The death march with cocktails begins anew!

The Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour kicked off on January 5th with the MTV family of networks offering up panels from TV Land (“Retired at 35” and “Hot in Cleveland”), CMT (“Working Class”), Spike (“Coal”), and Comedy Central (“Onion SportsDome” and “Tosh.0”). From there, it was on to a working lunch, where we learned of the TV Guide Channel’s new reality series, “The Nail Files,” while indulging in a grilled chicken salad and, to ruin any possible health benefits, followed it with a cupcake. With our bellies full, we moved on to the National Geographic sessions: “Beast Hunter,” “Explorer,” “Alien Invasion” and “Area 51 Declassified,” and “WILD on Snakes.” Next, we got a look at two new TV One shows, “Love That Girl!” and “Way Black When,” took a gander of Peter Lik’s new series for The Weather Channel, and the whole thing wrapped up with ESPN’s presentations for “Year of the Quarterback” and the BCS title game.

No, wait, I forgot: after all of the panels had concluded, the Comcast networks threw us a cocktail party which was attended by folks from E!, G4, and Style series. By then, though, I was running on fumes, so all I really did was enjoy the food (petite filets, buttermilk mashed potatoes, turkey sliders, and deep-fried mac & cheese balls…mmmmmmm), throw back a few bourbons, listen to Chris Gore rant about how awful “Tron: Legacy” was, and talk to Bruce Jenner for 15 minutes about his acting work, including “Can’t Stop the Music.” Indeed, the only time “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” came up was when one of his daughters called to tell him that they’d won Favorite TV Guilty Pleasure at the People’s Choice Awards. (He applauded me for “going retro” with my questions.)

Also, somewhere in between all of those panels, I had a chance to ask Betty White a couple of questions, share an interview with Jane Leeves, and do one-on-ones with Wendie Malick, Henry Rollins, Phil Morris, and the anchors and executive producer of “Onion SportsDome.” Arguably my most impressive accomplishment, however, was talking to Jerry Rice, asking a question provided to me by David Medsker (and tightened up slightly by Anthony Stalter), and having him seemingly believe that I know something about sports when I absolutely do not.

I’ll be revisiting some of the individual panels on a case-by-case basis as time allows, but in the meantime, here are the top 10 quotes from Day 1 of the tour. Hope you enjoy them, and see you after Day 2!

1. “What is this Betty White business? This is silly. Really, it is very silly. You’ve had such an overdose of me lately. Trust me. I think I’m going to go away for a while. It’s hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no, they’ll never ask you again, and if you don’t take the job, you know, that may be the end of it, but my mother taught me to say no when I was a girl, but that wasn’t about show business. So the result is I’m trying to cut down. I really am.” – Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland” (TV Land)

2. “Betty White is in the building. Did you hear that? I hope I get to touch her. I just had cataracts, and I’m still adjusting, but what I see is looking pretty good.” – Ed Asner, “Working Class” (CMT)

3. “That mine (in Westchester, West Virginia) is a very complicated mine. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV. It’s 40,000 tons of steel, and it can run over you, and it can be on you in a heartbeat. Because I’ve been mashed by one before. And you really got to know what you’re doin’ working a coal mine. I mean, seriously, you really gotta know what you’re doing to be a coal miner. That’s the biggest thing. People think we’re ignorant. ‘They’ve got to work the coal mines because they can’t do nothing else.’ Well, me, I can do about anything. I can weld. I can…you know, I can do anything. But we’re not ignorant. We choose that life because we like to live in an area, and we want to make good money for our family, and that’s the reason we’re there.” – Robert Jerry “Wildman” Edwards, “Coal” (Spike TV)

