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Catching Up, Looking Ahead

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 31, 2006

I spent part of the weekend diving back into the world of TV as seen at home (as opposed to the total-immersion world of the past couple of weeks). Organized the stack of DVDs at home, and expect to have a new DVD column this week -- and possibly some posts here.

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''Stargate'': Longest What?

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 27, 2006

When Sci Fi had a little celebration for ''Stargate SG-1'' during the TV critics' summer press tour, I heard the network make a claim that just didn't sound right. It's also in press materials for the show, and it goes like this: ''With 200 episodes, the longest-running drama in cable history has also became the longest-running sci-fi series in television history.''

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Back to Base

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 27, 2006

Something felt funny Wednesday morning as I waited for my shuttle to Los Angeles airport. Then it hit me: no nametag. After wearing it on a lanyard around my neck for two weeks (in order to get into tour events), I did not need to do so anymore. And then I really knew I was done.

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Last Rite

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 26, 2006

Tonight's Fox press party was my last official act of the tour (well, aside from some writing I'm going to do tonight.) Niftiest sight: Eamonn Walker and Laurence Fishburne talking to each other. Walker is in the new Fox series ''Justice,'' and Fishburne was with his wife, Gina Torres, who is in Fox's ''Standoff.'' But was I going to butt into that conversation? I don't think so.

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''Nip/Tuck'' (Possible Spoilers)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 25, 2006

Tidbits from today's press conference with ''Nip/Tuck'' main man Ryan Murphy and the three stars:

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Not That Happy Hour...

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 25, 2006

As a nod to its new comedy ''Happy Hour,'' Fox preceded the press conference with servers bearing cocktails -- mimosas, bloody Marys, something with Kahlua. It did not seem to bother Fox that the drinks were being distributed before 10 a.m. (although, it could have been a stunt planned when the network scheduled ''Happy Hour'' as an afternoon session -- and stuck to when the press conference was moved to the morning).

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Sometimes You Hit the Wall, Sometimes the Wall Hits You

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 25, 2006

Today is not only Fox's last day of the press tour, it's mine. I will be flying home tomorrow and gladly so.  All my writing plans for yesterday evening gave way to an unexpected but necessary blast of sleep -- the kind where you lie down for a moment and wake up five or six hours later, then go back to sleep again.

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''Life on Mars'': Recommended With a Caveat

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2006

The other night I sat up far too late watching episodes of ''Life on Mars,'' the intriguing British drama premiering at 10 tonight on BBC America. Since I am hip-deep in television every day because of the TV critics' tour, and since I only intermittently get enough sleep, it's even more impressive that the show kept me watching.

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TCA Awards

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2006

Today was a Television Critics Association day, including our summer business meeting and, tonight, the presentation of our annual awards. (I say ''our'' because I'm a member.) It was a nice ceremony, with lots of people turning out, and with some lovely acceptance speeches. And it was a good situation just to talk with people I like from shows I admire.

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Steve Carell Doesn't Forget

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2006

I'm going to post a little later about tonight's Television Critics Association awards, but for now I want to mention Steve Carell's acceptance speech for individual achievement in comedy. Carell read a blistering review of his work on another show, a review so scorched-earth that some of us were convinced he had made it up. He insisted he had not, referred us to the Web site where he found it and ... you can find the whole thing here.

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Why I REALLY Like Being Here

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 23, 2006

I've posted from press tour about being in nifty places, and dropped some names of the people I've talked to. Those are fun things and, as I have said before, I have a cool job. But when I tell those stories, what may get lost is that the cool stuff can lead to something of value to readers.

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More Saturday

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 22, 2006

Because of the heat in Pasadena, NBC's evening event was delayed for an hour, which gave me a chance to take a longer-than-at-first planned nap from which I have just emerged. I don't think I'm alone in feeling dragged either. Even during press conferences for shows a lot of people like, the pace has felt slower, the undercurrent of crankiness a little stronger.

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Lunch With ''Nobody's Watching''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 22, 2006

The producers and stars of ''Nobody's Watching'' came around at lunch, and I confess to gushing a smidge over how good their pilot was. And I'm even more pumped as they talk about the new Webisodes (which they're hoping to have online Sept. 1) and the series beyond that. Especially exciting is the way the show is going to bend reality even more, by putting some of the adventures from the making of ''Nobody's Watching'' INTO ''Nobody's Watching.'' As in, the pilot doesn't get picked up and the two stars have to figure out other ways to get by in L.A., or the pilot is posted on YouTube and what happens then, or NBC decides to pick up the show and the executive the guys dealt with at The WB is now the top guy at NBC. Expect to see the show's fictional guys at real events, too.

