Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
'Top Chef' heads to Sin City with the show's tattooiest, piercingest cast of cooks to date
James Beard (and Awesome Beard) finalist Kevin of 'Top Chef Las Vegas'
I was initially a bit resistant to "Top Chef Masters," but it has become an acceptable placeholder for Bravo in recent weeks. Host Kelly Choi hasn't made me stop missing Padma & Tom, while for a food critic, Judge James Oseland seems mighty confused by a lot of culinary exploration. It took a little while to realize that, Ludo Lefebvre aside, "Top Chef Masters" wasn't about gawking at spectacular flameouts, but was actually a celebration of the confident genius of titans like Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller.
But enough with the placebos!
"Top Chef" returns on Wednesday (July 19) night, with Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, plus a new crop of cheftestants heading to Sin City.
The last season of "Top Chef," set in New York, ended back in February. Is "Top Chef Las Vegas" worth the wait?
[Review after the break...]
Emmy producers weren't wrong to want to shake things up, but they handled things incorrectly
Millions of Emmy viewers will never know how close they came to something that they wouldn't have noticed in the first place.
The TV Academy announced on Tuesday contrary to previous plans, all 28 Emmy Awards will be presented live during the September telecast. The previous plan had been time-shift (not quite pre-taping, but close) eight categories during the telecast to free time. While those eight categories were spread over a number of disciplines, the Writers Guild of America took particular umbrage at losing telecast time for TV's scribes, raising a stink that carried over into last week's Television Critics Association press tour panel with producer Don Mischer and the Emmy team.
Perhaps after seeing that this was a story that wasn't going to go away (or that critics and showrunners weren't going to allow to go away), the TV Academy backed down and the Emmys will go back to business-as-usual, which means a return to their regular position as TV's dullest major award show.
[More after the break...]
Series creator Victor Fresco discusses his ABC workplace comedy and its Tuesday season finale
Credit: Matt Sayles/AP
Things you may not know about ABC's "Better Off Ted":
1) The season's best new comedy has been airing new episodes this summer. Occasionally. Without promotion. Often changing at the last minute. Occasionally confusing your DVR, or at least my DVR.
2) Tuesday (Aug. 11) marks the first season finale, which could truthfully be called the second first season finale, since ABC aired what it was previously calling the "Better Off Ted" finale back in the spring, though at the time it appeared that it could very plausibly be a series finale as well.
3) ABC is airing two episodes on Tuesday night and the second, the actual finale, features guest star Rachelle Lefevre. Wait. Rachelle Lefevre? The "Twilight" star? The recently recast "Twilight" star? The beloved "Twilight" star whose recasting launched a thousand online petitions? Don't you think this is something ABC could have used as a publicity hook? Apparently not. ABC's press site has several pictures from the finale, none featuring Lefevre.
Asked about the oddball summer run of "Better Off Ted" during Saturday's Television Critics Association press tour session, ABC President Stephen McPherson hemmed and hawed a little bit.
"You know, summer was tough in general. We felt like where we wanted to go creatively with the show, we really wanted to get that start," McPherson said. "And we’ve tabled a couple episodes and feel like we’re in really good shape there. So I don’t know. Hindsight is 20/20. We would have definitely liked a better performance, but I do think we’re going to put on really good shows in the fall or, you know, after the 'Dancing' run. And I think that’s going to speak — that’s going to be what is going to determine whether the show works or not."
Because McPherson was so non-commital, Sepinwall and I caught up with "Better Off Ted" creator Victor Fresco at the ABC party.
Some choice quotes after the break...
The talents behind 'The Shield,' 'Damages,' 'Rescue Me' and 'Southland' take NBC to task
Credit: Matt Sayles/AP
I've been a bad blogger. It's been several days since I compiled a list of quotes featuring derision or mockery of NBC courtesy of schadenfreude-drunk talent associated with other networks.
Those absent quotes after the break...
Expect questions about 'Lost,' 'Grey's Anatomy' and Ben Silverman
1:57 p.m. Has ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson been practicing his Ben Silverman kiss-off all week? Does he have a funny Paula Abdul joke? And is he ready to say good-bye to "According to Jim" forever? Follow our live-blog of McPherson's Saturday (August 8) Television Critics Association press tour panel... After the break...
Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly discuss Paula Abdul, Paula Abdul, Paula Abdul and more
9:45 a.m. I was on the fence about live-blogging this FOX executive session, but with Twitter down, I sortta had my hand forced. Thus, in lieu of tweets, I'll be doing roughly the same thing here in blog form. The news and snarking begins after the break...
The critics have spent a long day waiting for Jay Leno... Will he win us over?
4:52 p.m. PT The panel for "Mercy" ends, appropriately, with a question for James Tupper, about "Men in Trees." That was not a good buzz-building panel for NBC.
4:55 p.m. Pages are passing out cookies shaped like race cars. Because Jay Leno loves race cars. Or because the critics haven't been fed in over three hours, which is pretty extreme. Of the cookie, my former editor Brill Bundy observes, "It's almond-y. It always makes me feel like I'm eating arsenic."
4:58 p.m. They're clearing the stage for Jay... Recap will come after the break.
Angela Bromstad and Paul Telegdy duck queries about Jay Leno, Paula Abdul, Conan and 'Chuck'
Angela Bromstad and Paul Telegdy
Wednesday (Aug. 5) morning's Television Critics Association press tour executive session for NBC was expected to be a bit heated.
After all, Angela Bromstad (President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios) and Paul Telegdy (Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming and Production, NBC and Universal Media Studios) were in position to answer for the recent departure of Ben Silverman, the upcoming primetime sacrifice to Jay Leno, the drooping ratings for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and the prospect of another season in fourth place.
The questions were certainly all asked, but Bromstad and Telegdy approached the event with an interesting strategy: They didn't answer much of anything. They talked in circles. They hedged. And they frequently said that they were the wrong people to speak for network decisions, even if they were the sacrificial lambs put on the executive session panel by Jeff Zucker and newly crowned king Jeff Gaspin.
What follows after the break is a chronicle of unanswered questions...
Kevin Williamson, Paul Wesley and company tell the TCA how their vampires are different
Paul Wesley of The CW's 'The Vampire Diaries'
Credit: The CW
L.J. Smith's "The Vampire Diaries" was first published as a trilogy in 1991. That was a full decade before Charlaine Harris published the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series and 14 years before Stephenie Meyer first begin making vampires sparkle in "Twilight."
However, because of the variable journeys from page-to-screen, "The Vampire Diaries" will be premiering on The CW this fall and on Tuesday (Aug. 4), the show's producers and cast had to explain to the Television Critics Association how this latest uber-swoony undead romance is different from the ones filmed before it.
[Publication chronology aside, it would be disingenuous to claim that just because its source preceded the sources for "True Blood" and "Twilight," "The Vampire Diaries" isn't utterly and completely indebted and beholden to those burgeoning franchises.]
Continue after the break...
CBS prez calls back Ben Silverman's notorious D-girl comment
The one week anniversary of Ben Silverman's departure from NBC coincided with the start of the network portion of the Television Critics Association press tour. Perfect timing, then, to begin the not-so-tacit mockery of the exiting exec.
Talking to critics on Monday (Aug. 3) morning, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler was asked to reflect on Silverman's parting of ways with NBC and the reasons behind it.
Presumably it was a question she'd be expecting.
"I'm really just a D-girl, so I wouldn't comment," Tassler said. She then winked, earning a rare round of applause from the assembled scribes.
Want a little context for Tassler's zinger?
I refer you to a quote from Silverman's notoriously blustery 2007 Esquire interview:
"The industry hasn't seen an executive like me in a long time," Silverman said at the time. "Traditionally, development executives rise through a specific subsection of the TV business -- prime time, network, scripted programming. They're basically D-girls. That's what [ABC Entertainment president] Steve McPherson is, that's what [Fox Entertainment president] Kevin Reilly is. That's bad vernacular, but they're all D-girls."
Another thing that Steve McPherson and Kevin Reilly now have in common? Their jobs. Ben Silverman? Not-so-much.
We still have at least three more non-NBC networks for somebody to bring up my all-time favorite Silverman quote (regarding the WGA strike threatening to cancel the Golden Globes):
"Sadly, it feels like the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom. But NBC wants to try to keep that prom alive."