When I was a kid, I hated my summer camp because the emphasis was on sports. I didn't want to play countless games of kickball and dodgeball and learn how to perfect the long jump. I wanted to write and make lanyards and watch movies (needless to say, for once I began to eagerly anticipate rainy days). But these days I take part in something that I consider camp for journalists: TCAs. For two glorious weeks I get to sit in a ballroom surrounded by my other journalist pals and meet the casts and creative teams of all of the new shows across major broadcast and cable networks. It's everything I wanted way back when. And it transports me instantaneously to the mentality of my youth: saving seats for friends at our table, gossiping over lunch, passing notes (in the form of DMs), and spending the evenings with good music, good food-- sometimes under the stars-- mixing, mingling, just generally reveling in the relaxed atmosphere away from our daily grinds.
10. Lorraine Bracco baked us cookies! For real, you guys. We got to the Rizzoli & Isles set-- Maura's house, specifically-- and there in the kitchen were two tins of homemade (with real butter!) chocolate chip cookies. She had even separated the ones with nuts from the ones without to be the utmost gracious of hostesses. It was the perfect start to the press tour, and the perfect welcome into the Rizzoli & Isles family.
9. Inadvertently hanging out with The Glee Project kids poolside. They must really be riding the fame wave for all they can muster because for days after their panel, I would work down by the pool in the afternoon and spot them. It became a running joke that they were just refusing to go home, but it really could have been its own drinking game, as well. What was cool about it, at least, was that for the most part they all hung out together and seemed to genuinely enjoy each others' company. What was not nearly as cool, though, was that they would wander around in their bathing suits-- even in the lobby of the hotel (come on, you guys, it's Beverly Hills; class it up!). And they're so young I had to avert my eyes, lest I feel like a pedophile.
8. So many of my favorite rappers are actors now, and that allows a whole new side to them. Growing up listening to hip-hop these guys seemed so far away, but seeing them try to talk up their crime drama, well, they are suddenly much more accessible. Mos, Common, LL Cool J... this would have ended up higher on the list if they had actually rapped their answers during their respective panels.
7. Interviewing Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn and having them be as lovely as I remember them from when I met them as a fan. Hogestyn especially had fantastic stories and told me about playing for the Yankees, where he think the soap opera went wrong so many years ago, and how trippy it is to be back now, working with so many long-lost familiar faces. He had an energy and an excitement that, if the show can match, could single-handedly save the genre. I only wish I had the interview on camera because he is such an animated storyteller I fear some of the best stuff is lost without his gestures and movements.
6. Damian Holbrook's screech during a pivotal moment in American Horror Story. The pilot screening would have been quite dull without that moment! This tour was also the first time I ever got to meet the *real* Damian in person, so it was extra special for that, too. Sadly, though, he did not wear pink, nor bring his adorable doggie Max with him. There's always next tour!
5. Snagging the coveted Pan Am leather bag from ABC. Let's face it, swag is basically bribery, but this was the one thing I really wanted, and one of few things I plan to keep. Once I heard they were giving them out to fans at Comic Con, I admit I became a little indignant. Critics are the ones reviewing the show, so don't we deserve a little reward for our hard work!? Yeah, okay, I sound like an entitled brat...but to be fair, I liked the show before I got the bag, so now I'm just proud to carry it around and tell everyone to tune in.
4. Getting sold on a new show simply by the panel for it. I always thought I was too cynical to allow myself to be swayed by what gets said during a press event designed to "sell" critics on a show, but I found myself more than intrigued by BBC America's new supernatural drama Bedlam by listening to the executive producer and star discuss the series. It doesn't hurt that star Theo James is adorable, but what really won me over was the discussion of internal turmoil his character would be going through while trying to put restless spirits to bed once and for all. What really clinched it, though, was the fact that because he's just a regular guy who happens to see visions, he won't always succeed, which will keep audiences (me included!) on the edge of our seats in a way not common for the genre from week to week.
3. Getting Lisa Kudrow to fess up over Friends lines she still finds herself quoting. And then actually hearing her do the lines in person. At first when I asked her what is my inevitable Friends question (since I still quote the show so damn much!), she said she really didn't still use anything. But then she paused for a moment and said that wasn't true. Maybe she didn't realize she was doing it all of the time, but there were some that certainly seeped into her subconscious. Matthew Perry's humor is something infused within her now, she admitted, as is delivery on things like "Anyway." For the record, my most quoted line is "My eyes; my eyes!"
2. The bacon was extra crispy this year. It's the little things, you guys. And one way to keep journalists happy on a daily basis, especially this journalist, and especially when those days start so early, is to feed them! Sure, there was that one day when it was a continental breakfast only, but let's face it, I didn't really need to eat bacon every morning for two straight weeks anyway. Also a runner-up for this slot was the lobster corndogs at the MTV party. Take that, Chef Ludo and your fancy lavender but no vegetarian option food!
1. Meeting the Raising Hope babies. There were tons of fantastic stars in attendance during the two week extravaganza. Some, like Tim Allen, I had grown up watching. Some, like Connie Britton, were newer favorites. Hell, there were even puppies on a couple of the panels! But the only people I were dying to meet were Baylie and Rylie, and they most certainly did not disappoint!