The first half of the second day of the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour belonged solely to the Turner networks, who had been notably MIA from the summer tour. Although there were unconfirmed reports that they were not entirely thrilled with the dates that had been set for that tour, as most of their summer programming had already premiered by the time the tour kicked off, but during the opening remarks, we were assured that “we ask for time on the critics tour schedule when we can make it worth your while.” Fair enough, then.
After an “Adventure Time”-themed breakfast from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim brought on a plethora of panelists for “Childrens Hospital” (everyone in the above photo was in attendance, plus executive producers Jonathan Stern and David Wain), TNT followed with “Franklin & Bash,” “Falling Skies,” and “Men of a Certain Age,” then HLN and CNN wrapped things up by getting real and presenting the new talk shows from Dr. Drew Pinsky and Piers Morgan, respectively. Given that I ended up pulling one-on-one interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Garcelle Beauvais, Ray Romano (and Jon Manfrellotti), Scott Bakula, and Henry Winkler, I am hard pressed to have an unkind word to say about the Turner experience…except, that is, the fact that I diligently and politely contacted publicists for both networks and studios in an effort to nail down interviews in advance but was still ultimately left to fly by the seat of my pants and spend the morning in catch-as-catch-can mode.
Our working lunch was brought to us by the unlikely tag-team of BET (“The Game,” “Let’s Stay Together”) and Playboy TV (“Brooklyn Kinda Love,” “Swing”), and from there it was on to the Discovery family of networks: Animal Planet (“Taking on Tyson,” a look into Mike Tyson’s love of pigeons…yes, seriously), Science Channel (“An Idiot Abroad,” with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and title character Karl Pilkington), Investigation Discovery (“The Injustice Files”), and the mothership, the Discovery Channel (“Gold Rush – Alaska” and “Kidnap & Rescue”).
By then, the excitement / cynicism in the room was palpable: it was time for the OWN Network presentations. We’d been promised a welcome from Oprah, but we didn’t get one. Instead, we got an introduction from network CEO Christina Norman. She’s a very nice lady, but it wasn’t quite the same, and she admitted as much when she came onstage after a lengthy series of clips featuring Ms. Winfrey, saying, “I know: after all that Oprah, I am a massive disappointment to all of you.” Her Majesty did indeed deign to participate in a Q&A with us, but not until after we sat through panels for “Your OWN Show” (10 finalists compete to get their own series on the network), “The Gayle King Show,” and “Our America with Lisa Ling.” After Oprah held court, using what my esteemed colleague Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun referred to as the George W. Bush Technique, which involved offering incredibly lengthy answers in order to minimize the number of questions actually asked.
After the Q&A came to a close (and you can believe that it only ended when Oprah wanted it to end), we were all invited to attend the evening event which, although it was ostensibly brought to us by the OWN Network, nonetheless featured attendees from shows throughout the Discovery family of networks. This resulted in my having close encounters with Mike Tyson, author James Ellroy, and…well, I didn’t actually get to talk to Oprah, but I did stand very close to her (along with Carson Kressley and Nancy O’Dell, hosts of “Your OWN Show”) and breathe the same air as Oprah, so my understanding is that I will now never get cancer…which is nice, of course, but, damn, I really could’ve used a new car.
I know, you wish I’d gotten a new car, too. Don’t be sad, though, as I’m already sad enough for both of us. Besides, I’d much rather you read my selections for the top 10 quotes of Day 2 and leave me wallowing in my own car-less misery. No, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine…just as long as you don’t forget to come back for my coverage of Day 3.
1. “The one note we did get (for ‘Children’s Hospital’), it was from Warner Brothers…I hesitate to even tell you this, but when we turned in our first script for the web series, Warner Brothers called us up and said, ‘Um, do you think you could cut the shot where we actually see the Twin Towers burning?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, do you know what? That’s a great note.’” – Rob Corddry, “Children’s Hospital” (Adult Swim)
2. “I actually improvise all my own parts. I don’t know why they hire writers. I enjoy ad-libbing greatly, because I…basically, I can’t remember what the hell I’m doing. What’s the show called?” – Malcolm McDowell, “Franklin & Bash” (TNT)
3. “My wife is saying, every time she sees me doing a kissing scene, she says, ‘This is
bullshit. We have enough money.’” – Ray Romano, “Men of a Certain Age” (TNT)
3.5. “My wife says, ‘Keep kissing.’” – Scott Bakula, “Men of a Certain Age” (TNT)
4. “I have been talking to teens continuously for 30 years and so, but for the grace of God, I understand what they’re saying. I understand their culture. I’m part of their cultural landscape. I’m going to welcome them over to HLN. I would be delighted if they followed me over there. I’m going to hope they do, but no, I don’t have trouble (talking to them). If I had not been speaking to them continuously and I was still listening to Deep Purple and The Doobie Brothers like I would had it not been for the fact that I know personally Slightly Stoopid and bands like that now because I have been in their culture for so long, I would have no idea what the hell they were talking about. But I do understand it quite vividly now.” – Dr. Drew Pinsky, “The Dr. Drew Show” (HLN)
5. “I don’t really care if (Madonna) knows who I am. I’ve got a vague idea that she knows who I am. She’s kind of been an irritant in my life for 20 years, so I had to ban her from the show. It’s probably quite childish, but it made me feel better. A bended-knee apology on CNN might swing it. Other than that, it’s a lifetime ban. Lady Gaga is half her age, twice as good looking, twice as talented, and twice as hot. I mean, why would I bother with Madonna, seriously?” – Piers Morgan, “Piers Morgan Tonight” (CNN)
6. “We decided because each episode (of ‘Swingers’) is about a different couple, so there really wasn’t sort of a through-line. I suppose we could have flown them in, but they’re probably busy having sex with people. So we really couldn’t get them on a plane. Ann and I, we were like Dian Fossey living amongst the swingers.” – Wendy Miller, “Swingers” (Playboy TV)
7. “My opinion don’t mean nothing. I’m here to talk about pigeons and stuff. Anything other than that, I’m a schmuck.” – Mike Tyson, “Taking on Tyson” (Animal Planet)
8. “I think when people watch (‘An Idiot Abroad’), they will realize that I am not a diff. They’ll see themselves in me, I think. Most normal people who, you know, travelers who go to foreign places, it is a shock to the system. And I think they will see themselves in me. But it does get on my nerves with – you know, they’re always annoying me. And I know always sort of people say, oh, it must be great being mates with Ricky (Gervais), but it isn’t. I will tell you what it is like. It’s like when you get a dog, and it seems like a good idea at the time. You go, it will be great to have a dog around the house, and then you realize it’s a pain in the ass, and it’s shitting everywhere, but everyone is going, ‘Oh, what a cute dog.’ The people who come around love that dog, but they don’t know what it’s like, the ins and outs of having that dog. And that’s what it’s like having him as a mate.” – Karl Pilkington, “An Idiot Abroad” (Science Channel)
9. “If Oprah would have asked me to ride a unicycle naked and backwards at night, I would have asked her, ‘Where do I sign up?’ It’s Oprah.” – Mark Burnett, Your OWN Show (OWN)
10. “With a lot of (‘Children’s Hospital’), it’s so ridiculous that it would be silly to be offended by it. I feel like, if you are offended by that, you are not watching TV properly, like, you don’t understand how to sit there and watch television, I think.” – Rob Huebel, “Children’s Hospital” (Adult Swim)