<p>&quot;Napoleon Dynamite&quot;</p>
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"Napoleon Dynamite"

Credit: FOX

HitFix Interview: Jon Heder talks FOX's 'Napoleon Dynamite'

New 'Napoleon Dynamite' cartoon premieres on Sunday
When "Napoleon Dynamite" went from Sundance sleeper to art house curiosity to mainstream sensation in 2004, it elevated its star to that pantheon of actors who are unavoidably and inextricably linked with a single role.
 
Eight years later, Jon Heder's name and the character of Napoleon Dynamite are still tied together. Since "Napoleon Dynamite," Heder has had some small successes ("Benchwarmers," "Monster House") and at least one big hit ("Blades of Glory"), but there's only one "Napoleon Dynamite."
 
"Yeah. I go to Disneyland and people are like "Freakin' Idiot!" and I'm like, "What'd I ever do to you? Oh. Oh, you're quoting the movie,'" laughed Heder when we spoke last summer following a table read for the first season finale of the FOX animated comedy adaptation of "Napoleon Dynamite." 
 
In the interview, Heder and I discussed the positives and negatives of the "Napoleon Dynamite" phenomenon, the spirit of the new animated series
and the challenge of finding that Napoleon Dynamite voice once again.
 
Click through...
 
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<p>Zombie</p>
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Zombie

Credit: AMC

Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

Expect lots of chatter about Frank Darabont, budgets and whatnot

Let's get down to business with Saturday's (January 14) Television Critics Association press tour panel for AMC's "The Walking Dead"...

In case you didn't already see, AMC has extended the previously renewed third season of "The Walking Dead" to 16 episodes. But Season 2 is only 13 episodes and it's returning on February 12 to wrap things up.

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<p>Tina Majorino</p>
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Tina Majorino

Watch: Tina Majorino talks 'Napoleon Dynamite'

How was Comic-Con and what's new with Deb in animated form?
"Napoleon Dynamite" was a key transitional point in Tina Majorino's career, ending a hiatus between her time as as the child star of "Andre" and "Waterworld" and her later, young adult work on "Veronica Mars," "Big Love" and "Bones."
 
Majorino is returning to the world of "Napoleon Dynamite" this spring in FOX animated form, as viewers are reintroduced to her liger-loving Deb.
 
Check out my interview -- conducted in September, along with most of these pesky FOX video interviews -- with Majorino, which touched on the cast's then-recent visit to San Diego's Comic-Con, the influence of comedy veteran Mike Scully on the series and how Deb has changed in her animated incarnation.
 
"Napoleon Dynamite" premieres on FOX on Sunday, Jan. 15.
 
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<p>&nbsp;Ricky Gervais</p>
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 Ricky Gervais

Credit: HBO

Press Tour: Ricky Gervais has his Golden Globes targets ready

'Life's Too Short' star-creator is returning to host because we said he wouldn't
Members of the Television Critics Association have grown accustomed to Ricky Gervais visiting us via satellite from Across the Pond, but on Friday (January 13) morning, reporters were treated to Gervais in the flesh. 
 
Gervais was able to drop by the TCA press tour panel for his new HBO comedy "Life's Too Short" because he's already in Los Angeles. As you may have heard, the "Office" and "Extras" creator is preparing for his third tour of duty as host of the Golden Globe and for his third tour of duty as lightning rod for trumped up Hollywood controversy.
 
"I wasn't going to do it a third time, but then I kept reading reports, press saying 'You'll never be invited back.' So I did it to annoy them," Gervais told reporters, many of whom probably wrote similar reports.
 
Asked if he was nervous about Sunday's telecast, Gervais cracked that he hadn't been nervous previously, but he is now. 
 
"What's the worst that could happen? I end my career once a week, if you read the press," Gervais cracked. "I only do things that can end my career. That's my fun. That's my extreme sport."
 
It's obvious, though, that he doesn't especially care about reviews of his performances or the possibility of irritating more sensitive members of the entertainment community. I can surmise that conclusion because, well, Gervais says so.
 
"If you get final edit, which i do and I demand... nothing else matters, and you're bulletproof. If I'm happy with my performance. I'm a considerate comedian. I don't view comedy as your conscience taking a day off... I stand by it, like I did every joke I did last year. And I don't care what people think," Gervais said.
 
And it's equally obvious that even some of the most seemingly irate of Gervais' celebrity targets were merely playing offended on previous Golden Globes nights. Johnny Depp, for example, appears as himself on "Life's Too Short," lampooning his own degree of feigned irritation.
 
"I said, 'Sorry about the Golden Globes, do you want to get your own back?'" Gervais said of his via-text pitch to Depp.
 
