We caught up with some of stars of your favorite NBC stars to talk about their shows upcoming seasons at the NBC 2019/20 Upfronts red carpet.
We chatted with stars from Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, America’s Got Talent, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bring The Funny and more about their upcoming new seasons.
Eamonn Walker – Chicago Fire
The Knockturnal: What was preparation for the show like?
Eamonn Walker: Before any cameras were anywhere near us, we were training there and then [they] used the equipment on us and the masks, and [they] put us in these containers and set fire to it and then said “get out.”
The Knockturnal: With real fire?
Eamonn Walker: Oh yeah…So you know, watching the level of your panic attack because you’ve got heavy equipment on, you know we wear 60 to 80 pounds worth of gear on top of that so if you see us coming out carrying someone, we’re already wearing a lot of weight and we carry people out. And that’s what real firefighters do. And they go deep into any given fire. So that’s the kind of training that you do, we do what they do.
The Knockturnal: There’s been a lot of conflicts this season. How does that relate to the real world?
Eamonn Walker: There have been a lot of conflicts this season. But you’re looking at people, this is what they do. There’s a vocation to want to save people and help people, and not only save people by running into burning buildings and stuff, they run charities, they’ve got…the hearts of these people are huge, that’s why I am very proud to represent them because I’ve never seen hearts like it. They come from all walks of life, every color, every creed, the whole thing is about preserving and pushing humans forward. Especially with children– firefighters and first responders love kids, and they’ve seen some terrible things, they’ve walked into those burning buildings, and not everybody makes it out. Now, those things affect those people and they make sure that their lives reflect those terrible things, so way after the event you’ll find a firefighter–like we do in the show–who’ll turn up at your house and go “how are you? Is everything ok? I was thinking about you, we’ve made this for you.” So those types of things is why those conflicts happen because they’re not great a juggling [it] all. They can’t be a superhero and be great at life, and hopefully we show that on the show.
The Knockturnal: What are we expecting for the season finale?
Eamonn Walker: What am I expecting? I’m excited.
The Knockturnal: What are we expecting? What should we expect for the season finale?
Eamonn Walker: You should expect a lot of drama, a lot of heat. We shot this like a movie so there’s a lot of fire, production value is very high, and it’s very, very dramatic and somebody might not make it.
The Knockturnal: Can you give us a hint?
Eamonn Walker: I just gave you a hint. I said somebody did not [make it].
Jesse Lee, LaRoyce Hawkins, and Tracy Spiridakos – Chicago P.D.
The Knockturnal: What do you think of this season, and can you give us a little sneak peek into next season?
Tracy Spiridakos: We don’t know very much about it. They really don’t tell us anything. They don’t trust us, which is probably smart.
Jesse Lee: Yeah, because we would say some stuff right now that it would be bad, you guys would know everything.
LaRoyce Hawkins: I can’t hold water.
The Knockturnal: Then spill it.
LaRoyce Hawkins: That’s why they call me hot water. I’ve been coming up with these puns all day, I apologize.
Jesse Lee: We really actually don’t know anything. They way the finale ends, it looks like Voight possibly murders someone. But we don’t know if it was him that did it, we don’t know if it was somebody else in the unit. Another member of the unit could be going to jail– and we have no idea where any of these stories could be going right now. It’s all open ended, very uncertain.
The Knockturnal: Well I am a Chicago native, so I know you all spent– I’m from Chicago!
LaRoyce Hawkins: Where? What part?
The Knockturnal: 95th and not the O’Ryan…
LaRoyce Hawkins: *inaudible*
The Knockturnal: Ok! But since I am a Chicago native, what are the top two things that you like doing in Chicago? In know you spend 10 months out of the year there, so you have to do something fun there.
Tracy Spiridakos: I do a lot of eating.
LaRoyce Hawkins: Yeah I eat a lot of food.
Jesse Lee: Yes, a lot of eating food.
