TCA: Keith Olbermann Says Comparing ESPN To Current TV Like Comparing “Color TV To Radio”

By | Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 2:59pm PDT

One week after ESPN announced it had signed Keith Olbermann to host a weekday late-night show on ESPN2, the guy who’d been savaging the place since it showed him the door nearly two decades back came to the Summer TCA Press Tour and said the reunion was practically inevitable and it had been a great place to work. “The reality is that whatever I have thought of ESPN when I worked there — and I thought I had a pretty good perspective about the place — I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he told TV critics and reporters in the room. “The places I went afterwards made ESPN look like a Let’s Applaud Keith session for five years.” Back in 2007 — a decade after he left ESPN — he told Dave Letterman, “ I don’t burn bridges, I burn rivers. You burn a bridge, you can possibly build a new bridge. When there’s no river anymore, that’s a lot of trouble.” On Wednesday, however, he said if you burn a bridge, “take the tunnel.”

One of those Worse Than ESPN places at which he labored — Current TV — was so bad, comparing ESPN to it was like comparing “color TV to radio.”

He had a million of ‘em. The critics lapped it up.

Related: Olbermann Vows No Politics When ESPN2 Show Debuts in August

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TCA: ‘Suburgatory’ Creator Drew Inspiration From ABC’s ‘Housewives’, Own Experience

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

At today’s final TCA panel on the ABC single-camera comedy Suburgatory — the story of a bright urban teenager (Jane Levy) whose single Dad (Jeremy Sisto) moves her to the “white-picket-fence nightmare” of the suburbs — show creator and executive producer Emily Kapnek said she was not influenced by the ABC family hit Pretty Little Liars in creating the fictional wealthy suburb these characters inhabit. Rather, Kapnek said, she was more inspired by the tone of ABC’s long-running life-in-the-suburbs hit Desperate Housewives, now entering its eighth and final season. She called Suburgatory “more satirical’” than Pretty Little Liars, with its suburbia featuring a “horror, zombieland quality” similar to what she sees in Housewives. Kapnek said the town is a healthy split between a realistic, contemporary atmosphere and a “stylized, evergreen suburbia.” But Kapnek’s biggest inspiration for the show was reality: her own experience moving from an urban environment with a single parent into a suburb “where families didn’t look like ours and we didn’t’ have as much as they did … there was an economic divide, there were expensive bat mitzvahs … [the difference was] all of the fortune the kids had, and the families were incredibly intact.” Read More »

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TCA: Tim Allen Talks Return To TV In ‘Last Man Standing’, Pokes Fun At ABC & Fox

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Tim Allen was talking trash and slinging jokes at today’s TCA panel on the new sitcom from Jack Burditt (30 Rock) Last Man Standing. The show marks Allen’s return to ABC after his hit show about a manly man, Home Improvement (1991-99).

A lot has changed since then. “I believe that at HI we were doing a 28 share, sometimes into a 30 share, with 30 million viewers,” Allen recalled. “We could tell the president what to do at that time.” It’s a “tighter leadership” now at ABC, he added. “I don’t want to say cheaper but I just did. Sometimes leaner is better. In this case, it’s not. We drink water out of a hose. There are no water bottles at ABC.”

After Home Improvement, Allen cracked that he had received “thousands, hundreds, no, millions of offers” for new series. “Every day it was an offer. I had an ‘offer office.’ ” He said that he would have liked to do a legal drama: “I like Castle, but that was already done,” he said. He said he had an offer for a legal series but added “I’m not going to tell you, it’s too embarrassing. It’s on the air now, and they cast a woman in the part,” a hint pointing to Harry’s Law ,whose lead was originally conceived as a man. Other Last Man cast members joked that the series was actually ABC’s reboot of Charlie’s Angels. “Yes, I was the middle one. I’m very attractive in a halter,” Allen joked. Asked why all men on TV these days seem to be “douche bags,” Allen replied: “That was the working title for this show actually … but Fox got it … they have a lot of douche bags, actually.”

