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April 16, 2014

Free footballs and scoops from NBC's Thursday night sitcoms - TCA report

by Michael Maloney, posted Jul 16th 2007 7:41PM

Jason Lee, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Zach Braff

NBC's press tour day continued with a panel on Sunday Night Football.

When it concluded, panelists including Tiki Barber, John Madden and Al Michaels tossed out signed footballs to 10 or so lucky members of the press. Score! I caught the ball thrown to me by 2006 Super Bowl champion Jerome Bettis, formerly of The Pittsburgh Steelers, now an NBC sports analyst.

In my dreams. It actually sailed over my head to a journalist behind me. "Fumble," he said as he scooped it up.

Sometimes press tour swag can be elusive.

NBC next had a panel on audience research. A lot of this stuff went over my head, too.

Head's up: there's a new TV term coming out called "TAMI," which stands for "total audience measurement index." Since viewers are going to other sources to watch TV programs, the networks are going to start measuring numbers differently.

We all got free "Tami" buttons to help get the word out there. If "Tami" takes off, the button could earn more on eBay that that elusive signed football.

During the panel on Life, a promising funny drama about offbeat detective Charlie Crews, played by Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers), co-star Adam Arkin, was asked if he was shocked by the recent decision of his former Chicago Hope co-star Mandy Patinkin to resign from hit CBS procedural drama Criminal Minds?

"He's done it before," quips Arkin, referring to Patinkin quitting Hope, adding, "I tend not to get too easily shocked by anything that has to do with show business."

Next up, a panel on Thursday night sitcoms that included My Name is Earl's Jason Lee and executive/producer creator Greg Garcia; 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels; The Office's John Krasinksi and executive producer Greg Daniels; and Scrubs' Zach Braff and executive producer Bill Lawrence.

Fey, 30 Rock's star and top exec, is asked how sure she would have been a year ago that her show -- and not Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- would be the program about backstage at a late night variety show a la Saturday Night Live to survive.

Fey says, "150%! I have a very competitive streak in me."

"She's not kidding," adds Lorne Michaels, who helms 30 Rock and SNL.

"We couldn't be more excited to have Jerry Seinfeld on because then maybe the rest of America will find out we have a show," quips Fey. Is she headed towards more stunt casting? "It's never felt like 'stunt casting' to me. Actors have fit the roles [they've come on for]."

Will Alec Baldwin, who announced earlier this year he'd be taking a break, be back? "I've never even met Alec," quipped Fey.

"He's an important part of the show and...he'll be back," says Michaels. "I think he's brilliant. I think the show will take a big leap this season."

"One way or another," Fey insists in a faux threatening tone.

"[Earl's] going to be in prison this year -- for a while," says Garcia, which is a good thing. "He's got people on his list in prison."

Is Lee afraid of what will happen to Earl in prison? "There are a couple of scripts I haven't shown [Jason] yet," jokes Garcia.

Asked about ABC possibly picking up Scrubs if NBC hadn't, Lawrence quipped, "I'm going to let Zach handle that...the nice thing for us is that we really weren't on the bubble. We really want to finish where we started. NBC has been nice enough to pony up the dough [for our seventh year]."

Are doing DVD extras a pleasure or a pain? "We over produce so much, we've got [lots of extras for DVDs]," says Daniels.

"They're like yearbooks," says Gracia.

"I listened to Tracey Morgan's commentary for our DVD and there's no evidence he's actually watching it," chuckles Fey.

It's a good thing these panelists were funny. Next up, it's back to school for a panel on digital entertainment.

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