Jeff Perry Teases Aftermath of Hostage Situation, Concerns for Newspaper

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Alaska Daily Season 1 Episode 7 “Enemy of the People.”]

Alaska Daily finally returns (it went on break mid-November), with an episode in which Eileen (Hilary Swank) isn’t the only Daily Alaskan employee in danger.

“Concerned Citizen” (Bill Dawes) — later identified, thanks to the work of the newspaper’s Editor Stanley Cornik (Jeff Perry) and his writers — holds Eileen hostage as everyone else is outside… or so they think. Gabriel (Pablo Castelblanco) was in the Archives room when “Concerned Citizen” came in, and he’s able to pass along messages to Eileen using the analytics board until he’s caught. Attempts to talk “Concerned Citizen” are futile, until he steps in the sniper’s eyeline and raises his gun. It’s not until after he’s dead that Eileen and Gabriel see he’d removed the magazine.

Perry teases what’s ahead after the hostage situation and shares how he thinks Stanley would’ve handled being in Eileen’s position.

First of all, how was Stanley feeling throughout the hostage situation? He had to think about how to best help his staff in the building, keep his staff outside of it working, think about covering the story as The Daily Alaskan’s editor, and try to help the police with information, all while also being worried about Eileen and Gabriel. Did he have time to process all of that?

Jeff Perry: I take inspiration from the real life editor of the Anchorage Daily News, David Hulen, who I’ve been able to spend a number of hours with, and he is a zen-like, thoughtful, composed, wise fellow. So I just go, “OK, come on. Channel some David for your Stanley, and you can juggle all these things.”

And I think an editor’s job, when they are churning out, OK, what stories are going to have priority, how long are they going to be, how are they going to fit on the page, what should be in the digital version, what should be in the print version, all of this. The daily juggling that is multitasking for an editor of a mid to small paper is not as fraught as [this] situation, but these people have a lot of practice at juggling a number of balls at one time. So I took heart in that and thought, “OK, come on, stay calm. That’s the only way we’re going to get through this thing.” And what’s the British slogan during World War II and being bombed? Keep calm and carry on.

Looking at the aftermath, how are Eileen and Gabriel going to be doing? And how is Stanley going to be maybe trying to help them?

Yeah, there’s a real heightened awareness of what they’ve been through, the kind of trauma that situation evokes. And I think what the writers have done that feels like a gift to try to portray is a group of people who really have a camaraderie and have each other’s backs. He’s certainly got his radar completely attuned to Eileen and to Gabriel and what they would be going through.

Meredith Holzman, Jeff Perry, Ami Park, and Craig Frank in 'Alaska Daily'

ABC/Darko Sikman

Who’s he more worried about?

I think Gabriel in a way. Gabriel’s younger, less experienced. Eileen’s been through some pretty fraught stuff, maybe even war correspondent kind of work.

How’s Stanley doing? Can he maintain that zen-like state now that the situation is over?

I think he’s trying and mostly succeeding.

How would Stanley have handled being in Eileen’s place?

I hope that he would’ve handled it pretty well. All indications from how the character is conceived and written would make me think that he would keep it together pretty well. He would keep trying to urge enough dialogue and enough empathy going back and forth between the hostage taker and him, the hostage, that he would certainly be, if not confident, hopeful of a peaceful resolution.

Is there anything coming up that challenges his sobriety?

We don’t see him tempted to fall off the wagon, no. We see some situations that could do that, but that’s not where the writers take us.

I feel like this one could have, but he handled it well.


How does Stanley feel about the state of The Daily Alaskan at this point?

Stanley started to pull on some threads already by this point in this season that show a kind of cyclical existential threat to the newspaper. And in these remaining five episodes that we might call the second half, that grows and it becomes more fraught and it becomes a real concern. We see him, the publisher, and some of the newsroom navigate that.

Jeff Perry and Hilary Swank in 'Alaska Daily'

ABC/Darko Sikman

How much more will we hear, maybe see about Stanley’s personal life?

In the remaining five episodes, if memory serves, we’re not getting too much on Stanley’s personal life. He seems to have a comfortable, I would say, kind of demarcation between what he shares personally and what is the business of running the newspaper. So you and I and enough thousands of people need to send a message to the ABC deciders that we need more. We need more episodes to explore just such a thing.

When we got a mention in the pilot, I wanted to hear more, but then he moved on to business.

Yeah. It’s funny. It’s interesting. In a certain way, we get more personal story from the reporters in our writers’ hands than we do about Stanley. So maybe they’re holding that card for down the road.

Hopefully! How much more will we hear about Stanley and Eileen’s past?

The little teaser I’ll give you is that by the final episode, both of them refer to the events in New York when Stanley comes to enlist, plead with Eileen to, as he says, “you break big stories, that could make us relevant and that could keep us alive.” And they both visit that territory again — I won’t tell you how, but they do. You have to stay tuned to the final episode to really get what I’m talking about.

What’s coming up in the investigation into Gloria’s murder? Now that the hostage situation is over, it feels like they can turn back to that.

Yeah, it does toggle back to that and there are some really interesting twists in that story where who we think we know the perpetrator is comes into question. I shouldn’t say more than that.

What else can you say about what’s coming up?

As I kind of referred to, we’ve got pressure to, in the financial bottom line at the paper, do better, possibly to lay off staff, and we’ll see what happens there. We’ve got Stanley pulling on a thread regarding Conrad Pritchard [John Getz], the father, really the bankroll of the Pritchard family, his son is the publisher. But we see connections to land deals and local politics in that realm that come to affect the newspaper.

We’ve got Roz’s [Grace Dove] boyfriend, Jindahaa [Martin Sensmeier], who we’ve been introduced to, but just kind of barely, and his specialty is where graphics meet tech. He does some work for the paper that really amplifies the ongoing story for the public, both the macro, the systemic problem of missing and murdered indigenous women in Alaska, and specifically Gloria’s case.

Alaska Daily, Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC

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