LaRoyce Hawkins: At my grandma’s house, you know there’s still a vibe. What else? What else do we do? We do like to eat a lot though. And you know I’m from Harvey. I didn’t really start going downtown until I got on the show, and believe it or not, I learned a lot about the city just form following them to random restaurants and doing a lot of cool stuff.
Jesse Lee: I made him try a lot of weird food actually. Over the last 6 years, a lot of weird food.
LaRoyce Hawkins: Like the duck heart hash, because I didn’t eat duck for a long time because I had a pet duck.
Jesse Lee: Hold on, now I sound like a monster.
Tracy Spiridakos: It was the same duck *all laugh*
LaRoyce Hawkins: No it wasn’t the same duck. Duke, I love you man. And I only eat duck now in honor of Duke because it’s so good! Because it’s so good, for real.
LaRoyce Hawkins: I think that’s important because we really pushed the envelope as far as network television is concerned, and we get a chance to recondition our audience, right? What I love about being from Harvey is that we get to balance a lot of balance and authenticity to the vibe, and I think the more balance we have, the more we can really tell good stories, not just about cop culture, but about what happens in the streets and why it’s so difficult for some of these families, you know that don’t have resources, to put the why into the work is what I think Chicago PD does a good job at, and we need to plant those seeds.
Jesse Lee: And more and more, we are doing these episodes–like you said–that are pushing the the envelope, politically charged content, episodes that are creating a lot of conversation afterwards, opening up a dialogue and are bridging the gap, like he said.
Interview with S. Epatha Merkerson & Oliver Platt – Chicago Med
The Knockturnal: What are we expecting for the next season, and did you think that this show was going to get as big as it did?
Epatha Merkerson: Well, first of all, I don’t know what we are expecting next year, but if it’s any indication in the past four seasons, I’m sure we can guarantee some extraordinary stories about issues that are close to a lot of people. Health issues are important to discuss, and I think that good writing always brings people back, and the fact that these three communities that we know in real life work together are working together on television. I think that that was a smart thing.
Oliver Platt: Yeah. I mean, we don’t know, we only know the last two episodes of the season, on [this] Wednesday and then the following Wednesday. But I’m excited to find out, always excited when that first script hits your box.
The Knockturnal: So you all talk about, like you said, real life health issues and just issues in general, so why do you think it’s important to highlight this?
Oliver Platt: Well for my part, especially with mental health issues–you know, I play a psychiatrist on the show– it’s crucially important to talk about mental health issues because there’s still so much work to be done to destigmatize them. You know, so many people are ashamed to have them, of being depressed, or they’re embarrassed about mental illness, but mental issues are a medical issues to a large extent and can be treated, but they can’t be treated if people don’t ask for help. That’s one of the really positive things about the show, for me personally I think.
Epatha Merkerson: Well I’d have to agree. It’s bringing to light issues that may affect people. And I always say this about Dick Wolf’s shows, that you sit down to be entertained but you get up educated, and I think that’s television at it’s best, and it’s why I appreciate working with him and all the actors on this show. We’re all looking forward to our fifth season.
Interview with Terry Crews (America’s Got Talent, Broolyn Nine-Nine)
The Knockturnal: What can we expect from this next season?
Terry Crews: First of all, I will say this right now for real: it is the best season of America’s Got Talent that you have ever seen. You are going to laugh, you are going to be in tears because I was laughing and also in tears! Because of the stories, the amazing people. And I’m telling you it was so good that I’d go home and say “I’m not doing enough with my life.” Because this is what happens– you get complacent. You feel like “yeah, I’m going to work, I’m doing my thing” and then all of a sudden you see somebody who has finally been doing this thing for their whole life and then finally they do it and they blow the roof off, and you’re like “man, that’s the energy I need.” I’m inspired. That’s what makes AGT so good, it inspires kids, teenagers, adults, old people– and this is the good thing too because we have all of those people on the show, from the kids all the way to someone that’s 95 years old. It’s truly not just an American but a worldwide phenomenon.
