Monday, July 30, 2012

CW prez not checking out of The L.A. Complex

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--The president of The CW has no idea why The L.A. Complex is not drawing more viewers.
Mark Pedowitz says he loves the Toronto-produced serial and plans to air all 13 season two episodes, even though last Tuesdays hit a new low of 390,000 overnight, estimated viewers in the United States. The same episode drew an overnight, estimated 78,000 viewers on MuchMusic in Canada.
On the positive side, Pedowitz says the the series "does well digitally" in terms of streamed viewership and generates a ton of social media buzz. He praised the "great showrunners," singling out executive producer Martin Gero as "just fantastic" and hopes to be in business with him "for a long, long time."
He says the show's future beyond this season will be assessed at the end of its summer run. "We wouldn't have stuck with it if we didn't believe in it," he told critics during Monday morning's executive session.
The CW is shooting all of their new shows for fall in Canada, with Arrow and Emily Owens, M.D. based in Vancouver and Beauty and the Beast based in Toronto.

The stars come out at lively CBS press tour party

CBS president Nina Tassler (middle) with Elementary stars Lucy Liu and
Jonny Lee Miller. Cliff Lipson/CBS 
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--CBS threw a perfect press tour party Sunday, offering plenty of access to the biggest names across their various network and cable properties. Stars from fall shows like Vegas (CBS) and Beauty and the Beast (The CW) walked the red carpet and then mingled with press as well as stars from established hits like Californication and Dexter (Showtime).
Like they did last summer, CBS took over the rooftop parking garage across from the Beverly Hilton and turned it into an AstroTurf party zone, complete with retro touches like muffin stations, rum-spiked blizzard cones and and even potato chips. It was a bit jarring to hear Whitney Huston come blaring out of the outdoor speakers across from the hotel where she died last year--but that kind of thing happens a lot in Hollywood.
I (temporarily) parked my impulse to raid the tables full of sliders and bagged sound bites from the following celebrities:

  • Nina Tassler, president, CBS Entertainment: Bill Carter from the New York Times had one question for Madam President: after all the forensic detective dramas she has put on her network over the years, did she think she could solve a crime? Absolutely, said Tassler, who almost had to become a CSI specialist last year after he home was broken into. The CBS executive and her husband returned home to find evidence of a break in and jewelry missing. When the police arrived, hubby couldn't resist telling the cops that the missus put all those CBS crime shows on TV. Tassler laughed out loud when I asked if the cop knelt down at the crime scene, whipped off his glasses and said, "Looks like an inside job," followed by Daltry's famous, "YAAAAAAAAAAA!" By the way, the couple's home is now guarded by the same breed of attack dog that Team Six used to take out Osama bin Laden. Tassler won't get fooled again.
  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory: The former Blossom star home schools her kids and so far hasn't subjected them to either of her hit TV shows. She'll wait until they are Blossom's age to see Blossom. Did she watch TV as a kid? You betcha, saying The Cosby Show was her favourite sitcom growing up. All that exposure to the boob tube didn't rot her mind: just like her brainy Big Bang character, Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience.
  • Michael C. Hall, Dexter: With Dexter backed into a particularly ticklish corner for the start of the seventh season, Hall was asked if things could possibly end happily for his character. More likely, kidded Hall, was that his character would wander into a massage parlour and get a "Happy ending."
  • Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race: Keoghan took issue with Probst's version of that Survivor hosting audition told earlier in the day. Probst said it came down to the two of them for the Survivor hosting job and that Keoghan blew it by going in first. True, says Keoghan, but he had no choice--he was called in first. Whatever--six months later Keoghan landed Amazing Race. Says his New Zealand accent was the stumbling block to the job, funny when you consider all the Brit, Aussie and New Zealand accents among U.S. network casts today.
  • Jeff Probst, Survivor; The Jeff Probst Show: Probst says Survivor 25 and especially 26 gets the series back to where Mark Burnett always envisioned the series to be: anything can happen, anybody can win. He also talked about the house he bought with new bride Lisa Ann Russell: the old Gene Autry estate, which has "GA" carved over the door and came with several collectibles from the singling cowboy, including his old "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" 78s and other memorabilia. And get this: Probst's offices for his new daytime talk show is Autry's old studio office--so he takes the same route to work and back as the late, great former Angels' owner.
  • David Duchovny, Californication: Tried to suggest to Duchovny that Hank Moody's sexual and marital shenanigans might not be as "out there" as one might think--then realized that there is no way on earth this dude is going to touch that suggestion with a ten foot pole. He did retract his earlier musing that Moody might die at the end, saying the longer he plays him, the more he wants a happy ending. (Although,l just to be clear, he didn't mean that kind of "happy ending"...
  • Evan Handler, Californication: Was able to get closure with Handler over a mistake I made a decade ago. Once, in a story I wrote in the Toronto Sun, I got Handler confused with the other bald guy on Sex and the City, Willie Garson. Handler actually tracked me down on email at the time and and let me have it, suggesting I was something less than a journalist. Told him I try to be more careful now. All is forgiven.
  • L.L. Cool J, NCIS: Los Angeles: Cool J told reporters at the Global upfront in Toronto in June that he had been held up and hassled crossing the border at Canadian customs. He breezed through going back the other way, he reports. Whew!
  • Matt LeBlanc, Episodes. LeBlanc is playful and fun in interviews and apparently on the set of his Showtime series. Says he puts salami between the pages of his Brit co-stars scripts in an effort to try and get them to lighten up. Not baloney? His character plays a hockey coach on Pucks, the show-within-the-show, and LeBlanc, who grew up near Boston, says he's the only one in the cast who can skate and play hockey.
Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis. Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah Jones, Taylor
Handley and Jason O'Mara at the CBS party. Francis Specker/CBS

  • Michael Chiklis, Vegas: The former Shield star says he's happy to be on the other side of the law playing a mob boss on Vegas. And, yes, he did talk to some real life wiseguys to get into character, but wasn't naming names. "I'd have to kill you later," he says.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Message in a bottle changed Jeff Probst's life

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Jeff Probst usually does more listening than talking at Survivor tribal councils.
On Sunday, he spoke up, telling critics an amazing story about how his Tikki torch first got lit on the long-running reality show.
The 50-year-old was before critics to promote his new daytime talk series, The Jeff Probst Show. Probst joins Katie Couric and Rikki Lake in the run to be the next Oprah in daytime, starting September 10.
Back in 1999, Probst was driving on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, listening to this guy on the radio he thought was an Australian: Mark Burnett (actually from the U.K.). The wily executive producer was talking up this crazy TV show idea about how he was going to throw a dozen people on an island, start eliminating them one-by-one and have a jury of their peers vote one of them a million bucks.
Probst immediately got his agent on the phone. "I am so that guy for that show," he told his agent. Probst had just missed out on another TV gig and was tired of being runner-up to Regis Philbin.
To stand out from the pack, Probst brazenly sent Burnett and CBS a message in a bottle. The note inside predicted Survivor would be the No. 1 show of the summer, would knock Who Wants to Be a Millionaire off its perch and that this was all due to the fabulous host--Jeff Probst.
It took a while to hear back, and Probst began to worry his little stunt had backfired. Then came the call that his name was on a very short list. Two finalists were asked to come in and meet Burnett: Probst and Phil Keoghan.
EP Amy Coleman, Probst. Monty Brinton/CBS 
"We shook hands, I wished him good luck, and then Phil made the mistake of going in first," said Probst, who knew he would "close the deal" if he could secure the last interview.
"Phil got  The Amazing Race, so everything worked out," he told critics.
The Kansas native opened Sunday's session by sharing a lot of information about his new, L.A.-based set. Folks attending live tapings will be pampered heading in with massages, snacks and even makeup touch ups. He says he got the idea from visiting Jimmy Kimmel's green room.
How will Probst juggle hosting Survivor plus a daily, daytime talk show? Burnett helped out by changing the Survivor schedule, shooting two editions over one April-May-June stretch. This allowed Probst to jump right into his own production schedule earlier this month.
He says his show will not remind viewers of Maury or Jerry. They'll be no paternity tests, he promises. 
Instead, viewers will learn more about him and meet his actress wife, Lisa Ann Russell. The two were married last December. He plans to pretty much be the same guy steering the conversation on those Survivor after-show town meetings. As he told the press, "What I've learned about human nature on Survivor is that you can't change your core."

