“Granite Flats” on BYUTV is a surprise success with a strong fan base both for television and online. Already in its second season, a few known actors like Christopher Lloyd and Cary Elwes are making guest appearances.
The show is set in a small town during the Cold War period of the 1960s in which there are some strange government conspiracies and espionage occurring.
Latino-Review had an opportunity to speak with actress Annie Tedesco, one of the stars on the show. She plays Beth Milligan, a young mother and nurse in this mysterious town. She delightfully discuss certain details about the show, including some plot points, setting and even the period sets and costumes.
“Granite Flats” is currently being shown on BYUTV. Check your local listings or visit www.byutv.org to watch the episodes.
Read the interview transcript below.
Latino-Review: Tell me about this TV show called “Granite Flats.” I understand it’s in its second season right now.
Annie Tedesco: Yeah, it is. We’re on our second season that is currently airing right now on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on BYU TV. It’s a nostalgic family drama that takes place in the 1960s. It got a really interesting hint of real science fiction with some military history. It’s kind of cool.
Latino-Review: So it’s sort of like a Cold War mystery type of drama? Is that how you would describe it?
Annie Tedesco: Yeah, I would. I say that it is. It definitely takes place during the Cold War. There is an element of mystery, because of what was going on at the time. The 1960s was a big time period of suspicion. There was a lot of espionage stuff going on. It was a time when our culture was simply a culture of fear. There were a lot of secrets. It would make a great television show.
Basically, [the show] follows three kids as unlikely heroes as they do investigations in the seemingly idyllic town. And there are also adults. There is myself. I am a veteran association nurse. There’s a police chief named John Sanders, who is also trying to figure and uncover what’s going on in that town as well.
Latino-Review: Tell me more about your character. You play this character named Beth Milligan, who is this nurse in a major plot development on the show. Am I correct?
Annie Tedesco: I do. I play Beth Milligan, a VA nurse. I’m a single mom. I moved to Granite Flats, Colorado, with my son. I’ve just been widowed. I’m starting a new job in a new town as a single parent. I have a lot going on. Part of my job at the hospital is taking care of various soldiers. Eventually, I came to find out that they are being drugged through a government program. I sort of get involved with figuring that out.
Latino-Review: So, is this the science fiction part of the show?
Annie Tedesco: Yeah, I would say so. It’s the science fiction part. Although, it’s drawn from the real part in U.S. history with a top secret program called MK Ultra. And that’s kind of interesting.
Latino-Review: What’s MK Ultra?
Annie Tedesco: It’s an undercover program that the CIA was creating. It was an intelligence initiative. It was designed to develop mind control [in people] to be used as a weapon against the Soviets. They were doing testing on soldiers and civilians.
Latino-Review: Wow, that’s very interesting. So your character starts to discover these secrets. So where does your character going this season?
Annie Tedesco: Right now, I’m an unofficial double agent. So I’m sort of working in the program through the hospital. I’m close to the soldier who is being tested on. I’m secretly informing him and keeping him in the loop about the program. And I’m also navigating on being a single mom.
Latino-Review: Being that single mom, is your character the mother of one of those young detectives on the show?
Annie Tedesco: Yes, yes. My son is Arthur Milligan. He’s in a band of unlikely heroes of teenagers. They are running around figuring the mysteries out, but it also draws the parallels on what the adults are doing.
Latino-Review: This is such a complex drama.
Annie Tedesco: It is!
Latino-Review: What made this show so attractive to you?
Annie Tedesco: When I got the excerpt for the TV show and read through them, they were very, very good. And that doesn’t always happen. I was drawn in pretty quickly. So when I got to read [my lines] with other actors for the role—it was really good and fun.
Latino-Review: Tell me about the setting for the show in the 1960s. And it is also my understanding the show is entirely filmed in Utah.
Annie Tedesco: Season one takes place in 1962. And now we’re in season two which takes place the following year in 1963. So it’s the early 1960s during the Cold War era. It’s supposed to be an idyllic town in Colorado, but we film it entirely around Salt Lake City in Utah.
Latino-Review: Tell me about the town setup for the 1960s look for the show. Did they build a small town outside of Salt Lake City for the show?
