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Live Press Tour Diary: ABC Day Two

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ABC Show-Runner Panel

The Players: Greg Berlanti, Marc Cherry, Team Darlton, Silvio Horta and Shonda Rhimes

2:00 pm: Is Grey’s going to punish Katherine Heigl by giving Izzie a brain tumor, a lethal hemorrhoid or both? We’re about to find out because Shonda Rhimes is in the house!

2:03 pm: While we’re waiting for the show to start, here are some other Izzie death scenarios, courtesy of EW’s Alynda Wheat: “Crushed by a falling sign at the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic? Stomped by Ava, Calleigh, cancer daughter, Denny’s parents, and everyone else she’s disappointed?

Freak baking accident?” Any other ideas out there? The comments section is now accepting your submissions!

2:06 pm: You know it’s an important panel when… ABC president Steve McPherson does the introductions.

2:08 pm: Damon Lindelof has bad news for the crowd: There will be no Lost spoilers handed out today.

2:10 pm: The Heigl question gets put to Rhimes! “I didn’t see this one coming,” jokes Lindelof. Rhimes keeps her remarks short. “We have a really great story worked out [for Izzie],” she says, adding that “things are going fine” behind-the-scenes in the wake of Heiglgate.  Cracks Horta: “I would put her in a coma.” Funny, but c’mon, she’s not getting off the hook that easy. Someone ask a follow-up for chrissakes!

2:11 pm: No follow-up!

2:12 pm: Cherry blames loose-lipped Marcia Cross for leaking the five-year flash-forward secret to the press. Tee-hee.

2:21 pm: The follow-up gets asked! “I found it surprising,” Rhimes says of the sucker-punch Heigl leveled at her. “I actually have a really wonderful working relationship with Katie, so I found it surprising. But [she] is a very outspoken actress.”

2:24 pm: How does Rhimes deal with behind-the-scenes turmoil: “I have a finely-honed style from Season 3,” she laughs. “These people are my family… I know them in a way that a lot of people can’t possibly. For me, it’s about to looking at them as real people.”

2:25 pm: Cherry announces that Heigl “was drunk” when she made those comments. He’s here all week, people!

2:26 pm: No spoilers my arse! Cuse hints that “the journey about how those six return to the island” will be a major thrust of Season 5. Adds Lindelof: “You have to break your characters up to create conflict… but you can’t play that too long because the audience will get frustrated…. And we have that intensely in mind as we proceed.”

2:31 pm: Responding to McPherson’s slam comments yesterday about Private Practice cutting down on the soap, Rhimes says this season will focus more on medical stories that have “moral and ethical dilemmas… Those are the [stories that have] real heart, so we’re going to explore more of that. I don’t think we’re talking about less soap, per se, but we’re talking about making the medical cases stronger so the soap is supported.”

2:34 pm: Contrary to reports, Cherry insists that Eva Longoria was not upset about the de-glamming of Gabrielle in the season finale. Besides, he says, “We’ll get her back to looking glamorous somewhere in the middle of the season.”

2:35 pm: Just when she thinks she’s out, they pull her back in! Another Heigl question leads Rhimes to insist that she “didn’t feel insulted” by Heigl’s comments.

2:37 pm: Cuse teases we’ll see more of Daniel Dae Kim “in some form” this season despite Jin’s apparent death.

2:39 pm: Horta didn’t see a future for Henry and Betty. “It just made sense to part ways (with Chris Gorham). It felt like it was time to move on.”

2:42 pm: Regarding the backlash against Justin and Rebecca on Brothers & Sisters, Berlanti admits that “none of us expected that there would be a contingent of the audience that was as vocal as they were about no liking that storyline.” Um, that sounds ominous.

2:43 pm: Session ends! Gaggle stampede! I’ve got my tape recorder. Be back with scoop!

2:46 pm: Shonda snuck out the back door! She’s getting away! Noooooooooooo!

Dirty Sexy Money Panel
The Players: Peter Krause, William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Glenn Fitzgerald, Seth Gabel, Zoe McLellan, Blair Underwood, Lucy Liu, and exec producers Craig Wright and Greg Berlanti.

3:14 pm: “The show is now a musical comedy,” jokes Wright in response to a question about recent behind-the-scenes changes. All joking aside, he says, “If the stories are right, the tone will be right. We’re finding a way to let the storytelling drive the tone.”

3:17 pm: Regarding Samaire Armstrong’s exit, Wright insists her character “was always bound for the outside world… She’s out there doing things. I look forward to her coming back and sharing her adventures.” He adds that her departure was absolutely storyline-dictated.

3:19 pm: A reporter begins a question for Liu by reminding her that, “You’re about to turn 40.” Ouch! Liu shoots back that she’ll be “happy to discuss turning 40 in January.” Meow.

3:21 pm: Spoiler alert! Carmelita will return, and when she does, “she will play a part in Patrick’s public life that will be very dramatic,” Wright reveals.

