EDITORS’ NOTE: This story originally posted on January 25. The Television Critics Association winter press tour gets underway today.
Just months after Facebook made its Television Critics Association press tour debut at the summer conference, and Netflix and Amazon returned to the fold after going MIA, Netflix and Facebook are not on the schedule for the winter edition of the semi-annual gathering.
The social network’s return is maybe not so surprising, given the acrimony of its maiden voyage, at which it had been given a place of honor in the non-broadcast block of the tour, hammocked between TCA royalty HBO and National Geographic Channels.
Facebook execs came to walk press through the company’s ramp-up of original programming on Facebook Watch, but instead got hammered with a lot of questions about Facebook’s distribution of InfoWars and other dubious content, culminating in one TV critic’s question: “Do you have anything in the works … that speaks to the misinformation that is out there, like a fun sort of rundown of the top 10 worst, most, you know, un-factual shows, you know, on Facebook?”
Netflix, which last summer got its very own day at the twice-a-year, program-plugging bacchanal, is inviting TCA attendees to a screening during this winter run of the conference and has not ruled out future appearances at TCA.
But, CTAM, which oversees the cable and streaming portions of the tour, said Netflix did not feel the timing was right to hold Q&As at this TCA. That speaks to the challenge of the association’s love of a streaming service that is breaking all the rules – including feeling obligated to show up every six months at TCA, as do broadcast networks, HBO, Showtime, etc.
This time, TCA is taking it well.
“Even if Netflix isn’t doing a full day this year, there are still an endless string of streamers and big players” bringing A-list talent, noted TCA president Daniel Fienberg during a recent podcast for his employer, THR, where he’s chief TV critic.
“Catch-22 on Hulu with George Clooney – come on! Meryl Streep on Big Little Lies Season 2 – come on! It’s bigger and bigger and, to me, that’s a lot of what is exciting about being there,” he added.
Among the A-listers and TCA darlings scheduled to show: Clooney for Hulu’s Catch-22; Streep, joining Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman for HBO’s Big Little Lies; Veeps’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus; BBCA’s Golden Globe-winning Killing Eve star Sandra Oh; Ben Kingsley, star of Epix noir drama Our Lady, LTD; Morgan Freeman for NatGeo’s The Story of God; Patricia Arquette for Hulu’s The Act; and more.
Given the dubious trend by broadcast execs to shy away from onstage, on-record Q&As during winter TCA tours, an encouraging number of them are scheduled to take questions as their slice of the industry undergoes massive change.
CBS’ TCA schedule does not show any Q&A time, during which execs might take tough questions about results of the CBS board’s investigation into the company culture, the challenge of having a primetime program hosted by the wife of your former CEO as he battles to secure the massive severance payment the board announced it would not fork over, or Eliza Dushku’s allegation she was sexually harassed by Bull star Michael Weatherly.
Similarly, NBC’s TCA schedule does not show Q&A time for NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, who were named in September to replace to Bob Greenblatt, who stepped down after eight years at the helm.
But Fox says it will have an exec panel during its TCA day, at which attendees can ask questions about the network’s future as it parts company with its studio. In October, New Fox chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch named AMC President and General Manager Charlie Collier the network’s new Entertainment CEO.
And Karey Burke, the Freeform honcho who previously served as EVP Primetime Series at NBC — where she oversaw The West Wing, Will & Grace and ER and supervised development of Freaks and Geeks, Ed and Scrubs — will take questions as new entertainment chief at ABC, to which she was named in November, replacing Channing Dungey.
Meanwhile, CW Television Network President Mark Pedowitz – a TCA fave for showing up and answering questions on the record every six months – is scheduled to do so again. Ditto, PBS President-CEO Paula Kerger.
Among cable/streaming-service execs expected to take questions on the record: Curiosity Stream founder-chairman John Hendricks and president-CEO Clint Stinchcomb; Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke and Co-Heads of Television Albert Cheng and Vernon Sanders; Hulu SVP Originals Craig Erwich; TBS/TNT president and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment Kevin Reilly; Starz president-CEO Chris Albrecht; and BYUTV managing director Michael Dunn, content director Andra Johnson Duke and strategy director Ian Puente.
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