Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2009 Winter Press Tour Recap

Wait, didn’t I just go to one of these press tours…?

Actually, that was back in July, when the networks were busy pimping their new fall schedules; this time, they were presenting us with an idea of what we can expect to see on our favorite broadcast and cable channels from now until they premiere their next fall schedule.

Going out to L.A. in January was a new thing for me, though. It was my first winter tour since becoming a member of the Television Critics Association in 2007 – last year’s was canceled due to the writers’ strike – and, if the rumblings throughout the ballrooms at the Universal Hilton were any indication, it may well prove to be my last January tour. I’m hopeful that this presumption turns out to be inaccurate, but given the current economic climate and an increasing tendency for newspapers and publications to only send their TV critics out for one tour per year, there’s every reason to suspect that the networks will join suit and only be willing to pamper those critics once per year.

Sorry, did I say “pamper”? Of course, I meant, “Treat with the utmost respect.”

It feels a bit odd to be doing a wrap-up of my experiences at the tour before I’ve even had a chance to write up all of the panels I attended while I was out there, but, hey, when you get a good spot on the calendar, you make it work however you can. So still keep your eyes open for my ongoing pieces on the various shows you can expect to find on the broadcast networks during the next few months, but in the meantime, here’s a look at some of the best and worst bits from the January ’09 tour as a whole.

Most enjoyable panel by a cable network: “Rescue Me,” FX.

I’ve been a big Denis Leary fan every since No Cure for Cancer, so I knew the guy was inevitably going to go off on a profanity-filled rant before the end of the panel. What I didn’t expect, however, was that Peter Tolan – who co-created the show with Leary – would start the proceedings by telling Leary to watch his mouth, adding, “If you were going to say ‘cunt,’ don’t.”

From there, the two of them seemingly battled each other in an attempt to offer up the most memorable line. Leary complained about his salary. (“I had a crazy idea of getting paid, like, $250,000 an episode. They put limits on that, let me tell you. That’s Kiefer Sutherland money right there.”) Then Tolan claimed that he was at fault for the show’s fourth-season slump, blaming it on a drug problem and that “I was heavy into a kazillion hookers that year.” Then Leary bitched about how Michael J. Fox was going to guest on “Rescue Me” and get the Emmy that Leary himself has yet to earn. (“Five fucking episodes, he comes in. God damn, $700 million from ‘Spin City.’ He never asked me to do the show. He’s going to walk away with the fucking Emmy. That son of a bitch.”) Then Tolan started mocking Hugh Laurie’s American accent by talking about how he could do a British accent. (“Aye, pip, pip, mate, aye! ‘Allo, Mary Poppins!”) And…well, as you can see, there was really no contest: this may well have been the greatest panel ever.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Trust Me”

TNT must be patting themselves on the back for being able to wrangle Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh to star in their new drama, “Trust Me.” They’re such instantly recognizable faces – McCormack for his eight seasons as Will Truman on “Will & Grace,” Cavanagh for everything from “Ed” to “Eli Stone” – that they might actually help get the show over the hump of being the first new TV series about an ad agency to appear since the debut of “Mad Men.”

“We’re prepared to deal with the ‘Mad Men’ comparisons,” said co-creator John Coveny, “because we’ve had them for the last year as we brought this to you guys.”

McCormack seemed stunned that anyone would make such a comparison. “Is anybody going to confuse the show with ‘Mad Men’? I think it’s a question that only comes up if you haven’t seen the show yet. Once you’ve seen them both, they’re very different shows.”

Despite having both been on NBC shows at the same time and both being Canadian, McCormack and Cavanagh had somehow never managed to work together prior to being teamed up for this series.

“I remember the first time we rehearsed,” said McCormack. “We literally had not met until the day we rehearsed the day before we started to shoot, and we did one of the scenes from the pilot together. Off the cuff, Tom threw some stuff in; I threw it back at him. We kind of looked over at these guys, and everyone seemed very, very pleased. It was one of those sort of, ‘Please let this work,’ and it was absolutely just a great chemistry…despite the fact that he’s a dick.”

Cavanagh sighed and shook his head. “You couldn’t end it on sincerity,” he said. “Did you see that? What does that say about you?”

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