Summer Press Tour Begins in California

AT&T Audience Network 'Mr. Mercedes' TV show panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 25 Jul 2017If it’s the Golden Age of Television, as people often say, then it should be a gilded time, too, for the annual TV Critics Association summer press tour.

As the event first organized for print journalists across North America to display the new season’s shows opened Tuesday in Beverly Hills, it was clear things were changing.

There were fewer full time print TV writers for one thing with maybe a dozen such people in attendance, if that. There were just as many former full time TV writers, now all identified a new way, as freelancers, who still attend the twice-annual event because they know of its many interview opportunities, its access to network brass and its gala parties.

Plus, for people who now work by themselves in their basement, it’s a way to come out and see their colleagues every six months.

Things began with the usual frenzy of cable, during which various networks squeeze in a handful of shows to promote during sessions, ushering in panels on and off stage for a few questions before rushing to the net show.

Epix began with a aggressive roster topped by what looks to be an entertaining TV adaptation of “Get Shorty” starring Chris O’Dowd, Ray Romano and a colorful cast playing mobsters and Hollywood types. It was created by Davey Holmes, who worked on “Shamless,” “In Treatment” and “Damages.” Adam Arkin is a co-producer who directed three episodes. It starts Aug. 13.

The new cast members for the second season of “Berlin Station” were next — Ashley Judd and Keke Palmer, who will join Richard Ermitage in the spy saga that returns Oct. 17.

Ever-grizzled Nick Nolte, blinking at the bright lights because of recent cataract surgery, dominated the panel for the second season of “Graves” that also starts Oct. 17 on Epix. Sela Ward had to mostly look on as he held forth on a variety of subjects, including the show, whose oafish-ex President recalls at least one White House inhabitant with his bull-in-a-China shop manner and his red tie.

Race car driver Danica Patrick was on hand to talk about the documentary about her by Hannah Storm that premieres this fall. It shows her contemplative side, supposedly, as well as her fiercely competitive one. “I don’t like to suck at cards even,” she says.

Abby Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were more expansive and not as kooky as their frenzied characters on “Broad City,” talking about a new season starting Aug. 23 on Comedy Central that includes a trip to Florida and the two bleeping the word “Trump” every time it’s spoken.

A name was given to the upcoming new show by Jordan Klepper that will follow “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central starting Sept. 25. In “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” the former “Daily Show” correspondent, like Stephen Colbert before him, will play a “heightened version” of himself, a “know-nothing provocateur” from the alt-right who will lampoon the fake news sites like Breitbart and InfoWars.

National Geographic presented a lot of shows, starting with their adaptation of Martha Raddatz’ war saga “The Long Road Home,” that stars Michael Kelly, Kate Bosworth and Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto and E.J. Bonilla among others. It’s coming in November.

Morgan Freeman was on hand for a new season of his “The Story of Us,” along with a few people he interviewed for it, from someone in solitary confinement for 40 years to a person who fled the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Audience network that comes out of AT&T and DirecTV had a big marquee show to present in a panel and a party, “Mr. Mercedes,” based on a popular Stephen King book, adapted to a series by David E. Kelley, directed by Jack Bender, and starring Brendan Gleeson, heading a cast that includes Harry Treadaway, Mary Louise-Parker, Kelly Lynch and Holland Taylor.

That network is also issuing a couple of comedies. “Loudermilk,” from Peter Farrelly, features Ron Livingston as a Seattle rock critic who is in AA. Will Sasso plays his roommate.

“Hit the Road” stars Jason Alexander as the head of a family pop music band like the Partridge Family, with humor that definitely isn’t for families.

All of the TCA parties so far (two) have taken advantage of the new space adjoining the venerable, half century old Beverly Hilton. There’s a swanky new Waldorf Astoria next door where there were cocktails in a ballroom (and makeovers for some reason) before a screening and further drinks at a space called Wilshire Gardens, between the hotels — a faux grassy space that doesn’t require the Hilton pool to close down every time there’s an outdoor party.

Perhaps this does portend the Golden Age of TCA Parties.

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