ABC executive session - plus: Lost's Perrineau is back! - TCA report
Big Lost scoop! Harold Perrineau is returning to the serial ABC drama as killer Michael Dawson.
Getting the news out of ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson wasn't easy, however.
The session began with Hope Hartman, one of ABC's top PR chiefs, getting the day off with some really good news -- because we're on the final legs of the tour's "death march with drinks" all ABC functions will take place on-site at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Woo-hoo!
"You have to be either cranky, drunk, delirious, or not here," McPherson told the group of weary reporters who've been here for over two weeks.
The executive did have one announcement before answering queries. He said that given Kevin Reilly's new gig at Fox, he's not going to be able to partake in next season's Dancing with the Stars.
Boy, as Chuck Lorre said to me yesterday after my Two and a Half Men joke: Keep your day job, kid.
Actually, he said, "Don't try this at home."
A reporter asked if Dana Delany joining Desperate Housewives. "She is," McPherson confirmed. "Marc [Cherry, DH's creator] will be here to explain that. Dana's joining along with Nathan Fillion."
A reporter points out that CBS brought back Jericho because of its online audience. How much does that play a factor in a show's survival?
"It does to a certain extent," said McPherson, cautioning that you have to be careful about Internet fan sites -- you can't build a show with 12,000 viewers. "We're under the Nielsen reign. We have to listen to what those numbers are."
One journalist said his editor won't be thrilled that the biggest news (about Perrineau) on one of ABC's top shows -- Lost -- is coming out at a fan convention (San Diego's Comic-Con) tomorrow.
I've got nothing against Comic-Con; in fact, I'm going this weekend. And I'm not even a huge Lost fan, but my colleague has a point. We're the press! The people have a right to know! Today!
It wasn't really a question so McPherson didn't address it directly.
Then, another journalist followed up on the Lost/Comic-Con controversy. Why give out the news an at event that people are paying to get into -- when 150 (plus) journalists are here with access to millions of readers?
We're actually closer to 200, but some of us have left already for Comic-Con.
Okay, McPherson conceded. Here's the news: "Don Imus has been cast on Lost."
In the words of Chuck Lorre: "Don't try this at home."
Thank you very much, drooled the journalist.
Later, still another journalist asked why Lost news is being given out tomorrow at a time when reporters are fighting to keep their jobs and with editors to keep coming out to L.A. for TCA. Giving out the news at Comic-Con isn't going to endear us to our editors.
Is Lost even a comic book anyway?
As McPherson defended the position, Hartman whispered into the exec's ear.
"We've just spoke to [Lost producers]," explained McPherson. They've given the okay to release the news based on the press' reaction to being kept in the dark. "Harold Perrineau [who plays Michael Dawson] is returning to the show."
Two thoughts: Oh, that's the news? And, wow! The pen (or a room full of drunk, delirious and/or cranky reporters) really is mightier than the light sabre.
What was the genesis for the Grey's Anatomy spin-off, starring Kate Walsh? "Shonda [Rhimes] wanted to tell Addison's story in a different world with other characters and dynamics," explained McPherson.
The session wraps up -- strangely with no one asking about Isaiah Washington's exit from Grey's.
Next: writing break and Pushing Daisies with Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth.