PRESS TOUR: Party patrol at winter TCA 2020

Saturday, 18 January 2020 12:00 PM Written by 

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PASADENA, Calif. – The 2020 winter TV critics press tour ends this weekend without any parties (more on that in a moment) and that means it's time to rate the parties and networks' assorted press tour performances in hopes of encouraging improvement for the summer 2020 TCA, and to offer a little behind-the-scenes glimpse. (Of course, these are just one guy's opinions and agreement will vary wildly depending on the critic. Also, I skipped a few parties to write.)

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.

Overall it seemed like there were fewer parties this year. Hallmark, which always hosts a big bash, canceled theirs, likely because they didn't want critics asking questions about their self-inflicted wounds from December when they caved to a homophobic group.

Read more after the jump. ...

Jan. 7: Fox Winter All-Star Party, Langham Huntington Hotel Lobby Lounge (2 cocktails out of 5): I think I only did two interviews at this party, including one with "Empire" executive producer Danny Strong, which was a combination of an inability to find the stars who were supposedly in attendance that I wanted to interview and my own exhaustion having gotten up at 1:45 a.m. to get to press tour in time for the first panel of the morning. In addition, some stars showed up at the party only to turn around and leave and refuse interviews (looking at you, Tom Payne of "Prodigal Son," who turned out to have a red eye back to NY for production but Murphy's Law I would only find him on his way out).

constance wuJan. 8: ABC All-Star PartyLangham Huntington Hotel Lobby Lounge (3.5 cocktails): Interviewed some "Station 19" stars as well as Timothy Busfield ("For Life") about the "thirtysomething" sequel series and did the interview that broke the news that Mark-Paul Gosselaar would be returning for "Saved by the Bell" sequel series. Also chatted with Zach Grenier of "The Good Fight" and the upcoming FX on Hulu show "Devs." Alas, Constance Wu ("Fresh off the Boat"), pictured above, came to press tour to walk the red carpet and get photographed but she skipped the party, avoiding interviews.

Jan. 9: FX cocktail reception, Langham Huntington Hotel Lobby Bar (3 cocktails): Interviewed FX stalwart Margo Martindale ("Justified," "The Americans," the upcoming "Mrs. America" and "Impeachment: American Crime Story"), which is always a treat because she's a phenomenal actress and just a down-to-earth person.

NUP 189853 0225Jan. 11: NBCUniversal evening event, Langham Huntington Hotel Lobby Lounge (3 cocktails): Interviewed Susan Kelechi Watson about "This is Us" and her role in "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead") about the upcoming NBC emotional drama "Council of Dads" and the creator of Syfy's promising "Resident Alien."

Jan. 13: "Star Trek: Picard" premiere and after-party, Arclight Cinerama Dome, 6360 Sunset Blvd; Academy LA, 6021 Hollywood Blvd (2.5 cocktails): It's always fun the few times I've attended a world premiere although it's a little weird to screen a TV show in a theater when viewers will be watching it on TV. The after-party was less useful than a regular press tour party because none of the stars were doing interviews (they were in a VIP area we plebians were banned from). Spotted: Damon Lindelof ("Watchmen") and Ron Moore ("Battlestar Galactica"). At the screening Patrick Stewart said Gates McFadden, who played the criminally under-used Dr. Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," was in attendance but I couldn't find her at the after-party though I did spot Jeri Ryan and Marina Sirtis.

Jan. 14: Starz Evening Event: Who Shot Ghost? A Murder Mystery, Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino (1 cocktail): At this point in press tour I'm exhausted and the last thing I want to do is play a murder mystery. I dutifully went, didn't see many stars though I'm told 50 Cent enjoyed the Murder Mystery actors' performances from the front row, and left before the mystery was solved.

amcJan. 16: AMC Networks Entertainment Group Evening EventLangham Huntington Hotel Lobby Lounge (3 cocktails): This proved to be a nice opportunity to interview folks from multiple AMC channels, including Jason Segel of AMC's "Dispatches From Elsewhere" and a BBC America executive who explained the reason for the channel's pivot to more natural science programming. The next morninng I heard Green Tree native Zachary Quinto ("NOS4A2") was there but I never saw him.  

nat geo 1-2020Jan. 17: National Geographic Channels Evening EventLangham Huntington Hotel Lobby Lounge (3.5 cocktails): If network publicity execs ever ask me which network consitently does the best presentations at TCA, it's Nat Geo hands down. Not only do they present smart panels that provoke interesting conversation but they also keep it fun and kinetic. And they stage really fun, creative parties -- with many of their panelists in attendance for follow-up interviews -- a great way to close out the winter 2020 press tour.

Yes, a lot of the parties took place in the same Lobby Lounge location at the Langham but each network manages to dress it in a unique way -- some make more of an effort than others -- and it's so much easier to have it at the hotel where TCA members stay so we don't have to spend time on a shuttle and can more easily to return to the hotel room to get writing/screening work done.

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