TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 7

Day 7 of the TCA Press Tour technically began on Day 6: just as the ABC all-star party wrapped up, Fox hosted a cocktail party which doubled as an early check-in for their day of the tour…and, better yet, it was hosted by Will Arnett and Keri Russell, the stars of one of Fox’s upcoming new sitcoms, “Running Wilde.”

You’ll get more details about the show in due time, since there was a “Running Wilde” panel as well, but for now, I’ll just mention that two other individuals affiliated with the show made unexpected appearances at the early check-in: executive producer / co-creator Jim Vallely and co-star Peter Serafinowicz.

I didn’t really get a chance to chat with Russell (she was pretty well surrounded from the moment she arrived), but I did talk to Arnett for a few minutes. Thanks to my wife, though, I ended up having a relatively lengthy conversation with Serafinowicz and Vallely. I knew I’d recognized Serafinowicz, and he quickly reminded me why: he had his own series in the UK, one which many YouTube clips reveal to be extremely hilarious. Indeed, he’s the one who told me I should check them out, particularly his Beatles-related parodies, of which he’s quite proud. No wonder he was cast to play Paul in Robert Zemeckis’s “Yellow Submarine” remake.

In a strange “small world” moment, I also learned that Jim Vallely is the father of Tannis Vallely, the actress who played Janice, the glasses-wearing, cello-playing prodigy on “Head of the Class.” She’s now on the casting side of the business, having worked on such films as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Oceans’ Thirteen,” and “It’s Complicated.” Eventually, my wife and I grew tired and retreated for the evening, but it would only be a few hours until we were back in the thick of it again, this time for the real beginning of Day 7.

Breakfast was brought to us by the casts of “Human Target” and “The Good Guys,” shows which, back in the days when the networks weren’t too cheap to spread their series across a two-day period, would’ve earned their own panels. Instead, we had to settle for chatting with them over bacon and eggs, bagels or donuts, and that sort of thing. In truth, the only person I really had the chance to speak with was Jackie Earle Haley on “Human Target,” and that was mostly because I feel like I kinda sorta know him (he’s friends with Bullz-Eye’s own Ross Ruediger and, as a result, has come to recognize me on sight as “Ross’s friend”), but as you can see, everyone was in the house from both series.

Soon enough, the actors headed out to start their own days, and having finished our breakfast, we took our seats and prepared for the first panel of the morning to begin.

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Greetings to the New Season: Fox

The network upfronts roll on, this time with the fine folks at Fox trotting out their new fall schedule and revealing which new series have been selected to accompany those series which have survived. As of this writing, there are no clips to accompany the descriptions of the new shows, but I’m led to understand that we’ll be getting those in due course, so…oh, wait, scratch that: they just arrived!

Well, with that being the case, you can read the descriptions and check out the clips of what Fox has for us for the upcoming season. Just be sure to let us know what you think about what they’re offering up! Oh, and before you ask, we didn’t forget to include a clip for the last series. They didn’t offer a clip for the last series…but, hell, I don’t even think they’ve cast it yet, so at least they’ve got a good excuse.

MONDAY

8 – 9 PM: HOUSE

9 – 10 PM: LONESTAR: a provocative soap set against the backdrop of big Texas oil, from Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman, the creators of “Party of Five”; Marc Webb, the director of “(500) Days of Summer”; and creator Kyle Killen. Robert / Bob Allen (newcomer James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives in two different parts of Texas. He’s juggling two identities and two women in two very different worlds – all under one mountain of lies. As “Bob,” he lives in Houston and is married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki, “Friday Night Lights”), the beautiful daughter of Clint (Jon Voight, 24, “Midnight Cowboy”), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s “Robert,” living a second life with his sweet, naïve girlfriend, Lindsay (Eloise Mumford, “Mercy,” “Law & Order: SVU”). In Midland, he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly bilking local investors of their savings. In Houston, he’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out. Bob has lived both lives successfully for years without arousing any suspicions…so far.

While one brother-in-law, Drew (Bryce Johnson, “Popular,” “The Mentalist”), admires Bob, his other brother-in-law, Trammell (Mark Deklin, “Nip/Tuck,” “Desperate Housewives”), is suspicious of his motives. Bob begins to fear his secret lives may unravel. With the cons closing in on him, Bob is divided by his love for two women; his loyalty to his father and mentor, John (David Keith, “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “The Class”); and his respect for his father-in-law, Clint. Now as he tries to hold his two lives together, while fending off angry investors and the suspicions of those around him, Bob puts it all on the line hoping he can beat the odds, leave the schemes behind and keep two separate relationships afloat.

