TV critics press tour, from A to Z

2011-08-14T00:10:00Z 2011-10-06T15:31:32Z TV critics press tour, from A to ZBY GAIL PENNINGTON — Post-Dispatch Television Critic >

Twelve days. Twenty-three networks. More than 100 Q&A sessions. And a whole alphabet full of quips and quotes left over from the just-ended Television Critics Association summer press tour in LA. Enjoy.

A is for Anderson Cooper, who launches a daytime talk show Sept. 12 and says he has "a weird variety of interests, from serious social issues to ridiculous pop culture shows, which I have encyclopedic knowledge of, for some reason."

B is for Beavis and Butt-head, who will return to MTV with new episodes in October. A lot has changed since Mike Judge created the slacker duo in 1993 but, in the interim, Judge says, "They still have not scored."

C is for Carla Hall and "The Chew," a food-centric daytime show coming to ABC Sept. 26. Hall towers over me, and when she's in 5-inch platform heels, we're a walking sight gag. Also on the show: Clinton Kelly, who says he's not done with "What Not To Wear" — "no, no, are you kidding?"

D is for Deputy Butterbean, aka Eric Esch, a former superheavyweight fighter turned Alabama sheriff's deputy for an Investigation Discovery series called "Big Law." Eric "prefers that you call him 'Butterbean' or 'Bean,' and I'd go with that advice," ID boss Henry Schleiff warns.

E is for Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash, featured in the PBS (and theatrical) documentary "Being Elmo." "Elmo loves me," I told someone after having my picture taken with the two, only to be reminded, "Elmo loves everybody."

F is for "Friends," two of whom have found work on Showtime: Lisa Kudrow in "Web Therapy" and Matt LeBlanc in "Episodes." With Courteney Cox dropping in on "Web Therapy," you have to wonder when Showtime will create a series for David Schwimmer.

G is for Grimm brothers, the 19th century German fairy tale auteurs whose work inspires both NBC's "Grimm" and ABC's "Once Upon a Time." Yes, two fairy-tale shows, on different networks. Coincidence, we're assured.

H is for Hart Hanson, creator of "Bones" and its spinoff, "The Finder." Asked why "Bones" fans are so passionate, Hanson said, "Have you seen David Boreanaz?"

I is for International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, my home away from home for almost two weeks. When TV critics aren't lowering the tone of the room, the Golden Globe Awards are held here.

J is for Jesus, who won't be a character on "Dexter" this season even though Showtime boss David Nevins says our serial-killing criminologist will confront "questions of spirituality," asking "what do I believe (and) what do I want to pass on to my son?"

K is for Ken Burns, whose new PBS documentary is "Prohibition." While alcohol was illegal, "Anheuser Busch produced products that permitted people to almost instantaneously transform them into beer," Burns says, "and Augustus Busch said he was the largest bootlegger in the country."

L is for chef Ludo Lefebvre, who hosted a "Ludo Bites" pop-up restaurant for the Sundance Channel. The food was delicious, but anyone hoping to interview Ludo was disappointed, as he spent the evening in the kitchen, cooking.

M is for Matt Smith, the newest (and youngest) "Doctor Who," who dressed for a BBC America party in a long, dark coat that would have been right at home on another BBC hero, Capt. Jack Harkness of "Torchwood." The coat came in handy when Smith stood too close to the pool and a synchronized-swimming performance broke out.

N is for Nick Offerman, the impressively mustached star of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and host of this year's Television Critics Association Awards. Offerman's wife, actress Megan Mullally, says she's never known him without a mustache; they met, doing a play, in which he had the mustache — and a shaved head.

O is, of course, for Oprah Winfrey, who sent a videotaped message of thanks for her TCA Career Achievement Award. In January, when she introduced the OWN network, Winfrey answered one question for almost 19 minutes. Clearly, she'd heard the jokes about that, and held to a promise to keep her acceptance much briefer.

P is for "Paul Girl" — I was one then, and I am one now. McCartney was impossibly charming even by satellite from Cincinnati for Showtime's "The Love You Make" special, which will reflect on McCartney's role in "The Concert for New York" after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Q is for Q score, which measures a performer's popularity. Pauley Perrette of "NCIS" is the new leader on the scale, CBS research guru David Poltrack said — but he didn't tell Perrette, who learned it from critics at a CBS party.

R is for Rosie O'Donnell, who was asked whether "The Rosie Show," her new talk show on OWN, would include product placement. Only if she truly believes in the product, O'Donnell said, launching a passionate pitch for a women's razor.

S is for Steinem, Gloria, the feminist leader profiled in the HBO documentary "Gloria: In Her Own Words." "Did you break down those barriers so young women today can dress like hookers?" a questioner wondered. No, "This generation of young women is actually much more feminist than we ever were," Steinem responded.

T is for Tolan, Peter, the "Rescue Me" co-creator who dropped his pants — revealing turquoise striped briefs — to wake up a session with tired critics. Star and co-creator Denis Leary said he'd drop his pants, too, "but I'm not wearing underwear."

U is for "Unforgettable," the CBS drama on which Marilu Henner — one of the few people in the world found to have super autobiographical memory — is a consultant. She'll also be featured in a guest arc, but at a CBS party, she wasn't accepting memory questions. "I've turned that off," she said.

V is for "Vietnam in HD," courtesy of the History Channel and promising "thousands of hours of uncensored footage that will immerse viewers into the terror of battle." Uh — yay?

W could be for weed — "Weed Wars" on Discovery, about the big business of medical marijuana, and "Weeds," in its seventh season on Showtime. But W is also for Whitney Cummings, this season's comedy "it" girl, starring in "Whitney" on ABC and credited as a consultant on CBS' "2 Broke Girls."

X is for "The X Factor," Fox's big singing competition that will be really, really different from "American Idol" and "The Voice" — or so Simon Cowell assures us.

Y is for Yvette Nicole Brown, Shirley on "Community," who allowed me to persuade her to sample foie gras wrapped in cotton candy at an NBC party featuring eccentric cuisine.

Z is for Zooey Deschanel, the adorable star of Fox's "The New Girl." Deschanel's panel inspired so many tweets using the word "adorable" that nobody would have been surprised if a cartoon bluebird had flown in and landed on her shoulder.

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Gail Pennington

Gail Pennington

Post-Dispatch television critic Gail Pennington watches bad TV so you don't have to. Visit Tube Talk for news, schmooze and occasional rants about everything television.

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