March 15, 2010

'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

By Erik Pedersen

PaleyFest first saluted the acerbic, irreverent and knee-bloodyingly funny "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in 2002. It's likely that back then, few in the room -- including its cast and creator -- figured the show would still be a factor in 2010. But 71 episodes later, it appears there will indeed be further adventures of Larry David and his cast of the put-upon.

The question of "Curb's" future was on most people's minds Sunday during the final night of the 27th annual TV festival. The answer was definitely probably.

Moderator Martin Miller of the Los Angeles Times began the session with an inquiry about more "Curb." But rather than quiz the group about a potential eighth season, he curiously asked whether there would be a big-screen version of the show, a la one-time fellow HBO comedy "Sex and the City." David's look was -- isn't it always? -- somewhere between puzzlement and incredulity.

"No plans for a movie," he said.

And no follow-up from Miller.

It wasn't until late in the session that the question of "Curb's" future came up again. Miller finally asked David, "Are we going to see an eighth season?"

David paused briefly. "I think there's a pretty good chance," he said, as the crowd burst into applause. "We're working on a couple of things."

So much for a definitive answer.

There was only one other reference to a potential continuation. When a crowd member asked whether viewers can expect to see more of Larry's Katrina-refugee roommate Leon -- uproariously played by JB Smoove -- David simply said, "I think so."

It seemed clear that David was uninterested in broaching the subject. He might as well have given the guy that patented Larry David staredown.


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March 14, 2010


IMG_0019 By Lesley Goldberg

For 1,800 “Glee” fans — a record audience in the Paley Center’s 27-year history — Saturday was a special night at PaleyFest. Those lucky enough to snag a ticket to the sold-out Saban Theatre panel were treated to “Hello,” a director’s cut of the April 13 return-from-hiatus episode.

But the surprises didn’t end there for the Fox rookie dramedy’s boisterous fans: With nearly the entire cast in attendance — lead Lea Michele (Rachel) was noticeably absent — both the stars and the writers behind the hit musical revealed more gems than a jewelry show could store, the biggest of which co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy revealed.

“We are going to do an episode in the second season with all original music,” Murphy told a crowd that was as diverse as the cast of the show itself.

In addition to the original music, Murphy made moderator Marc Malkin’s day when he spilled that a show about the “power of theatricality” is in the works for the series’ second half that will include a Lady Gaga song.

“She’s arguably the most important pop star right now,” noted Murphy, who said the series was born out of a dark feature that co-creator/co-exec producer Ian Brennan initially wrote. “We are doing that this season.”

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March 12, 2010

'Men of a Certain Age'

Paleyfest braugher bakula menBy Erik Pedersen

Rarely has a TV show’s title been more likely to reflect its probable initial audience than “Men of a Certain Age.” It works both ways: Folks who aren’t of a certain age, maybe even a certain gender, might be less motivated to sample it. They’re missing out.

The crowd for Friday’s episode of PaleyFest certainly fit the presumed demo, but it was couples night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. And the audience Q&A session proved that women are paying equal attention to what arguably is the TV season’s best new show.

The evening began with clips from series writer/co-creator/star Ray Romano’s (Joe) first appearance as a stand-up comic on “The Tonight Show” in 1991, complete with a Johnny Carson intro. But the laughs were tempered when moderator Stuart Levine took the stage and informed the full house (with closed balcony) that Romano’s father had passed away and that “Certain Age’s” most recognizable actor had flown back east to be with his family. Those who had turned out specifically to see the former “Everybody Loves Raymond” star likely were disappointed, but the show went on with a three-man panel.

Writer and co-creator Mike Royce, also a veteran of the stand-up wars, and co-stars Andre Braugher (Owen) and Scott Bakula (Terry) were consistently funny and insightful in discussing the TNT dramedy. Royce mock bristled at that genre label, joking, “When you say dramedy, people say, ‘Oh, it sucks.’ ” But all three repeatedly referred to what makes “Certain Age” unique in the TV landscape -- words like “real,” “honest” and “believable.”

