CBS is taking it easy on us today, scheduling just four sessions, including the eagerly awaited Katie Couric panel and a Q&A with the cast of
CSI (sans William Petersen). We're also having lunch with Rachael Ray, and my Aunt Joan will
flay me if I don't hit her up for VIP. tickets to her new talk show. I
cannot go back home to New York without those tickets.
9:10 am: Omelet stations! Egg-cellent!
CBS NEWS Q&A WITH KATIE COURIC
9:40 am: America's sweetheart is 10 minutes late. Maybe she's having last-minute wardrobe issues. Wow, could I be any more sexist?
9:45 am: America's sweetheart is 15 minutes late. Maybe she's on the phone renewing her restraining order against Ann Curry.
9:46 am: Katie's finally in the house - and she's eschewed her signature short skirt for a simple tan pantsuit that screams "serious newswoman!" A CBS publicist blames her tardiness on one of the omelet stations setting "off the fire alarm." Hmmm... I didn't hear a fire alarm.
9:47 am: CBS news president Sean McManus makes some opening remarks about the "different, new and fresh" direction CBS Evening News is going in. Man, this dude talks fast.
9:48 am: Katie and I just locked eyes. I think. I wonder if she knows who I am.
9:52 am: Katie addresses the crowd and declares that she's "happy to see the faces behind the bylines." Was that directed at me? Is Katie sending me secret messages from the stage?
9:55 am: Katie is coming off very polished, if a tad too serious for my liking. I'm secretly hoping she'll get up and do the Elaine dance.
9:58 am: Katie says she wants to make the newscast less depressing and more "solution oriented." Fine, but promise me you'll still dress up on Halloween. At least give me that.
10:01 am: She just fired off two cheesy platitudes in rapid succession: "If you build it, they will come" and "The proof will be in the pudding." Now that's my Katie.
10:10 am: She insists that being the first solo female host of a network newscast was "not the motivating factor" for taking the Eye job. "It was really the job itself," she offers. "And the opportunity to be part of a new challenge." Getting away from Ann Curry was just icing on the cake.
10:18 am: Katie and a reporter get into a semi-heated exchange regarding her decision to bar the press from covering her recent six-city town-hall-meeting tour. "I didn't want to use people who were willing to spend a couple of hours with us talking about their feelings, their views... as a promotional device." Katie wins that duel hands down.
10:19 am: She admits the hoopla surrounding her Today show exit "was a little excessive." Ya think?
10:20 am: Does she intend to incorporate any Today-esque elements into the newscast? "I'm trying to convince Martha Stewart to do a cooking segment every night," she sasses. Katie's back!
10:21 am: She insists her personality will come through during the broadcast, although she concedes that the Evening News is a "different beast."
10:27 am: Katie says she and Barbara Walters "talked some" about the challenges of being a female anchor, although she agrees that Baba Wawa's ill-fated union with Harry Reasoner wasn't "the best of all partnerships." She then adds with a laugh, "You can Google that and find out more." Hey, she's right. Click here for all the juicy details!
10:28 am: A reporter asks Katie what her job as managing editor of the CBS Evening News entails. "It means that I will have significant input in the editorial content of the news." Put simpler, it means she's not to be f--ked with.
10:30 am: McManus reveals that the new Evening News set - to be unveiled during Couric's first newscast on Sept. 5 - will be "modern and clean," but "it's not going to look like a spaceship." There will also be new music and graphics.
10:41 am: Katie refuses to address Dan Rather's acrimonious departure from CBS News. "I don't feel comfortable making a statement or a judgment about how this whole thing went down because I think there are probably many sides to the story that I'm not aware of." Well, that's no fun.
10:46 am: Katie seems surprised and a tad insulted when a male reporter asks if she's given any thought to what her wardrobe will be at her new gig. "You're kidding, right?" she responds, before sassily adding, "You know, I've actually gone to Charlie Gibson's stylist and discussed that at length." You let that sexist pig have it!
10:48 am: Katie says her work hours will be 10 am to 7:30 pm. Must be nice.
10:50 am: It's the last question. I hope CBS warned Katie about the post-session gaggle stampede. For all you press-tour virgins, the post-session gaggle stampede is when a hundred or so TV journalists rush the stage to ask the panelists follow-up questions. It can be a truly frightening experience if you're the one being rushed.
10:51 am: The session ends, and, within seconds, the gaggle stampede is off! Katie's too busy fussing with her microphone to see it coming. Katie, look out! Run for your life! Just as it's about to swallow her up, she glances up, notices the human tsunami racing toward her and shrieks, "Oh, my god!" But it's too late. She's gone. Buried alive at press tour. What an awful way to go.
10:52 am: Let's pause for a moment of silence to remember Katie Couric. OK, moment over. I gots to go pee.
RACHAEL RAY PRESENTATION
12:10 pm: Ms. 30-Minute Meals is 10 minutes late. Pesky omelet stations.
12:14 pm: Rachael bounds on stage along with some scary corporate-looking lady from King World. Rachael recognizes a familiar face in the audience and screams, "Hey, buddy!" Wow, we've got a live one here! Thank god she's not doing this session with James Woods. The two of them would eat each other alive!
12:16 pm: The scary corporate-looking lady from King World isn't letting Rach speak.
12:17 pm: Asked what sort of adventurous things she'll do on the show, Rach looks over at the scary corporate-looking lady from King World and asks, "What am I allowed to say?"
