Sorry for the email pause. I was deep in the TCA vortex and instead of separate blog posts, I wound up live-tweeting the panels and all of those tweets are at www.twitter.com/thesurfreport. My memory is still intact so let’s get to it and I’ll share some highlights from the Summer Press Tour.
LATE NOTE: Be sure to catch the WHITE COLLAR season finale; it aired last night and is replaying on USA during the week. It was a very strong close to a great season.
TONIGHT’S TV MUSTS:
RESCUE ME continues its final season. Maura Tierney is outstanding and the reason to tune in. 10pm on FX.
ROYAL PAINS is close to its season finale. Tonight: look for Matt Lauer, Kyle Howard and Tony Hale in the episode. 9pm on USA. A new episode of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS follows ROYAL PAINS at 10pm.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: LOUIE is having an incredible season. Every episode is an eye opener and I hope you saw the recent episode Dane Cook was in. The clips are not online so I can only rave about it to you and hope you’ll set your DVR for the show every Thursday. While you’re at it, be sure to watch WILFRED too. It’s an odd gem of a show.
OK, time for TCA Tidbits!
–bullet points are my takeaways from each session.
Executive Session with Nina Tassler
–TWO AND A HALF MEN: Ashton Kutcher will play Walden Schmidt, an internet billionaire with a broken heart. The season premiere will be a two-parter. No more info as the mystery is very much part of the marketing and they want everyone to tune in to find out exactly how Charlie dies.
–CBS could never have anticipated what happened with Charlie Sheen.
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
–this session was all about Ted Danson joining the CSI team. He plays DB Russell, a guy who has a very balanced life; he’s a father and relates well to children, as the short clip they showed at the session illustrated as his character spoke to a young witness to a homicide. His character was home-schooled and his parents were hippies. He helps ground the team and he has a different P.O.V. than the rest of the team.
–Danson took the job because he liked the cast, thought the writing was really good. It’s not about the money. EP Carol Mendelsohn jokes that Ted is signed for 12 seasons with an option.
–Marg Helgenberger’s character is demoted now because Danson’s the new boss. She says this will be her last season on the show. The guys on the panel say, “Not if we have anything to say about it.”
–Carol Mendelsohn says DB Russell is more of a Sherlock Holmes type than science nerd.
–I couldn’t make it all the way through this pilot because the gimmick of the woman’s exact memory just didn’t grab me. But for those who find it amazing, Poppy Montgomery plays a woman who remembers everything about her life in detail. Marilu Henner is a consultant on the show; she has this ability in real life. Henner will guest on the show.
–The show’s EPs Ed Redlick and John Bellucci are fascinated with the way memory works and that will be incorporated into the procedural stories.
–Dylan Walsh said after seven years of NIP/TUCK, he was looking for something about law enforcement.
–There’s a special techno-dolly camera technique for the scenes where Poppy’s character is stepping into her own memories.
2 BROKE GIRLS
–Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King created the show together. Cummings will consult on the show while also doing her NBC sitcom WHITNEY. Whitney worships MPK and says she bought Louboutins just for her meeting with him. She’s just thankful Diablo Cody was unavailable.
–Kat Dennings played the “blowjob Bar Mitzvah girl” on SEX AND THE CITY when she was 14 years old so she knew MPK from that gig.
–MPK says the DNA of 2 BROKE GIRLS and SEX AND THE CITY are completely different. The SATC girls had relationship checklists, these 2 girls barely have checks.
–MPK likes that 2 BROKE GIRLS breaks the taboo of talking about money on TV.
–MPK works visually, originally thought of the two main characters as Black and Blonde. Later on, they got real names.
–MPK really took notice of Kat Dennings recently because of NICK AND NORA’S INFINITE PLAYLIST. Dennings wasn’t thinking of doing a TV show but when MPK & Cummings approached her, she listened.
–MPK is NOT working on a SEX AND THE CITY prequel.
–Dennings co-star Beth Behrs did not speak during the panel but she looked fabulous and sported a gorgeous pair of nude color heels (very popular at press tour).
A GIFTED MAN
–We learn that Margo Martindale’s assistant to the surgeon character is more than that: she’s a nurse and that will come into play in future episodes.
–Margo Martindale’s wonderful quote: “I turned 60 and everything fell into place.” She had many well-wishers for her Emmy nomination for JUSTIFIED. Lots of love for Mags Bennett in the room.
