" Amandes said. "And my response was, 'I don't know if this network is coming back next season.' I think we were all aware that things were not going well for The WB. It sucks, but that's how it shook out."
Added Williams with a laugh: "I'm ready to go on season five."
Mimoun recalled plotting two different endings for season four when there was still a possibility of the show getting renewed.
"We had two different endings set up and ready to go," she said. One was the version viewers saw, with Ephram (Gregory Smith) and Amy (VanCamp) reuniting on the Ferris wheel. In the one not shown, Ephram was on his way to the Ferris wheel and when he got call from his ex, Madison, "and Amy was going to have some serious egg on her face at the Ferris wheel," Mimoun said. "I remember talking to Greg, saying, 'I have no idea how we're going to get out of it.'"
So what about a revival? "No one's asked, but I think we all would love to work together again," Berlanti said.
When asked whether a show like Everwood would even still be made in the current era, Berlanti pointed to the success of another family drama, NBC's This Is Us. "I do think the success of something like This Is Us will encourage more people to do that kind of storytelling," he said.
When pressed further about a potential revival, Berlanti said that the Peak TV era has allowed more room for Everwood-like shows. "Theres more platforms than ever for people to tell stories," he said. "It's more important that you have a passionate audience than a vast one."
Once again, looking back on his own experience as a young creator on Everwood, Berlanti was optimistic for those trying to tell equally personal stories today. "I certainly hope that there's a lot of young writers out there from all walks of life that are figuring out how to tell their story, and I believe it would get on if it's really good and they get really good people behind them," he said. "I don't see why it wouldn't work."
Williams then took the opportunity to end the emotional panel on a lighter note: "Look at Game of Thrones — it's just Everwood in fur!"