When a critic mentioned that bets were being taken in some circles on which stars will be Gervais' targets on Sunday -- and also asked a preview -- the cheeky host seemed simultaneously amused and bemused.
 
"I have specific targets, yeah. I've written the gags. But 'targets' isn't a word I'd use. 'Subjects.' Why are they betting on who I'll - what sort of a bet is that? Really? Ugh! I'm going to do a monologue about the year, and then introduce six or seven people throughout the show like I did last year," Gervais said. 
 
He continued, "But I've got nothing against any of those people in the room. I've worked with many of them, I like many of them, I admire most of them. They're just gags. I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings or give them a bad night or undermine the moral fabric of America. I'm a comedia. I'd rather they laugh than gasp, but I cherish the gasps along with the laughs. I don't know. I think that everyone took it well. I don't know who was really outraged last year. Everyone I spoke to... was cool with it. If someone says, "I'm outraged," then there was outrage. What did I say that was so outrageous? Oh, yeah, I just remembered..."
 
As always, you can check out HitFix on Sunday night for full Golden Globes coverage.
 
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<p>&nbsp;</p>
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Watch: Geoff Stults talks 'The Finder'

How is his new character like Magnum meets Fletch?
After its introduction last spring as a backdoor pilot in an episode of "Bones," FOX's "The Finder" has undergone a bit of an overhaul, with new characters and new dynamics.
 
One thing that remains in place is Geoff Stults, tapping into a rarely utilized goofball vein to play preternaturally gifted war vet Walter. It's not that the "Happy Town" and "October Road" veteran had never done comedy before, but there's a welcome looseness to Stults' "Finder" performance.
 
Some of that looseness pops up in the interview I did with Stults back in September, in which we talk about his "Magnum meets Fletch" interpretation of the title character, the changes from the original pilot and working opposite an even taller co-star in Michael Clarke Duncan.
 
"The Finder" premieres on Thursday (Jan. 12) night on FOX. 
 
Check out the interview...
 
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<p>CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler</p>
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CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler

Credit: CBS

Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: CBS Executive Session with Nina Tassler

CBS is still on top. Are there any questions to be asked?

PASADENA - Welcome, friends, to the executive session that was never supposed to take place.

CBS originally scheduled its winter Television Critics Association press tour day without an executive session with Entertainment President Nina Tassler, breaking with TCA tradition and protocol.

TCA members were unhappy.

CBS decided to schedule a brief and last-second executive session with Tassler.

I don't mean to suggest causality between those last two sentences. I'm sure it's totally coincidental.

It is true, though, that CBS has been TV's most-watched network for almost the entire duration for my time on this job, which means that the network doesn't have the same number of failures or big gambles as the other networks and that can mean controversy-free executive sessions, which aren't necessarily high in drama

But perhaps this morning will be different. Click through....

8:29 a.m. We almost didn't get this panel, but instead it's been scheduled for a very early-morning slot and it promises to only be a truncated 20 minutes. 

8:32 a.m. "You spoke, we listened," Tassler says, regarding the previous absence of executive session. She explains that this is a forum that makes her nervous. It's unclear what to make of that, since she's been doing this with us for years. She begins by trumpeting the success that CBS has had this past year and whatnot. "It really wasn't a sign of disrespect," she swears.

8:34 a.m. CBS has no announcements at all this morning. "We are very proud of the success this year," Tassler says, before praising the "Two and a Half Men" rebooting, plus the addition of Elisabeth Shue to "CSI." She keeps calling Shue "Lisa," which I guess is how she's known to friends. 

8:35 a.m. Tassler knows her SEO keywords and she makes sure to thank Tim Tebow, who gave CBS a huge ratings bump this past weekend. Anyway, though, CBS is up year-to-year and CBS is No.1 in everything that matters to CBS. So there you go!

8:37 a.m. Tassler is still giving her opening statement, meaning that we're going to have only 13 minutes of questions for her.

8:37 a.m. "We do hear from a lot of viewers about the overruns, but that means we have a very passionate and engaged audience," Tassler says of the fall NFL impact on "The Good Wife." She still feels that the shift to Sunday was a very good move and that the audience is upscale and engaged and that "Good Wife" fits well on Sunday.

8:39 a.m. Tassler praises that writers and cast of "NCIS" for showing continued growth after all of these years, praising "the balance in tone, style." She says the show is in its "later years," but I think she just means "later" rather than "earlier." 

8:40 a.m. What's up with "The 22"? "Everything is fine and it's probably going to have a later spring launch," she says, noting that the police drama was pushed to later in spring because of the strength of the fall. Yes. Just like "Miami Medical" and "Chaos."