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2009 Summer Press Tour Wrap-Up: Cougars, Muppets, Vampires, and Gordon Ramsay, Too!

God bless the TCA Press Tour, where the television industry gives critics from throughout North America the opportunity to play with the folks who live and work in Hollywood. The tour allows us a remarkable amount of access to the stars, producers, directors, and writers of the various shows currently taking up residence on the various cable and broadcast networks. Yes, while I may spend 48 weeks out of the year feeling like a nobody, for those four weeks – two in the summer, two in the winter – which are taken up by the tour, I’m at least made to feel like I’m a somebody. (Really, though, I’m not anybody.)

This was the first time the summer tour had been held after Comic-Con rather than before, so there was a certain amount of grumbling about the fact that the fans were getting a certain amount of information that would’ve ordinarily gone to the critics first, but it must be said that the networks did a pretty good job of pacifying us. And, besides, aren’t the fans supposed to come first, anyway?

Although the content that I managed to accrue during the course of the tour will continue to come your way for quite some time to come, what you see before you is a summary of the highs and lows of the event, mixing stories you may have already read on Premium Hollywood with many that I simply haven’t had a chance to discuss yet. As ever, it was a heck of a good time, full of the kind of moments that leave me grateful that I managed to get that journalism degree from Averett College back in 1992, pleased as punch that Bullz-Eye and Premium Hollywood have given me the opportunity to cover the tour, and, most of all, that there are lot of great readers out there who seem to enjoy the tales I bring back from these strange TCA adventures that I’ve embarked upon.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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TCA Tour: Gordon Ramsay

During Fox’s session to promote Gordon Ramsay’s three series on their network, we enjoyed a rare bit of interactivity between panelist and audience, and…oh, wait: if you’re a Ramsay fan, then you probably noticed that I said that he has three series on Fox. Well, okay, you’re right, he does only have two at the moment, but come December 15th, you can say “hello” to his latest endeavor, “Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live.” To celebrate this development, Chef Ramsay led us all through an attempt to whip up some topping for Baked Alaska, promising that the person who did the best job would earn themselves a table for four at Hell’s Kitchen.

Sadly, I did not win…and when I say I didn’t win, what I mean to say is that it wasn’t even close. I added too much of the egg-white mixture, resulting in a topping so pitiful that Chef Ramsay took one look at it and said sadly, “Oh, mate…” But I took comfort in the fact that it still had enough substance to it to be browned a bit when he took his pocket blowtorch to it, and when I met up with him post-panel, it definitely seemed to be a case of “no harm, no foul.” (What, like he’s not used to dealing with the occasional sub-par chef…?)

I just want you to know that your sad delivery of the words, “Oh, mate,” about my Baked Alaska will ring in my ears forever.

Oh, shit. Really? Was it that bad?

No, thankfully, there were others that were worse. But it was just the way you said it…

Well, I just wanted to have a little bit of interactivity…and it was fun doing it as well!

I had the added bonus of Fox’s photographer snapping a picture of me when you were hitting my Baked Alaska with the blowtorch.

Oh, really? Even better.

So, Gordon, when do you sleep? You’ve got three shows now on Fox, and that’s not even counting what you’ve got going in the UK.

Yeah, good question! Chefs aren’t very good at sleeping, anyway. Guy Savoy said to me 20 years ago, when I was in his kitchen and said, “Sorry, Chef, I’m a little bit tired,” he said, “Tired? How many hours sleep did you have last night?” I said, “Six.” He said, “Fucking way too much.” I said, “What?” He said, “Think about it: the average person sleeps for eight hours a day, so when you get to sixty years of age, that means you would’ve slept for twenty years. Does that scare you?” I said, “Yeah!” He said, “So shut the fuck up, sleep four hours a night, get to sixty, and only have slept for ten years of your life!” And so that’s ringing in now. That’s in there now.

Is every contestant who appears on “Hell’s Kitchen” really an aspiring chef? Because you get someone like Joseph on there, and he’s too good for TV to actually be real.

