The TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 has wrapped its 16-day run. Here is what we learned:
Most Searing Description Of Hollywood
David LaChapelle, who famously became a photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in his teens, has been called The Fellini of Photography, and has photographed the likes of Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Eminem, Warhol, Lil’ Kim, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Muhammad Ali, was asked yesterday to discuss the “ebb and flow” of depictions of sex and nudity; he’s featured in PBS’ American Masters broadcast The Boomer List.
“Growing up in New York City, when I was very young, pre-AIDS, it was very hedonistic, and sexuality was, you know, the revolution. I remember working at [Studio 54] and straight guys would say they were bi, to pick up girls because it was cool. And then, AIDS happened, and everything changed. Things got very, very conservative and segregated. Now…we are sort of in this Dark Ages where the body is considered shameful…yet violence, and torture, and these films — the Saw series, The Hunger Games — you look at Netflix, what’s going on, and every other new show is extreme violence, and this is our entertainment. We applaud that. And our kids are playing these video games, but yet the human body is somehow shameful. And God forbid a kid sees a nipple, you know.”
TV programs such as HBO’s Sex And The City (Kim Cattrall also was a panelist), he said, have “been replaced by so much ultra-violence in this torture form. I find that really interesting because all our popular culture reflects the society in which it was created. So what does that say about us? Why are we so obsessed with watching other human beings suffering? We don’t get enough of it on the news that we — that’s our entertainment, too? I think that’s the real pornography. That’s the real evil, and that’s the real darkness.”
Most Changed Executive
NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt — last Press Tour’s Mr. Flat Is The New Up — spoke happily this tour about Up Being The New Up: “We had a pretty great season so far this year. We’re No. 1 in the demo. We’re the only network up, year to year, almost 10% to date. Even if you take the Olympics out of our numbers, we would still be No. 1 for the year…We’re also leading in the 25-54 demo, and all key adult female demos as well. We also had a huge growth in total viewers where we’re running No. 2 season to date. In fact, we’re up 27% year over year, which is our strongest performance this far into the season in eight years.”
CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, telling reporters after his Q&A for the network’s new Thursday night football that he’s interested in buying CNN should Rupert Murdoch prevail in his bid to by the cable news network’s parent Time Warner and spin off CNN. “We’ve always talked about doing things with CNN in the past… It’s something I’m sure we’ll look at if it becomes available,” Moonves said. Last month, when CBS took the final step in the spinoff of its billboard company, “that was our intent, to get rid of billboards and potentially buy more content,” Moonves said, adding, “We’re in a very advantageous position.”
Enough About Me. Let’s Talk About You. What Do You Think Of Me?
“I think of my name very highly, and I would not attach my name to any film that I think was not up to my high standards, and that speaks for itself,” Spike Lee said, when asked what he thought of aspiring filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe, whose autobiographical film, Evolution Of A Criminal, is about his decision in high school to rob a Bank of America with two classmates to help his financially strapped mother. (Monroe decided to become a filmmaker while serving five years in prison for that robbery, and subsequently got his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where Lee is artistic director and Monroe one of his students; Lee has exec producer credits on Monroe’s film.) “I will say this, though. I didn’t know he robbed a bank till he told me,” Lee continued. “I mean, no one knew. And there was a question earlier and I think my man made the right decisions. Because if he had told people he robbed a bank, he would not have gone to NYU Graduate Film School.”
Most Awkward/Zippy Exchange
When NBC’s State Of Affairs star Katherine Heigl was asked to address press reports she is difficult to work with, and whether she’s being labeled as such because she’s a woman who speaks her mind, the exchange went like this:
State Of Affairs executive producer Ed Bernero: Could I answer a little bit of that?
TV Critic: No, you can’t.
Bernero: I’ve been working with Katherine now –
TV Critic: Sorry. I want to hear from Katherine, seriously.
Bernero: I’ve been working with Katherine and Nancy for –
TV Critic: Seriously, I want to hear from Katherine.
Bernero: Wow, that’s rude!
(After which Heigl answered, “I certainly don’t see myself as being difficult,” and “it’s most important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly.”)
Second Zippiest Exchange
Sleepy Hollow executive producer Roberto Orci, responding to a TV critic who mentioned the Fox drama series had fallen behind in production:
Orci: Who said we fell behind in production?
TV Critic: Kevin Reilly, in January.
Orci: Look what happened to him.
Why Broadcast Dramas Can’t Complete With Cable For Best Drama Emmys, Need Own Category Called Best Drama Stuck Working With ’80s Mores
During the Q&A for NBC’s Constantine, a TV critic noted there’s a brief glimpse in one scene when Constantine’s at a bar is stubbing out a cigarette.
TV Critic: Beyond that, there are no hints that he is a smoker. That’s one of the defining characteristics of the character. It leads to perhaps the most beloved Constantine story of all. Are you allowed to show him smoking? And if not, how does that alter your take on the character?
Constantine executive producer David S. Goyer: He is a smoker in the show. We’re not shying away from it, but we’re not glorifying it.
TV Critic: So what does that mean? Will you actually show him smoking cigarettes?
Constantine executive producer Daniel Cerone: That’s a question you probably should ask the network afterward, but they’re beholden to broadcast standards too. So we get it. We know the universe that we’re existing within. And trust me, we heard pitches from all kinds of different camps about “Let’s give him the patch” or “He chews a lot of gum.”
Goyer: But we thought having him stub something out is more truthful.
Cerone: Yeah. It’s like, look, he’s a smoker. Look, I believe Constantine probably has a very healthy sex life. We’re not going to see that on screen either. We’re on network television, so we’re limited in what we can do and what we can show.”
Fox Networks Group chairman-CEO Peter Rice was asked about the future of recently departed Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly’s initiative to bypass pilot season, which Reilly announced at the previous TCA, complete with a slide of a Pilot Season tombstone. “I think that was a little misinterpreted,” Rice said.
Most Derailed Q&A
“Incest is hot, and we’re going to have fun!” MTV’s Happyland star Bianca Santos said during that new series’ panel session, giving reporters the leads of their write-ups. Before the Q&A started, critics were treated to a clip from the pilot episode of the soapy teen comedy, which explores the underbelly of a popular theme park. At the very end of the clip, Santos’ character, Lucy — around whom this show’s universe revolves — makes out with the theme park’s new hottie, only to discover they’re siblings. Understandably, that informed the questions they asked of the show panel onstage — to the surprise, and weirdly, the annoyance of some panelists.
TV Critic: I understand you all are trying to get off the incest thing.
Happyland co-star Cameron Moulene: Please, bring it back — we haven’t had enough.
TV Critic: Look, I didn’t put it in the pilot, [but] when you add that, tonally, how do you go forward? I don’t think there’s such a thing as a funnier Flowers In The Attic.
Lustiest Exec Session
“Is he gorgeous, or what?!” PBS Masterpiece EP Rebecca Eaton cooed, after showing TV critics a clip of a premiering mystery series called Grantchester, which, she said, “stars the gorgeous James Norton.” Masterpiece also has ordered a Poldark remake. “Lots of riding on horses and tight britches — you’ll enjoy that,” she told critics as she introduced that clip too. She was correct.