PASADENA — Continuing our culinary tour of winter TCA, critics were slightly put off by having to wait until 1:30 to lunch. Ah, but Lifetime actually was a lifeline yesterday, as it wisely arranged for substantive snacks to be placed on the back tables just prior to its noontime panels. And the victuals included several sensible choices, including fresh vegetables and dip, some fine cheeses and pita chips.

[While the snacks were healthy choices, it was definitely quality over quantity, and several writers missed the nourishment, perhaps explaining the growling that took place during Starz’ lunch panel, where critics’ complaints led Alexandra Wentworth to go out of character as the psychiatrist she will play in Starz’ first series Head Case, and instead answer questions as herself. Of course, it could also be that the critics have deep-seated problems with psychoanalysis, which is certainly food for thought.]

Of course, from a male critic’s point of view, there was more good news from Lifetime. The network no longer sees all men as the devil incarnate; at least it won’t portray them as such in its originals. The network’s broadening its reach a bit as research shows women like to watch TV with their husbands and boyfriends, entertainment president Susanne Daniels said.

TCA’s male species could not complain about the bevy of Hollywood beauties gracing Lifetime’s panels, led by the ageless wonder Heather Locklear and including gorgeous ladies like Catherine Bell, Kim Delaney, Ashley Williams, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh and Wendy Davis.

ESPN officials quickly scotched the idea that the sports net’s new scripted series about the 1977 NY Yankees, The Bronx is Burning (July premiere), will include the F-word.

A clip shown to critics Thursday contained several utterances of the word, used as an adjective, not as a verb. That version of the film will not be seen on its networks, an ESPN official confirmed yesterday.

In its first film several years back, about college basketball coach Bobby Knight, Bristol skirted the language issue by simultaneously showing 2 versions of the film on its networks, one including Knight’s colorful vernacular, the other containing a lot of bleeps.

The Bronx is Burning will not be shown in two versions, the official said. The offending language will be edited out. Critics, being mature adults, saw the unedited version and handled it with the grace and class of the true professionals that they are; none made a protest.

Hit The Ball Long And Prosper: What could Mr. Spock and former Yankees manager Billy Martin have in common? In ESPN’s film about the Yankees (see above), actor John Turturro donned large, prosthetic ears to better resemble the former Yankees’ skipper, as Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me), the actor who plays Reggie Jackson in the film, told critics yesterday. 

Oh, poor Billy Martin. ESPN SVP Ron Semiao told critics that one of the film’s advisors, former Yankees PR hand Marty Appel, related to him that just prior to Martin’s being announced as the Yankees’ manager (for the first time), Appel told Joe DiMaggio about the coming announcement as the two walked to the field for an Old Timer’s Day. Joe D’s cynical response upon hearing of the Martin hiring? “Good luck with that.”

Cutting through the clutter led several programmers to the bathroom. Earlier in the week GAC put decals touting its Song of the Year show on critics’ bathroom mirrors. The connection wasn’t obvious. Our guess—people like to sing in the shower.

The illustrated toilet tissue, screener and tag affixed to critics’ toilets by fuse were much more direct; they touted comedy series The Whitest Kids You Know, which the tag said will be "a new comedy movement that will drop” at TCA, Friday January 12. Additionally, the show’s pilot that we saw last evening contains plenty of bathroom humor.

Props to a pair of fine breakfasts. Style’s morning meal Thursday featured freshly made waffles with the Style network logo on them. TV Guide Channel planned to greet critics Friday at breakfast with Joan & Melissa Rivers, red carpets, huge Academy Award statues and assorted other decorations, promoting its extensive coverage of awards shows. 

CableWorld Editor Seth Arenstein is covering the Television Critics Association January press tour (or TCA, as both the association and its semi-annual preview of upcoming broadcast and cable network TV shows is called) that kicked off Jan. 9th in Pasadena for CableFAX Daily, CableWorld Magazine and

Earlier posts:

• At TCA, BBC America Shows It Knows Forest from Trees

• Ya Gotta Love TCA When…

• At TCA, The Food Network Rules

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