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TCA: ‘Man Up!’ Is Just One Of The Guys

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Because they are introducing a show about men into the traditionally female-skewing ABC primetime lineup, the producers and performers of Man Up! were called upon to spend much of their time addressing … Read More »

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TCA: ‘Once Upon A Time’ Creators Proud Of Being Part Of ‘Lost’ Generation

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

If viewers of the ABC fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time note certain unmistakable references to a certain iconic ABC show called Lost while watching the pilot, it won’t be much … Read More »

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TCA: Producers Say ‘The Lying Game’ Isn’t ‘Ringer’s Twin

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Near the beginning of today’s TCA panel on the ABC Family series The Lying Game, executive producers Charles Pratt Jr and Gina Girolamo were asked about the obvious similarities between this … Read More »

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TCA: ABC Daytime’s Brian Frons Says Outcry Over Canceled Soaps “Proves We Did A Good Job These Last 40 Years”

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

The not-altogether-surprising intense protest sparked by ABC’s announced axing of its long-running soaps All My Children and One Life to Live demonstrated to ABC Daytime president Brian Frons that “we actually did a good job (promoting and nurturing them) for all of these last 40 years,” he told Deadline privately during a TCA lunch designed to promote one of the soaps’ daytime successors, the food show The Chew. “I think we’ve spent 40-plus years trying to keep the soap-opera audience happy. So in an odd way, (the outcry) is actually good. It’s just sad that we don’t have a solution.” However, a deal with producer Prospect Park has been cemented to relaunch both soaps during first-quarter 2012, and there’s been talk of enlisting a second production partner in cable television as well. But that remains uncertain.

Frons said that after the Prospect Park deal fell into place, All My Children‘s producers were forced to scramble to make the series ending more open-ended rather than final, since the series would now be continuing on after all. (All My Children is scheduled to leave ABC on Sept. 23; One Life to Live in January.) He added that the cancellations became necessary due to diminishing returns at the network. “We were at that point where we had to sit and look at what we were doing, and see if there were different opportunities for us in terms of serving a bigger audience. We looked at what was happening on cable — in the food space, the lifestyle space, the talk space, the reality space — and we just saw a very large audience and an opportunity.” Read More »

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TCA: ABC’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’ To Be “More Grounded, More Real” Than Predecessors

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

At this summer’s TCA, across the networks, there has been more than one panel including earnest, beautiful young women, mostly clad in teeny-tiny skirts and architecturally challenging platform heels, talking about how retro shows about gaggles of “girls” answering primarily to male bosses are actually all about female empowerment. Network execs and show producers also seem to be repeating the girl-power mantra. The main cases in point: NBC’s set-in-the-’60s The Playboy Club, ABC’s new Pan Am and the remake of the 1976-81 series Charlie’s Angels, co-executive produced by Leonard Goldberg with Drew Barrymore (veteran of the Charlie’s Angels movies) and creators/executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar (both of Smallville). The show was unveiled at last month’s Comic-Con with the phrase: “These ain’t your mama’s angels.”

Following this morning’s Charlie’s Angels panel, I asked Millar the empowerment question: Really? He at first seemed to be addressing the issue by saying that initially, Gough’s and Miller’s wives didn’t want them to do the show. Why? Because the original angels were such role models to the producers’ spouses, Millar said reverently. “They didn’t believe we could do it [and maintain] the legacy of Charlie’s Angels.” Millar said during the panel that the idea of the new series was not to make “a cynical remake” of the original, nor to assume the same tone as the movies, about which Gough said: “[They were] superheroes for girls, post-Matrix … [the new show will] bring to the table more grounded, more real” characters with somewhat dark back stories. “You want to have something to come back to every week.” Describing the tone of the new show, Gough said: “If Jack Bauer and Carrie Bradshaw had a love child, it would be [the new] Charlie’s Angels.” Read More »

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TCA: Cross-Dressing Comedy ‘Work It’ Steals Spotlight At ABC’s Executive Session

Nellie Andreeva

At the end of ABC’s TCA executive panel, president Paul Lee admitted that he had asked a network PR executive beforehand, “Shall I go out in a dress?” That probably would’ve been appropriate given that ABC’s new cross-dressing comedy Work It, which has not even been scheduled yet, emerged as the main attraction at the Q&A session even somewhat overshadowing the official announcement of Desperate Housewives coming to an end. The first mention of the Bosom Buddies-esque multi-camera comedy starring Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco as out-of-work car salesmen who dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps came when Lee was asked to discuss the network’s new crop of comedies. When he got to Work It, the British-born Lee said, “I’m a Brit, it is in my contract that I have to do one cross-dressing show a year; I was brought up on Monty Python. What can I do?” Later on he was asked about a trend of many new shows featuring central characters who are orphans that harkens back to Victorian times and Charles Dickens. Admitting that he didn’t notice an orphan pattern in picking up series, Lee noted, “We don’t sit there and think, ‘Work It! That goes all the way back to Shakespeare!’ ” Read More »

