PASADENA -- In TV-appropriate fashion, let's call this January sweeps.
But unlike television's other ratings-measurement periods -- September, November, February and May sweeps -- this has nothing to do with series premières or finales, stunt casting or Nielsen technology figuring who's watching which TV shows.
January is when TV critics from all over North America converge on this upscale Los Angeles suburb, just a day or two after tens of thousands of college football fans have made a mass exit after the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl game.
And the sweeping that takes place as we TV types arrive is the massive post-Rose Bowl cleanup -- piles and piles of petals from along the parade route, and countless beer cups, snack wrappers and assorted abandoned novelty headgear from the area surrounding the football stadium. It will actually take several days to complete the process of de-Rose-ifying Pasadena, and weeks to dismantle the temporary grandstands that line every available inch of unclaimed real estate along the parade's eight-kilometre path.
While that's going on, the newly arrived critical mass of professional TV-watchers will be in casual lockdown at the Langham Huntington Hotel, previewing U.S. television's midseason programming menu and interviewing the producers, stars and network executives responsible for filling prime time hours between now and the end of May.
No one will be asked to help with the sweeping. And more importantly, for those of us who travel from Canada to take part in this semi-annual TV press tour, there will be no snow to shovel.
But there's plenty of teevee to be watched, hundreds of stars to be shmoozed and a constant rotation of receptions, lunches and big phoney Hollywood parties to be attended, so the days will be full.
Among the highlights of the latest version of the TV press tour:
-- A visit with dog-training guru Cesar Millan, who will stop by to discuss his post-Dog Whisperer TV project, Alpha Dogs (which lists Jack Osbourne as one of its executive producers).
-- An interview with the ever-captivating Helen Mirren, who will appear during HBO's portion of the press tour to talk about the sure-to-be-controversial movie Phil Spector (Mirren plays defence attorney Linda Kenney Baden, who defended the infamous music producer during his first murder trial).
-- A preview of the latest faux-documentary project from Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind) -- Family Tree, which follows a suddenly unemployed 30-something as he embarks on an investigation of his family lineage.
-- A first look at the HBO movie Behind the Candelabra, which stars Michael Douglas as famed showman Liberace and Matt Damon as his live-in lover, Scott Thorson.
-- A conversation with everyone's favourite six-degrees-separated actor, Kevin Bacon, about his decision to step onto the small screen as star of the new Fox drama The Following.
-- A longer look at the new Showtime cable drama Ray Donovan, which stars Liev Schreiber as a "fixer" of problems for Hollywood's rich and famous; early clips screened last summer suggested that this could be one of U.S. cable's most intriguing new thrillers.
-- An interview with Hollywood comedy legend Mel Brooks, who is the subject of a profile by PBS's American Masters in the spring.
-- If only for its pure kitsch value, a cocktail-party stop at The Bachelor's mansion/set in Agoura Hills. No, I will not accept that rose.
-- Visits to the sets of Glee (specifically, the soundstage where the show's NYADA scenes are shot), Vegas and The Office (which will wrap up production for good this spring).
As always, we'll provide a running commentary on the winter edition of the TV press tour, in our printed pages, online at winnipegfreepress.com and on Twitter (@BradOswald).
So please, stay tuned. And stay warm.
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