Blogging the TCA, Part 1: ABC president annoys reporters, “Pushing Daisies” pleases them


This is a live blog from the bi-annual Television Critics Association conference.
See more TCA live blog posts here.

I just arrived for the ABC portion of the summer Television Critics Association
conference in L.A, a three week period each summer when the broadcast and cable
networks debut their new shows, wine and dine reporters and (now) bloggers,
and make show-related announcements.

Although Malinda has been here for several days now, I’m just arriving, and
since this is my first time at the TCA, this is all new to me. So I thought
I’d share some of my impressions, sort-of like a short, snarky live blog of the event.

This morning’s discussion with ABC president Stephen McPherson
revealed a few newsy pieces. The first is bad news for Lucy Lawless
fans: contrary to the rumors, Steve says there is "no future" for
Footballers Wives at ABC. Bummer. The only other news of interest he
reveals, after being badgered by reporters pissed off that was reserving
a big Lost announcement for Comic-Con in San Diego — is that
Harold Perrineau is returning to Lost next season.
Um, that was the big announcement? The silence in the room says it all.

Now it’s time for a panel on the fantastic show Pushing Daisies, a
quirky drama about a man named Ned (Lee Pace) who can bring people back from
the dead but can’t touch the girl he loves without killing her. The girl is
named Chuck (Anna Friel), Kristin Chenoweth
plays a sassy waitress, the narrator is the Harry Potter audio book guy, Jim
, and each week they use Ned’s power to solve murders, while dealing
with various romantic entanglements. What’s not to love?

Okay I’ll admit it, I’m predisposed to like anything Daisies creator
Bryan Fuller makes, both because he was one of the first people
I interviewed for back in the day when it was hard to get anyone
to talk to me, and because he wrote a decent lesbian character into Wonderfalls.
A gay man who writes a good lesbian character is a thing to be treasured.

But I like Pushing Daisies on its own merits, and I’m not the only
one: The tired and jaded reporters actually clapped when they ran the promo
trailer just now.

The cast, creator, and director come out on stage now and take their seats
to face the crowd of eager journalists. Kristin Chenoweth has
a slightly severe haircut, sort of like a longish bob. I can’t decide if I like

Swoosie Kurtz is wearing a red patterned dress with shaggy
red shoulder-length hair. Great to see Swoosie back on TV again, even if her character
only has one eye (she wears an eye patch). I’m trying to figure
out where I’ve seen the female lead, Anna Friel, before, so I look her up on
IMDb and realize she was the girlfriend in Goal! The Dream Begins,
a soccer movie which probably only I’ve seen. It wasn’t bad, as far as soccer
movies go, but it was no Bend It Like Beckham.

But Anna looks great:

Creator Bryan Fuller says Daisies was originally
intended to be a spinoff of Dead Like Me, but evolved into this. I
have to admit, I never got into Dead Like Me, despite my affection
for Ellen Muth from The Truth About Jane, and Jasmine
from A Different World. Which reminds me: whatever happened
to Dwayne Wayne Kadeem Hardison? And what’s Cree
up to these days? I think I heard she changed her name and released
an album.

Bryan cops to ripping off the French film Amelie, and jokes that he’s
"bringing mutual masturbation back" when a reporter asks how they’re
going to develop the romantic relationship between Ned and Chuck.

Kristin, who plays a character named Olive Snook who’s in love with Ned, is
telling a story now about how she randomly sang one of her lines during a take.
The reporters pretty much laugh at anything she says.

Chi McBride — who is great on this show but will always
be the principal from Boston Public to me — is making fun of
executive producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld now, quoting him
saying "Some people see the glass half empty, some see it half full, I
see it as a glass of poison." Everyone laughs.

Random factoid: Daisies is filmed on the former Wonder Woman
set. Maybe Kristin’s character will get some bullet-deflecting bracelets.

Barry thinks this will appeal to audiences who liked Men in Black
and Tim Burton movies. Hmmm, I liked the former but not the latter. Even more
puzzling: Barry’s wearing an orange striped tie with a bright green shirt and
a light pink blazer. No fear that anyone’s going to think he’s gay anytime soon.
Blind maybe, but not gay.

Bryan reveals a spoiler about a future episode involving Ned baking anti-depressants
into pies. Yes, it’s that kind of show. He also says he’s planning a musical
episode, ala Buffy. Hey Bryan, I hear Amber Benson‘s
free – she’d make a good singing waitress, don’t you think? Just for God’s sakes
don’t kill her!

Someone asks Bryan about Heroes now, for which he wrote several episodes,
and whether he considered staying on. Bryan avoids answering the question and
talks about how much he loved working on Heroes, and how he’s modeled
his writing process on Daisies on his experience at Heroes.
Bryan describes Chuck and her family as "Christmas and Easter Jews,"
in response to someone’s question about why Chuck is Jewish and how that will
factor into the show.

The panel’s all over, and now there’s a mad rush to the stage to interview
Bryan, Barry, and the cast. Since there aren’t any lesbians on the show, Angie
and crew will be on stage to discuss Women’s Murder Club,
I’m staying put for now.

More to come…

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