Category: TCA Press Tour 2010

'Desperate Housewives': And now the end is near

Desparate housewives

Marc Cherry, the creator of "Desperate Housewives," has known for seven years what the last act of the series will be when the show finally reaches its end later this year.

And no, he's not talking.

"I'm so not revealing it," said Cherry at a session about the series during the ABC portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. "I'm hyper protective. It's a secret."

He said the show, now in its eighth season, would tie up many loose ends, including many from the first season. Several characters from past seasons will also show up as a sort of homage, he said.

But whether Nicolette Sheridan, who left the series in 2009 after reported clashes with Cherry, would return remained a mystery. Her character, Edie Britt, was killed off and she later filed a lawsuit against him alleging abuse and wrongful termination.

Even though the series is struggling this season, Cherry repeatedly talked about how satisfied he was with it: "We all feel so fulfilled. I got to work out a lot of family issues."

He said he's often asked if the end is bittersweet, and he said, "It's completely sweet. There's no such thing as a job that goes on forever. Everything comes to an end."

Several cast members said they would miss the camaraderie of working together on the show. "This is like our own little village," said Vanessa Williams, who joined the series two seasons ago. "It's like a community."

Cherry said one of the highlights of the series was establishing a storyline that he thought fans would not let him get away with -- breaking up the marriage between Lynette and Tom Scavo (Felicity Huffman and Doug Savant).

Huffman said the two started fighting off-screen. "It was interesting but also upsetting. I didn't get to work together with Doug, which is one of my favorite things to do on the show." But she noted that the plot was realistic, saying that 50% of first marriages end in divorce and 80% of second marriages end in divorce.

That prompted a quick comeback from co-star Eva Longoria, whose marriage to basketball star Tony Parker ended in 2010. "God, it gets harder?

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--Greg Braxton

PHOTO: Left to right, Vanessa Williams, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Terri Hatcher and Marcia Cross of "Desperate Housewives."

Credit: Matthew Rolston / ABC

TCA Press Tour: Spike Lee goes back to the bayou in HBO documentary

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Harmonicas are humming. Beer spills over the rims of mugs. Out in the streets, people are joyous and chanting “Who dat?” on the streets of Miami, about 900 miles southeast of New Orleans, as the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV. Hope is in the air.

Not for long.

In 2006, Spike Lee showed us the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the Emmy-winning “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” In anticipation of the fifth “anniversary” of the cataclysmic incident, Lee and his crew have traveled back to the Crescent City to see what’s happened since (hint: a lot).

The product is the four-hour, two-part oeuvre, “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” which is slated to air on HBO on Aug. 23 and 24.  But the scope of the documentary would end up surpassing the ramifications of that destructive August day in southeast Louisiana.

Continue reading »

TCA Press Tour: Eric Mabius ditches the fashion world for a space odyssey in 'Outcasts'

Mabius He’s dressed in a sleek suit, a crisp blue button-down shirt peering through. It’s Daniel Meade straight from London! Eh, not quite. But Eric Mabius was here … all the way from South Africa to promote his upcoming BBC America series “Outcasts” at the TCA press tour.

In the series, Mabius is ditching those oh-so-colorful ties and bed buddies from "Ugly Betty" and is heading out of this world. Literally.  Well, literally in the TV sense. “Outcasts” is set in 2040 on the planet of Carpathia -- stop right there. Vampires in space this is not, no matter how much joy that would have brought Mabius. Instead, a group of pioneers leaves uninhabitable Earth and starts a new life, trying to survive as a species in the face of new conditions and obstacles.

Mabius plays Julius Berger, the last known transporter from Earth who serves as the source of hope on the planet.

“It’s probably one of the most fun characters I’ve ever played because he’s not black or white,” Mabius said. “He’s sort of the hero and anti-hero in this new place.”

It’s a sci-fi show, sure, but you won’t find laser beams and teleporting.  And it’s not "Battlestar Galactica" either; it's a much lower level of sci-fi than the SyFy series, creator Ben Richards said.

“We’re not at any point onboard transporters jumping through space,” he said. “We don’t have the kind of aerial battles you see in ‘Battlestar.’ ”

Richards hinted that an ecological catastrophe isn’t the cause of the Earthlings having to seek a new home but rather “some kind of global conflict between America and China.”

“Outcasts” is currently in production in South Africa; it premieres in December on BBC America.

-- Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Eric Mabius attends the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" at Ziegfeld Theatre in 2009. Credit: Brad Barket / Getty Images


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TCA Press Tour: The magic of Starz's new series 'Camelot' is in the 'political essence'

Fiennes Obe-Wan Kenobi meets Donald Rumsfeld?

