<p>NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. This picture is from NBC Upfront in May, but we assume he's going to look fairly similar.</p>
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NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. This picture is from NBC Upfront in May, but we assume he's going to look fairly similar.

Credit: NBC

Press Tour '11 Live-Blog: NBC Executive Session

Robert Greenblatt meets the press in his new job

When the Television Critics Association met with NBC back in January, Robert Greenblatt had yet to be formally installed as NBC Entertainment Chairman, which left us with an executive-free press tour session.

Monday (Aug. 1) morning represents Greenblatt's first time meeting with us in his current job, but he has many years of Showtime panels under his belt. That makes him far better prepared to illuminate NBC's ongoing difficulties for reporters than several of his less media-savvy predecessors. 

Let's see if it makes a difference as Greenblatt sits down to chat about subjects inevitably including "The Voice," "Playboy Club" controversies and the evergreen topic of Jay Leno.

Click through...

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<p>PBS' 'Downton Abbey'</p>
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PBS' 'Downton Abbey'

Credit: PBS

Press Tour Live-Blog: PBS' 'Downton Abbey II'

Some of the stars and producers of the Emmy-nominated series talk Season 2

Failing to review "Downton Abbey" when it premiered on PBS in January is a great regret. There was just too much on my plate and I didn't have the time to either review or make it a part of the podcast. Sepinwall caught up with it a couple months later and then I finally carved out the time to watch it last month and it's almost inevitable that "Downton Abbey" will end up in my Top 10 for the year and I'm eagerly awaiting the new season.

That new season, coming to PBS in January 2012, is why we're in a Beverly Hilton ballroom on Sunday afternoon.

Our panel includes stars Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and Siobhan Finneran, plus producers Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton. We're missing most of the "Downstairs" component of the upstairs/downstairs conceit. We're also missing creator Julian Fellowes. But I'll live-blog whatever comes to pass. Consider it atonement for the lack of review...

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<p>The cast of 'Entourage'</p>
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The cast of 'Entourage'

Credit: HBO

Press Tour: 'Entourage' gang convinced America still wants 'Entourage' movie

The end of 'Entourage' was emotional, but may only be a beginning
The entire key "Entourage" team took the dais at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday (July 28) afternoon. It was a crowded panel that included everybody from series creator Doug Ellin to multiple Emmy winner Jeremy Piven to executive producer (and early series inspiration) Mark Wahlberg, who spent most of the panel practically curled in a "Don't ask me about 'Max Payne'" ball on one side of the stage.
 
On one hand, it was a backward-looking panel reflecting on the eighth and final season of "Entourage."
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<p>Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of 'True Blood'</p>
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Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Press Tour Live-Blog: HBO's 'True Blood'

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alan Ball meet the press

Gosh-golly! It feels like just yesterday I live-blogged a panel for HBO's "True Blood." It was actually just last Friday at Comic-Con, which means my gap between "True Blood" live-blogging was longer than Sepinwall's gap between "Doctor Who" live-blogs. This is bound to be a different experience, since the Comic-Con panel featured most of the cast and was 50 percent dedicated to questions about male toplessness. 

Let's see if any different material comes out of the TCA panel...

5:18 p.m. Instead of the whole cast, today we just have Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alan Ball, which means nobody can ask Nelsan Ellis to call them "hooker."

5:18 p.m. Is Alan leaving at the end of this season? "No." "Well, everything ends. There will be an end for me on this show at some point. I just closed a deal to do another season and I don't have any desire to leave, because I'm having more fun than I've had in my life," Ball continues.

5:19 p.m. "I think stubborn people get themselves in a lot of trouble, but they also get things done," Anna Paquin says of Sookie's stubbornness. Paquin thinks Sookie has decided to stand on her own this season and that that has made Sookie more interesting.

5:20 p.m. "I'm having the best time of my life. And I'm not just a little thing, thank you very much. I can hold my own. I dare him to say something I'd say no to," Paquin says when a reporter asks if she resents all of the awful things Ball keeps having happen to Sookie. "I am working from source material," Ball maintains.

