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Amy Pietz, Maddie Dixon-Poirier, Jason Alexander, Natalie Sharp, Tim Johnson Jr. and Nick Marini. AT&T Audience Network ‘Hit the Road’ TV show panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA – 25 Jul 2017 (Photo: Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock)

–by Valerie Milano

Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/4/17 – AT & T’s dark comedy/drama HIT THE ROAD is about the greatest family band you’ve never heard of–yet!  Even on tour in a crowded bus, this “internationally dysfunctional” Partridge-style brood of would-be rock/pop stars cannot seem to juggle what’s best for the family versus what’s best for the band without dropping all the balls.  Yet NOTHING will stop them from claiming their rightful place in pop history!

Jason Alexander (SEINFELD) presided at the AT & T TCA Press Tour panel held on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  Also present were AT & T’s Chris Long and Amy Pietz, Maddie Dixon Poirier, Natalie Sharp, Tim Johnson Jr., and Nick Marini from HIT THE ROAD’S Swallow family.
Natalie Sharp

Jason Alexander was one of the first to see comedic potential in a family of performing artists who couldn’t individuate.  He got the idea from a circus family his partner, Peter Tilden, knew.

Natalie Sharp and Maddie Dixon-Poirier

Naturally, there were questions from the audience about the music in HIT THE ROAD and whether it might become a separate soundtrack.  Jason Alexander said that all of the sometimes off-color songs were original, but that most of them were just snippets that furthered the storyline of a given scene.  Natalie Sharp sings “Can’t Hold Me Down” in the vein of her idol, Christina Aguilera.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JULY 25: Actor Natalie Sharp at the panel of “Hit the Road” during the AT&T AUDIENCE Network Summer TCA Panels at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Brandon Williams/Getty Images for AT&T AUDIENCE Network)

The fictional Swallow family got much of its inspiration from the fictional Partridge family as well as famous real-life musical families such as the Osmonds and the Jacksons.  Even so, Jason Alexander admitted that he couldn’t quite put his finger on the intended audience for the show.  The language and themes are a little too adult for a family comedy.

One critic asked, “With the family, have they always been this crazy and now they’re just traveling with the craziness?  Is the traveling making them more crazy?  Is the traveling making them less crazy?”  Nick Marini replied, “I would say putting any family on a bus for months at a time is going to result in them, you know, slowly losing their minds with one another, for sure.”
Richard Dreyfuss Joins Jason Alexander’s Audience Network Comedy ‘Hit The Road’ Episode 5 (Photo: Farah Nosh)

HIT THE ROAD is set in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which according to Nick Marini is much like a “huge mall with hotels” since there is no tax on clothing in Pennsylvania.  Jason Alexander’s college roommate was from King of Prussia and Alexander always wondered why a show had never been set there!

Chris Long AT&Ts Audience Network Chief attends the AT&T AUDIENCE Network premiere of “Mr. Mercedes” at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

Most of the players in HIT THE ROAD actually have some musical talent.  Old hand Jason Alexander generally drives the bus and tries to keep the younger cast members under control.  This “Renaissance man” also did quite a bit of the writing for the show as it evolved.

In spite of all the dysfunction on screen, a genuine family feeling seemed to develop amongst HIT THE ROAD’S diverse cast members.  Tim Johnson Jr. said, “I told Mr. Jason that if I had a white dad, he would be my white dad.”  “I’ll take it!” laughed Alexander.
HIT THE ROAD is scheduled to premiere on Tuesday, October 17th at 8 p.m. on AT & T.  American family values–hold on to your hats!