Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 2

The first half of the second day of the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour belonged solely to the Turner networks, who had been notably MIA from the summer tour. Although there were unconfirmed reports that they were not entirely thrilled with the dates that had been set for that tour, as most of their summer programming had already premiered by the time the tour kicked off, but during the opening remarks, we were assured that “we ask for time on the critics tour schedule when we can make it worth your while.” Fair enough, then.

After an “Adventure Time”-themed breakfast from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim brought on a plethora of panelists for “Childrens Hospital” (everyone in the above photo was in attendance, plus executive producers Jonathan Stern and David Wain), TNT followed with “Franklin & Bash,” “Falling Skies,” and “Men of a Certain Age,” then HLN and CNN wrapped things up by getting real and presenting the new talk shows from Dr. Drew Pinsky and Piers Morgan, respectively. Given that I ended up pulling one-on-one interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Garcelle Beauvais, Ray Romano (and Jon Manfrellotti), Scott Bakula, and Henry Winkler, I am hard pressed to have an unkind word to say about the Turner experience…except, that is, the fact that I diligently and politely contacted publicists for both networks and studios in an effort to nail down interviews in advance but was still ultimately left to fly by the seat of my pants and spend the morning in catch-as-catch-can mode.

Our working lunch was brought to us by the unlikely tag-team of BET (“The Game,” “Let’s Stay Together”) and Playboy TV (“Brooklyn Kinda Love,” “Swing”), and from there it was on to the Discovery family of networks: Animal Planet (“Taking on Tyson,” a look into Mike Tyson’s love of pigeons…yes, seriously), Science Channel (“An Idiot Abroad,” with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and title character Karl Pilkington), Investigation Discovery (“The Injustice Files”), and the mothership, the Discovery Channel (“Gold Rush – Alaska” and “Kidnap & Rescue”).

By then, the excitement / cynicism in the room was palpable: it was time for the OWN Network presentations. We’d been promised a welcome from Oprah, but we didn’t get one. Instead, we got an introduction from network CEO Christina Norman. She’s a very nice lady, but it wasn’t quite the same, and she admitted as much when she came onstage after a lengthy series of clips featuring Ms. Winfrey, saying, “I know: after all that Oprah, I am a massive disappointment to all of you.” Her Majesty did indeed deign to participate in a Q&A with us, but not until after we sat through panels for “Your OWN Show” (10 finalists compete to get their own series on the network), “The Gayle King Show,” and “Our America with Lisa Ling.” After Oprah held court, using what my esteemed colleague Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun referred to as the George W. Bush Technique, which involved offering incredibly lengthy answers in order to minimize the number of questions actually asked.

After the Q&A came to a close (and you can believe that it only ended when Oprah wanted it to end), we were all invited to attend the evening event which, although it was ostensibly brought to us by the OWN Network, nonetheless featured attendees from shows throughout the Discovery family of networks. This resulted in my having close encounters with Mike Tyson, author James Ellroy, and…well, I didn’t actually get to talk to Oprah, but I did stand very close to her (along with Carson Kressley and Nancy O’Dell, hosts of “Your OWN Show”) and breathe the same air as Oprah, so my understanding is that I will now never get cancer…which is nice, of course, but, damn, I really could’ve used a new car.

I know, you wish I’d gotten a new car, too. Don’t be sad, though, as I’m already sad enough for both of us. Besides, I’d much rather you read my selections for the top 10 quotes of Day 2 and leave me wallowing in my own car-less misery. No, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine…just as long as you don’t forget to come back for my coverage of Day 3.

1. “The one note we did get (for ‘Children’s Hospital’), it was from Warner Brothers…I hesitate to even tell you this, but when we turned in our first script for the web series, Warner Brothers called us up and said, ‘Um, do you think you could cut the shot where we actually see the Twin Towers burning?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, do you know what? That’s a great note.’” – Rob Corddry, “Children’s Hospital” (Adult Swim)

2. “I actually improvise all my own parts. I don’t know why they hire writers. I enjoy ad-libbing greatly, because I…basically, I can’t remember what the hell I’m doing. What’s the show called?” – Malcolm McDowell, “Franklin & Bash” (TNT)

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A Chat with Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick (“Superjail!”)

Trying to pin down the strangest series amongst Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line-up is a fool’s errand. This, after all, is where a show about a crime-fighting Happy Meal can thrive for seven seasons, so it’s clear that anything goes, and then some. But absurdist comedy about talking food and drink is one thing. “Superjail!” is quite another. When Bullz-Eye was offered the opportunity to chat with two of the show’s executive producers, Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick, we couldn’t resist taking them up on their offer, if only so we could get at least a small hint of what kind of guys would create a show as insane as this one.

