Archive for TV critics press tour

Television Critics Cancel Jan. Press Tour

For the first time in Television Critics Association history, the January press tour has been canceled.

The twice-yearly press event, which is held in January and July each year, allows the networks to trot out their new shows to North American TV writers and critics from the New York Times to the Oakland Tribune. Journalists grill stars, writers, producers and executives about their shows. It is a unique event that allows unlimited access and provides fodder for reporters writing about shows that are rolled out through the year.

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A trip to the “Heroes” set last July during press tour. Pictured are TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello and “Heroes” Greg Grunberg and Ali Larter.

As a TCA officer, I can tell you first hand that everything possible was done to preserve the tour, and the information gleaned that is passed on to readers. TCA President Dave Walker of New Orleans Times-Picayune has been tireless in his efforts to negotiate some sort of tour. But it all fell apart today, and news of the cancelation was passed on to the members.

“In light of the recent news concerning negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and following my consultation with representatives of all the presenting networks, the hotel will release the hotel rooms and ballroom space the tour would occupy,” Dave wrote to the members. “Consider the tour officially canceled whether the strike is settled before January 8 or not.

“From the beginning of this process, the commercial broadcast networks have cited expected budget cutbacks and their presumed inability to present panels for scripted programs as their reasons for not committing to a strike tour. More recently, the networks have also reported that a strike settlement later in December or in early January would offer difficulties in presenting tour sessions, due to logistics issues and hurry-up production schedules.”

As Dave told members, until late last month, the TCA had been working on staging a strike tour assembled around cable, PBS, TCA information panels plus possible presentations by broadcast networks, though none had committed to present if a strike was still in place. An abrupt reversal by PBS, who’d been committed for several weeks to present strike or not, scotched that plan.

A July press tour is still planned and is expected to take place this summer in Los Angeles.

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Ask one little “Lost” question…

Honest, it was just a question about “Lost” and suddenly, the wrath of ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson and “Lost” creator Damon Lindelof is upon me.

All the online people were all twittering about some big announcements that were going to be made at Comic Con on Thursday during the “Lost” session.

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STEPHEN MCPHERSON, trying to act like he wanted to be at press tour

Since I was committed to sticking it out for the final days of press tour with ABC bringing up the tail end, it seemed only natural that Steve should share what was going to be announced. Otherwise, why were we even hanging out here?

So it went like this:

Me, all being polite and stuff: “Mr. McPherson, on your left. Can I go back to
a “Lost” question? There’s been talk that there are major announcements that they are going to be announcing at Comic-Con tomorrow. Would you like to tell us today
what that might be? ”

STEPHEN McPHERSON, getting snarky right off the bat: “Yeah. Let me give those
announcements now. Of course I don’t. ”

Me trying to sweet talk him: “Oh, come on.”

STEPHEN McPHERSON, just tweaking me now: “They do have some announcements that they are going to be making that I think everyone will be pretty excited about.”

Me, again playing fair: “Well, can you tell us?”

STEPHEN McPHERSON, getting defensive: “No.”

Me, starting to get snippy: “Do you want us to go to Comic-Con tomorrow instead of the sessions? ”

STEPHEN McPHERSON, getting real sarcastic: “Let’s go now. Do you want to go? ”

Me, who didn’t get a budget for a rental car: “Sure.”

STEPHEN McPHERSON, really getting testy now: “You and me, we’ll just go on a little
road trip down to Comic-Con.”

Me, who is hoping we might bond and stop by In and Out Burger on the way down: “Okay.”

Later, other reporters at the press conference jumped into the fray.

Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee told Steve Mc. “I don’t think my editor is going to be very happy when she reads on a blog later this afternoon that Steve McPherson promised that the biggest news regarding one of the highest-rated shows in the network would be coming at a fan convention the next day.”

Later, a publicist skittered across the stage and whispered to McPherson that Lindelof had given his permission to give out the biggest news: Harold Perrineau is returning to the show.

Now, really Steve, was it all that hard?

To add to the problem, it has been reported that Damon was upset that we found out before the fans. But, really, it was less than 24 hours before he made the announcement, so the fans at the convention thought they were getting it first and the newspapers thought they were getting it first.

It was a win-win, right Damon?
Damon?

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The Greening of the O’Romijns

Just about a week after Berkeley’s Rebecca Romijn (“Ugly Betty’’) and Jerry O’Connell (“Carpoolers’’), the two were chatting with critics about their respective TV series.

“Carpoolers’’ is on the ABC fall schedule.