–Neal Baer is once again using his experience as a pediatrician for this show. He was also an EP on ER years ago. He wanted to do another medical series but not a traditional one.
–Baer says Patrick Wilson’s performance in the show is as exciting as Clooney’s performance in ER was in 1994.
–In each episode, Wilson’s character deals with things he’s walled off emotionally.
–Broadway actor/singer Raul Esparza is one of the guest stars booked for the show.
PERSON OF INTEREST (via satellite from New York)
–this session was on a sort of time delay because Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson and EP Jonathan Nolan were in NYC via satellite
–Surveillance is a big theme of the show says Nolan. The government has been trying to build a machine like the one created in the show. Nolan will explain the machinery in the show.
–Nolan loved THE EQUALIZER and MAGNUM, P.I. when he was growing up. Says POI lends itself well to case of the week structure.
–Nolan is interested in characters on the periphery. Likes the dangerous aspect.
–Michael Emerson says about taking this role: “You go where J.J. [Abrams] goes.” – Abrams is an EP on POI.
HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN
–the trailer played for the show used THE ODD COUPLE voiceover and music – which is, at least, honest
–Huge bonus of this show: Rhys Darby aka Murray from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS. I’m hoping they’ll give him lots to do in this show.
–David Hornsby played Cricket on IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. He hopes this show is a way to show him as a non-crack-addicted guy.
–the show is based on a book of the same name that Hornsby’s mother gave him as a gift when he was young
–Kevin Dillon was going to take a vacation after he wrapped ENTOURAGE but then he got this pilot script and he liked it
–Dillon says his parents were both very big on etiquette; he’s one of six kids and there are five boys in his family
–When asked who his idea of a perfect gentleman is, Hornsby smartly replies, “Leslie Moonves”
–Mary Lynn Rajskub skewered the critic who asked about a 24 movie, “It’ll either be me or Rachel Weisz playing Chloe.”
–Dave Foley says Henry Winkler is a perfect gentleman and also mentions the late John Ritter as one of the nicest people he’s ever met in the business.
–I caught up with THE GOOD WIFE creators Robert and Michelle King at the party and they said the new, sexier ad for the show is part of this season’s more provocative direction. More about that closer to the show’s premiere.
–I also chatted with Mo Rocca, who has been doing interesting stories for CBS SUNDAY MORNING. Rocca says the pieces are labor-intensive and like going to grad school. He loves the gig and hopes to keep doing it for a long time.
–Kris Polaha is very happy to be co-starring on the new CW drama RINGER with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ioan Griffudd and Nestor Carbonell. Polaha has a very sexy, intriguing role on the show but if I tell you more, it’ll spoil the fun. He loves the show and when I asked if he read the entire script or just his lines, he said he *has* to read the whole script so he can follow what’s going on. There are many twists and turns.
TCA: SHOWTIME and THE CW
–This is an intense, smart, tautly suspenseful drama about an American soldier (Damian Lewis) held hostage for eight years who is rescued and returns to America. A high-strung government agent (Claire Danes) thinks he may be a terrorist in our midst and she works feverishly to prove that to her superiors. When we learn she’s on medication for bipolar disorder, it adds a whole new dimension of paranoia and doubt to the story.
–Morena Baccarin plays Damian Lewis’ wife. Her own life has changed during the eight years her husband has been away. Baccarin says, “I’m just thrilled to be playing a human being.” (a comment on her role as alien queen on V)
–The show’s writers include EPs Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, as well as Henry Bromell, Meredith Stiehm and Chip Johannsen – talk about an all-star team.
–Howard Gordon says the timing of the show is fortuitous, given the approaching 10th anniversary of 9/11.
–Claire Danes likes that her character is bright, formidable, compulsive as well as sensitive and vulnerable. Her character is isolated, an outsider, which gives her a unique perspective.
–Damian Lewis says his character Nick Brody is so compelling and the torture scenes inform the psychology of the piece going forward. Lewis went into detail about one of the torture scenes. Not pretty.
–Lewis says there are similarities between Nick Brody and Charlie Crews, the character he played on LIFE as both men were sent away for a period of time in their adult life.
–Howard Gordon referenced “The Manchurian Candidate” and says HOMELAND takes the idea of someone who has been turned (to the enemy side) and “explodes it”
–Alex Gansa: “Even if you’re turned, you’re not a terrorist until you commit an act of terrorism.”
