TV's summer press tour -- Star from Michael Richards to John Goodman met with execs and reporters to kick off their fall shows

By Brian M. Raftery
Updated August 04, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
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This summer’s press tour for TV critics felt a lot like your average reality show. The food was horrid, the participants were cranky, and the cameras were everywhere. Which is only appropriate. Because the No. 1 topic at the Pasadena, Calif., affair — a just-concluded two-week schmooze-and-booze session where the networks shill their fall lineups to cynical journalists — was, you guessed it, Reality TV. Would NBC finally jump on the bandwagon? (Probably, with Chains of Love, in which a woman is handcuffed to four potential dates.) Could the trend get any hokier? (Definitely, with Fox’s The Sexiest Bachelor in America.) And how has fame affected Survivor castoff Sonja Christopher? (Well, she got a free dessert at a restaurant.)

In fact, that Survivor show — have you heard of it? — infected the entire proceedings, causing much teeth-gritting among rival network execs. At a breakfast for NBC’s Will & Grace, star Debra Messing gushed ”Survivor rocks,” adding that Grace wouldn’t last long on the island: ”As soon as she saw a rat, forget about it…. Food allergies, you know.” Meanwhile, fellow Peacock star Yasmine Bleeth noted that her new show Titans, a Dynasty-style soap, is more real than Survivor ”if you just happen to be a…trillionaire family.” Here, some non-island-related highlights:

At the panel for NBC’s The Michael Richards Show, the lanky star repeatedly emphasized that his new show’s private eye differs from Seinfeld‘s wacky neighbor — despite numerous shtick-heavy clips that pointed to the contrary. Richards also denied rumors of behind-the-scenes mayhem (the pilot is being overhauled, with Tim Meadows and William Devane added to the cast). ”There’s no trouble here,” said Richards. ”I know it seems that way because you haven’t seen a pilot…[but] we’ve got months to prepare.”

After failing to work out a guest spot on Dawson’s Creek last season, Britney Spears and The WB finally seem to be in synch. Buffy the Vampire Slayer coexec producer Marti Noxon tells EW it’s ”very likely” the diva-ette will appear in an episode of the vampy drama this season. ”She’s a friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s and she loves the show and wants to do an episode,” Noxon says. And what would the midriff-mad moppet do? ”Just about anything she wants to, I suspect,” says producer Gareth Davies.

John Goodman, who plays a gay divorce in a yet-to-be-titled Fox sitcom, offered some ideas for names: ”I’m hoping for either Silas Marner or Petticoat Junction.” As for his dream on-screen love match? ”Al Pacino.”

After being stopped at the entrance of the CBS party by security, Paul Sorvino, star of the dramedy That’s Life, was heard to bark, ”I do not wear name tags! Let’s get [CBS TV president] Mr. Moonves here and let him set you straight.” Later, when Sorvino was asked what daughter Mira thinks of his new show, he said, ”She has no idea what I’m doing.”

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