5:22 p.m. "If there were to be a good reason that were totally grounded in the reality of this show for her to undergo some massive transformation, I would welcome that," Paquin says when asked if she'd want Sookie to transform as radically as Bill and Eric have changed this season.

5:23 p.m. Question about The Creepy Baby. "They're so adorable and they're so socialized and welcoming and they seem to enjoy people and they're not fazed by production," Ball says, taking pleasure in the angelic baby and the creepy behavior.

5:24 p.m. What's the biggest challenge on the show? "The biggest challenge is telling all of the stories in the time we have to tell them," Ball says. I'm thinking fans might have a suggestion there. What's the key to getting everything done on time? They scale back. They drop scenes. "The key do it is that everybody just loves working on the show," Ball says.

5:27 p.m. How does Ball decide which pieces from the book he stays faithful to and which he wants to change? The answer goes back to his Comic-Con answer about how the books are Sookie's story, so he has more freedom with the other stories. "It's an organic process. I work with five really good, smart writers," Ball claims, calling it "a democratic process."

5:28 p.m. Have the actors gained more input over the years? "What's amazing about the show is that they write for us now, so they go 'Wouldn't it be interesting to see Steve, Alex, Nelsan do this?" Moyer says. "I certainly feel like they write for our strengths, or maybe that's just a giant coincidence," adds Paquin, saying that she pitched something in Episode 9 this season that may or may not have been intended as a joke and that may or may not have been used. 

5:31 p.m. "Those things don't occur to me," Ball says when asked about casting Harry Potter's witch-hating aunt as a witch this season. He says that unlike other people on the show, he doesn't care about outside credits. "I just feel like 'Let's get the best actor for this role that we can get' and what else they've done doesn't cross my mind," Ball explains. 

5:32 p.m. The creepy doll and the creepy baby are in creepy cahoots.

5:33 p.m. Critic asks if they'd ever been to Comic-Con before. "Fourth time," Paquin says. Moyer compares their reception down at Comic-Con -- to an audience "that eats this stuff up, if you'll excuse the pun" -- to in this room of critics. Moyer pantomimes us clapping without enthusiasm. That's a lie. We didn't clap at all. "What I love about it is how passionate people are about the show and how much they love the show," Ball says.

 

5:38 p.m. "What I like about the show is that it can be very serious, it can be life and death serious, but it doesn't take itself too seriously," Ball says of the ability to drop humor in with disturbing moments. Paquin agrees, "I like my messed-up mixed with my humor as much as the next girl." Moyer loved that he finally got to have a one-liner (about Pam's beekeeper outfit) in last week's episode. Moyer teases that Kristin Bauer Van Straten has an all-time great line coming up soon.

5:40 p.m. Who do they want more scenes with? Well, Paquin works with everybody. Moyer wants to have more scenes with Carrie Preston and Todd Lowe. He adds, "I very rarely get to go to Merlottes."

5:41 p.m. Moyer has enjoyed Bill's arc leading up to becoming Vampire King this season. "It's been a really interesting dynamic for me to play and in a way, Bill gets to become perhaps somebody she can respect again."

 

5:44 p.m. Have Paquin and Moyer enjoyed playing not-in-love this season? "Our love in real life is fine, so I'm totally happy for our characters to be as sad and distraught and messed up and hating each other as they like," Paquin says. "I actually pitched to Alan that I was getting a bit bored with our life and could he add somebody else to the mix," Moyer jokes. More seriously says, "It's also about Sookie growing up as well." We just had Gloria Steinem on another panel. Maybe Moyer was listening?

And that's all, folks!

 

 

 

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<p>Richard Pepler. He's unhappy about something.</p>
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Richard Pepler. He's unhappy about something.

Credit: HBO

Press Tour '11 Live-Blog: HBO Executive Session

Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo meet with the press

I'm not sure what big questions the Television Critics Association is going to have for HBO Co-President Richard Plepler and for HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo, but click through for any updates on "Game of Thrones," "Luck" or whatever else gets discussed...

