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TV Critics Tour: Meredith Vieira's un-talk show

Meredith Vieira speaks during a "The Meredith Vieira

(Credit: Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown)

BEVERLY HILLS, California -- We all remember the "uncola." Now enter, stage left or right -- your choice -- the un-talk show. A show with talk but without talk. A show that wants to be called something -- but just don't call it a talk show. Call it instead "The Meredith Vieira Show." That's good. That should do... 

 Vieira met up with the press here today aware that she would get...

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Katherine Heigl addresses 'difficult' reputation: 'I don't see myself as being difficult'

Co-stars Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard on the

(Credit: Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown)

Katherine Heigl? Difficult? The association of her name with that adjective is hardly surprising given the history of stories that have chronicled her relations, occasionally tempestuous, with showrunners and their shows, from "Grey's Anatomy" to whatever movie ("Knocked Up"), added fuel to the fire. But that was then, this is now, and Sunday, Heigl arrived at TCA to sell her new series -- "State of Affairs" -- but also to establish that point, while dispelling any impression that her rep was justified or even relevant.

"State of Affairs" is pretty much NBC's biggest new drama and a shot at redemption for the star. But what's intriguing here is what won't always be seen on screen -- specifically her mother, Nancy, who's reputed to be one of the toughest stage moms in Hollywood and who will in fact share an executive producer credit on this series. Nancy Heigl has been a fierce protector of her daughter and her career -- all certainly admirable traits -- but an executive producer? The first instance in all of TV history when the lead actor of a series will have a parent as backstop on the production staff? Not sure, but it is extremely unusual.

I asked NBC Entertainment chief Jennifer Salke about this earlier. Said she: "They worked together in the past. And they are, in their personal life, also incredibly intertwined. So I would call her mom-ager, her best friend, her confidante, her . . .  helping raise their children. I mean, she’s a partner in her life. So I didn’t find it surprising, and I think they have a very natural shorthand and so far, so good."

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I later asked Nancy: "Katie and I obviously have a partnership where we work in the business together. So they came to us with this maybe two and a half years ago. We loved the concept. We loved the people ... I am her mother for sure. So, of course, I care about her interests. But I’m just learning about executive producing. We’re really in the process, and I’m learning from those who really know and from NBC and Universal, and it’s been fun. It’s been interesting. I’m the newcomer to it."

It was then left to Eric Deggans of NPR to ask about the elephant in the room, her rep, as in "difficult." The question was artfully phrased -- along the lines that she had this "difficult" persona but that others had come to her defense saying that she was just someone who happens to speak her mind, and Hollywood doesn't like women who speak their mind. Or words to that effect.

Heigl took a deep breath. Exhaled. Took another. Then ... this: "I think I said [in the recent Marie Claire piece] that I felt I had stopped challenging myself ... I love doing romantic comedies. I love them, and I love watching them. But I stopped sort of exercising different muscles of my ability. And then in that moment I felt that I was sort of letting down my audience, that I wasn’t challenging them either. Why this show, why come back to television? Because it’s an extraordinary role, and it’s an extraordinary opportunity and it’s an extraordinary story. And it’s an opportunity for me to flex some different muscles and show a different side of myself as an actor and performer and storyteller that I hope my audience will be excited and love. As far as your other questions go, I can’t really speak to that. I can only say that I certainly don’t see myself as being difficult. I would never intend to be difficult. I don’t think my mother sees herself as being difficult. We always, I mean, it’s most important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly. So if I have ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."

'Doctor Who' Capaldi trailer arrives, with a dinosaur, and a horse and ... Capaldi

Glasgow-born actor and Oscar winner Peter Capaldi in

(Credit: AP)

One of the great outstanding questions in all of television -- what about this guy Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor Who? We'll, or at least viewers in the U.K., will know much more in late August -- the 23rd -- when the eighth season (out of what? 50 seasons?) arrives on BBC One.

