And now we give you our preview of the 3rd and final day of cable TCA in sunny Pasadena.
Friday – Jan. 7
Rainbow will get the critics up bright and early for a working breakfast to showcase shows on AMC, WE tv and IFC, starting with a panel to discuss the highly anticipated March premiere of “The Killing” from “Cold Case” exec producer/showrunner Veena Sud. The show centers on the murder of a Seattle girl and the ensuing investigation. Then it’s on to WE tv for “Joan Knows Best” in which Joan and Melissa Rivers, well… just pretty much be Joan and Melissa Rivers, which is what they do best. The series will center of Joan’s move from NYC to LA to be closer to Melissa, and we’re guessing the two will be a hoot during the Q&A as critics try to make sense of their complicated relationship. Also on WE tv is “Braxton Family Values (premieres Apr. 12) in which singer Toni Braxton and her four sisters will let the cameras follow them through their conflicts and triumphs. All five Braxton sisters will be on hand to talk to critics.
Rounding out Rainbow’s session will be IFC, which on Jan. 21 will premiere “Onion News Network” based on the hilarious online video series from those wacky writers at “The Onion.” The same day IFC will premiere “Portlandia,” whose star Fred Armisen of SNL fame was recently CableFAX’s guest at our Program Awards in NYC. Armisen and pal Carrie Brownstein have created a show that both celebrates and pokes a bit of fun at the unique sensibilities of Portland, OR. Also sitting on the panel will be Kyle MacLachlan, who plays the mayor of Portland in the series.
Then it’s on to AETN and its flagship A&E Network, which will present new drama series “Breakout Kings” (premieres March) about U.S. Marshalls who form a task force of elusive convicts to catch other elusive convicts. Could be fun. Then supermodel Heidi Klum will no doubt charm critics as she discusses Lifetime’s “Seriously Funny Kids” (premieres Feb.) in which she interacts with children to hear their humorous takes on the world. Lifetime will also take on a real-life news event with “The Amanda Knox Story” (wt, premieres Q1), recounting the 2007 case of a Seattle college student convicted by an Italian court of murdering her roommate. Hayden Panetierre and Marcia Gay Harden will tell critics what drew them to the roles of Knox and her mother, respectively.
Then it’s on to the Hallmark Channel, which will kick off with “Mad Men’s” Sally Draper herself… Kiernan Shipka, who stars in original movie “Smooch” (premieres Feb. 5) about a girl looking for a prince of a man for her mom (and based loosely on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Frog King). We suspect Shipka will endure a few questions about her “other” series, but we’re hoping she’ll be a good sport about it. Meanwhile, Hallmark Movie Channel will bring together “Beverly Hills 90210” buds Luke Perry and Jason Priestly to talk about their original movie “Goodnight for Justice” (premieres Jan. 29), which Perry directs and Priestly produces.
After lunch, Starz will take the stage with its increasingly impressive array of original content. Joseph Fiennes will be among panelists on hand to talk about “Camelot” (premieres Apr.), which puts a Merlin-centric twist on the King Arthur story. Then Starz will bring out the cast of “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” (premieres Jan. 21), a prequel to Starz’s critically acclaimed 2010 series that stopped production on Season 2 after star Andy Whitfield began cancer treatment. In the meantime, fans will be able to chew on the prequel, which covers the period before Spartacus arrived at the ludus. Also getting its TCA moment is “Torchwood: The New World” (premieres July) in which Starz continues the popular BBC (and then BBC America) series to the delight of the sci-fi series’ many fans.
Rounding out the cable portion of TCA is HBO, which will present several high-profile shows and stars during its traditional three-hour block of time. First up will be “Mildred Place” (premieres March), a five-part minseries about a proud single mother in Great Depression-era Los Angeles. The star-studded panel will include Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood and Guy Pearce. After the “Mildred Place” panel, HBO will pipe in Paul Reubens via satellite to talk about “The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway” (premieres March), a 90-minute special based on Reubens’ iconic character. Then it’s on to “Cinema Verite” (premieres April), which tells the story of the 1970s documentary “An American Family,” which many credit as the model for the modern reality show. Panelists will include Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini.
HBO will also showcase its new fantasy series “Game of Thrones” (premieres April), which is based on R.R. Martin’s popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” and stars Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and an extensive ensemble cast. HBO also plans to show an extended trailer to critics, who are already salivating over the series as it looks to be yet another big-budget HBO extravaganza. Meanwhile, William Hurt will be on hand to talk about playing Henry Paulson in HBO’s onscreen version of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book “Too Big to Fail” about the 2008 financial crisis. The movie has no shortage of big names, as Ed Asner, Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace, Matthew Modine, Cynthia Nixon, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Pullman, Tony Shalhoub and James Woods all star, with Ayad Akhtar, Kathy Baker, Evan Handler, John Heard, Dan Hedaya and Joey Slotnick co-starring.
But perhaps the most anticipated HBO panel is the one the net will save for last, as stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson take questions about their original movie “The Sunset Limited” (premieres Feb.) based on the play by Cormac McCarthy. Jones directed the film, which tells the tale of two men grappling with the meaning of life in a secluded apartment.
After the HBO session, Hallmark Channel will treat critics to a cocktail reception and dinner at the Tournament House in Pasadena. And thus will end the cable portion of the tour. The overall TCA tour, however, continues through all of next week as PBS, the broadcast nets and select affiliated cable nets (FX, Showtime, etc) make their presentations to critics.
CableFAX Daily subscribers can keep abreast of the tour in the Daily or at www.cablefaxdaily.com this week.
(Michael Grebb is executive editor of CableFAX).