Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kick-Ass Ladies of the CW

Last Friday, on the penultimate day of the Television Critics of America tour in Pasadena, CA, the CW network presented a panel of its finest ladies, calling it the "Kick-Ass Women of the CW."

On the panel were Nikita's Maggie Q and Lyndsy Fonseca, Vampire Diaries' Candice Accola, Hellcats' Aly Michalka, and Smallville's Erica Durance. Check out my coverage for web site, where I spoke to each of these ladies (except Durance) and Vampire Diaries' showrunner Kevin Williamson as well, to get the scoop on what to expect this spring.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kathy Bates Commutes from Cincinnati to Scranton

At today's panel for NBC's quirky upcoming midseason legal drama Harry's Law from David E. Kelley, I asked Kathy Bates if being on this new series full-time meant that her character from The Office, Jo Bennett, would be able to return, if only to name the successor to Steve Carell's boss character, Michael Scott.

Because Harry's Law actually wrapped production yesterday, Kathy responded, she is free to return to Dunder Mifflin -- and she will be, in fact, in "a couple" of episodes this spring. (Now that she's done being Harry from Cincinnati, she's free to be Jo from Tampa, traveling to Scranton -- all filmed in L.A. Got that?!)

When I pressed her further afterwards, Kathy swore she hadn't yet read any scripts, and so she has no idea as to who's going to take over the Scranton branch. She did like my geeky idea, though, that her great danes from The Office should pop up on Harry's Law. Attention, NBC: crossover!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fox renews Raising Hope for 2011-12

Early this morning here in Pasadena, Fox let critics know a piece of good news: the network has renewed its critically acclaimed comedy Raising Hope for the 2011-12 season.

The network showed faith in the show from the start, which has always scored among very young demographics, and continues to rise among the general audience. And, of course, its stars, including the incredible Martha Plimpton and the irrepressible Cloris Leachman, and its writers, led by creator Greg Garcia, make it irresistably funny.

Later, I'll post my exclusive interview with Plimpton, about working with Cloris, and what it's like to be sitcom-dom's first 40-year-old grandma.

Monday, January 10, 2011

ABC Family renews Pretty Little Liars, Secret Life of the American Teenager





The Third Season of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” Returns

With All-New Episodes Beginning on Monday, March 28

Pasadena, CA (Monday, January 10, 2011) – ABC Family has given new season orders to two of the network’s hit series, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” which has been renewed for a fourth season, and “Pretty Little Liars,which was picked-up for a second season. The new season orders were announced today by ABC Family President Michael Riley at the network’s TCA panel at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring viewers new seasons of two of ABC Family’s most successful original series,” said Riley. “Supported by incredibly talented casts and crews, ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’s’ Brenda Hampton has an unparalleled voice in speaking to today’s Millennials, and our partnership with Alloy Entertainment and Warner Horizon continues to deliver an engaging and heart-stopping show keeping ‘Pretty Little Liars’ audiences on the edge of their seats.”

ABC Family's No. 1 original series of all time, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" stood as 2010's No. 1 scripted cable series in Women 18-34 and Females 12-34. The recent winter premiere of "Pretty Little Liars" posted series highs across the board, including in Total Viewers (4.2 million), and became ABC Family's No. 2 telecast of all time in Women 18-34 and Females 12-34. ABC Family just wrapped up 2010 as its most-watched year ever, marking the network’s seventh consecutive year of growth.

The third season of the network’s hit series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” will return with all-new episodes beginning on Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:00PM ET/PT). The series’ fourth season is tentatively set to premiere on the network in summer 2011. “Pretty Little Liars,” currently airing its first season (Monday nights at 8:00-9:00PM ET/PT) on the network, is tentatively set to return for its sophomore season in summer 2011.

Created and executive-produced by Brenda Hampton, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” stars Shailene Woodley, Ken Baumann, Mark Derwin, India Eisley, Greg Finley, Daren Kagasoff, Megan Park, Francia Raisa, with Steve Schirripa and Molly Ringwald.

“Pretty Little Liars” is produced by Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television and is executive-produced by I. Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick and Leslie Morgenstein. The series stars Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Holly Marie Combs, Lucy Hale, Ian Harding, Bianca Lawson, Laura Leighton, Chad Lowe, Shay Mitchell and Sasha Pieterse.

Part of the Disney/ABC Television Group, ABC Family is distributed in over 98 million homes. ABC Family features programming reflecting today's families, entertaining and connecting with adults through relatable programming about today's relationships – told with a mix of diversity, passion, humor and heart. ABC Family's programming is a combination of network defining original series and original movies, quality acquired series and blockbuster theatricals. ABC Family is also the destination for annual Holiday events with "13 Nights of Halloween" and "25 Days of Christmas!" ABC Family. A New Kind of Family.