But in the meantime, the first full-length Capaldi trailer arrived over the weekend, and in fact during Sunday's World Cup finale telecast. This trailer -- which you can see here or here -- is certainly intriguing: This is a Who who may be full of remorse, but who is probably not, but who certainly knows how to ride a horse but who may not know how to ride a Tyrannosaurus Rex or engage an army of 'bots that look suspiciously like recombinant R2-D2s. Confused? As well you should be. Take a look, but this (and Capaldi) does appear -- to offer a Britishism -- smashing: 


TV Critics Tour: Christopher Walken to star in NBC's 'Peter Pan Live'

Actor Christopher Walken at the premiere of "Seven

(Credit: AP / Matt Sayles)

Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan?" There is something deliciously obvious about this -- so obvious that it will in fact happen.

Walken-as-Hook was arguably the big TCA news Sunday -- and a surprise, too. (As a sidebar, NBC confirmed it had approached Kristen Bell for the role of Peter Pan; she demurred due apparently to work conflicts...) NBC's live telecast of 1954 musical...

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TV Critics Tour: Bill Cosby's return to NBC

Bill Cosby performs at the Funny or Die

(Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Leibson)

Beverly Hills -- Bill Cosby, or should I say, THE Bill Cosby, will be returning to NBC, possibly as early as next summer, in a still-untitled multigenerational family comedy, NBC Entertainment chief Jennifer Salke told reporters at the biannual "critics tour" here Sunday. Cosby's return to NBC had been reported months ago, but it was unclear at the time whether he would actually star in the series.

Unclear no more: He will play the patriarch of a large clan which doesn't sound a whole lot different from that famous Huxtable clan, in fact. NBC execs said there was no rush to get the series on the air, while the 2015 season could be just as likely a starting place. Meanwhile, Mike O'Malley -- of "Glee" -- has joined the series as a writer along with Mike Sikowitz, formerly a show-runner on "Rules of Engagement." O'Malley could have a starring role as well.

The idea of a "writer" on any Cosby-starring show, by the way, is an interesting concept: He went through many of them during the "Cosby" years in part because he ad-libbed a lot of material, and disdained the sitcom beat that was and is endemic to multi-cam comedies. He drove some of his writers batty and batty writers tend to leave ... (Not making this up, not that I would: It was well known during the show's run that he was a tough boss, and Mark Whitaker, in his forthcoming bio of the star, adds more detail.)

Emmy nominations snubs include 'Scandal,' 'Orphan Black'

Tatiana Maslany stars on BBC America's series "Orphan

(Credit: MCT)

Meanwhile, the Emmy snubs! That redoubtable list of worthies who were passed over for the 66th annual prime-time Emmys for reasons known only to that mysterious and no-always-predictable soul known as the "Emmy voter."

Obviously "The Blacklist" and "Scandal" fans were bitterly disappointed Thursday morning, but big commercial dramas have simply become passe with Emmy voters -- or at least until such time as "Breaking Bad" and"Mad Men" are no longer eligible.

In addition, "Parks and Recreation" was largely passed over, save for Amy Poehler.

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You will see some commentary reflecting on the fact that poor Jay Leno couldn't even nudge the voter needle for his last season. But David Letterman didn't either. In fact, Leno's "Tonight" never -- or hardly ever -- got a nod for best variety show; why should voters get sentimental now?

Certainly, "Orphan Black" was expected to do something Thursday morning; it did nothing. Tatiana Maslany must wait for the inevitable day when she is justly recognized. And did I mention Elisabeth Moss yet?

Also shut out -- "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." The Golden Globes of course loved "BNN" to distraction, but Emmy voters do tend to be contrarian when it comes to the Globe comedy nominations choices. In any event, as good as "BNN" was, its coronation at the Globes was a bit eccentric, given the other nominees.

Emmy nominations 2014: 'True Detective' scores big

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in HBO's

(Credit: HBO / Jim Bridges)

"True Detective," HBO's first-year anthology series that was expected to make a showing at the 66th prime-time Emmy nominations announcement Thursday morning, made a showing -- and then some. The series scored a nod for best drama, catapulting it instantly into a rarefied orbit with multiple nominees "Breaking Bad," Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards" and "Mad Men" -- each of which also received a best drama nod.

