Fox: ''Nip/Tuck'' changes course. Plus: It's ''Happy Hour''! And ''So You Think You Can Dance'' plans a tour

By Adam B. Vary
Updated July 26, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Credit: Nip/Tuck: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Nip/Tuck

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Now this is the Fox I remember. In stark contrast to an oddly low-energy Monday at TCAs, Fox’s second day of presentations here at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena were chockablock with exactly the sort of rowdy weirdness and flashy showmanship we’ve all come to expect from the Network That Rupert Built.

‘JUSTICE’ Perhaps it was Justice creator Jonathan Shapiro’s 10 years as a federal prosecutor, but there were moments when the panel for the Jerry Bruckheimer-ized law drama resembled less a cushy press Q&A than a wily deposition. At first, it was present just in Shapiro’s emphatic delivery and skillful manner of answering the question he wanted to answer rather than the one that was asked. (When a reporter queried whether detailed behind-the-scenes procedural shows like his and CSI are making things easier or harder for prosecutors, Shapiro responded with ”the biggest problem lawyers are facing is Google.”) But then reporters began expressing their skepticism at the show’s authenticity — are DAs really as weasely as they are in the pilot? — and Shapiro had to persistently assert that, yes, indeed, ”this is the most accurate portrayal of what trial lawyers do nowadays than any show that’s been on.” At one point, a few minutes after an awkward exchange about whether or not the press influence the outcome of criminal trials, Shapiro even said he would like to ”appeal” his answer — and then managed to give pretty much the exact same response he’d given before. Maybe the guy should work in Hollywood.

‘HAPPY HOUR’ It’s only my second day ever at TCAs, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not common practice to hand out Irish coffees and Bloody Marys to the press before 10 a.m. — unless, of course, you’re Fox, and you’re promoting a sitcom called Happy Hour that has a terrifically funny cast and a terrifically unfunny pilot. Indeed, the panel proved to be so much fun — and I would like to take this moment to assure my editors that I only sipped my mimosa — that I began to wonder if maybe I was wrong to think the first episode was a mirth-deadening circus of bad sitcom clichés. I mean, maybe Happy Hour could end up surprising me the way co-star Beth Lacke did with her priceless insight into the phenomenon that is Kelly Ripa: ”I think she symbolizes the woman that can do it all — and keep diminishing in size. Some day, she’s just going to fade away, and little particles of Kelly Ripa will be in the air for all of us to breathe.” You don’t need a mimosa to know that’s good comedy.

‘SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?’ I may as well get this shameful confession out of the way now: I am a fanatic for So You Think You Can Dance? So picture me delighted when host Cat Deeley traipsed on stage, air kissed Peter Liguori with her foot kicked back, and announced that before the panel front-runners Allison and Travis and Benji and Heidi would be dancing contemporary and West Coast swing routines, respectively. Of course, both couples were spectacular — limber, expressive, joyful — so color me thrilled when the rest of the press showered both couples with a rush of genuine applause. And slap me gobsmacked after learning both couples had choreographed their stunning routines themselves, literally with a few hours notice. I’d like to see Taylor Hicks write, score, and perform a perfectly honed pop song in three hours time. (Why are all of you looking at me like that?) So, yeah, for those of you who haven’t moved on to the next entry, I have some big news! Creator Nigel Lythgoe announced that he is in talks for a 25-city So You Think You Can Dance tour. Starting in Seattle this September, it would feature the top 10 dancers plus two of the other finalist dancers as understudies — though, according to Lythgoe, that won’t be the two kicked off from the final 12 (i.e., street dancers Musa and Ashlee) since the understudies would have to master every single routine in the show in order to step in at a moment’s notice.

‘TALK SHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN’ Here’s what I learned at the panel for Talk Show with Spike Feresten, which will follow Mad TV at midnight on Saturdays: 1) It’s called Talk Show with Spike Feresten, and yet, according to Spike, ”there’s very little talk”; 2) Spike’s first name is really Michael — the nickname, a reference to his naturally spiky hair, was coined while he was a receptionist at SNL during the Dennis Miller years; 3) Spike wrote the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld, but he’s not very enthusiastic about it. He also co-wrote Jerry Seinfeld’s long-gestating animated comedy Bee Movie; 4) Spike says Talk Show is directly modeled after David Letterman: ”He’s the reason I’m on TV”; 5) Spike and producer Stewart Bailey insist Spike is a wild and crazy guy — he wants to jump seven talk-show-host desks on a motorcycle! The clips of the show were funny in a generic way — Spike convinces an old man to dance on Hollywood Blvd. in his underwear! But Spike, in person, isn’t so much wild, crazy, or funny — though he is quite well-behaved.

‘NIP/TUCK’ Now, you want wild and crazy? How about the fourth season of Nip/Tuck? Creator Ryan Murphy spilled all kinds of beans at the last series panel of this year’s TCAs. Deep breath. Catherine Deneuve will guest-star as a widow who wants her husband’s ashes placed in her breast implants so he’ll always be close to her. (I’ll give you a moment to re-read that to make sure you didn’t imagine it.) What’s more, Murphy told this to us before he’d told Deneuve, who had requested Murphy write a role for her on the show. So, Ms. Deneuve, if you’re reading this, don’t shoot the messenger! Brooke Shields, who appears in the season premiere as the psychiatrist of Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) — take that, Tom Cruise! — will over the course of the season reveal herself to be a sexual obsessive who develops a mad crush on her unknowing patient — er, never mind, Tom Cruise! By the by, Dr. Troy is going to see a psychiatrist because the confirmed bachelor is beginning to question whether he is, you know, a confirmed bachelor: ”I’ve always found Christian a little gay,” glinted McMahon, who will shoot the Fantastic Four sequel while also in production on Nip/Tuck. Larry Hagman hadn’t seen Nip/Tuck when Murphy approached him about playing the 75-year-old husband to a thirtysomething wife, played by Sanaa Lathan (Something New), but that didn’t keep the Dallas legend from repeatedly asking Murphy, ”Do I get to have sex with her?” (Apparently, he does. Hey, it?s Nip/Tuck.) Rosie O’Donnell, who will film her guest spot this week, is so obsessed with the show that she had the production designer flown out to her home to re-create the McNamara/Troy fish tank. Both McMahon and Joely Richardson admitted they weren’t thrilled with the Carver-centric third season, which wasn’t news to Murphy, who was clearly mixed on the season himself: ”I liked doing [the Carver episodes], but it kind of got away a little bit from the point of the show.” Finally, Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) will play the night nurse to the physically challenged baby of Sean and Julia McNamara (Dylan Walsh and Richardson). Again, I’ll give you a moment to re-read that. Yep. Still true!!

(For more Nip/Tuck news, be sure to read Tim Stack’s preview of season 4.)

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Nip/Tuck

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