Archive for July, 2006

PBS gets naked

Remember when PBS used to stand for Pretty Boring Stuff?
That moniker was shed, along with major articles of clothing, by 28-year-old Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, star of “Great Performances: Vittorio: Dreams of Rome” airing in August.
Vittorio had been sitting at the piano near the Ritz-Carlton bank of elevators pounding out some tunes that afternoon. Perhaps he was also pounding down something stronger than sparkling water, but we’re not sure. Anyway, he performed in front of TV critics gathered here for the penultimate night of a very long press tour that has taken up the better part of July.
After the performance, he went back to jamming on the ivories with a bunch of fans, including some young PBS publicists who handed him at least one mint-laced beverage.
After posing for pictures and engaging in some serious flirting, he apparently decided it was time to cool off.
So he took a dip in the Olympic size pool. And was it his fault he didn’t bring his swim suit?
He tossed clothed women into the pool and reportedly kept yelling that he was Italian. Apparently that explains the no-shame late night dip. Eventually, hotel security.
All I’m saying is that after watching the cavorting in the pool over the past few weeks, there isn’t enough chlorine in the world to get me into that water.

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How Helen Mirren spent her birthday

You can’t say Helen Mirren isn’t a good sport. But you can say she’s a little testy about her age.
She spent her 61st birthday chatting with critics about the final cycle of “Prime Suspect,” which airs on PBS this November. The press material states that “drink, loneliness and the grueling life of a crime fighter are finally catching up with Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison, now clinging to her career.”
The release also said that our dear Jane was “pushing 60.”
So, curiosity drove me to the Internet to discover if Mirren had hopped over that line yet. And discovered today was her birthday.
It seemed churlish not to wish her many happy returns of the day when we met for a quick grab and gab. So I said softly, “Happy Birthday.”
Suddenly, she looked as if I was about to become a murder victim.
Eager to change the subject, I asked if Jane’s fans would find this a satisfying end to long relationship.
“Satisfied?” she queried with a hard Jane Tennison stare. “I don’t know, perhaps not, but everything must end eventually.”
She then warmly greeted the next reporter, who wisely didn’t mention anything involving cake and candles.

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“Friends” Again?

Courtney Cox-Arquettesays she’s wouldn’t mind being with her “Friends” again.
“I haven’t gotten a call,” she says. “But I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.”
Cox-Arquette was sitting in a huge white tent with misters and fans Tuesday night to beat the considerable heat. She was there flogging her latest project, “Dirt,” about the inside of a tabloid magazine. She plays the editor in the project for Fx scheduled to air early next year.
“It’s a strange relationship between tabloids and celebrities,” she admits. “You need the press in Hollywood, but you would like to stick to people like you.”
And she also says all the cameras trained on her beachfront home aren’t really there for her and husband David Arquette.
“They just want to get shots of (our daughter) Coco,” Cox-Arquette says. “And that’s not fair to her.
“I see our neighbors out enjoying their pool, sitting out with friends and I would just like to be able to do that.”
So why not move?
“We’ve been thinking about that a lot lately,” she admits.

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It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere

So it’s come to this.
Right as I type, Fox has decided to pass out mimosas, Irish coffee and bloody Marys to everyone in the session.
And it’s not even 10 in the morning.
As one excited newbie on the Television Critics’ press tour said, “I heard rumors of this kind of thing happening, but it’s never happened to me before!”
Yes, bloggers are sitting around the room, with drinks sitting next to them. But in a true signal that times have changed, virtually no one is actually drinking.
Although no one would blame a critic for drinking before a sesson on Fox’s horrific new comedy, “Happy Hour.”
It’s anything but happy, and we’re all grateful it doesn’t last an hour.

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Star crossed

For almost three weeks, it’s been one celebrity after another.
Is it any wonder we believe every star in the hallway of the Ritz is here to talk to us?
So when poor Kirsten Dunst passed me and my friend Gail, we gave her a cheery “Hello.”
And she tried to crawl underneath the museum-quality carpet.
She was with family members and apparently just stopped by to grab some breakfast, and found herself in the midst of people she routinely tries to avoid.

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Carol Burnett still rocks

She may be a little frail, but the first lady of TV comedy Carol Burnett still knows how to rock the house.
Burnett was honored by the Television Critics Association on Sunday night at the annual TCA awards for Career Achievement. She got a standing ovation from an audience that included producers and stars from “House,” “Lost,” “The Office,” “My Name is Earl,” “West Wing,” “High School Musical” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
When she accepted the award, Burnett says she’s still open to playing other TV roles after a great experience on “Desperate Housewives.”
“So, if you have anything for me at ‘The Office,’ ” she said, looking over at the elated cast and crew.
After the ceremony, Steve Carell and the producers went over to talk some business with Burnett.
But it was in the queue to get their cars after the event that the stakes went up. “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes and producer Betsy Beers took the opportunity to tell Burnett how much she had meant to them.
“You are the reason we are in this business,” Beers said. “Really. You have been my inspiration.”
Beers and Rhimes said that after her speech, they already started thinking about at least one episode written just with Burnett in mind.
I think she was talking to “The Office” people, I told them.
“Not if we get her first,” says Rhimes.

