The Paley Center for Media hosted an evening with actress Debra Messing on May 1 in Beverly Hills. Ms. Messing spoke about her acting career, the return of USA Network’s miniseries “The Starter Wife” as a full series and a certain scene that never made it onto NBC’s “Will & Grace.”
Ms. Messing said she grew up with TV, watching funny women including Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman. She aspired to be a Broadway triple threat; although she was admitted to a conservatory to study performing arts, her mother insisted she attend a liberal arts school. She did, graduating from Brandeis University.
After appearing in some New York theater productions, including being the first Harper in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Ms. Messing went to Los Angeles to work on Fox’s “Ned and Stacy” and ABC’s “Prey.” She made a brief return to New York theater and then was approached by her agents with a script for “Will & Grace.” Ms. Messing said she hesitated at first, but a bottle of vodka and a lime later, she was on board.
Fresh from last month’s PaleyFest series of tributes, the Paley Center for Media hosted a screening and discussion with the cast and producers of ABC Family’s “Kyle XY” at its Beverly Hills facility on Monday night.
In attendance for the discussion were executive producers Eric Tuchman and David Himelfarb, supervising producer Julie Plec and cast members Matt Dallas (who plays Kyle XY), April Matson (Lori Trager), Chris Olivero (Declan McDonough), Bruce Thomas (Stephen Trager), Marguerite MacIntyre (Nicole Trager) and Jaimie Alexander (Jessi XX).
AMC’s “Mad Men” may be the first early-’60s-period-piece to hit television since “Happy Days,” but the word “nostalgia” has a distinctly different connotation here.
With the show’s Sodom-and-Gomorrah-on-Madison-Avenue ethos, the pleasures in Ike’s last days run less toward malteds than Martinis, and less toward bubble gum than bloody steaks and unfiltered Lucky Strikes.
The men of the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency make the Fonz seem neutered by comparison. 1960, if the show is to be believed, was a time when men were men, and the secretaries were nervous.
Though the show they love has lain dormant for six years, fans turned out in droves Wednesday night to the PaleyFest to reanimate “The X-Files.” Like, say, a zombie. Or a golem. Or a giant human liver fluke.
During the clip reel of the nine-season show, “X-Philes” cheered for sci-fi Heathcliff Fox Mulder and savvy strawberry Sno-Cone Dana Scully. Things got especially rowdy in the seats when the two locked lips, a kiss that ended nearly a decade of sexual tension that had become as thick as ectoplasm.
So you thought “Dirty Sexy Money” was all about shallow, brainless rich people? Think again, Darling.
Series creator Craig Wright has grander ambitions, and he shared them with the audience at Tuesday’s PaleyFest tribute to the ABC series. After a selection of clips from the first season, he described the montage and the show as being about “deeply flawed people who are forced to deal with the ways in which money has contorted or misshapen their consciousness”—highfalutin’ stuff for a series often compared to the prime-time soaps of days gone by.
However, Wright said he “totally” embraces the soap label, calling the show “a ‘Dallas’ or ‘Dynasty’ for the new millennium, with an added dash of the self-awareness that we have in our society at this point.”
He also discussed how he feels “a sociological commitment to use network television as an influence for change” and is trying to transmit “the normalizing influences of diversity,” which is easier thanks to the show’s huge cast.
If Friday’s PaleyFest panel is to be believed, “Dancing With the Stars” makes “Celebrity Fit Club” look like a walk in the park.
Celebrities including Jane Seymour and “Stars” judges including Len Goodman fielded questions when dance and Marie-Osmond-fainting enthusiasts alike turned out at Hollywood’s Arclight Cinerama Dome at the Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest.
The ABC show, in its sixth season, has been a solid hit for the network. Based on the U.K.’s “Strictly Come Dancing,” “Stars” pairs up dancing professionals and Hollywood talent in a ballroom showdown on live television.
But dancing success comes at a price. Ms. Seymour said she pulled all the muscles in her rib cage during her dancing stint in the fifth season, while season-two winner Drew Lachey talked about costume difficulties and the pros and cons of training eight to 10 hours a day.
“You literally eat a pie for breakfast, a cake for lunch and then have a gallon of ice cream for dinner, and you’ll still lose 15 pounds that week,” he said.
At least, that’s the opinion of the fans who turned out Monday for the PaleyFest’s tribute to “Damages,” the hyper-Machiavellian legal thriller renewed for both a second and third season last fall by FX.
Moderator Stuart Levine cross-examined the panel on the depravity of Ms. Close (or rather, her character, Patty Hewes) while the audience salivated in the gallery.
