TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 2

CBS’s big day of TCA panels kicked off with an Executive Session from the one and only Nina Tassler, the network’s President of Entertainment, who brought us the following tidbits and newsbriefs:

“The Big Bang Theory”: The show is moving to Thursdays. “Certainly, it was difficult, but not in the sense that you don’t have complete faith and belief in the show,” said Tassler. “The time felt right. The show is certainly enjoying an extraordinary amount of support and love, and this was a great opportunity for us to really move it into a strategic place and open the night.”

“Survivor”: The new season of the popular reality series will find the castaways divided into Young vs. Old. The members of the La Flor Tribe will all be aged 30 or younger, while those in the Espada Tribe will all be 40 or older.

“Undercover Boss”: Four of the companies which will appear in the show’s second season have been revealed: NASCAR, DirecTV, Chiquita Brands, Inc., and Great Wolf Resorts.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”: Justin Bieber will be playing a character in the season premiere, playing a character that is “quite different from his wholesome real-life persona.”

“CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” timeslot changes: “Going into this season, we had very strong development, we really wanted to get a number of those new dramas on the air, and both ‘Miami’ and ‘New York’ are still strong players for us, so we said, ‘Look, we can use them to improve the time periods they’re going into, as well as support new shows that they’re launching side by side with.’”

“Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”: Janeane Garofalo has been added to the cast.

New gay characters: GLAAD will no doubt be pleased to hear that, according to Tassler, there are three on the horizon for the new season. “You’re going to meet Alicia’s brother in ‘The Good Wife,’ a gay character. We’re also going to be adding a new character to ‘Rules of Engagement.’ Jeff and Audrey’s surrogate will be a member of Jeff’s softball team, and she’s a lesbian. We’re also going to be recurring a character in ‘$#*! My Dad Says,’ the character Tim Bagley played.” I’m particularly happy to hear about that last one, mostly because the scenes between Bagley and William Shatner are arguably the funniest in the pilot.

After Tassler’s remarks and Q&A were completed, she evacuated the stage in order for the day’s show panels to begin, starting with…

“The Big Bang Theory”

At first glance, the fact that “The Big Bang Theory” is the only pre-existing CBS show to get its own panel on the network’s TCA day would lead one to deduce that it’s because it’s so popular. In reality, though, it’s much more likely that the series got the spotlight because they want to make sure it’s still a major player when it returns on Sept. 28th and shifts on the CBS schedule from Mondays to Thursdays. Ah, but who cares why they’re here? It’s just good to see the gang again. Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar were all in attendance, along with creators / executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and, as usual, they gave us some great, fun stuff.

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Here, have some movie news with your left over brisket

If you’re noticing that film bloggers and journos seem to grasping at news straws, blame the Passover/Easter spring break slow down. Anyhow, as folks work off all that schmaltz and matzoh at the gym, let’s nevertheless briefly consider a few items of some interest.

* For starters we have the kind of “breaking news” that isn’t really news at all. It’s looking like “The Hangover 2” is going to be a lot more expensive than the first because, you know, the cast would like to be paid a lot more this time and there was a lot of haggling. Can’t blame them . However, as much as I liked the first movie, it did not in any way cry out for a sequel. As the first commenter at Deadline|New York says, lightning doesn’t strike twice — except, of course, when it does. We’ll see.

* More sequel news  — well, rumor reported as news — Will Smith is supposedly “locked in” for “Independence Day” sequels. (H/t Anne Thompson.) Momentum may be building here and the story could be true. Director Roland Emmerich dropped a hint or two about it in a recent interview with our own David Medsker recently. We’ll see.

* And, you know how I always make a big deal about not prejudging movies. The E*Trade talking baby movie is sorely tempting me to make an exception. No. We won’t see.

etrade-baby-golf

* Three brief items from THR. First, pretty Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” will be going cinematic in a partially animated flick comedy that involves Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny; it’s called “I Hop.” Also, LeBron James‘ next coach might be director Malcolm D. Lee. And, finally, two comedy writers who apparently enjoy bowling have been hired to work on the “Baywatch” movie, Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. Tanaka has the kind of cross-ethnic name that, I think, could influence a guy to go into comedy, though I’m thinking “Kazuhiro Saperstein” would have been even better.

* I’m late to the viral video party, but the “Scarface school play” vid isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds. I guess thinking it was “real” could help, but how could anyone think it was real?

* The new film from master documentarian Errol Morris (“The Fog of War,” “Standard Operating Procedure“) sounds really interesting and potentially even more controversial than any film he’s made because it’s apparently lighthearted. Some might not agree that’s appropriate given the main character’s crime. Read the Playlist’s description and see if you agree.

http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2009/etrade-babies-in-2009/etrade-baby-golf
  

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The Man Who Would Be Sheldon: A Chat with Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)

We’re going to go on record right now and say that Jim Parsons got the shaft at this year’s Emmy Awards.

