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July 18, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | July 18, 2007 |

OK, there is a fuckton of TV trade news this week, as the Television Critics Association press tour is in full-swing (that’s where the networks make their big pre-fall push to the critics, wining, dining and 69ing them in the hopes of getting some press). I can’t cover every bit of news that’s come out of there (there are plenty of places on the interwebs to find every tiny detail), but I’ll try to hit most of the highlights through NBC’s day on Monday, and then we’ll cover some more next week. But first, I have to explain why we’re mourning the death of television. Quite simply, we’re talking some dark dark shit. Book of Revelation, Tribulation and 1,000 years of rule under the Anti-Christ type of dark. And it’s all VH1’s fault. In fact, despite my love for “Rock My Cock”, I am so very very very close to calling for a permanent boycott of VH1, particularly if it might stop this Armageddon. For you see, so it was written, so it will unfortunately be — this September, those mother motherfuckers are hitting the world with a new show called “What Perez Says.”

Yes. That Perez.

Pajiba’s favorite celeblogging douchebag will be the focus of a series of one-hour motherfucking specials. No word on what the show is actually going to be about, although the Douchebag himself says that it’ll be like his website “come to life, but even juicier.” I can only hope and pray that the juice in question is his own blood, dripping down his chilling carcass. Seriously, VH1 — fuck you long and fuck you hard and just fuck you.

However, all is not lost entirely, because IFC has purchased the rights to the new 10 chapters of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet!” If you haven’t seen the first 12 chapters, you don’t realize how truly awesome this is, but trust me — I don’t care that this guy is a douchenozzle pisser-on-kids. Well, I do — I am personally offended by him, beyond words. But regardless, “Trapped in the Closet” is the absolute pinnacle of unintentional comedy, and the fact that IFC will be airing the long-awaited new chapters (along with the original episodes, plus streaming them all online) is just amazing beyond words. I’m as giddy as a pie-eating midget with crumbs all over my face who’s been hiding under a sink.

I’m also pretty giddy that September, while puking Perez on us, will also signal the official return of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The network has finally given us a confirmed premiere date — September 13 — and word has it they’re even planning to increase the number of episodes. That’s an acceptable gift to make up for the fact that September 13 isn’t really “late summer,” which is when the show’s advertised return had been slated for. Consider your apology accepted, FX.

Sticking with basic cable, CourtTV has decided that as of next January 1st, it’ll henceforth be known as “truTV.” The purpose of this name change is apparently to emphasize the fact that the network focuses less on courtroom crap these days, instead piling on lots of true stories. I guess the decision makes sense, in light of that, but “truTV” was the best they could come up with? I mean, that’s a fucking terrible name, right? Not “The CW” bad, but damn close.

SciFi, meanwhile, hit us with some “Battlestar” news. Much like last year, there will be a bunch of online webisodes, this time leading up to the two-hour special about the Pegasus. Starting in October, we’ll get eight 2-3 minute shorts about a young William Adama discovering some mysterious Cylon weapon that will come into play in the “present.” This will then lead up to the two-hour “Battlestar Pegasus: Razor,” which will focus on Lee Adama’s first mission as commander of the Pegasus. Giddeeup.

Turning to HBO’s time at the TCAs, the network confirmed Ricky Gervais’ previously announced plan to end “Extras” with a one-off one-hour special, similar to what he did with “The Office” and its wrap-up Christmas special. The “Extras” wrap-up is scheduled to shoot next month, and while an airdate hasn’t been announced, I’m guess we’ll see it right around the end of the year or the beginning of next year (and we’ll also be getting a Gervais stand-up special at some point, which is fine by me). Meanwhile, Larry David still isn’t sure whether he’s done with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or not. He said he writes every season finale like a series finale, tricking himself in order to get the writing done, and this upcoming season finale was no different. David says he’ll sit down in his office in October and feel things out (translation: “Lemme see how much money HBO dumps in my lap, particularly since I just finished with an expensive divorce”).

