We're at the midway point of press tour and that can only mean three things: At least half of the journalists here have started recycling their underwear; the backlash against the host hotel has reached a fever pitch; and folks are starting to place bets on which shows are going to be axed first. (My pick? CBS's ghastly John Goodman sitcom Center of the Universe.) Helping TCA members celebrate Hump Day is WB, which previewed its fall schedule Wednesday for the increasingly cranky press corps. Here's a rundown of all the day's memorable moments.WELCOMING REMARKS9:10 Keith Marder, WB's joyfully antagonistic communications director, kicks off the day with his traditional press-tour comedy routine. First up is a joke about former WB chief Jordan Levin, who Marder says left the network to figure out who starred "in the reality version of Crossing Jordan." It bombs, but he assures us, "It will get better."
9:11 Some idiot reporter's cell phone starts ringing.
9:11:30 Crikey! That's my cell phone.
9:15 Talking about the changing dynamics of the TV business, Marder jokes that "a show is now considered a hit if it stays on the air as long as Ronald Reagan's funeral. Another two hours, that funeral goes into syndication." Okay, that's an improvement.
9:16 "Joan and Melissa have left E! and are now on the TV Guide Channel... " I better stop there.
9:17 "I read that one of the Olsen twins has an eating disorder. See, and I just thought the other one was getting fat." Oh, no he did'n.
9:17:30 Marder takes aim at NBC's CGI-series Father of the Pride. "Who's gonna watch Siegfried and Roy? The tigers don't even like them anymore. Siegfried and Roy, animated? Of course, they're animated — they're gay."
9:18 Marder signs off amid thunderous applause. I'm bummed because he didn't include his obligatory Shannen Doherty slam. Still, I give this year's routine a solid B.
9:30 Afterwards, I pull Marder aside and inquire about the glaring Doherty omission. "She's been so out of the news," he explains, "that there wasn't really anything to say." Shannen's gonna be so pissed.JACK & BOBBY (DEBUTS SUNDAY, SEPT. 12)9:21 The session for this absorbing new family drama about two young brothers, one of whom will grow up to be the president of the United States, begins. I'm expecting lots of talk from the producers about how the show has absolutely nothing to do with the Kennedys.
9:28 Then why go with a title that's going to draw such obvious comparisons, a reporter asks. "It really evoked for me brotherhood and politics," explains exec producer Greg Berlanti (Everwood). "I think it's a catchy title, and I want as many people to watch it as possible."
9:33 When asked what it's like working with her husband, former West Wing producer-director Thomas Schlamme, on Jack & Bobby, leading lady Christine Lahti jokes, "He listens a lot better as a director than a husband. I prefer working with him than being married to him."
9:35 Spoiler alert! It's the younger one, Bobby, who ends up becoming president, Berlanti reveals.
9:40 "The story is really not based on the Kennedys," says Matt Long, who plays older bro Jack.
9:43 "It has nothing to do with the Kennedys," says Schlamme.
9:44 "I think next year when we're [at press tour], there will never be a question about the Kennedys," says Schlamme.
10:02 Berlanti concedes that the Bobby on the show and JFK share "an idealism in common." I knew it. They are the Kennedys!BLUE COLLAR TV (THURSDAY, JULY 29)10:25 WB's exec VP of communications, Brad Turell, kicks off this panel by predicting that this sketch show starring Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy will be the "network's biggest hit ever." He then proceeds to essentially beg the media to give it a chance.
10:30 We're shown a clip from the show — a spoof of Rescue 911 involving a kid who goes blind after he sees his 80-year-old grandmother naked. I'm embarrassed to admit it made me laugh.
10:31 Foxworthy and Mr. Guy are introduced via satellite from New Orleans, where they're on a comedy tour.
10:35 I'm bored, so let me take this opportunity to report that I received an e-mail this morning from former Will & Grace showrunner Jeff Greenstein, who was responding to an item in Monday's Press Tour Diary in which I voiced some suspicion surrounding his and Jhoni Marchinko's seemingly abrupt exit from the sitcom. "Fact is, after six seasons on the show, including two years running it, we just felt like doing something of our own," he wrote. "I'm developing a midseason comedy for NBC; Jhoni's working on one for next fall. Your Press Tour Diary has been very entertaining, by the way. Keep it up."
10:43 I hear the words "Given the climate... " in a reporter's question, and suddenly, I start to foam at the mouth uncontrollably.
10:56 Something that Foxworthy says makes everyone laugh, but I'm staring off into space.
10:58 The session ends, and Turell once again insists that the show will be a huge hit.EXECUTIVE SESSION11:00 Turell remains on stage to introduce WB chairman Garth Ancier and new entertainment president David Janollari... but... oh, no... please tell me... he's not... going... to... go through... the network's entire fall schedule... day by day, show by show, hour by hour. Please, we know all of this already. Stop now!
11:03 Turn back! There's still time!
11:04 While discussing Sunday's sked, he refers to Jack & Bobby star Christine Lahti as an Oscar winner. Note to self: Do some digging — I don't think that's true.
