The Light from the TV Shows: Live from the Summer 2012 TCA Press Tour

Yep, that’s right: much as I’ve done every summer since 2007, I’m coming to you straight from the Television Critics Association press tour. Unlike previous years, however, I’ve got my daughter with me this time around, since her birthday fell smack dab in the middle of the trip. As you can imagine, this is keeping me pretty busy, but I wanted to bring you at least a little bit of the TCA experience while I’m out there…and, rest assured, next week’s column will provide much of the same, since I’ll still be here then.

At this point, we’ve had panels for PBS, Fox, NBC, NBC’s subsidiary networks (Oxygen, E!, etc.), and a few locations on the web (Yahoo!, YouTube). I’m not in a position to go into great detail about everything I’ve seen and heard – I’ve got a little girls birthday to celebrate, after all – but you can find some key moments via my Twitter feed. I’ve had a few enjoyable close encounters here and there, talking to Sir Kenneth Branagh (PBS’s “Wallander”), William Forsythe and Zeljko Ivanek (Fox’s “Mob Doctor”), and Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito (NBC’s “Revolution”), and I’m looking forward to chatting with Lily Tomlin on ABC’s day and Kyle MacLachlan when CBS’s panels roll around. For the time being, however, I’ve pulled together some of the highlights from Fox’s panels. Hope you enjoy!

Nigel Lythgoe on why there’s never been a proper “So You Think You Can Dance” best-of DVD: “We’ve looked at doing it. It’s the music clearance is just really difficult, as well you know, in this country. There are no blanket agreements like there are in Europe. You can’t just use anything that’s been out there. If you want to use an Eagles track, you have to ask the publisher, the writer, every single Eagle. It just, at the end of the day, doesn’t make money because you’re laying so much money out on that early stage.”

Mindy Kaling on headlining her own show, “The Mindy Project”: “It’s awesome. Even more (than I imagined it would be). I mean, like, every day I wake up and I’m, like, ‘Oh, I’m the star of my own show that has my name in it and I get to write it and hire people, actors that I’ve loved for such a long time.’ It’s amazing. I’m going to turn into a monster. Like, I can’t handle it.”

Zach Gilford on his lack of job security on “The Mob Doctor”: “I think on a show like this, if someone wants to get back at (Jordana Spiro’s character), they could take out one of us. So you’ve got to not be an asshole on set and say the lines just right, because we’re all expendable.”

J.J. Abrams delivers a special recorded message to attendees of the “Fringe” panel: “I wish I could be there in person to thank each and every one of you personally for your unbelievable support of the series. ‘Fringe’ is a show that I’m enormously proud to be associated with. The work that the cast and crew have done I think has been amazing, but your support is really the thing that has kept it alive. Fox has been unbelievable, going far beyond any expectations allowing the show to be on the air, and while it’s something we’re all proud of, it’s a very rare thing, I think, in this day and age that a network will support a show that isn’t a massive hit, and ‘Fringe’ has always been true to its name, a little bit more of an outside the box series. The good thing about that for us is we can have these parties, for mixers, with every single viewer in attendance.”

Zingers from the ever-quotable Simon Cowell:

Q: Can I ask Britney (Spears) and Demi (Lovato) what other reality shows, competition shows have they watched and enjoyed?
Simon: Don’t mention “The Voice.”

Demi: (Britney) is a sweetheart who is very honest.
Simon: As sweet as a lemon.

Q: I was talking to an “American Idol” finalist the other day, and she seems to think that maybe these shows now like “The X Factor” and “Idol” are more about the judges and their drama and whether they’re going to leave or stay or what they’re saying, and that’s more important than the singers. Could you talk to that?
Simon: When I’m doing my negotiations, yes. Always. Once it’s signed, then we go back to the contestants. Who was it (you were talking to), by the way?
Q: Didi Benami.
Simon: Who?
Q: Didi Benami.
Simon: I haven’t got a clue who that is.
Q: Didi was in the Top 10 two years ago.
Demi: A finalist and not winner.
Simon: Okay. Must have been a while ago. And she’s not bitter at all

And a few from the equally-quotable Gordon Ramsey as well:

Q: Gordon, aside from cleanliness, what else are you finding that’s wrong with these hotels (on “Hotel Hell”)?
Gordon: Aside from cleanliness, what would I say? If any of you are single and are dating and are going away for a wonderful weekend like any couple would do, you get there and they suggest they’re going to upgrade you to the honeymoon suite, don’t take it.
Q: Explain.
Gordon: Just I’m trying to be serious, because it is somewhat…not just shocking. And, personally, I didn’t think it could shoot that far. Um…you haven’t let me finish my sentence. I’m talking about if you shake a can of Coke and open it…

Q: From the times you’ve been to this hotel (The Beverly Hilton), what would your rating here be?
Gordon: You’re trying to get me into shit. Behave yourself. Come on. I’m not here to rate hotels here. In this hotel here?
Q: Yeah.
Gordon: Come on. What a shit question. I mean, as if I’m…
Q: Cowardly answer.
Gordon: I am being honest. I think the staff are amazing. I’ve never stayed here, so I wouldn’t like to criticize it. But I think the bigger the hotels, the less personal they become, for obvious reasons. And I always like to stay in the sort of small, tailor-made boutique hotels. So next time if I do stay here, then I’ll give you feedback, trust me.


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