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Twice a year, the television critics of America make a mad dash to southern California to attend the TCA Press Tour, an event which gives these scribes the opportunity to meet and greet with TV's elite as the various networks perform what's best described as a dog and pony show, trotting out the latest and greatest (and otherwise) programs that will be gracing the airwaves.

Some in the industry would tell you that the tour is an archaic institution that has little or no place in today's entertainment industry, but I'm here to tell you otherwise. The TCA tour is, as one of my colleagues once said, the great equalizer amongst TV critics, allowing sites like Bullz-Eye, AfterElton, and HitFix to have the same access to the stars of the fall season's new series as writers from Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Time Magazine. Not a bad deal, eh?

Join Bullz-Eye's Will Harris as he traverses the worlds of cable, broadcast, and even public television through his two-week stay in Pasadena, California, mingling with the stars and sitting in on panels dedicated to new series and returning favorites.

It's a rough job, but someone's got to do it.



The Biggest Loser: Final Four

Last night on "The Biggest Loser," there was a small bit of redemption. Well, maybe a huge bit of redemption, and a bigger bit of even more gameplay. Here is how it went down....

Host Alison Sweeney told the contestants after the last elimination that there would be a yellow line and a red line at the next weigh-in, meaning two eliminations and the Final Four selection. Then they showed The Alliance, aka Brendan, Patrick and Frado, mouthing off about how the winner of the show was sitting in that room and that it was all working "according to plan." Bogus!

Then they had to meet up with Alison and Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin for a Subway-sponsored challenge, an obstacle course with single eliminations per round. Elizabeth was out first, followed by Mark, Ada and Frado. Then it was between Patrick and Brendan, and Brendan won, with the prize being $10K and a whole bunch of sandwiches.

During workouts, Bob singled out Brendan for not giving it his all in recent weeks, and then Bob and Jillian had a campfire chat with everyone, literally, to get a feel for where their heads were at. After that it was time for the "pounds back on" challenge, in which they had to strap on all the weight they had lost, and shed it after various rounds of stepping or running. The winner would get a one pound advantage at the weigh-in, as well as a home gym valued at $25K. Wow. So thankfully the running part helped Ada win, and not one of The Alliance.

Then it was time for the weigh-in. Ada went first and lost 6 pounds, giving her a 7-pound weight loss. Elizabeth lost 4...uh-oh. Mark lost 7, which wasn't good enough. Patrick lost a whopping 12 and Frado lost 15, after which I started to tell Mrs. Mike that something was wrong--like those guys were taking pills or something to shed extra pounds. I mean, how can they possibly have lost that much more weight than everyone else? So Mark and Elizabeth were below the line but Ada was also in danger. It was time for Brendan to weigh in...would he lose double digits as well? Nope! He lost 5 pounds, which put him below the red line and sent him home. Good freaking riddance, as nice a guy as you might be.

Frado was trying to cheer him up instantly, saying, "Bro, you keep in touch, okay?" as Brendan was STILL ON THE SCALE. I think Frado was inwardly thrilled. So Mark and Elizabeth were below the yellow, and one would be going home. Brendan, Patrick and Ada were Final Four bound.

After Elizabeth and Mark stated their cases, it was time to vote. Elizabeth was below the line for like the ninth time, while Mark was for maybe the first time. And last week he had voted for Frado to stay so that he could compete with him. He was expecting The Alliance to do the same for him. So Ada voted for Mark, because duh, he's the bigger threat....and so did Patrick, which means so did Frado, but we didn't have to see Frado's back-stabbing vote. Mark was pissed, and rightly so. Patrick said, "You would have done the same thing," but he was wrong about that.

So holy crap, Elizabeth is in the Final Four. That shows what a gameplay-driven season this has become. I mean, seriously, Elizabeth?

Anyway, Brendan has gone from 362 pounds down to 237 so far; and Mark has dropped from 421 to 248. Good for them. And now the Final Four will go home and probably run a marathon before weighing in for the final time, after which America will vote someone off to make it a Final Three.

I so want Ada or even Elizabeth to win now. What do you think? Let me know in the space below and thanks for reading!

A Quick Chat with Joan Rivers

A Chat with Darryl Bell of "Househusbands of Hollywood"

It feels a little disingenuous for me to talking up a series which I can't even watch in my area (Cox Communications in Hampton Roads, VA, has yet to pick up Fox Reality), but as someone who works at home and has a 4-year-old daughter, I respect the concept of "Househusbands of Hollywood" enough to do at least a little bit of promotion for it. I've already detailed , but when the opportunity to sit down with one of the cast members - Darryl Bell, late of "A Different World" - became available, I couldn't resist. In addition to his time spent on the "Cosby Show" spin-off, Bell has worked with Spike Lee and done time on a rather infamous sci-fi sitcom, but he's still very much a working actor. He's also the significant other of former "Cosby" kid Tempestt Bledsoe, a relationship which led him to this reality-show endeavor...and led me to my first question.

: That is a good way to put it, Will. We the ringers. That’s probably caused the most frequently asked questions, like, “You guys are the only couple who is not married, you’re the only ones without kids, so what are you doing here in a show called ‘Househusbands’?” The short answer to that has been Marilyn Wilson. Marilyn’s a good friend, produced Temp’s talk show. Marilyn and I have been out, pitched shows’ and tried to sell other things. We’ve worked together in that capacity. It was her assurances that we’re trying to do something that’s fun and not trying to ambush anyone or be mean spirited. “Come be a part of this, because we think you guys are hilarious.” Apparently, the more that I have even talked to other friends, they are, like, “Oh, we’ve been saying for years that you guys should have your own reality series, because you are just funny.” It just happened to come in this format. I don’t know that we would have agreed to have done this for anyone else. So, there you go.

: And I don’t know what that means for me, anyway, only from the standpoint that people ask me that because I’m on this show. But in terms of work-wise, it’s just like…even in the series, when Tempest was coming back from on location, shooting the film, I was going on location to shoot this show for TV One. That’s really the nature of our relationship. You know, it’s rare that we’ll both be doing something at the same time, but we’re always in this cyclical gig that is being a working actor in Hollywood. That’s just how our lives have operated. I was just saying in another interview, when Brad is off shooting a movie, Angelina isn’t always shooting one. She’s somewhere with the kids. Or when Angelina’s shooting and Brad is somewhere…? That’s just the way it works.

: I mean, I can’t really call it husbandly duties. Our house is not a pigsty, but I can say that some of that is attributed to the housekeeper. You know what I mean? That helps out a lot. I can only say that when I think of that…when anything breaks, like most men, it’s, like, “Darryl, come fix it,” you know? I get that. But as a regular responsibility, that’s not me.

: For us, no. For us, I guess that’s what has been so good: we have talked about not having an ego about anything. She likes to cook, so she has cooked for me, but I’ve cooked for her, you know? So from a relationship standpoint of view, I can’t say that…we don’t have any specifically defined roles, other than, as many men will find the case, she wanted pets and yet somehow they are my responsibility. You know how that works out.

: Exactly, exactly. And what man asks for a cat? That’s just not the way it works. I want a Neapolitan Mastiff, but the reason I don’t have one is because she wanted a cat.

: That’s a whole different relationship kind of issue, you know what I mean? It’s not specific to the show, but that’s how it worked out.

: As actual couples, we don’t get together until the end, but there’s a lot of interaction between the other guys. We get together to do the “man cave” segments together. And we all went on specific outings together. I spent time with Billy, Charlie and Danny spent time together, and Grant and Billy, so individually we did things together that we also shared in that respect. And then we all talked about that, and that was fun. The interactions between us…we all like each other, you know, so it was fun to hang out with each other and get to know each other a little bit.

: No. I’m not sure if anyone else did, but we got to know each other through this. That was really it. I certainly can say that we are now linked together forever. () So that’s not a bad thing, they are a good group of guys.

: Often. All the time. The only reason I’m here is because I had to have another pilot audition moved just to be here. That’s one of the interesting things about the life of an actor, is oftentimes the work we do, you can’t always see, you know? For a pilot that was shot but didn’t get aired, or auditions you’ve got to go on, and development meetings and all this sort of thing. That’s part of the job. You know, when I listen to Ron Howard talk about how “this is a film that was ten years in the making,” I’m, like, well, during those ten years, even though he does a film every couple of years, in between it’s about working on what the next one will be. That’s the life of an actor. When you look at the television landscape now, there isn’t a whole lot of television that you go, “That’s great,” you know? Even film-wise. Look, some of our biggest film stars now are doing television. Kyra Sedgwick is on TV; Laurence Fishburne is on TV; Glenn Close is on TV; Jeff Goldblum is on TV. A lot of our film actors are doing television and doing great work on TV. But with the industry so fractured with all of the channels now, it’s just that finding good work and a good project for you has become increasingly difficult. You’d think it would be easier, but it actually has become more difficult. So what can you do? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m getting ready to shoot a new pilot for a talk comedy genre show next week. So we’ll see how that works out.

: TV One is the other project. This isn’t necessarily for TV One, although they are one of the folks that we have talked to about it. But we’ll see what happens.

: Yeah.

: I was a student, came home for the weekend, saw Spike Lee at a screening of “She’s Gotta Have It,” I asked him for a part in his next film, and I got it.

