I'm back from my first stint at the TCA press tour, and frankly, I'm awed (and a little baffled) by all the access we reporters got to stars, producers, writers, and even the top brass at the networks. Is there any other industry that would open its doors so wide to journalists — and give them food and cocktails in the process?
I've been sharing a lot of the news from the tour, and there will be more interviews and stories to come as we get closer to the fall TV premieres. But I also wanted to let you in on some of the behind-the-scenes moments from my days in LA. So, without further ado ...
- When it comes to party planning, none of the other networks can hold a candle to Fox. NBC and ABC kept their parties on-site at the Beverly Hilton this year, and the CW went to the Pacific Design Center just down the street. But Fox went all-out, first busing the TV critics to Les Deux for a New Orleans-themed bash with the cast of "K-Ville," then renting out a portion of the Santa Monica Pier so everyone could mingle among the skee ball games, crazy rides and bumper cars.
- Fox also had the crowd beat when it came to clever themes. In addition to the "Family Guy" lunches named for characters, we also had a cafeteria-style meal for "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" The network's pages, who pass the microphone to reporters during the sessions, also changed outfits between sessions, donning lab coats for the "House" panel and fatigues for "The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
- An ABC publicist told us on Wednesday night that the guys of "Cavemen" would be walking the red carpet in their full caveman makeup on Thursday — but no dice. At least the guys were nice enough to wear their nametags around the party so we could recognize them.
- The kids of The CW's new shows — especially "Gossip Girl" and "Aliens in America" — are so darn nice and funny, it's hard not to love them. The whole crowd spent the CW's all-star party joking around with each other, begging their publicists to let them go into the weird floating bubbles in the fountain at the Pacific Design Center, and taking pictures of each other making ridiculous faces. At one point, lead "Gossip Girl" Blake Lively took my recorder out of my hand so she could interview the "Aliens" boys and one of her costars. Precious!
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- During the session for the CW's "Life is Wild," which was broadcast via satellite from where the show is filming in South Africa, a baby lion slept peacefully in star D.W. Moffett's lap, and at one point a cheetah was sent in to make an appearance. The show itself was kind of bland, but the baby animals perked us right up.
- One of the perks of presenting a show that focuses on a pie-maker is that you have an excuse to feed pie to the critics. Star Lee Pace, however, was none too thrilled to learn that we'd been noshing on real lemon meringue while the pies he deals with all day on set are mostly plastic.
- Questions asked in nearly every session: "What's with all the British actors coming to America?" "Why do you think there are so many strong female characters on TV today?" (Later, the frequently asked questions came to include references to Mandy Patinkin fleeing "Criminal Minds" and a silly inside joke about "Highlander," but that's just because the critics were getting punchy.)
- ABC was the last network to present on the tour, when many reporters had been working from LA for more than two weeks. Maybe that explains why their swag — a beer coozie from the ABC Family show "Greek" and a shot glass from "Big Shots" — was drinking-themed.
Photo courtesy of Fox