If I had to cast for that program, then I would be looking at one-star, two-star, three-star Michelin chefs all day long. Did they try with Thomas Keller? Did they spend time with Jean Georges or Daniel? Did they come out and advertise? Because I want to be surrounded by, sort of, chefs in that environment. Out of respect for them, I never get to see any of their resumes before we meet, and so it’s quite an interesting fact because they all seem excited and motivated on winning the challenge. This year’s responsibility in terms of running that restaurant at the Araxi up in British Columbia, Vancouver, is a perfect setup. 99.9 percent of the ingredients are located within a hundred miles of that radius. So, from a chef’s point of view, it’s a dream come true, even the wine, meat, fish, vegetables located within a hundred miles of that radius. So that outburst was ridiculous because no one could ever foresee what was going to happen. I didn’t realize that he was acting, you know, the way he was behind the scenes of the dorm. I never see any of that stuff going on because it’s unfair for me to judge them on the downtime because that is purely off my limits, and I didn’t know what to do in terms of — I asked him a very simple question three times, and he didn’t want to answer it. It was hard because I’ve been to Afghanistan, and I’ve been out, cooking for the Marines last year for a thousand of them, U.S. and the U.K., and the atmosphere was electric. The banter was phenomenal, and to go and change their view and give them something that they deserve in terms of a decent meal on Christmas Eve was a dream come true. So to have that kind of negativity from him, I think there were issues on a personal front that needed to be solved before he came into “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Which “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant over the years has surprised you the most from when they started to when they finished?

Elsie (from Season 1). Yeah, what, from a Waffle House chef to cooking the most amazing, authentic American food? And then an extraordinary palate like that…? That was amazing. Yeah, Elsie. She’s good.

Are you surprised when people take your comments as personally as they do, given that they’ve gone out of their way to be on your show?

I’ve gotten a little bit sort of surprised, in a way. But I don’t edit it, because I’m a chef, not an entertainer, so I call it as I see it. If you had to come in my kitchen tonight at The London West Hollywood, and things went wrong, of course I’m going to cane someone’s ass! But when things go right, I’m going to equally compliment them! When we’re in the middle of that pressurized environment, getting straight to the point is the healthiest thing. I don’t want it becoming cancerous, where they come into work the next day and it’s still on their shoulders. I get straight to the point. Don’t question me in there; question me after it. When we come out of it, if you want to talk to me and you want insight, fine. Because it’s not that one incident, it’s the 25 chefs behind and 180 people sitting in the dining room as well. So sitting and discussing it at length…? You haven’t got that time. It’s live, and…that’s what I said earlier about the “Cookalong.” For me, it’s how I am, and cooking along…I think it’s going to be a huge insight into what I can really do, because not enough people see me cooking, and that’s been frustrating for the last three or four years! All they say is, “Stop cursing and cook more!” So I’m going to do it!

And, lastly, are you surprised that your shows have taken off as well as they have in the States? Because, y’know, we’re not always necessarily known for embracing the abrasive.

No, I suppose I just try to keep it real. I am somewhat surprised, but, y’know, we work hard at it. That’s the most important thing.

(Special thanks to our man Mike Farley for the questions. Wish you could’ve been here, sir; I know you would’ve dug it.)

  

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Hell’s Kitchen: No winning team

Last night on Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” they recapped last week and Charlie getting the heave-ho. Giovanni was pissed at Seth and thought Seth should have been sent packing, but Seth argued that he was going to fight in the “game.” Yikes. Robert then did a hilarious Ramsay impersonation for his fellow chefs.

They then had a Hell’s Kitchen breakfast, where the teams had to feed a hungry group of kid football players and cheerleaders. Seth vowed that he could make great eggs Ramsay-style but he was horribly slow in the kitchen, slowing his whole team. The red team won by delivering more meals and were rewarded with a day at a posh Beverly Hills hotel pool. The guys, meanwhile, had to clean up the dining room and prep both teams’ food for the dinner service.

Ben and Danny were fighting because Danny had claimed he was the team’s best chef and the guys didn’t finish the prep work in time. That pissed off both the red team and Ramsay, but both teams performed horribly at the dinner service, especially Giovanni, Coi, Seth, and Ben. Oh, and J left a lettuce “butt” in someone’s salad..yuck. Ramsay was so pissed off he shut down the kitchen and declared no winners last night. He asked each team to nominate two chefs for elimination. The red team chose Colleen and Lacey, and Lacey was annoyed and said Coi should have been the other one on the chopping block. Seth and Ben were nominated from the men, and Ben was pissed about it.

In the end, it was Seth sent home, because Ramsay just couldn’t take his lack of experience anymore, and the guys breathed a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, Ramsay then sent Lacey to the blue team to even things out, which then made the ladies all breathe a sigh of relief as well. It should be interesting to see how that all works out. Lacey for Seth? Not a great trade-off.

See you all next week…

  

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