The Knockturnal: I love it. Now what would you say to someone that is struggling to make their dreams happen, and they just feel like giving up, what would you say to that person?
Terry Crews: First of all I would say, “remember, remember.” The big thing a lot of time is when you feel like giving up, you’ve taken on too much. Start smaller, you know what I mean? A lot of times when people feel like giving up, it’s because they’re like “man, I can’t be on AGT.” I’m like, “no, start at your city! Start at your local talent show! And you will never feel like giving up if you start small enough that you can handle it.” And what happens is that these local talents get bigger and they become citywide, and then they become statewide, and then they become a name where everybody has a reputation of you being amazing. My thing is, this is the problem with social media that people have started to compare themselves to these superstars that started small when they started! You know what I’m saying, JLo was just JLo from around the block when she started, but you can’t compare yourself that way yet, and so I tell people all the time “just make it smaller and then you’ll never give up” but when you try to go to big, you feel overwhelmed and I totally understand it. It took me 20 years to get to this spot. 20 years. So I wasn’t ready 20 years ago for AGT but I’m ready now.
The Knockturnal: I like that. That’s so inspiring and that really helped me too, by the way. So back to Brooklyn Nine Nine, what can we expect from that season? It’s been so much, and could you have imagined that it would grow so much since it first started?
Terry Crews: First of all, I was flipping when I heard that it’s literally in the top five comedy shows in the world. In the world! Like, we can’t go anywhere in the world without having fans all over the place: Japan, Asia, South America. It’s crazy, and I don’t even know what to expect because the writers like to write themselves up a tree. You know, they make it so difficult because they push it to another level every time but that makes it more interesting. You know, I’m so looking forward to season 7. It’s going to be on.
The Knockturnal: Any sneak peaks?
Terry Crews: Not yet! Not yet! Don’t worry, we’ve got something for you!
Interview with Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero – Broolyn Nine-Nine
The Knockturnal: Renewed for a seventh season, how do you feel? Did you think when you first took the role that it was going to be this much?
Stephanie Beatriz: I mean, you hope. When I first got that role, I was like “ok, you’re going to shoot a pilot. Take every moment that you can because you don’t know if that pilot is going to get picked up.” And then we got, what 13 episodes?
Melissa Fumero: Yeah it was a 13 and then we got the back 9.
Stephanie Beatriz: So yeah every step of the way has been another moment of like, “oh yay we get to keep doing it.” That’s how it feels.
The Knockturnal: Can you give us any sneak peaks for the season finale, or is there anything you can share?
Melissa Fumero: That we’ll see some old faces from the past. That’s all I can say.
Stephanie Beatriz: Good ones. Good slash bad ones. Wink, wink.
The Knockturnal: What are you expecting for the next season?
Stephanie Beatriz: I think what I am expecting is for the writers to keep pushing the boundaries of funny, which they have done especially this last season really well. Especially like character funny, meaning that a lot of comedy is born from the personalities of the characters themselves which is really fun to play, and I think they are going to keep moving, pushing us in that direction.
Interview with Retta – Good Girls
The Knockturnal: What can we expect for the end of the season? Is there going to be someone else that dies?
Retta: Haha, “is there going to be someone else that dies?” Haha, I don’t know, maybe! I will say that there is a surprise, because I was very shocked by what transpired at the end of the season, and you can expect more crime. There’s always more crime.
The Knockturnal: When is it going to end? When is the crime going to [end]?
Retta: There’s no show if it ends, so I hope it doesn’t.
Interview with Kenan Thompson – Bring The Funny, Saturday Night Live
The Knockturnal: What kind of funny is it, because I feel like there are different brands of funny?