Appearing for the defense: Stars Ted Danson, Tate Donovan, Anastasia Griffith, Noah Bean, Zeljko Ivanek and Ms. Close herself, with co-creators/producers Daniel Zelman and brothers Todd and Glenn Kessler.
Mr. Zelman and the Kesslers argued that the show studies the results of very human people—specifically women—gaining near-superhuman power. In the case of “Damages,” these results include blackmail, induced suicide, murder (both attempted and successful) and—a specialty of Ms. Close’s—the execution of a beloved pet.
Hollywood shined a little younger and brighter Saturday night as the cast and creative team of The CW’s “Gossip Girl” took the stage at PaleyFest. The show, the latest offering in the pretty-rich-white-kids-with-issues genre, is based on the popular teen novels and was created by the same folks who brought us the teen sensation “The OC.”
“Gossip Girl” follows a circle of overprivileged youth on New York’s Upper East Side and how their lives are affected by the rumors published on a popular blog called Gossip Girl. OK, so maybe it’s like “The OC,” but with really expensive clothes and a little more tech savvy.
All of the key actors from the show were at the Arclight Hollywood for the panel discussion, including Blake Lively (Serena van der Woodsen), Leighton Meester (Blair Waldorf), Penn Badgley (Dan Humphrey), Chace Crawford (Nate Archibald), Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass), Kelly Rutherford (Lily van der Woodsen), Matthew Settle (Rufus Humphrey), Taylor Momsen (Jenny Humphrey) and Jessica Szhor (Vanessa Abrams).
The Paley Center for Media presented "The Comedy World of Judd Apatow and Friends" as part of PaleyFest '08 on March 17 at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.
TelevisionWeek caught some highlights from the event, which, as might be expected, ended up being more of a gag reel/roast than a tribute to the writer-producer.
The clip features friends and former co-workers Garry Shandling ("The Larry Sanders Show") and Tom Arnold ("Roseanne") feting Apatow, along with a host of wisecracking others including Andy Dick, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and Busy Philipps.
Thursday night’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reunion is definitely the highlight of this year’s Paley Festival. Tickets for the event sold out within two hours of going on sale, and with good reason. Almost all of the major players from the show were in attendance at Hollywood’s Arclight Theater.
The event was the biggest “Buffy” reunion since the show ended in 2003. In attendance at the panel were Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), James Marsters (Spike), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), Seth Green (Oz), Amber Benson (Tara Maclay), executive producers Marti Noxon and David Greenwalt and creator Joss Whedon. Notably missing from the lineup were Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Eliza Dushku (Faith), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles) and David Boreanaz (Angel).
Much of the discussion was about two of the show’s most memorable episodes—season six’s musical “Once More With Feeling” and season five’s “The Body,” where the characters deal with the loss of Buffy’s and Dawn’s mother.
The reunion was as much a chance for the cast to catch up on “Buffy” as it was for fans. Case in point: Ms. Gellar was unaware until recently that Buffy was experimenting with her sexuality in a recent issue of the “Buffy” graphic novel series. (Mr. Whedon last year put season eight of the show in comic book form.)
Attention, “Friday Night Lights” fans: Your show is still in limbo.
That’s according to “FNL” Executive Producer Jason Katims, who said a rumored deal between DirecTV and NBC to keep the critically acclaimed but low-rated high school football drama on the air has not occurred yet.
“There’s no deal yet for the show, but we remain incredibly optimistic that that’s going to happen and hopefully happen soon,” Mr. Katims said Wednesday at a “FNL” panel during the Paley Festival.
Mr. Katims did tease that DirecTV isn’t the only entity interested in the show, only the most publicized group. But he couldn’t give any definitive answer on when he’ll know about the deal, or how the deal would work.
“I think the answer is going to be pretty soon, and I say that only because I know I have to start breaking stories. I have a feeling that we are two or three weeks away from knowing what’s going to happen,” Mr. Katims said.
The cast and creative team of “Chuck” dropped in for day four of the Paley Festival on Tuesday at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. Almost the entire gang was there, including Zachary Levi, who plays title character Chuck Bartowski, Adam Baldwin (John Casey), Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah Walker) and co-creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, among others.
Sarah Lancaster, who plays Chuck’s sister, called in sick.
A high-spirited panel moderated by “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof covered topics that ran the gamut from whether “Chuck” was an analogy for World War II to what executive producer McG’s favorite swear word is (it’s the F-word), and who would win in a battle between Voltron and Godzilla.
Joshua Gomez, who plays Morgan Grimes on the show, answered “Godzilla,” a viewpoint Mr. Levi strongly refuted.