Don’t worry. There’s no “Star Wars” mash-up in the making. The pairing is simply how Joseph Fiennes would describe his latest character, Merlin, in the upcoming Starz series “Camelot.”  No, really. He even has images of Luke Skywalker and Obe-Wan in his dressing room to remind him of the relationship Merlin has with King Arthur. (No word if Rumsfeld is also adorning the wall.) But that’s where many of the similarities stop between the new series and “Star Wars.”

Special effects are kept to a minimum.

“I think the magic really lies in the political essence of the piece,” Fiennes said. “Yes, we’ll see people changing shape and disappearing … [Camelot] is about where the power lies, rather than slaying dragons.”

The series takes a look at the Arthurian legend and imagines how the tales we’ve all read about in our history books might have come about.

“We’re trying to figure out what might be the truth that lies behind the myth -- if you or I were there in the Dark Ages, what could have been the events that contributed to these myths,” said series writer Chris Chibnall.”We’re excavating what it might have been like to live there.”

And who else can we expect to find living there? Why, none other than James Purefoy! For fans who enjoyed his performance as Marc Antony in HBO’s “Rome,” there’s more Purefoy coming to a screen near you. He’ll play King Lot, an enemy of Arthur, in the new series so he won't be very nice, Chibnall said.

“Camelot,” which premieres in the spring, will follow the legend from the birth of Arthur and beyond.   Production will start next week on this latest version of the sword and the stone, and Chibnall promises it’s “not like any version you’ve seen.”

What do you think ShowTrackers?

-- Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Joseph Fiennes. Credit: Associated Press

TCA Press Tour: Getting schooled by Tony Danza

Danza Cast of "Jersey Shore," Tony Danza has a bone to pick with you! Stop sending his students bad messages.

Yes, we said students. 

For the teenagers at Northeast High School, Danza -- actually, it’s “Mr. D” -- was their teacher. And he thinks Snooki and her bronzed pals make it hard for teachers.

That show is telling kids that “bad behavior pays off,” he said.

But enough about Snooki and the gang. Time for a different kind of reality. In A&E’s new series “Teach: Tony Danza,” the actor and Broadway star (and cookbook author?) ditches the entertainment scene to take on the role of a 10th-grade English teacher at the Philadelphia school.

The show chronicles Danza’s yearlong struggle to teach not only the curriculum of two back-to-back 45 minute periods, but life lessons.

“It’s not the teaching; I mean the teaching’s hard,” Danza said during the TCA press tour. “But the really hard thing is the counseling. You spend a lot of time being father, mother, brother, sister, psychologist..."

Danza’s foray into the reality world wasn’t, he said, an attempt to jump-start his career; rather, he saw it as an opportunity to try something new during a slow period. (It should be noted that in the midst of shooting, Danza was offered Kelsey Grammer’s role in "La Cage Aux Folles," which he turned down to remain committed to the project).

And his star status didn’t make him immune to any work: He went through weeks of training at the school district, tours of the city, workshops, etc., said Linda Carroll, the school’s principal.

Not that that helped ease Danza’s biggest fear.

“Your intellect is on display,” he said. “It’s nerve-racking.”

But, hey, Tony, are they really paying attention to your intellect? During the session, Danza informed the members of the press just how skillful teenagers are with their phones -- they can text even when their phones are in their pocket!

“They can look right at you and they’re texting. It’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen!”

--Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Tony Danza. Credit: Associated Press

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TCA Press Tour: 'Jersey Shore' hits the 90210

 

TCA Press Tour: MTV lets out its teen angst with 'Skins'

“Shedding our skin is sort of second nature for us.”

That’s how Tony DiSanto, MTV’s president of programming, opened the network’s session at the TCA press tour.

So it seems only natural that the network would become the home to the remake of the U.K.’s hit teen drama “Skins.” Though reality series have long been the network’s “bread and butter” — “The Hills,” “Jersey Shore” — as of late, they’re putting more eggs in the scripted basket.

“Millennials are all about authenticity,” said David Janollari, head of the network’s scripted development. “We’re pursuing a more authentic vérité style with our reality shows and with our scripted programs.”

The risqué teen soap gives an unvarnished look at teen lives in a way that “Gossip Girl” and “90210” can’t even dare to mimic.  It helps that much of the writing on “Skins,” the British version of which airs stateside on BBC America, is done by young people, said the series’ co-creator Bryan Elsley. And, he added, casting young actors to bring life to those teen stories is also central to its success; five of the central cast members in the MTV series are under 18 -- the targeted demographic of the original series.

So have they watched?

Continue reading »

TCA Press Tour: 'Jersey Shore' hits the 90210

Jerseyshore Warning: This post will be as random -- and hopefully -- as lively as the "Jersey Shore" session was on Friday afternoon.

