Before Greg Berlanti made all his dirty, sexy money through shows like... Dirty, Sexy Money and the avalanche of superhero shows on The CW, he created a little show on The WB called Everwood back in 2002. In an unusual move, the Television Critics Association summer press tour — usually reserved for new shows making their way onto upcoming schedules — hosted a reunion panel for the family drama to celebrate its inclusion on The CW Seed, the streaming arm of The CW.
The panel was attended by creator Berlanti, executive producer Rina Mimoun, stars Treat Williams, Gregory Smith, Emily VanCamp, Debra Mooney, John Beasley, Vivien Cardone, Tom Amandes, Stephanie Niznik and Justin Baldoni. (Chris Pratt did not attend, probably because he was busy being a movie star.)
And while the cast reflected on the past, it was obvious that the series, which ran for four season from 2002 to 2006, created its own little family on set and those bonds would never break. The panel also just so happened to make everybody, cast member and reporter alike, cry.
"I'm sorry it's an emotional day for me," Berlanti said while visibly getting choked up and taking a pause to compose himself. "The show was about coming of age and I was so lucky that I had it, that I made it when I did, at the beginning of my career. I'm very blessed, and I realized a few years after that I'm not sure I'd be lucky in that same way. I'm really proud to have worked on a lot of things since, but I think people who know this show, know me better, it was very personal."
That feeling was shared by the cast, particularly Williams, who said, "You don't drift apart, and seeing each other today was like we just shot yesterday." He continued, "I think there's a great mutual respect among the cast. This is one of the nicest days I've had, seeing everybody, it's really exciting."
The multi-generational Capra-esque family drama seems like a relic in today's television landscape, but the authenticity of it, and the emotional subject matter pushed the cast together in ways most shows don't see.
"I think the emotion came originally from Greg and Rina, it came down from them and we were given emotional work to do," Williams said. "And when you're given work that's set deep and that powerful, you're doing scenes with people where you're really opening up your guts and saying, 'We got to show up, we got to be here emotionally.' I think because they gave us that work to do and we were all committed to doing it, it brought us to a place where most casts don't get to go to."
Just how far? Cardone, who played Delia Brown, was the youngest member of the principal cast and recalled a moment that made the entire Beverly Hilton ballroom nearly crumble in a heap of weeping wrecks.
"When I moved to Utah, I was 9-years-old — I didn't even know there was a state called Utah," Cardone said. "I moved with just my mom and my siblings and I really didn't know anyone. I didn't have any friends. It was a completely different environment. So I really looked at this whole group as like my second family. I will never forget when I first went there, because it was tough — my father had to stay in New York because he had his business there and I couldn't see him a lot and it was very, very difficult. Treat came up to me and he said, 'Listen, I know that it's been hard that your dad is away and I'll make a deal with you. My family is not with me either, so if you promise to be my temporary daughter, I'll be your temporary father.' And that bond has stayed ever since."
Williams was crying as he and Cardone embraced — not just a hug, but a real display of deep paternal affection — most of the cast was crying, and the cavernous silence except for the faint sniffle in the ballroom indicated everyone else was trying their best not to cry, too, and failing. It was one of the most emotional moments of the TCAs in quite some time.
But there were laughs, too! Like when Williams was asked to remember a favorite part of the show. "I think trying to talk Kristen Bell out of getting fake breasts was powerful," Williams said. "In fact she gave me one of them to remember her by. Very powerful."
And when pretty much everyone in the cast recalled that Pratt would be a star, and how he was a legendary eater on set. "I told him that he was going to be a star," Beasley, who played Irv Harper, said. "He had all the qualities, he had a great personality, he was a good looking white boy." Apparently, Pratt took advantage of a Thanksgiving episode to eat a lot of turkey through multiple takes, and there was a time when he ate a steak that could feed a family of four, VanCamp recalled.
Though the cast members said it seemed like they were never apart, don't get your hopes up for a revival or reunion right now. Berlanti says he hasn't thought about bringing the show back in any shape or form, and that the battle he was focused on was getting it in a digital space for people to stream it and reflect on its run or experience it for the first time. But could a show like Everwood work on TV today?
"I believe so," Berlanti said. "I always think that there's more platforms than ever for people to tell stories. I think it's more important to have a passionate audience than a vast one." He continued, "I certainly hope there's a lot of young writers out there from all walks of life that are figuring out how to tell their story, I believe if it's really good and they get the right people behind them, and if they're lucky enough to get all these kinds of people to join them, I don't see why it wouldn't work."
Williams gave a great example to close out the panel. "Look at Game of Thrones, it's just Everwood in fur."
Everwood is now streaming on The CW Seed.