And then there was “Deadwood.” HBO’s co-president said that Milch “is exhausted” from making “John From Cincinnati,” and the network’s president of the programming group admitted that a second season of “John” (which isn’t a sure thing) would obviously play some part in the “Deadwood” flicks’ future. I think it’s safe to say that a renewal of “John” means these movies are 98% dead, whereas no second season puts us back at the 50/50 mark (which is actually, after much apparent prodding form the reporters, what the HBO execs claimed were the current odds of these movies happening). As for the current best show on television, “The Wire” will air its swan-song season sometime early next year. So for those of you not caught up, get on those DVDs pronto. Seriously.

Let’s step back from the TCAs for a minute, because there was some other entertaining TV news this week, in the form of two good outbursts. First, there’s Steven Moffat, who railed against NBC and its head, Jeff Zucker. Moffat is the creator of the original (and funny) British “Coupling.” He was also heavily involved with importing it over to the States for the short-lived (and heinously unfunny) “Coupling.” Well, Moffat says that the biggest problem with the Americanization was that NBC, and president Jeff Zucker in particular, couldn’t keep its big nose out of shit. As reported by Alan Sepinwall, here was Moffat’s response to a question about what went wrong with the Americanization:

I can answer it with three letters — N-B-C. Very, very good writing team. Very, very good cast. The network [expletive] it up, because they intervened endlessly. If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you with it, because they’re not funny. All right? There you go.
I can say that because I don’t care about working for NBC. But I think I’m entitled to say that because I think the way in which NBC slagged off the creative team on American “Coupling” after its failure was disgraceful and traitorous. So I enjoy slagging them off. That’s the end of my career in L.A. I’ll be leaving shortly.

Now I’m not sure that I buy all the blame being on NBC, as I really didn’t see even a glimmer of potential in the import. But I eat this kind of balls-out and public “fuck you” up, so my hat’s off to you Mr. Moffat.

Meanwhile, my hat is also off to the executive producer of “Criminal Minds,” who has issued a raging public “fuck you” to Mandy Patinkin. Late last week, reports were flurrying that Patinkin had not come to the set, and that he was possibly going to be written out of at least the season premiere as a result. Some speculated that it was contract negotiations or some such, but the exec producer wanted to make it quite clear that this wasn’t the case. You can read the whole thing over at">Criminal Minds Fanatic, but the short version is that Patinkin just hadn’t bothered to show up, and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone why. And this, despite the fact that “everyone involved in the show has for two years bent over backwards to give him anything he wanted.” Patinkin has finally agreed to show up for one episode, to let the showrunners write him out, but then that’s it, he’s done. Now I’d like to play eternal optimist here and hope that this was all a move on his part so that he could be involved with the “Dead Like Me” movie which is getting ready to film, since word had it he wouldn’t be involved because of the show. The alternative, of course, is that he’s just a prick. Can Inigo Montoya really be a prick? Probably — especially since former “Chicago Hope” co-star Adam Arkin allegedly quipped that Patinkin has done this before, referring to his similar walk-out on “Hope.”

Back at the TCAs, Showtime says that it has no plans right now for a third run of “Sleeper Cell,” and it doesn’t even have any type of contract hold on the actors. But the network says that it might revisit the show with a new installment a few years down the line, which I’m totally OK with. I never really thought “Sleeper Cell” would work as a full-fledged show, but I have loved it in the quick-and-dirty miniseries format. So take a few years off and then hopefully come back with a strong third go-round? Perfect. Of course, “Weeds” is about to come back for its third go-round, and it’s going to do the same thing it did last year with regard to its theme song — that is, the song will be covered by a different band each week. I love the hell out of this. Among others, we’ll hear covers by The Decemberists and The Shins. And man, I so agree with creator Jenji Kohan, who says the one cover she really wants is Tom Waits. That would be tits.

Wouldn’t you know it, the Hallmark Channel was at the TCAs too, and I think they issued my favorite news to date. This is really awesome. The Hallmark Channel has decided to put together a “heart-stopping thriller” to revive the “big-budget, all-star disaster genre.” This thriller-to-be is called “Final Approach,” and will be about some shit that goes down on a hijacked plane. But check out this, uhm, cast: Dean Cain, Anthony Michael Hall, Lea Thompson, Richard Roundtree, and Tracey Gold! If that doesn’t sell you, how about this quote from the press-release:

The stage is set. The clock is ticking. With chaos escalating, Flight 732 is making its deadly, final approach.

