Thank you to Disney and Pixar Studios for hosting me during the #PixarCocoEvent which included this special Designated Survivor event.
Designated Survivor is one of those shows that my friends rave about. It’s been on my “to-watch” list since it’s premiere last season. When I found out we’d be watching tonight’s episode last week during #PixarCocoEvent, it was the perfect excuse to catch up quickly! Not only did we get an early look at the show airing tonight, we had the chance to chat with Co-Executive Producer and Writer Jessica Grasl and Italia Ricci, who stars as Emily Rhodes, Secretary Tom Kirkman’s chief of staff.
A show with such a large cast and so many interconnecting plot points presents it’s challenges. “It’s a puzzle…and the challenge is that if something changes in episode fourteen, it affects what’s happening in episode fifteen and sixteen,” says Grasl. Moving into the second season has opened up writing opportunities.”We’ve sort moved past the crisis point and the rubble, if you will, and now it’s about Kirkman and his team.”
Art also imitates life when working on a show about the White House in such highly charged political times. “We will shoot an episode, and while we’re shooting it, it will actually happen,” says Ricci. “We were shooting an episode about the statue-that whole rally happened. We were shooting an episode about the ship- the ship happened.”
Grasl agrees. “It is freaky, and sometimes that’s awesome because you’re like, oh, that’s great, we’re really sort of tapping into something that people are living through.”
They try to handle the politically charged topics with sensitivity. “I just get really excited that I get to go to work every day and live in Kirkman’s world,” says Grasl. “It’s a nice Camelot to get to live in five days a week.”
“Designated Survivor” airs on Wednesdays at 10|9c on ABC. Episodes are also available via streaming and on demand.
“Family Ties” – When a Turkish activist ignites protests in the U.S., Turkey’s president demands his extradition while the first family unknowingly finds themselves in the center of a battle that could threaten Leo’s future, on ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” airing WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15 (10:00—11:00 p.m. EST).
“Designated Survivor” stars Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, Natascha McElhone as Alex Kirkman, Paulo Costanzo as Lyor Boone, Adan Canto as Aaron Shore, Italia Ricci as Emily Rhodes, LaMonica Garrett as Mike Ritter, Zoe McLellan as Kendra Daynes, Ben Lawson as Damian Rennett, Kal Penn as Seth Wright, and Maggie Q as Hannah Wells.
“Family Ties” was written by Pierluigi D. Cothran and directed by Milan Cheylov.
“Designated Survivor” is from The Mark Gordon Company and ABC Studios. David Guggenheim is creator and executive producer. In addition to Guggenheim, the series is executive produced by Mark Gordon, Kiefer Sutherland, Simon Kinberg, Nick Pepper, Jeff Melvoin, Suzan Bymel, Aditya Sood and Keith Eisner, who serves as showrunner on the series.