The first podcast of 2009 over on CHML's Scott Thompson Show takes a look at the best and worst on TV of 2008. You can listen in here.
This was the year that the smug, superior look was smacked clean off the faces of network programming executives. What does it all mean in 2009? I'm off to the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles next week and hope to come back with a few answers.
Suffice to say the most immediate impact from the network TV financial fallout is already being felt on the tour itself. This is the BBTCA tour, as in Brown Bag. Load up on lunch, fellas--those evening network din-dins are no longer on the menu. The term "Heavy hors d'oeuvres" pops up more times on the January TCA schedule than "Ryan Seacrest." Air Canada suddenly looks like a food court compared to the slim pickings at the Universal Hilton.
Not that there should be as many critics left to feed. The way newspapers are cutting staff across North America, there should be plenty of elbow room in the bread line, additional blog buddies notwithstanding.
The nets are down to one day presentations, or, in the case of NBC, a half day. As Florida critic and press tour wit Tom Jicha once quipped about the defunct WB network, NBC, like the Skipper and Gilligan, are down to a three hour tour.
Most of the networks have also ditched their usual star parties. That's almost a deal breaker for freelancers like myself, constantly trolling for quotes and one-on-ones. Still, there are a lot of terrific new shows premiering this month and next and sitting out the tour and missing out on all those cover stories just doesn't make sense.
The HBO sessions alone are tantalizing, with show panel press conferences scheduled with Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton and the various members of the evangelical Haggard family. Amen to all that.
TCA set visits include stops at The Mentalist and The Big Bang Theory plus a trek to Universal to chat with new CSI dude Laurence Fishburne. Then on to the TNT set of Trust Me (a new ad execs comedy starring Canadians Tom Cavanaugh and Eric McCormack) and finally a "Peach Pit" party with the 90210 cast. I'm hoping that means we get fed.
The whole deal kicks off Jan. 7 with PBS.