: That is the abbreviated version, but that is basically what happened. “She’s Gotta Have It” was playing on 68th and Broadway in Manhattan. I ended up there as a result of a fight with my girlfriend at the time. Because I was at Syracuse…I left school to drive down to where she lived in Brooklyn, which was in the deepest part of Brooklyn, and she wanted to go see “She’s Gotta Have It.” I’m, like, “It’s only playing in Manhattan. It took me four hours to get here, and now we’ve got to drive another hour to get it?” And so it led to this big fight. Needless to say, she won and we were on our way to Manhattan to go see “She’s Gotta Have It.” When I got there, Spike was outside selling t-shirts. I asked, “How much are the t-shirts?” They said, “Ten bucks.” I said, “Well, that’s too expensive for a t-shirt,” and they said, “Well, what would you like?” “A part in his next movie.” “Go ask him.” So I did. I told him they were too expensive, and he said, “Are you an actor?” I said, “Well, sometimes.” He said, “You either act or you don’t.” I said, “I do.” Spike gave me his address, told me to send him a picture and a resume. I didn’t have an agent, wasn’t acting. I was an economics major on my way to work for my father’s brokerage firm in New York. And I got back to school, got a friend of mine who was a photography major to take head shots for me, sent them to Spike, got an audition and booked it. So I left school to go do “School Daze,” and after “School Daze,” the movie wrapped up in May, which is when I should have graduated. Instead of going to summer school, I had planned to come to Los Angeles for the summer. I came to L.A., my first month here I witnessed a freeway shooting, I was in an earthquake and caught the chickenpox. So there you go, that was my introduction.

: Yes, exactly. And then right after that, in August, September…you know, right for pilot season in 1987, which was the regular television cycle at the time…they were casting for “A Different World.” And I never looked back.

: I’ve been fortunate. I have been very lucky.

: Yeah, go.

: The original script for “Homeboys” was very clever. And it was satirical and it was funny, because one of the biggest fans of “Homeboys” was Roseanne Barr. I remember talking to Roseanne, she came up to me and said, “You know, the problem with ‘Homeboys’ is that they went cartoonish. It should have been satirical like ‘In Living Color,’ then it would have been great.” That was the original plan, but as often happens, shows take on a life of their own. Once we got started, we did one episode where we went to the planet of whatever, and there was a network executive who said, “That’s the show!” And the next thing you know, we were going to “The Planet of…” every week, and the comedy would ensue. What’s interesting is that I remember when I was concerned about it, I called Dr. Cosby to ask him, “What do you think?” He said, “It’s not the worst thing on television, but it does remind me of bad Saturday morning cartoons.” I’m like, okay, well, if that’s the worst thing about it. Now, the legend of “Homeboys” has become much more incendiary than the actual show. It’s funny how I usually challenge most people who talk about how much they disliked “Homeboys” to name me five episodes. Most of them can’t, because they just bought into the “oh, it’s awful, just the title. Oh, it’s terrible.” What’s interesting is that I had a great conversation with Chi McBride, who was doing "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,” which was infinitely…if you want to talk about in terms of the imagery of what was wrong, that show was much more infamous than “Homeboys.” Yet it’s not remembered in the same way because the title didn’t grab you in the same way. I remember Chi pulled me aside and he was, like, “Look, everyone who is criticizing what you’re doing would take your job from you in two seconds. All of them. So all I can tell you is that this is one blip on both of our careers, and we are moving on.” And, look, Chi has moved on, as have I. I want to say that right after “Homeboys” went off…I can’t remember if that’s when I was doing Diane English pilot or if that was another pilot with Carol Burnett, and neither of those ended up making it to air, but what I’m saying is that those are the people I was working with right after, you know what I mean? “Homeboys” has never been an impediment to my career or my ability to work. It’s just been the topic that everyone loves to rehash in terms of “we just think it was terrible, it was awful” and so forth.

: James Doohan was on there, and so was George Takei. And…oh, why can’t I say Adam’s name? Um…Adam West?

: Adam West was on there, and so was…oh, I can’t tell you the other gentleman’s name, but he was Gomez from “The Addams Family”.

: John Astin. Thank you. John Astin, who was just the sweetest guy. But, I mean, Adam West was cool, too.

: It did. That’s what I’m saying. That was the whole point…and James Doohan was the sweetest guy. Oh, he was just so wonderful to us. But…I want to say it was a UPN show, but I believe either Paramount or the Roddenberry estate was unhappy that we were satirizing Scotty as a character. So then James Doohan came out of the show, and when James Doohan came out, I was, like, “Oh, no.” That was one of the things that was so good about the show, that you had actually got him to have fun with this role. And I thought that’s the way this show was going to be portrayed. It’s one of the things that to me was interesting about what “Homeboys” could have been. Because whenever people talk about the future, if you look at some of the best futuristic movies, from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and all the others, generally African Americans aren’t there. I mean, it’s like we don’t make it to the future, except in the “Star Trek” series. Those are the few places. I had the privilege of meeting Nichelle Nichols at the NBC 75th Anniversary, and she was just like a queen. She was so regal and so wonderful; she was terrific. Just being able to say to her “thank you for being one of the pioneers that opened doors for me to be able to do what I do” was terrific. You say you’re a Trekkie, right?

: Interestingly enough, someone was saying to me that it has been long rumored in folklore that she and William Shatner’s kiss was the first interracial kiss on television. But, actually, no, that’s not true. It was Sammy Davis, Jr. and someone else in an earlier picture. And then they said that their kiss wasn’t even the first interracial kiss on “Star Trek.” It was when Captain Kirk kissed the Asian actress who was the warrior and the tear could make you fall in love….? Their kiss was the first quote, unquote interracial kiss. I was, like, “Look at that, I learned something.” And I even made you go “wow,” I think.

: They were, like, “Yeah, that actually preceded that.” But I still like giving “Star Trek” credit, just because it sounds good. ()

: Wow! Wow, that’s interesting, and I will tell you that it’s a toss-up. I would say in one sense, it would be the pilot I did with Jim Burrows, which we all thought was terrific, but it just happened to come at a time when reality TV…how’s this for irony? Reality TV was just starting to take off, and I want to say that it was “Meet the Parents,” “Average Joe,” “The Apprentice,” and I think they were about to do “Average Jane.” I think that was coming up, and all of them were taking up our blocks in NBC lineup. Additionally, they had already agreed and dropped $55 million on the Siegfried and Roy animated series.

: Yeah, “Father of the Pride” was coming up. So they had all of these things they had already committed to that I guess they didn’t they know would be successful before the upfronts. But by the time they had already renewed them for a second season, the window for available space for television wasn’t good. They had ordered, like, 24 pilots, and this was like Jim Burrows, Larry Wilmore, who had gotten an Emmy for “Bernie Mac,” and Henry Winkler was in a part. We even got a day off filming the pilot, which never happens, but it was because it was so tight. And it didn’t get picked up. So I was disappointed in that. But the other answer to your question would be “A Different World.” Dr. Cosby always said that our show was the goose that kept laying the golden eggs, but they never wanted to credit the goose. They always wanted to say that we were a show that was a beneficiary of our time slot. Notwithstanding the fact that I think in our third season, we beat “Cosby.” They also never wanted to give, I think, Debbie (Allen), Susan (Fales-Hill), and the writing staff credit for being as funny and topical as they were with the shows that still hold up now on AIDS, war, racism, and all the things that we did. We’re still one of the 50 highest rated shows in television history.

: It’s been in syndication for 17 years. We’re only the second show in television history to debut at the number two spot, behind “Bewitched.” I could go on, I’m good with the numbers. You know, everyone in the cast was always, like, “If you want to know the details, you’ve got to ask Darryl,” because I remember all that. So that would be the only other thing. People tend to look at our show, some people, under the umbrella of “Cosby” success and don’t give the people who put in a lot of good, hard work and were really good at what they do, for our show. But, you know, for what that show didn’t get in terms of that kind of recognition, to have shared the stage with Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll…I mean, it paid dividends in so many other ways. It was the best.

: Yep. I saw Jasmine in New Orleans last week. I was hosting a symposium on Hollywood, and Jasmine was there choreographing a number. Kadeem just texted me ten minutes ago. Let’s see, I’ll see Debbie probably sometime this weekend, she’s doing something at the dance academy. I usually call her about “So You Think You Can Dance” all the time. Dawnn (Lewis) and I were at a function together not too long ago. So yeah, we don’t all get to see each other collectively, but we do still see each other from time to time, and it’s always love.

: Go ahead.

: You know, I really don’t know. I can’t say that I have any expectations. I’m curious to see what will happen. If I’m to judge by most of the questions we have gotten so far, I think the challenge is going to be for people to be able to get past the title, to see what the show is really about. And if that happens, that could be fun. And we’ll see where it goes from there. So it will be interesting to see what happens. So my expectations are that we will either change some minds and be really successful, or something that I haven’t conceived of will be the answer. () One or the other, right?

A Chat with Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, and Lenora Crichlow of "Being Human"

Bullz-Eye's TCA 2009 Summer Press Tour Wrap-Up: Cougars, Muppets, Vampires, and Gordon Ramsay, Too!

God bless the TCA Press Tour, where the television industry gives critics from throughout North America the opportunity to play with the folks who live and work in Hollywood. The tour allows us a remarkable amount of access to the stars, producers, directors, and writers of the various shows currently taking up residence on the various cable and broadcast networks. Yes, while I may spend 48 weeks out of the year feeling like a nobody, for those four weeks - two in the summer, two in the winter - which are taken up by the tour, I'm at least made to like I'm a somebody. (Really, though, I'm not anybody.)

This was the first time the summer tour had been held Comic-Con rather than before, so there was a certain amount of grumbling about the fact that the fans were getting a certain amount of information that would've ordinarily gone to the critics first, but it must be said that the networks did a pretty good job of pacifying us. And, besides, aren't the fans supposed to come first, anyway?

