One would think that a day at the Summer 2012 Television Critics Association Tour devoted to programming on NBCUniversal's basic cable networks would offer an irresistible mix of cosmetically altered housewives, vain lifestyle coaches, fearless investigators of the paranormal and actors who portray sexy detectives, government agents, doctors and lawyers. But, remarkably, there wasn't a personality from Bravo, Syfy or USA Network in sight, despite the fact that the programming on all three networks is generally very popular with the critics and reporters who are gathered here at the Beverly Hilton hotel. The usual informal breakfast or lunch with stars from USA Network's shows was particularly missed.
Instead of serving up their beloved heavyweights, the NBCU cable group offered a decidedly lightweight lineup of talent involved with a handful of shows on mun2, Oxygen, Style and E! that took up only half of the day. Awareness of the programs and personalities on the bi-lingual, bi-cultural, youth-focused Latino network is miniscule at best, so I'm not sure if mun2's breakfast can be looked upon as a success, even if it offered some of the tastiest food of the tour so far. The inclusion of young actor Eric Ochoa -- star of the original Web series "Officer Diaz" on mun2.tv – reflected the growing presence at TCA tours of actors and other personalities from Internet programming.
The mun2 breakfast was followed by the best panel of the day. It was for the upcoming Oxygen observational reality series "All the Right Moves," which focuses on four male dancers – Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Kyle Robinson and Teddy Forance – who live together, work together and have launched their own fledgling dance company, Shaping Sound. The session opened with a lively performance by the four young men and several of their female friends and dance partners. (This was the second dance performance at this tour. The first was by contestants from the current season of "So You Think You Can Dance" during Fox's TCA day. Interestingly, Lazzarini was the winner on the first season of "SYTYCD." Wall was the runner-up on season two and continues to work on the show as resident choreographer and guest judge. Forance has also choreographed for "SYTYCD.")
I attended a publicity event for this series at the Grove shopping complex in Los Angeles last week during which these talented and outspoken guys revealed even more about their personal and professional lives. They also danced a good deal longer than they did at TCA. The crowd loved them. "All the Right Moves" will make its debut next Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET as a lead-in to Oxygen's best series, "The Glee Project." The two shows should make for a great night of summer television.
Identical twin sisters Tia Mowry Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley – best remembered as the child stars of the sitcom "Sister, Sister" on the defunct WB network – were up next to promote the second season of their documentary reality series "Tia & Tamera" on Style. As I said above, it was a lightweight morning.
The NBCU cable group's half-day concluded with a lavish E! Network lunch in the Beverly Hilton penthouse that provided ample opportunities for critics and reporters to informally interview such network personalities as Whitney Cummings (who in November will add a weekly E! talk show titled "Love You, Mean It with Whitney Cummings" to her already heavy workload, and who was much more entertaining in person than she is on her NBC sitcom "Whitney"); and many cast members from the upcoming observational reality series "Married to Jonas," including Kevin Jonas and his wife of 2 ½ years Danielle (who proved to be an exceedingly charming couple), Kevin Jonas Sr. and Denise Jonas (the very down to earth parents of superstars Kevin, Joe and Nick and their little brother Frankie), and Danielle's parents, Thomas and Dina Deleasa. (Regular-guy Thomas is going to be the breakout star of what I am sure will be a very popular series for E!)
Also at the E! lunch were executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, vocal coach Nick Cooper, singer/songwriter Jason Derulo and young singer Von Smith from "Opening Act," the E! series in which Lythgoe and a panel of music experts identify talented singers from random Internet videos and arrange for them to perform as opening acts for superstars while the E! cameras roll. Smith was chosen from out of the blue to open for Lady Gaga last month in Brisbane, Australia. That wasn't his first taste of Internet-related fame: In 2007 Rosie O'Donnell was impressed by one of his YouTube videos and asked him to perform on "The View." The year after that he auditioned for "American Idol." He landed in the top twenty but did not make the top twelve. His episode of "Opening Act" is slated to be the series' season finale.