Kenan Thompson: There is. That’s kind of what the show is all about, you know what I mean. It’s the first competition show for comedy that’s embracing all aspects of it: stand-up, variety, improv, sketch, whatever, and you know they’re going head to head and there can only be one winner. I think it’s going to be great, I’m on the panel with Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy, who are both angels, and Amanda Seales is our dynamic host and she’s awesome. I think we have a great squad, and it was very emotional letting people go, it was tough.
The Knockturnal: I could tell because you came back here with me and were like…
Kenan Thompson: Yeah I don’t like that. I’m a pushover. I’m a nice person.
The Knockturnal: Could you imagine your career this far? You’ve had such a long career, but when you first started, could you have imagined coming this far?
Kenan Thompson: No. You always hope, but you never really know. Actors always know the least. We never know what’s going to happen tomorrow unless you wind up on a good show, which is why I never want to run away from SNL because I know where I’m going to be for 8 months of the year– and that’s highly important when you have a family and stuff like that. But the tenure of it all, yeah I’m thoroughly surprised by it.
Interview with Chrissy Teige – Bring The Funny
The Knockturnal: I feel like every time I’m on the Shade Room I see you.
Chrissy Teigen: Haha, I love the Shade Room. The Shade Room is so fun until you’re on it and you’re like “oh God” haha.
The Knockturnal: So what can we expect from your new show?
Chrissy Teigen: Bring the Funny basically combines three different kinds of comedy–sketch, stand-up, and variety–all in this competition series where we have Kenan Thompson, Jeff Foxworthy, and me getting to decide what America’s going to love. We’re hoping to make a huge new star out of it. We’re really excited, it was so much fun to be a part of.
The Knockturnal: So isit stand-up? I know you said it’s all sorts of comedy.
Chrissy Teigen: So it’s not just stand-up vs. stand-up, it could be stand-up vs. variety, it could be like a puppet vs. a musician, or a musician vs stand up, or a singer vs. puppet. You just never know what you’re going to get with it, and I think that’s what makes it great, because at the end of the day, it’s about who makes you laugh. That’s what we have to ask ourselves every time.
The Knockturnal: Why do they keep coming for you on your page? And you keep coming right back.
Chrissy Teigen: Oh God. I think I just do it for my own personal entertainment now. I feel like a majority of people are incredible, they’re amazing, but sometimes every once in a while, it’s fun to see that person and say something. It’s fun for me at least.
Interview with Amanda Seales – Bring The Funny
The Knockturnal: So talk about what you’re bringing to the show?
Amanda Seales: I think what I’m bringing to Bring the Funny is just one, some energy because I think I am a very high energy individual; some realness, because I think there is sometimes a feeling that we don’t want to hurt feelings, but then you see my face. But then also when people are great, I am like “yes!” And I think the biggest thing is that I’m bringing someone that has been hosting for a very long time, and I really know how to do this damn host thing. You know sometimes we ge folks in these positions who are just learning, but I am a veteran so I’m going to have a blast really bringing the show together, and bringing it to the people.
The Knockturnal: What can we expect? I know that there is sketch comedy and then there’s stand-up, but what are we expecting though and what kind of funny is it? Because I feel like there’s different versions of funny.
Amanda Seales: So what you can expect is a very broad spectrum of comedy, so it’s sketch, variety, and a whole bunch of stuff in between, and in terms of what’s funny, it’s very subjective. There will be times where I will be like “why y’all laughing, this ain’t funny” but then there are other times when I’m like “why aren’t y’all laughing, this is funny.” So it really gets to show you that comedy comes in a bunch of different flavors, so America is going to decides who’s flavor they like the most.
Interview with Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Matt Iseman, and Zuri Hall – American Ninja Warrior
The Knockturnal: What can we expect for this season?
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: I think we’re going to have brand new obstacles, new locations as well, but we’ve got our newest member, Zuri Hall, a part of the American Ninja Warrior family, so we’re excited to have her.
The Knockturnal: And how do you feel about being on this show? This is so amazing.