Although the content that I managed to accrue during the course of the tour will continue to come your way for quite some time to come, what you see before you is a summary of the highs and lows of the event, mixing stories you may have already read on Premium Hollywood with many that I simply haven't had a chance to discuss yet. As ever, it was a heck of a good time, full of the kind of moments that leave me grateful that I managed to get that journalism degree from Averett College back in 1992, pleased as punch that Bullz-Eye and Premium Hollywood have given me the opportunity to cover the tour, and, most of all, that there are lot of great readers out there who seem to enjoy the tales I bring back from these strange TCA adventures that I've embarked upon.

Let's get started, shall we?

:

As someone who has spent the majority of his journalistic career as a music critic (and, even before that, spent a decent chunk of time as a record store clerk), I was easily as excited about this panel as anything else on the schedule. I mean, c'mon, Patti Smith? She's a legend...and the audience treated her as such: the questions were well-considered, and in turn, Patti's answers were well-constructed, informative, and entertaining. Despite my excitement, I had somehow developed an expectation that she might be reserved and, indeed, perhaps a bit prickly with her responses, but she was smiling and laughing and enjoying herself. When she broke out her guitar at the end of the Q&A and proceeded to favor us with a couple of songs, I dare say I wasn't the only one who was completely mesmerized. After Patti's performance, we absconded to a PBS-sponsored cocktail party, where writer - a veteran attendee of the TCA Tour - said that this might've been the single best panel he's ever attended. I don't know if time has tempered the immediacy of his reaction, but the more I think about it, the more I think he could well be right.

:

There was always a pretty good chance this panel was going to take this category by storm, given that it was going to feature Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis, but I had no way of knowing how hilarious the creator of the show, Jonathan Ames, was going to be. Granted, Galifianakis still won the day by offering up enough great lines to warrant my compiling a full-fledged Top 10 list of them, but it was Ames' quick wit that sent me to eBay to pick up one of his books. (I opted for "Wake Up, Sir!" If anyone else has any recommendations for others, however, I'm ready to hear them.)

: .

By the time Fox took the stage for their various panels, we were well past the halfway point of the tour, and most of us had begun to hit that invisible wall which makes us start to zone out of the proceedings and just start wishing we were back home. Fortunately, Chef Ramsay decided that he wanted to add a bit of interactivity to the proceedings, and given that he was there to talk up his latest series, "Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live," it made complete sense. As such, he invited the audience of critics to follow a recipe and whip up the topping for their own serving of Baked Alaska. It would be fair to say that I did not do spectacularly (one look at mine, and he sadly sighed, "Oh, mate...), but it was a lot of fun nonetheless.

:

Not that it's a bad show, but what was the point, really? The series had already been on the air for a few weeks by the time of the panel, but not long enough for most of us to have developed any particular dedication to it yet. Worse, TNT preceded it by offering up scenes from their upcoming series, "Men of a Certain Age," starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher, which made us far more interested in knowing more about show.

:

Given how many programs are already premiering in the fall, I made it a point to try and avoid watching episodes of series that wouldn't be arriving until January, but that was definitely a mistake on my part when it came to "Life UneXpected," starring Kerr Smith and Sheri Applebly. The video presentation showed a sweet and intriguing new series about a teenage girl who reunites with her biological parents. It's so unlike anything else on The CW these days that asked the producers outright, "Is there any concern that you may have made this pilot for a network that doesn’t exactly exist? Because this is sort of a warm, fuzzy, family, everybody-together pilot, and if you look at The CW’s shows for the Fall, they’re less that." But Paul McGuire, president of entertainment for The CW, assured us that "Life UneXpected" is "a series that’s going to be something special à la 'Gilmore Girls,'” so let's hope the network gives us the chance to enjoy this series as long as we did that one.

:

I can honestly say that I've never sat through an entire episode of "Oprah," so I didn't really know anything about Dr. Mehmet Oz except that he's apparently been a staple of her show for some years now. But as he told us about his new daytime series by using a PowerPoint presentation which absolutely felt like something he'd put together (rather than, say, a precisely prepared creation done by the boys in Marketing), then followed it with a Q&A session, it was remarkable how he held everyone's attention. I'll say to you what I said to my peers: if it had been a pyramid scheme, he'd have my life savings by now. It was that impressive. When his show premieres this fall, God help me, I think I might actually sign up for a TiVo season pass.

: .

He was there to discuss his new PBS series about America's national parks, but before the panel began, he became aware of something that had gone missing from our tables.

"When the doors opened, there was a companion ('The National Parks: America’s Best Idea') book as a centerpiece at each table," Burns noted, "and I now notice they’ve all disappeared. This is obviously something every table will have to deal with on your own, who among you has the book, but we want to say that we will have enough books for everybody, and if you will just leave us your card or write down your name, we will send you the book. We had hoped not to burden you with the weight of this heavy tome, but clearly there are 25 among you here — and I don’t want to call anyone out — who have decided that it is too heavy a burden to take."

Um...oops? But for the record, had my swiping of the book from the table turned into a thorny legal issue, I was already prepared to cite the case of Finders v. Keepers as precedent.

: .

You can bet that CBS is still kicking themselves over the fact that they canceled "Moonlight" just as the combination of HBO's "True Blood" and the "Twilight" films were about to make vampires into Hollywood's hottest commodity, but at least The CW had the good sense to fast-track the development of this popular book series into a TV series. Sadly, the majority of the show's cast members - including Ian Somerhalder, late of "Lost" - weren't able to make it into Pasadena in time to attend the panel, but I feel certain that the presence of Paul Wesley would've been more than enough to keep the average teenage girl swooning throughout the proceedings.

:

During the course of his many remarks in the "Cougar Town" panel, creator Bill Lawrence joked that he'd told his cast, "Hey, you guys want to come to Pasadena while I talk for a while?” And when I say "joked," I mean he was probably being completely and totally serious. Lawrence has often said that his childhood dream was to grow up and become a talk show host, and it's never more evident than when he's holding court during one of his show's panels. It's not that he steals the show as much as it is that the critics know how entertaining he can be, so they defer to him with their questions...and when they do, he takes the ball and runs with it.

: I sat at Michael Scott's desk, I sat at what used to be Pam's desk (she's in sales now, you know), I was given a tour of the set by Angela, and those who come to my office will now seen that I have been declared an Assistant to the Regional Manager at Dunder-Mifflin. It doesn't get much better than that.

: It's always nice to see David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, and it was cool to see Booth's base camp at the FBI, but we'd been promised a look at Bones's lab at the Jeffersonian and were denied as a result of filming commitments. Understandable, sure, but it was still a major bummer.

: I arrived early enough on the day before the tour started that I was able to go to dinner - my first-ever experience eating Ethiopian - with one of my Popdose colleagues, Jon Cummings, then attend the so-called "Girls Night Out" concert at Molly Malone's as part of the International Pop Overthrow. It was great to finally see the Paula Kelley Orchestra, but the best part of the evening was definitely the performance by Kay Hanley, late of Letters to Cleo. Sadly, she didn't break out anything from "My Friends Tigger & Pooh," but she still rocked the hell out of the joint. I was dead on my feet by the end of the night, but it was totally worth it.

: .

In addition to meeting Brian Boitano, host of the awesomely-titled series, "What Would Brian Boitano Make?", the latest round of "Iron Chef" contestants each had their own booth where they were making their signature dishes for your dining enjoyment, some of which were positively to die for. Eric Greenspan made a Tallegia grilled cheese and short rib sandwich on raisin bread that I could've eaten all night, Robert Trevino created a combination of manchego cheesecake with pata negra that blew my mind, and Jose Garces threw together a sandwich consisting of a pork belly bun with Togarashi mayonnaise that seemed to be universally praised. Great stuff all around. : .

The function took place at the Huntington Library, and it technically wasn't a CBS party, since it also incorporated the folks from The CW and Showtime, but we're still going to let them have it on a technicality. I didn't get as many interviews during the festivities as I did at the other network parties, but it was so star-packed that it was hard to complain because...well, what, like I can moan about the fact that there was too talent there? Every time I turned around, someone awesome was walking past me, from LL Cool J to John Lithgow to the cast of "The Big Bang Theory."

In addition, it was a beautiful venue...though, to be fair, just getting away from the hotel upped it a notch. (All of the other broadcast networks stayed within the grounds of the Langham, which is where the various panels took place.) The combination of all of these factors definitely made it the most memorable gathering of the second half of the tour.

: . CBS's Nina Tassler replied to something he'd said about her in the past, saying, "Well, you know, I’m really just a D girl, so I wouldn’t comment on that." When the topic came up during Fox's session, Peter Rice said, "I assumed you were going to ask if he was going to judge on 'Idol' next season." Bill Lawrence opened the "Cougar Town" panel by saying, "So, Ben Silverman..." (Unfortunately, he never really let loose about the man who'd headed NBC during the network's final season of "Scrubs," instead asking the rhetorical question, "Can you say 'off the record' to 230 people?") Even NBC's Angela Bromstad got an unintended laugh when she began her response about Silverman's departure by saying, "Well, I think that this has been Ben's plan." What, to inspire half a dozen punchlines during the course of the TCA Press Tour? If so, I think it's fair to consider it a success.

: .

From the moment Jane said to one critic, "Speak into the mike and tell me how you feel about my penis," it was clear that things were probably going to be interesting, and when he assured us that he prefers the word "cock" over "dick," we knew that theory was correct. But while his panel-ending comments about how he feels about prostitutes were probably in jest, our favorite moment came in the midst of his reply to a question about how he felt about the show when it was first pitched to him.

Nice, Thomas, very nice. You kiss Patricia Arquette with that mouth...?

: .

When I walked up to Drew Carey so that I could revisit an earlier discussion with him about his favorite bad movies (in 2007, he assured me that "Boat Trip" was so bad that it was actually a must-see), Price - of CBS's "Rules of Engagement" - proceeded to tell a story about how she used to make a point of going to see certain shows on Broadway simply because they looked like they'd be horrible.

:

There's generally at least one person per press tour who leaves me feeling completely unlike a professional journalist and turns me into a total fanboy. In January, it was Ozzy Osbourne. In July, it was Robin Williams. I had a fleeting moment where I had to choose between taking a photo and shaking his hand, and although the photo would've been more permanent, I went for the memory. If he hadn't been in the process of leaving, I would've told him that I'd been a fan ever since I wrote a fan letter to "Mork and Mindy" and, in return, ABC sent me a postcard with his pre-printed autograph (and Pam Dawber's, too), but in the end, I was succinct and just said, "I've been a fan for a long time." In return, he said, "Oh, thanks, man, I really appreciate it," and it's a testament to his acting abilities that he said it in such a way that it really felt like he heard the exact same thing a million times before. Or maybe he really still enjoy having people tell him that.

: Who doesn't like free stuff? Granted, the networks have cut back, so it's not like we're getting bombarded with awesome swag the way we used to, but there's still some pretty cool stuff being offered to us. I particularly liked the "Fringe" flashlight which sends out its beam in the same of a butterfly, and my daughter dug the PBS Kids tote that she's now using as her library book bag, but all told, I think the win has to go to the Dunder-Mifflin nameplate that I received after my tour of the set of "The Office."

: Oh, man, there was a lot of competition this year. Was it having Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory" recognize her from their conversation last year? Was it getting her picture taken with Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") and Sam Trammell ("True Blood")? Or was it geeking out and getting to meet Doctor Who himself, David Tennant? I just checked with her, and she says that, since she didn't really get to talk to Tennant very much, she's going with her conversation with Parsons. But, y'know, that's her answer . It could change tomorrow.

: This was also a good tour for my daughter, in that Sofia Vassilieva thanked her for being a fan of her work in "Eloise at the Plaza" and Yeardley Smith said "hello" to her as Lisa Simpson, but as much as she enjoyed those moments, they ultimately paled in comparison to the fact that her daddy also met three residents of "Sesame Street" and asked each of them if they'd mind offering her a personal greeting.

: .

I did at least manage to enter his gravitational field this time, but he slipped away from the throng within fifteen minutes of the Fox function's kick-off.

: .

Actually, this suggests that I actually talked to him. In truth, I opened my mouth to ask a question, only to have him say that he needed take a break for a few minutes. But given that the conversation immediately prior to that involved his discussion about how he used to participate in a regular poker game with Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, and Carl Reiner (not to mention the fact that I was standing close enough to him that I could've - but didn't - run my finger down the dimple in his chin), it was hard to be unaware of his place in television history. I was fully prepared to approach him later, but he never failed to be surrounded by a crowd, so it never came to pass. Oh, well, maybe next year.

:

When I arrived at the ABC party, I saw him stroll out of the main ballroom and onto the patio, so I thought, "Okay, maybe I can catch up with him out there." As it turned out, there was almost no one the patio, and after Ed grabbed a drink from the bar and sat down, I caught his eye and raised my recorder uncertainly. He immediately waved me over, and although it ended up starting off slightly awkwardly (he'd thought I was the person who'd asked him the first question during his panel earlier in the day), we ended up having a great one-on-one chat for several minutes, talking about his new series, "Modern Family," contributing to David Faustino's online series last year, and his work with David Milch over the years. Did you know that Milch, creator of "Deadwood," had originally written the part of Al Swearengen for ? True story.

: It's getting harder and harder to pick one of these, since I'm consistently discovering that a of celebrities are pretty genuine, but I'm gonna have to give the nod to Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory." The guy is up for an Emmy this year, but he's just as nice a guy as you could possibly hope to speak with. He was at the TCA Awards, and when I saw him at the CBS party, he immediately lit up and commented how nice it was to see me again, and before he left, he made a point of coming over and asking if I would be at the Warner Brothers party later in the week. "If so," he said, "I'll see you there!"

: .

To put this in proper context, you must understand that, in almost twenty years of doing interviews, I don’t even have anyone who’s earned two strikes, but Hayden went three for three at the NBC parties I’ve attended over the course of my trio of summer press tours.

In 2007, I managed to ask her precisely one question, which she answered lazily before wandering away. In 2008, I waited patiently for an interview as she finished a casual conversation, and although both she and her publicist clearly saw me, they both turned and walked in the opposite direction when the conversation was over. I unintentionally but audibly said, “Oh, no, you didn’t,” at which point her publicist attempted to pacify me by assuring me that she had to go to the ladies room and would be back. (She wouldn’t be.) This year, I decided I’d give it one more shot.

As I was steeling myself for her impending indifference, a colleague came up and said, “Do you want to double-team her?” Just as we were heading her way, another critic beat us to the punch by calling Hayden’s name…and I saw Hayden’s eyes roll as far back as she could muster, then turned and offered about the most fake smile imaginable, in no way hiding the “I don’t want to be here, let alone answer your questions” look in her eyes. My colleague and I approached nonetheless, and we watched as several other writings entered the newly-created scrum. After the fourth or fifth time Hayden reacted to a new tape recorder as if someone was thrusting a knife at her, I finally just said, “Screw this" (albeit under my breath), and bailed out, but I got the impression that the scrum broke up not long afterward, anyway. C'mon, Hayden, if you don’t want to be at the party, don’t come to the party...and if you to be at the party, then at least to be civil, would you? We're not paparazzi. We're TV critics.

A buddy of mine has a far better relationship with Hayden and her publicist than I do, and he says he's going to do what he can to hook me up with a phoner with her. Despite the newly-instituted rule, I would be willing to make an exception for a one-on-one interview, mostly because it would be nice to actually confront her - politely, of course, because that's how I roll - about my experiences with her at past parties. But will I get the chance to do so? Stay tuned...

TCA Tour - "The Office" set visit

TCA Tour - "The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson"

When it comes to late-night hosts, I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but...I have almost reached the point where I prefer Craig Ferguson to David Letterman. When it comes to my all-time favorite, I don't think I'll ever see a day when Dave will be topped, but there's just something about Ferguson that comes closer to matching my current sensibilities. In particular, I love the way the guy speaks off the cuff and from the heart. It's not that other hosts can't and don't step outside of the standard talk-show mold to address specific issues of the day, but Ferguson does it every day of the week and throughout the majority of his show, creating a feel of spontaneity where you truly have no idea what he's going to say next. Plus, he has such a "real person" vibe that you know that, when he say something, it'll sound like something that might say.

Well, you know, if you had a Scottish brogue. And were funnier.

The TCA has had a long-standing relationship with Mr. Ferguson, but I swear to you that his ongoing gesture of buying us pizza whenever we hold our organization's business meetings has nothing to do with my enjoyment of his show. With that said, however, I can't say that the messages that he includes with the pizza - like the one below - haven't made me respect him more. I mean, as someone who has an affinity to the printed word (as opposed to the online word), I have to give him props for this:

Craig stopped by the TCA tour for what was described as an "informal press conference," which is no doubt why he started the proceedings by saying, "First of all, let me say my wife is standing by me through this very difficult time," adding that "Buenos Aires is lovely at this time of year." From there, he was willing to tackle any and all questions that were thrown at him, but before I offer up some of my favorite moments, I must drop this bombshell: he's considering getting rid of the puppets.

"I think my show is probably closer to 'Pee-wee’s Playhouse' than anything else I’ve seen, and that is an aspiration. That’s a great show. I don’t know where we are, but wherever we are, we won’t be that next week. I do know that. That’s why the puppets won’t stay forever. It’s important to keep moving. There was a point, you know, when I had a sound board, and I was always doing the sound board, and people asked about the sound effects. Or there was the cheeky monkey thing. We have to keep moving because I’ll get bored, and if I get bored, then I think we start doing retakes when I make a mistake, and then the rote sets in, and then there’s focus groups and then committees about 'I don’t know about this joke.'"

"I don’t want to be poor. I don’t want to be rich to the extent that all I care about is keeping my job. I don’t care enough about keeping my job right now. That’s good. That makes me effective at what I do. I don’t want to be frightened of getting fired. So, to that end, I suppose my ambitions are that I spend less than I earn. I don’t want to have the ambition of a time slot or a number of dollars. Do I want to make a lot of money? Fuck, yeah. But do I want to make it at the expense of...look, I’ve met a lot of rich people who are douche bags. I don’t want to be that...or any more of that than is necessary. So I hope to, I suppose, in some way try and maintain some...if I have any...type of integrity. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. That’s my ambition."

"I watched Jimmy (Fallon) in his first week...maybe 10 minutes of it. I remember during that time Jimmy Kimmel - who is a very nice man - gave an interview, and he said, 'We all watch and anybody of the late night guys says that they don’t watch another show is lying.' So I guess I’m lying, but the truth is I don’t watch the other late night shows. You know the shows I see? I see 'Duck Dodgers' and 'MythBusters.' That’s what I fucking watch, because I’ve got an eight-year-old son, you know. I watched Jimmy, and I liked him. I thought he was good, but I stand by what I said the last time: I never thought we were in competition, and I don’t think we are in competition now. The last time I talked to you guys, I said I thought Jimmy’s competition was 'Adult Swim,' and I still believe that. I think my competition is sleep. Or the ShamWow commercial, or whatever the hell is on cable, or whatever video game. I don’t know. I just do what I do."

"I don’t really understand (ratings). When they say people age 18-34, and then they go 18-49, I said, 'Well, what? So the people in the 18-34, are they in the 18-49? Or is this different people that are not in the 18-34?' Then you go, 'Do all ratings stop at 49?' And they do. You go, 'I’m 47. So in two years, I’m fucked. Fuck you! No!' I don’t really understand how it works. I know it’s important because everybody writes about it like it’s religion, but all I know is this: the numbers can change dramatically, and people get pay raises. Here’s what I do know, and this is probably the wrong thing to say in a room full of journalists, but it seemed to me...I don’t know if this absolutely accurate, but when Jay was shit-canned from NBC, he was the leader in all numbers, and then they fired him. I don’t to get fired. So perhaps keeping your head down is what you should do with the numbers. I don’t understand how it works, but it clearly matters. Yet I don’t know why. I think the truth of it is this: I think it makes you sound clever if you talk about them, and I think that’s what a lot of people do. I understand that. I want to sound clever, too, but I swear to God, I don’t understand it."

"What I think we’ve been doing at this show...I what we’ll be doing at the show is deconstructing and deconstructing and deconstructing the format, and the more we deconstruct the format, if we are successful in doing that, the more we separate ourselves for good or ill the format. The format is tired. The format is tired, and it is old, and...look, here’s the reality: I’m another middle-aged white guy telling jokes late at night on TV wearing a suit. And that’s tired, you know? So I want to mess with it. Because that’s who I am, I want to mess with it. I want to poke it with a stick. I want to do it. I swear, I don’t know if I’m part of it. I kind of would to be. You know, I kind of like to be, 'Hey, what’s going to happen with ?' And then another part of me thinks, 'Well, then I’ll end up like that. Then I’ll be important. Then I’ll be worried about the fucking 18-18 1/2 demographics.' And I don’t want to be. So I’m conflicted a little bit with it, I guess."

"I’d like to announce I got my pilot’s license on Friday of last week. And I’ll tell you why I like aviation: because it is the complete opposite of show business. In show business, you bullshit, you bullshit, you bullshit, and that’s what you do, and that’s how get ahead. In aviation, you bullshit, you fucking die. You’re gone. So when Andy says to you in show business, 'Can you do that?' You go, 'You bet I can.' When Andy says to you in aviation, 'Can you do that?' You better tell the truth, because if you can’t, you know, you’re on the local news, and that’s that."

"David Letterman, no matter what the numbers have ever been, , in the past...David Letterman is the king of late night television. All right. Now, I know there are press releases and other people that can prove to you scientifically that that’s not fucking true, but I’m telling you, . I’m very happy to work for him and to work close to him, but if there is a successor to Johnny, then, of course, it’s David. My relationship with David Letterman is that I sit at his feet. I’m kind of his bitch. In the modern parlance, you know. I sit at the feet of the master."

TCA Tour: "Glee"

TCA Tour: "Lie to Me"

"Lie to Me" is a series which I would've watched a heck of a lot more if it hadn't always been up against a series that I already had an existing addiction to, but every episode that I see was enjoyable, so I've already got my order in for a copy of the Season 1 set, so that I can be properly prepped for Season 2. There's also another really good reason to be ready for the show's sophomore outing: they've added Shawn Ryan - a.k.a. the man behind "The Shield" - to the series' production team.

How did such a thing come to pass? In a nutshell, Samuel Baum asked him to join, and although the two hadn't really known each other, Ryan was swayed both by a sudden opening in his schedule and the company Baum was keeping.

"I came out and helped out a little bit on the last couple episodes as a favor to the studio," explained Ryan. "I didn’t really know Sam, but I had a couple of my old 'Shield' writers who were over there, and I thought, 'Well, that will be cool.' I enjoyed it: I got to meet Tim and the rest of the cast, I dug the show. 'The Unit' was unceremoniously dumped by CBS, so I suddenly found myself with a little time, and I thought I could bring something to the show. It was something that excited me. You see the actors here: it’s an incredible cast, and I just want to get to know these characters better. And believe me, there’s enough work on a TV show for both Sam and I. So it really is a very cooperative, very friendly relationship. There was no “All About Eve” sort of situation here. There’s plenty for both of us do. In terms of what I think I might bring to it, I think I’m trying to push it a little bit more in a character direction, add a little bit of adrenaline to the show, but really sort of dig deep."

So by "adrenaline," are we talking more explosions, or what?

"No, no, I don’t mean that exactly," Ryan said. " Listen, the show is ultimately based on a group of scientists. And Mekhi (Phifer) plays a character who is not a scientist. But the fact is they are people who are diving into the middle of charge cases and accusing people of being liars. That can lead to consequences. So I don’t mean adrenaline in a 'Shield' sense or a '24' sense, but they are going to put themselves in some emotionally and physically harrowing situations at times. And I think the pace of the show will increase slightly. And we have a lot of story to tell, and I just think there’s some juice that can be added to the show in a fun way."

You may have noticed the reference to Mekhi Phifer in Ryan's comments. Those who did watch the show last season and recall that he turned up in a few episodes as Agent Ben Reynolds will be pleased to hear that he's been added to the series as a full-fledged regular. And if you didn't watch last season...well, fortunately for you, Phifer clarified his character a bit for us.

"He’s an FBI agent who was contracted by the Lightman group to be sort of the guy with the gun and the badge to help bring some of these cases home," explained Phifer. "He’s new, and he’s just learning about this whole scientist understanding of, you know, how to read people and faces and things of that nature. So it’s definitely an exploration for the character to get into the family of the Lightman group and be a better agent, as well as be a part of the family and be an asset to help solving a lot of these cases."

You'd better believe that everyone on "Lie to Me" - actors and producers alike - were completely psyched to be able to get Phifer to join their cadre.

"He had an amazing and totally different kind of part, an amazing role in '8 Mile,' so that was sort of in the back of our mind," said executive producer David Nevins. "We have all these scientists, and we wanted to bring in somebody who was not a scientist, who was not steeped in the same sort of book knowledge that they have, but who was going to be able to go sort of toe to toe as an actor and toe to toe sort of intellectually with these kind of brainy scientists."

"Liz Craft and Sarah Fain, who wrote on 'The Shield' for me, wrote the episode where Mekhi’s character was introduced," said Ryan, "and one of the things they had talked about...I had come on just as an advisor for these last couple episodes, and the one thing that we had talked about with the creation of that character was that in previous episodes there seemed to be a law enforcement figure that would be introduced into an episode, and you guys kept introducing different ones. And it was brought up that, you know, 'What if you have one person that can be your go-to person?' And for a company that is doing so much work for the government, it would make sense that they’d want a liaison between them. And so it was just an opportunity to add him. Sam signed off on that casting last year. I wasn’t hugely involved with that, but when I heard the name Mekhi, I was, like, 'Man, if you can get him, it’d be .'”

"Yeah, he was my first choice last year, and we were very excited to get him," confirmed Baum. "The first parameter, I would say, is that Tim Roth has a tendency to blow off the screen a large number of actors who he’s opposite in scenes. You just disappear. It can even happen to an inexperienced writer. Blown off the set. So, one, we needed someone who was really a man and had gravity and could own scenes with him. I would say the second thing is we wanted someone who really had some life force, who was magnetic and who, rather than taking a scientific approach, was incredibly street smart from years and years of investigative work, where he knows a particular guy just by looking at him and what his MO is based on past criminal work."

"It’s that he’s not going to believe me also until I’m proven," explained Roth. "And that’s a nice atmosphere to bring into our office. It’s like, 'Yeah, all right, prove it. And if you can’t prove it, I’ll move on the way I normally do.' And that I liked about your character. You can kick a door down. 'Don’t have to talk my way through it. I’ll just kick it down,' until things change for him. And we’re in that mode, I think, with Mekhi where we’re building to those episodes where we’re going to open up his character and really examine what lies beneath the surface. And it’s going to being quite shocking."

"Yeah, that’s coming," confirmed Ryan.

"Yeah, there will be an episode that goes deep into his history as an FBI agent, into Reynolds’ history, and will really split Lightman’s loyalties," said Baum. "I think over the season, you’ll start to see a friendship develop and be tested in terms of split loyalties throughout the season."

"The first season...it was kind of experimental in a way," said Roth. "And a lot of what’s happening now, I think, is that the characters are starting to surface. And a lot of what we’re doing is looking into why they are what they are and how they behave and what their backgrounds are and their secrets are and so forth. It should be quite interesting. It’s great stuff to act, I have to say."

As far as what else we can expect this season, Brendan Hines' character, Eli Loker, will be continuing to tell the truth, despite how uncomfortable it tends to make those who are on the receiving end of his truth-telling. "For me, it’s a choice that he made," said Hines. "It’s an experiment of sorts that he’s running on himself, because it allows him to put people in awkward situations and see what their reaction is to it, and it also is an experiment that he can run on himself and see how long he’s able to do it, if he is able to be 100 percent committed to it. But I think this season we’re moving on into other territories for him to sort of explore as far as his research and experimentation. And he’s still putting people in awkward situations, I think."

"There will be an episode coming up down the road, a Thanksgiving episode that’s set on Black Friday," said Baum. "There’s a big-box-store stampede to get a cheap television, as happened at a retailer a couple years ago where someone is trampled by the thousands of people trying to get a TV, and one of the areas of interest for Loker, you’ll see, is group psychology and how good people can end up trampling someone to death in a situation like that. You’ll also see him continue to experiment with different levels of honesty; you might see an episode where he goes silent for the entire episode and takes a vow of silence."

Ryan offered further information about Season 2, including the fact that Emmy Award-winning director/producer Dan Sackheim has joined the series. "He's really kind of retooling the look of the show, and it really looks spectacular," he said. "The sets have sort of been updated, so the show, I think, is going to look different and feel different as well."

Other things to look forward to: Erika Christensen plays a multiple personality disorder victim in the season premiere, and Garret Dillahunt plays opposite Tim in the second episode. Ryan also revealed that there'll be a case of art coincidentally imitating life in the season premiere. "In our first episode, the B-story deals with the firm being hired by the White House to vet a potential nominee," he said. "The nominee has certain positions, and they want to know whether he’s being truthful or not. It’s a lifetime appointment. You’re not going to see that kind of story on any other show on TV.