12:19 pm: Risking the wrath of the scary corporate-looking lady from King World, Rach finally answers a question and confesses that her 30-minute meals can take longer than 30 minutes! It's a scandal!
12:20 pm: I can kind of see why my Aunt Joan likes this chick. She's fun.
12:24 pm: Rach is chomping at the bit to tell us what surprises she has in store for us at lunch, but the scary corporate-looking lady from King World muzzles her. "Let's tease them," she says. "We have a surprise."
12:27 pm: A reporter asks for some advice on first-date dinner etiquette. "Absolutely, 100 percent, cook at home," she says. Good to know.
12:29 pm: Rach reveals that she hasn't known her weight since she was 12 years old. "I got enough pressure."
12:35 pm: Her show will feature "content buddies" - friends of hers that are "good at one thing or another in life" - instead of finger-wagging experts. Also, there will be absolutely "no crying."
12:41 pm: The Rachael Ray Show set will be unusual. "I'm probably the only show in daytime that has a driveway and a garage."
12:44 pm: What makes Rachael Ray cranky? Lack of caffeine and "people who are downright rude." She particularly dislikes people who cut in line. "I don't like cutters."
12:49 pm: The scary corporate-looking lady from King World gives Rachael the OK to announce the big lunch surprise. "I figured you might be tired of the same old buffet," she says, "so I hooked you up with my miniburgers. We're going to have a burger break now!" The crowd goes wild! I hope for her sake that there are veggie burgers.
LUNCH WITH RACHAEL RAY
1:00 pm: Yippee! She remembered veggie burgers! I love you, Rachael Ray! I haven't seen your show yet, but I'm going to love that, too!
1:15 pm: You're never going to believe who just cut in front of the lunch line. Rachael Ray! Seriously! Bitch ain't gettin' away with that. "Hey," I shout. "I thought you hate cutters." "I do," she answers, "but I'm hungry." Oh, well, that makes it all right. Not!
1:20 pm: That cutting thing aside, Rach is A-OK in my book. It helps that she (via her publicist) just hooked me up with tickets to her show. My Aunt Joan is going to pee herself!
CBS DIGITAL MEDIA PRESENTATION AND Q&A
2:00 pm: Time to hit the gym! I hope there isn't a line for the elliptical machines.
3:12 pm: A CBS flack says William Petersen is MIA due to a "family member's memorial service." Interesting sidebar: last season's Sara-Gil hotel romp was delayed because Petersen had a death in the family.
3:13 pm: Spoiler alert! Paul Guilfoyle says when the show returns, his Captain Brass will be fully recovered from his gunshot wound.
3:15 pm: Executive producer Carol Mendelsohn says the writers have had "raging debates since Season 1" about how far to play the Sara-Grissom romance. She adds that, "I think they were intimate in San Francisco, but not when they got to Las Vegas - at least not initially."
3:19 pm: The other CSIs will continue to be in the dark about the progression of the Sara-Grissom relationship. "This is the one instance where the viewers will be ahead of our CSIs," says Mendelsohn.
3:20 pm: Of the CSI/ Grey's showdown, Mendelsohn believes "two great shows can exist in a time period." She admits she's a big Grey's fan herself. That'll change when the first overnights come in.
3:21 pm: Marg Helgenberger seems a little perturbed by CBS president Nina Tassler's assertion at Saturday's exec session that she views CSI as the underdog in its battle with Grey's. "Everyone underestimates us but the fans," she says.
3:25 pm: Spoiler alert! Marg says the two-part season-premiere "extravaganza" deals with a crime backstage at a Cirque du Soleil show, and "something very significant happens to my character involving me being in jeopardy and my family being in jeopardy. It starts off with George and I at a watering hole after that crime, and somebody slipping something in my beverage without me being aware of it."
3:31 pm: The first indication that tension exists between the three CSI shows? Mendelsohn says she got into a minor tussle with the producers of CSI: NY over a story line they both wanted to do this season. "But even though we yelled and screamed a little bit, we backed off," she says.
3:32 pm: The second indication that tension exists between the three CSI shows? Mendelsohn says when she reads about a bizarre death in the news, she immediately calls dibs on it with producer Jerry Bruckheimer because she doesn't "want the other two shows to have it."
3:38 pm: Executive producer Naren Shankar says the passionate response to last season's big Srissom reveal "was gratifying. I think whenever people feel strongly, one way or the other, about something like that, it's really a measure of the interest of the fans and how much they put into that relationship."
3:39 pm: When she returned from hiatus, Mendelsohn says she had a stack of fan mail about Grissom waiting for her - and it was almost all positive. A reporter offers to forward her the e-mails he got representing "the other side." Can I send her mine, too? Please?
3:41 pm: A reporter mentions in passing the, um, " incident" from two years ago. Jorja Fox and George Eads shift uncomfortably in their seats.
3:44 pm: The third indication that tension exists between the three CSI shows? Check out this little bon mot from Gary Dourdan: "We're very fortunate in that we're all kind of compatible. There are no divas on the set. Marg and I went on CSI: Miami for a minute, and it wasn't that way. I'm not going to say anything bad about Miami, but when we went there, they didn't have that vibration that we have. We were very appreciative to be back home."
Props to him for taking the high road and not saying anything bad about Miami.
Coming up tomorrow: CW (read: Gilmore Girls!)