Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dispatches from ABC: Kimmel undercover, Heigl's status and more

ABC's executive press tour session with Steve McPherson opened with a Very Special Guest Star for the first question: Jimmy Kimmel, undercover (sort of), trying to get to the bottom of the Jay Leno situation.

Wearing a baseball cap and claiming to be a reporter for the (non-existent) Sarasota Star-Herald-Tribune (I think he said his name was Tom Weinerman), Kimmel asked McPherson about the rumors that ABC wanted to hire Leno once Leno's contract with NBC expired, and what that might mean for ABC's late-night line-up.

"If that were, God forbid, to happen, would that mean Ted Koppel would get fired, or what?"

He also suggested that ABC talking to Leno now would constitute contract tampering and should maybe land McPherson in jail, asked McPherson how he keeps his hair so nice, and then wondered, "Are you at all afraid that if you replace Jimmy Kimmel he might do something crazy to you or your car?"

"We wanted to have a little fun with it," McPherson said after Kimmel left, and tried to defer all further Leno questions by saying, "I can't believe (NBC would) let this guy go at the top of his game." In the scrum after the session, McPherson acknowledged that he thought Leno and Kimmel could make a very compatible one-two punch if Leno were to come to ABC, and that he would keep Kimmel closely involved in any discussions about bringing Leno over to the network.

In other news from the ABC exec session:
  • Asked about the kerfuffle over Katherine Heigl's comments about not wanting to submit herself for an Emmy this year -- and whether it was a contract ploy to get Heigl off the show and into a full-time movie career -- McPherson called the situation "unfortunate," but insisted, "She's absolutely staying with the show. There's an unbelievable storyline for her coming up... Shonda (Rhimes) is really excited about that and is the one who crafted that."
  • Speaking of Rhimes, "Private Practice" will be tweaked to focus more on medical drama and less on the doctors hanging around the coffee room swapping neuroses, and Kate Walsh's character will resume doing surgery on a regular basis.
  • Katie Holmes' upcoming guest spot on "Eli Stone" -- a reunion between her and "Eli Stone" creator Greg Berlanti, who was a showrunner for a while on "Dawson's Creek" -- will feature Mrs. Tom Cruise singing and dancing, "and it's exquisite."
  • McPherson tried to wipe away the Show In Trouble label from "Life on Mars," even though the remake of the BBC time travel/cop drama is being completely rewritten and reshot, and many of the supporting roles are being recast. "It's in great shape," he insisted, and when I asked him in the scrum what separates the massively-overhauling "Mars" from all the other shows in development that ABC won't even consider for a debut sooner than midseason, he said the difference is that they have the BBC show as a template.
  • "Dirty Sexy Money" will be retooled to eliminate what McPherson called certain "indie film" elements and become more of a "popcorn guilty pleasure" show.
Back later, perhaps with Berlanti himself talking about the Katie reunion.

33 comments:

Myles said...

I am left scratching my head at "indie film" elements of Dirty Sexy Money. Was there any further context to that statement?

Does explain why Cerone parted ways with the show, though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now I'm really scared about Dirty Sexy Money. I thought that was last season's best new show and my guess is that the "indie elements" were the exact thing that I thought made it a good deal better than a popcorn show.

Eric said...

What the hell does he mean by "indie film" elements in Dirty Sexy Money? And why do I have the feeling it's going to make the show a lot less interesting? My guess is goodbye to Carmelita and most of the tension about the Darling's money between Nick and Lisa.

I'd be sad to see Carmelita go, not as sad to see Nick (and especially Lisa's) angst disappear.

Alan Sepinwall said...

McPherson said he felt DSM took itself too seriously too often in season one.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I'm scared about the fate of that show. Some of the best material was dramatic stuff like Brian being revealed as Nick's brother or Donald Sutherland getting to play a family moment straight.

dez said...

Took itself too seriously? What the hell is he talking about? Did he even watch the show? UGH.

All this producer/etc. interference in shows & films is why so much crap gets out for public consumption. Latest case in point: the disaster that is "Hancock." Now it looks like they are going to re-tool DSM into the sh!tpile, too. Meh.

Joe Reid said...

