PASADENA, Calif.--Nothing says another press tour than a table full of Flash Forward cup cakes. The confections were part of the treats offered to reporters as they rolled off planes and stumbled onto the first of many shuttles over the next 11 days. Scribes from across North America were checking into the Langham Hotel in Pasadena just as Rose Bowl football fans were checking out. Day One offered a relatively light schedule, with just a couple of set visits and a night time NCIS reception back at the hotel.
Stop One was the Disney Studios in Burbank where the rookie drama Flash Forward is shot (right in the same studio where Mary Poppins was filmed in the '60s). The series was launched last September and is on hiatus until March 18 while it sits out the Winter Olympics and the return of American Idol. Star Joseph Fiennes was among the many cast members who welcomed press to the set. Fiennes, more used to roles in movies and on stage, says TV's marathon schedule is killing him. No rehearsal time is another shocker. Other than that, he's having fun playing a guy who has had a glimpse at his future and has to deal with the consequences. In the storyline, the present is supposed to catch up with the future on April 19, the supposed date of the blackout visions, but the producers acknowledge that might have to be set back due to the hiatus.
From Disney in Burbank critics were shuttled down to Paramount Studios in Hollywood and to the set of NBC's freshman sitcom Community. Roasted mercilessly was Chevy Chase, introduced as "in his 70s or 80s" by cast mate Ken Jeong. The set had been tarted up in a Valentine's Day motif for a future episode. The cast was fun and friendly and practically put on an improve hour for critics. Check out the crazy dance video in the post directly below.
Later, back at the hotel, several cast members from NCIS (everybody but Mark Harmon, who was back on set working) hosted a reception for critics. The series has quietly become one of the most popular shows on TV both in Canada and the United States. Next Tuesday's episode is being goosed with a special appearance of Robert Wagner as the father of DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). R.J. looked splendid, pulling off the blue suit and brown shoes thing as only he could do.
Tuesday's hour is the 150th episode of the seven year old series, and lookit this--it just happens to be airing opposite the season premiere of American Idol. While most shows run and hide when the Idol "Death Star" returns each January, NCIS just keeps on truckin'. A CBS publicist pointed out that NCIS held 99% of its audience last season after Idol came back.
NCIS wild child Pauley Perrette (forensic expert Abby) was in the house (and being interviewed by a white wine drinker) and revealed that her kooky dark locks are dyed--she really has curly blond hair. And that crazy tattoo across Abby's throat? A fake. It's a decal she puts on for the series. She says she does have a few tattoos of her own but she wasn't revealing any further details about where they could be found. Those pigtales were just the way she'd thrown her hair together on the way to the audition. A producer stopped her in the parking lot and told her that was Abby, don't change a thing. She can no longer run around in public with her hair up, however. "I might as well wear my lab coat on the street," she says.
The tour kicked off amid growing rumours about Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien being shuffled all over NBC's schedule. Both comedians joked about it on their shows Friday night, although O'Brien seemed pretty fed up during his monologue. "We have a great show for you tonight, I have no idea what time it will air," he said, adding that when he arrived at work today, "there was a 1923 Duesenberg parked in my spot." That would be part of Leno's vast car collection.
Later Jimmy Fallon joked about being pushed back to 1:05; at least I think he was joking. It should all make for a fascinating NBC press tour day, scheduled to happen this Sunday in Pasadena.