Source: Nielsen Media Research, National Ratings for 2010: 12/28/09-12/26/10, Most Current; 2009: 12/29/08-12/27/09, Live + 7 days; 7 consecutive years of gains and most-watched year in 2010 based on 000s among Persons 2+ in Primetime (M-Sun 8-11p). Scripted series stories exclude news, sports and reality in basic cable. Pretty Little Liars 1B premiere based on Live+Same Day for 1/3/11; ABC Family’s history: Nov. 2001 to-date.

ABC renews The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Castle


“Castle,” “Cougar Town,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family”

And “Private Practice” Receive Early Pick-ups for the 2011-12 Season

ABC announced early pick-ups for the 2011-12 season of “Castle,” “Cougar Town,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Private Practice.”

A solid mix of promising new series and proven returning hits helped the network achieve a strong start to the 2010-11 TV season. Season to date among Adults 18-49, ABC delivers 4 of the Top 10 highest-rated TV shows, the most for any network, including the Top 2 scripted programs. In fact among young adults, the network claims TV’s No. 1 comedy (“Modern Family”), the No. 1 drama (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and the No. 1 unscripted series (“Dancing with the Stars”). In Total Viewers, the network airs 2 of the Top 4 programs, including America’s No. 1 most-watched TV show overall with “Dancing with the Stars.” Led by Emmy-winning “Modern Family,” ABC’s 2-hour Wednesday night comedy block continues to resonate with viewers in its second year, surging by 15% in Total Viewers and by 14% in the key Adult 18-49 sales demographic from the same point last season.


When viewers first met Richard Castle -- a famous mystery novelist and divorced father raising his teenage daughter, while being kept grounded by his Broadway diva mother -- he was creatively blocked. But when the NYPD questioned him in connection with a series of murders staged to imitate crime scenes from his books, Castle found inspiration in NYPD Detective Kate Beckett, a bright and aggressive homicide detective with a fascination for odd and offbeat cases stemming from the years-old unsolved murder of her own mother. Though they instantly clashed, sparks of another sort began to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance as Castle stepped in to help find the copycat killer. Once that initial case was solved, Castle and Beckett continued to investigate strange homicides in New York, combining Castle’s writer intuition and Beckett’s creative detective work.

The series stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as NYPD Captain Roy Montgomery, Tamala Jones as Medical Examiner Lanie Parish, Jon Huertas as NYPD Detective Javier Esposito, Seamus Dever as NYPD Detective Kevin Ryan, Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle, with Susan Sullivan as Martha Rodgers.

“Castle” is produced by ABC Studios. Andrew Marlowe is creator/executive producer, with Rob Bowman, Laurie Zaks, David Amann and Armyan Bernstein also executive producers.


Courteney Cox stars as Jules Cobb in her Golden Globe®-nominated role as a recently divorced mom in her forties facing the often humorous challenges, pitfalls and rewards of life’s next chapter. Along for the journey are her son – a college freshman -- ex-husband and friends who, together, make up her dysfunctional but supportive and caring extended family… even if they have a funny way of showing it sometimes.

“Cougar Town” stars Courteney Cox as Jules, Christa Miller as Ellie, Busy Philipps as Laurie, Dan Byrd as Travis, Josh Hopkins as Grayson, Ian Gomez as Andy and Brian Van Holt as Bobby and is executive produced by Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”), Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Kevin Biegel (“Scrubs”).


“Grey's Anatomy” is the recipient of the 2007 Golden Globe® Award for Best Television Series – Drama, and multiple Emmy nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series.

The doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital deal with life-or-death consequences on a daily basis – it’s in one another that they find comfort, friendship and, at times, more than friendship. Together they’re discovering that neither medicine nor relationships can be defined in black and white. Real life only comes in shades of grey.

“Grey’s Anatomy” stars Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey, Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd, Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang, Justin Chambers as Alex Karev, Chandra Wilson as Miranda Bailey, James Pickens, Jr. as Richard Webber, Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres, Eric Dane as Mark Sloan, Chyler Leigh as Lexie Grey, Kevin McKidd as Owen Hunt, Jessica Capshaw as Arizona Robbins, Kim Raver as Teddy Altman, Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery and Sarah Drew as April Kepner.

“Grey’s Anatomy” was created and is executive-produced by Shonda Rhimes. Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Krista Vernoff, Rob Corn, Mark Wilding, Tony Phelan, Joan Rater are executive producers. “Grey’s Anatomy” is an ABC Studios production.


