Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.


Notorious – The Drama Behind Cable News


Wendy Walker spent 32 years at CNN, 18 of those as the senior executive producer for Larry King Live. Criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos, worked with Walker serving as a consultant. The two are now executive producers of the new ABC drama, Notorious, a behind the scenes look at what goes into producing a cable news show.

For news junkies who miss HBO’s The Newsroom, Notorious, might help curb those cravings. The ego-driven personalities on and off the set yield soap-opera worthy story lines. (Just consider the recent developments at Fox News.) Piper Perabo plays Julia George, a “powerhouse” who produces the Megan Kelly-like talk show, Louise Herrick Live. Daniel Sunjata plays Jake Gregorian, a high-profile defense attorney who often winds up in a chair being grilled by Herrick. Yet what viewers see is only part of the story. George and Gregorian are very much a team, massaging and managing the news for both their benefits. When one of Gregorian’s clients is found at a murder scene, his hands covered in blood, the duo will find events spiraling out of control. Can they trust each other? Stay tuned.

Notorious benefits from a strong cast. Perabo doesn’t rely on the athletic moves she displayed as CIA agent Annie Walker in USA’s Covert Affairs. George’s power comes from the information that she possesses. (When she discovers her boyfriend, an ambitious judge, has been visiting prostitutes, she doesn’t just break up with him. She puts him on notice that she’ll hold onto that nugget until she finds a good time to use it, a time bomb if there ever was one.)


Daniel Sunjata and J. August Richards (Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Sunjata has an impressive resume that includes major roles on FX’s Rescue Me and USA’s Graceland. As Gregorian, he exudes the confidence and arrogance befitting an attorney who boasts a star-stunned list of clients. Gregorian and George are both used to being in control. There’s a sexual tension in their relationship which, we assume, will also be part and parcel of the show’s theme.

Kate Jennings Grant (Herrick), who has a long list of TV and film credits, recently won rave reviews for her performance in the Broadway revival of Noises Off. On set, Herrick is all business, asking the hard questions, never letting a guest off the hook. Off set, she’s often found in her dressing room canoodling with her latest boy toy. Jennings Grant manages both sides of her character with ease. She’s a delight to watch.


Kate Jennings Grant (Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

The supporting cast is also strong. J. August Richards plays Bradley, Gregorian’s brother and law partner, who takes the lead in the pilot’s subplot, a blackmail scheme against one of the firm’s clients. Jake may be the face of Gregorian & Gregorian, but Bradley is the one who keeps the wheels turning. Sepideh Moafi is Julia’s assistant, Megan Byrd, who also watches out for her boss’s welfare. Ryan Guzman plays fresh-faced Ryan Mills, an intern who got the job because his father is head of the network, but is eager to prove himself and impress Julia. His first move involves tricking Jake’s associate, Ella Benjamin (Aimeé Teegarden). She’s initially angry, but who can resist that fresh face?

Notorious follows the trend of many shows these days where an entire season is devoted to solving one crime. (TNT’s Murder in the First has done that for three seasons.) Anthology shows demand commitment on the part of the viewer. But once that viewer is hooked, the ratings follow. All things considered, Notorious has cast out a strong line.

Notorious premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday, September 22, 2016, on ABC.

Top: Piper Perabo and  Sepideh Moafi, Credit: ABC/Eli Joshua Ade

Kiefer Sutherland as the Designated Survivor


In Fox’s hit drama, 24, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer was credited with saving the lives of more than one American president. In Designated Survivor, premiering at 10 p.m. Wednesday, September 21, on ABC, Sutherland will now occupy the Oval Office himself after a horrific attack lays waste to the U.S. Capitol, leaving his character, Tom Kirkman, the last cabinet official standing. For those who have missed Sutherland’s kiss-ass performance as Bauer (and waited in vain for a follow up film), Designated Survivor should have a built in audience of fans.

Sutherland’s Kirkman is an academic who has never held elective office. As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he is 12th in line for the presidency, an order of succession that makes it virtually impossible that he would ever be sworn in to the top job. The afternoon before the State of the Union Address, Kirkland and his chief of staff, Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci), fail to convince the White House Chief of Staff Aaron Shore (Adan Canto), that housing initiatives for low income areas be added to the president’s speech. But there’s more bad news. Shore tells Kirkland that he will be asked to resign from the cabinet the following day. In return, the president will appoint Kirkland an ambassador to a United Nations outpost in Montreal.


 Natascha McElhone and Kiefer Sutherland (Photo credit: ABC/Ian Watson)

Because he’s on his way out, Kirkland is tapped to be the “designated survivor,” the cabinet official chosen for security reasons not to attend the State of the Union address. Kirkland and his wife, Alex (Natascha McElhone) sit in a nondescript conference room, miles away from the Capitol, munching popcorn and watching the president’s speech when the screen goes blank. The unimaginable has happened. A bomb has decimated the Capitol building, killing not only the president, the vice president, and the entire cabinet, but all of Congress, and we assume, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court as well. In short order, Kirkland and his wife are whisked away to the White House by Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter (La Monica Garrett). As a stunned staff looks on, Kirkland is sworn in as president.

There’s no time to grieve or brush up on foreign policy. Kirkland must quickly step in to reassure a nation and its allies, as well as head off any aggressive moves by America’s enemies. Still in sweats, Kirkland is confronted by a roomful of officials who want to counter a move by Iran with military might. How Kirkland handles this first showdown previews how he will approach the job.


McKenna Grace and Tanner Buchanan (Photo credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg)

Kirkland’s family also must adjust. Alex seems stunned when the president’s speechwriter, Seth Wright (Kal Penn) reminds her that she’s now the First Lady. The couple’s young daughter Penny (McKenna Grace) is terrified to find herself in a new bedroom at the White House. Their  teenage son Leo (Tanner Buchanan), is tracked down partying in a club, initially thinking he’s being arrested for selling drugs, unaware that his life is about to change.


Maggie Q (Photo credit: ABC/Ian Watson)

FBI agents Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) and Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) lead the FBI team searching through the rubble left on the Hill. No group claims responsibility for the bombing which has Hannah worried. It may mean that the attacks are just beginning. (Although it’s hard to imagine what could be worse than wiping out the entire U.S. government.) If succeeding episodes continue to develop the characters and the storyline promised by the pilot, ABC may have a hit on its hands.

Top photo credit: ABC/Ben Mark Holzberg