8:58 am: You’ll never guess what greeted me this morning in the International Ballroom Lobby of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. A huge vat of fluffy egg whites! My prayers have been answered! Just for this, I may start watching The Unit.
The Player: Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment. Or as she’s more commonly referred, the evil woman who killed Moonlight.
9:12 am: In her opening remarks, Tassler addresses William Petersen’s looming CSI departure. She’s confident that CSI will prove “resilient,” much like Criminal Minds did in the wake of Mandy Patinkin’s exit.
9:15 am: Tassler wishes Swingtown‘s ratings were better, but “we’re behind the show,” she insists. To wit, the entire cast is expected at tonight’s CBS Stars Party. (Post your Qs in the comments section below!)
9:22 am: More info about the new character CSI is introducing with the funky DNA: The dude has the serial killer gene, Tassler reveals.
9:27 am: The new Jay Mohr sitcom Gary Unmarried isn’t paneling today because Mohr is halfway around the world renewing his wedding vows. Another likely factor: It blows!
9:29 am: Britney Spears did not save How I Met Your Mother, Tassler insists. “[The show] was never in danger,” she adds. “We just took a while to (announce its renewal).”
9:30 am: Cover your eyes, Moonlight fans. Tassler downplays the fan outcry in the wake of the show’s cancellation, maintaining that most of the feedback was “actor-centric.” (Huh?) She also says she’s not getting a lot of mail and doesn’t regret the decision.
9:32 am: The rest of the CSI cast has inked new deals, Tassler reports.
9:35 am: Sarah Chalke will return to HIMYM for “multiple episodes,” but Tassler doesn’t think she’s the mother.
CBS News Presentation
The Players (via satellite): Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, Jeff Greenfield and CBS News president Sean McManus.
10:04 am: Couric says “it’s befuddling to me the amount of attention I receive” in the press. “But,” she continues, “I think (the hoopla) has died down.”
10:08 am: Schieffer’s just gained some serious cool points by proclaiming that “Jon Stewart is my inspiration.” All kidding aside, he says he’s a fan of Stewart and likens him to an “editorial cartoonist.”
10:09 am: “We have no plans to part company anytime soon,” Couric says of rumors that she’ll quit shortly after the election. “I’m very committed to the people here and very committed to the product.” Call me naive, but I believe her.
10:29 am: Lots of talk about a topic I know very little about: The Lara Logan scandal. Can someone please give me the Cliffs Notes version in the comments section?
Worst Week Panel
The Players: Kyle Bornheimer, Erinn Hayes, Nancy Lenehan, Kurtwood Smith and exec producers Matt Tarses and Jimmy Mulville.
11:21 am: The single-camera comedy, based on the British series The Worst Week of My Life, is a cross between Meet the Parents and, well, Meet the Fockers. It’s also the funniest pilot I’ve seen so far. This Bornheimer guy is a man on the verge of becoming a big fat TV star.
11:23 am: EP Mulville describes the preimise thusly: “It’s about a guy who invites bad karma into his life and doesn’t know which way to dig himself out of the hole.” Coincidentally, that’s also the logline for the long-gestating Andy Dick biopic.
11:34 am: Smith (aka the dad from That ’70s Show) says his Worst Week character “has much more of an acid wit” than his ’70s alter ego, Red.
11:39 am: FYI: I’ve officially checked out of this session and am now focusing all of my energy on lunch.
The Eleventh Hour Panel
The Players: Rufus Sewell and exec producers Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff.
12:03 pm: A reporter kicks things off by asking the producers, WTF is this show about? (It’s a valid question since no one has seen a pilot.) Reiff explains that Sewell’s character is an FBI agent who investigates “crimes and crises of a scientific or technological nature.” Oh, I get it now. Huh?
12:08 pm: “It’s a science fact show,” Reiff further clarifies, “not a science fiction show.” Oh, I get it now. Huh?
12:09 pm: Nineteen minutes ’til lunch!
12:19 pm: Eleven minutes ’til lunch!
12:22 pm: A former colleague of mine at TV Guide offers to fake a seizure to bring this session to an early end. I tell him to save that little stunt for the Inside Edition panel tomorrow. He agrees.
12:28 pm: Future episodes will tackle both “science crime” and “science crises.” Oh, I get it now. Huh?
12:32 pm: There’s the lunch bell! Woo-hoo!
The Mentalist Panel
The Players: Simon Baker and exec producer Bruno Heller
2:03 pm: Take Life, throw in a dash of Psych, mix in some Crossing Over with John Edward and you’ve got The Mentalist.
2:08 pm: Regarding the Psych comparison, Heller says the two shows are very different — primarily because Baker’s character isn’t pretending to be anything he isn’t. He adds that The Mentalist is “much more like Sherlock Holmes than (Psych).”
2:16 pm: Robin Tunney isn’t at today’s session because A) she was fired, B) she quit to reprise her role of Veronica Donovan on Prison Break, or C) she couldn’t get away from the set. Answer TK.
2:32 pm: The answer is C.
The Ex List Panel
The Players: Elizabeth Reaser, Rachel Boston, Adam Rothenberg, Alexandra Breckenridge, Amir Talai and exec producer Diane “Veronica Mars” Ruggiero. (Click here to watch a preview.)
2:53 pm: Reaser seems annoyed by one reporter’s suggestion that her character is a slut. “Who’s to say what makes someone a slut?” she fires back.
2:56 pm: A reporter reads my mind when he starts off his question with this announcement: “I’ve never found (Ex List guest star) Eric Balfour to be intentionally funny, but I really liked him in this.” It’s true, he’s both charming and funny.
2:59 pm: “I don’t feel that closely identified with her,” Reaser says in response to a Q about whether viewers will have difficulty seeing her as anyone other than her Grey’s alter ego, Ava. “That was a special job in a long line of special jobs.” Will she be back this season? “They didn’t kill her,” she points out, “but I don’t think I’m going to be available.”
3:15 pm: And that’s a wrap! I’ve got the CBS Stars party this evening (post your Qs below), and then I’ll be back here at the crack of dawn (PST) for The CW! Here’s a little something to whet your appetites: Duh’nuhnuhnuh, Duh’nuhnuhnuh — swoosh swoosh.