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Olympics? When did those start? Emerging from the Television Critics Association tour bubble

- August 5th, 2012

Russell Brand scrum

Charlie Sheen scrum

TCA TLC: Random thoughts at the conclusion of the Summer 2012 Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.  See if you can spot me in the scrums pictured above with Russell Brand of Brand X with Russell Brand (FX, FX Canada) and Charlie Sheen of Anger Management (FX, CTV) – kind of a “Where’s Dumbo” thing.

Person I never anticipated I’d speak to: Sarah Palin poolside at the Beverly Hilton. Her husband Todd is in a reality show about snowmobile racers. Just kidding, it’s called Stars Earn Stripes (NBC, Global).

Most bizarre panel session: Kelsey Grammer of Boss (Starz, Super Channel) takes a non-emergency, personal phone call from his wife for 90 seconds as an entire ballroom full of journalists waits for him.

Most electric session: Normally blase critics genuinely were excited to see the stars of Downton Abbey (PBS, Vision TV). Hugh Bonneville’s “Free Bates” T-shirt was the topper.

Best interview in a post-panel scrum: Sophia Bush of Partners (CBS, Citytv). Intelligent, thoughtful, fun, swears like a sailor, will talk about anything.

Best interview at a party: Let’s call it a three-way tie between Elisha Cuthbert of Happy Endings (ABC, Citytv), Matt LeBlanc of Episodes (Showtime, The Movie Network, Movie Central) and Kiefer Sutherland of Touch (Fox, Global).

Misplaced arrogance: A dude in a tank top and a trucker cap calls critics “ignorant” for daring not to take his TV series 100% seriously. The series is called Finding Bigfoot (Animal Planet).

Nice girl: Canadian Emily VanCamp of Revenge (ABC, Citytv) sends word to reporters before our set visit that she isn’t feeling well, so please don’t be offended if she doesn’t shake hands. Awww. You could tell she was under the weather by her crackly voice, but she patiently and pleasantly answered questions for a long time.

Coolest party: The folks behind Copper (Showcase, BBC America) – filmed in Toronto, set in 1860s New York – turned a West Hollywood restaurant into an 1860s whore house, complete with come-hither actresses-as-hookers in the balcony. Saw a picture afterward of what the restaurant normally looks like and it was virtually unrecognizable.

Sad moment: Just before I interviewed Michael C. Hall of Dexter (Showtime, The Movie Network, Movie Central), I realized I was very near the exact spot in the hotel where, one year ago, I interviewed Davy Jones of the Monkees. Jones passed away last February.

Best individual panel performance: Toronto native Stephen Amell of Arrow (CW, CTV Two). Charming, engaging, speaks in sound-bytes, told stories people could use. Good-looking show, good-looking guy. Star in the making.

Panel at which the reporters were most prickly: The panel for The Newsroom (HBO, HBO Canada) with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels. Apparently a high percentage of TCA members take this series very seriously and very personally.

Panel at which the main panelist was most prickly: Showbiz mogul David Geffen, who supposedly was there to “promote” the PBS documentary Inventing David Geffen, would have preferred to be anywhere else on earth. He seemed completely bored, even exasperated, with the subject matter, namely himself.

Panel at which one of many panelists was most prickly: At the panel for Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars (ABC, CTV), Bristol Palin (Sarah and Todd’s daughter) was equal parts bold and cold. Keeping politics out of it, when I spoke with Sarah and Todd Palin (pictured below at the NBC party), there seemed to be genuine warmth there. They were cordial and pleasant and friendly. I actually found Bristol to be icy.

Breaking news: Fox president Kevin Reilly announces Mariah Carey is joining American Idol (Fox, CTV) as a judge, then gets her on the phone immediately to give a statement to reporters.

Right place, right time: Being seated beside Whitney Cummings of Whitney (NBC, CTV) and Love You, Mean It (E!) when she first found out about the Kristen Stewart cheating scandal. Cummings gleefully exclaimed, “That whore!” (Not to be confused with the whores at the Copper party.)

Coincidental “in the TCA bubble” benefit: I was completely, blissfully oblivious to the first half of the Olympics. Checked in just in time to see Usain Bolt, though. That dude is Usain in the membrane.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Todd and Sarah Palin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYI, Fox prez Kevin Reilly, there’s a reason we all were distracted: TCA day 3

- July 24th, 2012

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Day 3 at the Television Critics Association tour. Network: Fox.

HAIRY CAREY: I don’t often write about anything to do with the specific job of being a writer. I figure no one cares about me doing my job. It’s like, when I run my car through an automated car wash, I don’t really need someone explaining to me how it works, you know? I just want a clean car.

But I’ll make a brief exception to explain what happened when Fox president Kevin Reilly (pictured above) came out for his executive session and announced that Mariah Carey officially is joining the American Idol judging team.

The fact of being in media in 2012 is that we’re all writing, blogging, Tweeting, filing directly to the internet, all at the same time. It’s what the organizations we work for expect. So when something newsworthy occurs or is announced, the room at TCA tends to go completely silent, because we all immediately have to get busy, Tweeting it (within seconds), and getting stories onto all of our various websites (within minutes if it’s big).

So Reilly makes the Carey announcement, then opens up the floor for questions. The problem is, we can’t really talk or listen at that moment. We all have our heads buried in our computers, frantically typing like idiots.

Lost in Carey nation as I was, peripherally I could tell there was the odd awkward pause as the questions came rather slowly for Reilly at first.

