Beverly Hills -- The TV Critics Association tour wraps Monday, and in the spirit of this event, let's turn now to what it's really about -- talk. Talk about ideas, talk about execution, talk about stars, talk about promise ... TV shows are made by smart (and often even creative -- surprise!) people who believe in what they're doing and bring a certain amount of salesmanship to the process.
I've collected a series of sound bites from various sessions over the last few days that should give you a flavor for these proceedings, but which also convey information about the big new shows that are coming this fall.
Let's start with CBS. The network is a cinch to land in first place again next year, and adding to its firepower will be a handful of new dramas and comedies that speak -- loudly -- the "CBS brand."
The new comedy "2 Broke Girls" with Kat Dennings is a creation of Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings (also star of NBC's Whitney.") It's about a pair of waitresses building a nest egg.
MICHAEL PATRICK KING: Yeah. I’d like to just clear up that Whitney actually created the show with me. She’s not just an executive consultant, which sounds like she’s going to tell me what time the plane is landing. (Laughter.) She actually did create -- we wrote the show together, and she is the co-creator. When I thought of doing a show called “2 Broke Girls” and I wanted it to be as contemporary and as edgy as I believe two broke girls would be today if they were living in Williamsburg. So the first person I was looking for was a really smart, funny writer with a really hard comedy edge. And so I did my, quote/unquote, Scarlett O’Hara search for the female writer that had what I needed. And a lot of great writers were there, but really no one had everything that Whitney has, which is she’s smart, she’s incredibly ambitious, great discipline and thinks like a writer and writes really hard jokes like a standup. So once I knew it was Whitney, I was really, I really wanted everything that she has. But primarily because we were doing it in front of a live audience, it was really important to both Whitney and I that we had jokes that made an audience laugh because we wanted to do a show that was actually proven by an audience rather than edited in a comedy way in an editing room.
KAT DENNINGS: I actually part of the reason why I relate to this show so much is because we didn’t have any money when I was growing up, and I used to get all my films from the library. My mom would get me classic movies and stuff. And I actually wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a kid growing up except for, like, PBS, “Sesame Street."
"Unforgettable:" This stars Poppy Montgomery as a woman who (literally) remembers everything; it's a cop procedural with Dylan Walsh.
MONTGOMERY: I love television because you get to explore characters in a way that you can’t anywhere else because you don’t have the time. But over seven years of “Without a Trace,” Samantha Spade got shot, had a baby, hooked up with Jack. She, like, I think she slept with everyone in the office. (Laughter.) It was, like, you know, that was a seven-year run where we got I got to really experience that character on so many different levels, and I’m excited to do that with Carrie because she’s so complex, and they’re learning more and more about this memory ability, you know, and there’s not much known about it. So as they learn more, we get to incorporate that more into the show. Yes, I’d be thrilled.
QUESTION: Poppy, let me ask you, if you could answer this, and then anybody else can pitch in. But just from talking to Marilu [Henner] or talking to anybody else who has this, what’s your own feeling as far as if this would be a blessing or a curse to have? When you hear about this, do you think, “Boy, I’d love, wish I could do that”? Or are you thinking, “Thank God I don’t”? Just what are your thoughts on that?
POPPY MONTGOMERY: You know, when I talked to Marilu, it’s something I’d love to have. I think it depends on the individual because she’s so positive and it’s really a great gift, and she’s got this amazing energy, and she’s just, she’s extraordinary. So when I’m opposite her, I’m like, “Damn, I wish I could do that.” We had lunch, and I couldn’t remember what I wore, what I ate, or anything, and I just saw her, and she told me. She’s like, “You had a tank top on. You had salmon. You didn’t really eat it. It was a Monday. You were late.”
A Gifted Man: This stars respected stage actors Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Ehle; he's a famous surgeon; she plays his wife, or is essentially a ghost who returns to teach him about the meaning of life.
PATRICK WILSON: Yeah, I didn’t really I didn’t really know the history of that time slot. What it meant to me was, you know and this comes with really a lot of ignorance about time slots and programming and all those things that have nothing to do with what I do day in and day out but I will say that, when I found out we were on Friday at 8, it made me feel like we could we were going to have room to play because I know it wasn’t one of those coveted best time slots or most watched and all this kind of, you know, slots of the week. So I felt a lot of creative freedom because we’ve been given nothing but just the most respect and love and long leash, you know, at least during these few months, from CBS to give us real confidence to find our feet because, as we’re talking about, we’re dealing with some very different issues, and getting our tone right will be something that we set out to do the first few episodes.
How to be a Gentleman: Based on the book of the same name, this stars David Hornsby ("Sunny/Philly" et al) as a fussy gentleman who is just trying to bring an element of decorum to this messy world.
HORNSBY: I just thought I identified with the book because actually the book has a lot of, I mean, for those who haven’t read the book, and I think they passed it around, was you know, these short sort of manners statements, you know, things like “A gentleman never makes a date out of desperation,” or “When at an ATM, if there’s a line a gentleman makes his transaction and moves on. He does not check his balance.” (Laughter.) So I just thought, wow, what a great character who would kind of have this book in a sense, he has these rules that he lives by because really those are rules in that book, and, you know, they’re sort of well phrased, and so I identified with it growing up as someone who grew up with manners.
Person of Interest: With Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson, this drama is about a man who prevents crimes before they happen ... He does this because he knows everything and can therefore predict the outcome of events ... Produced by big screen producer Jonah Nolan
NOLAN: I’ve just been fascinated by it since I was a kid. And there was a small feature of “The Dark Knight.” It was part of a storyline that ran in the comic books there that was sort of sort of examined Batman and the lengths to which he would go. And there are some connections there. I think I’ve always been drawn to those stories and maybe drawn to that aspect of Batman and drawn to this show because I was a kid in England in the 1970s, and cameras started going up everywhere. In fact, at that point there were already a lot of cameras up in London. It was during the Troubles and the IRA attacks in and around the UK and Ireland. And so the response was to put up cameras everywhere. And then when I moved to the States, I moved to the States when I was a kid. When I was 11, 12 years old, moved to Chicago. And there weren’t cameras. There weren’t cameras everywhere. And then 20 years later, there, they started popping up. And after 9/11, you started seeing cameras everywhere. And I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Panopticon, the idea of a surveillance state: Who’s watching? What are they doing with that information? But I really felt like it’s a really rich story to tap and that we had a lot of questions; I have a lot of questions and ideas about it that I think will give us some really fertile ground for storytelling.