Cable coverage at The 2009 Summer Press Tour continued at the tail-end of the week, with Sundance Channel, WE tv and TV One represented on Friday. PBS stepped up to the plate on Saturday and Sunday. You might feel old when I tell you that PBS kids classic Sesame Street is turning 40-years-old on Nov. 10. Seems like only yesterday when some of us were watching it, doesn’t it? Saturday night featured The 25th Annual TCA Awards, which honors the best in TV as picked by the critics across the country. My personal favorite, Betty White, was cited for her amazing (and still very active) career. See next section for a listing of the winners.
To whet your appetite for the network portion of the tour, CBS is here today with an executive session with Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment, followed by panels (in chronological order) on new drama The Good Wife, Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show, new sitcom Accidentally on Purpose, syndicated talker The Doctors, relocated Medium and The 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which airs on Sunday, Sept. 20. Missing from the agenda are new dramas NCIS: Los Angeles, which cannot miss out of parent NCIS, and Three Rivers, which were both represented at the set visits last week. Out of picturesque The Amazing Race, depressing medical drama Three Rivers is my pick for the first cancellation of the season.
As always, I will give you the scoop on each new network show versus the reality (which is always fun to do), with my prediction on what is expected to work and what is most likely to flop based on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 the best and 1 the worst). Any questions should be directed to email@example.com.
Cable dominated the 2009 Television Critics Association Awards, with HBO snagging three of the 11 trophies (including nods to drama True Blood, made-for movie Grey Gardens and documentary The Alzheimer’s Project); AMC two (Mad Men for Outstanding Achievement in Drama and Bryan Cranston for Outstanding Achievement in Drama), and SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica for Program of the Year. CBS broke into the mix with two awards: The Big Bang Theory for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy and Jim Parsons for his memorable portrayal as Sheldon Cooper in the sitcom. Beloved Betty White was honored for a career spanning six decades, while NBC’s recently concluded ER (which should have ended about three years earlier) won The Heritage Award.
Winners of the 2009 TCA Awards, which is celebrating 25 years and were handed out at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena and hosted by E! host Chelsea Handler on Saturday, are as follows:
Program of the Year: Battlestar Galactica (Syfy)
Outstanding New Program: True Blood (HBO)
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Outstanding Achievement in Drama: Mad Men (AMC)
Outstanding Achievement in News & Information: The Alzheimer’s Project (HBO)
Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming: Yo Gabba Gabba (Nickelodeon)
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries & Specials: Grey Gardens (HBO)
Individual Achievement in Comedy: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory, CBS)
Individual Achievement in Drama: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, AMC)
Heritage Award: ER (NBC)
Career Achievement: Betty White
For my personal thoughts, listen to today's PIPodcast at www.marcberman.tv.
Comedian and Academy Award winner Robin Williams, who was at the Summer Press Tour last Thursday to hawk his first HBO solo special in seven years, Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction (which premieres on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. ET) was armed with the following comic zingers. Here is a sampling:
“Twitter etiquette, is it proper to Twitter during sex? No. “OMG. OMG.”
“The reason I’m going back to do standup again is I’ve run out of the merchandising money from “Bicentennial Man.”
“There’s a drug they give you after heart surgery called Warfarin. For those of you who don’t know it or not knowing what it does, its rat poison, which must have been kind of crazy. They went, “its rat poison, but here, try this. I’m sure it will help.”
“My son graduated with a degree in linguistics, which makes me think he is going to open up a poetry repair shop.”
“It is interesting to see the effect of Twittering and seeing people text messaging each other. They are sitting this far away from each other going, “Hi, I can’t really talk to you, but I can send you a text message.” “Hi.” “Hi, how are you?”
-WE Series and Season Premieres:
Mark your calendars for the following series and season premieres on female-driven WE:
Secret Lives of Women (season premiere): Tuesday, Aug. 18, 10 p.m. ET
The Locator (season premiere): Saturday, Sept. 12, 9 p.m. ET
Adoption Diaries (series premiere): Saturday, Sept. 12, 10 p.m. ET
Also coming up at we is Surrogate Stories, which premieres in 2010, and High School Confidential, which is currently shooting in a Chicago high school for season two.
-TV One Update:
TV One, which is designed to entertain, inform and inspire African American adults, featured a panel on Friday afternoon with reality personality Omarosa, who mentioned she makes about $100,000 per reality series; upcoming Brothers co-star Daryl “Chill” Mitchell; and Star Jones’ ex, Al Reynolds. The three will be participating in new series Life After, which explores the turning points in celebrities’ lives (and premieres on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. ET). “There is nothing to hide on reality TV,” squawked outspoken Omasora, who defended her participation in reality as being “part of the American story.” Al Reynolds, meanwhile, declared that “now is his chance to shine.”