First of all, it was the only news conference of the 10-day press tour where the guests of honor were not allowed to sit down. For a while, we thought the music would start and everyone would start fist-pumping. But that never happened and the "Jersey" kids stood for 20 minutes.

When we posed the question, they laughed until  "The Situation" offered: "I think we're better standing up."

The real reason, MTV President of Programming Tony DiSanto explained later, was that the ladies were wearing micro skirts and he was afraid of wardrobe malfunctions. Fair enough. There's been an actress or two during this tour that would wish someone like DiSanto would look after them.

On to the games. Since these MTV stars are known for the things that come out of their mouths, here's some of our favorite lines:

"I happen to have spiky hair, a six pack and green eyes. It's working out pretty good for me."-- "The Situation." (Duh).

"You'll be surprised how entertaining you are just being yourself."-- Pauly D.

"Snookin' is when you're lookin'....snookin' for love. If I snook the night, then I took the night, get it?"-- Snooki, who is working on a snooktionary to help viewers understand her.

"We're still the same kids deep down inside...I still GTL from Season 1 to season whatever you want to call it."-- "The Situation."

"I don't really tan a lot. I have that Spanish skin on me, but when I start tanning a lot, that's when I get really dark." ---- Snooki

On a side note: MTV also introduced the media to the new cast member of Season 3, who is a longtime friend of Snooki's. Deena Nicole Cortese describes herself as "class in a glass and party in a body." From what we saw, we think that's accurate.

--Maria Elena Fernandez

twitter.com/writerchica

Photo: Cast of 'Jersey Shore' (back row, L-R) Ronnie, Pauly D, The Situation. (Front row, L-R) Angelina, J Woww, Snooki, Sammi, and Vinny.

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TCA Press Tour: Can MTV make 'Teen Wolf' stand out from the other cute werewolves in town?

Does the world need another supernatural drama about teenagers who happen to have pretty faces and sharp teeth? MTV clearly thinks so, rebooting the '80s movie “Teen Wolf” as a sepulchral drama series, directed by video pioneer Russell Mulcahy (the man behind “Video Killed the Radio Star” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”).

At the TV Critics press tour, executive co-producer Jeff Davis promised that it’s “not your father’s Teen Wolf,” suggesting that the supernatural element is just a “metaphor for  transformation” and adolescent animal instinct.

Tyler Posey has been cast as the “wolf” in this version, a lacrosse player who quickly discovers he has extraordinary reflexes, intensified senses -- and of course sex appeal. “One of his powers is to attract girls, I guess,” said Posey, noting that his incarnation is a “sexier, sleek werewolf.... It’s not as hairy as the original, but it gives a much darker and new feel to this wolf.”

Vampire and werewolf shows seem to be popping out from under every rock this year, but Davis says the paranormal is only really welcome on cable. “Networks sci-fi shows are constantly being told, make it less sci-fi.”

As for why they decided to remake a movie that has become something of a camp joke that has little or no resonance for MTV’s young target audience, Davis cited “Battlestar Galactica,” one of the most successfully rebooted TV shows of all time. MTV president of programming Tony DiSanto added, “It’s very MTV, the idea of taking a brand like that and turning it on its head.” The show is scheduled to premiere in early 2011.

-- Joy Press

TCA Press Tour: Harry Hamlin loves Lisa Rinna but will we?

HarryLovesLisa2 Ever think to yourself, “golly, I wish there was a reality series about Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna?”

To those who do, you’re in luck; TV Land has granted your wish with the new series “Harry Loves Lisa. For those who don’t, too bad.

“We wanted to do something creative between the two of us,” Rinna said. “We wanted to do something together.”

The couple met after Hamlin’s ex-wife Nicolette Sheridan ran off with Michael Bolton, though Hamlin was more colorful in recounting the events during the sneak peak of the show at the TCA press tour. 

The series offers a candid look at the couple’s life — from the ups and downs … of their careers to the zany occurrence they encounter while running a retail store. It’s a show they liken to real-life version of  “I Love Lucy” or “Ozzie and Harriet.”  Just don’t expect to see Hamlin, a former contestant  — like his wife — on "Dancing with the Stars,” doing the jive while the cameras are on.  It’s not going to happen.

So why a reality show?

“To actors waiting to have the phone ring and be hired — you have to be much more proactive,” Rinna said.

Or, if you’re Hamlin, you’re waiting for the phone to ring in case your daughter’s dentist calls.

“My daughter is having her tooth pulled,” Hamlin said before answering his ringing phone during the show’s panel session.

He answered. It was Michael. We’re guessing it wasn’t Mr. Bolton.


— Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin. Credit: TV Land

TCA Press Tour: Pinching pennies on WeTV's 'Downsized'

Downsized_0179
 Here’s the story of a man named Brady, er, Bruce, who was living way beyond his means.  Well, the whole family was.