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Breakfast With Olbermann

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 22, 2006

Just finished the session with Keith Olbermann. I had expected more laughs. But, while Olbermann is quick on his feet, he also feels like a very writerly guy -- one who is most proud of the line he has taken time to shape and polish.

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Good Morning, World

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 22, 2006

Friday turned into an almost civilized day by press tour standards. In the afternoon, I chatted with John Lithlgow (who lived in Akron for a couple of years in his youth) about his TV work, his recent stagecraft and the pronunciation of his name. (Most people make it like cow, but it's like go.)

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''Law & Order'' Shakeups (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 21, 2006

''Law & Order'' impresario Dick Wolf is here today, which gave me a chance to clear up some cast departures that you folks have been asking about.

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The Triumph of ''Nobody's Watching''!

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 21, 2006

Score one for YouTube: NBC is going to make webisodes and develop new TV scripts for ''Nobody's Watching,'' the Bill Lawrence-backed comedy originally planned for The WB. The hope is to start it as a prime-time series later in the 2006-07 season. (You can find the complete announcement here.)

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NBC Premiere Dates

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 21, 2006

Here's the skinny, announced this morning. And think about what it says re NBC's fortunes that ''Deal or No Deal'' is the best lead-in it has for ''Studio 60's'' premiere. (''Deal,'' by the way, will air FOUR times the week of Sept. 18.

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Field Trip

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 20, 2006

Yesterday wound up with ABC's party with the stars, and I had a pretty useful time. Talked to ''Lost's'' Carlton Cuse for a column running tomorrow. (Highlights: the monster and polar bear are back, there will be romance -- though not, as far as I know, between the monster and polar bear -- new characters, a less grim tone and much to be learned about the Others). And to Thomas Kean of 9/11 commission fame, who is a consultant to ABC's ''Path to 9/11'' movie. And to James Pickens Jr. of ''Grey's Anatomy,'' a local guy I always like to catch up with.

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''Rescue Me''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 19, 2006

Once again, I've been a techno-idiot. Wrote this yesterday ago but neglected to post it on the blog. So here it is. The ''tonight'' references refer to Tuesday, when I wrote this.

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Not ''Tonight'' (Expanded)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 19, 2006

ABC has a press conference this morning with Charles Gibson (who will talk to us in Pasadena via satellite) and has tied some news announcements to the occasion. Including this one:

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''Rock Star'': What You Missed

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 19, 2006

As I mentioned, I was in the studio when they taped tonight's telecast of ''Rock Star'' and it ran much longer than the version you see on TV. Some of the things taken out:

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''One Tree Hill'': Somebody's Favorite Show

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 18, 2006

In the despair over the end of ''Everwood,'' some observers complained not only that it was gone but that the new CW network dropped it while making room for ''One Tree Hill'' and ''7th Heaven.''

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''Gilmore Girls'': Two Little Words

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 18, 2006

I've been gathering string about ''Gilmore Girls'' for a piece about the show later this week. Went to the press conference, risked a body-cavity search (see ''Scrumming Lauren,''  below) and at The CW's party last night I talked to Liza Weil, Keiko Agena and Sean Gunn. Most of that talk involved last season and the one ahead, but there's been one larger question I've been thinking about.

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ABC Premiere Dates

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 18, 2006

Here's the plan for ABC. That late start for ''Lost,'' by the way, isn't the only bad news for fans of the show. ABC earlier announced that it will take ''Lost'' off the schedule for some time to run ''Day Break,'' in order to avoid an overload of ''Lost'' reruns; as you can see from ''Day Break's'' premiere date, the first batch of ''Lost'' will be relatively small -- and ''Day Break'' is set to run 13 weeks before ''Lost'' returns. Anyway, here are the dates:

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Notes from the Dilana Fan Club, ''Beacon TV'' Division

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2006

I'll be really interested to hear from ''Rock Star: Supernova'' fans after Tuesday night's telecast. As I have already mentioned, I went to the taping of Tuesday's show last night. Dilana was, in my view, by far the best of the lot and I wasn't alone. She drew a steady cluster of reporters at a press party after the taping Sunday night.