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<p>Rob Mariano of 'Around the World in 80 Ways'</p>
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Rob Mariano of 'Around the World in 80 Ways'

Credit: History

Press Tour: After going 'Around the World,' Rob Mariano doesn't need another 'Race'

Boston Rob discusses his new History Channel show with critics
BEVERLY HILLS - Back in May, Rob Mariano -- "Boston Rob" to his friends and, well, just about everybody -- won "Survivor." This is a pretty big achievement no matter who you are, since the show has only had 21 winners over 22 seasons, but for Boston Rob it was particularly significant. Mariano's win came on his fourth stab at the CBS hit and seemingly capped off one of the most prolific and diverse multi-program runs in reality TV history.
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<p>Sarah Michelle Gellar</p>
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Sarah Michelle Gellar

Credit: Denis Poroy/AP

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 86

Dan and Alan drive back from Comic-Con and talk 'Breaking Bad'

The

Happy Monday, Boys and Girls. Time for a very special moment: The Second Annual Firewall & Iceberg Car Podcast!
 
Last year, you might recall that the car podcast was a total disaster. Brilliant content marred by some hideous technical issues. This year's podcast isn't quite as brilliant. Battery concerns caused us to miss live commentary of both The Nuclear Plant That Looks Like Boobs and The Toll Collector On The 73. Sorry. However, thanks to a new microphone, we eliminated the horrible rising and falling audio levels that made last year's podcast unlistenable to many. 
 
In short, this year's Car Podcast sounds like it was recorded in a car. But it doesn't sound like it was recorded in The Deepest, Darkest Depths of Hell. In our book, that's a win. [Here's last year's Car Podcast for comparison.]
 
The podcast itself is mostly us chattering about Comic-Con and me trying to avoid getting in an accident. We also talked about this week's episode of "Breaking Bad." We didn't get to "Twin Peaks," but that'll be covered in a future podcast.
 
Here's the very simple breakdown:
Comic-Con 2011 -- 00:00 - 46:30
"Breaking Bad" -- 46:45 -  01:02:05

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.] 

And here's the podcast...
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<p>Lea Michele of 'Glee'</p>
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Lea Michele of 'Glee'

Credit: FOX

'Glee' producers clarify graduation controversy backstage at Comic-Con

What did Ryan Murphy say and what did he mean?

I'll lay the groundwork for you quickly:

Nearly two weeks ago, The Hollywood Reporter ran an interview with "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy saying that stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith wouldn't be returning for the show's forth season. While it had been common knowledge that a large percentage of the "Glee" cast would be graduating, no producer had yet gone on the record to say which stars specifically would be graduating and what their ongoing future with the show would be.

In the interview, Murphy repeatedly and clearly said that Michele, Colfer and Monteith won't be back, which set off a firestorm online with reactions ranging from outrage to "Of course they won't be back, why is this news?"

On Sunday (July 24) morning at San Diego's Comic-Con, the "Glee" producers didn't have to wait long to be asked about the reported departures. And with Murphy absent, co-creator Brad Falchuk minced no words.

"I don't know where that reporter got that information," he said. After more questioning of the original report, Falchuk added, "Just because they're graduating doesn't mean they're leaving the show."

The reporter in question, a respected reporter from a respected industry trade publication, got the information from a lengthy interview with Murphy, an interview that was posted as a full transcript, a transcript in which the reporter asks Murphy to clarify, on multiple occasions, that the three actors in question won't be back next season. The complete transcript of the interview and the lengthy quotes in the original story were pretty clear and unequivocal. That left the "Glee" producers with the choice of either clarifying Murphy's words in front of 5000-plus fans, or throwing a reporter under the bus. Falchuk took the latter approach.

This caused me to head back to the "Glee" pressroom to try getting a little additional information.

[More after the break...]

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<p>Darren Criss of FOX's 'Glee'</p>
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Darren Criss of FOX's 'Glee'

Credit: FOX

Comic-Con Live-Blog: FOX's 'Glee'

TV Sunday in Hall H kicks off with FOX's musical hit

Happy Sunday, Comic-Conners.

TV is taking over Hall H this morning, starting with "Glee." As always, we'll see how my wifi holds up, but attempts will be made to live-blog.

10:08 a.m. The "Glee" panel is running late. The room is packed. If things get really tense, there may be angry singing from the audience.

10:13 a.m. We open with a 3-D clip. It's a shameless tease to make us put on our silly glasses. 

10:15 a.m. OK. Real clip now. This will be the best chance to watch teenage girls scream in 3D since that Justin Bieber movie. There's a funny into with Heather Morris talking about how good her boobs look in 3-D. Or maybe it's Britney talking about how good her boobs look in 3D? It's hard to tell. Either way, why aren't we seeing her boobs in 3D? Instead, we're just watching teenagers talk about how "Glee" has helped them build their self-esteem. In 3D. 

10:17 a.m. I take back any cynicism. Heather Morris singing "Slave 4 U" in concert IS what 3D was made for. That was kinda remarkable.

10:23 a.m. Not my cup of tea, but The Warblers doing "Teenage Dream" looks fun, too.

10:28 a.m. "You're going to get a chance to see interaction of characters behind the scenes and fans of the show and how the show has impacted their lives," Kevin Tancharoen says of the "Glee: 3D" film." "That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen," Criss says of watching the clips on the big screen.

10:27 a.m. What's the story with Lea, Chris and Cory leaving. "I don't know where that reporter got that information," Falchuk says, throwing a reliable Hollywood Reporter reporter under the bus. "Just because they're graduating doesn't mean they're leaving the show," he says. He adds, "A number of the original people are not graduating this year." He concludes "They will not be leaving the show."

10:30 a.m. "I can tell you that Tina's a junior," Falchuk adds. "I am!" squeals Jenna Ushkowitz.

10:33 a.m. "We really do want to spend some time with these characters in the first nine episodes," Falchuk says. And what of Chord Overstreet? Falchuk says that Harry Shum Jr. and Darren Criss are regulars now because they earned it. "For reasons Chord is aware of, we decided not to make him a regular," Falchuk says. Ouch. Apparently Overstreet has turned down the option to return in a recurring capacity this season. "Chord decided that he would have opportunities elsewhere that he would prefer to pursue," Falchuk says. So Mercedes is going to have a new boyfriend in the premiere. He compares the relationship to the one between Cuba Gooding Jr. and his wife in "Jerry Maguire." 

10:33 a.m. Dot Marie Jones will be back next season. Since she's on this panel, it's not a huge surprise. "Lot of huggin'," Jones says of reactions from fans. "Everybody has been fantastic. Fans for The Biest are awesome," she says. 

10:35 a.m. Falchuk reassures Jenna and Harry that their characters are going to remain coupled for a while. We're also going to meet Tina's parents. Somebody asks about meeting Mike's parents as well, but Ian Brennan responds, "Maybe they're the same."

10:36 a.m. "It's been incredibly bizarre and wonderful and I feel so lucky to be on this panel," Criss says, calling this "a thrill-ride." He adds that "It's been eerily wonderful." Where are Blaine and Kurt heading? "They kinda in the honeymoon phase... I hope they continue to learn and grown together, just like any relationship should," Criss says. "They're good. They're solid. They've got problems... You've got two stars dating each other, so there's going to be some troubles, but they're solid," Falchuk says.

10:37 a.m. The know who the winner of "The Glee Project" is and they're happy with them. Zach Woodlee promises we'll be happy with the result.

10:38 a.m. "I can't confirm that. That's very cool that that's out there in the air," Criss says of rumors that he's going to be joining the cast of "How to Succeed..." on Broadway. 

10:39 a.m. Audience question time. The first query is about Criss' solo album. "I don't know. Between 'Glee' and I guess hypothetically a Broadway musical... I'll be quite busy and an album is a hard thing to pull off," he says. But he adds, "I would love to, but we're all very busy."

10:40 a.m. They're asked about the episode with the deaf school. "It was incredibly moving on the day and everyone was so articulate and accomplished so much in a few hours," Dante di Loreto says.

10:42 a.m. Which comes first? Music or storyline? "It's always the story first. Always. It would be like making a movie based just on the action sequences," Falchuk says.

10:42 a.m. Will we see more families? Will we meet Rachel's dads? They had a scene with Rachel's dads in the second episode. They even cast the roles and the actors showed up. "When you're in high school, the parents stop being the major influence on your life. You're sort of on your own," Brennan justifies.

