Riverdale fans already know some crossover of characters is planned for the CW’s upcoming Katy Keene. But the spin-off’s exec producers and cast teased out a few more details at today’s Tribeca TV Festival panel and pilot screening.
Expect a boxing match. And Pussycats. And Robin Givens.
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As for the boxing, one of the regular characters on Katy Keene is K.O. Kelly, Katy’s aspiring boxer boyfriend. In the world premiere of the series pilot-screened today at the fest, K.O. – played by the ultra-ripped Zane Holtz, who makes his first appearance on the show clad only in boxer briefs – expresses his dream to someday spar at Madison Square Garden. (Katy is played by Lucy Hale).
Viewers might not see that fight too soon, but “will definitely see someone from Riverdale and K.O. face off in the ring,” said executive producer Michael Grassi. He didn’t comment on audience (and cast member) shouts for that someone to be K.J. Apa’s Archie Andrews.
With regard to those Pussycats from Riverdale, even Ashleigh Murray, who is bringing her singer/songwriter Josie McCoy character to the new show from the old, seemed surprised by executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s reveal that “We definitely will be seeing the Pussycats, but probably not in the way you expect.”
“Stop!” exclaimed a surprised, but very pleased, Murray at the news.
Katy Keene will be set about five years into Riverdale‘s future – in other words, Josie arrives in New York City to share an apartment with Katy and friends five years after her departure from Riverdale‘s Riverdale. The time shift slightly complicates crossovers, but apparently not enough to prevent at least some of the original series’ recognizable characters from presenting their future selves at Katy’s fourth floor walk-up apartment in Manhattan’s Washington Heights.
And apparently one of those someones will be Givens’ Sierra McCoy, Josie’s Riverdale mom. “We love Robin Givens,” said Grassi. “She will come visit for sure.”
The new series’ pilot episode – expected to air during the CW’s winter/spring 2020 midseason – neatly and decisively establishes Katy as a program with clear differences in mood and tone from Riverdale.
In other words, the romantic dramedy won’t go too “genre,” at least if that genre is crime or horror, said Aguirre-Sacasa. Explaining how the producers chose the non-Riverdale Katy to further explore the Archie Comics universe, Aguirre-Sacasa said Katy was the most iconic character from the comics that hadn’t yet been “done” onscreen and wasn’t established in the comics with crime or horror storylines.
Early in Katy‘s development process, the producers said, both they and Warner Bros. execs agreed that Murray’s Josie would make the show switch. From the producers’ very first discussion with Warner Bros., Murray, they all concurred, would be the project’s “secret weapon.”
And Murray’s involvement would open up the new series to music. Josie relocates to Manhattan in her attempt to make a mark on New York’s music scene. On her second day in the city, she meets a powerful, wealthy, and, of course, ultra-ripped record exec (Lucien Laviscount’s Alexander Cabot), a meet-cute moment in Washington Square Park that’s just one of the show’s elements firmly inserting the fantasy into Katy‘s romantic fantasy leanings. (Adding a bit of spice to the sugar is Camille Hyde’s Alexandra Cabot, Alexander’s all-business twin sister.)
On the panel today – which included the entire cast – the producers suggested that each episode will include at least two musical numbers – one from Josie and one from Jonny Beauchamp’s Jorge/Ginger, the third roomie in Katy’s apartment. A struggling stage hopeful, Jorge fails audition after audition, largely, he says (and viewers see, explicitly) because he’s “too gay for Broadway,” or as one director bluntly puts it, just isn’t rough enough.
At Katy’s suggestion, Jorge takes his drag persona, Ginger, from the small stage of their gay bar hang-out, Molly’s Crisis (based on New York’s actual and long-operating Marie’s Crisis) into his Broadway auditions. No spoilers on how that turns out.
Beauchamp charmed the TV fest audience by sharing his real-life similarity to the character he plays. Growing up, he said, “I was always getting in trouble. Mom’s shoes would be stretched out.”
Another member of Katy’s close circle of friends is Julia Chan’s Pepper Smith, a quirky, name-dropping “It girl” of the gang’s social scene. Chan promised that the second episode – which the cast read for the first time on Friday and begins rehearsals for on Monday – delves deeper into Pepper’s character than we see in the pilot.
As for Katy’s dreams, she wants to be a fashion designer, though she’s settling for a day job in a swanky department store under the mentorship (and thumb) of a “Devil Wears Prada”-like personal shopping guru, Gloria Grandbilt (played with a pinched, scene-stealing panache by Katherine LaNasa). Katy dares not show her outside-the-store ambitions, lest she appear anything less than fully devoted to her retail gig.
And like just about everyone else in the Katy-Riverdale universe, the new show’s title character is likely to sing a tune or two at some point. “I feel like maybe a musical episode is definitely in the cards, and I would love that so much,” said Hale, who spent her first morning in her new New York apartment just today, and is still learning about the metropolis celebrated by the new series with an enthusiasm to rival Sex and the City. Hale had already won over the Tribeca audience well before conceding she needed reminding where Fifth Avenue is located.
In addition to Aguirre-Sacasa and Grassi, Katy is exec produced by Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Archie Comics CEO and Publisher Jon Goldwater; Maggie Kiley directs and executive produces, and the series is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. Only Aguirre-Sacasa and Grassi, along with the cast, were on the show panel at Tribeca today.
Here’s a taste of what the Tribeca TV Festival audience saw today: