Winter TV Press Tour 2015 begins tomorrow. The press tour – attended by TV critics, Reporters Who Cover Television, and a boatload of locally based competitive tweeters — has long since ceased to be the place where journalists who covered this industry discuss the implications of sun-setting the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules. And it’s been a full 15 years since TV critics came to enjoy the sun in Dottyville on the Pacific and chat about new TV shows, only to find themselves caught in a hail of acronyms when Your Brain On Drugs-Gate broke out at Press Tour with word the ONDCP – the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy – had started requiring networks to send it scripts of entertainment series episodes prior to broadcast in order to get credit for embedded anti-drug storylines, as part of the ONDCP’s anti-drug ad-buy campaign.
Heck it’s been more than two years since Sarah Palin competed for press attention with a capuchin monkey, at NBC’s Press Tour poolside party, winning by the slimmest of margins, but only because Crystal, the scene-stealing darling of The Hangover II, We Bought A Zoo (and, turned out, NBC’s quickly cancelled Animal Practice), had to take a break from wrapping herself around TV critics and kissing them on the lips, so her trainer could check her diaper — after which it was decided Crystal should call it a night, and Palin had the field all to herself.
Which is not to say this winter tour is lacking in potential (see the full schedule below). Both Larry Wilmore and James Corden, for instance, will subject themselves to Q&As about their new late-night shows on Comedy Central and CBS, respectively — two sessions that are sure to be lively. Both men are one degree of separated from Stephen Colbert: Wilmore, of course, is replacing Colbert who, in turn, is going to become Corden’s new lead-out at CBS, after David Letterman retires in May.
And the tour kicks off tomorrow with the always lively Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who bunches industry undies for sport. Most recently he taunted movie distribution execs, calling them “pretty stuck in old models,” and warning exhibitors “need to stop distinguishing the experience by access,” adding, heretically, “many movies are just as good, if not better, at home.”
Netflix’ press tour at-bat also includes a Q&A session with Tina Fey — in theory to talk about her upcoming comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but no doubt destined to include a lot of questions about this weekend’s Golden Globes hosting duties.
After that, TV Everywhere will get to fire off some spitballs in its ongoing battle with Sling Media. The latest headache for pay TV’s PR and marketing execs was launched last month when Sling Media (part of Charlie Ergen’s empire at Dish Network and EchoStar) launched an ad and social-media campaign mocking TV Everywhere – the cable and satellite initiatives that stream programming to subscribers. The messages urge consumers not to get “C.W.A.P” — a Sling acronym for “Can’t Watch Anywhere Pain.” ( Dish also announced Monday its streaming service, Sling Television, will launch by the end of this month, cost just $20 a month — far less than the $35 analysts anticipated — and will include channels from Turner Broadcasting as well as ones from previously announced deals with Disney, Scripps Networks, and A+E. That means it will offer live news (from CNN) and sports (from ESPN and ESPN2), the two forms of must-have programming that keep many people tied to their $80+ a month cable and satellite subscriptions because they are not available on VOD services lead by Netflix.)
Later tomorrow, an ESPN SportsCenter Q&A is sure to be a three-hanky session, the much-liked Stuart Scott having died over the weekend after battling cancer many years.
After that, National Geographic Channel promises a “Special Programming Announcement “ with rock star astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson – who’s been in the news recently for having tweeted Happy Birthday wishes to physicist Isaac Newton on Christmas Day…
…a gag that became his most re-tweeted ever, mostly owing to those who thought he was mocking Baby Jesus, which elicited this response:
And that’s just the first day of Winter TV Press Tour 2015. There’s 19 more days where that came from. We’ll be there.
Here’s the most up-t0-date schedule:
Wednesday, January 7
Cable: Netflix, TV Everywhere, ESPN, National Geographic Channel
Thursday, January 8
Cable: Lifetime, Discovery, HBO, Crown Media
Friday, January 9
Cable: A+E Networks, POP, Pivot, TV One, Starz, History Channel
Saturday, January 10
Cable: AMC Networks, BBC America, Turner Networks, Viacom
Sunday, January 11
Monday, January 12
Tuesday, January 13
TCA Day: Yahoo TV, Crackle, Reelz Channel
Wednesday, January 14
Thursday, January 15
Friday, January 16
Saturday, January 17
Sunday, January 18
Monday, January 19
Tuesday, January 20