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TCA: Thomas Schlamme Insists ‘Pan Am’ Is No ‘Mad Men’

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

The fact that ABC’s new drama Pan Am is set during the golden age of passenger air travel is set, like NBC’s Playboy Club, in the 1960s continues to bring charges that the networks are hellbent on capitalizing on the zeitgeist created by AMC’s Mad Men. But veteran producer-director Thomas Schlamme, a director and exec producer on Pan Am, told a roomful of critics this morning at TCA that Mad Men really has nothing to do with broadcast’s sudden fascination with ’60s culture and that it’s honestly coincidental. “I think television is just execution,” Schlamme said. “It’s not the time period it takes place in. … It really is just execution. So all I can say is (this show) really has nothing to do with Mad Men. It just has to do with the fact our show, we hope, will be executed in a wonderful way and have a sort of wish fulfillment that will bring us a large audience.”

Schlamme continued, “I think we’re all fans of Mad Men. But literally one has almost nothing to do with the other — as well as shows I’ve done in the past had nothing to do with other shows that may have been successful or not successful. It happens that it’s set in the ’60s. It’s a great time period. I hope there are shows that start to be set in the ’70s and ’80s and whenever else we can celebrate stories.” The Pan Am cast and producers also addressed several questions about the sexist and misogynistic aspects of the series as a mirror of the era, which manifest itself in the pilot with the stewardesses subjected to girdle checks and weigh-ins. “That’s a good reason to set a show in the ’60s,” Schlamme pointed out. “Was it misogynistic? Were women this, were women that? That’s great drama right there.” Read More »

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TCA: Paul Lee & Marc Cherry On Ending ‘Housewives’: It’s About Going Out Classy

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: ABC Will End ‘Desperate Housewives’ In May 2012 After 8th Season
This morning ABC officially announced what Deadline readers already knew: that this coming season will be the last for veteran Desperate Housewives, which, along with Lost, turned ABC’s fortunes around in the fall of 2004. “It is an iconic show; we are so proud of it,” ABC entertainment president Paul Lee said. “I just wanted to make sure that the show that put the network on the map had its victory lap and had a chance to build a great final arc.” Lee was then joined by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. “I think the only thing harder than creating a hit show is to know when to end it,” he said. “It’s something that has weighed on my mind for some time. I’m well aware of people who have overstayed their welcome, and I just didn’t want that to happen to us. I wanted to go out while the network still thought it was a viable series and while it still did well in the ratings; I wanted to go out in the classiest way possible.”

According to the network’s press release, the upcoming “Season Eight of Desperate Housewives will roll out in a way that is accessible even to viewers who may have lapsed in their viewing, and be all the richer and more rewarding to the series’ loyal fans.” Cherry elaborated that the “mystery of what’s going on in the final season harkens back to the first season,” to “the roots of the Mary Alice mystery,” which kicked off the series seven years ago. “It feels right that that would be the storyline that would take us out.” As a result, I hear that Brenda Strong, who narrates the series as Mary Alice but has only made a handful of appearances on the show, may get more screen time this season. Asked whether Nicollette Sheridan’s character Edie Britt will make a return, Cherry, who is being sued by the actress over her termination from the show, made a pause before responding, “I don’t know how I would do that, but I have an idea for the last episode where I want to pay homage to everyone who has been on the show.” Read More »

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TCA: Peter Tolan Drops Pants During Raucous ‘Rescue Me’ Farewell Panel

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

It was supposed to be a sober, nostalgic, reflective visit with Rescue Me writer-producer-star Denis Leary, showrunner Peter Tolan and castmates Steven Pasquale and Callie Thorne as the iconic FX firefighter hour wraps up seven seasons on Sept. 7, four days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. What it turned into Saturday morning at TCA was the most raucous and entertaining panel of the 12-day event to date, as Leary and Tolan put on a show for critics bleary-eyed from the nonstop coverage that finally wraps Monday.

