TCA: Cablepalooza

Reach out and touch someone: Kelsey Grammer takes a cell phone break on stage during the “Boss” TCA panel.

From last week, here is the cable portion of Television Critics Association press tour from Los Angeles – three days, and lots of cable networks…

Wednesday/Thursday portion


Exec session: On Thursday, CEO Chris Albrecht spoke about the end of Spartacus, saying the series had run its course. Albrecht also gave updates on the series Starz had in production –  particularly Incursion, a new sci-fi drama which basically is “Band of Brothers vs. Halo“. Albrecht talked about production problems for Marco Polo and Noir – both miniseries are still in the planning stage. (futon critic)

The session was followed by a panel for Boss, with Kesley Grammer and company introducing new cast member Jonathan Groff, who leaves Glee and Sue Sylvester’s megaphones behind to become Chicago Mayor Tom Kane’s go-to guy. Meanwhile, Grammer had this to say when asked if he learned anything about Chicago politics, via Deadline: “I’ve learned as little as possible. You know, politics is disgusting. You know, I have been welcomed by the political machine in Chicago at least in terms of the surface. They’re delighted we’re working there. They’re thrilled. But look, they love their city, they love that we’re telling the story”. Grammer added, “The cops in Chicago have told me that I have a withering look just like Mayor Daley”.

Good Call. Too bad Mayor Kane can’t hold the office in real life.

BBC America

The cable network announced it was launching its first original scripted series this month. Titled Copper, this series is set in 1864 New York City and is about a immigrant cop living in Manhattan from veteran drama producers Barry Levinston (Homicide) and Tom Fontana (Oz) Being a time period piece, forget about seeing technology: “I’m just happy we’re writing and producing a series where there are no cellphones,” Fontana said. BBC America also announced a new 10-part miniseries called Musketeers, based on the classic novel from Alexandre Dumas and is scheduled to debut in 2014.

Weather Channel

The Weather Channel introduced three new docu-series at its TCA panel on Thursday: Tipping Points, which follow a group of scientists who explore weather systems, is scheduled to debut in fall 2013. Next is Hawaii Air Rescue, which features the Hawaii Life Flight medical crew, who has to deal with changing weather conditions and other unpredictable factors. The series debuts on December 5. Finally, there’s Coast Guard Florida, which follows the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Florida.  The series premieres this October.


Two dancers (Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt) from Ovation’s new dance competition  A Chance To Dance appeared at a panel for the show, along with Nigel and Simon Lythgoe, who happens to be the producers. Both dancers are also scheduled to appear on the Lythgoe brothers’ Fox show So You Think You Can Dance, as it seems during the session, the press were more interested in the latter show. Asked why ratings were declining across the board for reality-competition shows, Nigel said “I think the ratings are down for television in general. People are finding other things to do.”

Like listening to Chicago radio, I suppose. A Chance to Dance premieres on August 17.


Wait a minute… there’s still a Current TV? Well, whadda know? Current hosted a breakfast Wednesday morning and held the first panel of the day, where President David Bohrman talked about Keith Olbermann’s abrupt departure and boasting about how much live programming they do (eleven hours a day) as opposed to how much they did before he came. Bohrman also announced he was adding new shows featuring Joy Behar and John Fugelsang (former co-host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, in between the Bob Saget and Tom Bergeron eras.)

TV One

The TV One panel (also held Wednesday) featured three new shows. The most interesting one by far was for Save My Son, a unscripted (not “reality”) series featuring Dr. Steve Perry (not to be confused with the former Journey lead singer), a principal in New York city’s toughest schools who has successfully mentored young African American men. In this series, Perry counsels troubled teen boys and steers them to the right path. Now that’s Must See TV.

Other new shows include R&B Divas, a new reality show which features Chicago R&B signer Syleena Johnson, and The Rickey Smiley Show, a new sitcom featuring the syndicated morning show host, who can be heard locally on Power 92 (WPWX-FM).

Friday portion

Viacom Networks

-MTV has renewed Jersey Shore spinoff Snooki & J-Woww for a second season, despite so-so ratings. MTV also announced premieres for new series Underemployed (October 16), Catfish (November 12), and World Of Jenks (also November 12.)

– Feeling the heat from Cartoon Network and Disney, Nickelodeon – hoping to reverse a year-long ratings slide – is introducing a whopping fourteen new projects, rolling out between this fall and late 2013, including a reboot of 1990’s classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

– BET introduced a new late-night strip from former CNN correspondent T.J. Holmes, who believes the African-American audience is undeserved in the daypart. While the new show will be infused with humor and political satire (a la Daily Show and Colbert Report), Don’t Sleep with T.J. Holmes (don’t worry, I won’t) plans to tackle issues such as the low graduation rate among African-American males and be more news-oriented in nature.

BET also announced a premiere of Apollo Live!, an new music show taped at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. The weekly show debuts December 1.

– Logo, which targets the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual communities, announced it’s launching a new docu-series titled The Baby Wait, focusing on adaption and the emotional roller-coaster families – whether they are gay or straight couples, or single parents, have to go through.

– Miss your favorite stars of the ’90’s and early 2000’s? Wondering what they’re doing now? Well, VH1 has a show for you with Miss You Much and it catches up with stars from that era, featuring three celebrities per episode. Miss You Much debuts in early 2013, but you can catch a sneak peek of the series on September 9.

-Remember Scott Baio? You know, the guy who starred in Happy Days and Charles In Charge? What about from that Rewind show that never got off the ground? You don’t? Okay, then. Anyway, he’s starring in a new original sitcom called See Dad Run. Baio’s the man whose sitcom career as America’s favorite TV dad comes to an end and now settles into a new role as a bumbling dad to his children, coming soon to Nick at Nite. You sure this isn’t a sitcom idea ripped off from Byron Allen?

Nick also picked up an option to produce another original sitcom, Wendell & Vinnie.

Nat Geo

– NatGeo renewed Wicked Tuna for another season, premiering in 2013 and is launching a new show with former Dog Whisperer star Cesar Millan.

Discovery Communications

– TLC, the network who gave you Jon & Kates and Honey Boop Boos now gives you Breaking Amish, which is a “groundbreaking series” as the Amish is taken out of their element – hey morons, it was “groundbreaking” when UPN did it with Amish In The City, remember?

– Animal Planet is expanding its Finding Bigfoot franchise. In addition to eleven new episodes, Bigfoot plans to also host two “after-show” programs, so fans can ask questions and get scoops from the experts. The smash-hit series drew an average of one million viewers in its first season. This year, the search for Bigfoot goes beyond the U.S. borders.

– OWN is still struggling in the ratings, but Oprah Winfrey’s baby is hanging in there. To get the scoop on OWN’s fall schedule, click here

– Tom Brokaw is back on TV with a series of specials for the Military Channel titled Tom Brokaw Presents, as the former NBC anchor revisits major moments in American history.

– Finally, in the “you can’t make stuff like this up” department… In order to lure soap opera viewers jilted by the cancellation of several shows comes a new daytime block on  Investigation Discovery called Days Of Our Knives (that’s what the press release said), featuring programming with real-life tales of betrayal and deceptions – all hosted by former and current soap stars. Investigation calls this “the real-life soap opera”….which you can find by tuning in to either Maury or Jerry Springer every day on your local broadcast station. For free.

And that’s a wrap for Comic-Con and TCA coverage.