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Paleyfest flashforward vance davenport monaghan By Philiana Ng

Remember when ABC doled out a little show in 2009 about a universal blackout? Well, come March 18, "FlashForward" returns to its Thursday night home. Will viewers stay for the ride?

With the majority of the cast present at the PaleyFest event spotlighting the high-concept drama (which has had its share of problems), the evening was either going to be a massive failure or an informative, fun-filled night. Thankfully, it was the latter. However, a few tough questions were asked and acknowledged, but not to the extent that industry types were hoping for.

With numerous showrunner changes since its September series debut, there were concerns regarding the show's heavy-handed storytelling and its steady ratings decline -- and more importantly, if a second season was a possibility. So when an audience member asked the producers just that, executive producer Jessica Borsiczky and co-creator Brannon Braga went on the defensive.

"You can't really force anyone to watch or turn on the TV," Borsiczky said.

"Or maybe we can," Braga joked.

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March 10, 2010

'Breaking Bad'

Paleyfest breaking bad cranston gunn By Philiana Ng

The "Breaking Bad" gang might be the most well-spoken cast and crew on television.

The audience was given a taste of it Wednesday evening when the subversive AMC drama was celebrated during PaleyFest. After a special screening of the upcoming Season 3 premiere, the panelists -- led by Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") and creator Vince Gilligan ("The X Files") -- rolled off detailed script descriptions from the pilot like it was still firmly ingrained in their minds.

"The most shocking was the exploding turtle," Dean Norris (Hank) said, when asked about the show's standout moments.

"When I read the first page of the pilot script ... I was like, 'What the f***?!' And that was page one!," Cranston (Walt) recalled. "I knew the longer I waited, every actor in Hollywood would want to do it."

Anna Gunn (Skyler) said the moments that interested her were the unexpected ones. "The way things turn on a dime ... the way that the humor and the danger turns is what fascinates me," she said.

For Aaron Paul (Jesse), reading the first script was like a match made in heaven. "When I first read the pilot, I thought, 'There is no f***ing way this show is getting made,' " he said. "You talked about the melting the body in acid ... I found myself laughing to tears!"

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'Family Guy'

Smacfarlane By James Hibberd

Who did Seth MacFarlane want to replace Cleveland Brown after the character left "Family Guy" for a spinoff?

Mr. T.

"It would be like Mr. T was in the show as Mr. T, and he's just the fourth guy in the group," MacFarlane told fans at PaleyFest on Tuesday evening.

Except, MacFarlane said, Mr. T is a born-again Christian, so it "didn't really work out."

The political and crude content of "Family Guy" was a frequent topic at MacFarlane's PaleyFest event. The evening was moderated by Bill Maher, whose HBO talk show "Real Time" featured MacFarlane as a guest for its recent season premiere.

"Animation is one of the few remaining television genres where you can really touch on politics," said MacFarlane, characteristically sipping a glass of booze throughout the event. "A live-action sitcom can't really go there."

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March 07, 2010

'The Vampire Diaries'

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley at PaleyFestBy Philiana Ng

It was the "Ian and Paul Show" on a rainy Saturday at PaleyFest's seventh night honoring the CW's soap-tastic freshman drama "The Vampire Diaries."

With an audience filled with 80% fangirls, some of whom wore t-shirts supporting Team Damon or Team Stefan (a la "Twilight"), the three leads and executive producers gave the crowd exactly what they came for: sexiness, humor and a kiss from one of the Salvatore brothers.

The evening opened with executive producer Kevin Williamson ("Dawson's Creek") introducing a screening of the show's highly anticipated March 25 episode "A Few Good Men" and during the 42 minutes, there were gasps, cheers and laughs resonating from the 1,800 seat Saban Theatre. (Executive producer Julie Plec teased to a potential airing of the episode on Twitter.)

In its second prolonged hiatus, the upcoming return was true to the show's form with at least a dozen twists and reveals certain to be watercooler talk. And if that's not enough, Ms. Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke) makes an appearance as Matt's (Zach Roerig) absent mother.