Dave, Danes and Downton winners at TCA Awards

Not David Letterman.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--David Letterman was among the no-shows Saturday night at the 28th Annual Television Critics Association Awards. The low-key gala took place at the main ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
In recent years, stars such as Tom Hanks, Alex Baldwin and Tina Fey have partied with critics but this year, for various reasons, the star power in the room was dimmed.
Letterman sent a taped message thanking critics for the career achievement award and then told a rambling story about Comedy Store owner Mitzy Shore. Taped at his usual desk before his studio audience in New York, the talk show host explained that he'd love to have been there in person, but, as his friends there would know, Saturday nights are his night to "eat glass."
If only a tape of what was said to the audience beforehand had been sent. "Sorry you have to see this, but I have to kiss these pampered weasels' asses for 30 seconds," he probably said.
What the 65-year-old talk show host did do was send a gap-toothed look-a-like, who came up on stage to grab the crummy plastic plaque we award to celebrities.
In an accident? Call Louis C.K., attorney at law
Also sending thanks via satellite were the cast of Downton Abbey, which won for best British costume drama/soap, and Louis C.K., who won for best comedy performer and guy who does everything on his series, FX's Louis.
We'd seen C.K. earlier in the day in the FX sessions making the same excuse for not being there via satellite from Albany, N.Y. The guy had to pick his daughter up from sleep-over camp and hadn't seen her in a month. Awww, what a dad, hard to be bummed out about that.
A gaffer and the craft services guy from Cheers accepted the best old series award. It was explained that producers Charles/Burrows/Charles couldn't be there because "they had to pick up their daughter at sleep-over camp." The Charles brothers literally took their money and ran after Cheers.
Cheers' writer Ken Levine was there and made a funny speech. ("Who knew Woody would be the one to go on to be a movie star.") He said he'd lost count of all the writers and producers today who had come up to him and said his show inspired them to get into television, "and they still don't give me a job."
Levine has a Toronto connection: he used to be a play-by-play announcer for the Jay's Triple-A farm team in Syracuse, N.Y. and even sat in the booth with his pal Jerry Howarth an occasion or two with the big team. "Exhibition Stadium," said Levine. "Brrrrr."
"This is the worst idea for a television show ever--go  ahead and make it."
Bryan Cranston on the initial network and studio reaction to Breaking Bad
Claire Danes was there to accept for Best Actress on the Planet for her role in Homeland. Mary Murphy thanked critics for naming So You Think You Can Dance their favourite reality show. It was nice of her to come; she ditched a same-night Dance gala across town to party with critics.
Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston was host and the critic's pal killed it. "Nice to be here at the Beverly Hilton," he said by way of an opener, "the place where the stars go to die."
Of Breaking Bad, he said, "everyone is watching the show, except coach Paterno, who looked the other way." Cranston said he wrote many of the jokes himself but had a little help from some writer pals on The Tonight Show.
Breaking Bad won for Best Drama and creator Vince Gilligan and the rest of the cast were on hand to accept. See? That's how it's done, Letterman.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jimmy Kimmel, Emmy host: no longer the outsider

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television is struggling to re-invent the Canadian TV Awards, formerly known as the Geminis. They've already announced the annual Canadian TV and movie awards will be combined into one televised gala. Categories are also being scrapped in an effort to get more viewers to actually watch it on TV.
So I asked Jimmy Kimmel, at press tour to promote The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards (He hosts Sept. 23 on ABC and CTV), if he had any advice to give to the Gemini folks.
"You know, they should just use ours," he says. "We've got plenty of Canadians nominated, just merge."
Problem solved!
Kimmel is celebrating 10 years in late night this fall, a milestone many in the business never thought he's see--including him. This year he's nominated for an Emmy, an honor that meant more to him after he saw how excited his staff was about it.
He's a big David Letterman fan, singling out Late Night with David Letterman as his all time favourite TV show (and Kimmel watched everything as a kid, and still tunes in to a surprising amount of TV). Dave is still his dream guest, and the CBS host has been invited on Kimmel's show pretty much on an annual basis. "It will happen one day," he believes.
Kimmel says he even liked when Letterman hosted the Oscars and couldn't get enough of Dave's Stupid Pet Tricks and other shtick.
The 44-year-old has some idea how intimidating these high level hosting gigs can be. Kimmel was so nervous about hosting the White House correspondent's dinner earlier this year that he actually threw up in his hotel room before the show. What he learned from the experience, he jokes, is that the president is funnier than he  is.
He'll likely be more at ease at the Emmys and was glad to have been asked to host this time--in fact, he would have been pissed if ABC had outsourced the job like they did last time they broadcast the annual industry salute.
Kimmel's ability to say anything, to blurt the blunt truth, makes him an edgy choice at these galas. That's a plus for viewers but probably made the Academy nervous in the past. The Golden Globes, however, keep asking Ricky Gervais back. As long as ratings stay strong, bring on the blunt.
Kimmel flashed that rapier-like wit Friday in the large scrum following his press conference. Asked if he was worried that he might have hurt Jay Leno's feelings (his "Ten at 10"  ambush was shockingly brazen), Kimmel shot back, "Jay has no feelings."
He admitted during the press conference that he has no boundaries when it comes to humour, at least on a personal level, although he tempers his public shtick at various times for various reasons.
He's got a sentimental side, too. When the scrum finally wound down, I was left standing next to Kimmel along with fellow late night specialists Bill Carter of the New York Times and Neal Justin of the Minneapolis StarTribune. All of us had our moments with Jimmy over the years. Mine dates back to his Man Show days and a memorable trip he made to Toronto with Adam Carolla. The Toronto Sun asked me to show these two characters the town and it was one of those nights. Many an instant teller machine was visited.
So when Kimmel looked at the three of us, shook his head and grinned and said, "Feels like a high school reunion," it did.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Palin, Pammy among ABC's Dancing All Stars

Hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet, above, with their all-stars
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--ABC had seven of the 12 competitors for Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars before critics Friday at press tour--but only one got the lion's share of the questions.
Bristol Palin was asked about everything from her family's growing involvement in reality television to would she dance with a gay partner to why she is doing this at all.
The 21-year-old's answers had critics debating later if she was overly media trained or not media trained at all. In any event, the way she danced around questions, you'd have to give the edge to Palin in this all-star edition of DWTS.
"God provides opportunities like this," was her favourite answer. Some in the room wondered if God maybe wasn't more wrapped up in more important things--like getting a deal done with the cast of Modern Family.
It was suggested during the session that, aside from the Kardashians, the Palins may now be the first family of reality programing. Bristol is already starring in her own Lifetime reality series Life's a Tripp. Mom Sarah--the centre of attention at an earlier TCA gathering--continues to be a featured commentator on Fox News. Dad Todd is among the contestants on NBC's Stars Earn Stripes.
The Palin factor was so sweeping at the DWTS session that poor Pamela Anderson only got one question throughout the entire press conference. What's a girl to do?
The 12 All-Star competitors are: Kirstie Alley, Pamela Anderson, Helio Castroneves, Joey Fatone, Shawn Johnson, Drew Lachey, Gilles Marini, Kelly Monaco, Apolo Anton Ono, Bristol Palin, Melissa Rycroft, Emmett Smith. A 13th contestant will be chosen by fans from among three other past performers: Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley and Kyle Massey.
Six of the returnees won the Mirror Ball trophy the first go-round: soap star Monaco (the first winner), Lachey, Smith, Ohno, Castroneves and Johnson.
An ad showing Kressley campaigning for votes was shown up on the ballroom screens. Shouldn't the other two get equal time?
After the session, most of the all stars busted a move for the exits. Lachey stuck around and chatted, as did the producer, but all the others were whisked out the side doors. ABC continues to live down to its well-earned TCA reputation as the most locked down network where media access is concerned.
Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars premieres Sept. 24 on ABC and CTV.

ABC loves Rookie Blue, looking for more co-pros

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee says he loves Rookie Blue and is looking to add more scripted--and perhaps Canadian--co-productions onto his schedule next summer.
"Those co-productions are super smart," he said in Friday's post-executive session press tour scrum. "They're cheap, they get watched around the world but they're high quality. It's a good model for us to be in, as well as the ones we invest in, we own and sell around the world. 
"We're huge fans of Rookie Blue," he added, and have a few little twinkles in our eyes about other [co-productions]." 
Lee, who was at the Banff Media fest in June, suggested during Friday's TCA session that ABC is looking to add more scripted drama to their summer schedule next season. All U.S. broadcasters have seen a sharp drop in rerun ratings over the past few off-seasons.
Rookie Blue easily won it's timeslot Thursday with 5,745,000 overnight, estimated viewers, it's biggest ABC audience of this season. ABC and Global have both already ordered a fourth season.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

TCA 2012 SET VISIT: ABC's Revenge

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Called on the Graysons today in the Hamptons but they weren't home. Damn--I wanted to borrow some Grey Poupon!
Actually, I was down in Manhattan Beach, south of Inglewood, with dozens of other TCA journalists as well as some international press. We were shuttled in to the Raleigh Studios soundstage where the ABC hit Revenge is produced.
The frothy prime time serial was one of the few hits from last season and is being moved into the old Desperate Housewives Sunday timeslot in September.
Critics got to roam all over the set while we waited for several cast members to arrive for interviews. The Graysons have quite a place, with a two story grand room, sweeping staircases and lavish outdoor gardens. What's missing is a kitchen and bathrooms, which is going to hurt resale potential.
Bill Harris guests next season as Thurston Howell IV
ABC officials gave the green light to take photos up until the cast arrived and so everybody started snapping away. I think these set visit photo ops are "Blog Gold," and so must ABC, but I can still hear TCA legend Tom Jicha dismissing these opportunities with, "What am I supposed to do--interview the furniture?"
People are curious though, I think, about what the set is really like when it comes to their favourite shows. This one is fairly elaborate, with plenty of fixtures like grand pianos and art work as well as fine furnishings. Knock on the walls and tap the floors and fireplaces and the marble and stone work is indeed hollow. It is all well faked, however, and everything looks very rich and well-to-do.  
Just the same, the place is one big vanilla smudge, the better to frame all the blood and guts shenanigans going on in the foreground. In that way it is not unlike the Beverly Hilton.
No cameras were allowed when the stars
arrived so here I am interviewing the furni-
ture earlier. Jicha would be so proud
Later, Port Perry, Ont.'s Emily VanCamp arrived along with Margarita Levieva (Amanda Clarke) and others. Levieva is about 11 months pregnant in real life and her character is still preggers on the show. Conspicuously missing was Madeliene Stowe, who plays Victoria, the matriarch of the Grayson family. So Victoria must be dead, said critics who'd seen the season-ending cliffhanger. Or is she? Ye gads the intrigue.
VanCamp wasn't about to spill the beans on Stowe but she did say she was pretty stoked about Jennifer Jason Leigh joining the cast in season two as her character's mom. The 26-year-old actress spent the early summer touring Japan, Australia and other regions promoting the series. She still managed to find some time to get back to Ontario and visit her family.
They must be very proud of her. She's a lovely young woman, very down-to-earth and always so poised on these set visits. When you think of the success she's had in such a short time--from obscurity to Everwood to Brothers & Sisters to Revenge--she could be Diva Vov Divadorf. Instead she's the same as she wuz before she wuz--and that's more impressive than any set.
Revenge returns Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. on ABC and Citytv.
This portrait of the nasty Grayson family hangs upstairs in a hallway. Had
this been Fox critics would have been magically inserted into this shot which
then would have been blasted to a zillion Facebook sites. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This week's podcast: Palin & passing of Hemsley

This week, CHML's Scott Thompson asks if Sarah Palin really was at the NBC TCA party Tuesday night. You Betcha, Scott. The former Alaskan governor was there in all her high heeled glory.
And a fine looking woman she is too. She'd make a fine real estate agent.
NBC did not post any photos of Palin on their media site apparently because she gave instructions that she didn't want to steal the spotlight from her husband Todd, who is one of the celebrity contestants on the network's upcoming combat zone reality series Stars Earn Stripes. Good she dressed down then and stayed (for two hours) in the background.
Word is she did get a private photo session later with the monkey. I'm hoping that isn't Todd's code name or anything.
Scott also mentions the passing of Sherman Hemsley, who died yesterday at 74. The actor, who did indignant well, went on to do Amen in the '80s but was "movin' on up" in the '70s with The Jeffersons, part of a wave of smart, socially relevant comedies created by Norman Lear.
It was a bit unsettling to get word of Hemsley's passing yesterday on press tour while sitting through sessions with bland new comedies featuring monkeys and Guys With Kids ("It's like NBC couldn't even bother to name it," tweeted USA Today's Robert Bianco).
One new NBC sitcom, The New Normal, has some edge. It's from Ryan Murphy (Glee) and is about two gay men who find a surrogate mother to have their baby. Ellen Barkin plays a bigoted, Archie Bunker-like grandmother.
Critics wondered what Lear would think about this series. Murphy said he heard from the legendary TV creator when Glee was launched and was cheered to hear he was a fan.
This somehow led to Scott talking about a doll his sister still has that was a merchandising spin-off from Lear's masterpiece All in the Family. The "Joey" doll was remarkable at the time (and even now) for being anatomically correct. Toy companies and TV networks had balls back then.
Follow this link to the full radio chit chat.