–The show will focus on the collision of Danes and Lewis’ equally damaged characters
–The show premieres October 2 after the season premiere of DEXTER
EXECUTIVE SESSION: David Nevins, President of Entertainment, Showtime
–Nevins says this season of DEXTER will set up the life of the show for the future.
–there’s no word yet on THE REAL L WORD renewal
–Nevins likes shows that have a bigness and scope to them and are relatable to the lives we’re living now. He wants sophistication, adult writing, and edge. He also likes ensemble shows.
–Nevins thinks a successful network is always in a constant state of renewal and reinvention.
–Nevins still thinks WEEDS has a lot of life. Loves how Jenji Kohan has evolved the show every year.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW
–Pedowitz praised Thom Sherman, the network’s head of development and his team
–ONE TREE HILL will have its final season, comprised of 13 episodes
–Will this be SUPERNATURAL’s final season? Pedowitz says we’ll see how the ratings go but he doesn’t think of it as the final season.
–Pedowitz is grateful to Nina Tassler and the CBS team for sending RINGER to the CW. The show services the CW’s core audience and also invites other demos to watch.
–The CW is opening up to comedy pitches this year – thinks comedies like 2 BROKE GIRLS and APARTMENT 23 would work on the network.
–Pedowitz says they’ll do a superhero show if they find the right superhero. Having Warner Bros. as a partner makes it very intriguing to find the right superhero.
–Pedowitz believes in remakes but they have to be great twists on the original shows.
–Pedowitz says the CW does well in Live +7 ratings but that’s not recognized with advertisers so it’s a little frustrating.
RINGER: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kris Polaha, Ioan Griffudd, Nestor Carbonell, Mike Colter, EP Pam Veasey, Co-EP/Co-Creators Nicole Snyder, Eric Charmelo
–most of the questions were directed to Sarah Michelle Gellar (SMG) as this is her big return to television
–SMG plays both Bridget and twin sister Siobhan in the show. Bridget is a recovering addict, Siobhan is the twin who married well. Bridget will do her own investigating about the mystery regarding her sister. She won’t hire a professional.
–SMG jokes, “We’ll take advantage of cloning technology for the show. I’ll play one sister, Dolly will play the other.”
–SMG says she was exhausted after she finished BUFFY, she worked on that show from age 18-24. She traveled then settled down and had a baby. She realized her nomadic life was over and now knows she can be a mom and do a TV show, which is why she’s doing RINGER. She also announced she will do a guest role on ALL MY CHILDREN.
–SMG says Joss Whedon will not direct any episodes of RINGER.
–Almost every actor on the panel has worked on a soap opera early in their career.
–EP Eric Charmelo likes telling stories from Bridget and Siobhan’s perspectives; it’s like always telling two stories. “Much like DAMAGES, we wanted to play with time and perspective.”
–SMG says that while RINGER was at CBS, Nina Tassler was very passionate about it and called her constantly to coax her to do the show.
–SMG says she felt more pressure when the show was at CBS. The CW feels like home because many of the WB people she knew are there.
–RINGER guest stars include Justin Bruening, Jaime Murray, Zoe Deutsch
HART OF DIXIE: Rachel Bilson, Jaime King, Scott Porter, EPs Leila Gerstein, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein
–The pilot shot in the south but the show will shoot on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank
–Leila Gerstein hired some born and bred southerners for the show’s writing staff.
–Scott Porter hails from Nebraska but feels at home in Bluebell, Alabama, the setting for the show. Porter likes being a leading man in the show, he gets to laugh, smile and “be ornery.” We’ll learn his southern boy has much more to him than we suspect.
–EP Len Goldstein says more ensemble cast members will be introduced in the second episode
–Nancy Travis will not continue on the show
–Many different types of country music will be featured in the show. All-star music coordinator Alex Patsavas is doing the show’s music. She’s chosen songs for many CW hits.
–HART OF DIXIE is a lighter show. Gerstein says, “there will be no Very Special Episodes.”
–Rachel Bilson: “If I came back to TV, it would be with Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage” – their company, Fake Empire, is producing HART OF DIXIE with Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios.
THE LOVE WE MAKE: PAUL McCARTNEY AND THE CONCERT FOR NEW YORK CITY
(via satellite) Paul McCartney, Executive Producer
–one of my very favorite sessions because listening to Paul McCartney talk about music is one of life’s treats
–McCartney met Albert Maysles (one of the Maysles Brothers – they did GREY GARDENS and GIMME SHELTER among many other documentaries) and loved when Albert told him to just ignore the camera and ignore him. Paul loves cinema verite.