In addition, both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson -- the series' leads -- scored best actor nominations. That was a bit of a surprise, in that only McConaughey was considered an absolute lock. McConaughey is, by the way, almost certainly the favorite to win going into the August ceremony.

Meanwhile in terms of sheer numbers, FX's "Fargo" and "Game of Thrones" ended up in the winner's circle. "Fargo" got a total of eighteen nominations. "GoT" got nineteen.  

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The list of comedy award nominees was virtually a mirror of last year's list, with one notable exception: HBO freshman "Silicon Valley" also made the cut. Yes, indeed, it was a very, very good morning for HBO -- much less so for Showtime which got shut out for "Masters of Sex," but which did score one very big hit: Lizzy Caplan in the best actress category.

Meanwhile, "Modern Family" -- nominated of course -- now has a chance to win five best statues in a row. Here's your list... and do check back for more analysis, and head here for the snub list.

Drama series:

"Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards," "Mad Men," "True Detective"

What it means: That the strong remain strong. This list was absolutely predicted by everyone on the planet with a Twitter account and love of good-to-great TV. Certainly "TD" will have a few detractors -- HBO managed to get it into the prestigious drama category as opposed to the much less prestigious miniseries one. "TD" deserves to be here but "Fargo" fans would argue that it does as well. "Fargo" did well this morning - both Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton got nods - but it was still relegated to the mini cat. Will "TD" upset "Bad," which is looking to repeat? I kind of doubt that -- in Emmys, advantage usually, but not always, lies with the incumbent. But, of course, we shall see.   

Comedy series: "Big Bang Theory," "Louie, "Modern Family," "Orange is the New Black," "Silicon Valley," "Veep"

What it means: "Orange is the New Black" is a comedy? Did voters happen to see a different version from the one I saw? "Orange" is not a comedy, but it is a drama, although Netflix -- now a powerhouse in this industry -- managed to convince voters and the Emmy management apparatchiks otherwise. "Bang" certainly has the advantage here. 

Lead actor in a drama: Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey

What it means: Clearly it means just one thing -- will Jon Hamm finally win for crying out loud? I mean enough already. 

Lead actress in a drama:

Lizzy Caplan, "Masters of Sex"; Claire Danes, "Homeland"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Julianna Marguiles, "The Good Wife"; Kerry Washington, "Scandal"; Robin Wright, "House of Cards​"

What it means: As always, the lead actress is the most hotly contended category is all of Emmydom; this extremely strong list still managed to leave out other quality candidates, yet no one can really argue with what's here. Caplan's inclusion is not a surprise but given the tough competition, a real achievement nonetheless. My hunch is that this race will come down to Wright and Margulies. 

Lead actor in a miniseries or movie:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Martin Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Bob Thornton

Lead actor in a comedy:

Louie CK, "Louie"; Don Cheadle, "House of Lies";  Ricky Gervais, "Derek";  Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"; William H. Macy, "Shameless"; Jim Parsons, "Big Bang Theory"

What it means: Gervais is the huge upset here. I certainly didn't see this coming. But again, Parsons remains the fave.  

Lead actress in a comedy:

Lena Dunham, "Girls"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"; Melissa McCarthy, "Mike and Molly"; Amy Poehler, "Parks and Rec"; Taylor Schilling, "Orange is the New Black"

What it means: Without knowing just yet which episodes were submitted, it's hard to know how this will shake out. But I very much like Dunham's chances here. Nevertheless, this is Louis-Dreyfus's to lose -- which she pretty much has not yet. She's won the last two lead actress awards, and has to be absolute favorite to win again. Under normal circumstances, I would complain bitterly about the Emmys' utter predictability -- except that she is excellent and so is her show. No crime at all if she does win again. But still, Dunham is your dark horse.  

Lead actress in mini/movie: Helena Bonham Carter, "Burton and Taylor"; Minnie Driver, "Return to Zero"; Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, both "American Horror Story"; Cicely Tyson, "Trip to Bountiful"; Kristen Wiig, "The Spoils of Babylon"

'Glee's' Chris Colfer is not leaving series: Fox

Chris Colfer signs copies of his new book

(Credit: Getty Images / Rob Kim)

No, Chris Colfer is not leaving "Glee," but score one for an Internet troll anyway.