10:44 a.m. Bartie or Brittana? The cast/producers are confused. "I do like Britana," says Ushkowitz. "Santittan is so much funnier," Brennan interrupts.  "We weren't surprised, because we knew there were a group of people looking for something like that," Falchuk says of the Britana pairing. "It was like 'Oh my God,' how did we get so lucky to find those two actors," Brennan says, recalling that Morris was cast as a background dancer and Naya Rivera was cast as a pretty face.

10:47 a.m. "Yes," Falchuk says of the possibility of building a spinoff around Chris Colfer and the other actors who Falchuk said previously weren't leaving. "I think we're leaning against doing it," Falchuk says, though he adds that there have been discussions. Falchuk and Murphy are too busy with their new FX drama.

10:51 a.m. "I would be intimidated to sing a Disney song. Disney's a tough machine to get ahold of, as far as rights are concerned. I don't know, but I'd probably want to sing something from 'Aladdin,'" Cris says.

10:52 a.m. How are they like their characters? "I look like Mike Chang. Very similar," Shumm says. Shumm later says "He's a stand-up guy." Is Dot like Coach Biest? "In some ways yes and in some ways no," Jones say. Well, OK. She's not as mean as Biest is, except for when she is.

10:53 a.m. Were Harry and Heather Morris on the LA dance scene before the show? Apparently Harry shot Heather dance at a convention long before the show, but they didn't realize this until four months ago. "We knew of each other. It's a small world," Shumm says.

10: 56 a.m. Did the show's popularity take away from its creative this past season? The producers agree "No." Dante di Loreto says, "The stories that are coming out are going to really knock your socks off. IT's going to be the most extraordinary season ever." "We didn't sit down to write a phenomenon," Brennan adds.

10:56 a.m. Will Coach Biest find love this season? "We haven't thought of that. Or we've thought of that, but we haven't come up with anything yet," Falchuk says."She spent a lot of time playing the obvious character for her. Knowing her, she's literally one of the mushiest people I've ever met," he adds.

10:57 a.m. "Sue's running for Congress, in case you didn't hear. On the Sue Sylvester Liberty for America Party," Brennan says. "She's tried destroying Will and the Glee Club at a local level. Now she's going to try to do it on a national level," Falchuk says. He adds, "Sue is running on a No Arts platform."  

10:59 a.m. "The ability to cut and do it again is always a challenge when shooting a live show," says "3D" director Kevin Tancharoen. "Everyone is a fan of a different character and it's really hard to capture in a live event," he adds.

11:00 a.m. Last question. Do the writers know somebody like Britney. "They flutter on little wings in the air and sometimes you just pick them up," Brennan says. "It's one of the most fun things about our job is writing that character. It's really a remarkable opportunity," Brennan adds. 

That's all, folks.

 

 

 

 

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<p>Stephen Lang of FOX's 'Terra Nova'</p>
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Stephen Lang of FOX's 'Terra Nova'

Credit: FOX

Comic-Con panel finally takes viewers to 'Terra Nova'

How did the Ballroom 20 audience react to the FOX drama?
I'm still not ready to tell you what I think of FOX's heavily hyped, abundantly speculated upon new drama "Terra Nova." I'm certainly not ready to do a review and I don't even think I'm ready for something as vague as a Take Me To The Pilots entry. 
 
I've seen "Terra Nova" twice now, once in a short version last month and once in the extended cut that had its premiere at San Diego's Comic-Con on Saturday (July 23) morning.
 
The Comic-Con panel was FOX's first time putting all of its cards on the table when it comes to "Terra Nova." An initial Comic-Con panel last summer, before the pilot was even shot, was scheduled and then canceled. The network screened a scarcely substantive, barely sizzling sizzle reel for critics back in January and then presented a nearly identical glimpse of clips at Wonder-Con in April. Even advertisers got basically the same glimpse at the FOX upfront in May.
 
So Saturday's screening was a pretty big deal. 
 
A few quick reactions and some details from the brief Q&A after the break...
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