CW - executive session, fall season preview - TCA report
The CW's got some funny sitcoms both old (Everybody Hates Chris) and new (Aliens in America -- more on that later), but the network's funniest asset is Paul McGuire, executive vice president, network communications.
Before introducing Dawn Ostroff, president entertainment, The CW, McGuire fires off some zingers to get the reporters up and running.
Of the recycled tote bags that The CW gave to the press (perfect for hauling all our cable swag home), McGuire quips, "They're made entirely from recycled billboards, including some from Hidden Palms -- or as some dirt bag reporter called it -- 'Hidden Ratings.'"
McGuire delivers a bit of bad news before Ostroff takes the stage: Laura Vandervoot -- who nabbed the coveted role of Kara Jor-El aka Supergirl on Smallville -- can't be here today or tonight for The CW's All-Star Celebration party due to production conflicts.
Fortunately, new Supernatural ladies Lauren Cohan and Katie Cassidy will be here. "Katie's father -- unfortunately -- David Cassidy -- will not be attending as he is somewhere driving a large, multi-colored school bus," quips McGuire.
The highlights from Ostroff's session include casting news and mid-season program updates:
- Beauty and the Geek will be adding a "nerd" girl and "hunk" guy to the show (a suggestion she gives credit to the press for making)
- Tyra Banks' deal with The CW has been extended through the 2009-10 TV season.
- Smallville's Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow) will join Mario Lopez (Dancing with the Stars) and Christina Milian on the mid-season comedy Eight Days A Week.
- Reality programs Farmer Wants A Wife and Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants are also waiting in the wings.
- Heroes' Missy Peregrym is joining Reaper and Scott Patterson of Gilmore Girls fame is taking over as the dad on Aliens in America. Also, D.W.. Moffett and Stephanie Niznik are now the parents on Life is Wild.
- Chris Rock will be playing a guidance counselor on Everybody Hates Chris, the show that he created based on his own childhood experiences.
By the way, the guy playing the "hunk" on Beauty & the Geek, Ostroff confirms, is indeed an actor. (An aspiring actor on a reality show? How shocking!) Why hire a professional for that role?
"He's not playing a role," clarifies Ostroff. "He's 'playing' himself. There are many people, who as you know, in this town -- many people are hyphenates."
Aliens in America is a funny, funny show about a teen, played by Dan Byrd, who's having trouble finding his place in high school. His Mom's plan to get a mainstream pal via a student exchange-type program for him backfires when a Muslim teen, played by Adhir Kalyan, shows up instead. Hilarity -- and even more ostracizing from "peers" -- ensues.
This show will likely pick up a few viewers going through Gilmore Girls withdrawal with the casting of Patterson, who says he was pleased to "stay in the family at The CW."
Next, we meet the cast of Life is Wild via satellite from South Africa since the show, about a family that moves to Africa, is shot on location.
Of working with real-live animals, co-star Calvin Goldspink says, "[A lion cub] pulled down my shorts whilest we were having an orientation. I was wearing loose Nike shorts and it clawed...my pants down."
Goldspink says it wasn't life-threatening. Still...note to self: call in sick the day my editor wants to assign someone to an on-set story.
Before lunch, The CW introduced us to CW Now and Online Nation, two programs that will bring the hottest trends to TV's youngest viewers. (Well, except for Sesame Street fans.)
Gossip Girl takes the stage next. Based on a series of books by novelist Cecily von Ziegesar, GG is executive-produced by The O.C.'s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
Are there any differences between the rich teens in Newport versus the ones living on New York's Upper East side (where GG is set)?
"They're actually quite different," notes Schwartz. "You have to be born into this kind of wealth." Plus, he says ,"Water polo does not exist."
Now, I know there's about a 20-year age difference between series star Blake Lively and her TV mom Kelly Rutherford (Melrose Place; E-Ring), who was steaming up the screen as sexpot Sam on the short-lived soap Generations when Lively was likely still in diapers, but from my seat the two women look like sisters born a few years apart.
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) will narrate the series. Gee, shows may get canceled on The CW, but actors tend to stick around.
The last panel of the day is Reaper about a young man, played by Bret Harrison (The Loop), whose parents sold his soul to the devil. (And you thought you had it bad because yours won't spring for a new car?)
There's a lot of humor in Reaper, but there's tons of scary stuff, too, because producers nabbed Ray Wise, who was chilling as Leland Palmer in cult-hit Twin Peaks to play Satan.
Could Leland's death scene -- Bob the demon forced him to repeatedly ram his head into a wall -- make its way onto TV today? "I don't think so," Wise says. "For one reason or another, we've gone beyond that now."
Co-star Tyler Labine says, "Ray Wise is more scary than [the entire series] Invasion. I just want to say that."
Next up, The CW's All-Star Celebration party at the Pacific Design Center's Fountain Plaza.