As promised, here’s our preview for the 2nd day of cable TCA in beautiful Pasadena.
Thursday – Jan. 6
After an “Adventure Time”-themed breakfast from Cartoon Network, Turner will pack the rest of the morning with some star-studded panels, including Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital” starring creator Rob Corddry of “The Daily Show” fame. It revolves around a self-involved group of doctors whose “dedication to their personal lives is relentless, interrupted only by the occasional need to treat sick children.” Among stars joining Corddry onstage are Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler, so we’re guessing this will be an adequate wake-up panel for groggy critics.
After that, TNT will present several high-profile series, including “Franklin & Bash” (premieres June 2011) about two street lawyers who join a button-down law firm. Legendary actor Malcolm McDowell, whose turn as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” still sends chills down our spines 40 years later, will be on hand to talk about his role as the patriarch of the law firm. That alone makes it worth watching. Then it’s on to Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated “Falling Skies (premieres June 2011) about an alien invasion and starring “ER” alum Noah Wyle, who will sit on a panel with Will Patton and other cast and producers (but sadly, no Spielberg). And perhaps to woo critics of a certain age, Turner will also bring up Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher to talk about Season 2 of “Men of a Certain Age” about 40-something guys facing mid-life crises of sorts. This does indeed describe half the critics in the room, so Romano and company should be well received.
Then it’s on to news and non-fiction as Turner brings up the ever-overexposed Dr. Drew Pinsky, who will host a nightly show bearing his name (premieres Spring 2011) on HLN to discuss relationships, addiction and family issues, and of course Piers Morgan, whose Jan premiere of “Piers Morgan Tonight” faces the daunting task of replacing the irreplaceable Larry King. Critics will no doubt grill Morgan about his plans for the show and how his style will differ from King’s. We’re guessing Morgan won’t be shy about sharing.
BET and Playboy TV
After Turner, it’s on to the traditional “working lunch,” which on Thurs will come compliments of BET and Playboy TV as they split the time and presumably the bill for the coveted slot (Critics gotta eat, after all). For BET, it’s a great opportunity to showcase its shift to original fiction series: “The Game” (premieres Jan.) about a first-year medical student who puts her career on hold to follow her professional football boyfriend to San Diego; and “Let’s Stay Together,” an urban romantic comedy series set in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Playboy TV will showcase a new docu-reality series “Brooklyn Kinda Love” (premieres Jan. 15) about four Brooklyn couples and their relationships. On the panel will be producers Joe and Harry Gantz, who are the well known artisans behind HBO’s “Taxicab Confessions.” And it wouldn’t be Playboy without a little… you know… so the net will also showcase “Swing,” a new reality series that follows monogamous couples that venture in the “swing” lifestyle. Something tells us at least a few of these tales will end badly.
Discovery Networks owns the afternoon as it showcases several new shows on its various networks before unveiling the big headliner: Oprah Winfrey, who will be on hand to, gasp… answer questions about The Oprah Winfrey Network. But until then, Discovery will attempt to keep critics entertained as it highlights all of its non-Oprahfied assets, including Discovery Channel’s “Kidnap & Rescue” (premieres Jan. 29), a series recounting real-life kidnappings and the rescues that followed. Then critics will get to grill Mike Tyson, who apparently has raised pigeons all of his life and is now considered a novice pigeon racer. We didn’t know that was a sport, so it should be interesting to hear Iron Mike explain it.
Then it’s on to Science Channel, which has shown a penchant lately for “glamming it up” with celebrities following Morgan Freeman’s turn as host for “Through the Wormhole.” On Thurs, the net will bring out funnyman Ricky Gervais (via satellite, darn!) to talk about “An Idiot Abroad” (premieres Jan. 22) in which he and friend Stephen Merchant drag their other friend Karl Pilkington around the world to study the Seven Wonders. Critics will no doubt grill GM Debbie Myers about what all this has to do with science (we suspect she has an answer ready), but anyone who has seen Gervais and Pilkington interact in other venues know this one will probably be quite entertaining. And let’s not forget Investigation Discovery, which has been on a ratings tear lately under the wing of Henry Schleiff and will present “The Injustice Files” (premieres Feb. 18) about civil-rights era crimes. The show will reopen cold cases and try to solve the crimes once and for all. Bravo.
At this point, with critics hopped up on coffee and afternoon pastries, Oprah Winfrey will take the stage to welcome us to the big event: The OWN Presentation. First up is “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next Reality Star” (premieres Jan. 7) in which thousands of people submitted show ideas and audition tapes online. The final 10 will vie for a coveted TV slot on OWN. On hand to answer questions will be reality TV guru Mark Burnett and hosts Carson Kressley and Nancy O’Dell. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be Oprah’s net without her best friend Gayle, so Gayle King herself will be on hand to answer questions about her new “The Gayle King Show” (premieres Jan.) Also on tap will be Lisa Ling, who will host “Our America with Lisa Ling” (premieres Feb.) about everything from religious movements to sex offenders to drug addition to online brides. Wow.
And winding out Discovery’s marathon session will be a… we’re still hyperventilating… Q&A with Oprah Winfrey. Anything could happen. And that’s why it should be so fun. Better yet, OWN will host the Thurs night cocktail reception and dinner. Will Oprah be there? Nobody knows for sure, but if so we suggest she eat ahead of time because she’ll be swamped from the moment she walks in the room.
Our subscribers can catch more TCA coverage in CableFAX Daily or at www.cablefaxdaily.com.
(Michael Grebb is executive editor of CableFAX).