The Press Tour Miniseries: The Final Episodezzz

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, July 27, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 26

Final day of Summer TV Press Tour 2007. The charred remains of the TV critics sit in little piles on faux-suede upholstered convention hall chairs at the folding tables from which all this scintillating copy has been churned out for nearly three weeks. They're watching a video in which some of the on-air talent at "Nightline" talk earnestly to the camera about their passion, their commitment, their journey, etc.

One critic wondered whether the "Nightline" gang is worried about ABC's commitment to the show.

"I think we're just working too hard to worry too much about what happens next," anchor Cynthia McFadden said.

Little charred remains ponder: Does that line actually work for her? Ever?

"Our job is to show up every day and do the best we can, and it's not our department about where they put us at the end of the day," she added.

Which is just where ABC has put "Nightline": at the end of the day! -- da dum dum!-- the little charred remains think to themselves and start to cackle in their heads.

Anchor Terry Moran tells them, "Success for us can't be just more people watching. We have to make a difference in their lives. We're journalists."

LCRs recover from that line just in time for an ABC Family network panel on its new summer series "Greek," about the fabulousness that is college fraternities and sororities.

One of the stars, Amber Stevens, daughter of Shadoe Stevens, was asked what's it like on the set.

Amber, who you need to know is 20, according to our Google research, assured LCRs, "We all hang out." Enormous relief all around.

Under scrutiny, Amber confesses they're all "like friends" and that toiling on the series is "just like hanging out with my friends and playing pretend all day."

And this, my friends, is why they do not allow TV critics to show up at Q&A sessions bearing arms.

Later, during Summer TV Press Tour 2007 Q&;A Session No. 143, for ABC's new "Samantha Who?," about a chick who wakes up with retrograde amnesia and discovers she's a horrible person, the executive producers were asked if they worried star Christina Applegate is too good an actress for their material.

And this, my friends, is why they do not allow producers to show up at Q&A sessions bearing arms.

After that, "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes danced around a question about former cast member Isaiah Washington during a Q&A session for her "Grey's" spinoff, "Private Practice."

"It was a difficult season for us behind the scenes," Rhimes said diplomatically.

To recap, "difficult season" included Washington's contract not being renewed after he got into a fight with cast mate Patrick Dempsey in the course of which Washington used a slur against cast mate T.R. Knight, publicly apologized, used the slur again at the Golden Globes by way of insisting he'd never used the slur in the first place, apologized for using the slur the second time, went into counseling, cut an anti-slur PSA, began to do interviews in which he suggested the whole thing was hooey. After Rhimes called Washington to inform him the show was cutting bait on him, he began doing interviews in which he suggested he'd been set up by Knight.

One of the critics dared to ask Rhimes -- she can be very scary -- whether she was aware the actor had met with NBC Co-Chairman Ben Silverman before she called Washington to let him know he was off the show.

Silverman made that claim during his Q&A session earlier in Summer TV Press Tour 2007 -- about two years ago. Silverman has hired Washington to guest-star for five episodes on his new drama series "The Bionic Woman." But Silverman also said he was shocked that ABC let Washington go, and that he had no idea what was going on over there, so you can pretty much dismiss his press tour comments as the ravings of a crazy man. Or, as ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson put it, the comments of someone who is "either clueless or stupid." Your choice.

(McPherson, by the way, wins our trophy for TV Executive of Summer TV Press Tour 2007, for being the only exec in the entire 146-session press tour to show signs of a pulse.)

"No, I wasn't aware of any conversations that happened before I had a conversation with him," Rhimes said, giving the critic who'd asked the question one of her trademark looks that tend to make people shrivel up like salted snails.

"He's a very talented actor; I hope he does really well with 'The Bionic Woman.' I hope that show does well," she said.

"Not as well as 'Private Practice,' " she added, remembering she was talking out loud -- and to a room full of reporters.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company