Two-time Emmy winner Patricia Heaton stars in this warm and witty single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country in Orson, Indiana, Frankie Heck is a harried wife and working mother of three who uses her wry wit and sense of humor in an attempt to get her family through each day intact. Her work life’s no easier. With her friend and co-worker, Bob, she struggles day to day as the least successful sales woman at the town’s only surviving car dealer. Frankie’s unflappable husband, Mike, is manager at the local quarry and her sardonic partner in the daily grind that is raising their average – yes, most definitely average – family.

Between juggling shifts and picking up fast food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids with love, humor and solid Midwestern practicality. Axl, the oldest, is a teenage jock who eats them out of house and home and walks around the house in his underwear. Then there’s Sue, their extraordinarily ordinary teen daughter, who fails at just about everything she tries with great gusto – although she’s hoping her recent acceptance on the school’s beleaguered no-cut cross country team might just turn things around. And last is Brick, their quirky third-grader, who reads constantly, whispers to himself and has a best friend who’s his backpack. But through all the madness shines a loving family, and together, the Hecks are putting THE MIDDLE on the map.

“The Middle” stars Patricia Heaton as Frankie, Neil Flynn as Mike, Charlie McDermott as Axl, Eden Sher as Sue, Atticus Shaffer as Brick and Chris Kattan as Bob.

“The Middle” was created and is executive produced by Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline. The series is from Warner Bros. Television.


ABC’s Emmy Award-winning hit comedy “Modern Family” takes a modern and often hilarious look at the complications that come with being a family today. Jay Pritchett, with his much younger wife Gloria and her son Manny, sits as the patriarch of a large blended family that includes his grown daughter Claire, who has three kids of her own with her husband Phil, and a grown son Mitchell, who adopted a Vietnamese baby with his gay life partner Cameron. These three families are unique unto themselves, and together they give us a window into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted embrace of the modern family.

“Modern Family” stars Ed O’Neill as Jay, SofĂ­a Vergara as Gloria, Julie Bowen as Claire, Ty Burrell as Phil, Eric Stonestreet as Cameron, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell, Sarah Hyland as Haley, Ariel Winter as Alex, Nolan Gould as Luke and Rico Rodriguez as Manny.

The series is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television in association with Levitan Lloyd Productions. Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd are executive producers/creators.


From Shonda Rhimes, the Golden Globe-winning creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” comes the story of a team of gifted doctors working together to change the lives of their patients for the better as they look to one another for friendship and love.

The doctors of Oceanside Wellness and Pacific Wellcare work on the most difficult cases, patients whose medical needs often pose moral and ethical dilemmas. Though they may heatedly disagree at work, and though their personal lives may complicate matters, at the end of the day they are the best of friends , always ready to be there for each other.

“Private Practice” stars Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, Tim Daly as Dr. Pete Wilder, Audra McDonald as Dr. Naomi Bennett, Paul Adelstein as Dr. Cooper Freedman, KaDee Strickland as Dr. Charlotte King, Brian Benben as Dr. Sheldon Wallace and Caterina Scorsone as Dr. Amelia Shepherd, with Taye Diggs as Dr. Sam Bennett and Amy Brenneman as Dr. Violet Turner.

“Private Practice” was created by Shonda Rhimes and is executive-produced by Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Mark Tinker, Steve Blackman and Craig Turk. “Private Practice” is an ABC Studios Production.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Create Your Own Super Villain

As TV critics gather at their convention in Pasadena, NBC is prepping for its big presentation day next week with a few well-timed press releases, geared to get us geeks and our creative juices all revved up.

With its newest big hope for a hit, The Cape, about to debut this Sunday at 9PM Eastern/Pacific, the network here announces a new contest, to create one of the show's villains. Check it out in the press release below -- or, fanboys, I'm sure you'd rather watch the below video, where Cape co-star and ex-Terminator Summer Glau explains it all for you.


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – January 6, 2011 – Starting January 6, fans of the new NBC drama “The Cape” (two-hour premiere Sunday, January 9, 9-11 p.m. ET; regular schedule Mondays 9-10 p.m. ET) can visit to submit original villain concepts that will give one lucky fan the chance to see their creation during an upcoming episode.

Tom Wheeler, the show’s creator and executive producer, said: “The world of ‘The Cape’ is a pulp-comic universe where no superpowers exist. While the physical cape itself has special abilities, it's loosely based on existing science. So while, your villain can't be a mutant, werewolf or galactic conqueror, you can create a cool enough reality-based source for a villain's special ability. So crack open that can of imagination and serve up Palm City's newest hell-raiser.”

To enter the contest, viewers need to submit the name of their villain, a brief description and a sketch. As indicated on the website, the judges -- a panel that includes Wheeler and producers from “The Cape” -- are looking for “Original and colorful villains that wield unique abilities, quirks and obsessions. This is your chance, be creative!”

The submission window closes on January 28.

"The Cape" is about a man who lost everything and is about to take it all back.