You’re in, right?

Yeah, me too.

Before we get to NBC, just a quick note to finish off an ongoing thread in these roundups: Fox has confirmed that those two never-to-air episodes of “Drive” will, as I speculated last week, show up on MySpace. In fact, they’re already there — you can check ‘em out here. Also, as was pointed out in a Pajiba Love last week, the show’s exec producers gave an interview detailing some of the plot points that would’ve come up as the season progressed, had there been a full season to progress. They don’t say who would’ve won the race and, frankly, I barely remember enough of the show to know who most of the people are they are referring to — but again, for those that care, here you go.

And now, let’s wrap things up with NBC, which had a lot to share. First, its schedule has been rejiggered, as newbie Ben Silverman tries to put his fingerprints on the schedule originally set by the ousted Kevin Reilly. We can worry about the details this fall, when it actually matters, but one thing is worth noting: While “Friday Night Lights” is still stuck on Fridays, it’s moved from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m., and its lead-in will now be “Deal or No Deal,” which is about as strong a lead-in as NBC can offer the show. And its lead-out will be the now-with-Tom-Selleck “Las Vegas.” Hopefully this will help the show out a little, in terms of getting some eyeballs on it.

Turning to the Thursday night comedies, seems that our dear friend Earl Hickey won’t be quickly getting out of that whole jail-cell predicament he was left in by the “My Name Is Earl” finale. He’ll try to do some things with his list in the jail, plus flashbacks will be used to let the writers do some non-jail stories. There will be another (hour-long, this time) “COPS” episode as well. I’m down with all of this, as I think this show needs to keep changing things up to stay good. But “30 Rock” does not need to be changing things up and, happily, it was confirmed that Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin would both be back for full runs, despite some off-season drama (particularly with Baldwin and his brief public request to be let go from the show). Plus, Jerry Seinfeld will be showing up in the season premiere, playing himself. Said the funny guy: “I think it’s going to be so refreshing for me to be playing myself in a show that has nothing to do with neurotic, dysfunctional New York characters.”

And so ends the good NBC news. Now for the bad. Firstly, the network has picked up “Phenomenon,” a new piece-of-shit featuring Uri Geller and (douchebag emo-gician) Chris Angel finding a new “mentalist.” Ben Silverman says this will be “a game-changing television show.” Sounds more like it’ll be channel-changing television. (Bah-duhm-bump!) And speaking of changing the channel, the network confirmed that Trump will indeed be back with a new season of “The Apprentice” and this time … it’s going to be a celebrity version. Won-der-ful. No “celebrities” have been cast yet, but I can’t wait to see what bottom-dwellers they get. Silverman said that he thought “it’d be great to have Rosie on ‘The Apprentice’” and that the Donald “personally told me to extend an invite to her.” You know, I think hiring Silverman to fix this network is working out juuuust beautifully. (To be fair, the network has also signed a development deal with Charlie Corwin, the producer responsible for The Squid and the Whale and Half Nelson, so maybe they’re at least trying to do some things right.)

Lastly, I haven’t checked this out yet, but I’m definitely intrigued. TelevisionWithoutPity has launched a fantasy TV game called “TV Bigshot,” which basically lets folks play a season-long fantasy game running a network. With a starting budget of $300 million, you get to buy-up shows and set your primetime lineup. And at the end of it all, there’s an actual $100,000. As I said, I haven’t even been to the website yet, but I definitely like the idea of having another avenue to practice my TV whorishness, although I can’t allow this to interfere with the extreme amount of fall time already devoted to fantasy football.

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television editor. He has to give credit where credit is due — the terms “douchenozzle” and “emo-gician” both come from “The Kevin & Bean Show” over on KROQ.

Mourning the Death of Television

The Trade Round-Up / The TV Whore
July 18, 2007

Industry | July 18, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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