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Scrumming Lauren

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2006

''Gilmore Girls'' and ''Veronica Mars,'' two of my favorite shows, had press conferences today. My favorite moment may have been when Lauren Graham agreed with my assertion that Lorelai was a wuss last season. (She also said she didn't like that, although she had no power to change it, and she did like that Lorelai-and-Christopher ending.)

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CW Premiere Dates, A Few Minutes With Keith Marder

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2006

Here's the new-season rollout for the CW:

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Rock Life/Hair Issue

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2006

Earlier tonight, I was standing in the mansion from ''Rock Star: Supernova,'' listening to Magni play guitar while Dilana sang ''Lightning Crashes'' and then ''Lithium.'' I should not have to offer any further explanation of how cool my evening was.

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More Sunday Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 16, 2006

For those of you commenting on the previous item, I haven't seen a list of premiere dates for CBS yet, Fred. And Kay, Couric is trying to tone down the perky and be at least a tad more somber.As I noted in the column I just finished for the Beacon Journal, she wore a pants suit for the press conference, and you know how leggy she could be on ''Today.'' I hope to get the Patrick piece done soon, not sure about Skeet.

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Katie in the Morning

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 16, 2006

I'm in the morning's meeting room, where the air conditioning is blowing hard; breakfast was a variety of egg dishes, tied to a publicity push CBS plans that involves putting promos on eggs. Really.

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One For the Rose (Expanded)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 16, 2006

Tonight's activities -- well, mine, anyway -- ended at the Rose Bowl, where CBS had its party for press tour reporters and the stars of its shows. There was a greeting to us on one of the big screens, and another on a Goodyear blimp flying overhead. Members of the UCLA marching band played as we walked in -- the ''Jeffersons'' theme for the group I was with. (Former Clevelander Robert Patrick, now co-starring on ''The Unit,'' said he tried to get the band to pay the Ohio State fight song, and the band refused.) It was a cool-job moment -- hey, I was standing on the field at the Rose Bowl!

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I Don't Forget the World Out There

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 15, 2006

(I wrote the following on Friday morning, then neglected to post it. But here it is, a little late.)

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Thursday on My Mind

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 14, 2006

I know, it's Friday. It's about 6 a.m. here in Pasadena and I have been awake for a couple of hours. Last night I hit my first wall of the press tour; at about 9 p.m. I stretched out with the idea of taking a short nap before doing some writing. That short nap lasted until about 4 a.m. -- when I got up and wrote a column for Sunday's paper.

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Red Buttons

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

There's an obit for Red Buttons on www.tvtattle.com, and it pains me to see it. Buttons was a genuinely funny man, fast on his feet, abrasive and all-around cool. And he gave TV critics who weren't even born during his heyday a reason to recognize that just a year ago. PBS was touting a special about TV legends, and Mickey Rooney had all but hijacked a press conference tied to the show. Buttons was also there. He took over. (You can read a longer account from my blog then in ''Hail, Red'') He proved that his comedy was still sharp -- and basically timeless.

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About Those ESPYS (With Update)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

Earlier today I wrote a couple of stories for tomorrow's Beacon Journal about being at the ESPYS. Here are the backstage highlights:

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What Might Have Been

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

Imagine a race-reversing variation on ''Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' starring Marisa Tomei and Kadeem Hardison. Debbie Allen thought that would have been a good idea for ''A Different World'' but she never got to do it.

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My Wakeup Call Is Mr. T

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

I'm in the same meeting room where Ted Koppel's message came via satellite yesterday, only the messenger is a little different this morning.

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Where I Went

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

I spent about eight hours in Hollywood yesterday afternoon and evening, hanging around the taping of the ESPYS. It had its challenges, among them the 90-degree heat for the late-afternoon arrivals on the red carpet. Also good times, since the press room afforded at least brief access to the likes of Shaun Alexander, Dwyane Wade and ESPYS host Lance Armstrong.

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Press Tour Day 3

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 13, 2006

It's a little after 9 a.m. as I start writing this, and we're about to talk to Ted Koppel. He's not in the room; he's visible on a big TV screen, beaming to us by satellite from Guatanamo Bay, where he is filming his first special for the Discovery Channel. It will be about security and personal liberty, and will air on the Sept. 10, the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

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''Rescue Me'': Is That It?

