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James Hibberd



Party Report #1: More Cow Ball

January 10, 2007 2:36 PM


FX employees have a saying: “Fox without the ‘o’ is Fox without the dough.' Seems the same holds true for the rest of their parent company’s cable suite, which put on a modest party for the first night of TCA on the cramped terrace.

Of the Fox Cable Networks Group, National Geographic Channel’s portion of the buffet spread had the most theme fun, offering food items inspired by their “Taboo' series—including bull testicles, deep-fried chicken feet and chocolate-covered worms (though, admittedly, there’s something sort of aggressive about that too, I’m picturing a network president shouting, “TV critics!? Screw ‘em, let them eat balls and worms').


Nat Geo also brought out The Dog Whisperer, who, in turn, brought a dog to demonstrate his canine communication skills on. This seems like a cheat, as it’s his dog, and he presumably already knows what the dog is thinking.

FX was sparsely represented, with Courteney Cox a no-show (“she wasn’t feeling well').

Fox Reality was the most awkward member of the party, with general manager and COO David Lyle giving a speech while critics attacked the buffet dinner and open bar (something a network president attempts at every Press Tour, and never quite works). Fox Reality also brought some guests such as the immortal Rob and Amber and Kennedy (surprisingly striking in a red dress and looking somehow younger than she did back in her MTV days, also helpful with giving hallway party directions).

But Fox Reality also has a new series, “The Academy,' following a group of law enforcement recruits, and therefore, invited a half-dozen Academy trainers from the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department.

Now really, a network shouldn’t need a blogger to point this out, but a cluster of imposing, stern-faced uniformed cops doesn’t liven up a party, ever.

Fox Reality also planned to have the officers stage marching drills at the event, which would have been awesome to behold: Weary, hungry critics trying to get to the chicken tenders while police officers scream at them. At the last minute, wiser Fox Cable heads vetoed the idea.

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Comments (3)

Ron Alridge:

God, I would have thought the nation's television critics would have gotten over their food focus by now. Thrity years ago, food was the No. 1 bitching point for critics attending the press tours, which were really thinly disguised junkets heavily populated by freeloaders disguised as real journalists. But that was before a "new breed" of critic rode into town and began treating television as if it really mattered and ought to be covered as professionally as any other beat. (After all, television IS the world's most powerful communications medium, right? ) Freeloading became a no-no, journalistic ethics suddenly mattered and the tours ceased to resemble boozy social clubs run by network executives to influence presumably famished TV critics.
Perhaps I'm being hypersensitive but after reading your buffet observations from the 2007 Winter Tour, I sense that the critics are up to their Old Breed ways again and that the ever-symbolic free meal is once again top of mind, or damned close anyway. It's as if the critics don't ever get a decent meal when not covering the tour. Perhaps the next trinket handed out at the tour should be a feed bag.
Could it be that all those efforts for all those years to professionalize the network press tours were for naught? Did forming the TCA not really matter? Somebody tell me I'm wrong, puh-LEASE.

james hibberd:

To be fair, overall the critics during past two TCAs have been really professional. Though wince-inducing questions and critic gripes make for good color, there's been less of it this time around (or maybe it's just early in the tour). One gets the sense that publication belt tightening has left everybody more focused. That said, it's tough to avoid commenting on cow balls.

Daisy:

I'm with you, Hib. Worms? C'mon. I wouldn't even see that how to eat fried worms movie because worms are just so totally grody...even to serve to journalists, bottom feeders that we are!

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