The day with ABC: New shows, Hope, Faith, and Sex - TCA report
We TV Critics are dead on our feet now that we're in the last two days of a near-three week press tour at the Beverly Hilton, but that hasn't stopped us from getting dish from actors and producers here to hawk their fall ABC series.
On stage to promote Cashmere Mafia (a series about four women living life in New York City) creator Darren Star was asked about his other program about four women that call the Big Apple home. Star says: "There's a [film] script. It's in the form of pre-production."
And? C'mon, Darren. Inquiring minds and all that... Alas, he clams up. "We're all here to talk about Cashmere Mafia," he says.
Also, Faith Ford of Carpoolers says that former Hope & Faith sibling/talk show goddess Kelly Ripa is her new show's biggest supporter. "I'm going to ask Bruce [McCulloch, Carpoolers' creator] to write a [guest] part for her," says Ford.
Here's a more in-depth look at the panels for six ABC dramas and sitcoms for the 2007-08 season.
Pushing Daisies: Lee Pace plays Ned, a pie-maker, who can bring people back to life. He rejuvenates an old love, Chuck, [nee Charlotte, played by Anna Freil], but can't touch her or she'll die again -- and his time he'll lose her forever. "It's the longest foreplay ever," jokes Freil. This series is getting advance critical buzz. Alas, cast member Chi McBride(The Nine) learned the hard way that doesn't always mean survival.
Creator Bryan Fuller, creator/executive producer, who ran the series Dead Like Me, is asked what's it like to have Mandy Patinkin (formerly of Criminal Minds) on a show until it ends. "I'm a little jealous that he did something that we all think about getting up and doing sometimes," Fuller candidly replies of Patinkin's sudden CM exit.
He's quite correct. Mandy's able to do it because he has what the industry calls "screw you money." (Actually, the industry calls it something else -- but I can't print it.)
Women's Murder Club: Four professional women solve murders by teamwork. The series features Angie Harmon and is based on the book by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. The biggest mystery is how did Jessica Simpson's dad land a gig as executive producer on the program?
"I've known Jim [Patterson]," says Simpson. "Luckily, he allowed me to be his partner. It's been a great experience. I'm a big fan of CSI and Sex in the City."
Joe, you should check out Cashmere Mafia then. Just like on SATC, New York City is a character, too!
Soon, and not surprisingly, Joe's asked if either of his singing/acting daughters Jessica or Ashlee are going to be on the show?
"It's not in the plan, but you never know," he responds.
Asked what it's like not to have sexual tension among the leads (kind of like Law & Order: SVU's Olivia and Elliot do), Angie Harmon playfully insists, "Oh, there's lots of tension."
Lunch: Fajitas. Yum. (Kudos to the Hilton's meal planners; we've been here for over two weeks and I can't recall having fajitas.)
Back to the International Ballroom for pie courtesy of Pushing Daisies and four more series presentations.
Cavemen: The best part of this show is it stars Sam Huntington, who I thought soared as Jimmy Olsen in Superman Returns. The panel could have used the Man of Steel to rescue them from the grilling it took from the press. Between asking how it could turn a 30-second commercial into a 30-minute sitcom to the comparisons between the Cavemen characters and stereotypes of African Americans, the producers looked like they wanted to fly away. Not since Bionic Woman's producer took the heat for adding Isaiah Washington to his show's cast has there been such an uncomfortble panel.
There's no laugh track on the show. Nor is there "one in this room," quips Nick Kroll (aka Cavemen Nick), a reference to the tough crowd known as TCA. An ABC rep -- or a comedy development exec with a replacement series -- really needs to step in and save these guys. Just then PR whiz extraordinaire Hope Hartman says, "We have time for a few more questions." A few more? Hope, they're dying up there!
Casting scoop: If the right role can be found, Talia Shire may be added to the cast. Rocky's wife plays the therapist in the auto insurance commercial in which the Cavemen currently appear.
Cashmere Mafia: Four women experiencing life and love in the Big Apple. Not too surprisingly, comparisons are made to this show with Darren Star's other series Sex and the City. Star plays them down, but says he hopes that people embrace the new series as much as they did SATC. Lucy Liu says that Patricia Field is the show's costumer. Say, didn't she dress Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte? "She knows what not to repeat," says Liu.
Cast member Bonnie Somerville says that in real-life women aren't out to steal other women's husbands, but then jokes that she heard co-star Miranda Otto's mate is cute. Bonnie says that New York City will also be a character on Starr's new show. We are now officially sooo off the hook for making SATC comparisons.
Carpoolers: Four different men share the same carpool lane. This is a fun group. When Jerry O'Connell, who plays cheesy dentist Laird, says he runs his lines at home with bride Rebecca Romijn, a fellow panelist jokes, "Yeah, married nine days -- that's what they're doing."
What do you think of Cavemen as a lead-in? "That's a funny show," swears Bruce McCulloch, executive producer/creator. (Boy, the Cavemen group could've used Bruce for its panel.) Faith Ford gets an inadvertent laugh from the critics when she says she's interested in knowing what guys do when they're by themselves.
Co-star T.J. Miller's wearing a red warm-up suit. His choice of a sight gag is a good one because it's really chilly in here. ABC is working on getting the temperature up. It got us that Lost casting scoop away from those Comic-Con people. I'm betting they make this happen, too.
Dirty, Sexy, Money: Six Feet Under's Peter Krause returns to network TV as Nick George, a lawyer that hides the secrets of a filthy rich family. Craig Wright, who created the series, could give executive Jonathan Prince (Cane) a run for his money in terms of enthusiasm. He's got to be the only panelist who's ever asked a reporter his name during a panel session. "ABC has a great history of titling TV shows," says Wright. "This title perfectly captures the attractive and reflective nature of the show. The title is genius and I'm happy to have it."
Peter's nice. The supporting cast panel isn't being asked many questions, but as Peter refers to their character, he points to them and mentions the actor's name.
Co-stars Jill Clayburgh, Donald Sutherland and Billy Baldwin can't be there because they're shooting scenes, so no questions for them.
Samarie Armstrong, who worked with Lindsay Lohan in Just My Luck, is asked how she feels about Lohan's current woes. Armstrong says she'd like to comment on Lohan, but takes a pass because she feels it doesn't add to the show.
"We wish Lindsay the best and hope she finds happiness," says Wright.
Tonight: a mixer with ABC publicists and hopefully, the sharing of a lot of off the record stories.
Thursday: Day 2 of ABC and the summer 2007 TCA press tour (whew!) comes to an end.