What's Sarah Palin doing at NBC bash? Alaska

Standing by her man. Lisa Rose/NBC
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--These bleary eyes have seen strange sights but the strangest I ever did see, was the night Sarah Palin stole the show from a monkey and NBC.
And I've seen some strange sights. I've seen grown men struggle to get a usable quote from Ozzy Osbourne. I've seen Jay Leno, disguised as a reporter, gooning the head of his own network. I've seen Lifetime attempt to impose a cash bar.
Tuesday night's NBC cocktail reception may go down as the oddest press tour sight of them all. There, poolside, was the former Alaskan governor and vice presidential candidate, perched on expensive, five-inch heels. (TV Guide Canada's Amber Dowling got the scoop from Palin that her gladiators were "on consignment." Read Dowling's detailed party take here.) If looking good is the best revenge, Palin just bought the White House.
We were right there, at Trader Vics, and her hair was perfect. Her sage green dress hugged her like a long lost cousin. Her face was placid and serene behind her gilded, Cito Gaston-ish shades. Her plunging neckline gave new meaning to the term, "Oval Office."
What the heck was she doing at a TV network party? This was no Tea Party.
Palin was there to support her husband, Todd, one of the celebrity participants in NBC's army-themed reality series Stars Earn Stripes (Aug. 13 on NBC and Global). The Alaskan outdoorsman "kicks ass" on the grueling reality show according to celebrity competitor Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris and coming up Sunday on The Newsroom). Eva Torres, Laila Ali, Nick Lachey, Dean Cain and Picabo Street are among the other players.
The series is from heavyweight executive producers Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett and will premiere right after the Olympics. Burnett produced Sarah Palin's Alaska, and his involvement, says Todd, was a big reason he signed on for the adventure.
Palin was pretty darn proud of her hubby. "He's got all the physicality, you guys will be surprised," said the former Governor, who seemed pretty okay with all the press attention when approached. She doubts she could leap out of helicopters or do the maneuvers Todd pulls off on the six episode series. "I would have to do a whole lot of push ups," she says, although, she added when prodded, "Politics is pretty brutal, too."
Todd said the experience was "life changing," especially getting to hang out with real life soldiers. Overall he was happy to "shed light on our first responders." 
Crystal The Monkey (left). Michelle Lomack/City
Asked if he had done any hunting or fishing in Canada, he said he drove the Alaska highway four times last year. "I enjoy going to Canada--my dad's dad is from Canada," he said.
He even played a little hockey in The Yukon and remembers outdoor games when they had to shovel snow off the ice and wear extra long johns. "It was 35 below," he recalled.
NBC had several stars from their other new fall series at the cocktail party. Winnipeg-native Tracy Spiridakos was there with the cast of the upcoming action hour Revolution. Matthew Perry was poolside along with the cast of his new therapy session sitcom Go On. Tyler Labine is among the stars of Animal Practice, a new comedy which features a monkey.
Crystal The Monkey was at the Hilton and her handler Tom was encouraging press to take pictures. The capuchin monkey is quite a ham and takes orders like you wouldn't believe. After she sat on my head for a while, Tom announced it was time to change her diaper. First time a cast member had done that to a critic--usually it's the other way around.
Go On cast Brett Gelman, Karey Nixon, Matthew Perry, Laura Benanti, Tyler
James Williams at NBC's poolside party. Chris Haston/NBC

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Press tour prince Kiefer Sutherland delivers again

Kiefer Sutherland is always a big "get" at press tour. Mindful of early support from critics, he faithfully showed up to promote 24 at press tour sessions and was always immediately mobbed. Touch is a new series he's proud of, so once more into the breach.
He was top of my list to talk to at Fox's TCA party Monday night at cool club Soho on Sunset Boulevard. The sprawling private club, located on the top floor of a Sunset office tower, is normally for members only. Thanks to Fox, reporters got to roam the joint and take in the stunning view of Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles.
The place is big but it has all these poky nooks and crannies. I spotted Sutherland in conversation at a table and hovered. I knew he'd have to bust out for a smoke at one point. He did and I pounced.
Sutherland lit up against a wall in a dark, narrow hall near the men's room. Before he drew a puff, about a dozen of us leaned in with recorders. A pro, he gave us ten minutes of gold.
He was happy to talk up Touch, which returns October 26 on Fox and Global. Executive producer Tim Kring (Heroes) was in on the gab. The big news is that Maria Bello (Prime Suspect) is joining the cast. For more on that conversation, including news on that 24 movie as well as Sutherland's pick for his favourite Donald Sutherland films, follow this link to a story I filed today for The Canadian Press.
Fox boss Kevin Reilly with Sutherland
I needed another two minutes of Sutherland's time for a magazine assignment and was delighted to discover that his personal publicist was somebody I knew from way back in the days I worked for TV Guide Canada. She actually set up my first Hollywood-based interview, on the set of MacGyver, with Richard Dean Anderson. Two minutes granted.
Still Canadian at heart, Sutherland plays hockey at least once a week in a league organized by hockey nut and mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer. I asked where he watched the Kings win their first Stanley Cup.
"I was actually traveling," says Sutherland, who tried to catch games in restaurants or bars while on the road. "And it was very funny because a bunch of friends of mine were kind of doing the same thing and seem to always find themselves during the whole playoffs in the wrong bar. The only safe place to watch a Kings game seems to be Los Angeles. I haven’t seen a team dominate out of the post season like that."

Britney Spears not ready for her X Factor close up

Reid, Spears, Lovato, Cowell, Hungadunga and McCormick
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Last summer, the buzz about The X Factor made it sound like the biggest thing to hit TV in years. Then it arrived and, well, shrunk.
So it was almost cruel to see Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and Simon Cowell, along with L.A. Reid, blown up huge on the giant screens inside the Beverly Hilton ballroom Monday. The old and new X Factor judges answered questions via satellite from Florida, but it was like that old movie line from Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard in reverse: "I am small, it's my imperfections that got big."
The Hi-Def, big screen treatment was especially unflattering for Spears, who looked tired, over-tanned and just generally older. To be blunt, the 30-year-old pop star looked like Lovato's mom sitting next to the fresh-faced, clear-skinned, next generation Disney girl.
Fox tellingly provided just this one photo of the gang, taken on location rather than off the giant monitors. Fair enough--few of us could stand up to that kind of big screen scrutiny. It's just that Lovato did, both in pictures and in words.
Spears was asked why she was doing this, or rather, "what does it do for you?" She struggled to answer, saying she'd done eight tours, and this was different, and she just really wants to "give back and help people achieve their dream."
Cowell tried his best to keep things chipper and cheeky. When Lovato--being sold as the brat in this pack--told him, "we're going to gang up on you--you're going to have two girls," his suggestive, "I've had it" reply sounded a little too pat (not to mention creepy).
Always quick to stir the pot, Cowell was asked about the signing of Mariah Carey to American Idol--confirmed just that morning by Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly--and struggled to stay on the high road.
"I'm happy for her, actually, I like Mariah. I think she's going to find it difficult to say no."
What does that mean, he was asked.
"You've got to say no to people. She's sweet," he replied.
At the end of the session, I asked Lovato about her break from her career (she took time off a year or so ago to address an eating disorder) and whether that experience gave her any perspective on the star maker machinery the young X Factor auditioners may be embarking on.
She spoke about her little sister, who is launching her own show business career. "I worry about her all the time, but she's doing great," says Lovato, who has come to believe that people who are going to have an eating disorder, or some other problem, are going to have an eating disorder. "I don't really think fame has a lot to do with it," she says. Sure it can add pressure, and "sometimes makes the problem a little worse...but unless you're in a good place when you start working, I think it's kind of inevitable for these things to happen."
It was too bad the satellite conference ended there--it was just getting interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

J-Lo out, Mariah Carey in on American Idol

Reilly calls Carey: already phoning it in
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Forget that J-Lo stays story--Mariah Carey has been signed to be the diva judge next season on American Idol.
Fox network entertainment president Kevin Reilly made the announcement today before critics at the TCA press tour, squashing a rumour started just two sessions earlier that Jennifer Lopez might not be leaving.
It was Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe who tossed that juicy little hand grenade, but Reilly told critics that was just Lythgoe's personal feelings speaking. "I can say it's 100% that Jennifer won't be on the show," said Reilly.
He admitted later in the scrum that the door hadn't been slammed shut earlier and that efforts were made to try and keep Lopez. But, hey, she's busy, said Reilly, and when it looked too sticky, the network went in another direction.
Reilly actually called Carey on his cell phone and let critics in on a quick conversation with the singer--although the connection was so bad, it might as well have been Drew Carey.

Nigel Lythgoe: Jennifer Lopez may not be off Idol

Cat Deeley, Maggie Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe. Frank Micelotta/FOX
BEVERLY HILLS, CA—Nigel Lythgoe thinks Jennifer Lopez may not be leaving American Idol after all.
In a classic press tour, negotiate-in-public ploy, the executive producer planted the idea towards the end of a Fox session on his other show, So You Think You Can Dance.
“I was really upset to hear that Steven [Tyler] was leaving,” he said, “and the possibility of Jennifer leaving us…it’s a strange thing to say 99%.”
Lythgoe was referring to Lopez’s quote that she was “99%” leaving Idol.
“I hope that 1% may mean she’s not leaving,” said the wily Brit.
Fox has been curiously quiet about Lopez’s departure. Clarification may come later today from network entertainment president Kevin Reilly in the Fox executive session.
Lythgoe then turned around in the post-session scrum and said he thinks Idol judges should change every year. Create interest and avoid raises, he seemed to suggest. “I tried to deflect everything by saying the Three Stooges [could be the next judges],” he told reporters. His earlier suggestion that Charlie Sheen join the series as a judge was likely also a joke.
Certainly an annual changing of the judges would add some “Who’s in, Who’s out” buzz to the 10-year-old franchise.
Lythgoe isn’t even sure he’s still in. His Idol producing contract is up and next year’s terms are “still being negotiated,” he said.
Lythgoe also stirred things up Monday by suggesting that poor scheduling killed the Canadian version of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. That series ended after four seasons in 2011.
“I never understood why it was on at the same time as the American version,” Lythgoe told a room full  of mainly American critics. “You have an entire year to program material...and they do it together.”
Well, not exactly. Dance Canada came off a summer run its final year, with the American version airing in-season. The Canadian show’s numbers had slipped, although it was still winning its summer timeslot.
CTV, which has crowded its schedule with twice-weekly talent shows, did have headaches squeezing Dance Canada onto CTV One and Two, but Lythgoe’s assertion that the U.S. and Canadian Dance shows were on at the same time is wrong.
Edmonton-born choreographer Stacey Tookey also said she was “really upset” about the demise of Dance Canada. She and Lythgoe both seemed to blame the takeover of CTV by Bell as being a factor in the series’ demise.

Ken Burns denies Dust Bowl used to cut his hair

Burns demonstrates how the bowl is placed
BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Ken Burns says no, The Dust Bowl is not the thing he uses to cut his hair.
The ever articulate documentary film maker (The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz) has always sported a Beatles 'do, circa 1965.  But The Dust Bowl is apparently not how he gets his unique, circular bowl haircut. It's the title of an excellent new four hour documentary he's made with Dayton Duncan on the so-called "Dirty Thirties."
The two sat on a panel Sunday at PBS's press tour session along with a survivor from the storms, Cal Crabill, who grew up on a farm in Holly, Colorado. As a youngster, he nearly got swallowed up in dust as he went out to fetch the cows. "We went from childhood to adulthood, we didn't have teenage years," said Crabill, a lively and entertaining fellow.
The Dust Storm, which will air November 18 and 19, features some astounding footage of hundreds of rabbits scampering across the dusty farm fields. Coyotes had been killed off, and without their natural predators, rabbits were, well, breeding like rabbits. Burns says he had to cut some of the more gruesome footage of farmers rounding up rabbits by the dozens and hammering them to death. Eh, what's up, doc?
Also Sunday at press tour: Cloris Leachman was up to her old tricks at the Pioneers of Television panel. The Raising Hope star and eight time Emmy-winner can still stand on her head and steal a session. Leachman does this now by playing dotty, this time mooning over an uncomfortable Bryan Brown. The Australian actor was there along with his old Thorn Birds pals Rachel Ward (also Brown's wife) and Richard Chamberlain. Lou Gossett Jr. and Michele Lee rounded out the panel.
"How come I didn't get Louis Gossett beside me?" complained Brown as Leachman kept pawing at him and doing shtick.
Chamberlain got so fed up he left, using some excuse that he had a play to do (at the same time rubbing it in that he was still working). Loopy Leachman just kept fidgeting and upstaging.
These Pioneers sessions have become less fun and unique ever since most press tour sessions feature actors from the '50s, '60s and '70s such as Larry Hagman and Betty White.
This one was even less fun as it somehow morphed into an awkward and extended discussion about how bad reviews from the Thorn Birds pretty much killed Ward's acting career. Now there's a party starter! Ward went on and on about how critics savaged her acting on the early '80s miniseries and how she all but retired from acting after that. "When I got slaughtered, I kind of took it to heart. I never got my confidence back," she said.
You could hear a pin drop in the place. Even Leachman stopped monkeying around for 30 seconds. Ward kinda blamed Canadian-born Thorn Birds director Daryl Duke, too, suggesting he just didn't offer much support.
Really though, with that hair and that skin and those eyes, all Ward had to do in that miniseries was stand there and let Chamberlain's Father Ralph paw at her like Cloris Leachman pawed Bryan Brown. Besides, as Leachman kindly pointed out, "those critics are probably all dead by now."

