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ABC day 2: predictions on Isaiah, 24, Grammer & Trees come true - TCA report

by Michael Maloney, posted Jul 26th 2007 11:01PM
James Tupper and Anne Heche ABC crammed in eight (!) panels today on new and returning series as the TV Critics summer 2007 press tour -- finally -- came to an end.

As predicted in my preview story about today's sessions, Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy; Private Practice) was indeed asked about ex-GA cast member Isaiah Washington, who was canned last month by ABC and then scooped up by rival NBC for a role on Bionic Woman.

A reporter wanted to know what Rhimes thought about NBC president Ben Silverman saying he was in talks with Washington prior to the actor being let go at the end of the TV season.

"I wasn't aware of any conversation," Rhimes responded, adding, "[Isaiah's] a very talented actor. I hope he does well on Bionic Woman." Deftly returning the conversation back to the topic at hand, Rhimes adds with a smile, "Just not as well as Private Practice [does]."

Among the other topics I guessed would be touched upon was Jean Smart's run on 24 as TV's favorite loopy, unpredictable First Lady Martha Logan. "I had a great time on that show," says Smart, who scored an Emmy-nod for her efforts. "I was pleased they were able to bring [Martha] back last season. I'm not assuming we'll never see her again -- she's not dead."

Spencer Grammer (Greek) spoke highly of her dad, funnyman Kelsey Grammer (Back to You). "My dad encouraged me to follow what I love," Spencer said.

Finally, one savvy reporter got Anne Heche (Men in Trees) to talk a bit about her personal life by asking the entire cast -- including co-star James Tupper, whom Heche is reportedly dating -- what they learned about relationships by doing MIT. "I've learned to trust a family," said Heche, speaking in generalities, "which is so necessary in my life."

Read on for highlights of the eight panels that took place during the final day of the tour that would not end.

Nightline: Where is everybody? Maybe some journalists went down to Comic-Con to get some Lost dirt? This first panel of the day is not well attended...a few journalists walk in late, including, um, me. Perhaps my fellow writers are sleeping in. That'll teach ABC to throw a publicist mixer in the Beverly Hilton's Stardust room with food and drinks like it did last night. Seriously, ABC gets major points for having a low-key evening with just critics and pubs. Face time with publicists is priceless.

i-CAUGHT: ABC's Bill Weir hosts a new series this summer that acknowledges everyday people are using modern technology to capture what's going on in the world. All this technology has me thinking that in the not-so distance future, all the TV critics here are going to have video-recorders in addition to their laptops and the tour is going to be one big webcast. "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 megabytes," predicts Weir.

Major networks aren't known for swag, but we're given i-CAUGHT footballs. Cool!

I feel for the out-of-towners -- like there's room for a football in their swag-stuffed luggage. "I left mine for the [hotel] maid," said one critic, who just checked out.

Greek: A group of kids learn about life and love in college. It's a companion show to the TCA-Award winning series Kyle XY. This is the first panel for many of the cast members.Swag from the ABC Family sessions include a Kyle XY comic book for the show's panel.

"We realize this may be a sensitive subject for you, but Comic-Con attendees aren't getting this until Saturday," says an understanding ABC Family rep.

Kyle XY: Supervising producer/writer Julie Plec says she wanted to give the audience a payoff about who Kyle was by the end of the first season. Star Matt Dallas is getting his share of admirers by playing Kyle. He says a woman reached up under his shirt and felt his belly button. "She said to me, 'I touched it,'" he shares. So now we know for sure he really has one. Good to know.

During lunch I review the list of attendees for tonight's all-star party. Alas, Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) isn't on it. Gee, you think she'd end up answering inquires about her wedding all night? Smart move, Eva.

Reporter attendance picks up dramatically after lunch. Still, the room is not as full as it was during, say, the FOX panels from earlier in the tour.

Samantha Who?: Christina Applegate plays a woman who has to learn who she is after she gets amnesia. Co-star Barry Watson is asked if he was in second position for this show in case What About Brian came back. Watson said he would have been pretty dumb if he'd thought WAB was going to come back. The reporter says he was actually counting on it. Awkward silence.

Men In Trees: When MIT returns, the storyline will go back five months to explain some back-story. (Hey, it could be worse -- Lost is going into the future.) No swag, but executive producer Jenny Picks gives kudos to the press for getting the word out on this offbeat comedy/drama. "It's a hopeful show," Bicks says. "We like to think it makes people happy when they watch it."

Heche's not only mum on her off-screen love life, she's not offering much up about Marin's either. Fortunately, Bicks intervenes: "Marin is going to go through quite a journey this year of figuring out which one of her honeys is the right man. There will be multiple honeys."

Private Practice: Forget about tough questions regarding Isaiah. Is Rhimes aware that fans were displeased by the George/Izzie pairing last season? "That's what makes it interesting," Rhimes reasons. "I'm not saying George and Izzie are the love story of the century...but it's interesting to explore when you find out that your best friend may also be your soul mate."

To the critics of last year's season, Rhimes says, "People love you...[but] there has to be a moment in which they disagree with where you're going creatively."

One critic observed that scenes in elevators on GA take so long, characters could ride all the way to Seattle's Space Needle. "They're very old, slow elevators," Rhimes says with a smile.

"Will Addison exit to Los Angeles on GA or on Private Practice?" asks a reporter.

Breaking her own rule about doling out advance story, Rhimes reveals, "We see her tender her resignation to Richard in the first episode of Private Practice."

Tim Daly is thrilled that The Nine is finally returning to TV on August 1 -- even though all the storylines won't be wrapped up.

Does Kate Walsh (Addison) ever think of how she went from a guest spot on GA to her own series?

"Yeah, I do," she muses. "I feel really fortunate. I could never have dreamed this. I don't mean to sound too Pollyanna-ish -- I'm not. I'm actually a cynical bastard with a cold dark heart."

Big Shots: One final bound for eBay item keepsake from the swag lords -- a Big Shots tall shot glass. In short, BS is a male version of Cashmere Mafia - down to the New York setting.

Michael Vartan (Alias), Dylan McDermott (The Practice), Joshua Malina (The West Wing) and Christopher Titus (Titus) play four New York CEOS who have it all together -- until the women in their lives walk in the room. The series will show their sensitive sides. "Men are the new women," quips Titus' character in the pilot.

"The genders have evolved," says John Harmon Feldman, creator/executive producer. "Men are far more sensitive than we're given credit for."

Titus notices that some reporters are blogging during the session. The funnyman hopes that his quotes will be kept in context.

"What's a blog?" asks Vartan.

Whew! That's it for Q&A panels on the shows.

Up next: the press tour concludes with the ABC all-stars party.

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Dan Chichian

Not a single word about Traveler?

July 27 2007 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not everyone was displeased with George and Izzie. I for one was very happy they got together, just hated the cheating part. I love George and Izzie and so does my whole family. There are much more fans than you would think of them both on the Internet and off the Net.

July 26 2007 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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