2017: ATX TV Fest Sneaky Pete Panel Recap


Original series Sneaky Pete became Amazon’s second-most-streamed show on an opening day, a feat that has only been accomplished by one other Amazon show The Man in The Castle. Amazon immediately green-lit season two as the reviews kept rolling in. For such a popular show, it’s hard to imagine its rocky start before finding a home at Amazon.

Showrunner Graham Yost sat down with ATX Television Festival June 9 to discuss the move to Amazon and working with the streaming giant in today’s era of Peak TV before sharing a few details about season two. 

The Lowdown on Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete first came to life at the 2014 Emmy Awards where actor Bryan Cranston mentioned in his acceptance speech “I was a kid who always looked for the shortcut, a schemer. My own family nicknamed me Sneaky Pete,” after winning Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad.

Sony approached Cranston to develop a series around this “sneaky” Pete, tapping writer David Shore to co-write the script with Cranston.

Sneaky Pete follows con artist Marius, played by Giovanni Ribisi, who assumes the identity of his former prison cellmate Pete Bernhardt after his release from prison to avoid ex-cop-turned-thug Vince, played by Cranston, who has a serious bone to pick with Marius.

Getting off the Ground

The pilot first landed at CBS and aired in August 2015 before the network decided to pass on the series. Despite this setback, the dramedy garnered the attention of other studios eager to pick it up with Amazon ultimately nabbing it.

“The original plan was that it was going to be more of an episodic standalone kind of thing, like a procedural,” explains Yost who took over as showrunner after Shore left in 2016. “With the move over to Amazon, [the studio] said we need something that’s binge worthy.”

Showrunner Graham Yost at the Sneaky Panel for the 2017 ATX Television Festival.

The show was revamped into a more serialized story with more character development through individual back-stories separate from the main storyline.

“When we switched over to Amazon and Graham took over as writer, I was over the moon because we’ve all seen the CBS version of these shows, not ripping on CBS or anything,” shares Shane McRae who plays the eldest sibling, Taylor Bernhardt. “When it became more serialized, I was so thrilled. It was suddenly like the whole world opened up for me as a character.”

The plot was also shifted around to introduce key plot devices later on and pushing Marius’ identity reveal further back on the show’s timeline than the CBS original version had outlined.

“I think that we’re lucky because the writing is really good,” confides Marin Ireland who plays Julia Bernhardt, the youngest of Pete’s siblings and a single mother balancing her complicated home life, sorting out her love life and running the family’s bond business.

Coming Up: Season Two

As for season two, the meat of the plot will center around a heist that happened three years ago before the current timeline, roping Marius’ into Pete’s past after two thugs show up seeking answers for $11 million that disappeared.

Sneaky Pete Panel at the 2017 ATX Television Festival.

“Halfway in season [one], [a writer] said it would be great if we had something happen where the fact that he had chosen to impersonate Pete bit him in the ass,” says Yost. “The big question surrounding Marius is finding Pete’s mom and the $11 million.”

In the meantime, Julia is on the hook for money laundering, Taylor becomes more involved with his married girlfriend and his involvement in detective Winslow’s murder lingers over him while Otto’s plot to fake his own death has backfired spectacularly.

“There are a few loose ends from the last season that are going to come back to haunt characters,” Yost says. “We made a choice to talk with the actors about their characters and their stories in addition to the $11 million heist.”

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