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Monday on the Road (Part One)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2005

Well, I am now officially in Hollywood -- actually Beverly Hills -- and it did not take long to feel that I wasn't in Ohio anymore. Like other TV critics here for the summer press tour, I am staying at the Beverly Hilton. Plush digs. There's a 42-inch HD plasma-screen TV in my room, and a 13-inch set hanging by the bathroom sink. No getting away from TV that way, although I don't recommend trying to shave while watching the Weather Channel -- or any other channel. Not used to that big TV, either. I keep thinking it should be a mirror.


I've already seen some colleagues, and therefore have already had the  first ''What did you like/What did you hate'' conversation about network series with some colleagues.


After getting settled in, I went along Wilshire Boulevard to the offices of Batjac Productions, John Wayne's company, now run by his daughter-in-law Gretchen. I went there to talk about the release of the restored versions of ''The High and the Mighty'' and ''Island in the Sky,'' two long-unseen Wayne movies; more about that in a later filing. Batjac is in a tony spot, a hop and skip from Rodeo Drive, an area where you see storefronts marked Tiffany and Versace. And Gretchen Wayne is a classy, gracious lady. (I credit that at least partly to her Ohio roots; her father hails from Doylestown.) But I was also a little awestruck to see the Wayne memorabilia -- the hat from ''Hondo,'' old photographs, foreign-language posters of his movies.


Then I went back to the hotel, where AOL hosted one of those events that feed people's appetite for celebrity without including any real nutrition. The occasions was the announcement of the nominees for AOL's Top 5! Viewer Awards. (You can vote at AOL.) But to give people a reason to turn out, AOL had Jennifer Love Hewitt on hand to read the nominees. Which she did, with a smile.


About a dozen still photographers, backed up by a few TV cameras, took Hewitt's picture, with the photographers trying for a better shot with shouts of ''Jennifer, over here!'' or (from those who knew Hewitt goes by Love), ''Love, second row!'' Hewitt did her bit there, went to a monitor to cast her own vote in the Top 5! survey, then moved over to a backdrop with AOL and Top 5! logos on it for more shouting and picture-taking. And, in about 10 minutes total, that was that. That's less time than it would take me to type the Viewer Awards nominees here.


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