11:06 Oh, my God, we're only at Wednesday. My ears perk up, however, when Turell starts talking about the Smallville season opener. "Lois Lane, played by [newcomer] Erica Durance, makes her debut," he says. "Kristen Kreuk will get a complete makeover... And to top it off, Tom Welling's character will fly for the first time."
11:08 We're up to Friday night...
11:10 Damn if he didn't just go through the network's entire fall schedule day by day, show by show, hour by hour.
11:11 Ancier and Janollari take to the stage and are immediately asked about last season's Gilmore Girls creative slump. Ancier admits that the show "lost its way a bit," but adds that series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has some "really fun and surprising" stories planned for fall.
11:12 The lights in the ballroom flicker.
11:25 Ancier concedes that the network "may have crossed the line" with its cruel American Idol spoof, Superstar USA.
11:26 Janollari confesses that he never saw Superstar USA, arguing that he "just got here." A reporter fires back: "You think you'd do a little homework on it." Ooooh, this is getting good.
11:27 To maintain continuity, Lois Lane can't come face-to-face with Lex Luthor on Smallville because, as Ancier reveals, "they'll meet for the first time in the [in-the-works Superman flick] as adults."
11:28 Clarifying an earlier Smallville spoiler, Ancier says, "The way I understand it, it will be Tom Welling flying, but the actual character will be Kal-El, who is bad Clark." Oh, that makes much more... what? "The mythology of Smallville is not my... I didn't take a course in it," he says.
11:30 Special Angel movies remain a possibility, although Ancier says it'll probably take some "coaxing" to get David Boreanaz interested.
11:33 WB's remake of Dark Shadows did not get picked up because, Ancier says, the production just didn't "gel."
11:35 Janollari says Party of Five's Scott Wolf is going to be "a great addition" to Everwood this season, but adds, "I don't know the specific story lines yet or how he figures in." In his defense, he did just get here.
11:36 Ancier hints that Angel might still be with us today, had producer 20th Century Fox given the network until May to make a final decision. "We [were forced] to make the decision early based on their request." I can't be sure, but I think that's really going to piss off Angel fans.
11:38 Ancier stumbles on an Everwood question that concerns the character of Madison. "I think she's... Madison is the... his sister?" "No," the reporter replies. "It's the girlfriend — the older girlfriend... Older people do watch the WB even if you guys don't." In Ancier's defense, he did just get here. Ten years ago.
11:40 Felicity is mentioned in passing. I tear up.
11:42-11:50 Lots of really boring talk about HDTV. I scan the room of 300, and I'd say about four, maybe five people are listening. Everyone else is tying a plastic bag around their head.
11:51 Ancier is asked whether he watches Summerland. "I do watch it," he proudly proclaims.
11:52 Ancier doesn't even attempt to answer a question about Charmed, passing the buck to WB's VP of programming. "Keeping track of all these story lines is just hard," Ancier sighs. In case you didn't notice, this is getting seriously painful.
11:53 The ballroom lights flicker again. It's the ghost of Jordan Levin, and he's laughing.THE MOUNTAIN (WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 22)2:30 Or as I like to call it, "The Writing Break."
COMMANDO NANNY (FRIDAY, SEPT. 17)3:24 Before the session begins, here's a quick synopsis of this new sitcom: It's about a young ex-Commando (played by newcomer Philip Winchester) from the British Special Forces who moves to America and takes a job as a nanny in Beverly Hills. It's based on the real-life experiences of reality titan Mark Burnett, who serves as an exec producer. Oh, and one more thing: It's awful.
3:30 Winchester answers his first question using an American accent. That's funny; I thought he, like his character, was British. Had me fooled.
3:31 In the middle of his answer, Winchester adopts a British accent. I start looking around to see if anyone else has picked up on this. I make eye contact with a fellow reporter, and we both shrug our shoulders and laugh. Phew, it's not just me.
3:34 Burnett reveals to the audience that Winchester was just screwing with us when he used the British accent. But strangely enough, Winchester doesn't confirm this. I am so confused.
3:42 He's a Brit again.
3:43 Now he's American.
3:45 Burnett reveals that he arrived in the States on October 18, 1982. That was a good day for Donald Trump.
3:52 Costar Beatrice Rosen, who plays the show's teen spitfire, answers a question with an American accent even though her bio says she was raised in Paris. Not her, too.
3:53 Burnett reveals that Rosen actually speaks with a French accent, but is just using an American one to stay in character.
3:54 Rosen confirms this by talking with a distinct French accent.
3:54:30 She's back to using the American accent. I lock eyes with that same reporter, and we shake our heads and laugh. If only the show were this entertaining.DREW CAREY'S GREEN SCREEN SHOW (THURSDAY, SEPT. 16)4:20 From what I gather, this is like Whose Line Is It Anyway? with a combination of live-action and animation.
4:21 Carey walks out with green hair and quips, "I'm a whore for self-promotion." Where's that plastic bag?POSTSCRIPT5:45 Turns out Lahti did win an Oscar. It was in 1996 for best short film.
Coming up tomorrow: Fox.