Press Tour Diary: CBS Day 1
Fresh Diet Raspberry Snapple? Check. Fully charged Dell laptop? Check. Leftover Vicodin from last year's root-canal crisis, just in case? Check.
OK, let's do this, people.
I spy Eye president Nina Tassler embracing a reporter prior to walking on stage. Is that ethical? Oh, wait, this is coming from someone who reserves judgment on a show until after the tie-in swag is delivered.
Stop the presses! In her opening remarks, Tassler drops a bombshell: "It's [been] a "really great year at CBS for us!"
With no major controversies swirling around CBS, the initial questions lobbed at Tessler are decidedly tame. Where's a good
scandal when you need one? Speaking of which, did anyone watch the live video feed last night? Maybe someone got stabbed, and we don't know it! (Hey, a guy can dream.)
Things may be picking up. Citing the demise of Fox's
as an example, a reporter asks Tassler if she's worried that viewers might think twice before getting invested in a serialized show like
, since there's a strong chance they'll never see the story play out to its conclusion. "I don't think audiences approach their programming that way." Methinks that comment's gonna come back to haunt her.
Another journo challenges Tassler's position on the serial debate. "I want to make sure I understand you correctly: You're saying that the people who, say, watched
didn't care that they never found out who the murderer was?" Responds the exec: "I'm sure it was important to them.... But that is really more about people's commitment to shows that turned successful." Um,
Tassler finally comes around and concedes that "No programmer wants to piss off their audience" by yanking a show prematurely.
Regarding the Thursday-night duel between
, Tassler is refreshingly candid: "We expect to be dinged by
a little. It's going to be competitive."
A reporter asks for Tassler's thoughts on the fan furor surrounding the cancellation of...
Joan of Arcadia
. (You can't make this stuff up, folks.) That gets a big laugh from the crowd, prompting Tassler to ask, "You're kidding, right?" In the guy's defense, maybe he spent the last year in a coma, in which case he's really attending the summer '05 tour.
Someone forgot to tell Tassler that last May's
cliff-hanger - in which it was revealed that Grissom and Sara had been enjoying a colleagues-with-benefits relationship - went over like a lead balloon with viewers. "We're going to see more of Grissom and Sara, which was hugely embraced by the audience last year," she says. "You will definitely see that relationship evolve."
You know a session is limping to the finish line when, instead of asking serious questions, the press starts testing out new stand-up material. Exhibit A: "Let me ask you about
Tuesday Night Book Club
. I was a little disappointed not to know how it turned out."
Exhibit B: "I'm wondering if you guys are going to be able to up the budget on
so that you can buy Brooke Burke a bra."
Exhibit C: "Is there any chance you might revive
George & Leo
on CBS?" I'm beginning to think it's true what they say: Inside every TV critic is a frustrated comedian.
Well, isn't James Woods a big 'ol bundle of energy. He's using his entire body - arms, legs, hands, hips, lips - to answer a question about... oh, who cares what the question is - look at this guy go!
Woods is asked whether his high-powered lawyer will ever lose a case, prompting him to stand up and charge the reporter. "
?!" he huffs in mock disgust. "He's the
!!" Do they give Emmys for Best Performance by an Actor at Press Tour? If so, it's Woods' to lose.
Woods randomly boasts that an undisclosed business venture recently made him "independently wealthy." OK, that sounds shady.
Woods seamlessly works the phrase "moral relativism" into a sentence. Just to recap: James Woods is independently wealthy
A reporter announces that, "This question is
for James Woods." No, but Woods won't object since, well, it's
him. The show's supporting cast of mostly newbies are asked what they've learned from working with the Oscar nominee. "He has a really soft hand, and he puts the talcum powder on us real nicely," offers Alexis Cruz. "So you just have to appreciate that."
Still on the subject of Woods' greatness, actress Sarah Carter finally gets a word in edgewise, and it's a
: "He definitely raises the bar." Poor thing got all gussied up just for that.
Jeri Ryan and producer Brian Grazer keep whispering sweet nothings to each other up on stage. And giggling.
Woods accuses a reporter of making "too simplistic an interpretation of that moment," referring to a scene from the pilot. OK, just to recap: James Woods is independently wealthy, smart
More flirtatious behavior from Ryan and Grazer. Get a room, guys!
Series creator Ian Biederman says there are no immediate plans for Woods to have sex with any of his comely coworkers. I assume he means
Another frustrated comedian disguised as a TV critic asks Ryan, "Are you afraid of jumping the shark?" The quip elicits deafening groans from the crowd, as well as a sassy retort from the actress. "How many hours did you put into thinking
one up?" And guess what kids - he's here all week!
Swiss-cheese sandwich, two pickles, a glass of ice tea and two extremely large chocolate-chip cookies. I'm not proud of that last part.
THE CLASS PRESENTATION
Andrea Anders from
is part of the ensemble cast of this sitcom about a group of third-graders who reunite in their twenties. I wonder if anyone will have the guts to ask her about... um, you know....
Explaining the appeal of his character, costar Jesse Tyler Ferguson says, "He's suicidal and depressed, but in a sitcom way." OK, now
some good material.
Heather Goldenhersh says people are often thrown by her highly unusual voice. (If Jennifer Tilly and Minnie Mouse had a kid, she'd sound like Goldenhersh.) "People think I'm Canadian," she offers. Actually, most of us thought you were deaf.
Exec producer Jeffrey Klarik admits he "loved Andrea on
." Yes, he said that out loud.
Everyone's drinking water except Jason Ritter, who has a huge bottle of what looks like antifreeze under his chair. Look, whatever gets you through this thing.
Anders discusses the experience of jumping from
, without saying anything about jumping, um, you know.
's Skeet Ulrich washing his hands. Also, the dude at the urinal next to me was grunting while doing his business. All told, a fairly memorable restroom experience.
I'm dragging, people. I don't know if I'm coming down from my chocolate-chip-cookie high or just jet-lagged from yesterday's flight, but I'm
to falling asleep.
Executive producer Jon Turteltaub is asked what other U.S. cities will get nuked in future episodes, to which he replies, "Got any suggestions?" "Yeah," the journo shoots back, "this one -
." Paging Homeland Security....
According to one critic, TV producers resort to "narrative wheel-spinning" when they don't know what direction a story is going in. Nice turn of phrase. I'm gonna use that the next time I write about
Cast members are relating their experiences growing up in small towns. Wake me when they're done.
I wish someone would nuke this session.
OMG! There are chocolate fountains! And bowls of Oreo cookies! And stacks of Rice Krispie treats! I'm in heaven! CBS has the best pilots of any network!
Yummy, yummy, yummy!
I think I ate too much.
This must be what Star Jones felt like before her "medical intervention."
I think I'm going to be sick. I hate you, CBS. Your pilots suck.
Ray Liotta scares me. It doesn't help matters that he looks like he wants to walk out into the audience and choke each one of us to death.
Poor John Wells. The press is giving him grief about doing a show featuring murdering thieves - but he's having none of it. "I think people are interested in complex characters," he argues. I think people are also interested in watching Amy Smart prance around half naked kicking ass and taking no prisoners. But the complex-character thing works, too.
Ray Liotta just cracked a smile. I
I just remembered that
leading lady Virginia Madsen has a child with Antonio Sabato Jr. Bizarre.
Am I going crazy, or did Ray Liotta just chuckle? I must be going crazy.
session wraps and, with that, my first full day of press tour comes to an end. Actually, that's a lie. CBS' all-star party - set on the field at the Rose Bowl! - is in a few hours, and I have to go troll for scoop. Hope they have some good eats, 'cause I'm
Coming up tomorrow: CBS, Day 2