–McCartney’s connections to NYC was Shea Stadium and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan but now, “it’s the people”
–McCartney noticed the fear in the air in NYC after 9/11. He remembered his father post-WWII and how music helped people work through their fear. He wanted to help New Yorkers get through their fear after 9/11 and knew music was an emotional release.
–McCartney says a lot of things happened TO the Beatles. They didn’t know who Ed Sullivan was when they appeared on the show. All he remembers about the Shea Stadium concert is the screaming and the hysteria it evoked. The Beatles were eager to come to America because so much of the music they loved was from America.
–McCartney says the vibrations in music are healing. He’s very sincere about that.
–When asked what he watches on TV, McCartney admits he likes the shopping channels and joked that he got his collarless suit from one.
–He said the song “Yesterday” came to him in a dream. He says it has to be magic.
–He said he was a victim of phone hacking (related to the News of the World scandal) and he would be talking to the U.K. police about it when he returns to the U.K.
–McCartney thought the Beatles would last 10 years. He’s amazed he’s been with his current band for 10 years. He thought he’d be jaded by now but “it seems new every time I play now”
–McCartney has written a ballad for New York City which will be released in September to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11
WEB THERAPY: Lisa Kudrow, Creator, Executive Producer, Star, Dan Bucatinsky, Creator, Executive Producer, Guest Star, Don Roos, Creator, Executive Producer, Director, Lily Tomlin, Guest Star
–The show is not entirely improv; there are outlines. Everything is planned and there’s a story arc says Don Roos.
–Dan Bucatinsky says the only rule is there can’t be any objective camera shots; everything has to be webcam
–Lily Tomlin was in an episode this season and has shot more scenes for next season.
–The ratings for WEB THERAPY keep going up which is very happy news. I love the show!
–Tomlin says working on the show is a lot of fun, like going to a playground. Lisa and Dan say Lily is the craziest one of them all.
–Lisa Kudrow praises both Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep for their willingness to do anything. (Streep was in a very funny episode of the web show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnQWs8o3Vp4)
–the episodes airing on Showtime now are from the first two webisode seasons of the show. Showtime licensed and Roos, Bucatinsky and Kudrow repackaged the material, which was much more labor-intensive than they anticipated.
–there’s no word yet if Showtime is ordering more episodes of the show. Lisa Kudrow hopes so because they have a lot of great material.
–Lisa Kudrow was asked if THE COMEBACK would ever come back. Her reply, “I hope there’s a chance for it come back. We’ll see.”
THE SECRET CIRCLE: Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Gale Harold, Natasha Henstridge, EPs Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, Gina Girolamo
–the show has a great lead-in from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Vampires followed by witches. This show was put into development because of the success of TVD.
–Britt Robertson has a built-in audience from LIFE UNEXPECTED. She hopes this show will last a long time.
–The show is shooting in Vancouver and there’s a lot of shooting in the woods as the Circle convenes there.
–Thomas Dekker says Adam is the most informed about witchcraft. His story with Diana will deepen.
–Kevin Williamson loves the deception and betrayal in L.J. Smith’s books and he loves adapting them for TV.
–Kevin says if you look at the parents, there has to be more than six people who are part of the circle. We’ll learn more as the show progresses.
–Kevin says witchcraft is an allegory for sexuality. The show will get very adult very fast.
–The limits of the magic will be explained in second episode. Williamson says, “Our version of magic is very dark. There will be humor and scary “witchy woo”
–Gale Harold says his character Charles wants to get something back that he had when he was younger. He couldn’t say much more as it would spoil the mystery. He did say Charles would always be looking over his shoulder, watching everyone, listening to the town gossip.
–Natasha Henstridge loves playing strong women and she gets to play one in this show as the school principal.
–The new circle will try to discover what drove Cassie’s mom from the town
–Andrew Miller says SECRET CIRCLE’s magic is very organic, comes out of earth, air, fire water. Not the same type of magic as in TVD.
–Kevin Williamson says the show’s will not do crossover episodes. (I’m skeptical about this — something tells me they’ll find a way.)
More TCA highlights in the next Surf Report as I get back on schedule. Thanks for bearing with me.
That’s a wrap for now.