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THE HAPPY COUPLE

“I love the Bay Area. I’m addicted to Zach’s pizza, I only drink Peet’s coffee in the morning, and I’m now officially a member of the Raider Nation,’’ says Jerry, still giddy about his recent nuptials. “My in-laws live in the Bay Area, so we go up there a lot. We just visited my sister-in-law, who lives in Richmond. And I’m still trying to eat at Chez Panisse, which they said was booked until October when I called for a reservation. I drive a Prius and get angry if people don’t recycle. The little lady has got me living the Bay Area lifestyle.’’

Later, when asked to confirm his conversion to Green, the impossibly beautiful Rebecca laughed.

“Yeah, he’s driving MY Prius,’’ Romijn says. “Hey, at least he’s driving a Prius. My mom bought us a purified water system for our wedding president and Jerry decided to put solar panels in. I didn’t turn Jerry Green, but I think I might have started the fire under his butt. ’’

Rebecca says they haven’t stopped enjoying their life since they’ve been together.

“We took our honeymoon in June before the wedding and I highly recommend it,’’ says Rebecca. “I got married relaxed and with a tan.’’

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“Studio 60” Reality

Fans of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’’ know that creator Aaron Sorkin tapped into real Hollywood people for the drama and exploited his own stormy relationship with Kristen Chenoweth thought the characters of Matt and Harriet.

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KRISTIN CHENOWETH on the TCA panel for “Pushing Daisies.” (ABC/CRAIG SJODIN)

Like Matt and Harriet, Aaron and Kristen have had their share of spats, including a huge blow-up over Christian Kristen appearing on the “700 Club.” That formed the basis of the break-up between Matt and Harriet on “Studio 60.”

Kristen turned up at the ABC party Thursday night wearing a pretty white dress and a large diamond cross. She says she got more upset about things Aaron wrote about her on the show that were fictional, like her stand on stem cell research, than the things that were true.

“Did you watch the season finale?” asks Kristen about the episode in which Matt and Harriet get engaged. “We were broken up at the time.”

The affable star was eager to talk about her relationship with Aaron.

“We are together,’’ Kristen says, adding with a little punch, “This week.’’

Earlier that day when she was shooting her new series “Pushing Daisies,’’ Aaron popped over to the studio and ran around toilet papering her car.

“He says it’s a good luck tradition, but I don’t know,’’ says the chipper Chenoweth. “He’s really great. This week.’’

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Sheen passes the torch

Charlie Sheen used to be known as the tabloid headling king for his antics involving Hollywood madams, drugs and overall chaotic life.

But now, he reminds us, he’s just a guy doing a TV show who has some nice kids and is happily engaged. And Sheen’s more than eager to let the Lindsay Lohans and Britney Spears take that searing spotlight.

“There’s several people recently at least in the last year that have snatched that torch from me,” Sheen says with his dry wit delivery. “I just stay home and let it happen basically, but I feel for them.”

Any advice?

“I mean, it’s not that complicated to hire a car or just to carry some extra cab fare at some point,” he says.

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Sylar’s no cockroach

Hot breaking news: We can confirm that Zachary Quinto will be a regular character this year on “Heroes,” although he’ll be taking some time off to play Spock in the upcoming “Star Trek’’ movie.

OK, so there’s no real official word, but it’s almost a done deal.

Moving on.

A few days earlier at the Television Critics Awards, I made the mistake of asking Zachary, who plays the evil Sylar, if he was really a cockroach _ the insect seen crawling out of the gutter after Sylar was supposedly killed

“I am not a cockroach,’’ he says in a low snarl. “It was a metaphor for evolution.’’

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ZACHARY QUINTO AS SYLAR – NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth

Sylar, we can safely say, has not been killed. Although I’m a little afraid Zachary may be out to get me.

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Lostie returns

“Lost” producer Damon Lindelof will be making a major announcement at ComicCon tomorrow in San Diego.

At the end of last season’s “Lost,” we discovered that everything we’ve been watching up until this point was all in the past.

We were tipped to this early when we saw an episode with Jack watching the 2004 World Series game won by the Boston Red Sox that Ben, the leader of the Others, showed him during his during his confinement.

While we’d love to know if this season will be told in flashback or flash forward, ABC says the announcement is that Harold Perrineau, who played dad Michael Dawson, will be returning this season which starts in early 2008.

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UPDATE: At ComicCon, Harold told fans that he thinks he’s the one in the coffin shown in the season ender.

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Party Dress

“ER” star Linda Cardellini, who stars in the new CBS miniseries “Comanche Moon,’’ wowed the folks at the NBC party and the red carpet with her lacy teal dress, which she says she bought at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

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LINDA CARDELLINI – NBC Photo: Chris Haston

“My dad picked it out for me while we were shopping,’’ she says. “Isn’t it great? It’s a Betsey Johnson.’’

Linda’s gone back to her natural brunette and looks stunning.