This is not a complaint. There’s nothing that can be done. Reilly had news to announce, which was great, and he can’t really hold it till the end, because the first question might be, “Any news on the Idol judges?” and then he’d have to lie, only to triumphantly reveal later that he was lying.

It’s just an idiosyncrasy of being in the media these days. So if Reilly and the Fox people were thinking, “The questions for Kevin were a little disjointed today,” well, that’s why.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Cowell on Spears: “Sweet as a lemon.”

- July 23rd, 2012

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Simon Cowell says Britney Spears is “as sweet as a lemon.”

Clips from the new season of The X Factor feature Spears saying things such as “You can’t destroy that song,” “Predictable,” and “Bad to the bone,” when addressing presumably crushed contestants.

But Spears, of course, has a different take on Cowell’s fruit-focused evaluation.

“In everyday life I’m just very honest person,” Spears said. “It’s just based on who I am.”

Well, all four members of The X Factor’s season-two judging team – Spears, Cowell, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid (pictured left to right above) – appeared via satellite at the Television Critics Association tour Monday. If first impressions mean anything, it’s going to be a very intriguing conversation when the second season of the show debuts Sept. 12 on Fox and CTV.

“It’s different from anything I’ve ever done,” Spears said. “I’ve done eight tours. I’ve been in the music industry for a while. But I’m glad to be on a show where I can give something back and help someone achieve their dreams.”

Being on these types of shows isn’t bad for the careers of the judges either, nudge nudge, wink wink.

“That’s not my intention,” Spears said. “It’s just purely the fact I love the show.”

Lovato was described by Cowell as a “brat” both on Monday and a few weeks ago when he visited CTV in Toronto. Lovato has battled an eating disorder and she was asked if that gives her a unique perspective on young aspiring talent.

“I definitely take that into consideration when I judge,” Lovato said. “My little sister is in the industry and I worry about her all the time.

“You can’t prevent anyone from going down the wrong road. If they’re going to have an eating disorder, they’re going to have an eating disorder. I don’t think fame has a lot to do with it. I think it adds some pressure and sometimes it makes the problem a little bit worse.

“But for me, I had been struggling with those issues beforehand. Unless you’re in a good place when you start working, I think it’s kind of inevitable for these things to happen.”

Pretty insightful for someone who’s 19.

“We needed someone younger, because I’m in my 30s,” quipped Cowell, 52.

There has been quite a revolving door lately with judges on singing competition shows. Mariah Carey officially joined American Idol on Monday.

“I’m happy for her, I like Mariah,” Cowell said. “She’s sweet. But I think she’s going to find it difficult to say no.”

For Spears and Lovato that won’t be a problem.

When Cowell accused Spears of being “mean,” Lovato jumped in and said, “We’re going to gang up on you now. You’re going to have two girls.”

“I’ve had it,” Cowell snapped back. It took a few seconds for the double-meaning to kick in and laughter filled the room.

“Who’s ready for the next season of The X factor?” a smiling Lovato added.

Everyone.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The Carey Diaries: Mariah Carey joins American Idol

- July 23rd, 2012

mariah carey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Mariah Carey officially has joined American Idol as a judge for the coming season.

At the Television Critics Association tour on Monday, Fox president Kevin Reilly announced that Carey (pictured above) has joined the Idol team, as has been rumoured for several months.

Carey was not present personally, as Reilly indicated the deal had just been finalized a few hours previously. But as Reilly was addressing reporters, he called Carey on the phone and got her to say a few words.

“I am so excited to be joining Idol,” Carey said.

“I wanted to be there today. This all kind of just happened.

“I can’t wait to get started in a couple of months and I’ll see you in January.”

Steven Tyler officially has left the Idol judging team, while Reilly also indicated it’s “100%” certain that Jennifer Lopez will not be back.

“Nobody was slamming doors on anybody in this project,” Reilly said.

Carey is a  five-time Grammy Award-winner with more than 200 million records sold worldwide. Still, in the official Fox release, Carey quickly jumped on the idea that being an Idol judge can help maintain, or boost, her career at age 42.

“As a singer, songwriter and producer, it’s going to be fun and rewarding to help find new talent and give back with American Idol,” Carey said. “I’m currently in the studio working on my new album and its first single, Triumphant, which will be out early next month.

“I can’t wait to channel my creative energy as a part of this show which is a massive global phenomenon.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris@tv

5 Idol picks to replace Jennifer Lopez – how about Avril Lavigne?

- July 14th, 2012

avril lavigne

What is this, Groundhog Day?

Seems like we played a similar game just the other night with Steven Tyler.

Oh, wait, we did.

With judges abandoning American Idol as if they were actors on Law & Order, here are five suggestions from the music world to replace the departing Jennifer Lopez:

1) Avril Lavigne. Canada’s pop-punk princess hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in the studio or on stage in recent years. She’s still young (only 27), but if her career is to have a second act, this might be the kick-start she needs. Hey, if Britney Spears is on The X Factor …

2) Debbie Harry. We don’t know if the former Blondie front-woman has the heart of stone required for this job, but we know she has a heart of glass.

3) Mariah Carey. This has been rumoured for a while. Good lord, if you could combine Carey with the equally nuts David Lee Roth, American Idol might have to come with a warning label.

4) Chrissie Hynde. Who knows, she may need the brass in pocket.

5) Madonna. The only drawback might be that American contestants wouldn’t be able to understand her COMPLETELY NOT FAKE British accent.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv