George Lopez all talk at TCA

Comedian's new show among tour's Day 1 presentations

The first day of the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour got under way Tuesday, with George Lopez presenting his entry into the crowded late-night talk-show field.

Lopez's TBS series will roll out in the fall amid a shaken-up competitive landscape. Producer Jim Paratore cited research that says only 31% of the TV audience watches all the current late-night shows combined, and Lopez downplayed any sense of performance pressure.

"The simple plan of the show is to create an energy that isn't anywhere on TV," Lopez said, then joked, "but apparently in some parts of the country I'll be up against telenovelas -- can't win that battle."

Lopez said he's going to get rid of several late-night conventions: no desk, no cue cards and no monologue -- very little monologue, anyway.

" 'Monologue' sounds like a dissertation," he said. "It's hard to make formal look cool."

The comedian also hopes to keep the format flexible, bringing audience members up to the couch, putting different guests together onstage and sometimes opening with a guest.

"If you have Prince, why would you have him go last?" he said. "It's supposed to be a party, and a party is spontaneous."

As for competition for booking guests, Lopez joked, "I don't think 'The Tonight Show' is going after Menudo."

Turner also paneled its Jerry Bruckheimer procedural drama "Dark Blue." Although programming head Michael Wright suggested that fellow freshman "Hawthorne" is a strong candidate for a pickup, the network has not decided whether "Dark Blue" will return.

" 'Dark Blue' is creatively one of the most consistent shows we have on the air," he said.

Also under the Turner umbrella, CNN president Jon Klein took the TCA stage and touted record-setting ratings for HLN and some record highs for CNN in total day. He didn't mention the network's sagging numbers in primetime, though.

Klein defended anchor Lou Dobbs' reporting on the conspiracy theory controversy about President Obama of not having a valid U.S. birth certificate.

"There are two strands to this story: There are the facts, then there is the flap," Klein said. "There's no doubt ... that the president was born in the state of Hawaii. Separate from that, there's this phenomenon of people who don't believe it. Lou is exploring that flap."

Kicking off the cable portion of TCA, Travel Channel touted previously announced new series "The Streets of America: The Search for America's Worst Driver" and "Worldwide Tribe" and the seven-hour ghost-hunting special "Ghost Adventures Live."

The network paneled "Man vs. Food," in which host Adam Richman takes up local restaurants on their food-eating challenges. One critic asked whether it's proper for the show's host to consume mass quantities or food in a country with obesity issues.

"There's one thing I would love to make clear," Richman said. "Neither I nor does the network espouse overeating. These are about once-in-a-blue-moon indulgences. I would never espouse eating they way I do as a lifestyle choice."
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