"Glee" fans -- and those who cover culture and entertainment -- went on high alert Thursday when a tweet appeared on the 24-year-old actor's Twitter account reporting the following: "Due to personal issues, I have been let go from the cast of GLEE. Explanations will come shortly . . . "

Explanations did: Colfer's account had been hacked.

But in a modern-day demonstration of Mark Twain's observation that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," a handful of prominent websites, including the Hollywood Reporter and, posted the tweet as fact.

Within moments the reports were corrected after Fox sent out a statement saying: "We've been alerted that Chris Colfer's Twitter account has been hacked. Rumors of his dismissal from Glee could not be further from the truth. We love Chris and look forward to working with him again this season."

Naya Rivera -- who plays Santana Lopez -- was also subject of stories recently claiming she had also been forced off the show's sixth and final season. Those have since been denied by Fox and Rivera.

EW Thursday said it "regrets posting the erroneous tweet," while adding that the incident could be "explored" in the final season, "perhaps with Chris Colfer's Kurt duetting with guest-star Lindsay Lohan in a performance of Ms. Lohan's underrated electropop ditty 'Rumors.' "

'Sherlock' will be back

Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Arthur Conan Doyle's master sleuth

(Credit: PBS)

"Sherlock," one of TV's great series and pleasures, will be back - but when and where and for how many? (Episodes, that is.)  The BBC offered some answers a short while ago. There will be, for example, a "special" - unclear what a "special" is but it does sound special. Then, there will be three new episodes. Shooting begins next year, per the BBC. So assume that the series is back much later in 2015.

Co-creator, writer and executive producer Mark Gatiss, said in a statement: “Series Four! At last ! It's always special to return to Sherlock but this time it's even more special as we're doing... a Special! Not only THAT, we'll then be shooting three more episodes which will take Sherlock and John Watson into deeper and darker water than ever before. The whole Sherlock team are terrifically excited to return for four new adventures. The Game is on - again!"


Jennifer Love Hewitt joins 'Criminal Minds' (good luck with that)

Jennifer Love Hewitt arrives at the Launches of

(Credit: Getty Images / Michael Buckner)

Jennifer Love Hewitt has joined the cast of "Criminal Minds" -- news announced Tuesday but I didn't have the heart to post until now. She'll play -- per CBS -- "Kate Callahan, a seasoned undercover agent whose stellar work at the FBI has landed her a coveted position with the Behavioral Analysis Unit," and begins with the 10th season premiere.

Why no heart in the matter? I like Hewitt, think she's a perfectly good actress, and was good in the "The Ghost Whisperer." ("The Client List" I can't speak to.) What's ominous here is "Criminal Minds," which has had something of a revolving door with female leads or semi-leads in the last few years (Jeanne Triplehorn just left, but A.J.Cook and Kirsten Vangness have stuck around almost since season one).

What's the problem with "CM"? The show certainly had what we politely refer to in the critical trade as "content problems" -- a veritable parade of butchered people often women. CBS staked a claim in this type of programming years ago, known as "women in peril," which was once a staple of its long-gone movie franchise. 

I have no idea whether "CM" is as awful as it once was; maybe it's turned into "The Good Wife," for all I know. But it was awful. Not that this is the only series on TV that traffics in blood porn; it's everywhere or in far too many places in fact and seems to be an absolute requirement for entry into the prestigious FX club. But "CM" entered the debate when Mandy Patinkin abruptly quit without explanation, then said this years later: 

I didn't pay attention to the material, because once you get yourself locked onto the one need that you think you have [money, steady employment], which was the security of the job and having the job to go to every day, which I love, and the economic false security, 'cause I wasn't in trouble, I was doing fine -- I ignored the fact that there was a woman in a cage being tortured. I thought, "Well, this is just the pilot. You can't do that every show, for God's sake. How long would that be interesting?" Yet it remained interesting for now, I think, seven or eight years they're into.

So welcome, Ms Hewitt. And good luck. You may need it. 

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