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

If you haven't watched tonight's ''Rescue Me,'' come back after you have, because I am going to talk about plot developments.

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Dan Rather

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

Dan Rather has come and gone. There's some debate over whether he followed Shannen Doherty's tears with some of his own, but it was clear that he choked up some when talking about Edward R. Murrow.

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How I Made Shannen Doherty Love Me

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

I've written some harsh things about Shannen Doherty over the years. But she was in very good form today as she talked about ''Breaking Up,'' a show she is doing for Oxygen.

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''Fight Girls''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

Right now I am sitting in a meeting room while Oxygen shows a clip from *li Fight Girls, *lf of a new documentary series about women doing Muay Thai fighting. (Mauy Thai apparently translates as ''Thai Boxing,'' but it's more than that, with a lot of martial arts moves.) A live demonstration is also promised.

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Doug Christie Likes Cleveland

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

Former NBA player Doug Christie says he would like to get back in the NBA -- and one of the places he likes is Cleveland.

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I Have a Cool Job

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 11, 2006

You will probably get some whining here during the press tour. I am away from home, and yesterday I was away while my wife and younger son had to deal with megastorms, a power outage and water in the basement.

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The Starz Come Out

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 10, 2006

Michael Ruggiero is vice president for programming and scheduling at Starz. He was been onstage while a clip was run from ''Going to Pieces,'' a new documentary about slasher films, which Starz will air in October. The clip had violence -- duh -- and nudity.

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Session One: ABC Family/Disney Channel

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 10, 2006

We've had the first session and several important press tour firsts:

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On the Road

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 10, 2006

About half an hour ago, I was on an airport shuttle with three other people. We were talking about ''Rescue Me'' and other TV topics. Three of us write about television for a living. The fourth person works for the Weather Channel.

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Dave Chappelle Faces Bob Hope's Demons

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 9, 2006

''Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes'' begins tonight (and will be on DVD on July 25) as Comedy Central harvests the remains of its aborted megabuck deal with Dave Chappelle.

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''Guy'' Gone, Emmy Rant

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 7, 2006

ABC has yanked ''How To Get the Guy'' with two episodes still to go.  There's a chance that the network will make the remaining episodes available as downloads for the 3.5 million people (including me) who watched the show.

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''Whose Line'' DVD at Last

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 6, 2006

One of the funniest shows in prime time was the Drew Carey-hosted ''Whose Line Is It Anyway.'' So here's some good news:

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''Monk''/''Psych''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 6, 2006

A new season of ''Monk'' begins tomorrow night, followed by another quirky detective in ''Psych.'' We've got our share of twitchy snoops right now -- ''Monk,'' ''Medium,'' ''The Closer,'' ''Ghost Whisperer'' -- but ''Psych'' may have the ultimate tic: none.

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Emmys on a Good Night's Sleep: Still Weird (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 6, 2006

Most years I'm in California when the Emmy nominations are announced; more than once I have actually gone to the Emmy announcement -- at 5:35 a.m. L.A. time. Even those years when I didn't go, I was up early to get the nomination bundle and try to figure it out.

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No ''View'' Master Here

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 3, 2006

For the most part I have been sitting out the Star-Barbara brawl over ''The View'' because, well, I didn't care a whole lot. And I didn't care because I hardly ever watch ''The View.''

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''Superman Returns'': The True ''Superman III''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 2, 2006

Close viewers of the ''Rocky'' saga will note that a great deal of ''Rocky III'' goes along as if ''Rocky II'' never happened. Aside from his winning the title at the end of ''R2,'' Rocky has put aside all the problems he was facing -- from poor financial wisdom to functional illiteracy -- as ''R3'' begins. Hollywood sometimes doesn't pay attention to its own history.

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Fantasy, Reality and the Indians

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 1, 2006

Most of today was spent outside, soaking up sun and digging up bushes. Two transplanted, four retired, with the new stuff waiting for the spaces once occupied by the retired shrubbery. It felt good to do, although my hands, arms, elbows, shoulders, wrists, palms and whatever are a little achy now. But the transplanting made for some nice improvements in one spot, and the new bushes will do likewise once we get them in.

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