MTV Networks, BBC America, Discovery and more - TCA Report
Friday's TCA, which continued cable TV presentations, felt like three days rolled into one.
Just how jam-packed and eclectic are the programs and announcements that were made?
Here's a sample: Dynasty diva Joan Collins is checking into BBC America's Hotel Babylon, Richard Dreyfus (Jaws) is not afraid to get back into the water as host of The Discovery Channel's Ocean of Fear: The Worst Shark Attack Ever and Jonny Fairplay (Survivor) of CMT's Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull-Riding Challenge sadly announced that his beloved grandmother passed away two weeks ago.
Then the liar took it back and said he was just kidding.
The day began with Spike TV's presentation of The Kill Point, an eight-hour hostage drama, starring John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, as respectively a criminal and a hostage negotiator. Other morning panels previewed Spike TV's unscripted series Murder, TV Land's Elvis Presley Month, Nickelodeon's iCarly and Ni Hao, Kai-lan. CMT highlighted Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team and a panel of male celebrities who dared to master riding bucking broncos on Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull-Riding Challenge.
Forget about Joey Fatone sweating off the pounds on Dancing with the Stars. The real workout happens when trying to survive eight seconds on a raging bull. Celeb participant Rob Van Winkle (aka Vanilla Ice) said it's not pretty trying to master bull-riding. "They buck you because they don't like you on their backs," says Van Winkle. "They blow snot out their noses right on you." (You think that's an "Eww..." moment? Wait till you read about the Travel Channel swag.)
Stephen Baldwin appears on the show, but wasn't on the panel. Bob Kusbit, head of development for CMT, cleared up the rumor that Stephen was seriously injured after getting thrown from a bull. "He was back riding after being checked out at the ER," said Kusbit, adding, "[His brother] Alec left the sweetest message on his voice mail."
Host Ty Murray gave kudos to 44 year old actor Francesco Quinn, whom he initially didn't think would do well. "Up until he got squished, he kept getting back on," noted Murray. "Almost all the guys surprised me with the determination and heart that they showed."
As we adjourned to lunch, sponsored by the Travel Channel, it strikes me that there's been a serious lack of swag today. The Travel Channel remedied that by providing -- tying in with its program Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern -- Scorpion Suckers (lollipops with scorpions inside), Salt N' Vinegar "Crick-ettes" and BBQ "Larvets." Yum. Not.
Next up, was a presentation by BBC America in the Wilshire Room. If you don't get BBC America, I recommend calling your cable company to ask for it. It's got three great programs coming up: Jekyll, a modern day take on "Jekyll and Hyde" starring James Nesbitt, Torchwood, a sci-fi series by Dr. Who writer Russell T. Davies, which stars John Barrowman as the dynamic Captain Jack Harkness, and Hotel Babylon, which stars Max Beesley, as the deputy manager of London's top-class hotel.
Leave it to the Brits to dish out some of the day's more entertaining quotes. Jekyll writer Steven Moffat didn't mince words about NBC's botching of the US version of Coupling. Garth Ancier, the former NBC entertainment president, who now helms BBC America, diplomatically added, "The British version [of Coupling] is phenomenal. You have to let producers make their own shows."
Barrowman, who starred in the short-lived Titans -- a rare lemon from the late Aaron Spelling, recalled being in the mogul's office while he awaited the arrival of the actress who'd be playing his TV mom, not knowing it was Victoria Principal of Dallas fame. While waiting, Spelling took a phone call, so Barrow rang up his mother on his cell.
"I said, 'Mother for [expletive]'s sake -- Pamela Ewing is my mom!' Victoria looked at me and said, 'I am really going to like you!'"
In Hotel Babylon, Joan Collins will guest star as a wealthy woman who has a crush on the doorman. Too bad Dynasty's Joseph never lived to see this! "I really liked her in The Bitch," says Beesley. "She's a nice lady."
The Discovery Channel took the stage next back in the International Ballroom. Richard Dreyfus is narrating Ocean of Fear: The Worst Shark Attack Ever. The program details the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which was sunk by two torpedoes on July 30, 1945. Eight hundred soldiers battled hunger, thirst and hundreds of sharks. Two survivors joined Dreyfus on stage and recalled their struggle for survival.
Tonight's party is being held at the home of Ancier. I'm sure he's got some great stories from his days at NBC and The WB. There's probably a "swimming with sharks" pun in there, but I'm not going to make it.