Things started to get crazy about halfway through the 30-minute panel, when Leary observed with his usual manic energy, “You guys have spent, what, three fucking weeks here talking to TV people and now you’re fuckin’ bored.” Tolan then picked up the ball and added, “I’m going to take my pants off.” That led into a fresh rant from Leary, who railed: “By the way, USA (Network) is fuckin’ raiding Rescue Me. (Steven) Pasquale’s shooting a pilot (Over/Under) for them. Callie (Thorne) is starring in a show (Necessary Roughness) for ‘em. I’m writing a pilot for ‘em.” Tolan: “I’m doing very mild janitorial work. … And working for just a few weeks as (USA programming chief) Jeff Wachtel’s fluffer.”

Shortly thereafter, to help boost the excitement of the festivities, Tolan stood and pulled down his pants to reveal very oddly colored briefs. Much laughter and applause ensued. A critic then tried to ask a serious question: Does Leary fear that his role on Rescue Me is one he will now always be identified with, perhaps to his detriment? Tolan decided to intercept that one: “When you say that Denis will be remembered for this part, I think you’re forgetting Operation Dumbo Drop.” The room roared. Read More »

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Denis Leary & Peter Tolan To Co-Write Half-Hour Comedy For Leary To Star; Tolan Gripes About “The Insanity Of Pilot Season”

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

With their seriocomic firefighter drama Rescue Me ending its run on FX in September, series co-creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan are embarking on another series project together. “I guess I can say right now that Mr. Leary and I are tomorrow starting writing on our next show, a half-hour for him to star in,” Tolan told Deadline today after the TCA panel on the final season of Rescue Me. He described it as “strictly a comedy, like nothing we’ve done before. It’s not a traditional comedy, probably for cable. We’re doing it totally on spec and taking it out.” Before Rescue Me, Leary and Tolan co-created the underrated ABC cop comedy The Job, which also starred Leary. Tolan said that after 10 years of working together, first on The Job and then on Rescue Me, he figures that he and Leary “have some connection in our comic sensibilities.” Leary has another half-hour project in the works as a writer: He recently signed on to co-pen with Bob Fisher an adaptation of the upcoming British series Sirens for USA Network. Read More »

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TCA: ‘The League’ Producers Reveal “Plan B” For Season 3 If NFL Season Was Called Off

Nellie Andreeva

How did the producers of FX’s comedy The League spent their recent hiatus? Praying that there will be a football season as their show revolves around a fantasy football league and working on a contingency plan in case the NFL and the players didn’t come to deal. “Plan B revolved around the guys losing their minds,” co-creator Jeff Schaffer said during a TCA panel for the show today. “Poor Andre (Paul Scheer) would’ve put all of his heart and soul into Fantasy NBA,” a reference to another professional sport whose season is in jeopardy.  “The truth is … we prayed that there would be football, we desperately, desperately wanted there to be football, and we waited. And we waited and waited. FX was cool with us pushing our shooting date and the airdate so that we could make sure (there will be a football season).” With the labor dispute resolved just recently, the series is now so early in production on Season 3 that some of the footage in the promo reel shown was shot last night, Schaffer said. The uncertainty surrounding the NFL season over the past few months will be reflected on the show. “The lockout will be addressed front and center in the Oct. 6 season premiere — along with all of their opinions about it,” said co-creator Jackie Marcus Schaffer. The premiere also will feature Seth Rogen playing Rafi’s (Jason Mantzoukas) much-talked-about (but never seen) infamous friend Dirty Randy. Read More »

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TCA: ‘Sunny’ Creators On Breaking The Network Model, Longevity, ‘Office’ Influence

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

It was announced earlier today at TCA that FX’s comedy Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been renewed for two more seasons to become the longest-running live-action comedy on basic cable, with … Read More »

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TCA: Ryan Murphy Promises That ‘American Horror Story’ Will Answer Questions Quickly

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

During a panel for his new thriller drama series for FX, American Horror Story, Murphy confessed a dark family secret that may have led to his fascination with horror: “My grandmother would force me, even when I was sobbing and screaming, to watch Dark Shadows,” he said. “And then when I was bad, I had to watch The Waltons.”