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Blake’s Fashion Pain

Blake’s promoting her new CW series “Gossip Girl” about the social lives of Upper East Side teens filled with entitlement issues based on the best-selling series of young adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar executive-produced by “The O.C.”‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

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Pictured ( back l -r) Executive Producer Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage Executive Producer, Blake Lively and Leighton Meester session at the TCA Summer Press Tour 2007 held on July 20, 2007 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Carol Kaelson/THE CW

She’s still tight with her “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” co-stars America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), Amber Tamblyn (“Joan of Arcadia”) and Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”).

“My first instinct was I’m going to call the girls, because I knew they had all been through it. But then I was — they’re so dog-gone opinionated
and they’re all so different,’’ Blake says. “When they get together, I’m like their baby sister. And they sit me down. I was going to get another dog recently, and they’re like, “No. You’re not going to do that.” They, like, wrote a whole list of pros and cons for me. So I thought I’m just going to make this decision on my
own, and then I’m going to talk to them about it, which, I think, was the right decision. I’m very happy.’’

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The Sisterhood

Blake and the girls will be filming the sequel soon, she says. By the way, her current maltese/poodle mix Penny, 2, looks like an adorable brown mini-ewok with curls.

As for the gorgeous Vivienne Westwood yummy yellow dress that cinched tightly around her waist with a large belt, Blake says she can hardly wait to get it off.

“It looks great, but just try eating something while you are wearing it,’’ Blake says, rubbing her tummy. “Just trying to eat a couple of bites really hurts.’’

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And the winner is…

Here’s what it’s like to present a Television Critics Association Award:

You go up on the stage where the Golden Globes are presented, looking out at an audience that includes “Sopranos’’ creator David Chase with Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco, Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock,’’ Matt Dallas of “Kyle XY,’’ “Heroes’’ creator Tim Kring with Adrian Pasdar, Masi Oka, “The Office” producer Greg Daniels and castmembers and Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights.’’

And you pray you don’t black out.

Makes you understand yet again just how good these people in the room are at what they do.

Alec won the award for individual achievement in comedy and rocked the room. He told the story about how he tried to get a role on “The Sopranos.’’

In New York, he was going to a meeting with “a famous socialite’’ to raise some money for some foundation. But he went to the wrong place, and had to bolt down Park Avenue, he’s drenched in sweat. So he excuses himself to use the men’s room and takes his shirt off, and dries his shirt in the men’s room of the Four Season’s Restaurant.

And David Chase walks in and says, “Alec Baldwin?’’

He didn’t get a role on the show.

Of course, when Chase took the stage to accept the award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama, he says that in response to Alec, “When I walked into the (restroom), I thought `Holy (Shucks), that was Alec Baldwin the famous movie star. I didn’t even notice he didn’t have a shirt on.’’

When he came up again for the Heritage Award, Chase remarked that when you are in New Jersey, you can be sitting in a restaurant and have everything stop.

“It’s not that big of a deal,’’ he deadpans.

He then mentioned that he was awed by other nominees, which included “M*A*S*H,’ `Roots,’ `Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and “Sesame Street.’’

“But I thought we had a pretty good shot when I didn’t see any Muppets in the audience,’’ Chase says.

Then he said a TV critic told him it would be good to actually explain the ending of “The Sopranos.’’

“I wasn’t going to get into it, but when I was going to Stanford, at 23, I went to see the `Planet of the Apes’ with my wife,’’ Chase says. “At the end I said, `Wow. So they had a Statue of Liberty too.’ So that’s what you are up against.’’

For a better insight, check out the season one finale.

“The Office’’ producer Greg Daniels says he spent the whole day reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

“I’m on page 450, and it’s good,’’ Daniels says. “If we adapt it for American audiences, it could be really successful.’’

He then introduced the cast that showed up for the awards – and said how he would cast them as “Harry Potter’’ characters.

Brian Baumgartner as Hagrid; Mindy Kaling as Pavarti, or Luna; Angela Kinsey as Delores Umbridge; Kate Flannery as Aunt Petunia; Oscar Nunez as Viktor Krum; Leslie David Baker as Mr. Dursley and Creed Bratton as Lucius Malfoy.

“Is this too nerdy for everyone?,’’ Greg asked.

Not for this crowd.

2007 TCA Award recipients are as follows:

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: “Heroes” (NBC)

OUTSTANDING NEW PROGRAM: “Friday Night Lights” (NBC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: “The Sopranos” (HBO)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: “The Office” (NBC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS & INFORMATION: “Planet Earth” (Discovery)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING: “Kyle XY” (ABC Family)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES, MINI-SERIES & SPECIALS: “Planet Earth” (Discovery)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock” (NBC)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (Showtime)

HERITAGE AWARD: “The Sopranos” (HBO)

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Mary Tyler Moore

Oh, and I’m now the newly elected secretary of the Television Critics Association. Go TCA.

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