Tag: Science Channel

Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2011 Winter Press Tour Wrap-Up: Kneel Before Oprah!

The TCA Winter Press Tour is an event which never quite seems to live up to the TCA Summer Press Tour…but, then, that stands to reason, as the mid-season series rarely match the ones which hit the airwaves in the fall, right? Still, the experience never fails to be one which I enjoy, mostly because you never know what’s going to be around the corner, and Day 1 really set the stage for that: during the course of 12 hours, I interviewed Betty White, Henry Rollins, and Bruce Jenner, and, thanks to National Geographic, I wore a giant snake around my neck. Not a bad way to begin things…

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Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 2

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)

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TCA Tour, Day 3: “Head Games”

I walked into the panel for the Science Channel’s new game show, “Head Games,” with considerable excitement. In earlier drafts of the schedule for the TCA Press Tour, we’d been told that the show’s executive producer, Whoopi Goldberg, would not be in attendance, but somewhere along the line, plans changed and Goldberg apparently decided that she would be able to make it to Pasadena. I’m still very much the kind of critic who gets excited about big names being in attendance for the tour, and although Whoopi might not have been the most famous Comic Relief host to turn up that day (a few hours later, Robin Williams had a panel for his upcoming HBO stand-up special), c’mon, she’s still Whoopi! Plus, the host of “Head Games” is Greg Proops, and I’ve been a fan of his since his days as a regular on the original British version of “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

So why, then, did I walk away disappointed?

Because, frankly, Whoopi was a grouch.

Believe me, I’m still very excited about the series itself, and it’s impossible not to get behind Whoopi’s personal mission to inspire more people, especially women and girls, to share her love of learning, but did she really have to start out by insulting us?

“I’m sure most of you had no idea that if you put a gummi bear in a test tube, what would happen to it,” she said. “I’m pretty sure none of you knew that a flea can jump with a velocity higher, faster than a shuttle. Now, you can sit there and be cool because I know you’re all from L.A., but you didn’t know this, and you know you didn’t.”

Well, I’m not from L.A., so maybe that’s why I did know the thing about the flea. But when someone tried to remind her that quite a lot of people in the room weren’t actually from L.A., she replied, “Wherever you’re from, you were not into this, but I want you to be into this now.” Why all the insistence that we’re not into science? Is it really so hard to believe that TV critics might actually have interests outside of television?

What really got me, though, was her rather snippy response to a question that was clearly intended to be funny. Someone asked her which member of the “View” team could most do with a lesson in science from “Head Games,” and she replied, “I am not here…you know what? I know that’s supposed to be a provocative question, but I’m here to talk about my science show, which is separate from ‘Whoopi Goldberg, producer.'” A beat. “Also, Academy Award winner, Grammy winner…”

I guess you have to give her some credit: it’s not easy to make a joke within seconds of seeming to have no sense of humor.

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