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TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.

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‘Grey’ Goings-On

April 19, 2009 7:30 PM

Hollywood’s fabled Grauman’s Chinese Theater was jammed Thursday night for the L.A. premiere of HBO Films’ “Grey Gardens,” which debuted on the pay cable network Saturday night.

Grey Gardens' Premiere

The film, based on the Maysles Bros.’ 1975 cult classic documentary of the same name, chronicles the lives of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, a once-wealthy mother and daughter who gradually grow impoverished and acutely eccentric. Stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange turned out for the event, as did co-stars Daniel Baldwin and Ken Howard, writer-director Michael Sucsy, executive producers Rachael Horovitz and Lucy Barzun Donnelly and HBO Films President Len Amato.

Grey Gardens

For the elaborate after-party, HBO took over the entire Spanish Colonial-style lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel across the street. In a nod to the Beale women’s unusual sense of fashion, party guests were encouraged to don the flowing scarves and extravagant hats plentifully stocked around the premises.

An only-in-Hollywood footnote: In his pre-screening comments, Mr. Amato alerted the crowd to expect a slight inconvenience: At the film’s conclusion, guests would have to exit the theater a special way due to the fact that by that time a TV series would be filming a scene outside Grauman’s main entrance. The series? None other than HBO’s “Entourage.”

—Tom Gilbert

Blog, by George

April 19, 2009 7:30 PM

Longtime CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer is taking a low-key approach to the rollout of his latest project.

George Schweitzer

Without any fanfare whatsoever, Mr. Schweitzer has started writing “Watch This,” a blog about marketing TV in the digital age. It’s housed on the CBS Corp.-owned Web site CNET.com. “The CNET guys asked me” to start the blog, Mr. Schweitzer said. “They knew how into tech I was, and they thought the idea of marketing TV in the digital age would be interesting.” Mr. Schweitzer plans to post new items to “Watch This” at least once a week. Recent posts have commented on remote controls (Mr. Schweitzer wants them to be easier to use) and his early days working the graveyard shift as a go-fer at CBS. “My focus is … how consumers are using tech to enrich their media experiences and their lives,” he said. Mr. Schweitzer is no stranger to new technologies. He answered viewer questions via Prodigy during CBS’ coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and traded posts with Blink via CompuServe—long before most people even knew what e-mail was.

—Josef Adalian

'Desperate' for a Good Time at PaleyFest

April 18, 2009 5:57 PM

It was “Desperate Housewives'” turn at PaleyFest on Saturday afternoon, as an enthusiastic audience stepped out of the bright Hollywood sunlight into the warm glow of the ABC dramedy's gorgeous cast.

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NOT SO 'DESPERATE' Creator Marc Cherry, left, Eva Longoria Parker and Teri Hatcher.

The show's creator, Marc Cherry, 'fessed up that he attended the Paley Festival way back when he first came to Los Angeles, before getting his first TV job. He even went to a “Golden Girls” panel before he became a writer on the show.

Cherry said “The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened,” the episode screened at the event, was based on an idea he had after the death of a close friend, physical trainer Doug Blaisdell of Bravo's “Workout.” “Doug was the sort of person who was always doing small things to help people,” Cherry explained, and he was the inspiration for handyman Eli Scruggs (Beau Bridges), the central character of what turned out to be the show's 100th episode. “It's harder to get to that milestone than you might think,” Cherry said.

After the screening, moderator Will Keck of TV Guide was joined onstage by Cherry, executive producer Bob Daily and cast members Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria Parker, Dana Delany, Kyle MacLachlan, James Denton, Doug Savant, Kathryn Joosten, Brenda Strong and Neal McDonough. (Marcia Cross was celebrating her parents' 50th wedding anniversary and Felicity Huffman was teaching an acting class.)

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Nerd Herd Turns Out for 'Big Bang' at PaleyFest

April 17, 2009 10:41 PM

It was a nerd-fest Thursday at the Arclight Hollywood as the Paley Center for Media celebrated CBS’ sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” Audience members sported T-shirts with clever scientific sayings (“Schroedinger’s Cat Is Dead”) and a higher-than-usual percentage of the crowd appeared to be of South Asian descent.

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'BIG' MINDS Co-creators Chuck Lorre, left, and Bill Prady.

Moderator Cynthia Littleton introduced the show’s co-creator, Chuck Lorre, who in turn introduced an upcoming episode called “The Vegas Normalization.” It opened with another of the geeky quartet’s oddball games, this one a variation on 20 Questions that produced some major laughs. But far be it from the Daily Blink to spoil anyone’s fun (or jokes). Suffice it to say that the episode found a new and amusing use for the slogan “Yes we can!”

The night really belonged to Kaley Cuoco (Penny), who won the audience’s collective heart with her habit of tearing up every time someone said something complimentary to or about her. (Co-star Jim Parsons, aka Sheldon, finally had to ask, “Did you think they were going to throw fruit at us?”)

But the boys more than held their own. Asked by Littleton why the show has become popular, Kunal Nayyar (Raj) said, “The cast is really good-looking.” Seated next to him, Simon Helberg’s answer was even simpler: “Me.”

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Whedon Says ‘Dollhouse’ Isn’t Canceled

April 16, 2009 1:21 PM

The “Dollhouse” is not closing up shop just yet.

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PLAYING WITH DOLLS Creator Joss Whedon, left, Eliza Dushku and Fran Kranz.

Creator Joss Whedon was optimistic about “Dollhouse’s” chances for renewal at a Paley Festival panel for the show on Wednesday evening.

“The show is not canceled,” Mr. Whedon said. He pointed out that while the show’s ratings are soft, its key demographic and DVR numbers are great. He also noted the show will have a new lead-in soon in the form of “Prison Break.”

And when asked how many secrets we’ll learn in the season finale, Mr. Whedon said, “We have a lot of questions left to answer. We get the feeling we might have the chance to answer them.”

“Dollhouse’s” journey to the screen has been “the stuff of legend, but it was not legendary while it happened,” Mr. Whedon said.

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WWE Brings Back ‘Superstars’

April 15, 2009 5:10 PM

A staple on Saturday mornings for many children of the 1980s and ’90s is resurfacing, as “WWE Superstars” premieres on WGN America at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 16.

“WWF Superstars” ran in syndication from 1986 to 1996, generally featuring a collection of matches pitting top-level talent against a host of unknowns.

Occasionally, viewers might get a Yokozuna vs. Bob “Spark Plug” Holly or Bret Hart vs. Skinner match to keep things lively.

Outside of pay-per-view, “Superstars” was the place to see weekly WWE product on television in the late ’80s until “Monday Night Raw” premiered in 1993. Let’s walk down memory lane with this intro:

Now, the WWE airs weekly on several channels, including Sci Fi, USA, MyNetworkTV and Telemundo as well as occasional primetime NBC specials and monthly pay-per-view outings.

This go-round of “Superstars” has headlining talent from the WWE’s three brands, Raw, Smackdown and ECW, facing off in brand-new matches.

According to the WWE, “Superstars” will feature brand-specific matches and commentary, meaning, for now, Raw talent will square off against other Raw stars on the show. Each brand’s commentary team will provide the play-by-play for that brand’s matches.

Click play to see a promo for tomorrow’s show:

‘Dr. Horrible’s’ Whedon Excited About Web Video

April 15, 2009 4:24 PM

Joss Whedon wants to give back.

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CAMPED OUT Fans line up outside the Arclight Cinerama Dome for the PaleyFest "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" panel.

Mr. Whedon was in attendance Tuesday evening at the Paley Festival’s panel for “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” the first time PaleyFest has honored a Web series.

Mr. Whedon, who was late to last year’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reunion at PaleyFest because he was filming “Dr. Horrible,” acknowledged that the original Web musical would not have been possible without “waivers and favors,” as moderator Matt Roush put it.