"Took itself too seriously" actually does sound to me like the "Nick and Lisa's moral hand-wringing" stuff, which I totally agree will not be missed. I'm taking that as a positive.

And maybe the Katie Holmes appearance will get some eyeballs on Eli and keep it on the air for a while.

Anonymous said...

I thought DSM was an unfocused mess last year and gave up after 4 episodes. Unless it changed a lot after that I think there's definitely room for improvement.

As for Katie Holmes, she can't sign to save her life: http://youtube.com/watch?v=UrMY4PrCz4k

Andrew said...

I'll hold off judgment on DSM no longer "taking itself too seriously," because it was good, but not perfect. Take a perfect first season like Friday Night Lights and changing some elements is a recipe for, well, the disappointment of FNL season 2. Taking a show like Dirty Sexy Money and changing some of the elements might make it click better. It also might fail horribly. Hopefully "indie film" elements doesn't mean human-scale emotional moments and plausible character motivations. We'll see in the fall.

And would DSM be better if-- like the pilot-- the series was filmed in NYC?

Are Leno's fans (as hard as it is to believe that he has them) really going to watch Conan? Even if its not Leno, I can't imagine that ABC doesn't start a new 11:30 entertainment show to compete against Conan.

Matt said...

Having DSM film in NYC would be a help. And the "make it less serious" doesn't seem in tune with the casting changes they're making--namely getting rid of Samaire Armstrong, who was perhaps the silliest character on the show. I'm wondering how much they're going to get rid of the "who killed Nick's dad" plotline or the Simon Elder stuff.

The changes to "Private Practice," on the other hand, seem right on. Likable cast, interesting characters, but never seemed to hit right. Give Kate Walsh her spine back (the character found it on her one-episode Grey's arc), and that'll help a lot.

marcus said...

I wonder if Jimmy's Clay Aiken hat indicates he thinks of critics along the same lines Timothy Olyphant does.

Anonymous said...

If they turn DSM into Big Shots, I will scream. Do not mess with the Nick/Tripp/Karen Goodness...
and keep the Tranny!

jim treacher said...

Tom Weinerman? Reminds me of when Norm MacDonald did that Burt Reynolds imitation on Celebrity Jeopardy and insisted on signing his name "Turd Ferguson." Except that was funny.

jim treacher said...

Oh, and you forgot to mention that Life on Mars is being reshot a continent away.

amysusanne said...

I'm as confused as everyone else about the DSM comments. It was uneven, but there was a lot of fun in there and I actually thought most of the "serious" was right in line with most nightime/guilty pleasure soaps. Sex, drugs, drama, murder, twisted family trees...that all seems about right to me. It could use some improvement, but I hope the changes are subtle and not big, scary, network notes changes.

I'm all about making changes to Private Practice, though. Love the people, Love Addison, totally bored with the show.

LA said...

I'm already hearing that Izzy Stevens is going to come down with a brain tumor this season.

But who cares about the ingrate Heigl, I'm way more invested in DSM keeping the tranny.

Thanks for the report, Alan!

Anonymous said...

By indie film elements did he mean the occasional thoughtful moments? And occasional originality?

The moments that probably sold the show to ABC in the first place but now he thinks the audience is too dumb to understand.

*SIGH*

Alan Sepinwall said...

So I talked to Berlanti for a while after the "Eli Stone" session, and he -- while agreeing with McPherson that the show needed some tweaking -- said that it would be more a matter of spending more time doing what they did well last season.

The example he gave, which may have been the genesis for McPherson's "indie film" comment (given that there are indie comedies as well as dramas) was that Brian was really extreme and awful at the start of the series, and that once they put his son into the Darling's world and humanized him a little, it allowed them to do more interesting -- and sometimes funnier -- things with him.

I don't know if that makes sense out of context of the conversation.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Tom Weinerman? Reminds me of when Norm MacDonald did that Burt Reynolds imitation on Celebrity Jeopardy and insisted on signing his name "Turd Ferguson." Except that was funny.

Turd Ferguson is always funny, Jim. However, it was pronounced -- as best I could make it out on my recording -- as WHY-ner-mun, not WEE-ner-man.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I can respect anyone who thinks that Leno is "at the top of his game".

