9:08 am For a network exec, ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson — who’s always been a laid-back fellow — is decidedly dressed down, forgoing the formal suit in favor of dark pants and a striped shirt. If he's trying to convey a nonstuffy “everyman” vibe, it's working. If he thinks it’s going to get him off the hook for Monacogate, he’s sorely mistaken.
9:15 Swag alert! McPherson reveals that last year’s ingenious Desperate Housewives marketing ploy, which placed ads on dry-cleaning bags, will return this fall with a twist: Some bags will include an actual Desperate Housewives T-shirt!
9:17 McPherson claims that his decision to yank Welcome to the Neighborhood before a single episode aired was not driven by special-interest groups such as GLAAD. “This was our decision,” he insists. “If I stopped [airing a show] because advocacy groups had a problem with it, we’d run a test pattern.” He adds that Neighborhood ultimately got dumped because the initial episodes “sent a confusing message” about intolerance. “It became a question of what is responsible.”
9:19 Neighborhood’s winning couple — rumored to be the gay dads — will still take possession of their new home in mid-August. They would have moved in earlier, but the town ran into delays extinguishing and uprooting the burning cross from their front lawn.
9:20 McPherson is asked who he thinks should have won Dancing with the Stars. “I actually like [General Hospital's] Kelly [Monaco],” he insists, “but I’m a guy.” (Yeah, you’re also her boss.) He adds that just because John O'Hurley is a “charismatic guy… that doesn’t necessarily mean he should win the competition.”
9:21 McPherson neither confirms nor denies rumors that Monaco’s going to guest-star on Desperate Housewives this season.
9:28 A reporter mispronounces advocacy “ad-vock-o-cy,” sending the room into fits of high-ster-ics.
9:31 Despite the Dancing judges being in what appeared to be a drug-induced coma during the finale, McPherson says the plan is for all of them to return for the second installment next season. There’s also talk of adding an American Idol-type results show, thereby making the whole thing that much more difficult to rig.
9:35 A reporter takes NBC chief Kevin Reilly’s intestinal-irrigation metaphor from Sunday a little too far when he says ABC’s crosstown rival has “blood in its stool.” I think I’ll have another blueberry muffin.
9:40 Scoop! McPherson confirms that Jennifer Garner’s pregnancy will be written into Alias this season. (Series creator J.J. Abrams previously hinted to me that the real-life twist would not be worked into the show, so this represents a course correction and not shoddy reporting on my part. I just want to make that clear.)
9:41 More scoop! McPherson also confirms that Sydney will begin mentoring a new female agent this season. (Although he says the role has not yet been cast, E! Online reports that The Inside’s Rachel Nichols has landed the gig.)
9:44 Regarding his decision to hold The Bachelor until mid-season, McPherson concedes, “We felt like last year we did too many [installments]. We wanted to give [the franchise] a rest.” And if the latest edition — set in Paris — tanks, let's hope he’ll finally stick a fork in it.
9:48 “I do know what is in the hatch [on Lost],” McPherson says. “I think it [will be worth the wait].” (Shameless plug: For more on Lost’s new season, read next Wednesday’s brand-new, action-packed, spoiler-rich Ask Ausiello.)
9:58 A reporter grills McPherson for specifics on how many free Desperate Housewives shirts will be given away in those dry-cleaning bags and in what cities — details the exec refuses to divulge. Wow, and I thought I was the biggest swag whore on the face of the Earth.
9:59 McPherson floats the idea of holding a dance-off between O’Hurley and Monaco to end the controversy over who really won once and for all. I think he was just kidding, though. (Note to self: Ask about this at the Dancing session this afternoon.)
2:09 pm ABC runs a clip package touting James Spader and William Shatner as Emmy nominees. Just one problem: They both became Emmy winners in 2004.
2:10 Cricket warning! ABC, taking a page from WB’s press-tour book of faux pas, introduces and mikes up the panelists — including Spader, Shatner, Candice Bergen, Mark Valley, Julie Bowen and series creator David E.
Pfeiffer Kelley — after the opening clip is shown.
2:12 Shocker! Kelley concedes that he “wasn’t very pleased” that ABC bumped Legal last spring in favor of surprise hit Grey’s Anatomy.
2:13 When a reporter asks the cast if they’re having as much fun working on the show as it would seem, they all defer to producer Bill D'Elia, who responds with a rather unconvincing, “We are having fun.” Once more with feeling?
2:18 Someone asks Kelley why he dropped Monica Potter and Rhona Mitra from the cast. “As the show evolved this past year, we discovered that the series really wants to be a comedy more than a drama,” he says. “So we were looking for characters and actors with strong comedic skills as well as dramatic skills.” (Enter Ed's Julie Bowen.)
2:21 And what about Lake Bell, who appeared rather tongue-tied when asked the same question Sunday at NBC’s Surface session? “Lake’s character worked well in the personal stories with [Spader],” says Kelley. “We felt that it lacked the credibility and the gravity to take her into court — not Lake’s fault, she’s a terrific actress.” Once more with feeling?
2:29 Bowen reveals that she’s “going back [to Hawaii] this weekend” to shoot another episode of Lost. “They’re being very mysterious there, as you can imagine. I haven’t seen a page of script.” Yeah, I feel your pain.
2:31 Kelley says we “will see the emergence of Mark Valley's character a little bit more this year — hopefully, a lot more… Mark is very funny. We did not take advantage of that enough last year.”
3:09 This Friday-night sitcom is essentially Designing Women set in the world of real estate. I thought the pilot was funny, but I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone.
3:10 ABC’s top PR guy, Kevin Brockman, takes my suggestion and gets the cast — including American Dreams’ Gail O'Grady and The King of Queens scene-stealer Nicole Sullivan — on stage and miked up during the preview clip, not after, avoiding those pesky crickets.
3:11 O’Grady looks like someone killed her cat.
3:15 O’Grady seems to get more agitated when a reporter asks, “Gail, you went from sort of the Catholic Youth Association Mother of the Year [on Dreams] to a slut of millennial proportions [on Properties]. Do you feel any sense of whiplash?” “Are you talking to our producer or to me?” she replies, somewhat snappishly. “I think I’m just playing different kinds of roles.” Like, for example, right now she’s playing someone who would rather be anywhere but here.
4:04 Meet this season’s Center of the Universe, starring Freddie Prinze Jr. in the John Goodman role.
4:07 Holy crap — it’s David Silver, er, Brian Austin Green, er, Brian A. Green!
4:12 “He is a perfectionist,” costar Jacqueline Obradors (NYPD Blue) says of Freddie creator Bruce Helford. “He knows how to get it right.” OK, the networks have to stop sending the actors and critics different pilots.
4:18 When Freddie gets euthanized after two episodes, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s surprisingly well-spoken hubby may want to consider a job as spokesperson for the National Organization for Women. “My mother taught me how to treat women,” he says. “She taught me how to respect them. She taught me just how powerful they are, what a special, unique creature they are. I’ve preached this for years: If women pulled together and realized how powerful they were, they would rule the world in five minutes. It’s just us men that are afraid of them so much, we do everything we can to hold on [to the power]. I just always worshipped the ground they walked on.”
4:22 Prinze uses the word “phlegmatic” in a sentence, confirming my suspicions that he’s a lot smarter than anyone (read: me) ever gave him credit for.
4:27 “Pilots are notoriously clumsy, and this is no exception,” a brave reporter tells Helford. Yeah, that’s the pilot I got.
4:30 And now today's "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" award for the question better directed to IMDb than to an actor at a press conference goes to the reporter who asked David Silver, er, Brian Austin Green, er, Brian A. Green, “What did you play on the Latino-themed Resurrection Blvd.?” Congratulations to today’s winner!
4:35 Prinze says Gellar is eager to guest-star on Freddie, but it most likely won’t happen until the, um, second season. OK, who’s gonna break the bad news to him?
4:36 Speaking of his other half, Prinze doubts Gellar will ever play Buffy on the big screen. “They already made one [movie, and] it didn’t work,” he says. “That’s why [they] made the TV series. It worked much better as a TV series. I don’t think Sarah would want to invest in something that’s already failed once.” But we miss Buffy!
Dancing with the Stars
5:06 Kelly Monaco looks like someone killed her cat, too. I gather ABC prepared her for the imminent lynching. The rest of the panel — including her partner, Alec Mazo, all three judges and the show’s producers — appear a smidge more upbeat.
5:07 OK, judges — defend yourselves. “Kelly gave the best performance of the evening,” argues Bruno Tonioli. “She deserved to win. That particular routine was the best she’s ever done. I stand by my 10.”
5:09 Adds Len Goodman: “Had I been asked to judge over the six-week period, John would have been my winner. But I wasn’t. It was [based] on the final… and I thought Kelly and Alec did the better job.”
5:13 “I think [no matter who won], there would have been a backlash,” Monaco says. “And, you know, dance is in the eye of the beholder.”
5:14 The volume and intensity of the anti-Monaco questions are getting a little alarming. I’m starting to feel bad for her.
5:15 Following up on McPherson’s dance-off idea, a reporter asks producers if such a stunt is a possibility. “Bring it on,” Monaco shoots back. “You want a dance-off? Come up here; I’ll give you a dance-off!” She comes out swinging, that girl!
5:17 “And I guess Trista [Rehn] wasn’t a part of ABC then, huh?” Monaco huffs, responding to accusations that her ABC ties may have played a role in her victory. “No? She wasn’t an ABC darling, but I happen to be because I won the competition? That’s crazy.” Let 'em have it!
5:33 OK, Kelly Monaco has reached her breaking point. When a reporter suggests that rabid General Hospital fans would have voted for her no matter what, she flips. “The soap fan base is vocal, [but] that’s about it,” she maintains. “John O’Hurley was a part of a phenomenon. Seinfeld [was seen by] 20 million people a week. It’s still airing in syndication. I am on a soap that holds 2.4 million viewers a day… You do the math. They’re vocal, that’s all they are. You read the [message] boards. It’s the same 30 people responding to the same [thing]. And mind you, these people hated me [before I was on Dancing] — hated me… They watched this show and got behind me.” Don’t hold back! (Although I think it was a boo-boo to dis soap fans. That’s gonna come back to bite her.)
5:40 Without giving specifics, Monaco says she has received primetime (Desperate Housewives?) and feature (Firestarter 3?) offers since hanging up her Dancing shoes. “What I’m struggling with most right now is creating time.”
5:42 Season 2 scoop! Producers hope to convince “a big rap artist” to do the show next. They’d also like to see someone like Ricky Martin, a major sports star and another soap actor hoof it up.
5:45 “I don’t [take] anything personally,” Monaco says. “I’m not going to go home and cry because someone didn’t like my dancing.”
5:48 “The moment I won was the most exhilarating moment of my life. I haven’t had very many exciting things happen to me, so it was really cool,” she continues, adding that she’s been able to weather the post-finale backlash because, “I started hearing [about] it before I won. I’ve been hearing [about] it from the first day I started this, so I’m very conditioned to negative response. I have a thicker skin.” Forget everything I said before — this lady is a champ.
Coming up tomorrow: ABC Day 2