Announcements made by TV One includes:
-A new reality series featuring former All of Us co-star LisaRaye, which will launch next spring.
-The debut of half-hour reality series Mario’s Green House, featuring actor Mario Van Peebles and his family as they undergo a major home eco-renovation. It premieres on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. ET.
-The fourth season-premiere of Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?, which opens on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET.
-The return of biography-driven Unsung, with four new episodes beginning on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET.
-A new weekly public affairs program hosted by political commentator Roland Martin called Washington Watch With Roland Martin.
-A partnership with Essence to produce two specials from the 2009 Essence Music Festival (TV One Night Only: Live from the Essence Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m., and All-Star Tribute to Bishop T.D. Jakes in October).
-A “Circle of Promise” collaboration with Susan G. Korman for the Cure and Luster Products centered on the African American Breast Cancer initiative. Included will be one-hour documentary Breast Cancer Examined: An African American Perspective, a public service campaign, microsite, hospital outreach and affiliate outreach.
Also on the TV One agenda, which is now available in approximately 47 million homes, are off-net repeats of sitcoms Good Times, The Jeffersons, Living Single, Martin and Sanford and Son; short-lived dramedy South Central; and movies like Hotel Rwanda, Waiting to Exhale and The Color Purple.
-Speaking of Omarosa:
Outspoken reality star Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth is so “big” she now goes by just one name. And the former Apprentice contestant, who claims to have appeared in over 20 reality series, kept no secrets about how much money she has earned at the TV One session on Life After.
“I was working in the White House, $56,000 a year, 18 hours days and I did not see my family,” she said. “I come out to LA and do a reality show for $100,000 and we shoot for 12 days. Why shouldn’t I do it? My first show with Mark Burnett I signed blindly, but follow-up The Surreal Life was $75,000 for eight or nine days shooting. Really, I love the government, but seriously reality TV is so much more economically satisfying.”
The “Reality Queen of Mean,” meanwhile, had a few people she wanted to make amends to.
“I would like to apologize for Janice Dickinson for calling her a crack head and saying that she was cuckoo. And saying she was the oldest supermodel and talking about her jowls and her bad plastic surgery. I might want to also apologize to Piers Morgan for saying that he was a British idiot. And maybe to Wendy Williams for calling her a man. I just felt like having a holistic moment.”
Too bad Omarosa chose not to address the TV audience suffering through her obnoxious antics. We are the ones she should really be apologizing to. When will her 15 minutes finally end?
The Saturday and Sunday portion of The Press Tour focused on PBS, including the upcoming 40th anniversary of kids classic Sesame Street on Nov. 10, 2009. That’s right…40 years! Highlights of the PBS sessions include:
-A new format for Sesame Street that will change from the traditional magazine format to an integrated block hosted by Murray the Muppet; a new CGI segment; and a nature and environment curriculum in the upcoming season.
-An Electric Company 2009 Tour, which begins on August 9, and travels to 20 cities nationwide to host an interactive show and pre and post-show activities.
-The National Parks: A 12-hour, six-part documentary series directed by Ken Burns that debuts Sept. 27 air airs through Oct. 2.
-Financial themed Your Life, Your Money, which delivers basic financial advice, premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 9 after Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times. Scrubs star Donald Faison stars.
-PBS Announces Three Documentaries:
PBS will premiere a trio of documentaries -- The Buddha, God in America and The Calling -- that will explore faith and the varieties of the religious expression in the country. Two-hour The Buddha, which relates the life of the famous Indian sage, premieres in spring 2010. Six-hour God in America, which tells the dramatic story of religious life in America, will air in fall 2010. And four-hour The Calling will follow eight individuals from different faiths on their journey into the clergy. It will air at some point in 2010.
-No Ratings Ace:
Okay, it is not really press tour related. But, NBC poker/competition Face the Ace debuted with a paltry 1.57 million viewers and a 0.4 rating/2 share among adults 18-49 in the Saturday 9 p.m. hour on Aug. 1. Comparably, that finished in the distant last-place spot in the time period, and retention in total viewers out of a repeat of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (Viewers: 2.26 million; A18-49: 0.4/ 2 at 8 p.m.) was 69 percent. It looks like Face the Ace might be facing the axe (or heading to NBC.com) sooner that it had hoped.