In the new WeTV series “Downsized,” the Bruces are a nine-member blended family  trying to pinch pennies — and, apparently, water — to stay afloat in tough economic times. 

“It’s one of my favorite shows we’ve ever done,” said Kim Martin, president and general manager of the network, during the network's presentation at the TV Critics Assn. press tour.


This modern-day Brady Bunch — Todd, who has two children, and Laura, who has five, married a few years after a blind date — were living large. But once the recession hit, that all changed. Both their homes went through foreclosure, and Todd’s contracting business was dwindling.

The show chronicles the lifestyle changes the family has made to live on a poverty-level budget: from giving up the cheerleading team and five-minute showers (there’s a timer!) to canceling cable (to the horror of the children. It was “Shark Week,” after all!), anything to scrimp and save. Laura even opts to clean houses in her spare time.

And we can all thank “Jon & Kate Plus 8” for the series — not for pioneering reality series focused on large families but for being so lame and inspiring 16-year-old Bailey Rumsey, one of Laura’s daughters, to submit her family for consideration in hopes that viewers will find them more entertaining.

“I just think we’re so much cooler,” she said.

“Downsized” will premiere Nov. 6 at 9 p.m.

-- Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: The Bruce Family. Credit: WeTV

TCA Press Tour: Reality TV meets polygamy in TLC's 'Sister Wives'

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In a TV press tour first, a man and his four wives came to press tour on Friday.

But it wasn't the cast of HBO's "Big Love." It was the cast of a new reality show, "Sister Wives," which premieres next month on TLC.

The seven-episode series follows the lives of a Utah polygamist, Kody Brown, and his three wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine, and his soon-to-be fourth wife, Robyn. But technically, Meri is the only wife, the one Kody's legally beholden to, but his heart belongs to all four of them.

Fundamentalist Mormons, the Browns have 13 children between them -- though three of them are Robyn's from a previous marriage. The first three wives live in one compound in three separate apartments. They hope to soon add another apartment so that Robyn and her three children can move in.

Although they've lived their lives mostly in secret -- they have told co-workers and friends -- they're ready to open up on a larger scale about their lifestyle and are not worried about being arrested, they said. "We knew there were risks but we feel that the story, for the sake of our entire family, is an important one to tell," Janelle, the second wife said.

"As every other American family, this takes everything we've got," Robyn said. Asked what they saw in their husband to make them want to share them, the women said they feel they have a lot of freedom in their lives because they live in a plural family. Like Bill Henderson and his wives on "Big Love," the Browns operate on a schedule by which they share Kody.

"I'm still trying to figure it out," he said.

"There's a constant party going on in this family," said Robyn, who said she sought to join a plural family after her divorce.

--Maria Elena Fernandez

twitter.com/writerchica

Photo: From left, Janelle, Christine, Kody, Meri, Robyn. Credit: Bryant Livingston / TLC

TCA Press Tour: 'The Cove's' Ric O'Barry knows his work isn't done

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Ric O’Barry is returning to "The Cove."

The star of the Academy Award-winning documentary is continuing the effort to expose the plight of dolphins who are subjected to a brutal world of captivity and oftentimes wind up slaughtered for their meat.

O'Barry and his filmmaker son, Lincoln, are set to premiere "Blood Dolphins," a three-part miniseries on Animal Planet.

Ric O’Barry said he hopes the show not only shows the brutality of the trade but paints a portrait of the people behind it. 

"We’re hoping 'Blood Dolphins' is going to change everything. It's going to be a game-changer," he said. "There is no point in saving the dolphins without saving their habitat."

In the series, which premieres Aug. 27, the O'Berrys return to Taiji, Japan (the same setting as "The Cove"), the epicenter of the annual slaughter of approximately 20,000 dolphins. The father-and-son team, along with a crew, go back to see if the critical acclaim for the film had any impact on the six-month hunting season. It hasn’t. 

Dolphins are one of America's most beloved animals, according to a survey conducted by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The survey found that the more people interact with dolphins and see them in aquariums, parks and zoos, the more people learn about their importance. However, the O’Barrys believe that dolphins should always be free and should not be confined in order to entertain or educate the general public.

"It makes you ask, where do these animals come from," Lincoln O'Barry said. "They didn’t just magically appear in the aquarium. We are showing where they come from."

Ric, who is best known for his work on the 1960s TV show “Flipper,” said he hopes that seeing the show will make people think twice before buying tickets to see dolphins.

"We have been brainwashed by this society to think dolphins belong in a concrete tank doing tricks for us," he said. "Flipper was a blood dolphin."

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
twitter.com/gerrickkennedy

Photo: Ric and Lincoln O' Barry. Credit: Animal Planet

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