A look at four new shows, Shark, and How I Met Your Mother - TCA report
After the executive session, CBS continued immediately with its jam-packed day of press tour, introducing four new shows and taking a look at returning hits Shark and How I Met Your Mother.
First up, the all-star cast of Cane, a prime time soap that's been compared to The Sopranos and Dallas, starring Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno, takes the platform.
Smits, who also serves as co-executive producer, stars as Alex, a man who's married to his "sister" (Alex is adopted), prompting executive producer and perpetual funnyman Jonathan Prince to call creator/e.p. Cynthia Cidre -- "Woody."
Cane's getting critical buzz and with Prince behind it, how could it not? The man is bringing the same infectious energy and positive attitude he had when he ran American Dreams on NBC. Speaking of which, are we ever going to see that finale? Who does he blame at the peacock network for that not happening?
"It's not like I can blame [ex-NBC chief] Kevin Reilly," chuckled Prince.
"I can't blame Jeff [Zucker, NBC/Universal's top man] -- with whom I see eye to eye..." quipped the 5'6" actor turned producer.
Given the state of comedies on TV today, I can't help but think Silverman's should also be in front of the camera.
Hector Elizondo was asked about former Chicago Hope co-star Mandy Patinkin, who quit Hope, dropping out of Criminal Minds. "Nothing surprises me," Elizondo replies. "I wish him well."
Can Hector Elizondo drop by Ugly Betty now that he's on a new CBS show? "Anyone can go where they want -- in ten years," quips Prince, who adds on a serious note that cast member exposure in other projects can only enrich Cane.
Next up, informals (meaning smaller panels) with Shark's James Woods, Jeri Ryan and creator/producer Ian Biederman.
Woods (who's hilarious and candidly open with the press) and Ryan will be working more closely this season and the flirtation between their characters will continue. Ryan argues that the lawyers would be better off dancing around a romance rather than risk ruining what they have the way some feel Dave and Maddie did on Moonlighting.
"Oh, come on!" Woods faux protests. "One time! One hotel room!"
"If the check clears," deadpans Biederman.
I skipped the How I Met Your Mother session to do some writing -- but here's some dish from the transcript.
Executive producer Craig Thomas says we're going to meet Rhonda, the 45-year-old pal of Barney's mom, to whom Barney lost his virginity. "[She] smells like menthol cigarettes," previews Thomas. "We're going to see that story and what it does to Barney in the present day."
Hmm...here's a casting suggestion: how about Kirstie Alley? I hear she looks great these days.
Tom Forman, a reality show producer veteran, takes the hot seat next. He's the producer of Kid Nation, the show that takes 40 kids, hundreds of adults and brings them to a ghost town in New Mexico so kids can learn how rule society.
I haven't seen anyone this under the gun since Bionic Woman producer Jason Smilovic was grilled for hiring Isaiah Washington.
Asked how long the kids worked, Forman joked, "We'd wake up the kids at 7 AM and shoot till midnight."
The exec says there were pediatricians and animal trainers standing by to step in and help out if needed. There was some crying, but there were no cry babies. And that these kids made friends they'll have for the rest of their lives.
You just know, though, if a single one of them goes bad years from now and knocks off a 7-11 or a dry cleaner's store, news reports will include the kid's participation in this show.
Hey, as long as the craft services table wasn't divided into "union" and "non-union" I'm betting they had it pretty good.
No clips were available for Moonlight CBS' supernatural themed series about a vampire played by Alex O'Loughlin, so we saw a video presentation of the actor being interviewed in character.
During the Q&A, a reporter asks O'Loughlin to clear up an Internet rumor. "I'm gay," jokes the actor. "Oh. The other rumor." It turns out there was Internet buzz that O'Loughlin's birth dad was the late Bon Scott of AC/DC. Not so. "I'm pretty sure he's not my dad," O'Loughlin says.
The last panel of the day was the most interesting in my book. First up, I have to say that I found The Big Bang Theory to be funny and charming and well-paced. I wasn't surprised to learn the brilliant James Burrows directed it.
It's too bad he wasn't at the Q&A to mediate. Maybe it was the lateness of the day or the sugar rush from the Kid Nation themed root beer float snack was wearing off, but I was sensing some tension during the session.
Case in point: One journalist said he didn't buy star Kaley Cuoco's character not being aware of the effect she has on a group of nerdy, geeky (yes, that's repetitive but wait till you meet them) smart guys.
"We'll, try harder," creator/e.p. Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) replies without a ton of enthusiasm. I've seen this reported as him saying "Well, [you, the reporter, should] try harder." But I tend to agree with the official transcriber who heard "We'll," but either way I'm getting the impression Chuck didn't come here for a focus group.
He could be thinking, "Hey, I've been creating this project for two years. I don't need this. I've got a successful sitcom on the air. I bring Holland Taylor to audiences practically every week. I know what I'm doing."
The same reporter said, with no offense to Ms. Cuoco, that her character Penny makes Chrissy Snow (played by Suzanne Somers) of Three's Company fame look like the president of Mesna.
"I can't see you," Cuoco faux growled from the stage. "But when I do...."
Later, Cuoco added, "I don't want to really compare it to Chrissy at all because she's not that dumb, cute girl next door. She's a regular girl next door who loves these guys and wants to hang [with them]."
Hang on there, Missy.
If I could step into that screen, I'd tell Penny: "I watched Chrissy Snow. I knew Chrissy Snow. Chrissy Snow was a friend of mine. Penny, you are no Chrissy Snow!"
And don't quit the show when it takes off. Neither the guys nor Joyce DeWitt will ever forgive you if you do.
CBS kept it an early night. Drinks in the lobby bar of the Beverly Hilton with CBS execs and cast and producers of The Big Bang Theory so that everyone could get up early for Emmy noms.
Tomorrow: Emmy reaction and day two of CBS.