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TCA Tidbits: Private Practice, Ashton, Dancing With the Wii

Between Katie Holmes, Katherine Heigl, and that hilarious Scrubs panel, ABC's session at the TCA press tour has already been action-packed. And it's only getting nuttier today, when Shonda Rhimes, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and the ladies of Desperate Housewives take the stage. Before we get to that, here are some great stories I didn't get to share on Wednesday:


  • One of the reasons I'm looking forward to the Private Practice panel: The show is apparently going to go through something of an overhaul. There will be a greater emphasis on strong medical cases, with the hospital playing a greater role and Kate Walsh's character getting back to doing surgery. "When it just became a soap opera about these people's lives it was just a lot of talking," ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said. "That's not what Shonda does well."
  • At the start of ABC's session, a special reporter addressed the crowd. Identifying himself as "Tom Weinerman from the Sarasota Star-Herald-Tribune," he asked a series of awkward questions of McPherson, including whether ABC was courting Jay Leno and how McPherson keeps his hair so nice. The secret: "Tom Weinerman" was Jimmy Kimmel, relatively incognito as he sat among the reporters.
  • McPherson insisted that Life on Mars, ABC's remake of the popular BBC series, isn't troubled — despite the fact that it hasn't shot a pilot, is still casting, and only had two actors (Jason O'Mara and Michael Imperioli) in place in time for its session. The show is ABC's only new drama for Fall, so for the network's sake I hope he's right . . .

A couple of other bits, including a special treat for Dancing With the Stars fans, so just read more.

  • There will be some changes on Dirty Sexy Money this year, especially with new showrunner John Feldman at the helm. "I think we learned a lot from the show last year," McPherson said. He specifically mentioned being excited to have Lucy Liu on the show.
  • Ashton Kutcher looked less than engaged during a big part of the session for his new reality show, Opportunity Knocks, in which families are asked to play a game show all about themselves (sample challenge: a dad is given several pieces of pottery and asked to use a hammer to smash the ones that weren't made by his daughter). That said, the show actually looks like it could be pretty adorable — as in, if I were 12 years old, I'd want nothing more than for Ashton to show up at my door and pick my family to compete. Bonus points for JD Roth, who won me over during the session by showing just what it takes to be a good host. Then again, maybe I only have these relatively positive feelings because I'm not one of the critics whose lives were put on display on stage in a real-time version of the game. Ouch.
  • There's definitely going to be more Wipeout, though it's not clear how much or when. McPherson said he wouldn't mind having a go-to Summer show, and Wipeout could be it.
  • On Wednesday night, several of the Dancing With the Stars pros gave critics an informal cha-cha lesson. While that was fun(ny), it was nothing compared to watching Derek Hough play the DWTS game for Nintendo Wii (as Apolo Anton Ohno, naturally):

    Photo copyright 2008 ABC, Inc.

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