Alan Sepinwall said...

don't think I can respect anyone who thinks that Leno is "at the top of his game".

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't care for Leno's show, but the viewers at home sure do, and I think NBC is being incredibly short-sighted and foolish in forcing him out for Conan, even though I vastly prefer Conan's show.

dez said...

I'm as confused as everyone else about the DSM comments. It was uneven, but there was a lot of fun in there and I actually thought most of the "serious" was right in line with most nightime/guilty pleasure soaps.

Same here! That's why the comment baffled me. Berlanti's explanation kinda works, I guess, except I thought Brian's arc was a natural progression in terms of opening up the character, not some sort of softening of him because he was too "indie film" in the beginning.

I will kind of miss Samaire Armstrong and I hope she gets her life in order. I guess the "Lost" punishment is extending to other shows....

Bobman said...

I don't think I can respect anyone who thinks that Leno is "at the top of his game"

I'm consistently baffled by the ill will towards Leno. I don't find him particularly funny, don't get me wrong, but he's certainly a personable guy, and I can't imagine having anything against him. People who criticize his lame jokes are always fans of Letterman, a guy who has been phoning it in for YEARS and arguably has a much more tired schtick than Leno, just with a "cooler than the room" attitude thrown in.

SoCal said...

I hope McPherson is not on the set dictating what is going down on the DSM set, or any of the other suits. It's already a great guilty pleasure show with some very intruiging storylines.

I will hold my breath for the season premeire.

Alan, what did you think of the show when it first premeired?

JustMe said...

Re DSM: I'm also a bit scared of what "retooling" the show will do. I could deal with a little bit less of Lisa being ridiculously petty (though some pettiness seems appropriate). And are they re-casting Samaire Armstrong? The twins' relationship was one of the show's highlights.

Re Grey's/Private: more surgery does not necessarily mean better show. I don't know that Shonda understands that. And well, seeing how brilliant and exciting Shonda thought the crap she made up last year was, I doubt that Heigl (or anyone else) is getting anything worth submitting this year.

Smokers said...

Any words on Lost?

Nicole said...

Letterman will occasionally skewer a useless guest (Paris Hilton, that guy from the Hills), whereas Leno is a complete ass-kisser. I think that is where the difference lies, that and "writing" his jokes during the strike when Letterman did not.

No one can deny that Leno is a hard worker, whether he's actually funny is based on personal taste.

Pamela Jaye said...

Asked about the kerfuffle over Katherine Heigl's comments ... McPherson ... insisted, "She's absolutely staying with the show. There's an unbelievable storyline for her coming up...

you mean all of Izzie's *past* storylines *weren't* unbelievable?

(Izzie hasn't really been believable since Denny showed up. Personally, I'd like to see her and Alex deal with some of their "issues" - together. They were great in the finale, and Alex was great way back in season 2 when he couldn't "perforn" because he acutally cared about her)

Pamela Jaye said...

PS - amysusanne, cool to see you here! (I will never have the energy for TWOP, "cottages*" or no "cottages".)

* recent (this past season) discussion here of "cottages" required explanation to some - as for me, I just figured it was a TWOPism. I prefer "ducklings." (the new ones aren't bad. I've been loving Wilson even more lately, and Chase is kinda cool when he's not an underling, even if the idea of him being a surgeon is insane)

jim treacher said...

"Turd Ferguson is always funny, Jim."

I wouldn't go that far, but it is when it's pointing out how dumb and unfunny Burt Reynolds is. Which is also why "Tom Weinerman" works.

(Because it points out how dumb and unfunny Burt Reynolds is.)

Anonymous said...

So now "popcorn" means "pandering to the lowest common denominator"?

I'm sure there's going to be a lot of SEXY RESULTS!

dez said...

^ LOL, last anonymous!

Andrew said...

I'm consistently baffled by the ill will towards Leno. I don't find him particularly funny, don't get me wrong, but he's certainly a personable guy, and I can't imagine having anything against him. People who criticize his lame jokes are always fans of Letterman, a guy who has been phoning it in for YEARS and arguably has a much more tired schtick than Leno, just with a "cooler than the room" attitude thrown in.

I won't argue that Letterman hasn't been funny in a long time (or is funny occasionally at best), but Leno has never been funny.