Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 13 Quotes from Day 8

No proper panels today, but we did a heck of a lot of driving around. It was TCA Day, which meant that we went to this studio and that, visiting the sets of various shows and meeting their casts and creators. It started bright and early with trips to “Lopez Tonight” and “Conan,” then it was over to 20th Century Fox, where we were treated to panels featuring stars from “Glee,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Raising Hope,” and “Modern Family,” divided up into men and women, with Jimmy Kimmel moderating the panel for the guys. After that, we hit the sets of “Cougar Town,” “Parks & Recreation,” and “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.” Good times all around, especially for someone like me, who lives in Virginia and rarely gets to enjoy these kinds of experiences. After that, I headed over to the Vanguard for the taping of two episodes of Season 2 of “The Green Room with Paul Provenza,” which was phenomenal. How can you go wrong with an evening that includes appearances from Ron White, Kathleen Madigan, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Richard Lewis, Jeffrey Ross, and others? Can’t wait to see the final cut of the episode. (They run 30 minutes, but the taping’s more like an hour and a half.)

But I know, you’re wondering, “Why 13 quotes?” It’s a weird number, so it’s a valid question. Originally, it was going to be 15 quotes, but for reasons unknown to me, we have yet to receive a transcription from our trip to the “Parks & Recreation” set, which contained at least two more solid quotes. Oh, well.

1. “I’ve said it before and I sincerely mean it, in the modern landscape of television there is only a few ways to stay on TV, and one of them is to be, you know, lucky as shit and have a huge giant hit, and everybody in the world watches you, and the other is to cultivate a loyal and hopefully intelligent audience that follows you around, and that is in no great part due to people that champion the show if they like it. First and foremost, I wanted to say that for those of you that don’t like the show, fuck you guys. But those of you who have really taken the time to champion the show and write about it and say nice things, I’m grateful. It’s not just for ego reasons, in this day and age it really means something.” – Bill Lawrence, “Cougar Town” (ABC)

2. “On April Fools’, I was talking to Usher, and I said, ‘You have three kids.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘No, I don’t. Don’t you have research people that tell you?’ I mean, and he looks at the audience, and he says, ‘You would think that a host would do his research and know facts about a guest before he asks a question.’ And then he said, ‘April Fool’s.’ He got me, yeah.” – George Lopez, “Lopez Tonight” (TBS)

3. “I’ve never considered myself particularly interested in media. I mean, I’m someone who likes to come in and do my job, and then I like to go home and play with my kids. I wasn’t used to being a media story. It was never a goal of mine. So the strangest thing about immediately after the (end of ‘The Tonight Show’) was my wife decided the next morning, early on, we should just drive up to Santa Barbara and check into a hotel and decompress for three days because she thought this guy needs to decompress. He needs to. So we got up really early in the morning. We got in our car, and we pulled out of our house, and two cars followed right in behind us and followed us all the way to Santa Barbara and then just hung outside the hotel for three days. And, you know, I’m not Brad Pitt. I’m not George Clooney. You know, I’ve been blessed with their DNA, but I just thought, ‘Who are they following?’ So that was weird.

“And there were a lot of highs. I walked into a restaurant that day, and everybody in the restaurant applauded. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s nice. This is weird. And, also, this isn’t a living. I don’t see how to do this as a job, walk around and get applauded in restaurants.’ So there was an initial sort of high, but then I went back to my house, and we had a lot of stuff to figure out. And one of the first things I did was…you know, this show and these shows have been the organizing principle of my life for such a long time that I thought, ‘I’ve got to call my assistant and get to work.’ So I called my assistant, Sona, and I said, ‘We should get together and go over all of the things we need to do.’ And she said, ‘Okay. Where?’ And my wife wanted me out of the house, and so I said, ‘Okay,’ and we decided to meet at a Marie Callender’s pie restaurant.

