Zooey Deschanel, who was at the TCA press tour to promote her new Fox series "New Girl," was as cute as a button, as always -- not that she acknowledged it. When a reporter in the crowd asked her when she first realized she was adorable, Deschanel covered her ears. "My mom told me when I get compliments to cover my ears," she moaned. "I'm so embarrassed now. Thank you for saying that. I don't know if I'm adorable. Now I'm flustered…I don't think of myself that way but I will take the compliment."

Deschanel's character wasn't so flattered during the panel. One journalist wondered if Jess, who spends most of the pilot watching "Dirty Dancing" and crying after a break-up, needed therapy. "She's someone who expresses her feelings all the time," Deschanel explained. "She's almost too in touch with her emotions, which is a nice contrast with the other characters who aren't all that in touch, so it's a great juxtaposition." Deschanel had no problem defending her character for personal reasons. "I thought when I read this I obviously need to play this part. it's me. Not all of me, but a secret part of me."

 

The show's producers addressed the exit of Damon Wayans Jr., who was cast in the pilot but was pulled back to ABC when "Happy Endings" was renewed for a second season. While a journalist in the audience wondered if the hiring of fellow African-American actor Lamorne Morris was truly evidence of "color blind casting," executive producers Dave Finkel and Brett Baer pointed out that Morris was their first choice for the show until he walked for another project and Wayans Jr. filled in.

As far as how the show will deal with Wayans Jr.'s exit, creator Liz Meriwether, who called herself a "Craigslist surfer" and often on the move, explained, "It felt like instead of doing a big tap-dance, we wanted to keep it as real as possible. Winston has come back from playing Latvian professional basketball, and he has to start over again. All of the characters are in that moment in their lives. They're all a bunch of weirdos trying to figure it out."

Deschanel's Jess frequently bursts into song, which fits given the actress' experience as a singer in the duo She & Him. "She likes to sing in different styles depending on her mood at the moment," she said. "A little Ethel Merman,  a little jazz standard, a little heavy meta. A little ghoulish singing." Though mostly she'll be spontaneously bursting into "songlets" of the staff writers' design, she said fans could hear her in longer form soon. "She & Him, we just made a Christmas holiday record, which is coming out later this year. We're very excited about it. "

Deschanel, who said she'd love to play Jess "forever and ever," did mention she's been getting lots of advice from her sister Emily, another Fox star on the series "Bones." "My sister has been on 'Bones' for seven years, which is crazy," she said. "I just wanted to know stuff like what to expect at events like this, like, I walk down some stairs and then I'm in a room, and we got backstage and we bow. That's the stuff that stresses me out. Today I was most stressed out about the seating order here and tripping. That advice has been really helpful, the little things. She's pregnant, she's gonna have a baby soon. She's gonna have this baby around, it's going to be awesome." We'd say Deschanel was being adorable, but we probably shouldn't.