CHML's Scott Thompson is confused. Am I heading down to Comic-Con or the semi-annual TCA press tour? And what's the difference?
It is getting harder to tell as Comic-Con grows into the big pop culture event of the summer. The deal takes place this week in San Diego (July 21-25) and I won't be there (please--summer is short enough) but you can follow Toronto Star critic Rob Salem's journey to and eventual report from the conclave here.
Comic-Con began as a celebration of comic book culture and has exploded into anything, over any media, remotely connected to pop culture (sort of the way Canadian networks have stretched their specialty licenses into one big lifestyle whatever--see previous posting). There are press and fan events featuring such non-sci-fi shows as Glee and The Big Bang Theory and even shows that haven't premiered yet and enough Hollywood A-Listers to make organizers at TIFF or Cannes envious.
Me, I'm heading down to Los Angeles next week to join other TV critics from across North American at the TCA press tour. The madness is more controlled, with the stars and producers of the 2010-2011 U.S. season coming to us at the Beverly Hilton hotel. I've done this for a long time, but this tour seems eerily familiar with the likes od Tom Selleck, William Shatner and Jim Belushi among the new show stars. PBS even has a Pioneers of Television panel including Mike Connors, Robert Conrad, Linda Evans, Martin Landau, and Nichelle Nichols. We'll party like it's 1975!
Conrad (centre) with Ranger lads Shane and Christian
Conrad, best known for his '60s series The Wild, Wild West, was among the talent at the very first press tour I ever attended. It was in the mid-'80s, at a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel out in Pheonix, Arizona.
The only thing hotter than the weather that June in Arizona was Conrad. I remember sitting next to him at a round-robin presser with about 10 other critics and being scared to death. Conrad was mad as a hatter, ranting about how his father was a better reporter than any of us ever were and all but challenging everyone in the room to knock a battery off his shoulder. A few hours later, he showed up at the CBS executive session, gooning then network boss Bud Grant and whinging about his stupid show's sorry timeslot. Wot a nut. Still, I can hardly wait to ask him about Battle of the Network Stars.
I didn't tell Scott that story but you can listen in here anyway.