"Another area that we really want to get into this year that Sam and his team touched on a little bit last year is the idea that not only is (Cal) a master of detecting lies, but really he’s one of the world’s greatest liars," continued Ryan. "So it’s seeing the flip side of the coin. It’s seeing him insert himself in the situations and lie to people to be someone else. We have a great scene that Matt Olmstead, who ran 'Prison Break' last year and who is writing for the show this year, wrote where we meet Cal Lightman at a singles’ mixer. And we think, 'Oh, is this his hard-up way for a date?' But really he’s there to check out one of the women for a case. And we see him presenting himself as a suitor to this variety of women that’s just fascinating to see him, the way he lies, and sort of worms his way into the hearts of some of these women. We’re going to see him in other situations where we see him being the liar, not just the lie detector."

"Also, one of the things this season I’m excited about, particularly as Kelli’s character, Dr. Foster, is newly single and starting to date, is this question of, 'How much do we want to know?'" said Baum. "How much honesty and at what price? And what is it like when you do this for a living and suddenly you’re single? And the period of dating where normally there would be a fair number of half truths, the person is laid naked. And Lightman can see it as well. And what do they talk about, and what don’t they talk about?"

"Can’t wait," smirked Williams.

"Or being the father," added Ryan. "Hayley [McFarland's] not here, but Hayley, who plays Lightman’s daughter on the show...what’s it like to be the father of a teenage girl and see through the lies? And from her perspective, not to have that privacy of being a teenager being allowed to make mistakes. That’s an area that we’re going to really delve into a lot this season: Lightman and his daughter and the unique position of him as a father with these skills."

I have to say, no other panel gave us as much insight into what we can expect from a show's upcoming season. So I ask you: are you now as psyched as I am to see "Lie to Me" return? Because, personally, I'm pretty damned psyched.

TCA Tour: "Fringe"

TCA: ABC Executive Session

Compared to his broadcast network peers, ABC President Stephen McPherson had a pretty low-key executive session, admitting outright that he didn't really have any grand announcements to drop on us, but he did discuss the following matters:

* "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" returns to ABC tomorrow. McPherson describes being on the set with Regis again as "nostalgic and energizing," and assures us that the show's return features the best million-dollar question moment in the entire history of the series. Big talk, but we'll see.

* McPherson's got class. He didn't take the bait when asked for the obligatory comment about Ben Silverman's departure, and he fully acknowledged that he's interested in seeing what's going to happen with Jay Leno, given that it's the first time we've seen anything like this on TV in our lifetime.

* On the matter of viewers investing in series that could be yanked out from under them at any given moment, he made it clear that it's not an arbitrary decision when a show is canceled. "How patient can you be?" he asked. "How much information do you have about the show? Is it being rejected? Is it slowly building? Is it stable at that label? How does it affect the rest of your schedule? The overall network?" Though they try to be as patient as they can be with a series, sometimes it just has to go. "Canceling shows is the worst part of my job," he said.

* That's as may be, but it sounds like dealing with Katherine Heigl's outbursts can't be a heck of a lot better. When asked about her actions, he replied, "I think it's unfortunate. It's not something I think you want to let consume you or your people, because it is what it is, and people are going to behave in the way they choose to behave, but I think there are so many people who work hard on 'Grey's Anatomy' and all of our shows and go without any credit. Those are the people I'd be most concerned about."

* When "Scrubs," it's still gonna be "Scrubs." "It's not changing its title," confirmed McPherson. "It's gonna be different in the sense of the construct of what's going on, but it'll be the same character dynamics as before, but it's allowing Bill (Lawrence) to introduce new characters and spend time with them. But it'll be the same tonal show, with the same kind of comedy and storytelling that you're used to." As noted, Zach Braff will be turning up for a few episodes, but McPherson says they're going to "try to convince him to do more."

* Despite appearances, "FlashForward" was not specifically created to be the heir apparent to "Lost." "We would love for it to have even a part of the success of 'Lost,'" McPherson admitted, 'but the spec script was originally done, I think, for HBO, and we were thrilled to read it. But there was no development where we went, 'Hey, let's try to make the next 'Lost'! It was just about good material."

* It seems a bit weird that ABC should've rescued both Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton after their joint Fox failure, "Back to You," but McPherson says they came about through very different circumstacnes. "We'd previously developed 'The Middle' and even shot it, but we just didn't feel like we'd gotten the pilot to where it needed to be," he said. "But then Patti got available, she struck us as the perfect person for the show, and she sparked to the script." As for Grammer, his new series, "Hank," was pitched "as a full show with him attached, and we felt it was really in the zeitgeist and a great character for him to be playing."

* "Romantically Challenged," the new Alyssa Milano / Kyle Bornheimer sitcom, is in talks for a midseason run, but McPherson isn't sure where to put it at the moment.

* Despite rumors to the contrary, "Ugly Betty" was never canceled. It was just taken off the air to offer up episodes of "Samantha Who?" and "In the Motherhood," and McPherson is very excited about the new season.

* In regards to Violet's storyline on "Private Practice" last season, he acknowledged that he was "frightened by it" when heard about it, but "while it's polarizing, it's gained excitement about the show and the characters and the potential where we can go with it. We can go edgier at 10 PM, and it can be a different show than 'Grey's.'" McPherson declared the storyline to be a perfect example of why you should trust great show runners.

* And, lastly, for all of you "American Idol" fans, McPherson admitted that he has indeed reached out to Paula Abdul, and although he first said that he was sorry about what she was going through, he did managed to slip in that he'd love to see her on ABC.

TCA Tour: "Medium"

FX's Landgraf talks "Powers" pilot, possibility of "Riches" movie

After FX's executive session, I managed to catch up with network president John Landgraf and ask him about the status of the series based on Brian Michael Bendis's "Powers." Unfortunately, there hasn't been much more forward motion since during the New York Comic-Con in February.

"It's in development," Landgraf reconfirmed. "We've seen a draft of the script, we've given the notes on it, and we're waiting on another draft. But I liked it."

If you're wondering, Landgraf read the original source material, and he's aware of the challenge inherent in transforming it from the page to the tube.

"You saw this also with 'Watchmen' when it came out," he said. "You're making a property, you're trying to figure out how to take something from a comic book into a TV show, you're trying to make something that both satisfies the hardcore fans of the property, the story, and the characters, but also has the ability to introduce a new, broader audience to it. That's really hard to do. That's always a struggle, I think, when you're working with a well-respected graphic novel. So that's what we're working on right now."

Landgraf also spoke to "The Riches," which he selected as the show during his time with FX that he most wished had taken off, acknowledging that there had indeed been a very real chance for the series to earn a third season.

"The ratings did fall off a lot in Season 2," Landgraf admitted, "and yet we still thought long and hard. It was a very close choice and a very choice, because it's hard to say goodbye to that kind of quality. And to see what Dmitri Lipkin has gone on and done with 'Hung' on HBO...we knew we had a real talent on our hands, and those are some of the hardest choices that you have to make."

One suspects it was probably even harder once Eddie Izzard began trumpeting how he was prepared to continue doing "The Riches" for many years to come.

"He ready," Landgraf agreed, "and there was a journey for those characters that was a journey that *I* really wanted to see, one that I thought was just a really sound, really inspired idea beyond Season 2...which, unfortunately, was the last one we did. But at the end of the day, we just felt like we had to make room for something else."

Given that interest, would Landgraf be willing to revisit "The Riches" for an FX movie?

"I would never say never."

TCA Tour: FX Executive Session

TCA Tour: Gordon Ramsay

During Fox's session to promote Gordon Ramsay's three series on their network, we enjoyed a rare bit of interactivity between panelist and audience, and...oh, wait: if you're a Ramsay fan, then you probably noticed that I said that he has series on Fox. Well, okay, you're right, he does only have two at the , but come December 15th, you can say "hello" to his latest endeavor, "Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live." To celebrate this development, Chef Ramsay led us all through an attempt to whip up some topping for Baked Alaska, promising that the person who did the best job would earn themselves a table for four at Hell's Kitchen.

Sadly, I did not win...and when I say I didn't win, what I mean to say is that it wasn't even close. I added too much of the egg-white mixture, resulting in a topping so pitiful that Chef Ramsay took one look at it and said sadly, "Oh, ..." But I took comfort in the fact that it still had enough substance to it to be browned a bit when he took his pocket blowtorch to it, and when I met up with him post-panel, it definitely seemed to be a case of "no harm, no foul." (What, like he's not used to dealing with the occasional sub-par chef...?)

Oh, shit. Really? Was it that bad?

Well, I just wanted to have a little bit of interactivity…and it was fun doing it as well!

Oh, really? Even better.

Yeah, good question! Chefs aren’t very good at sleeping, anyway. Guy Savoy said to me 20 years ago, when I was in his kitchen and said, “Sorry, Chef, I’m a little bit tired,” he said, “Tired? How many hours sleep did you have last night?” I said, “Six.” He said, “Fucking way too much.” I said, “What?” He said, “Think about it: the average person sleeps for eight hours a day, so when you get to sixty years of age, that means you would’ve slept for twenty years. Does that scare you?” I said, “Yeah!” He said, “So shut the fuck up, sleep four hours a night, get to sixty, and only have slept for ten years of your life!” And so that’s ringing in now. That’s in there now.

