One year ago, a well-received “Gilmore Girls” cast-and-creator reunion at the ATX Television Festival led to an upcoming continuation of the series on Netflix. Will it work for “Ugly Betty?”
A Saturday-night reunion panel at the Paramount Theatre brought back 10 cast members and showrunner Silvio Horta from the ABC telenovela adaptation, which began in 2006 and ran for four seasons.
Before the end of the panel, actress America Ferrera, who played Betty Suarez on the show, was coming up with hashtags for fans to prod Hulu, the streaming service that currently offers all episodes of the show to revive the series as a two-hour movie.
Since the panel came together so quickly — it apparently only took an email to Ferrera to her fellow cast member and 20 minutes to get them to all agree to come to Austin — she said the panel itself was the negotiation that would lead to the revival. “This is the talk!’ she exclaimed, before settling on “#HuluBringBackUglyBetty” as the hashtag fans should use.
The reunion, moderated by Entertainment Weekly Radio’s Jessica Shaw, made it clear the cast members and Horta miss the show and still get along famously as an extended family unit. The reunion also featured actors Judith Light, Vanessa Williams, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, Ashley Jensen, Eric Mabius and Rebecca Romijn. Of the primary cast, only Becki Newton was missing; she had to bow out due to illness.
Through its four seasons, “Ugly Betty” was known for several important TV landmarks; among them, featuring a loving Latino family at its center, introducing TVs first trans character (played by Romijn), and for its careful handling of two coming-out storylines, including one involving Indelicato’s character Justin, who was only 12 when the show started.
Cast members said they went into a depression after the show ended. Plana likened it to a plane crash, while Ferrera said, “It was like losing a family.”
Ferrera described how her involvement in the show began with a conversation with producer Salma Hayek at a Los Angeles hotel while Horta described going from a series about a secret agent to something more direct about a young woman who is perceived as unattractive, but, “She turns every one else beautiful from the inside out.”
Much time was spent on the show’s outrageous, but always on-point fashion sense, with much praise going to ace designer Pat Field, on its roster of guest stars including a then-unknown Adele, Patti Lupone and Octavia Spencer, and what the actors and Horta think the characters might be doing now.
Ferrera pitched her idea for where the show could pick up, something she says she had been thinking about seriously: “It’s been six or seven years, depending on when Hulu launches this. Betty has been in London the whole time and is coming home.”
The actress, who was also at the fest promoting her current NBC sitcom “Superstore,” sounded very serious. Don’t be surprised if Hulu takes the hint.
(Further reading: Entertainment Weekly, which owns the festival, did a live blog of the event.)
Update: Entertainment Weekly has the full panel available. You can watch it below: