With the WB portion of the Television Critics Assoc. press tour behind me, I was ready to tackle Day Two ABC. Unfortunately, I couldn't get too excited about the sessions on tap: Threat Matrix? Yawn. 10-8? 4getaboutit. Luckily, Kelly Ripa and Roseanne Barr were slated to appear to promote their new shows, so the day held some promise. Up first: The dreaded executive session. This should be brief, I think to myself. After all, what the heck does ABC have to talk about?
9:02 am ABC chairman Lloyd Braun tries to convince us that network TV isn't in dire straits by rattling off a series of boring statistics.
9:12 am I can't believe my eyes. Someone in the audience is actually paying attention and taking notes to boot!
9:15 am Braun finally declares that he's "gone on long enough," and turns the stage over to his colleague, network president Susan Lyne, who tries to convince us that ABC isn't in dire straits by rattling off a series of boring statistics.
9:19 am I can believe my eyes. No one in the audience is paying attention.
9:23 am My ears perk up (and I grab my pen) when finally, after 23 minutes, some news is made. Lyne announces that ABC has ordered six episodes of a new midseason drama series from Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman, the creators of Party of Five. (Granted, I use the word "news" loosely.) Set in a high-end apartment building in New York, the show will focus on the wealthy inhabitants and the nannies, assistants and other poor folks who make their lives run smoothly.
9:24 am It's an embarrassment of riches! Lyne breaks more news: Patrick Warburton (aka silly Puddy from Seinfeld) is joining the cast of Less Than Perfect as an on-air commentator who gets romantically involved with Lydia (Andrea Parker).
9:25 am In closing, Lyne says, "Believe it or not, it's a really great time to be working at ABC." And by great, she means hideous.
9:42 am Braun concedes that he "maybe" made a mistake by moving The Practice to Mondays last season. To his credit, it takes a big man to admit he "maybe" made a mistake.
11:15 am Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford prance out on stage to talk about their new sitcom Hope & Faith. I think to myself, "If anyone can bring some energy back into this room, it's spitfire Ripa."
11:30 am Surprisingly, the first priceless comment comes not from Ripa, but from exec producer Emile Levisetti, who explains that they decided to replace actor Josh Stamberg with Married... with Children's Ted McGinley because "we wanted a really strong male character as [Ford's] husband." Ouch! He then tried to backtrack by calling Stamberg "a wonderful actor."
11:33 am A reporter informs McGinley that JumpTheShark.com has named him the ultimate show killer, at which point the thesp rattles off a few statistics of his own. "It took me three and a half years to kill The Love Boat, four and a half years to kill Happy Days and seven and a half years to kill Married... with Children. So, I'm hoping it takes me ten years to kill this one." (Paging Josh Stamberg... )
11:43 am Ripa cracks a joke that nearly sends diet Pepsi flying out of my nose. In discussing her sitcom alter ego a former soap star whose character was just killed off the All My Children alum explains that "on a soap opera, you're not dead until you as a person are actually dead. And even that can be negotiated."
11:45 am Ripa breaks some real news: She wants her Live sidekick Regis Philbin to guest star on H&F as a "sleazy agent."
12 pm The panel concludes and dozens of reporters storm the stage to further interrogate Ripa. Yours truly nearly gets trampled.
12:10 pm An ABC publicist tells everyone to back off because Ripa "has to catch a flight back to New York." Feeling guilty, Ripa promises to give a shout-out to all the stranded journalists on Tuesday's Live.
12:15 pm I rush back to my room to set my VCR to tape tomorrow's Live. Girlfriend better not be lying to me.
2:45 pm After an extended lunch/writing break, the sessions start up again with the new Aaron Spelling buddy-cop dramedy 10-8. The 80-year-old überproducer appears on stage (slightly disoriented) and slowly makes his way to his chair. ("Please don't fall over," I pray to God.)
2:46 pm Mr. Spelling lands safely in his chair. (Phew.)
2:48 pm A fellow journalist makes fun of Spelling's deep, raspy voice, suggesting he sounds a lot like Lucille Ball in her later years. That gets a few chuckles. Reporters can be mean, I think to myself.
3:05 pm Spelling gives the quote of the day when he's asked what he thinks of reality TV. "I have to be careful what I say," he hedges, before summing up: "The reality trend makes me puke!"
3:45 pm Making their way on stage now is Threat Matrix's huge ensemble cast. Or as I like to call them: Eight soon-to-be unemployed actors.
3:50 pm Matrix star Shoshannah Stern, who is deaf on and off screen, steals the show with her spirited and highly-animated response to a question about her groundbreaking character. Via her pitch-perfect sign language interpreter Kath Kewitt, Stern laments that "almost all of the deaf characters that I've seen [on TV and in films] are [all] about their deafness how they handle their deafness; how other people accept their deafness. And it's just not true. I don't wake up every day and go, 'Gosh, I'm deaf. How do I brush my teeth?'"
4:41 pm The moment everyone (translation: me) at TCA has been waiting for finally arrives: Roseanne (and her 16 personalities) takes to the stage to push her new reality series The Real Roseanne Show, debuting Aug 6 at 8 pm/ET.
4:44 pm The Emmy winner scores her first zinger when she confirms that she has "more money than God, but not as much as Oprah." Everyone laughs.
4:48 pm Roseanne settles into attack mode when a reporter refers to her short-lived Fox sketch comedy as a failure. "It didn't fail," she growls. "[It was brought in] as a summer replacement for Mad TV!" She then says her show was "better than Mad TV."
4:49 pm Roseanne drops a bombshell. "I learned [over the years] I better keep my big mouth shut."
4:55 pm Roseanne's vow of silence ends when she accuses Madonna of acting like a copycat. "She does whatever I do two years later and shows her t--s." Everyone laughs.
5:00 pm Nice Roseanne returns. "I've tried to really let go of anger and fear."
5:15 pm The panel ends and the reporters charge the stage. An ABC publicist quickly comes to Roseanne's rescue and suggests she head toward the nearest exit, prompting evil Roseanne to make one final, glorious appearance. Lost in a sea of journalists, she barks at her escort: "Well, lead me!"Coming up tomorrow: Day Two of ABC. Plus: Click here for the Fall Schedule and here for more info on these new ABC shows.