Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 1

The death march with cocktails begins anew!

The Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour kicked off on January 5th with the MTV family of networks offering up panels from TV Land (“Retired at 35” and “Hot in Cleveland”), CMT (“Working Class”), Spike (“Coal”), and Comedy Central (“Onion SportsDome” and “Tosh.0”). From there, it was on to a working lunch, where we learned of the TV Guide Channel’s new reality series, “The Nail Files,” while indulging in a grilled chicken salad and, to ruin any possible health benefits, followed it with a cupcake. With our bellies full, we moved on to the National Geographic sessions: “Beast Hunter,” “Explorer,” “Alien Invasion” and “Area 51 Declassified,” and “WILD on Snakes.” Next, we got a look at two new TV One shows, “Love That Girl!” and “Way Black When,” took a gander of Peter Lik’s new series for The Weather Channel, and the whole thing wrapped up with ESPN’s presentations for “Year of the Quarterback” and the BCS title game.

No, wait, I forgot: after all of the panels had concluded, the Comcast networks threw us a cocktail party which was attended by folks from E!, G4, and Style series. By then, though, I was running on fumes, so all I really did was enjoy the food (petite filets, buttermilk mashed potatoes, turkey sliders, and deep-fried mac & cheese balls…mmmmmmm), throw back a few bourbons, listen to Chris Gore rant about how awful “Tron: Legacy” was, and talk to Bruce Jenner for 15 minutes about his acting work, including “Can’t Stop the Music.” Indeed, the only time “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” came up was when one of his daughters called to tell him that they’d won Favorite TV Guilty Pleasure at the People’s Choice Awards. (He applauded me for “going retro” with my questions.)

Also, somewhere in between all of those panels, I had a chance to ask Betty White a couple of questions, share an interview with Jane Leeves, and do one-on-ones with Wendie Malick, Henry Rollins, Phil Morris, and the anchors and executive producer of “Onion SportsDome.” Arguably my most impressive accomplishment, however, was talking to Jerry Rice, asking a question provided to me by David Medsker (and tightened up slightly by Anthony Stalter), and having him seemingly believe that I know something about sports when I absolutely do not.

I’ll be revisiting some of the individual panels on a case-by-case basis as time allows, but in the meantime, here are the top 10 quotes from Day 1 of the tour. Hope you enjoy them, and see you after Day 2!

1. “What is this Betty White business? This is silly. Really, it is very silly. You’ve had such an overdose of me lately. Trust me. I think I’m going to go away for a while. It’s hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no, they’ll never ask you again, and if you don’t take the job, you know, that may be the end of it, but my mother taught me to say no when I was a girl, but that wasn’t about show business. So the result is I’m trying to cut down. I really am.” – Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland” (TV Land)

2. “Betty White is in the building. Did you hear that? I hope I get to touch her. I just had cataracts, and I’m still adjusting, but what I see is looking pretty good.” – Ed Asner, “Working Class” (CMT)

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The Scream Awards go down the rabbit hole (updated)

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There was a time in this world when young people were frequently slightly ashamed of being bigger than average fans of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and especially comic books. I, personally, wasn’t embarrassed …and I paid a price. Those days may be over. In any case, the capacity crowd that showed up for Spike TV’s Scream awards, largely in costume and largely dramatically over- or under-dressed for a nighttime outdoor show after a very warm day, seemed more like club kids and less like the kind of uber geeks who become entertainment bloggers and film critics and stuff like that.

The Scream Awards are, in their fun/silly way, a big deal. Big enough to attract a good number of stars and even a few superstars like Tobey Maguire, Jessica Alba, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp and his living legend “Pirates of the Caribbean” muse, Rolling Stone Keith Richard.

I, however, am not such a big deal and was reminded of that fact when, prior to the show I found myself with the less fashionable members of the not-quite paparazzi on the “red carpet” (actually a checkered walkway) with my little digital camera and even smaller digital recorder device, wondering whether I’d really get a chance to ask a question of one of the super-famed folks, knowing that the only question I could think of at the time would be something in the nature of “What’s it like be the most notorious rock and roll star in the world, having your blood changed, and snorting your late father’s ashes?” That probably would have been inappropriate, especially if I asked it of Jessica Alba.