“It is both. I could never attempt to cash in those types of favors again,” Mr. Whedon replied when asked if “Dr. Horrible” was an anomaly or a model for future Web video productions.

Mr. Whedon’s 20 years in the TV business played a part in helping “Dr. Horrible” get made. He was able to get permission to film on the Universal lot from the head of production thanks to their working relationship on “Serenity.” He turned “Dr. Horrible” into a family affair with fellow writers Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and future sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen (“This will either band us or break the family apart forever,” Mr. Whedon said.). He enlisted actors he’d worked with before (Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day) while welcoming Neil Patrick Harris to the Joss Whedon Repertory Company.

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‘90210’ Panelists Tackle Tough Topics at PaleyFest

April 14, 2009 3:38 PM

Cast members and executive producer Rebecca Rand Kirshner Sinclair from The CW series “90210” took part in an intimate panel discussion Saturday night as part of this year’s PaleyFest. The event, held in the real-life 90210 at the Paley Center for Media, was light on the cast banter, but not the topics.

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IN THE '90210' Rob Estes, left, and executive producer Rebecca Rand Kirshner Sinclair.

The night started with a brief clip from the original “Beverly Hills, 90210,” selected by the Paley Center for Media to go along with the event. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”), a huge fan of both the original and its current incarnation, served as moderator for the panel.

After the screening of an upcoming episode, “Between a Sign and Hard Place,” scheduled to air April 21, the discussion included bipolarism and teenage pregnancy, two major storylines currently on the series.

Ms. Kirshner Sinclair explained that tackling the issue of bipolarism felt “timely,” noting that in her opinion it seems more young people are facing mental health issues.

“Bipolar kids are almost, like, the epitome of teenage kids,” Ms. Kirshner Sinclair said of today’s youth. “I think all teenage kids are kind of bipolar—you have great highs and great lows. … It’s sort of identifiable, and yet I don’t want those kids to feel embarrassed.”

In “Between a Sign and Hard Place,” directed by one of the show’s stars, Rob Estes, Erin Silver (played by Jessica Stroup) deals with the public consequences of her mental breakdown as she faces returning to West Beverly High.

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‘True Blood’s’ Farflung Fandom

April 14, 2009 2:43 PM

With some fans flying in from as far away as the Midwest, a sold-out crowd voiced their support for HBO’s “True Blood” during Monday’s PaleyFest presentation.

True Blood

Cast members Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston, Alexander Skarsgard and creator/executive producer Alan Ball fielded questions from enthusiastic fans regarding nudity in the show, “Blood’s” connection to the Sookie Stackhouse book series and the threat of cancellation.

Multiple fans expressed concern about losing the show, including one guy who didn’t even ask a question, but just simply said he didn’t want to see “Blood” fall by the wayside after its second season, like HBO’s “Carnivale” or “Deadwood.” (“Deadwood” actually lasted three seasons).

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‘Design’ on Bravo

April 12, 2009 8:00 PM

Take talented husband-and-wife designers who find abandoned buildings in Manhattan, turn them into million-dollar homes for rich folks and flip them.

Design Sixx

Throw in seven kids in a Mini Cooper and a wild boar’s head, and what do you have? All the elements of a new reality show Bravo will announce as part of its upfront presentation to advertisers this week. “Design Sixx” (working title, dating to before their seventh offspring was born) features Cortney and Robert Novogratz and is produced by Left/Right for Bravo. “We expect this show to appeal to our core viewers, the affluent, educated 18- to 49-year-olds,” said Frances Berwick, general manager of Bravo. “It’s another prong of our quality unscripted strategy.” She expects the show to generate buzz, both live around water coolers and virtually through blogs and the like. “They are the kind of charismatic personalities you can’t stop watching because you’re dying to know what they do next. People will come into the office the next day and say, ‘Oh my God, did you see that show with those fabulous designers and their seven kids?’”

—Jon Lafayette