4. “I don’t know why I get away with some things. But I’m not a misogynistic, racist person. Yet I do find those jokes funny, so I say them. And I try to say everything kind of in a good spirit. I’m not up there preaching, by any means. They’re not my beliefs. So…I don’t know. I’ve done standup solidly for 15 years, and I’ve always kind of said whatever I wanted on stage. And the audiences have been pretty receptive. My goal certainly has never been to offend people, but I just…I’m not going to hold back because I think, ‘Oh, that might upset somebody.’ There was…the transgender group was upset with us for a joke we did for a while, but then I gained them back by…I don’t know what I did. I did something that made them love me, because I love transgender people in general. I think that’s a good organization. Are they here? Which table are they at?” – Daniel Tosh, “Tosh 2.0” (Comedy Central)

5. “The whole thing about (the man in New Jersey who was eaten by his pet Nile monitor lizards), if you know kind of the ‘behind the scenes’ on that, it’s actually still thought that he had a heart attack. And those animals were left without food, and they will feed on carrion, and then they depredated him as a food source as a last resort. So my thoughts on that are you should probably keep those animals locked up. But dead is dead, so if he died from a heart attack and then he was consumed, I think Disney would say that’s the circle of life.” – Shawn Heflick, “Python Hunters” (Nat Geo WILD)

6. “Hollywood’s getting it wrong. There’s a lot of waste, not that I want to undercut anybody’s check, but there is a lot of fat that could be trimmed that brings these projects to market a little bit more economically, a little bit better creatively because you don’t have so many hands in the pie telling you what your vision can’t be. And I think that’s why the cable outlets are jumping on board. People want this. The audience aren’t the ones that didn’t want sitcoms. I think it was just the networks, and their paradigm was no longer appropriate for the dynamic, but audiences, especially African-American audiences, they want the whole ride. They want to laugh, cry, scream, shout, love. And shows like our show give them an opportunity to see themselves and feel that way. – Phil Morris, “Love That Girl!” (TV One)

7. “That is a total guy question (to ask if celebrities actually notice each other’s fingernails and toenails). Not to like point you out in the room, but it’s the guy in the middle right there, waving around his unmanicured hand. But it’s true. People are saying, ‘Oh, what is this? Is this going to be like a show where you just watch people’s nails dry?’ I’m, like, ‘It’s not like that.’ Nails are an accessory. It’s a six-and-a-half-billion-dollar-a-year industry, and it’s looked at like the black eye. And this is L.A., and I’m, like, ‘Why can’t it be fabulous? Why can’t it be like the hair salons, the boutiques, the restaurants? Why is the nail salon like the little dump in the corner where you just run in and you pay your 20 bucks and get yelled at, and then you’re kicked out?’ I think I can change that, and it’s definitely been working, and now we do have men. I mean, men aren’t afraid to come in. Granted, we do have free Jack Daniels. So if you’re going to have a free glass of whiskey, you’ll come in and get your feet rubbed for 20 bucks.” – Katie Cazorla, “The Nail Files” (TV Guide Channel)

8. “Speaking specifically first and foremost to the TV One audience, parts of (‘Way Black When’) were, like, really cool. Sometimes you did have guests that that everyone don’t know who they are, (but) black folks know. On our ‘New Jack City’ program, we had…and his name escapes me for the moment, I apologize…we had the dude that shot Nino Brown at the end (Bill Cobb). Every black person knows who that is. ‘You’re that dude that shot Nino Brown!’ Come to find out, this dude’s been in, like, 100 movies. You’ve seen him in a gang of things. So we get to celebrate. It wasn’t like it was huge part of the film, but very, very memorable and something that I know the TV One audience will really gravitate towards. ‘That’s that dude that shot Nino!'” – Chris “Kid” Reid, “Way Black When” (TV One)

9. “I was in diapers collecting jars filled with bees and getting stung over and over because I wanted to see what they felt like. I raised venomous snakes in my basement and lied to my mom about what they were. Yeah, it’s every mom’s dream, right? She expertly handles calls from the hospital.” – Pat Spain, “Beast Hunter” (National Geographic)

10. “Do you guys ask questions for a profession? You’re pretty good. You don’t look like much as a group, but…good questions.” – Steve Young, “Year of the Quarterback” (ESPN)