What actually seems to happen at events like this is that, if you’re a small-timer especially, most of the big stars either go through another entrance or walk right by you at warp speed. Meanwhile, folks who are a bit more anxious to meet the press find their way to you with the help of PR types. As an example, for about half a second, I was almost able to talk with actor Karl Urban, who did such a great job homaging DeForest Kelly while putting his own hilarious stamp on “Bones” McCoy in “Star Trek.” However, within a nanosecond he remembered he was in a big hurry and politely scurried off.

After a few odd reality show people I didn’t recognize, and the pretty young actress who assays the part of “Female Addict” in “Saw VI,” our first actual notable was statuesque model turned actress Tricia Helfer. Helfer is, make no mistake, a true superstar to TV sci-fi fans and is best known as Number Six, aka “the hot blonde cylon” on “Battlestar Galactica.” The actress appeared with her significant other, the owner of a British accent and a Giaus Baltar-style beard, but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence. I had a not terribly consequential discussion with her — lost because I apparently forgot to press the “on” button on my digital recorder. One would expect no less an effect from Number Six. UPDATE: Yeesh! As pointed out by my PH compatriot John Paulsen, the actress was actually Kate Vernon, who played the lady-MacBeth-like Ellen Tigh. It is true, all statueseque blonde women in shiny dresses look alike to me! My apologies to all concerned or unconcerned.

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Good wolf, bad wolf

Or rather there is good film effects werewolves  — and what looks to be good, old school filmmaking — and bad sfx lycanthropes. Both have been making the rounds today as chronicled by Christopher Campbell. First the very good computer-aided vision of “The Wolfman,” as shown off in the second trailer from the apparently fairly loose new Joe Johnston remake of the 1941 Universal monster classic and with old wolf hand Rick Baker masterminding the monster make-up work. The effects here have some real weight and detail to them and remind me of the great work of the WETA crew for the “Lord of the Rings” cycle. I’m not crazy about the Marilyn Manson music, but otherwise I’m more or less sold. I can be a baby about horror movies, but this look like my kind of monster flick. Strong on atmosphere and, if we’re a lucky, a bit of thought behind it as well as some first-rate actors in front of the camera.

And this clip I actually saw over the weekend at the Spike TV Scream awards, which I’ll discussing here next week. Let’s just say it didn’t make me feel that I’ve missed the boat on this whole “Twilight” business having skipped the first, hugely lucrative, film in the series.

Aside from the fact that these werewolves lack any sense of weight or heft or look about as menacing as Alaskan sled dogs, what’s with their human forms? I know it’s all about the romantic fantasies and preferences of contemporary teenage girls, but if you’re going to have perpetually shirtless lycanthropes running around — and it looks kind of cold wherever they are — a bit of token chest hair might be appropriate. They’re supposed to be a tribe of beast men, not a collective of pampered Tiger Beat pin-ups. Except, obviously, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be. Of well, it’s not like adolescent boys don’t get their proclivities catered to enough.

If you missed the first, also very good, trailer for “The Wolfman,” you may click here. And if monster soap is your thing — and, as a “Buffy” fan it’s not as if I’m innately opposed — here’s the trailer for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

  

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Jesse James is a Dead Man”

Here’s this tour’s first acknowledgment of my inherent un-hip-ness: I had no clue who Jesse James was until the panel for his new Spike series, “Jesse James is a Dead Man.” At first, I tried to convince myself that I was wrong, that maybe I still am hip and nobody else knows who he is, either, but when I heard that he’d also been added to the line-up of the sophomore season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” it became clear that I’m definitely uncool. And to think that my reputation could’ve been salvaged if only I’d watched “Monster Garage,” the Discovery Channel series which he hosted…

Just in case you, too, are oblivious to who Mr. James is, allow me offer up this photo:

What you can’t see from the photo, however, is just how much damage has been done to this man since beginning work on this series. According to Spike TV’s Kevin Kay, James will be facing a new challenge each week that could potentially kill him, which sounds like the kind of programming that makes insurance agents run screaming. “We’ve only shot half the season so far, (and) Jesse’s already broken two ribs, his elbow, and was literally on fire,” said Kay. “It makes you wonder what Jesse will
do for a season finale if in fact he makes it that far.”

“If there’s not some danger involved with something that I want to do, then it’s kind of not fun,” said James. “If it’s really easy and safe and seems like a great idea and sensible, then to me, that’s kind of boring. Life is only a one-lap race, so I want to do everything on that one lap just to see what it’s like.”

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