TJ & Dave Pilot ‘Bettendorf Talks’ to World Premiere at SXSW in March

David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski are legends of Chicago’s famed improv scene, and in their latest collaboration, the duo is bringing their acclaimed comedic talents from the stage to the screen. One of the premier showcases in the country has taken notice, as the South By Southwest festival (SXSW) will be hosting the World Premiere of the duo’s pilot Bettendorf Talks this March. TJ and Dave assembled a talented Chicago cast and crew for this project, led by director Jack C. Newell, who stopped by to share the news with SCREEN.

Bettendorf Talks is an underdog story at the heart of it,” director Newell declared to SCREEN. “Everyone in the show has something to prove and is doing it in their own ways. Audiences will connect with that as well as how funny everyone is in it and at the same time it’s grounded, as you would expect from a show with TJ and Dave.”

Illinois Indie Pilot ‘Bettendorf Talks’ to World Premiere at SXSW in March

If you’re just hearing about TJ and Dave for the first time… well, where have you been? T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi are legends in the Chicago improv scene, best known for their long-running hit show “T.J. and Dave,” which has graced stages across the country, from Second City to Off-Broadway, over the past two decades.

Chicago TV fans will recognize TJ from the Dick Wolf ratings giant Chicago Fire and the Showtime series Work In Progress. Dave’s extensive TV credits include a seven-year stint on the award-winning Julia Louis-Dreyfuss series Veep.

2024 will mark a return trip of sorts to SXSW for TJ and Dave. The 2009 SXSW Film Festival presented the documentary Trust Us, This is All Made Up, which chronicled a “TJ and Dave” live and fully improvised performance (click here to watch the full film on Amazon and here’s a preview)…

From the Quad Cities to Chicago

The pilot filmed in February of 2023, weeks before the writers’ and actors’ strikes. Filming took place at the WQAD television station in East Moline and then all over the Quad Cities.

Here’s the official SXSW preview of the pilot: Part talk show and part workplace comedy, Bettendorf Talks is set in the titular Quad City, hosted by TJ and Dave, a comedy duo of former middling renown. They are trying to use this show as a stepping stone to regain some of their former perceived glory. It’s an unrealistic expectation in a town with no stars, a show with no budget, an inexperienced writing staff, Dave’s ego and TJ’s naiveté.

The band rocks, the local guests are quirky and fun, the director is an absolute boss, the producer is motivated, the announcer might be a murderer, but despite all that going for it, it’s shocking how little can be accomplished when everyone is working as hard as they can in separate directions.

TJ and Dave Pilot ‘Bettendorf Talks’ to World Premiere at SXSW in March

Shout Outs for the Cast and Crew

When asked to highlight the many talented artists that contributed to Bettendorf Talks, Newell replied, “There’s not enough space. We had a small well-knit crew and so everyone really has their hands on this and made an impact. On the crew side, we’ll call out department heads – Mike Bove as our DP, Maggie O’Brien as Production Design, Rebecca Seweryn as HMU, Jesse McAlpin rolled sound, Jonathan Scott Higgins was our 1st AD, Jesse Case made our music, Jehanne Junguenet was our assistant editor and created order from chaos, Pat Wimp did way more visual effect shots on this show then you’d imagine for a TV show set in the Quad Cities, and Noisefloor did our sound.”

TJ and Dave’s supporting cast includes fellow Chicago comedy legend Tim Kazurinsky, Sadieh Rifai, Nnamdi Ngwe, Emma Pope, The Ike Reilly Assassination, Cassie Kramer, and Brian King.

Scroll down for additional cast and crew nods, which includes Illinois film and television engine Chicago Media Angels.

What’s Ahead for the Show

As you might expect, it’s all about getting this show sold, with the hope to stay and film in the Midwest. “Yes, the ideal plan is to continue filming in the Quad Cities,” Newell shared with SCREEN. “All five of the Quad Cities were incredibly welcoming to us during the shoot and we’d like to make a home there for production and this show.”

Click here for full details on the pilot’s SXSW Premiere.

Credits for Bettendorf Talks include…

Showrunners: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski

Director: Jack C. Newell

Executive Producers: Mark Glassgow, Ted Reilly, Kelly Aisthorpe Waller

Producer: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski, Shane Simmons, Jack C. Newell

Screenwriter: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski

Cinematographer: Mike Bove

Editor: Patrick Warren

Production Designer: Maggie O’Brien

Sound Designer: Katie Waters, Stosh Tuszynski

Music: Jesse Case

1st AD: Jonathan Scott Higgins

Principal Cast: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski, Sadieh Rifai, Emma Pope, Nnamdi Ngwe, Tim Kazurinsky, Ike Reilly, Brian King, Cassie Kramer

Newell summarized the ensemble effort beautifully in saying, “Some of us were friends before we started but all were after we wrapped. The shooting of this pilot was such an amazing experience for everyone involved. That happens sometimes and then the film or project goes on to do nothing – so to be able to now screen the film at SXSW and the opportunities that platform provides is very exciting. The whole cast and crew are freaking out.”

SXSW is set for March 8-16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for your tickets and the full festival slate.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for updates on this pilot and more of the latest news from the Chicago and Illinois production community. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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