Saturday, July 27, 2013

DanielleTBD's 2013 TCA Diary: P. Diddy, Left Out of Starz' Swag, A Very Special Reunion, and PIVOT!...

Earlier this week I received an email that basically said "P. Diddy invites you to breakfast." To get specific, it was from the new Revolt TV network, which is designed to bring music back to television, whose chairman happens to be Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Let's just say, I was hoping for gold flakes to top off my bacon on that day.

Well that day was today, Day 3 of TCA. Combs mingled with the various tables (unfortunately he never made it to mine) and addressed the room from the podium to talk about how wants Revolt to be the ESPN or CNN of music: the place you trust most and therefore go to first and forever for authority on that topic. He was extremely passionate and charismatic and appeared to have memorized a speech, rather than reading off a teleprompter. There were no gold flakes, but the bacon was extra crispy.

(the crown is not gold-plated, nor from/because of Diddy)

From there, Viacom came in to present a couple new reality shows and a sitcom from Nickelodeon that's basically Trophy Wife but without the on-screen complications of the ex(es). Starz came in with The White Queen, apparently only sending their swag kit to a select group of journalists this time, and sadly I was not a part of it, a point I feel well worth making because the TCA board got up in arms about the decadence of January's swag kit because it could have been considered a bribe. If you're going to talk about the good and give them extra attention (at least on social media) for the things they do to try to sweeten your opinion of them, you have to balance it out with attention to when they do things that go the other way. Any less would be showing a bias, wouldn't it? 

However, they did provide passing appetizers in the session room, which may not be a first for TCA (I'm honestly not sure), but it was a first for me at TCA, and that went a long way to win be back over. It was also from where I got the photo op I posted above. I wasn't sure if those little crowns, perched on top of tartlets, were edible or not. They probably were, but I can't pass up a good pseudo-tiara!

Philippa Gregory and her unflinching honesty (from "I am utterly indifferent to Kate Middleton's baby...It's going to have a terrible life, and if it had been a girl, it would have been a nightmare" to "You're so nice that you think think that British people are so well-informed…On some levels, we're quite dumb") was a positive cap on a questionable morning of panelists that ranged from nervous kids trying to find their sperm donor father on MTV's Generation Cryo to the Jersey Shore of Nurses for that same network. 

A few quick thoughts on those two reality shows because then I'll probably never speak of them again: Generation Cryo is a fascinating concept, but I worry about the fact that the father of at least one of the kids isn't on the National Donor list, meaning he isn't actively looking to meet the kids he fathered. So if they find him, it will be a disruption, to say the least, and may even lead to heartbreak. What makes good TV doesn't necessarily make good lives.

And then there's Nurses, which is just questionable on principle: what hospital would think it's a good idea to let cameras film protocols and procedures and potentially get in the way of those who actually need to save lives? Turns out, that doesn't seem to be the biggest problem here because the show features young 20 and 30 something self-proclaimed professionals who in the next breath talk about sleeping with doctors and partying hard. Something tells me the hospital may come to regret allowing their people to do this because they are now open to criticism about the kind of people they employ.

Day 3 was really all about AMC, though, because they not only sponsored the lunch but also brought Breaking Bad for a final season panel, and Cranston was working really hard to keep us laughing, rather than crying, which was a welcome change to the usual final panels for (even moderately) beloved series. They didn't give us any fake blue meth, but they brought news of a feature-length documentary coming on the series DVD set.

The new channel PIVOT, which through no fault of their own got Ross' voice stuck in my head (and you all know how much I hate Ross), brought perhaps the weirdest panel, as it was a combination of talent from their line-up, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Meghan McCain, Josh Thomas, Jacob Soboroff, and I think a former Crip and Blood (I'm not sure because though the publicist pitched them to me that way for an interview, no words were said on stage or in the clip package about their past, just focused on current work with an east coast non-profit, which really is the better, less sensational story). Thomas is a young comedian with a semi-autobiographical series inexplicably titled Please Like Me, which provided really fun swag for us pandering critics ;) I will carry that branded tote and slap that sticker on my laptop with pride!

It was because of Pivot that I learned I actually, sadly, am a part of the millennial generation. A fellow journalist Tweeting me assuming I was when I snarkily responded to the network's president Evan Shapiro comments about millennials being the "hero generation." I Googled it and found out that now the term has replaced Generation Y and encompasses anyone born from the early 1980s to 2000s. That was really unfortunate news for me personally because I not only hate the word itself but I hate the entitlement and specific youth culture of the later end of this particular generation. I'm sure every generation before me feels that way about their own, but I really feel like we are the worst.

I do applaud Pivot for actively trying to not only educate that generation and for taking chances on something different, mainly with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's HitREcord project, where he brings artists together in not only a community but specific projects to create original animations, songs, and films. Everyone on the stage had a ton of passion for what they were doing, and they spoke with intelligence and authority, not just superiority, about the content, as well as the format (noting that "second screen" is really Twitter and Facebook, and programming needs to be offered through multiple platforms to give audiences a choice on how and when to watch so they will-- just around their schedule, not a network's. It will remain to be seen on August 1st when the network and their app launches on whether the content executes the ideas efficiently and without arrogance, but considering they are kicking off their line-up with a Friday Night Lights re-watch, they're clearly tapped into what the people want at least, millennials or not. 

The day ended with Lifetime promoting Witches of East End, which I was excited about because it stars Eric Winter, who was one of my first interviews ever-- back when I was at USC and working on my senior documentary about fan culture. Fun story: I set up the interview through his personal publicist at the time, and she asked that I go to him for the interview. I said 'No problem; I visited Matt Ashford on set, and I attended a public signing to talk to Bryan Dattilo and Alison Sweeney.' And his publicist got back to me with 'Okay, go to his home at this time.' So I had one of the most surreal experiences of my interview career because I saw his place and bonded with his dog Lily (a gift from Sharon Osbourne). I don't suggest actors (or writers or producers or directors or whatever) give out their home addresses-- ever-- and he's far too famous to do such a thing now, so I kind of love my special little moment. And yes, when we did an interview this time, he did say his English Bulldog Lily is still a part of his family at 11 years old. 

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