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The TV Column: Executives Sound Coy About New Series's Political Edge

"Shows are open to interpretation. People bring subjective thoughts to it . . . but there is no particular agenda," Peters said -- again, lacking verve.

One critic finally asked directly, "Do you have any concerns that this might be seen as a slap at the Obama administration, or do you hope that it will be seen that way?"

Peters began to go into people- and-their-pesky-subjectiveness mode: "People will bring to it what they bring to it. . . . If one group wants to claim it as their show and another group wants to claim it as their show, that's their prerogative," he said, looking like a close-up of Bette Davis haggling over terms with studio suits.

"Would you really be that comfortable if the birthers started claming it as their own?" the critic persisted. Birthers, of course, believe Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not eligible to be president.

"Obama is an alien?" exec producer Jeffrey Bell asked, looking like a close-up of Mariska Hargitay after getting a particularly unconvincing response to "Where were you on the night of September 24?" from some molester on "SVU."

"Look, there are always going to be people who will look for agendas in everything," Bell continued. "This show was conceived during the Bush administration; it got executed during an Obama administration," he said (counting we suspect, on the critics not understanding the distinction).

"There are people on either side of the aisle who can find things. You can say, 'Yeah, look how stupid these people are for following blindly and believing everything the government is saying,' and you can have people who are upset about that," Bell continued.

"And you can have other people saying, 'Look at these people who are promising everything at no cost and they are leading them to their doom.' For us, both sides have strengths and weaknesses. Let's get people to show up and watch it and talk about it. But to try to tie it to the birthers, or anything, is kind of, you know, ridiculous."

Dancing Around Paula

ABC Entertainment Group chief Steve McPherson wants a piece of Paula Abdul. He finds his "Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine Heigl, on the other hand, "unfortunate."

McPherson joins the parade of television executives to appear before TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2009 after "American Idol" judge Abdul sent her "I'm Outta Here" tweet, and be asked if they'd put Paula on a show.

"Absolutely, absolutely," McPherson said when asked specifically if he'd like to see Paula on his network's ballroom dance competition series, "Dancing With the Stars."


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