3:29 pm: Wright describes Nick’s journey this season as follows: “If you’re going to be part of this family, it’s going to cost you.” Krause says he went to producers and told them Nick needs to be dirtier and sexier. “I think we need to see Nick give in to temptation more.”

3:41 pm: A reporter asks Liu and Krause about “the special moment” they just shared up on stage. (I didn’t see it, but apparently he was whispering stuff into her ear. And she was enjoying it. A lot.) They both decline to reveal what transpired, although Liu’s giggling suggests that it was naughty. Krause jokes that he feels like he’s just been “busted” for passing notes in class.

Private Practice Panel

The Players: Kate Walsh, Amy Brenneman, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, KaDee Strickland, Chris Lowell and exec producer Shonda Rhimes.

4:05 pm: Shonda “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” Rhimes is back in the house!

4:09 pm: A reporter kicks off the session by congratulating McDonald, prompting applause from her castmembers and a “Huh?” look from me. What happened? Did she get cast on a good show? (I kid.)

4:14 pm: The Sam-Naomi-Dell triangle will get “very interesting,” hints Rhimes.

4:18 pm: Rhimes says with the exception of David Sutcliffe’s return, there’s no big guest casting to announce. I beg to differ. I watched the premiere Tuesday night and I spotted Amy Acker!

4:27 pm: Private Practice has one thing over Grey’s: This cast seems to genuinely like each other. There’s just a lot of positive energy up on that stage.

4:31 pm: Walsh credits her Cadillac commercial with “pulling in a male demo” on Private Practice. I’d be interested to see what research she has to back that up.

4:34 pm: Session ends! Gaggle Stampede Part Two! I’m comin’ for you, Rhimes!

4:45 pm: Success! I was able to corner Rhimes and fire off one question: Is there any truth to reports that Heigl is unhappy on Grey’s and wants out of her contract? Her answer? “No.” Another reporter follows up my Q by asking whether Izzie will get a fatal brain tumor this season, as US Weekly is alleging. Her response? “No.” Just as I’m about to inquire about the lethal hemorrhoid rumor, her handlers swoop in and whisk her away.

Desperate Housewives Panel
The Players: Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria Parker, Marcia Cross, Nicolette Sheridan, Dana Delany and exec producer Marc Cherry.

5:00 pm: If there were any lingering doubts that Edie survived the five-year flash-forward, Sheridan’s presence here today erased them. “He tries to kill Edie ever year,” she says. Adds Cherry: “She’s like a bad boomerang; she just keeps coming back.”

5:05 pm: On the subject of Gabby’s ugly makeover, Longoria says the idea of playing “something other than glamour [is] going to be fun for me.” Plus, she adds, instead of spending two hours in the makeup chair she spends “10 minutes.”

5:08 pm: Hatcher says the five-year jump has made Susan less needy. “After years of being the kind of person who is like, ‘Please love me!,’ for many reasons that will be revealed over the new season, (she’s now) a person who’s closed off to love and not so searching and needy of it.” Thank the Lord. (Still no mention of James Denton, BTW.)

5:11 pm: Hatcher’s not only an actress and a singer, but a writer, too! Cherry reveals that the first scene in the season premiere (after the teaser) is “something Teri pitched.”

5:14 pm: Cherry is holding firm on his decision to end the show after seven seasons, at which point he’ll “probably keel over in a hump and die.” Of course, he adds, “this could be some clever ruse on my part to get a tremendous amounts of money in Season 8.” All truth is said in jest, my friend.

5:17 pm: Lots of much-deserved props for Delany’s role in reinvigorating the show last season.

5:26 pm: At some point in the past five minutes, this session morphed from your typical, run-of-the-mill press tour panel into a symposium titled “The Strengths of Desperate‘s Housewives,” moderated by Marc Cherry. In other words, Zzzzz….

5:35 pm: The symposium ends and the session resumes with a question about the new man in Susan’s life, played by Gale Harold. “He’s an interesting, artsy guy,” says Cherry, “who’s very different from the previous man in her life.” What, is Denton’s name suddenly a four-letter word now?

5:40 pm: Edie will return to Wisteria Lane “in a very surprising way,” Cherry teases. And what of the new man in her life, Neal McDonough? “He will be bringing the [new] mystery with him, and all I’m going to tell you is that he has revenge on his mind.”

5:44 pm: A question about whether Gabby’s post-maternity weight gain is “an insult to mothers everywhere” prompts this crack from Cherry: “Have you been to the Midwest?” Oh no he did’n.

5:50 pm: Cherry says Andrea Bowen and the rest of the show’s original, pre-flash-forward kids will return in flashbacks.

5:52 pm: Finally, a question about Denton’s status this season! “You will see Mike on the show,” Cherry says, “and it will be revealed what happened to Mike and Susan. And that’s all I’m going to tell you.” That doesn’t sound ominous at all.

OK, that’s a wrap! I’m off to ABC’s all-star soiree down the hall. Head over to the Ausiello TV hub for tons of exclusive red carpet video with your favorite Alphabet talent.

Coming up tomorrow: CBS Day 1

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