David Geffen at press tour: unfettered and alive

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--PBS officials Sunday kept telling us what a big deal it was to have David Geffen in the house.
The media mogul had left his yacht and flown in from Sardinia just for this occasion, we were told. He's notoriously press shy and camera shy, added Susan Lacey. She's the long time executive producer of American Masters, which will air Inventing David Geffen Nov. 20.
The guy certainly didn't fuss over wardrobe, arriving in a casual white shirt plucked straight from the dryer and wrinkled pants. He had that too rich to care thing happening. He also looked like a cross between Alan Brady and Mel Cooley from The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Even Geffen knows that. Asked what he thought about seeing his life unfold in the American Masters special, he commented, "You watch yourself get old and bald, and it's a sobering experience."
Still, he likes American Masters (which scored its best ratings ever this season with its Johnny Carson profile) and was flattered to be considered one by PBS.
The man surely qualifies. The breadth of influence this guy has lorded over the entertainment business the past four decades is breathtaking. From his humble beginnings as a gofer at William Morris to his power agent days, managing the careers Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, the Eagles--the list goes on and on. For years he stoked the star making machinery behind the popular song.
Hie dabbled in film, returning to music to produce albums for John & Yoko, Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, Cher and Peter Gabriel, then formed another label to release CDs for Nirvana, Sonic Youth, etc.
He's had huge stage successes. He produced hit films like Risky Business and Beetlejuice. He helped form (and finance) Dreamworks. He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He's so vain, you'd have to think, Carly Simon even outed him as the guy in the song. "That's not true," he stated. "I'm not saying I'm not vain; I'm not her vain."
So he has a sense of humour, something celebs in the doc, like Warren Beatty, credit him with.
Asked what he'd do if he were starting out in the music business today, his response was quick and blunt: "I'd kill myself," he says.
He says the death of CDs and DVDs has wrecked the business models he mined for millions. He says stars don't make or break movies any more. "The biggest movies in the world today don't have stars in them," he says, naming Avatar as an example. "The story means more today than the cast means today--and that's a big change."
He didn't always get it right, he admitted. Art Garfunkel asked him early on in the Simon & Garfunkel days if he should go back to architecture school or stick with show business. "Stay in school," advised Geffen.
He never got to rep certain artists he pursued, such as R.E.M. A big regret? "It's not about the ones who say no," he said with a shrug. "It's about the ones who say yes." Then, sounding profound by stating the obvious: "Your life isn't made up of the people who aren't in it."
Some guy in the room asked if he had ever come across an album of astrology songs. "No," said Geffen, surely sorry he'd left the yacht for this. Buddy then tells him he's written one and it's on the Internet. "I was just curious how much penetration I'd gotten with it," the dude says. The guy kinda looked like Sid Dithers from SCTV.
PBS scrambled to put security on the door the rest of the afternoon.
There was some discussion about Joni Mitchell, Geffen's old gal pal, and has she had enough recognition for being a genius. Geffen says yes. Geffen confirmed he has nothing whatsoever to do with Dreamworks any more, if you don't count all the stock he still owns. Is there a job he'd like today in show business? "I'm 69, I don't want a job," he says. He claims he doesn't own a cell phone, has never sent a text and doesn't have a bank card. What for when you are a bank.
There were a few more questions, then he got the hell out of the building.

Press tour women we love: Diane Lane

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--Full disclosure: I've long had a big crush on Diane Lane. The 47-year-old actress joined Meg Ryan, America Ferrera and husband-and-wife journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn at Sunday's TCA press tour session for PBS's Independent Lens documentary special Half the Sky (premiering Oct. 1 and 2).
Lane and the others talked about their participation as "celebrity advocates" for women and girls sold into sex trades and other acts of oppression, usually in third world countries.
She spent several days in Somali land working with women in a hospital, delivering babies and observing first hand maternity issues plaguing women in that region. Lane had read Kristof and WuDunn's 2009 book Half The Sky and was happy to lend her star power to the cause.
Some of the women Lane encountered were as young as 13--the same age Lane was when she made the George Roy Hill film A Little Romance (1979). 
That film, which also starred Laurence Olivier, put her on the cover of Time magazine as one of "Hollywood's Whiz Kids." She's gone on to star in four Francis Ford Coppola films, sizzled in Unfaithful, received an Emmy nomination for Lonesome Dove and appears next year in Superman: Man of Steel. Did she have any kind of a "There but for the grace of God go I" moment, I asked, meeting these young women? 
"It's really unfair that people have to be saved rather than being able to just have an opportunity," she said after a thoughtful pause. "And these people want opportunity, and they have the possibility of getting it if enough people agree that they ought to."
Lane has gone so far as to bring her teenage daughter to Rwanda four years ago "to see first hand the healing and the work" that goes on through an organization she supports, Heifer International. "I wanted her to see the aide in action."
Had to follow her out the hotel to ask a question that has been bugging me for years. I happen to have a 16mm print of A Little Romance, a sweet film shot in Europe about an American teen who falls for a young French boy played by Thelonious Bernard, then just 14. "What ever happened to that guy?" I asked.
"I don't know," said Lane, who hasn't seen him since. "I remember him saying he wasn't a fan of the experience at the time and he'd rather be a mathematician or a farmer."
According to Wikipedia, he's a dentist in Namtes. Bingo.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mister Rogers' Daniel Tiger gets new life on PBS

BEVERLY HILLS, CA--It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood this morning as PBS hosted a breakfast for early risers at the TCA press tour. On each table were several machine washable coffee thermos, compete with a little red knit sweater--just like Mister Rogers used to wear, only shrunk.
Fred Rogers died in 2003 at 74. The children's television icon used to people his long-running series with puppets, the first of which was little Daniel Striped Tiger. Daniel Junior is now a TV character aimed at today's toddlers in Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which premieres Sept. 3 on PBS.
On hand to talk about the venture were executive producers Angela Santomero and Keven Morrison as well as Joanne Rogers, widow of the soft spoken guy in the sweater.
"I think he would have been amazed at the love that’s been shown and all the tributes to him since his death," said Rogers, who looks like a cheerier Barbara Bush.
Mrs. Rogers has not only seen the Mister Rogers Auto Tune mash up going viral on YouTube (commissioned by PBS, its had over 5.6 million hits!) but she loves it. You can check it out here
"I loved it because it reminded me of the Fred at home, she told reporters. "He was whimsical and he loved to be silly and so do I. We really were silly people."
Joanna Rogers. Rahoul Ghose/PBS
She was asked about how they met. Rogers was looking to study music and a prof at Dartmouth told him to check out this Florida college. He did and that brought him into Joanne's neighborhood--and so the silliness began.
I remember Rogers coming to press tour a few times over the years. The final time, he delivered a message against violence that resonates even more today, especially over the last few weeks. That visit was in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when Rogers produced some televised messages to help calm fear among young viewers.
Years earlier, as I recall, a few reporters brought their young children to the hotel to meet Rogers in person. He completely ignored the adults in the room and just gave everything to those kids. It was perhaps the most appropriate behaviour I've ever seen at press tour.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood seems well meaning and a nice way to extend Rogers' legacy but I wonder if something may be lost in the translation. There was something wonderfully crude and handmade about Rogers' simple show and a computer animated spin-off just seems like a misfire.
Executive producer Morrison admits costs were a factor in going with a flash system of computer animation on the series. He says the process is enhanced by using photos of actual wool sweaters and grass and digitally blending those elements into the mix.
Morrison is entitled to his opinion but it still looks like cut out, short cut animation to me and I wonder what today's three- and four-year-olds will  think. Kids can be pretty harsh critics.Why not, as one critic asked, just tell these tales with hand puppets the way Rogers did? 
My first memories of watching television include early mornings in front of classic Fleischer Studio Popeyes and those rich Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. Those fluid, perfectly-timed cel renderings lit my imagination. I was never distracted by how Popeye moved, I just believed he was real, and if I could just get my hands on a tin of spinach, I could lift a car.
Classic cartoons were an aural treat, too. Full orchestras would play Sousa marches and precisely-chosen popular standards on those theatrical cartoons. Hearing them decades later on television was as much fun as seeing them.
Part of their appeal was that they were so weird. Maybe it is more important to have educators and consultants vet every word written in today's kiddie show scripts but I still think these kids are missing out that Michael Maltese isn't putting words in Daniel Tiger's mouth.
Would Fred Rogers have approved? According to the missus, the was plenty of room for silly in Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