Murphy and fellow American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuck said that the present cast and characters would not necessarily only be around for the first 13 episodes as has been speculated. And they assured their audience that many of the questions raised in the pilot episode would be answered fairly quickly in the second and third episodes. “(We have) a pilot that I believe has like eight cliffhangers,” Murphy said. “We had an obligation to the audience in the next two scripts to explain a lot of those things that are set up.” One of those things, he said, will be why the characters stay in the very scary 1920s California house — a phenomenon that has been spoofed a lot, why people in haunted houses in horror films and TV shows just don’t get the heck out of there. Murphy said that very important question would be answered in the third episode. As for questions about the recent controversy over the fate of some of the stars from his other series — Fox’s Glee — Murphy declined to answer those. “I’m not talking about Glee,” he said after the panel. “I’ve said everything I wanted to say about that” (See Emmy Q&A: Ryan Murphy About ‘Glee’ and ‘Glee’s Ryan Murphy Talks For First Time About Spinoff & Firings Missteps.) Read More »

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TCA: ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Creator Kurt Sutter Doesn’t Regret Emmy Snub Tweets

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA

Kurt Sutter, the sometimes volatile showrunner of the FX biker drama hit Sons of Anarchy, acknowledged this morning during TCA a panel that his angry tweets taking the TV Academy to task for shutting his show out of the Emmy nominations was “more about my bad relationship with my father than they are about the actual nominations.” Sutter had taken to Twitter on July 14 in the immediate wake of the noms announcement and wrote, among other things, “The worst part about not getting an Emmy nod — (wife) Katey (Sagal) promised me a threesome if she won. Now I have to settle for me, her and the shaved bunny.” And: “The worst part…is all the wasted blowjobs I gave at the Academy picnic. My breath still smells like sour ammonia.”

This morning, Sutter observed, “If any of you want to lay me down on a couch and get me to open up about that afterward, I gladly will.” Afterward, Sutter declined the couch part but elaborated, “To me it was a very sardonic response and it was done making fun of the whole process. My part in it is that I should have realized that because of my past comments about the Emmys, (whatever I tweeted) would be taken in light of that…Most of the Academy members are just slobs like me and work long hours. It’s not like they all get together and say, ‘Let’s not recognize Sons.’ I don’t think there’s any sort of agenda.” But Sutter concluded, “I don’t ultimately regret anything I say or do.” Read More »

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TCA: FX President John Landgraf Signs New 3-Year Contract

By | Saturday August 6, 2011 @ 9:04am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

FX president and general manager John Landgraf has renewed his contract with the basic cable network for three more years. Landgraf has been at FX for 7 1/2 years, joining the cable network after a stint as president of Jersey … Read More »

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TCA: ‘Glee’s Sue Sylvester Will NOT Host Emmys, ‘In Memoriam’ Won’t Be ‘Bummer’

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Jane Lynch said that executive producer Mark Burnett surprised her on the plane back to L.A. from the TV upfronts in New York earlier this year by asking her to save a place on her dance card to host the 2011 Emmys. Burnett, the reality kingpin behind Survivor and The Voice, told her he didn’t have the authority to actually offer her the job, but she said yes on the spot. Lynch, an Emmy winner herself for Glee, has already poked fun at her upcoming hosting role Sept. 18 with TV spots in which she admits to saying to producers upon being asked: “You know I’m not Ellen DeGeneres, don’t you?”

On today’s lively panel with Lynch, Burnett and John Shaffner, chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Lynch said she would be sitting in the writers’ room throughout the development of the awards telecast (her friend Jill Soloway will be among the writers group). Of live hosting duties, Lynch said she brings “the necessary energetic cocktail of excitement, anticipation and fear.” And both she and Burnett say that viewers will be seeing Jane Lynch, not a version of her Glee character, no-nonsense coach Sue Sylvester, which Lynch used in her emcee duties at the Fox upfronts the last 2 years. “A little Sue Sylvester goes a long way,” she said.  “We will probably leave her track suit on the Paramount lot.” She also said she hopes to avoid classic awards show disasters such as Rob Lowe’s Snow White number on the Academy Awards. For his part, first-time Emmy producer Burnett says he will use his reality TV experience to keep the show’s pacing clipping right along. “The most important thing, [because] the Emmys are three hours long, is pacing,” saying there would be a lot of comic bits to keep things moving along.” Read More »

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