“You are so wrong! Voltron! Godzilla can’t split up into five different things! Voltron can come at him from all different angles!” Mr. Levi said.
A Slice of Life With 'Pushing Daisies' at Paley Festival
The Paley Center’s annual television festival got under way Friday in Hollywood and continues with a series of screenings and panel discussion with the casts and creators of some of the hottest shows on TV, including “Friday Night Lights,” “Chuck” and “Gossip Girl.”
On Saturday night, the cast and creators of ABC’s freshman series “Pushing Daisies” took the stage at Hollywood's Cinerama Dome in an hour of cast love and laughs, thanks largely to Chi McBride, who plays private eye Emerson Cod on the show.
Also in attendance were actors Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth and Ellen Greene, along with creator and executive producer Bryan Fuller and executive producers Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks and Peter Ocko. Noticeably absent was Swoosie Kurtz, who was out of town with her sick mother.
“Pushing Daisies” tells the story of a pie maker, Ned (Pace), who discovers at a young age that he has the ability to touch dead beings and bring them back to life. If he touches them again, they go back to being dead forever. And if he brings one back to life for more than a minute, someone (or something) else dies.
It's all about the karma, "Pushing Daisies." Keeping balance in the universe, making up for what you give and take from the world. This show is deep!
As philosophical as the premise could be, there’s also the monetization of Ned’s gift. He teams up with Emerson to solve crimes and collect reward money. Of course, they cheat by having Ned bring back the deceased and asking who killed them.
Things become complicated for Ned when one of the people he brings back to life is Chuck, his childhood sweetheart who lived across the street from him. She was strangled on a cruise, but after Ned brought her back to life, he couldn’t bear to send her back. She stuck around, and the two fell in love, though they can never touch. Imaginary handholding and kissing through plastic wrap ensued, and millions of viewers’ hearts warmed.
And who can blame them? An hour with the cast really does show the chemistry that the actors and producers have on the set and the kind of energy they bring to the program.
Early in the discussion, moderated by E!’s Kristin Dos Santos, the cast shared stories of how they came to be a part of the show. For most, it was a beautiful script that landed in front of them at a time in their lives when they were not looking to be in TV but couldn’t pass it up. McBride was quick to call them out on those statements, sticking to the age-old truth that actors look for “anything that will pay the bills.” His previous work includes roles in “Boston Public” and, more recently, the short-lived “The Nine,” which McBride said was the first show named after its audience. He also did a series called “Killer Instinct,” which he said should have been called “Kill It. It Stinks.”
Sitting next to the large and imposing McBride was the small and infectiously cheerful Chenoweth, loved by fans for bringing her Broadway experience and voice to the show. (She won a Tony for her role as Sally in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”)
Already, her repertoire of characters has quite a camp factor, in the very best way possible, but it’s scenes like this, where she laments being rebuffed by Ned and channels Olivia Newton-John, that Olive really stakes a claim as the unsung hero of the series.
At McBride’s request she gave the audience a taste of her singing voice, warbling ever so nicely ... about McBride’s noise hairs. Greene laughed. Like a donkey.
The show’s first season ended just after nine episodes due to the Writers Guild strike, which the creators said was a blessing for the show’s direction. Fuller and the other executive producers said because of the prolonged break, they were able to step away from the show and look back on the things that worked and what didn’t and plan the story arcs for the characters. The first season established itself as soft and romantic, and Fuller said he hopes season two will be harder.
What exactly is in store for the characters in season two, due back this fall?
The first five episodes have been approved, and Fuller is currently writing the first episode. He said Chuck will find out who her mother is, and Ned will try to help her “control her trajectory.” Olive’s love interest, Alfredo (played by another Broadway veteran, Raul Esparza), will return for some episodes, and he and Olive may sing together on camera. The series also is expected to explore Emerson’s decision to become a private detective after his daughter went missing.
Some of the show’s fans were able to ask questions about things only fans ever really think about. For example, we learn that Ned is in fact a vegetarian on the show, since anything that’s dead would only come back to life after touching him. In terms of the show’s distant future, the idea of Ned and Chuck having a child is up in the air, with concerns that Ned’s sperm would kill Chuck’s egg as soon as they touched. Chuck will also learn that, in being brought back from the death, she will not age.
As for the show’s near future, shooting for season two is expected to begin in June and premiere in September. The first season is slated for a June release on DVD in the U.K. and a September release in the U.S. A show soundtrack album also could be in the works, Fuller said.
— Sergio Ibarra
Updated: Ms. Chenoweth's Tony win. June 5, 12:55 p.m.