Shirley MacLaine adds spirit to Downton Abbey

McGovern and MacLaine. Rahoul Ghose/PBS
As one might have expected, Shirley MacLaine stole the show at the Downton Abbey press conference Saturday night at TCA. If anything, the 78-year-old Oscar-winner didn't speak enough--and skipped the post conference social--but when she did talk she was blog gold.
MacLaine will appear this coming season (beginning Jan. 6 on PBS) in a two episode stint as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern's character. A clip from the upcoming season was shown and MacLaine's prickly confrontation with Maggie Smith was the big crowd pleaser in the room.
Asked what it was like to go "toe-to-toe" with Maggie Smith, she replied, "Well, we were lovers in another life." She explained that the two had met backstage 40 years earlier at the Academy Awards by a catering table:
And I was up for something, and there was this big chocolate cake on the catering table.  And whatever I was up for, I lost, and somebody else won.  And Maggie said, "You know what you did, dear?  You tucked right into that chocolate cake and said, 'Fuck it.  I don't care if I'm thin ever again.'"
MacLaine candidly said no when asked if she had seen the series before being asked to join the cast. Her Malibu hairdresser, however, was a big fan, so MacLaine decided to catch up with the series after being contacted by PBS executive producer Rebecca Eaton. She ran through the stack of screeners she was sent and was hooked. "I ran three months of it and I was just as addicted as everybody else, making me wonder about my attention deficit syndrome."
Michelle Dockery reminded me of a young
Teri Austin from Knots Landing
When she told her hairdresser she was going to be playing Martha Levinson, the ladies at the parlour knew all about the character. Their reaction? "Oh, she's Jewish and she's from Long Island and she has a lot of money and she's looking for a tight, old man."
Later, when McGovern was asked what qualities she shared with her character and blurted, "none--I'm a raving lunatic," MacLaine was quick to add, "she's right."
It was unusual to hear "ooo's" and "aaaws" during a PBS press session but Abbey clearly is the public network's Mad MenThe series recently picked up 16 Emmy nominations, one less than the AMC series.
On hand were executive producers Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame and stars Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle but, alas, no Maggie Smith. The dinner session was packed, with hotel  staff scrambling to set up extra tables to accommodate everyone in the room.
The ballroom seemed about evenly split between critics who had seen the series and were hooked and reporters who thought it was called Downtown Abbey.
Bonneville had something to get off his chest
Bonneville (who plays Robert Crawley) didn't disappoint, standing up at the end of the session and undoing his vest and shirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath with "FREE BATES" written across his chest.
Bates is played by Brendan Coyle. The character limps on the series, and Coyle says he got a letter from a fan with a disability. The man wrote to say he's been teased all his life for his own limp, and thanked Coyle because he's finally being taunted with "a cool nickname--Mr. Bates."
Downton Abbey is often compared to Upstairs Downstairs, an earlier British period drama which ran in the '70s. That series also showed the underclasses mixing it up with the Lords and Ladies.
Star and co-creator of that series, Jean March, was at a press tour session many years ago and told a memorable story about being honoured by having a rose named after her. She was chuffed until she read the seed instructions on the back of the packet: "Doesn't do well in beds. Better up against a wall."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Twitter feeds my TCA 2012 press tour coverage

"Stop tweeting my jokes, dammit!" Rahoul Ghose/PBS
This is legendary comedian Dick Gregory. He's mad I`m not at his TCA press tour session this morning. Calm down, Dick, I'll be there soon.
The summer 2012 Television Critics Association press tour kicked off this morning with Day One of two days of PBS. (The tour runs through Aug. 3.) Gregory was part of a panel promoting Soul Food Junkies, a program that`s coming to PBS in 2013. PBS likes to get the promotional buzz building a year or two before a show starts. I'm not sure this is working.
The way things work nowadays, you can cover the press tour without being at press tour. All the stuff happening inside the Beverly Hilton ballrooms is constantly tweeted by all my smartass TV pals. 
So if I want to get caught up on Dick Gregory`s jokes, just go to, say, @BradOswald: 
"You know you`re old when you order a three-minute egg and they make you pay in advance," Gregory cracks and Oswald tweets. "You know you're old when people compliment you on your beautiful alligator shoes...and you're not wearing any."
An hour or two later, PBS CEO Paula Kerger is squirming through the executive session. According to the twitter feed, the press is all over this Fred Willard thing. Willard got caught doing a Pee-wee at an adult theatre and now he's out as host of PBS's Masturbation Theatre. As they used to say on PBS's Sesame Street, one of these things does not go with the other. Marky Mark is his replacement. It's all there on Twitter.
I'm arriving later today in time to see the cast of Downton Abbey spread the Grey Poupon. Aside from missing the free food, however, I'm kinda digging covering the press tour from the San Francisco airport. See if my coverage suffers from actually being there in later reports here and on Twitter @BillBriouxTV.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jimmy Kimmel slow jammies the Emmys

Kerry Washington with Jimmy Kimmel. He works nights
And the Emmy for the greatest Emmy Awards Nomination Ceremony photo op of all time goes to Jimmy Kimmel (above, with co-presenter Kerry Washington  from Scandal and below with Washington and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chairman Bruce Rosenblum).
Kimmel is in his jammies because they announce these things at 5:38 a.m. L.A. time and he was a last-minute substitute for Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), apparently stuck in transit. Dig Jimmy's cool slippers.
A whole bunch of TV shows were nominated for the 64th annual awards, which will be televised live Sunday, Sept. 23rd on ABC and CTV with Kimmel as host (presumably in more formal attire). Degrassi and The Borgias were among the Canuck shows honoured. Kimmel's show got nominated, too, and about bloody time. A great big list of nominees can be found here for those who care about these things.
Best. Emmy. Photo. Ever. Rick Rowell/ABC

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This week's podcast: Big naked Brother?

This week, CHML's Scott Thompson seemed rattled by the possibility that I had posted a nude picture of Fabio on TVFMF. He's referring to this shot (below) of some of the photogenic contestants from Big Brother, back for a 14th season on CBS and Global. I'm pretty sure the good folks at CBS are not offering nude photos of contestants on their press site, so I can only assume that the dude has something on back there. Have to admit I didn't even see him between those two other barely-clothes female contestants.
Scott also asks about the upcoming Olympics--do Canadians get as excited about the summer games as they did about the winter games? That would be no. Still, live sports is still a big draw on broadcast TV, especially in this sizzling summer where not much else is drawing viewers back indoors.
Next we talk about who might replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler on American Idol. My vote goes to the Defranco Family. There's also a discussion about who might be up for an Emmy Thursday morning when the nominations are announced. I single out a few people and Scott busts me on actually caring.
You can listen in here.

