Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The name Steven Spielberg seems to be attached to an ever-increasing number of series — in broadcast network primetime in particular. Those include Fox’s on-the-bubble Terra Nova as well as the forthcoming NBC musical drama Smash and ABC’s horror hour The River, the Bruce Greenwood-starrer that’s been tagged “Paranormal Activity outdoors” and premieres February 7 in the Tuesday 9 PM slot. But it remains something of a mystery exactly what Spielberg’s input might be as executive producer on any of these projects — or if it’s largely ceremonial and meant simply to attach his powerful brand. The subject was raised this morning at the TCA session for The River, where it was noted that Spielberg always is too busy to grace one of these panels with his presence. One of the three exec producers who was there, Zack Estrin, begged to differ: “Oh, I think he actually is here in this room,” he said. “(Spielberg’s) influence with stories, his influence when he watches the cuts is amazing. I mean, he’s off doing a movie — or two — and the fact he finds time to watch these cuts and give us notes and be just incredibly supportive is great for us. To have someone like him at our hip and giving us guidance that’s not superficial but indeed foundational is pretty great.” (more…)