PRESS TOUR: Party patrol at summer TCA 2018

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 12:00 AM Written by 

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The 2018 summer TV critics press tour ends today with NBC and that means it's time to rate the parties and networks' assorted press tour performances in hopes of encouraging improvement for the winter 2019 TCA, and to offer a little behind-the-scenes glimpse for folks at home. (Of course, these are just one guy's opinions and agreement will vary wildly depending on the critic.)

While going to parties for work sounds fun, these are working parties where TV critics are often rushing from one celeb to another to get short interviews.

Read more after the jump. ...

This press tour was admittedly light on parties – CBS and NBC did not have stars parties – but here are my impressions:

nat geoJuly 24: National Geographic Channels party, Waldorf Astoria rooftop deck (3 out of 4 cocktails): A nice, relaxing way to arrive at TCA and catch up with Nat Geo publicists, one of the key benefits of attending tour (putting a face to the name of your PR contacts). For some reason I never figured out, cast members from History’s canceled “Six” were in attendance but I didn’t bump into any Nat Geo stars.

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July 26: Hallmark stars party, Beverly Hills private home (2 out of 5 cocktails): As in the past, Hallmark's party is like the fanciest, most expensive wedding reception you've never been invited to. But this time it was even less press-friendly than usual. Tickler sheets showing the faces of stars expected to attend were on a table near the entrance but when I tried to grab one I was told I could not. Some of the stars I recognized on my own but others? Not so much. Another Hallmark party, more missed opportunities for coverage.

July 29: Netflix Adult Animation Cocktail Party, Beverly Hilton pool deck (2 out of 5): Nick Kroll (“Big Mouth”) eventually showed up but not until late. Artists from “Disenchantment” did drawings but there wasn’t much work to be done.

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July 28: Netflix “Glow” For Your Consideration party, World of Wheels, Los Angeles (2 of 5): Netflix invited TV critics to this FYC party trying to drum up Emmy votes for “Glow” although the event was also open to the public, encouraging folks to dress in ‘80s duds. No real opportunity to interview the stars but fun to see what a FYC event is like. Fear of a broken ankle prevented me from strapping on skates and hitting the rink.

July 30: PBS’s "Great Performances" “Broadway’s Best,” Beverly Hills Ballroom, Beverly Hilton (2 out of 5): Broadway stars Kate Baldwin, Liz Callaway and Tony Yazbeck, who once attended Point Park University, performed a medley of Broadway hits but they were unattached to any particular PBS show, so there was no press conference, which means, while entertaining, it wasn’t anything useable.

tim allen kelsey grammerAug. 2: Fox Stars party, Soho House, West Hollywood (4 out of 5): Too loud, too crowded, but, hey, that’s a Fox stars party. As difficult as it was to work, it was better than no party because Fox actually turned out some of its talent. I chatted with Matt Czuchry of “The Resident” and producers from “Lethal Weapon” and “The Gifted.” I saw "Last Man Standing" star Tim Allen (at left with Kelsey Grammer of midseason drama "Proven Innocent") leaving but never saw Grammer through the crowd.

Aug. 3: FX stars cocktail reception, Stardust Lounge, The Beverly Hilton (3 out of 5): Cast members from “Mayans M.C.” and “Pose” (though I never saw Billy Porter) mingled with FX executives and TV critics. I chatted with J.D. Pardo of “Mayans” to figure out how they do flashbacks where his character has no goatee (knowing he could not shave and grow it back quickly enough given the constraints of a TV production schedule). Turns out, they apply some makeup on his goatee and then digitally erase it entirely in post-production.

Aug. 7: ABC All-Star Party, Beverly Hills Ballroom, The Beverly Hilton (4 out of 5): Wow, what a super-frustrating day. ABC abandoned four decades of tradition by forgoing an executive press conference (NBC will do the same tomorrow), told me the network's entertainment president wouldn't be doing 1:1s and would only be available at the stars party, then gave 1:1s to trade press through the afternoon. The head of publicity said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey would "be here all day, including at the party, and looks forward to connecting on an informal basis," which, since I'd been told no 1:1s until the party, I took to mean we'd still have to wait for the party. I don't often get mad on the job but I was kind of furious when 1:1 interviews started popping up on Hollywood trade websites throughout the afternoon. Trade publications get preferential treatment and are fed "scoops" and "exclusives" by the networks 24/7/365. Network TCA days -- two days per year! -- are supposed to be an opportunity for all reporters who cover television to be on the same playing field. ABC violated that norm. I eventually got my time with Channing Dungey during the party after a 30-minute wait when I could have been interviewing ABC talent for other stories. After that I did talk to "Kids Are Alright" stars Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz and then my anger headache got the better of me and I was ready to call it a TCA.

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