David Lyons ("ER") stars as Vince Faraday, a cop framed for crimes he did not commit, forcing him to team up with a group of carnival misfits to take a new identity, fight crime and win his family back. Fueled by a desire to reunite with his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, "Life on Mars") and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, "Flash Forward"), Faraday becomes "The Cape" – his son’s favorite comic book superhero – taking the law into his own hands and battling the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City.

The Cape" is a Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun production from executive producer/creator Tom Wheeler ("Empire"), along with executive producers Berman and Braun, John Wirth ("Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"), and Gene Stein ("Accidentally On Purpose").

Mrs. C. Thanks You For Your Sympathy

At the Hallmark Channel's TCA dinner tonight, I was delighted to see Marion Ross. I caught her on her way out the door, and so I knew I'd have just a moment to talk. Too bad, because I would have loved to tell her all about how I loved her work on Brooklyn Bridge. Or even on The Drew Carey Show!

But of course, first and foremost, Marion Ross will always be Mrs. Marion Cunningham from Happy Days. And the moment I mentioned the show, she shared with me what must have been foremost on her mind: thoughts of her TV husband and his legacy.

"I was very impressed with the response from the nation over my dear Tom Bosley’s passing," the youthful 82-year-old actress said. "The response was quite large, and I said, 'Look how the public cares about Mr. C. It's great to see and to know that they feel as I do, that Mr. Bosley will be greatly missed."

Dr. Quinn and Sully, Together Again

Tonight at the Television Critics (TCA) Convention, at a lovely party thrown by the Hallmark Channel at the Tournament of Roses mansion in Pasadena, I had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner with the lovely and multitalented Jane Seymour.

Seeing how young Jane looks in person (as you can see from the photo, she looks younger than I do), it's obvious why she's played all those "cougar" roles lately on TV (How I Met Your Mother) and in film (Wedding Crashers). She has quite a few more films coming out soon, too, including the comedy Freeloaders, and a dramatic film Lake Effects. And then of course there's her Hallmark Channel film airing tonight: Perfectly Prudence.

The sequel to Dear Prudence, this new film has Jane's character Prudence Macintyre making changes to her TV program, with the help of two new producers: one an old flame, and the other a sleaze making moves on her daughter. But more importantly, here is a sentence rabid Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman fans have been waiting to read: this film reunites Seymour for the first time with her 19th Century love interest, Joe Lando.

As Jane explained, this second Prudence came together quickly; although a script had been written, it hadn't been greenlighted until its producer became ill and the Hallmark execs visited him in the ICU to perk him up with the prospect of production. The wheels went quickly into motion, and the whole thing was shot this past fall in Michigan, in just 12 days. It was definitely a family affair: Jane appears with her real-life daughter Katie Flynn, as well as her husband James Keach, who had directed Dr. Quinn.

One other interesting side note: while filming Prudence in Michigan, Katie realized that the set must be relatively close to Mackinac Island, forever immortalized as the setting for another Jane Seymour fan favorite, Somewhere in Time. So Jane called the Grand Hotel and asked how to get there -- and the place sent two jets, which picked up the entire Prudence cast and brought them to the island for the day. Then, in October, when the hotel hosted a weekend for the film's 30th anniversary, Jane was filming and unable to attend. So she lent Katie one of her costumes, and lent Katie's boyfriend Christopher Reeve's waistcoat from the film, complete with 1981 penny. When they appeared, and struck some of the film's famous poses, "the fans, you can imagine, went completely nuts," Jane says.

I'm actually not sure which fan base is more rabid, in fact: for Dr. Quinn, or for Somewhere in Time. But as Jane pointed out, Mike-and-Sully lovers, if you want to see the two of them together again, watch tomorrow night and boost those ratings. After all, as she said, after those 12 days of shooting were over, everyone was delighted that they'd produced a really good film.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP Bill Erwin, 1914-2010

Thirty years ago, in the 1980 film Somewhere In Time, Bill Erwin was already playing a very old man. The idea was, he was the current-day version of Arthur, the kid whom Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour knew at the turn of the century.

Some people just seem to make a career out of playing old people, and thus seem to live forever; remember the still-kicking Angela Lansbury playing Laurence Harvey's mother in The Manchurian Candidate 48 years ago? (even though she was only 3 years his senior?!)

Erwin is probably best remembered for his guest-starring spot on Seinfeld, as old man Sid Fields, Jerry's elder charge who ends up biting Kramer in a misunderstanding over his record album collection (remember those?) He continued to turn up on TV for more than another decade, a relic nearly of the Edwardian age who would always make me both laugh and marvel: he's still alive?!

In this 1993 clip, Erwin, who died last week at 96, was a mere lad of 79 -- and became part of the sitcom's extended cast of characters who will live on in syndication for a long time to come.