8:40 a.m. Is the network taking a hands-off approach to "2 Broke Girls," since it's a hit? "We have a really great working relationship with Michael [Patrick King]," Tassler says, adding that it's the network's policy to try to give showrunners the chance to find their shows. She uses "Big Bang Theory" as her example of a show that dimensionalized characters gradually. Asked for her opinion on the diner scenes, Nina says "They're equal opportunity offenders," but again mentions dimensionalizing characters.

8:43 a.m. Is CBS looking for more competition reality? With "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," CBS is in good shape, but the network has a heavy development slate. The network doesn't want to follow the same path the other networks are following, emphasizing shows with a greater "narrative drive."

8:44 a.m. Does Tassler think NBC is making a mistake by scheduling "The Voice" against CBS' comedies? "I don't know what that matchup is going to do," Tassler says, but she notes that a lot of people are watching TV, so everybody should still be able to get maximum exposure.

8:45 a.m. Regarding development, Tassler says that "relevance" is a major goal, trying to find characters who are relatable to audiences. The key, naturally, is "strong storytelling." She says, "Audiences need to engage with characters," calling TV "an intimate medium." She says that the network tries to present flawed characters who are on their own personal journeys, but also have a core morality. The goal is to produce shows that aren't there just for a good pilot, but for the 100th or 200th episodes. She wants showrunners who feel their shows personally. She references Jonah Nolan ("Person of Interest") as a showrunner who felt his show deeply.

8:48 a.m. Social media is important to CBS.

8:48 a.m. What challenges is CBS having programming 8:30 on Thursday? "Looking for a show that is a companion isn't limited to just another multi-camera show. It could be a single-camera show," Tassler says. But "The Big Bang Theory" is a big hit and they're dedicated to finding a companion for it. Poor "Rules of Engagement."

8:49 a.m. What happened with "The Talk"? Shows in their first season go through changes and Tassler compares those changes to changes on a sitcom or drama. "We saw an opportunity moving forward into the next season and we took advantage of it," Tassler says, though she adds that unlike on a scripted show, you don't need to give explanation for those changes. She says that there may be continued evolution over time. "It's sorta par for the course," Tassler adds, praising the content and the "spirited" discussion.

8:52 a.m. What is CBS' summer ideology? "We're being very aggressive. We have a number of shows in development in the unscripted space that we have early triggers on," Tassler promises, though she also says that CBS' hit shows will repeat all summer, because that's what CBS does. The network's summer strategy is keeping the audience engaged and happy. 

8:54 a.m. Is "Person of Interest" doing well? Tassler says it's performing "very well" and the network is "extremely pleased" with the show, but nobody's making any decisions about anything so far. "There's a lot of talk about 'Person of Interest,'" Tassler says. She says, not surprisingly, that everybody has realized that the Taraji P. Henson character has been "too peripheral." Geez. Why did that take so long to figure out? They're planning on bringing the Carter character into "the superhero cave" a bit earlier than originally planned. "We feel that that was a key ingredient to really letting the show build and expand," Tassler says.

8:57 a.m. Could "Smash" lead CBS to get into the musical business? And are there ever nights Tassler feels like the Monday comedies are too lewd, collectively? "We don't bring people in for a mass meeting about that quality of the shows," Tassler says. "They're a little risque, but the characters are... living truthfully within their relative situations," she says. Tassler adds that because there's ratings growth for the shows, they're resonating [and therefore above charges of crudeness?] . Everything that happens on the comedies happens within the bounds of their standards and practices. As for "Smash"? "I'm a big 'Glee' watcher. I hope it does well for them. I think it's important that in all of our respective jobs that we continue to explore," Tassler says. Did the critic forget that "Viva Laughlin" was just a few seasons ago? 

 

That's all, folks...

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<p>James Van Der Beek and Krysten Ritter</p>
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James Van Der Beek and Krysten Ritter

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Press Tour: James Van Der Beek reflects on playing James Van Der Beek in ABC's 'Apartment 23'

'Dawson's Creek' star has found a way to laugh at himself
Although he'll always be best known as Dawson Leery (or maybe as Mox from "Varsity Blues"), James Van Der Beek has never shied from showing other sides of his personality, whether he was going dark for "Criminal Minds" or "The Rules of Engagement" or engaging in shades of self-parody for "Standing Still" or a series of FunnyorDie videos.
 
On ABC's cumbersomely censored "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," Van Der Beek takes his winking screen persona to a logical extreme playing none other than James Van Der Beek, platonic best friend of Krysten Ritter's Chloe, the "b----" of the title.
 