Bullz-Eye: Hey, guys!

Stephen Warbrick: Hi, Will.

Christy Karacas: Hi, Will!

SW: I don’t know if there’s too much differential between our voices.

BE: I think I’ll get the hang of it after I get talking to you guys.

SW: I’ll talk in a real Brooklyn-y accent, if that’ll help.

BE: Nice. That’ll definitely help. Well, I’m definitely a fan of the show…

SW: Oh, good!

BE: Now, I understand that “Superjail!” originated – indirectly, anyway – as a result of a short you guys did called “Barfight.” Is it true that it was just a case of one of your friends passing it on to someone at Cartoon Network?

CK: Pretty much.

SW: Yeah.

CK: It was funny. We made “Barfight,” we were going to enter it into film festivals, but it got rejected from every festival we were going to enter it into. So we were, like, “Fuck!” I mean, I stopped doing animation for awhile, and…Steve, I forgot what you were doing.

SW: I don’t even remember. (Laughs)

CK: But, yeah, for a couple of years, it was just floating around, and our buddy Dave Hughes, one of the editors on it, worked at Adult Swim and showed it to them, and they got in touch with us and were, like, “Hey, why don’t you try pitching a show here?” So that was pretty awesome.

SW: Yeah. (Laughs)

BE: Well, it’s definitely the kind of show where you just absolutely do not know what’s going to come next.

SW: Well, that’s good. We try to keep you on your toes. (Laughs)

BE: But how do you approach writing an episode of the show? I mean, do you just take a general premise and then go completely apeshit from there?

SW: Yeah, we’ll definitely have one general premise, and then try to build maybe one or two smaller subplots off of that, and then just go from there and keep adding and subtracting things until it feels right. And then you’ve got to get it approved, and that’s a whole different thing. (Laughs)

BE: Given what I’ve seen in there, I have to wonder what wasn’t approved at various times.

SW: Ah, it’s usually the weirdest things. Nothing violent ever gets kicked back. It’s usually weird little things.

CK: It’s usually weird copyright things, like, “Oh, that’s a name of something,” or stuff like that, which is really surprising. We thought we were going to get really censored, but they’ve actually been pretty cool about encouraging us to push it.

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Cartoon Network continues to push live-action content

Cartoon Network

Back in 2007, Cartoon Network made its first venture into live-action television with “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” The show finished up its fourth season in March and should return next year. Still, “Tim and Eric” is a sketch program at heart and very different than a scripted series with continuous story lines. Well, they’ve decided to take a risk by greenlighting “Tower Prep” and “Unnatural History.”

“These new series will offer our viewers a type of action-packed event entertainment not found anywhere else,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer of Cartoon Network. “We are looking forward to working with all of the great talent involved in these exciting new ventures, which we believe will be a powerful complement to our diverse and expanding array of original programming.”

“History” and “Prep” were both on Cartoon’s development roster announced last May at its upfront presentation to advertisers.

Here’s how Cartoon Network describes the two shows:

“Unnatural History” is an action-packed mystery series centering on Henry Griffin (Kevin G. Schmidt), a teenager with exceptional skills acquired through years of globe-trotting with his anthropologist parents. Shipped off to a high school in Washington D.C., Henry and his smooth-talking cousin Jasper (Jordan Gavaris) find themselves wrapped up in mysteries revolving around the national museum. The pilot was created and written by Mike Werb (“Face/Off,” “The Mask”), who will be executive producer of the series. Emmy-winner Mikael Salomon (“Band of Brothers,” “The Andromeda Strain”) directed the pilot. The series will be produced by Warner Horizon Television.

“Tower Prep” is an action thriller telling the story of a rebellious teen, Ian (Drew Van Acker), who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school focused on tapping into the “unique potential” of its students. Ian forms a secret group with fellow students CJ (Elise Gatien), Gabe (Ryan Pinkston) and Suki (Dyana Liu) as they search for answers to where they are and how to get home. The pilot was executive produced and written by Paul Dini (“Lost,” “Batman: Arkham Asylum”), with Terry McDonough (“Breaking Bad”) directing. The series will be produced out of Cartoon Network Studios in association with Dolphin Entertainment.

Both are an hour in length, which should test the endurance of the network’s fans. Most of the network’s shows are only 10 minutes long, followed by a few commercials.

  

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