Ed Martin Live from the Winter 2012 Television Critics Association Tour
I have to admit that when it comes to panels at the twice-yearly Television Critics Association tours I prefer separate sessions for individual programs. When a question-and-answer session about a particular show really gets rolling one can learn all sorts of interesting information about it while also getting a sense of the chemistry (or lack thereof) between its on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent.
But it is often the case that there simply isn't time in a network's allotted TCA space to present panels for all of the programs that it would like to promote. That is certainly true of The CW, which has only a couple of hours at the annual Winter TCA tours to strut its stuff.
Despite the terrible time crunch, the smart people at The CW have figured out a way to get the most out of their meager time allotment: They present stars from a number of different series in a single themed panel. Last year The CW did this by bringing together several of its female stars in a session titled the Kick-Ass Women of The CW. Yesterday they flipped genders, offering a panel titled The Bad-Ass Boys of The CW.
The bad-asses included Jared Padalecki of Supernatural, Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl, Kristoffer Polaha of Ringer, Wilson Bethel of Hart of Dixie, Shane West of Nikita and Joseph Morgan of The Vampire Diaries. Had any teenage girls been in the room they would have been in hottie heaven, especially when these six guys played off of and teased each other. TCA members representing consumer publications and Web sites seemed to be thrilled by this grouping.
On the downside, there was very little revealed about any of the six shows represented by these bad-asses. On the upside it was a tweet-tastic session, and I'm sure the re-tweets were bountiful. More importantly, seeing these guys together and watching them have fun and interact with each other reinforced the brand identity of The CW in a way that reminded me of The WB, which became more of a programming environment than a traditional network during its brief existence.
It was great to have Jared Padalecki on hand, since the long-running and still vital Supernatural hasn't been represented at a TCA tour in years. But it would have been better if his co-star Jensen Ackles had been with him, not to mention executive producer Sera Gamble, who has not appeared at a TCA since becoming the primary executive producer of the show in 2010. For what it's worth, I talked with Padalecki last night and he told me he is hopeful the show will continue for another season, which would be its eighth. Supernatural has never received the degree of media attention that it deserves, but it did receive a People's Choice Award earlier this week, and that has to count for something.
The bad-ass who benefited the most from this panel was Wilson Bethel, a largely unknown actor from the largely unremarkable Hart of Dixie. He was so clever and engaging that he stole the spotlight from the more experienced actors on the stage. Dozens of reporters who either didn't know who he was before the session or knew who he was but simply didn't care came away wanting to see more of him. I'm certain they will.
The second panel that The CW presented yesterday was for an observational reality series titled Remodeled, about modeling agent and businessman Paul Fisher and his new venture, in which he links together small agencies from around the world into one bigger brand. I haven't seen the show, but the session was more interesting than I had anticipated, as there was much talk about social responsibility, body issues and Fisher's desire to popularize models of healthier weight than has recently been the norm.
Unfortunately, The CW did not offer a session with its new entertainment president Mark Pedowitz. In fairness, Pedowitz was in the room and ready to chat with anyone during the two panels and the cocktail party that followed. But it was still somewhat surprising that he didn't do a formal question and answer session, given the uproar that greeted CBS' announcement earlier in the week that its entertainment president, Nina Tassler, would not take the stage during its TCA day. (As reported yesterday, Tassler changed her mind and a productive time was had by all.) Then again, I didn't hear any complaints about it, so I guess it wasn't a problem.
Earlier in the day, Showtime presented panels for four series plus an executive session with the pay-cable network's President of Entertainment, David Nevins. I can't say that there were any particularly exciting moments during its sessions, but collectively the network did a fine job of promoting two returning series – Shameless and The Borgias – and two new ones – House of Lies, which recently debuted, and Inside Comedy, a talk program in which comedian David Steinberg interviews comedy superstars. Tim Conway and Larry David were on hand to help Steinberg introduce the show, proving that Showtime could deliver the bad-ass, as well.