At Tuesday's (January 10) Television Critics Association press tour panel for the April comedy,  the show's producers explained that they didn't really have a second choice for the role -- or a second choice for Chloe's celebrity pal -- if things hadn't worked out with Van Der Beek.
 
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<p>ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee</p>
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ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee

Credit: ABC

Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: ABC Executive Session with Paul Lee

Expect 'Work It,' 'Cougar Town' and 'Desperate Housewives' chatter

Will ABC have anything controversial or exciting to talk about at Tuesday (January 10) morning's Television Critics Association press tour panel?

Only one way to find out...

Click through for the full live-blog...

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<p>&nbsp;Kat McPhee</p>
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 Kat McPhee

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 111

Dan and Alan talk TCA press tour and review 'Rob,' 'Chelsea' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, recorded with both Firewall and Iceberg sitting in the same hotel room in Pasadena.
 
WOO!
 
Unfortunately, as always seems to happen when we record in the same place, this podcast is a little quiet. I can't explain why.
 
Also unfortunately, I've got a head cold and there are a handful of times during the podcast that I simply wasn't able to be dainty and ladylike about blowing my nose.
 
Sorry.
 
Anyway, we talk a lot about press tour. And we review a slew of new shows, including comedic abominations "Rob" and "Chelsea" and the less-offensive "The Finder" and "Alcatraz."
 
Lots to talk about...
 
Here's this week's breakdown...
TCA Press Tour (00:00 - 31:15)
"Are You There, Chelsea?" (31:15 - 36:40)
"Rob" (36:45 - 41:50)
"The Finder" (43:10 - 50:20)
"Napoleon Dynamite" (50:20 - 55:40)
"Alcatraz" (55:45 - 01:05:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

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<p>&quot;The Nine Lives of Chloe King&quot;</p>
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"The Nine Lives of Chloe King"

Credit: ABC Family

Press Tour: 'Nine Lives of Chloe King' TV movie on the verge of development

Also, what's up with the 32 episode 'Switched at Birth' season?
ABC Family President Michael Riley took the Television Critics Association press tour stage on Monday (January 8) morning to talk about a fantastic summer for for his network, a summer that saw the launch of one major dramatic hit ("Switched at Birth") and at least one other dramatic success ("The Lying Game").
 
Naturally, I started the Q&A portion of the panel by asking about the summer's lone clear failure, "The Nine Lives of Chloe King."
 
I found "Chloe King" to be a properly frothy piece of summer counter-programming and many viewers agreed, but compared to "Switched at Birth" and "The Lying Game," the ratings weren't there and after only 10 episodes, "Chloe King" was cancelled. The pill was especially difficult to swallow, because the 10th episode of "Chloe King," what ended up being the series finale, contained at least a half-dozen cliffhangers and concluded with a daunting percentage of the main cast either seemingly dead, possibly dead or in some form of indeterminate limbo.
 
Regarding the cancelation, Riley said, "We never talk about canceling shows at ABC Family. We always make sure we air all of our productions, because for us, it's very much a long-term view. Obviously, we love all of our shows and 'Chloe King' is such a great example of just an amazing show. We loved the cast. We loved the writing in that show. For us, it was about making some decisions and we had to choose between what we thought was resonating stronger with the audience."
 
But wait! There's hope!
 
Riley added, "One of the things about 'Chloe King' is we loved and are on the verge of putting a movie into development, so us, we always look at the intellectual property that we're capitalizing on and making sure there's opportunities for even more storytelling."
 
Would that possible TV movie pick up immediately after the infuriatingly open-ended finale?
 
Riley said, "We are just looking at it in development now, so the hope is that it will obviously, we're just putting it into development, so the idea is very much to capitalize on the storytelling that's already been in place."
 
So that's "on the verge of in-development," y'all. That's not the same as "in development" and it's also not the same as the formal ordering of a telefilm, so don't necessarily get too, too excited. But at least it's cause for guarded optimism.
 
Meanwhile, on an unrelated side note, a reader asked me last week why "Switched at Birth" received an unweildy back-22 order, bringing its first season to 32 episodes spread into three segments. What was the reason for the larger-than-normal order?
 
Riley explained, "For us, as we greenlight shows, traditionally we'll open up the first season with 10 episodes and from there, in the event it's a success, we'll look to continue to increase those episodes. For us, e absolutely loved 'Switched at Birth' and wanted to get as many episodes as possible on air as quickly as possible, so really it's much more about loving a show and getting as much content as we can before everybody goes on hiatus."
 
So there you go.
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