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James Hibberd



Home Stretch

July 14, 2006 7:20 PM

It’s getting late. This is the last day of the Cable Press Tour marathon. I cannot eat any more shrimp cocktail. I want the badge off my belt loop. I find myself guiltily rooting for bland panels and news-free executive sessions. Few thoughts: – Vinyl records were replaced by cassette tapes, which were replaced by CDs, which are being made obsolete by digital players. So why is the sound of a record scratch still used for the “what did he just say?!” moment of every comedy TV show trailer? – Sometimes critics react to panels as if they’re still watching TV, asking obnoxious rim-shot questions, as if commenting to a spouse beside them on the couch, rather than speaking to a fellow human being. This is also, however, what makes Press Tour so entertaining.

– If there’s a theme to this Press Tour, it’s international news. There’s been Dan Rather, Ted Koppel and a few 9/11-themed program presentations. Several clips of the smoking Twin Towers set to booming Hollywood music. To allow a TV network trailer to drag you into an emotional 9/11 flashback seems like a violation. To complain about the clips seems cowardly. To enjoy them as entertainment seems callous.

– Refusing to applaud panelists is a TCA tradition. Moreso than past Press Tours, networks have stocked the back of the ballroom with channel representatives and series supporters. During Comedy Central’s session, chicken-fried humorists the Naked Trucker & T-Bones performed and waves of hysterical guffaws blew forward the hair of seated critics. (The Naked Trucker, by and by, seemingly performed nude, holding only a guitar. But a sharp-eyed critic called him out for wearing a jockstrap.)

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