The event started at 6:30 but I got there 45 minutes early, which netted me a seat right in the center of the second row. The auditorium was not huge by any means but I was literally 15 feet from where the panel members would be sitting. The audience was an interesting mix - many were genealogy enthusiasts who were either hobbyists for themselves or professionals for others; the guy sitting behind me had his own company that helped people scan all their photos, digitize all their home movies, and record interviews with family members. A lot of people were simply fans of the show and a handful, you could tell, were celebrity stalkers. I don't blame them for going to the event even if they don't watch the show - I would've shown up just to see Blair Underwood, too!
So, the panel consisted of moderator Maira Liriano, archivist for The New York Public Library, who did some work for the show; Alex Graham, the creator of the original British series; Josh Hanna from Ancestry.com; Lisa Kudrow, executive producer of the American series and featured during the season; Kim Cattrall, who was featured in the first season; and Blair Underwood, whose episode airs this Friday. Kim, who is a trustee for the Paley Center, gave some opening remarks, then Lisa introduced the Blair Underwood episode, which we got to watch and which, as per usual, made me tear up. I'll remark on that episode after it airs, as I still haven't talked about the Marisa Tomei episode, but we'll get to that in another post.
|WDYTYA panel: Josh Hanna, Kim Cattrall, Blair Underwood, Lisa Kudrow, and Alex Graham|
|Kim Cattrall, Blair Underwood, and Lisa Kudrow|
So anyway, the researchers get cracking and they know where the story and episode is headed but the celebrity is kept in the dark so that the viewer really is seeing them make those family discoveries as they are making them. I also liked that Lisa, in response to an audience question, remarked that its an imperfect process, due to money and time constraints. They only have so many researchers on the show and only so much time to film and to air, so they can't trace every line and they can't always be as thorough and sometimes some lines that may be interesting have to be dropped in order to focus on another line. Which of course makes sense - we as genealogists know we spend YEARS researching our family trees and they're still not complete.
|Kim and Blair|
|WDYTYA panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media in New York.|
|Blair Underwood and Lisa Kudrow talk about "Who Do You Think You Are?"|
Just sayin'. :)