“I’m not kidding. I hosted ‘The Tonight Show.’ I think the last show was a Friday. I hosted that ‘Tonight Show’ on a Friday, and on Monday, I’m in a Marie Callender’s pie restaurant, and my assistant has a laptop, and we are sitting there. And there’s two other customers in the place, you know, stabbing at a pie at 11:00 in the morning, and this was now my new headquarters. And I pass this Marie Callender’s a lot, and I think about that shocking…I mean, it was just the juxtaposition of these insane images of ‘Tonight Show,’ iconic, Marie Callender’s restaurant, meeting / office. This is where I work now. And that kind of summed up the madness, I think, a little bit of that time.” – Conan O’Brien, “Conan” (TBS)

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Conan lands on…TBS?

Can’t say as I saw that one coming, but, hey, fair enough: I always knew I’d watch him wherever he turned up, and it’s not like there’s anything inherently wrong with TBS…well, not anything that a purge of any and all series containing the words “Tyler Perry’s” in its title couldn’t fix, anyway.

Here’s the story, straight from TBS:

Comedy icon Conan O’Brien is joining TBS to host a late-night talk show that is expected to debut in November. The Emmy-winning comedian’s new program will be followed by “Lopez Tonight,” which will shift to a midnight time slot.

O’Brien began talks in earnest with TBS just last week, after George Lopez personally called him to ask that he consider joining the network’s late-night line-up.

“I can’t think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in,” Lopez said. “It’s the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy.”

Said O’Brien: “In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”

O’Brien and Lopez will give TBS a dynamic lineup in late-night television. TBS – which has built a programming slate that appeals to a young, diverse audience – expects O’Brien to be a long-term addition to the network’s late-night landscape. O’Brien will host his hour-long, yet-to-be-titled show Mondays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. (ET/PT).

“Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation. TBS already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our network,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks.

With the addition of O’Brien’s show, TBS will establish two hours of late-night talk. “Lopez Tonight,” while just a few months old, has already become a destination show for a diverse audience. The “Lopez Tonight” audience is young as well, with a median age of just 34.

“For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast television,” Koonin said. “Now, with a young audience and a growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of comedy fans for years to come.”

So what are your thoughts on Conan’s move to TBS? From my perspective, it was becoming increasingly clear that Fox was never going to successfully clear the hurdles set by their affiliates, and even if they had, they probably wouldn’t have been nearly as tolerant of fluctuating ratings – huge numbers upon his return, a probable big drop immediately thereafter, then middling out as people figure out which host they want to watch regularly – as TBS almost certainly will be. TBS can afford to let Conan build a presence on their network, whereas Fox…well, I think we all know how forgiving Fox is with their low-rated series.

  

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TCA Tour, Day 1: “Lopez Tonight”

I like George Lopez. I didn’t much care for his sitcom, “The George Lopez Show,” but after watching the PBS documentary, “Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream,” I realized just how funny the guy was. I mean, when he talked about his battling with ABC over his attempts to portray a typical Latino-American family on television (“They said, ‘There’s nothing here that indicates that a Mexican family lives here. There’s not a tortilla maker.’ I said, ‘My tortilla maker was my grandmother!’”), it made me laugh harder than I ever did at an episode of his actual sitcom. As such, the idea of seeing Lopez in a situation where he’s able to be himself rather than a scripted character is one that intrigues me, and after seeing the way he handled himself in front of an audience of jaded TV critics, I have no doubt that his wit is quick enough to serve him as the host of his very own TBS talk show, “Lopez Tonight.”

Of the clips which were offered up of the show, the best was unquestionably the one that featured a filmed conversation between Lopez and President Obama.

And, yes, it’s real.

“I supported Barack Obama during his campaign,” said Lopez. “He spoke to me, and he said that he needed the Latino vote, never thinking that, in the Presidential candidate, those 38 votes would mean the difference between a Democratic president and a Republican president. He called me three weeks ago, and we had a very lovely conversation, a little bit about the kids and a lot about Iran. He is a great guy, and I can consider the 44th President of the United States a close friend of mine. Thank you. And I grew up poor.”

So does that mean that we can expect to see the President turn up on “Lopez Tonight” as a guest?

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