TONIGHT: Andy Griffith remembered on TCM

TCM salutes the late, great Andy Griffith tonight, starting at 8 p.m. with his breakthrough role in A Face in the Crowd (1957). If you haven't seen this film,directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg, it is startlingly relevant today. Griffith plays a drifter plucked off the streets and thrust into the white-hot glare of the TV spotlight. He becomes an overnight sensation, all this fame goes to his head and he turns into a monster (see American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, etc.). It's Griffith like you've never seen him before, captured right at the beginning of his career.
Griffith didn't make many films but he made an impression in all of them. At 10:15, TCM has the service comedy No Time for Sergeants (1958) and at 12:30 a.m. an underrated little gem from 1975 called Hearts of the West, starring Jeff Bridges as Lewis Tater.

The Brioux Report: Big Brother is watched

When cooking shows, Big Brother (right) and Big Bang repeats top the ratings across Canada, it can only mean one thing—it’s summer.
Even those shows failed to crack the two million mark. Viewers continue to sit out this summer season, with network ratings down double digits on Canadian and U.S. broadcast networks.
With viewers taking a break, the Brioux Report will take a break too. Look for regular weekly ratings reports to resume in a month. You’ll still be able to follow me on Twitter this summer (@BillBriouxTV) for the latest ratings on many Canadian programming favourites.
In the meantime, here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of July 9 to 15 according to overnight estimates:

MONDAY

CTV stuck with reruns of Mike & Molly (676,000) and Two and a Half Men (522,000) then saw ratings leap with a hearty helping of Masterchef (1,744,000). The Big Brother rip-off The Glass House drew 525,000 curious onlookers.
Hell’s Kitchen boiled over to 1,180,000 at 8 on City. Reruns of Person of Interest (395,000) and Shameless (158,000) followed.
Sportsnet hit a home run with the MLB Home Run Derby (1,152,000).
Global opened with Psych (327,000) followed by reruns of House (296,000) and Hawaii FIVE-0 (885,000).
Ratings on CTV Two were Grimm (206,000).
History’s Curse of the Axe scared up 373,000. WWE Raw body slammed 283,000 on Score. CBC made do with reruns of Mr. D (209,000), Ron James (233,000) and Republic of Doyle (267,000).
Becky takes the "Cowboy Challenge" on Masterchef. Greg Gayne/FOX
TUESDAY

CTV had fresh Hot in Cleveland (882,000) followed by Bent (343,000). A reruns of Unforgettable followed at 9 (405,000) leading into Love in the Wild (751,000).
Global led with Wipeout (666,000) followed by NCIS: Los Angeles (1,095,000). In Plain Sight ended the night (468,000).
City aired a two hour America’s Got Talent (1,170,000). Murdoch Mysteries at 10 was solved by 368,000.
CBC aired a Mercer repeat (333,000), a spare 22 Minutes (168,000) and dug out an episode of Camelot (146,000).
Criminal Minds (299,000) was the only draw on CTV Two.
The MJB All Star Game pulled 523,000 on Sportsnet, less than half the Home Run Derby tally the night before. Huh.
Deadliest Catch hooked 370,000 on Discovery. Pawn Stars fetched 340,000 and 304,000 on History. Pretty Little Liars did 200,000 on MuchMusic.

WEDNESDAY

CTV waltzed off with 925,000 overnight, estimated viewers with a two hour So You Think You Can Dance. The Listener rebounded to 971,000 in the overnights.
CBC blew hot and cold with reruns of Dragon’s Den (696,000) and Arctic Air (264,000).
Global was back with Dogs in the City (634,000) followed by The Glee Project (298,000) followed by a rerun of Glee (280,000).                                 
City stuck with The Middle (232,000) and Suburgatory (260,000). America’s Got Talent (800,000) and Final Witness (292,000) followed.
CTV Two scored with Criminal Minds (329,000) and CSI (393,000)
History was swamped with 508,000 Swam People fans. The new Dallas, already picked up for another season Stateside, managed 250,000 on Bravo.

G'dayup--Big Brother is back. Cliff Lipson/CBS
 THURSDAY
                                                                                 
CTV reran The Big Bang Theory three times again at 7:30 (1,223,000), 8 (1,681,000) and 8:30 (1,932,000). The shot-in-Toronto hospital drama Saving Hope remained strong and steady with 1,405,000 overnight viewers. CSI did 689,000 at 10.
Global went with Duets (536,000), then saw ratings shoot up for the 14th season premiere of Big Brother (1,743,000). Rookie Blue closed the night with 1,103,000 viewers.
Jays closed out their series against KC before 801,000 on Sportsnet.
Community (94,000) and Parks and Recreation (123,000) opened the night on City (204,000) followed by 2 Broke Girls (223,000) and HIMYM (294,000). At 10 was Person of Interest (373,000)
Nature of Things (357,000) and Doc Zone (232,000) stayed steady on CBC.
A Good Luck Charlie marathon peaked at 339,000 on Family Channel.
Take Me Out (246,000) and the finale of The Choice (272,000) kept the lights on at CTV Two. Nikita (64,000) did not.
A rerun of M*A*S*H was the highest rated show of the night on History (348,000).

Wendy Crewson, Daniel Gillies, Saving Hope. Ken Woroner/NBC
FRIDAY

CTV reran Whitney (479000) and Up All Night (462,000) followed by CSI New York (875,000) and Blue Bloods (790,000).
Jays batted 645,000 against Cleveland on Sportsnet. TSN scored a touchdown with its CFL coverage, with 596,000 tuning in to a Winnipeg/Edmonton game.
Global saw their Slice series The Real Housewives of Vancouver draw 231,000 on the big network. At 9 was Wipeout (392,000) followed by specialty call up Lost Girl (234,000).
City found another hour for Murdoch Mysteries (396,000). CTV Two was back in the Shark Tank (434,000). Another old episode of M*A*S*H topped History’s ratings at 326,000.  A.N.T. Farm was at 276,000 on Family channel. WWE Smackdown body slammed 224,000 on Score.
CBC’s “Reject Night” went Insecurity (140,000), Little Mosque (90,000) and Michael Tuesdays & Thursdays (64,000). Halifax Comedy Fest added 156,000.

SATURDAY          

There were two CFL games on TSN, B.C./Saskatchewan (707,000) and Argos/TiCats (751,000). Another Jays game against the Indians drew 586,000 on Sportsnet.
The Calgary Stampede drew 408,000 on CBC to watch Rangeland Derby and Rodeo. Global dumped NYC 22 into Saturday and got back-to-back totals of 487,000 and 586,000. The finale of Comedy Now on CTV managed 291,000.
City aired Murdoch Mysteries three more times Saturday (127,000, 185,000, 174,000). Yannick Bisson—everywhere.

SUNDAY

Global hit the jackpot again with another new episode of Big Brother (1,747,000). The Simpsons (373,000) and Family Guy (761,000) also aired.
Sportsnet saw an estimated 758,000 catch another Toronto/Cleveland game.
CTV has been using Sundays to rerun episodes of The Listener (461,000) and Saving Hope (688,000).
Secret Millionaire (463,000) got exposed on City.
CBC’s Sunday was all Calgary Stampede with the final championships drawing 646,000.
The action-hour Sinbad conjured up 295,000 viewers on Space.
YTV scored 483,000 viewers with Home Alone 2. Continuum was up slightly to 427,000 at 9 on Showcase.