Click here to read earlier posts from press tour at the blog index page.
PASADENA, Calif. — The 2014 winter TV critics press tour comes to an end tomorrow with set visits, including a trip to ABC’s "Agents of SHIELD."
So it’s time to rate the parties and networks’ assorted press tour performances in hopes of encouraging improvement for next time, and to offer a little behind-the-scenes glimpse.
While going to parties for work might sound fun, these are working parties where TV critics are often rushing from one celeb to another to get short interviews.
Read more after the jump. …
Jan. 9: Discovery "Klondike" party, The Langham Huntington’s Horseshoe Garden (4 cocktails out of 4): For sheer ambition, this was a winner. Discovery recreated a piece of the set from this week’s "Klondike" miniseries on the back lawn of the Langham grounds (pictured above). The miniseries’ cast as well as panelists from other Discovery network programs attended. Best anachronistic moment: A pianist playing an old-time piano reading sheet music from an iPad. Of course, hotel-made, faux Klondike bars were served.
Jan. 10: National Geographic Channel cocktail reception and CNN party, Langham ballroom lobby and poolside, (3 cocktails each): Nat Geo featured giant dominoes falling and crushing a table covered in china as part of its promotion for its "Engage Your Brain" programs.
CNN brought in its stars — Wolf Blitzer! Andreson Cooper! SE Cupp! — for a poolside shindig. Actually, they built a platform over the pool. Impressive (see photo at right). CNN top executive Jeff Zucker was also in attendance.
Jan. 11: Hallmark Channel stars party, Huntington Garden (4 cocktails): This one always baffles me a little. Hallmark gets little ink out of this party, which seems designed more for the benefit of the networks’ stars. It’s always a very nice dinner under a heated tent (pictured at left) with an executive thanking "everyone in this room" for helping to give Hallmark a great year. Mostly I attend to have fun with fellow critics and this year was especially entertaining. First, we had to take two shuttles — we had a connection to a second shuttle — to get to the party. On the second shuttle I ended up sitting in front of Bruce Boxleitner ("Cedar Cove") so I asked if he thought there’d ever be more "Babylon 5." At first he said no but then gradually backed off that and said he’d return if someone came up with a good script but he still basically felt like he was done with it, which is fine by me given all the failed spin-off attempts. Best moment of the tour: My friend @ReelVixen leaned over as a reel with previews of Hallmark Channel movies played on monitors and said, "Hardcore Hallmark kissing, no tongue mandatory." I laughed until I cried.
Jan. 13: Fox party, Langham Lobby Lounge (3 cocktails): Fox always does press tour right. The same can’t be said for any other broadcast network. Fox put on a full day of panels — exhausting but useful — and topped it off with a party that featured cast members from their new and returning shows. It was a pretty packed party, which made it difficult to find people (I did see Keith Urban; never saw Zooey Deschanel), but I did chat with "Mindy Project" executive producer Matt Warburton before returning to my room to watch screeners for panels featured in the days ahead.
Jan. 15: CBS "How I Met Your Mother" press conference and party on the show’s set at 20th Century Fox (3 cocktails): CBS had a pretty good press tour with outside-the-box thinking on set visits to "The Crazy Ones," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Millers" and behind-the-scenes at "Hawaii Five-0" but the network left out panels for unscheduled midseason shows "Reckless" and "Bad Teacher" or summer series "Extant," a missed opportunity since all will premiere before the next press tour (and CBS rarely schedules conference calls). But the set visits were great opportunities to gather material for future stories and the party on the set of "HIMYM" was fun. At a CBS showrunners party I also had a chance to interview the producers of The CW’s "Reign" and CBS’s upcoming "Extant."
Jan. 17: ABC stars party, Langham Viennese Ballroom (3 cocktails): I already complained about ABC’s missteps in the run up to its press tour day but its stars party turned out was better than expected. Star turnour was light early on but improved as the evening went on. A pregnant Kerry Washington ("Scandal") even showed up to do interviews. I chatted with two of my favorite actresses, Penny Johnson Jerald and Susan Sullivan from "Castle," and did interviews with Chloe Bennet ("Agents of Shield"), Tim Jo ("The Neighbors") and writer Kyle Killen ("Mind Games"). There were a fair number of no-shows — I never found anyone from "The Goldbergs," which seems like it could use the press, and I never saw Connie Britton ("Nashville"), who was on the guest list. (ABC posted no photos from their party or red carpet, which is why I have nothing to share visually here.)
And if you’re wondering why there’s nothing on NBC’s stars party, it’s because the network didn’t have one, though there was a cocktail party with late-night stars but it never appeared on NBC’s press tour schedule so no one knew it was going to happen.
Jan. 20: PBS "Live from Lincoln Center" press conference and Patina Miller performance, Langham Viennese Ballroom (4 cocktails): 2006 Carnegie Mellon University grad Patina Miller, who won a Tony last year for her role in Broadway’s "Pippin," performed, singing tunes from a variety of shows, including "Pippin" and "Sister Act," which she also starred in. She’s already filmed some of her role in the next two "Hunger Games" movies and will return to the production to film more this year, taking time off from "Pippin" to do so. Miller also did a Q&A and I managed to get in some local questions afterwards, which is the best part of press tour for local reporters: Access.
Jan. 21: PBS presents Kristin Chenoweth performance, Langham Viennese Ballroom (4 cocktails): Chenoweth has no currently-scheduled PBS concert specials but she did one for the channel last year and was game to sing. It’s difficult to imagine how such a large sound comes out of such a tiny body but she was a powerhouse. And charming, to boot, with her anecdotes and self-deprecating humor. She brought an iced tea from Starbucks on stage with her, which was a nice down-to-earth touch but perhaps a bit unwise: Before the end of her performance she managed to spill it on the baby grand piano. And yet, even that was kind of adoreable.