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Flowers? No joke

We’ll go along with the idea that two NBC series – “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” by “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin and “30 Rock” created by Tina Fey – set in the behind-the-scenes world of “Saturday Night Live” was just a fluke.
But at least Sorkin admits he felt a bit bad about the whole dust-up when it came out in the press that it caused a lot of network angst.
So, Sorkin says, he sent Fey flowers, wishing her good luck on her new series, just before the series were announced for the fall schedule last May.
“I thought I might hear from her, but I never did,” Sorkin said. “I was kind of surprised by that, but you know, the business being what it is, you just never know what to expect.”
So Sorkin finally caught up with Fey recently and asked her if she ever got his flowers.
“She said she got the flowers and thought it was a joke from one of the people at ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ” Sorkin says with a smile. “I guess she called everyone she knew at ‘SNL’ trying to find out who had done it, and then felt badly when she found out they came from me.”
Fey announced she was leaving “Saturday Night Live” to concentrate on starring, writing and producing “30 Rock.”
“I just tried doing too much and I need to just focus on this and my daughter,” says Fey, who wears an necklace with the letter on A on it for 10-month-old Alice. “I wanted to write a movie, which I did, I wanted to have my own show, which I do and I wanted to have a child. I think I’m one of the luckiest people ever.”
Even if the “30 Rock” is a bust, she doesn’t have much to worry about. The series is produced by “SNL’s” founder Lorne Michaels and I think he wouldn’t mind having her back on board.

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Delroy Lindo packs up

Delroy Lindo plays tough guys and once you go toe-to-toe with him, you can quickly figure out why.
The East Bay resident plays a hard-edged FBI agent in the new NBC series “Kidnapped,” and when I walked up to him he stared at me like I was a dog about to desecrate his manicured lawn.
“You look like Estelle Parsons,” he pronounces.
I’m hoping he meant the young Estelle, who is now fast approaching 79. It’s been a long tour, so I might just be flattering myself.
So, I ask, you live in Berkeley or Oakland?
“Yes,” he says, the subject to be closed to further discussion.
So, this show tapes in New York. Isn’t that going to be hard on the family life?
“We’re moving to New York for five and a half months, then we’ll be back,” he says, with the expression on his face never changing and, in fact, getting a tad more intimidating.
So I continue.
Planning on doing any theater in the Bay Area?
“I’m directing ‘The Blue Door’ at Berkeley Rep,” he says. “But this is the third time I’ve tried to do something for them and it always falls through. Maybe third time’s the charm.”
Sensing I had pressed my luck enough, I quickly made my exit.

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“ER” star gets busy

Braving the wicked heat out on the Ritz lawn, Woodside’s Linda Cardellini confided that her “ER” character nurse Sam is getting a new love interest.
“I don’t know who it is yet, but I’m excited,” says Cardellini, who looked pretty cool despite the oven-blast heat. Maybe that’s because she spent some time this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico filming a new CBS miniseries “Comanche Moon.”
The movie, one of the few original TV movies being produced this season, is a prequel to “Lonesome Dove” and chronicles the early romance of Gus, played by Steve Zahn in the Robert Duvall role and Clara, played by Cardellini in the Anjelica Huston role.
“It combined everything I love: horses, good script and great actors,” says Cardellini, who also had a role in the groundbreaking movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

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Hot Time

It was the hottest party of 2006 press tour.
NBC did a barbecue-themed party out on the lawn of the Ritz-Carlton for their final night of press tour, but they found it hard to round up the talent and push those cattle out of the air-conditioned Ritz.
Temperatures soared to around 115 degrees, and no one was eager to get out.
Milo Ventigmiglia and Adrian Pasdar said they already put in more than a pound of sweat promoting their show, “Heroes” about ordinary people with extraordinary powers at San Diego’s Comic Con on Friday.

“The whole cast, except Greg Grunberg and Hayden Panettiere who had to work that day, went down to San Diego on a bus,” said Ventigmiglia. “This thing was falling apart and the air conditioning went out. So we were trapped in this thing for two hours, baking. We spent the time laughing and joking about it.

As Pasdar said, “You get to know really fast just what kind of people you are working with you get stuck in that situation. And we’ve got some great people on the show.”

The series is created and produced by Pittsburg native Tim Kring.

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