Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The notable and quotable of TV press tour

The good, the bad and the weird from L.A.'s fall promo sessions

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The suitcase has been unpacked, the laundry washed and folded, the overstuffed mail slot has been emptied and the mountain of press kits, preview DVDs and miscellaneous media-focused correspondence that accumulated during three weeks away from the office has been sorted, stacked and readied for use during the about-to-launch fall TV season.

A sense of order has nearly been restored; all that remains is one last trip through the notebooks and recordings from the ever-entertaining endurance test known as the semi-annual TV press tour in Los Angeles.

And so, to wrap things up and allow our attention to be focused on the fall TV frenzy that lies ahead, here's one last look at some of the good, the bad, the weird and the weirder from the summer version of the TV tour:

Most honest answer to a press-tour question:

"I think they treated us like shit. They kicked us to the curb. I think they disrespected us. I think they disrespected our seven to 11-million viewers every week, and I think they're getting what they deserve."

-- Kathy Bates of FX's American Horror Story: Coven, after being asked to reflect on ratings-challenged NBC's cancellation of her previous TV-series effort, Harry's Law.

Most skilful avoidance of a press-tour question:

"I haven't read the newspapers. Am I missing something?"

-- Simon Cowell of Fox's The X Factor, after being asked to respond to the previous day's barrage of media reports about an affair with a married friend (New York socialite Lauren Silverman) that allegedly resulted in said friend's pregnancy.

Most unlikely Broadway star to be featured in a big HBO special:

Former heavyweight champ, convicted rapist and occasional movie bit player Mike Tyson, whose one-man Broadway show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, has been turned into a Spike Lee-directed HBO special. The ex-pugilist summed up the retrospective show this way: "In no way am I Charles Manson, but I'm never going to be Mother Teresa, either, OK? So some good advice: just don't be so quick to understand me; just don't get too close. And be careful -- I will bite you, as you may know."

Fall TV trend -- aging actors playing cranky dads:

This summer's TV press tour was peppered with appearances by veteran Hollywood actors who've accepted jobs playing out-of-touch, cranky-old-man types in some average-or-worse big-network sitcoms. Among the noteworthy names are James Caan (ABC's Back in the Game), Beau Bridges (CBS's The Millers), George Segal (ABC's The Goldbergs), and Martin Mull and Peter Riegert (Fox's Dads). Based on the series' pilots, none are expected to stay employed very long.

Jaw-dropping out-of-context quote of the TV tour:

"I mean, if you put a dildo in front of Beau Bridges' face, people are going to laugh."

-- Lizzy Caplan, who co-stars in the upcoming Movie Central series Masters of Sex, which examines the lives of famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Bridges plays a supporting role in the provocative series.

Most effective lowering of the reality-TV bar:

Always a close race, but the recent TV tour's title goes to U.S. cable's Reelz channel for a new "unscripted" series called Hollywood Hillbillies, which is about, well, I think you get the idea. "One-and-a-half-tons of fun," is how one of the featured Hughes family members described the clan. "We put the 'fun' in dysfunctional.'" Yawn.

Sci-fi geek-out doubleheader special:

U.S. cable's BBC America had Doctor Who fans all in a tizzy when it scheduled back-to-back sessions dealing with TV's favourite Time Lord. The network, along with Canada's Space, will celebrate the beloved Brit series' half-century anniversary this fall with a couple of big events -- the much-anticipated Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, which airs Nov. 23, and the new TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time, which chronicles the series' launch in 1963 on Britain's BBC network and is also slated to air in November.

Best/worst conspiracy theory of the TV press tour:

Another hall-of-shame nod to U.S. cable's Reelz net, this time for the spurious "reality" special JFK: The Smoking Gun. The show distinguishes itself from dozens of other programs this year marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy by claiming to have uncovered new "evidence" that Kennedy was, in fact, killed by a shot fired accidentally by a secret-service agent riding in the car behind the president's convertible in the motorcade. The Reelz guys say their story is real, but here's how one forensics/ballistics expert in a subsequent PBS/Nova interview session reacted to the Smoking Gun theory: "It's inappropriate to call them theories. From a scientific standpoint, a theory means you have some facts... They don't."

Most touching, heartfelt moment of the TV press tour:

In an interview session to promote the upcoming PBS/American Masters profile Marvin Hamlisch: The Way He Was, the celebrated composer's widow, Terre Blair Hamlisch, shared one of the most romantic first-date stories any showbiz fan could ever hope to hear, then followed it with this perspective on being married to the famous musician for nearly a quarter of a century: "I used to say to him, you know, (after) 5,000 people would be standing and clapping, and he'd leave his socks on the floor, I'd go, 'Listen, you know, I'm not clapping for you. Pick the socks up.' Of course, I think that that's inevitable when you've been married 23 years. But I'd give anything today to have those socks on that floor."

Best non-spoiling spoiler of the TV press tour:

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston wasn't all that convincing when he offered this not-quite-revealing peek at how high-school teacher turned meth-cooking drug kingpin Walter White's descent into evil will finally end: "Walt has a large reservoir of good to be shared with everyone else, and he spreads his joy throughout the last eight episodes, literally. I think everybody will be satisfied with the ending, where we hug it out. All is forgiven." Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 G9

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