7 TCA Takeaways: Murder, Musicals, and Maybe Netflix Secrets

TCA 2016 is also memorable for Freeform’s confusing rebrand

The Television Critics Association winter press tour has come to an end, letting entertainment reporters get back to their lives and relieving Twitter users from that pesky #TCA16 hashtag.

TheWrap‘s TV Team learned a lot during our (lengthy) time in the Langham Huntington Pasadena ballroom, but we’ve boiled it all down to 7 digestible takeaways and trends.

Read below to find out what exactly we’ve been doing since Jan. 5:

Drying Stream?
Netflix had better release some numbers soon on how many people watch its shows, or someone else will do it. That was the lesson last week as NBC research guru Alan Wurtzel offered reporters some unflattering data quantifying the streaming service’s viewership.

Days later, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos dismissed the data as “remarkably inaccurate.” But he admitted that if someone is willing to pay enough money for the secret Netflix numbers, they can probably be figured out. So, pony up, broadcast nets.

Song-and-Dance Men (And Women)
Live musicals are all the rage these days. NBC’s Bob Greenblatt is really into the genre, clearly, making hits of “The Wiz Live” and “Sound of Music Live.” (“Peter Pan Live” did decently.) The broadcast boss, a self-proclaimed theater fiend, announced during TCA that “Hairspray” is next for his network, as long as it can finalize the necessary deals.

Fox is all-in, too. “Grease: Live” is coming soon, and the good-looking adaptation looks capable of breaking records — at least on social media. Fox’s musical event “The Passion,” meanwhile, has strong trainwreck potential, because it will be shot at multiple outdoor New Orleans locations.

Working Big to Small (Screen)
Despite some movie-to-TV adaptations — such as Fox’s “Minority Report” — floundering this fall, CBS found moderate success with its take on the Bradley Cooper film “Limitless.” The network will next pair Justin Hires and Jon Foo in a “Rush Hour” adaptation.

The Miniseries of the Century?
The trial that captured the nation’s attention is returning to TV, and this time, the drama will be scripted.

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays pro athlete-turned actor-turned murder suspect O.J. Simpson, leading an all-star cast that includes John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, and David Schwimmer. The whole thing hails from executive producer Ryan Murphy, and couldn’t be more must-see.

Another Trial by Fire
Steven Avery became an instant cause célèbre upon the premiere of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” documentary series, spawning endless petitions and calls for exoneration. But just two weeks after the series’ debut, the filmmakers found themselves on the defensive at TCA.

Why did they omit seemingly importance evidence? Do they believe in “advocacy journalism”? Having to defend their film and their decisions certainly puts Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi in an interesting position as Netflix contemplates a follow-up.

Pasadena is Still Shondaland
Shonda Rhimes may not have been physically present at TCA this time around, but her massive influence on the TV industry was evident nonetheless. ABC debuted a first look at Shondaland’s “The Catch” during Paul Lee’s executive session on Saturday, and former “Grey’s Anatomy” writer Jenna Bans fielded more than a few Shonda-related questions while discussing her upcoming series “The Family.”

Rhimes’ name came up again on Thursday when Eva Longoria, star of NBC’s “Telenovela,” held up the debut of “Grey’s” in 2005 as a “turning point” for diversity on the small screen.

So, Just a New Name?
ABC Family/Freeform’s promise that no content changes would accompany its rebrand proved true. Panels for new shows “Shadowhunters” and “Recovery Road” suggested the shows would fit in just fine with “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Fosters.”

Freeform will also continue to air “The 700 Club,” as every iteration of the network has since 1961. So, the more things change.