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James Hibberd



How 'Big Shots' and Bloggers Can Save TCA

July 30, 2007 1:02 PM

ABC’s “Big Shots” has a coveted time slot coming out of “Grey’s Anatomy” this fall, but it isn’t until after the show’s TCA panel that critics understand why.

The quartet of “Shots” male leads—played by Christopher Titus, Michael Vartan, Josh Malina and Dylan McDermott—have terrific chemistry on stage, if not in the show’s pilot (whose original title was “Big Dicks”—hey, subtle). Despite being slotted as the last panel after weeks of network presentations, when critics are fatigued and irritable, the men charge up the room with their banter (Titus quips he lost 25 pounds after his divorce “because that’s what a soul weighs”).

Funny thing is: Publicists and executives increasingly wonder why they bother doing TCA anymore.

Why spend hundreds of thousands for coverage that can get off-message so easily?

The “Shots” panel—a session that converted skeptical critics to potential fans on a key show—is one reason the TCA remains valuable.

The second reason is bloggers.

Critics used to mainly write full-fledged print-publication stories about TCA. Their stories had to be full-boned stories, encompassing a central theme from the conference, or focusing on a particular show or a controversial issue.

But with many critics coerced into pulling double duty as bloggers, they’re now posting rapid-fire entries about dozens of panels in addition to their print stories. The upside: TCA arguably gets more media coverage than ever before. Panels for anticipated series like “Cavemen” or “Kid Nation” can become significant online news events, with dozens of perspectives linked on hundreds of Web sites. Meanwhile, panels for dull shows that would normally never get any press can garner coverage due to a single off-hand panelist comment.

Granted, the bulk of blog coverage is snarky dispatches about kinda-funny in-the-room minutiae. But the reason some publicists don’t like having bloggers at TCA is the very same reason that blogging makes TCA a unique and valuable opportunity to connect with viewers: Everybody loves to watch a high-wire act.

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Comments (2)

From what I gather, TCA is going to get sunk by Comic-Con from now on, even if they have a different purpose and audience, all the matters is where the coverage and energy is, and it wasn't at TCA this year from the looks of it.

eddie:

Are you *serious*? I find it laughable that "bloggers blogging" is cited as a reason for preserving TCA in its current form when in fact many of the most popular TV bloggers, especially those with the heaviest 18-49 audiences, are laughed out of town when they apply for TCA membership. I mean, *this* site doesn't even have a working RSS feed!

Look, Ausiello and Mo Ryan do their part, but they can't hold up the sky forever. TCA has got to accept that their current cast of geriatric radio syndicate reporters and terrified local-market TV critics is not enough to hold the attention of the networks for much longer.

If they want to continue going to their precious biannual all-access TV camp, they must invite pure-play bloggers, TV correspondents, international outlets and everyone with a legitimate claim to membership at whom they're currently turning up their noses.

Yes, this could cut into the networks' budget for swag and free food, but the alternative is the death by ricktus and/or calcification.

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