If I had to cast for that program, then I would be looking at one-star, two-star, three-star Michelin chefs all day long. Did they try with Thomas Keller? Did they spend time with Jean Georges or Daniel? Did they come out and advertise? Because I want to be surrounded by, sort of, chefs in that environment. Out of respect for them, I never get to see any of their resumes before we meet, and so it’s quite an interesting fact because they all seem excited and motivated on winning the challenge. This year’s responsibility in terms of running that restaurant at the Araxi up in British Columbia, Vancouver, is a perfect setup. 99.9 percent of the ingredients are located within a hundred miles of that radius. So, from a chef’s point of view, it’s a dream come true, even the wine, meat, fish, vegetables located within a hundred miles of that radius. So that outburst was ridiculous because no one could ever foresee what was going to happen. I didn’t realize that he was acting, you know, the way he was behind the scenes of the dorm. I never see any of that stuff going on because it’s unfair for me to judge them on the downtime because that is purely off my limits, and I didn’t know what to do in terms of — I asked him a very simple question three times, and he didn’t want to answer it. It was hard because I’ve been to Afghanistan, and I’ve been out, cooking for the Marines last year for a thousand of them, U.S. and the U.K., and the atmosphere was electric. The banter was phenomenal, and to go and change their view and give them something that they deserve in terms of a decent meal on Christmas Eve was a dream come true. So to have that kind of negativity from him, I think there were issues on a personal front that needed to be solved before he came into “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Elsie (from Season 1). Yeah, what, from a Waffle House chef to cooking the most amazing, authentic American food? And then an extraordinary palate like that…? That was amazing. Yeah, Elsie. She’s good.

I’ve gotten a little bit sort of surprised, in a way. But I don’t edit it, because I’m a chef, not an entertainer, so I call it as I see it. If you had to come in my kitchen tonight at The London West Hollywood, and things went wrong, of course I’m going to cane someone’s ass! But when things go right, I’m going to equally compliment them! When we’re in the middle of that pressurized environment, getting straight to the point is the healthiest thing. I don’t want it becoming cancerous, where they come into work the next day and it’s still on their shoulders. I get straight to the point. Don’t question me in there; question me after it. When we come out of it, if you want to talk to me and you want insight, fine. Because it’s not that one incident, it’s the 25 chefs behind and 180 people sitting in the dining room as well. So sitting and discussing it at length…? You haven’t got that time. It’s live, and…that’s what I said earlier about the “Cookalong.” For me, it’s how I am, and cooking along…I think it’s going to be a huge insight into what I can really do, because not enough people see me cooking, and that’s been frustrating for the last three or four years! All they say is, “Stop cursing and cook more!” So I’m going to do it!

No, I suppose I just try to keep it real. I am somewhat surprised, but, y’know, we work hard at it. That’s the most important thing.

TCA Tour: "Hung"

TCA Tour: Fox Executive Session

This morning, Peter Rice, Fox's Chairman of Entertainment, and Kevin Reilly, Fox's President of Entertainment, sat down for their network's executive session, and you will be unsurprised to learn that they were positively with questions about Paula Abdul's departure from "American Idol."

"Paula is the only member of 'American Idol' whose contract was up this year," said Rice. "We have been talking to her about it for most of the season, and we very much wanted her to return. In the past few weeks, the negotiation came to a conclusion, we made an offer that was fair to Paula, a substantial raise on the money she made in past, but Paula decided not to return. It was not our choice. We wanted her to come back to the show."

Rice admitted that, given the short amount of time since Abdul's announcement of departure, they didn't have any big announcements to make about what they'd be doing, aside from the fact that they would be focusing on the auditioning process and that it was their intention to have guest judges at each audition.

"We are talking to people now, a couple are confirmed, and we are talking about dates with others," said Rice. "It's our intention to have the guest judges be female pop stars, female performers, female artists." Minutes later, he acknowledged that they had indeed gotten commitments from two such judges already: Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham.

"Between now and January," said Rice, "we will come up with a more permanent solution on what we'll do," but of the inevitable change in dynamic with a new judge, he admitted, "There's something exciting about that."

Seriously, though, isn't there still a chance she could still be back in the "Idol" fold come January?

That'd be a "no," according to Rice. He says that the negotiations have concluded and that Paula Abdul is returning.

"The expectation and hope was that Paula come back," he reiterated. "I think that when her current agent made a statement to the press two weeks ago, we thought, 'What if she come back?' But we had no contingency. There is going to be a change, and we have to look at it as a positive change now, an opportunity for the show, to bring a different energy to it."

Reilly, who had let Rice run with the ball, did finally chime in and remind us that, ultimately, the show is about the contestants. But I don't think anybody bought that for a second.

Okay, that's enough about Paula, but there was one more "Idol" note that came up during the session: no matter what you may have heard, Fox is paying Ryan Seacrest $15 million to host "American Idol." Seacrest's $15 million deal is with CKX, Inc., which encompasses more than "American Idol." His original contract for "AI" remains in place.

Frankly, there wasn't much time left after all of the Paula Abdul questions were asked and answered, but somewhere in the midst of it all, a few more random facts did slip out:

* The renewal of "Dollhouse" for a second season was due to the die-hard Joss Whedon fans, but Reilly swears that "it didn't factor in from a fear place. It was more from a positive place. Those fans were there every week, and they stuck with it in a way that a lot of television fans don't." Now that he's worked out the hiccups in the show, the official mandate for Season 2 of "Dollhouse" is for Joss to keep doing what he does.

* The decision to air the pilot of "Glee" as a standalone episode several months before its formal series premiere was "a marketing stunt," one that did better than they ever imagined. Rice admits that the show's a bit unique. "It's definitely not saccharine, but every episode ends in an uplifting manner," he said, going on to describe the series variously as "upbeat," "subversive," "sweet," "emotional," and "aspirational."

* And, lastly, there are currently no plans to air the final six episodes of "King of the Hill." Nice one, Fox. The series was always treated like the bastard child of the Sunday night animated line-up, so way to keep it that way to the very end.

TCA Tour: "Bones" set visit

TCA Tour: "Dollhouse" set visit

Last year, I had a chance to visit the "Dollhouse" set, and it was absolutely breathtaking. This year, I went to visit it again, and the effect was the same. I just wish I liked the show as much as I like the Dollhouse itself. But, hey, maybe that'll change when I finally get a chance to sit down and watch the Season 1 set in its entirety...particularly the bonus 13th episode, "Epitaph One," which the show's creator, Joss Whedon, describes as "an incredibly strange sort of bookend to the show."

When we first arrived on the set, the actors were still shooting elsewhere on the Fox lot, so Whedon held court before the assembled throng of critics (some of whom may or may not have actually been bowing before him) and spoke to the second season of "Dollhouse" all by his lonesome, which he described as "the biggest surprise of my career."

"What can I say?" asked Whedon. "I really didn’t expect to be sitting here again for a while. This has been like skiing in a cartoon where you go up the mountain and down the mountain and up and down. Right now, we are pretty high up on it because we realized that we were actually going to have to work for a living this summer."

Okay, I'm sure the Whedon-ites will want to know every last word that Joss had to say, but for the sake of those who - like myself - still have good intentions of playing catch-up before Season 2 begins, I'll do you the favor of waiting 'til post-jump to offer up his comments.

"The first thing I did was get together with my writers and start talking about what possibilities there were," said Whedon, "and what we discovered was that the possibilities were entirely limitless. We had more excitement and enthusiasm about the show than we did by a country mile last year, because we are now. Before, it was an idea, and it was an idea that we had a lot of trouble defining...and America got to watch that. And now we feel like it defined. The network understands what it is, we understand what it is, and we know what our cast is capable of, which is wonders. So we came in just with the most excitement, and we been having a great deal of fun ever since.

"We are wrapping today right after this the first episode, starting the second one on Monday, and from 'go,' the mandate has been, 'How far can we take this?' How much can we twist the knife? Where can we find alliances that we did not have where can we pull people apart who seem to be together? And, most importantly, how can we build Echo up from nothing - which is basically where she started last year - and really give her a sense of momentum and purpose that will ground the show in a way that it couldn’t be last year?

"And that has been sort of our mission statement: to make things harder for everybody, find ways to bring back all the extraordinary reoccurring actors we had, and, most importantly, let things begin to cohere. And the good news about that is, once they do, Echo starts really realizing that, as a person, she not only exists but that she has a mission, that she has something she wants. This year, we are going to see the results of everything she went through last year, particularly the event with Alpha, where she was downloaded with all of her personalities. We are going to see what effect that’s had on her, and we are going to find her to be a great deal less passive and a great deal more directed in what she wants. And that is, of course, going to make her life a lot harder. And the more she finds out about what is going on around her, and the more find out, the creepier it is going to get. Because creepy is what it makes it fun."

And with that, Whedon concluded his opening remarks by simply saying, "Welcome to Season Two."

From there, we entered the Q&A portion of our visit, and I'll just offer up a few random tidbits that came out of that discussion:

* The future which has been witnessed in "Epitaph One" will be seen again in the second season premiere, to serve as a bookend of sorts. Whedon admits that it's a bit of a risky move, given that the episode wasn't aired and therefore won't have been seen by the casual viewer, but he and his writers were just too fascinated by the future they'd created to throw it away. Fortunately, the Season Two premiere will take that into consideration.

"It will say what that episode said," he said, "which is that all of this will result in disaster. But this is the story order of what happened then, so the actual bulk of the show takes place three months after the events of Omega. We will be visiting that future every now and then, but it will not be something where we can change it or where we send people back in time or anybody has metal under their flesh. I love that stuff, but apparently that gets you canceled."

