From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA Coverage:

Ricky Gervais is Now a Man of Science
Nobody has more fun than Ricky Gervais, as he proved Thursday afternoon during a TCA panel that originated live via satellite from overseas. Gervais was joined by his writer-producer partner Stephen Merchant and their best friend, Karl Pilkington, to promote their new Science Channel series An Idiot Abroad that centers on a satiric travelogue involving Pilkington’s “forced trip around the globe” visiting the Seven Wonders of the World at Gervais’ and Merchant’s behest.

The 20-minute session, conducted with the three men on big screen, outfitted with earpieces and fortified by glasses of beer positioned in front of them, was mostly an opportunity for Gervais to guffaw heartily, further humiliate Pilkington and attempt to explain how this piece of comedy could wind up on something called the Science Channel. The loose justification: it’s a social experiment to see how much humiliation one man can tolerate without losing his mind.

At least 25% of the session was taken up by Gervais’ laughing so deeply and heartily that he often couldn’t catch his breath — all of it at the hapless Pilkington’s expense. When Pilkington was asked if he ever got sick of being referred to as a moron, he replied with a tepid, “Yeah.” He added, “I don’t think of myself as a moron. I hope that people watching this show will see themselves in me. It’s a little bit like when you get a dog.”

Gervais referred to the series as “a practical joke, a social experiment, my gift to the world. I knew that Karl would never let me down. And he didn’t…I can’t believe we found the one man who will never be touched and ruined by fame.”

Mike Tyson is Now Racing Pigeons
It sounds more like a punchline to a piece of satire than an actual news story. On the 26th anniversary of his professional boxing debut, the controversial and long-troubled former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Mike Tyson, met critics in Pasadena to hype a show (Taking on Tyson) that he’s doing about Animal Planet about competitive pigeon racing. Seriously. The mere idea that Tyson would be doing a show for Animal Planet — set to premiere in March — is itself a candidate for Believe It or Not. That it’s about his “lifelong passion for raising pigeons” and entertaining “the fascinating realm of pigeon racing” is perhaps less imaginable still.

But this afternoon, Tyson was in top hyperkinetic form, running a mile a minute as if his mouth were connected to a motor drive. It was difficult to understand everything he was saying, so overwhelming was his verbal hurricane. But this much could be gleaned:

On why he’s suddenly dedicated his life to racing pigeons: “It’s not just a competitive outlet. I didn’t need a competitive outlet. It’s just a chance to broaden my horizons. People are ignorant of the life of flying pigeons.This was a chance to get into that…I’d never participated in sanctioned races before. I’d just watched them. I’ve been a fan for a long time. But now I’m doing it.”

On Michael Vick’s comeback from his imprisonment for torturing dogs to returning to stardom in the NFL: “The only thing I know is that the man did his time and is doing an incredible comeback as far as his personal life is concerned. He admitted to his crime and paid the time. Maybe he has to suffer some more a little bit. But my opinion don’t mean nothin’ I’m just racing pigeons and stuff.”

On Piers’ Morgan’s admission that his interview with Tyson several years ago didn’t go so well and Morgan was fortunate to escape with his well-being intact: “I don’t remember ever talking to Piers Morgan. I can’t say I did or didn’t. That was then. This is now.”

On whether the new series will delve into Tyson’s colorful, challenged and self-destructive past: “Of course there will be things about my life. There were some dark places I’ve been that we’ll get into a little bit. But the main insight will be birds and what birds are doing and what they mean to my life. And the personalities on this show are going to dwarf my own personality.”

On whether the pigeons on his new show bear ani similarity to the ones who cause a nuisance on one’s balcony: “We don’t want those birds that are on your fire escape! Those are rats. These ones on this show that we’re talking about are like thoroughbred pigeons with long bloodlines. I want my name attached to the best bloodline. But you can tell a lot about a person from how they are with their pigeons. I can look at your coop and find out what kind of person you are. If you have a dirty coop, maybe that’s how you are, too.”

On the historic pedigree and value of pigeons: “The history of pigeons goes back much further than what you might anticipate. When Napoleon went to the Battle of Waterloo and fought General Wellington in England, Wellington won the war because they’d released homing pigeons to get information on the Rothchild family. And that information helped them win the war. Pigeons can do a lot of surprsing things like that. It goes to many other levels, the royal level too. It’s way more cultural than something you’d do just as a hobby.”

Rob Corddry & the Twin Towers
At a morning panel promoting the new Cartoon Network/Adult Swim live-action comedy series Childrens Hospital, executive producer/co-star Rob Corddry admitted that things didn’t necessarily get off to a flying start a few years ago with producer Warner Bros. when the series began life as a digital online phenomenon in 2008. “We got a call for out first script where we were asked, ‘Do you think you might be able to cut the shot where we actually see the Twin Towers burning?’,” Corddry recalled. “And I just thought, ‘Yeah, that’s a great note’.”

Ray Romano’s Wife Doesn’t Like Him Kissing Other Women On TV
During the panel later the same morning hyping the TNT seriocomic series Men of a Certain Age, star Ray Romano was asked about how the female characters on the show were resonating with viewers. “Well,” he said, “every time my wife sees me do a kissing scene, she says, ‘This is bullshit! We have enough money’.”
Added fellow star Scott Bakula: “And my wife says, ‘Keep kissing’.”