Normally panelist intros don't mean much, besides a measure of someone's popularity, before TV Guide's Craig Tomashoff had the chance to say Ian Somerhalder's (Damon) name, several fangirls shrieked with glee though Paul Wesley (Stefan) was a close second with the shriek-o-meter.

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March 06, 2010

'Cougar Town'

Courteney Cox at PaleyFestBy Philiana Ng

Night six of PaleyFest was quite a turnaround from the raucous "Community" panel on Wednesday and the entertaining "Modern Family" session on the festival's opening night. The evening belonged to "Cougar Town," but it might as well have been for a drab hospital drama.

The love felt between the cast and co-creators was not lost on the crowd, however, as they offered good insight despite a lackluster host. Moderated by Us Weekly's John Griffiths, who seemed to suck the life out of the room save for some entertaining bits, the panel was a minor blip on the radar.

Co-creator Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs") introduced a screening of next week's episode and prefaced it by saying to enormous laughs, "I'm 12 glasses into the evening," after plugging the bar in the theater lobby.

"The show has changed a little bit to what it was in the pilot," Lawrence said to the attendees, joking that they may need to rethink the title of the show. The 22-minute episode titled "Counting on You" honed in on "Cougar Town's" signature wackiness and endearingly absurd antics that proved Griffiths' description -- "an adult family comedy" -- true.

Set in Florida, the show differentiated itself by choosing a location other than New York or Los Angeles, and like writing's rule of thumb (write what you know), members of the cast, Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel had ties to the Sunshine State -- and the south in general.

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March 05, 2010


Hall carpenter benz dexter paleyfestBy Lesley Goldberg

Thursday’s “Dexter” PaleyFest panel wasted no time in jumping into one of TV’s best-kept secrets: Moderator Kristin Dos Santos from E! was sensitive to the massive spoiler in getting things under way and immediately asked if everyone had seen the bloodbath that was the drama’s Season 4 finale.

Julie Benz (Rita) was the only one in the Saban Theatre who raised her hand.

“I don’t know what happens, please don’t spoil it for me,” joked Benz, whose character met her maker at the hands of Season 4’s central villain, the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow).

Benz went on to share her first reactions to learning of her character’s death, as the panel -- the show’s second appearance at the festival -- got under way.

“My first response was, ‘Oh God! I just lost my job! How am I going to pay my mortgage,’ ” she said to laughs from the packed house -- which included fans who lined up early in the afternoon to get into the sold-out event.

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March 04, 2010


Community cast paleyfestBy Philiana Ng

It was all about Chevy Chase at Wednesday night's PaleyFest event honoring NBC's freshman comedy "Community."

Throughout the evening, Chase would distract the crowd by uttering random words into his mic, gesturing to the audience, misinterpreting questions and teasing his co-stars. One attendee tweeted afterwards: "Tonight's panel was like 2 in 1: The Community @paleyfest panel and The Chevy Chase Show panel."

But even Fletch couldn't save the night from the R-rated chaos that culminated during the 75-minute session. With subjects ranging from racial-neutral script parts to star Joel McHale's (Jeff) impressive torso, no topic was safe. And boy, did it prove true. 

Chase (Pierce), who fell from his chair after saying several times that he couldn't hear (yes, it really happened), was easily the star of the evening, but not without some stiff competition from his co-stars. Donald Glover (Troy) shared an entertaining story about his first meeting with co-star Ken Jeong (Señor Chang), saying it was pretty rare to walk into the room and see a guy you've already seen naked. And many of McHale's zingers were aimed squarely at Chase.

When creator Dan Harmon ("The Sarah Silverman Program") took to the podium to introduce Thursday's episode, "Physical Education," he likened it to something that didn't have vampires, referencing the current craze. But quickly took his statement back, and you'll see why when the episode airs. In 22 minutes, the comedy paid homage to "Mad Men," went supernatural, named pool a legitimate sport and showed McHale in his skivvies. The best part? There might be more nudity than viewers are expecting, which McHale teased to earlier this week.

Still game? Let's venture forth.

Continue reading "'Community'" »

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