* Echo has gone to a new level this season, and it will start to become obvious as early as the season premiere. "We will see that she has a cohesiveness and a mission that make every engagement mean a great deal more to her," said Whedon. "As Echo, she has her own agenda, which is something she didn’t quite have, and we did sort of build to that in Omega, where she had been dumped with all the personalities and we heard her say her name. At the end of this episode, we are going to see how far she’s come, and it’s a little further than the people around her know. We are going to see her as we know her, and then we are going to see something very different. And that is pretty much all I can say."

At this point, Whedon said, "I have a very homely and shy bunch of people to introduce," thereby giving the cue for the cast to come out of the shadows and take their seats alongside their lord and master.

The truth of the matter is that the critics still continued to address the majority of their questions to Joss (which is how we found out conclusively that Amy Acker will, despite her series attachment elsewhere, still be making further appearances on "Dollhouse," if not as many as he'd like), but we still managed to hear from a couple of the cast members when someone asked the group as a whole if the show feels different for them as they go into the second season.

(Paul Ballard): “I would say so. Yeah, I would say so . It is impossible not to get caught up in the first season. It's a new series, and there are so many growing pains you go through in a first season. I have been through it before, and there's a lot of insecurity involved. It's hard to not be affected by it. I personally have been so excited (about Season 2). When we all saw each other for the gallery shoot, there was just a lightness about it. Everyone was very excited. It's about the work this year. We can have fun."

(Topher Brink): "It certainly feels like it gets better and better, right? I mean, I'm getting Episode One of Season Two, and it feels like it's the best thing yet. And I feel like relationships have changed. All of the sudden, the character Paul is here with us, you know what I mean? So just in little ways like that, the show has sort of transformed. But, yeah, I think it just gets better and better."

(Echo): “I was just going to say that I am already sort of astonished by the emotions and actions and reactions just in the last eight days, just this episode. Yesterday, I full on burst into tears in the middle of the take. It was a giant scene with Bamber, and there was something that happened, and I haven’t had that kind of...I was just surprised at my emotion and hadn’t really had that. I was, like, 'All right, this is kind of a nice kick off for the season: Everything out on the table!" We’ve already had the first season to sort of have our insecurities and have our guard and a little bit of that, and now we just get to open it up and search into humanity with you.”

I'll close by offering up this last bit to you. Call a gift to the Whedon-ites, if you like...

: How does it feel to know, whether or not it's true, that (Fox President of Entertainment) Kevin Reilly says he is motivated by fear of your fans?

: He fear them. God knows do. I think he was probably motivated by what we are motivated by. It is definitely true that the fans made themselves heard. But all they did by "making themselves heard" was by loving the thing. By DVR-ing it, by putting numbers up that are not the traditional Nielsen numbers. There was no angry campaign. There was no "send them bottles of something." There wasn’t any of that. It was, in particular, the studio’s understanding that the math of television is different than it used to be, and that the shows that we make may not go out as broad as something as "Lost," but that the fans will come to them , and that that revenue stream does not dry up, however thin it may be. That is the thing that ultimately motivated them. You know, the numbers have never been my concern. I have done huge numbers. I am a big-hit guy. What I do is find the best ensembles on television, and then I make them work their asses off. And as long as I get to do that, I am in clover.

TCA Tour: "NCIS: Los Angeles" set visit

TCA Tour: NBC Executive Session

We just had NBC-Universal Executive Session, with Angela Bromstad (President, Primetime Entertainment) and Paul Telegdy (Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming and Production) taking the stage to answer our questions, and...you know, I've got to be honest: it was pretty underwhelming. No surprise: the first two words of the very first question were "Ben Silverman," and his name remained a recurring theme for the remainder of the session. It also wasn't a surprise that the topic of Conan's ratings and the expectation for Jay's ratings were brought up, but it was absolutely ridiculous that neither Bromstad nor Telegdy seemed prepared to handle the queries, instead either feigning uncertainty about the numbers, offering vague responses which signified nothing, or attempting to pawn the questions off to Jay's panel this afternoon. This immediately came back to bite Bromstad on the arse when she was asked outright if she'd on that panel (she won't be), and it led to one critic offering a sarcastic apology for asking questions of the wrong people.

Here's the extent of information that I able to glean from the panel:

* Bryan Fuller's latest departure from "Heroes" was dismissed as being due to the fact that he's at a point in his career where he's really wanting to create his own shows, so NBC is focusing on their development deal with him. As for "Heroes," Bromdstad said that Fuller helped Tim (Kring) get back on track, helped everybody decide where they were going, and that the show is doing exceptionally well creatively.

* The start of "30 Rock" has been delayed due to Alec Baldwin's movie schedule, which is why the network is kicking off "Community" in its timeslot. The 8 PM timeslot will therefore be filled with six Thursday night "Weekend Update" specials, three of which are currently on the schedule.

* We are assured that, despite the fact that some shows which were previously airing in the 10 PM timeslot are now being moved to 9 PM out of necessity, there should be no issue with their content in their new time periods.

* The network's new zombie series, "Day One," is being embraced due to the sci-fi success of "Heroes." "It's a genre we cannot ignore," said Bromstad, though she admitted that it does tend to be a little more of a genre. Her most notable comment on the matter, however, was the acknowledgment that the network is viewing "Day One" as a "big event" for the network...but not necessarily one which would return for a second season.

* There is always talk of doing another regular "Apprentice," but according to Telegdy, the most recent "Celebrity Apprentice" had a ratings jump from the previous, so we probably shouldn't look for it to happen any time soon.

* "Friday Night Lights" will not be back until summer 2010. "We just think that 'Friday Night Lights' is a sensational show," said Bromstad, "but it doesn't have the ratings to justify it on the fall schedule."

* Regarding "Southland," the network has "incredible passion" for the future, but its future depends on how it does in the fall. "We've made some creative adjustments," said Bromstad. "I feel like they tried to do too much in the first six episodes - instead of letting the audience become more familiar with characters, they became too serialized - so the show will focus on Regina King and Ben McKenzie, the crimes, and how they come together."

* RE: "Medium," "It was definitely a show we were considering picking up 'til the very end, but we had to make choices creatively and financially."

* RE: "Chuck," "The great thing is that they're on a great track collectively. We've got 3 or 4 scripts in already, and it something we can move around, but right now it's not scheduled to come on until March." The series has a 13 episode pick-up, and it's that it could be bumped up, but "these are just discussions we're continuing to have."

TCA Tour: "Three Rivers" set visit

TCA Tour: The CW Executive Session

Dawn Ostroff, President of Entertainment for The CW, just took the stage for her executive session, during which time she had these things to say:

* After a year which found some pretty impressive increases in the number of young women viewers (77 percent on Mondays, 26 percent on Tuesdays), they're going to try and build on that momentum and make their schedule more cohesive. They're viewing themselves less as a network and more as a magazine, where people come to see what's going on in the world. That perhaps would explain why I always feel so horribly out of touch whenever I tune in.

* The CW has stepped away from sitcoms at the moment because they can't seem to find any which are "loud enough or noisy enough to get the attention that we get from our drama and reality shows." In fact, they didn't have a single sitcom in the running this season.

* Why the move of "Smallville" to Friday nights? "We felt it was the best way to open up the night," she said, since Fridays had previously been more of a standalone night for the network. Is this the last season for the show? "I hope it isn't. Zod is going to be the big villain this season, and Clark has to save the world, or we're all going to be kneeling before Zod." She says the cast and producers are excited, and she has high hopes that the show will stay on the air for awhile.

* What about seeing Michael Rosenbaum return as Lex Luthor, since he's still talked about constantly? "I don't know if we really had a conversation with Michael, but I think the talk was to keep the character alive and make his presence felt." She I don't know if (a return) will happen this season."

* Similarly, the hope is that "Supernatural" will also continue. "Eric Kripke has done a great job creatively, and the show's gotten better every year."

* What does she say to a 35-year-old guy who wants to know what he can find on the network? Her response was to reel off most of The CW's lineup and suggest that guys watch almost all of them, even "America's Next Top Model," even if they don't necessarily want to admit it. But with that said, she also defended their decision to be specific about the demographic they're courting...which is good, because, wow, talk about a total cop-out of an answer. (A 35-year-old guy can find something to watch if he doesn't want to that he watches it!)

* The much-hyped "Gossip Girl" spin-off that never got off the group has now officially been given the status of "not likely."

* "Body Politic," the pilot which took a look at Washington politics through the eyes of up-and-coming staffers, is officially dead.

* How about a "90210" crossover? "Technically, we could do that," she said, "because both shows are shot in L.A. I think down the road, after 'Melrose' gets up and running, we would consider that. It would be a big event for us."

* As far as Mischa Barton's health, the only real concern was that she was ready for production...and she was. "We're happy that she's better," said Ostroff, "and what went on in her personal life is her business." A question about the fact that she looks heavier in current photos than she did in the original presentation we saw for "The Beautiful Life," asked in the context about whether re-shoots would be required, was met simply with assurances that "she looks great."

TCA Tour, Day 3: "Head Games"

TCA Tour - You Asked For It: Ira Steven Behr's opening remarks

I guess one person's request doesn't necessarily qualify as "clamoring," but since it's been requested, I thought I'd go ahead and offer up Mr. Behr's opening remarks from the TCA Press Tour panel for Season 2 of "Crash." Truth be told, it's as educational a lesson about what to expect from the show's sophomore season as one could possibly have hoped for...and if he'd just sent this off in an E-mail or letter to all of the writers in attendance rather than delivered it orally, he probably would've found a lot more people saying, "Say, I curious to check out this show!"

Okay, here we go...

Yeah, I know: you're thinking, "This is great stuff! How could it have dragged as badly as you say it did?" All I can tell you is what I experienced. But, again, I'm still in for the second season of "Crash," so no harm, no foul, Mr. Behr.

To see more of Will's TCA Summer Press Tour coverage, head over to Premium Hollywood!

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