Zuri Hall: I feel so happy and honored, and when I think about it I get a little emotional so I don’t really talk about it too much in front of these guys because I’m a thug, you know what I’m saying? But it’s an iconic show, its 11 seasons in, it’s on NBC, it’s a family show. When my parents heard that I was doing the show, I’ve never heard them more excited about a thing I’m doing with my life, and it’s special to be seen as someone that this team thought would be good with this team because clearly they’re doing something right. It’s a well-oiled machine, people are watching and loving it after all these years, so I’m just happy to be an addition to it.
The Knockturnal: One more question, did you expect your career to blow up like this?
Zuri Hall: Did it blow up? Oh wow, thank you, I’m happy to hear that. I don’t know how to answer that…hallelujah, I mean I feel very blessed. I’ve been working very hard for a very long time, and I’m glad it’s taken as long as it has because I still have so much more to accomplish because I feel like when you wait and you work, you appreciate things more when you get them, so I’m savoring every moment. I’m savoring being on this carpet, I’m savoring being on the other side of the microphone, because normally I’m with you. So yeah, I will say that I have always hoped for success, but that’s not guaranteed, and even those people that really deserve it, don’t always end up getting it so I’m really grateful.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: She’s making me get emotional.
Matt Iseman: That’s why we love her. You know, she’s so hard working and the ninjas have embraced her because you know it’s the same thing, the spirit of American Ninja Warrior is people who sacrifice, is the people that put in the hard work, and I think that’s what she has done. I think they can relate to her, so they’ve been very good at opening up and sharing their stories because that’s what makes this show work: the stories.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of stories, I know you hear some heart-wrenching stories, how do you deal with that?
Matt Iseman: I think for us we realize how fortunate we are to get to tell them, so as hard as it is for us, we know the importance of it. Because what we’ve seen over the years ,when these people tell their stories, you see on social media, you see when people run into people, people are saying how much it meant to see someone going through that they’re going through. Often when you’re suffering from something, no matter how many people you have around you, you feel alone, and I think that’s what the show has done– it has made people feel that they’re not alone in their journeys and to see people that have come out the other side, and it gives people hope, and I think that’s the best thing we can do for this show.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: It’s a metaphor for life, and it’s something cool about seeing the ninjas go through an obstacle as they have personal obstacles they are going through as well, and I think it gives people on the other side hope, especially when you’re doing that in front of thousands of people in attendance, the millions who are watching all around the world. And to do that and represent something bigger than themselves, to me that’s special. I mean, we have ninjas now that are running for causes now, realizing their platform– even though they might be going through something tough on their own, they’re still running on a platform and are still using that platform to raise money, change lives, real liecs.
The Knockturnal: What would you tell someone who is struggling to find their purpose and make it, and get on television, or whatever their purpose would be, what encouraging words would you say?
Matt Iseman: I would give them the advice my dad gave me when I left medicine and left to become a comedian and a TV host, he said “life is short, and do what makes you happy.” I think if you find that passion, find that thing inside that lights a fire in your heart, you’ll always be successful in any way. That’s the key, to find something that you can wake up and you are excited to do. Life really is short, so don’t wait until someone gives you an opportunity, go out and make it.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: For me, I would say purpose defeats fear. Oftentimes, greatness is right in front of us, maybe several obstacles in front of us will maybe stop us from getting there, but fear sometimes stops people and paralyzes them from moving forward. But if you have a purpose, and you know exactly what you want to do, it allows you to navigate through those obstacles and reach your full potential.
Zuri Hall: I would say that obviously finding your purpose can be very difficult, and so for people that are trying to figure out what that is, I would just hope that they could have the courage to start again, because sometimes you go on the drawing board and you realize this isn’t quite working or it’s not quite what I thought it was or I opened this door and I don’t really like the interior, I think I’m going to walk back out. But the longer you’re at it, the more you put into it, the harder it is to say “it’s time to start again,” so I would just encourage people to be brave and never be afraid to hit reset or redirect.