BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – Random observations from Day 6 of the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Monday, brought to you by CBS (and Showtime) …
• “Under the Dome,” a surprise summertime success, has been renewed for a second season, and Stephen King will write the first episode when it returns. So that means that those poor folks will still be under the dome. Will the premise get old? Will they be under there forever? “Why can’t they be under the dome for a long period of time? This is television,” CBS Corporation president and CEO Les Moonves said.
• In their measured and always sophisticated way, the folks at CBS’s “The Good Wife” are really, really grateful to Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin for bringing the surreal image of a shamed politico and his dutiful wife back to the forefront of the public’s attention span. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” said series star Julianna Margulies. On season 5, which begins Sept. 29, viewers will be thrown into a civil war at Lockhart/Gardner law firm (a “s— storm,” as series co-creator Robert King calls it) and Margulies’s character, Alicia Florrick, is caught in the middle of a defection of junior partners, led by upstart Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry).
• Showtime’s Emmy-winning “Homeland” has shot five episodes of its new season, which begins Sept. 29. Stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, accompanied by creator/producer Alex Gansa and producer Howard Gordon, took a break from shooting in North Carolina to come to the press tour to answer questions about the new season as best they could, without giving too much away. Critics have seen the first two episodes, which aren’t bad, but they are notable for the absence of Lewis’s character, Sgt. Nicholas Brody; he’s on the lam, identified as the prime suspect in the devastating bombing of CIA headquarters at the end of last season. Don’t worry, “Homeland” fans – Brody’s still a big part of the show.
• Arsenio Hall partook of the growing ’90s nostalgia trend while promoting his CW return to the late-night talk show realm. So much has changed, the 57-year-old Hall observed, marveling at how a teenage Debbie Gibson once sent him a fax to ask if she could be on his show and how, back in the day, his staff would paw through file cabinets filled with People magazine clippings to do research on a guest. It sounds like Unfrozen Arsenio is excited to do some Google searches and get busy. “The Arsenio Hall Show” premieres Sept. 9 at 11 p.m. on WDCW in the Washington market. (Not much word yet on guests or format or if he’s keeping his old theme song.)
• “I only do ad agencies now,” joked James Wolk, co-star of CBS’s new comedy called “The Crazy Ones,” which stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father-daughter team in charge of a big ad agency. There was lots of interest in Williams’s return to series TV (remember, it all began for him when Mork from Ork first visited “Happy Days”) and, given the fanboy/fangirl quotient at press tours these days, there is always slavish interest in anything the former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has going. Still, guess which of the show’s cast members everyone most wanted to gab with at CBS’s celeb-crammed party Monday night? That would be Wolk, 28, who is fresh off his other fictional ad-agency role as the mysterious Bob Benson on “Mad Men.”
The press tour continues Tuesday with panel discussions of three new shows from the CW and a look at “Masters of Sex,” Showtime’s new 1950s drama about the early days of renowned sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Somewhat poignantly, Johnson died last week at 88; played in “Masters of Sex” by Lizzy Caplan, Johnson’s easily the more fascinating character on the show.
For more fall TV news and observations, follow my tweets @HankStuever.