Not that Alec Baldwin isn’t great as Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock,” but in the end, he’s just another guy in a suit. As Dr. Sheldon Cooper, however, Parsons has taken a character that could’ve been just another comic book nerd and transformed him into a comedic force to be reckoned with, and he and his co-stars – Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar – have made “The Big Bang Theory” one of the funniest shows on television. I chatted with Parsons back in 2008, then crossed paths with him again this summer during the Television Critics Association Awards and floated the idea of doing a phoner once Season Three of “The Big Bang Theory” had kicked off in earnest, which he assured me would be no problem whatsoever. Still, when the time came to set up the interview, I decided to refresh Parsons’ memory of the evening by sending him a picture from that night. Fortunately, it worked like a charm.

Here are a few pull quotes from the piece:

* On bringing guest stars to “The Big Bang Theory”: “It’s fun to inject new life into this show, anyway, but when you’re able to get someone who is so talented as an actor in general, it’s not only a coup for the show and the audience members, but for you as an actor, to get to work with them. It’s always a different dance when strong actors come in like that, because they bring their own thing, and you’re, like, ‘Wooooooo!’”

* “(Wil Wheaton) was so fun to have on the set, and he was such a good guy, just in general. He seemed to be completely okay with the fact that his entire name became a mantra of vengeful hate. That didn’t seem to bother him.”

* On the Leonard / Penny relationship: “I really like that they decided to play this kind of true to life. Two friends get together, and you’re, like, ‘Oh, that’s not going to work,’ but then six months into it, one Friday night, you suddenly go, ‘Oh, my God, I’m completely used to them being together! I’m still not sure that it’s going to last, but I’m not thinking about it anymore.’”

* “Looking at Sheldon’s sexuality is like trying to read into a Rothko painting. It’s just, like, ‘Do I see a line?’ ‘No.’ ‘No? Well, I see something…’”

* On the idea of Sheldon falling in love: “What a special person it would take to devote themselves to Sheldon, and to accept him for what he was. Not that he’s a leper or something, but he can be so trying to deal with, and if you were his intimate other, oh, my God, would you have to listen to more workings of his even deeper inner mind? Good criminey!”

Interested…? Check out the interview by clicking here…or, y’know, on that big-arse graphic above. Either one will do the trick.

  

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Killer Movie

Ever since 1996’s “Scream,” it’s been tough for filmmakers to do subtle parodies of the horror genre without being greeted with a bored “it’s been done.” Kudos to Jeff Fisher, then, for deciding to take a slightly different approach by mocking reality TV and horror movies but managing to get a few laughs without sacrificing the scares. (He has the right resume for it: he used to work on “The Simple Life.”) Although “Killer Movie” can’t be called a groundbreaking scary-movie entry, it has a wittier-than-average script and a strong cast, including Nestor Carbonell (“Lost”) as a sleazy agent who looks sharp but doesn’t think twice about sacrificing morality in favor of a big paycheck, Kaley Cuoco (“The Big Bang Theory”) playing the middle ground between Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) in what can only be described as a glorified cameo.

The premise of the film involves a reality-show director – played by Paul Wesley, late of ABC Family’s “Fallen” – who gets drafted for a gig covering a high school hockey team in White Plains, ND, but ends up battling with the show’s executive producer (Cyia Batten), who’d rather go sensational and focus on the death of the team’s former coach, who had just gotten out of prison after having had his murder conviction overturned. It will not surprise you that the coach’s death soon becomes only one of many within White Plains, but you probably will find yourself unexpectedly impressed by Cuoco’s performance in the film, which gives one hope that she may yet have a film career ahead of her…not that we’re hastening the end of “The Big Bang Theory,” you understand. Beyond the blood, what keeps the film moving is the decision to intersperse interview footage with the characters between scenes. Though there’s a decent amount of typical horror stuff here, it’s those bits which raise “Killer Movie” a bit above the ordinary.

Click to buy “Killer Movie”

  

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Old Show, New Season: “The Big Bang Theory” / “How I Met Your Mother”

Monday night TV sucks.

No, wait, hear me out: it sucks because there are now officially too many good shows being broadcast on Mondays.

Haaaaaaaave you checked out the schedule for 8 PM? Starting next week (Sept. 29), the following shows will be competing against each other: “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” on Fox, “Chuck” on NBC, and “Gossip Girl” on The CW. Even if I had a splitter for my TiVo – note to self: get a splitter for my TiVo – I’d still be out of luck, since it’s not like my system is capable of recording four shows at the same time…and, geez, it’s not like there are enough hours in the day to keep up with this much programming, anyway!

Good thing, then, that CBS was kind enough to give me the hook-up on the premieres of “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother,” so I could scope them out and give you a bit of a preview without fear of missing tonight’s episodes of “Sarah Connor” or “Gossip Girl.” Mind you, I still don’t know what I’m going to do next week, when “Chuck” premieres, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it…

I don’t think I could’ve been more pleased with the Season 2 premiere of “The Big Bang Theory.” It was one of my favorite new series last year, but given the way it ended, with Penny (Kaley Cuoco) sharing a moment with Leonard (Johnny Galecki), you couldn’t help but worry that things were moving a bit too fast between the unlikely couple. Sweet or not, it’s just really hard to imagine a relationship between a physicist and a Cheesecake Factory waitress working out for the long haul…and, fortunately, Penny has the same concerns at the conclusion of their first date.

Unfortunately, however, she makes the mistake of sharing those concerns with Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who reacts about as well to her suggestion that he not tell Leonard about her worries as he reacts to everything else.

In short, he freaks out.

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