Annie Tedesco: There are actually a few locations. There’s a sound stage for the interior shots like the hospital on where I work. The coolest thing about Utah is with all these mining towns around there in the mountains. We could set up on their main streets for outside shots. There’s also an old abandoned power plant where we used it for the hospital and other locations. Utah really lends itself to be able to create these towns.
And our art department is awesome. Everything on the set is authentic or at least looks that way. When you walk on the set—it’s such a trippy experience. It’s like you just walked into 1963. I don’t know where these guys found all these stuff. It’s pretty awesome.
Latino-Review: Speaking of the 1960s, one of the things that had to be great is wearing those costumes.
Annie Tedesco: Oh, my gosh. It’s really awesome. Our costume designer has done such a good job. She went in and found so many different vintage costumes. Whatever we can’t find—she made them. I have no idea how women got dressed alone back in the 60s. Of course, there’s hair and makeup. I sit on a chair for hair and makeup for two hours on shooting days. It’s everything, including hairspray, rollers, eyelashes and thick eyeliners. I have a lot of respect for the women of that era now. It took some time to get ready.
Latino-Review: The show only airs eight episodes per season. Will there be a third season for the show?
Annie Tedesco: As far as I know, there will be a third season. That’s unofficial. [Laughter] It’s only eight episodes long, but it’s worth watching.
Latino-Review: This show generates nearly 4.2 million hits. That’s impressive.
Annie Tedesco: We have a very good fan base. All of us were super-pleased with those first numbers. I don’t think any of us knew what to expect, because BYU TV has never done a scripted series before. So we weren’t really sure on where it would land. So when it landed, it landed big time. We’re really thrilled.
Latino-Review: I was reading your background and noticed that you had a comedy improv background. Why didn’t you head towards comedy, but instead ended up in a drama series like this one?
Annie Tedesco: I love comedy. My resume is peppered with lots of different comedies and shows. When you’re an actor in LA and then go on these auditions and castings—regardless if they’re comedies or dramas—you just go. You’ll see where you land actually. That’s how it happened.
I really love doing dramas, especially with “Granite Flats.” It has such great writing. It’s something I could sink my teeth into.
Latino-Review: Do you like doing television personally than anything else like movies?
Annie Tedesco: I really enjoy doing television. It’s nice to be with a character and stay with a character for a long time and be in a massive story arc. But, I would say I love all of it. I came from theater. I love improv. And I have done a few movies. It’s kind of hard for me to pick one.
Latino-Review: I was just checking out your Twitter and it looks like you have some interesting projects for yourself. Could you talk about the upcoming indie projects like “Visions?”
Annie Tedesco: Yeah, “Visions.” I just filmed that and it’s a horror or more like a thriller film. It has Isla Fisher, Eva Longoria, Anson Mount and Jim Parsons. That was fun to do something that is kind of scary especially things with blood. I love doing [projects with] effects, because it’s so cool. That should be coming out, but I don’t really know the release date yet.
Latino-Review: A thriller? That’s entirely different from what you’ve been doing before.
Annie Tedesco: I know! [Laughter] It is. But, you can classify thrillers like doing dramas. You have to take it seriously. You have to be believable.
Latino-Review: What do you play in that movie? Hopefully, not a victim I hope.
Annie Tedesco: I played a bit of a red herring at one point. I don’t want to give too much information, because it gives away too much of the story.
Latino-Review: I understand. So what else do you have in the pipeline then?
Annie Tedesco: I also shot an indie film called “10 Things I Hate About Life.” That stars Evan Rachel Wood. That should be coming out some time this year. It’s hard to describe, but I guess it’s a young adult dramedy. There’s some comic relief on that. I had a good time.
Latino-Review: I like to wrap up interviews with a fun question. I read your biography that you like to read a lot. For your fans to know, what do you like to read?
Annie Tedesco: Do you know what? I really, really love historical fiction. I’m gonna say it. I really love reading young adult fantasy. I’m currently reading the “Divergent” series. I’m devouring it. And also the “Game of Thrones.” [Laughter]
Latino-Review: Oh, wow. Yeah, I picked up “Divergent” too. I actually finished all three books in a day. [Laughter]
Annie Tedesco: See? You totally get it.
Latino-Review: This is a terrific conversation. I will check out the rest of the season for “Granite Flats.” Thank you for speaking with me.
Annie Tedesco: Cool. Thank you so much and I really appreciate it.