[08/04/09 - 11:34 AM]
CBS at TCA: Producers Reveal Casting, Arcs for New Season
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- CBS opened the second week of the TCA summer press tour with a quartet of panels devoted to two of its newcomers as well as NBC import "Medium" and its Emmy broadcast.

Here's a breakdown of the highlights from Monday's primetime sessions:

THE GOOD WIFE: Not surprisingly, the newcomer's session was mostly fodder for jokes about everyone from Patti Blagojevich (Julianna Margulies: "I don't consider her a wife of scandal like this. He didn't cheat on her. He cheated on everyone else, right? And then she went on some reality show, didn't she? I mean, God.") to Mark Sanford (Robert King: "Michelle and I started writing 'The Good Wife' a year ago when you could still kind of hike the Appalachian Trail and not snicker."). Co-creators Michelle and Robert King however did reveal David Paymer will be back ("We're kind of creating the stable [of judges].") while Chris Noth will also continue to recur. Margulies also praised the show's Tuesday, 10:00/9:00c time period: "And, you know, thank God for a 10 o'clock slot because I feel like with that slot, we can make it a little darker than possibly if we were in a 9 o'clock slot."

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE: Executive producer Claudia Lonow was on hand to tease her new Jenna Elfman-led comedy, which won't necessarily emulate Mary Pols's book - upon which the show is based - going forward. Among the potential changes: whether or not Zack (Jon Foster) and Billie (Jenna Elfman) stay together and the sex of the baby. Lonow also revealed Larry Wilmore will continue to recur as Billie's OBGYN while Ashley Jensen's real-life pregnancy won't be written into the show ("We plan to maybe have her character gain a tremendous amount of sympathy weight," Lonow quipped).

The actress-turned-writer also noted that the show won't be serialized beyond the obvious: "The first trimester of the pregnancy is their stand-alone episodes. The second trimester are stand-alone, and the third trimester are stand-alone episodes that can be put together in almost any way." Lastly, co-star Grant Show was prodded about if he's in talks to reprise his role of Jake Hanson on The CW's "Melrose Place" revival. "Yeah, a little bit," he admitted. "We haven't found the right form, though, yet, and I'm not sure they really even need me this year. So, you know, maybe next year. We've been talking, but nothing solid yet. I mean, I'm not opposed to it. Anything could happen."

MEDIUM: The show's exodus from NBC was a hot topic that afternoon as creator Glenn Gordon Caron wasn't shy about putting a few digs into his former broadcaster. "CBS has run more promos [this summer] than NBC in the whole five years," he noted. "But I say that with love in my heart." Caron also took a pot shot at "Heroes" ("I think 'Ghost Whisperer' is clearly a show that people really like. And frankly, given our history, it's nice to follow a show that people really like.") and addressed the network's apparent favoritism towards "Chuck" ("[It's] a really, really good show that NBC has attempted to launch twice and only really been able to bring a certain locus of people to. Now, those people have created a tremendous amount of buzz about that show, but that hasn't translated into people actually watching the show.").

Caron however spent just as much time tub-thumping the new season, which will run 22 episodes for the first time since 2006-07. As for specifics, he indicated "500 Days of Summer" helmer Marc Webb wants to direct an episode of the series while David Arquette will "probably" also be back in said capacity. The most talked about development however was the news that the show's Halloween episode will feature Patricia Arquette's character literally becoming part of the cult classic "Night of the Living Dead."

"It's actually the vestige of an idea that I had way back when I was doing 'Moonlighting,'" Carton said about the installment. "When I was doing 'Moonlighting,' we had bought the rights to this old AIP drive-in movie, 'Mothra vs. Godzilla.' And we were going to mat Bruce and Cybill into it... So this year we've actually gotten the rights to the original 'Night of the Living Dead.' And we're going to insert Patricia into it. It's going to be sort of the landscape of her dreams during that particular episode."

THE 61ST PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS: Executive producer Don Mischer, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman John Shaffner and host Neil Patrick Harris faced a barrage of questions about the protested changes to this year's broadcast. "Our goal is to maintain the integrity of the Emmys but to make the show more connected to mainstream audiences," Mischer said. He went on to cite the challenge of presenting 28 awards when the other major ceremonies only hand out a fraction of that amount as well as the fact that the broadcast is already time-shifted three hours for the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

"Right now the Emmys give out 28 awards, 14 of which are to people that viewers are not necessarily connected to," he later added, framing the philosophical question at hand: "What entities like the TV Academy have to ask themselves is, 'do we want a successful show on television, or is that really important to us?' You know, do we go to a really nice hotel and we present awards the way we want to present them without any length on people speaking, without any music ever being played? Is that not the way to best convey or give out Emmys in complete 100 percent integrity without any influences from television? But right now, this is a show that wants to maintain credibility in the community by giving out all 28 awards."

As for Harris, he's keeping his aspirations for the show simple: "I was hoping to maybe be able to bring in Gallagher and do that sledge-o-matic routine."

  [august 2009]  


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