11:11am PT by Daniel Fienberg
TCA Summer Press Tour Day 7 Quotes: Milo Ventimiglia's Butt and Rio Olympics Caution
Recent NBC TCA press tour appearances by entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt have included tense discussions about Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, among other mini-controversies.
Tuesday's (August 2) visit was, in contrast, totally chummy. Greenblatt talked about NBC's myriad successes, and looked forward to the Olympics. More from that executive panel here.
Perhaps that's why even the odd Greenblatt rhetorical, "Isn’t the role of television to create celebrity in the world?" isn't among my highlight quotes for a day spent talking about time travel rules, the online popularity of strategic Milo Ventimiglia nudity and comic depictions of the path to heaven.
Some standout quotes for press tour Day 7:
*** "Just wait until my ass starts talking," Milo Ventimiglia said, joking about the unexpected online success of the This Is Us trailer, a success attributed in some circles to the surprise appearance by the The Whispers star's rear end, which also pops up in the first scene of the pilot. Ventimiglia's butt then got a callback when co-star Chrissy Metz was discussing reading the pilot script and being initially taken aback by a scene in her underwear. " I didn’t even have the luxury of having underwear on," Ventimiglia interjected. Metz shot back, " If I had a butt like yours, I wouldn’t wear underwear." [Our full This Is Us panel report.]
*** Time travel shows are all about time travel logistics and Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan are still figuring out the rules for their new NBC series Timeless. For example, Kripke's six-year-old has apparently been asking when the show will have dinosaurs and Kripke has been putting him off. Other rules are even more restrictive. Kripke explained, "Certainly for any time in the foreseeable future, you cannot go to any point that you exist. And that’s a really hardened, hard rule for our show. Frankly, it’s designed to keep a certain self enclosed simplicity to it. Because they also can’t go back and redo the Hindenburg. It’s a rule that we talked a lot about in the room to create the fun forward momentum that a show like Quantum Leap would have. So rather than always doubling back and meeting doubles and triples of yourself, you always have to keep moving forward. So once you did the Hindenburg, you can’t go back to the Hindenburg. So now you go and you do the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and then you go to Sinatra’s Vegas and then go to do World War II, and it forces you to keep moving forward." [More from the Timeless panel.]
*** Awful things may happen at the Rio Olympics. The water may flow with poop, the air may be alive with the hum of poisonous mosquitos, the streets may swarm with armed criminals. Or maybe not. "Heading into virtually every Olympics, that is the storyline coming in," EP Jim Bell said. "And then the athletes get here. The energy arrives. The torch gets lit. And, you know, for 17 days and nights, that’s what we are focused on. But should it be a story while we are here if there is something away from the competition that becomes a story? We’ll cover it." But what if something horrible happens? Will NBC bear some responsibility for its key role in partnering with the IOC and not pushing to force the Games into a different location? Certainly NBC's team thinks not.
"You can make an argument, I don’t know if it would be a persuasive argument, but you can make an argument it has been made that the IOC should have in light of the problems as they emerged several months ago, should have considered either moving or postponing the Games. You could make that argument," Bob Costas acknowledged. "But, once the Games were being held, the network that owned the rights to televise those Games was going to televise those Games, and, then, the question about our responsibility becomes how thoroughly and credibly do we cover it."
*** Perhaps the best part of NBC's The Good Place pilot is an orientation video in which the main character, played with charming distastefulness by Kristen Bell, discovers that there is a set of criteria for getting into the this version of heaven, pluses and minuses that have a suspicious similarity to values set forth in Mike Schur's earlier shows and also on his @KenTremendous twitter feed. I asked the Parks and Recreation creator how much of the impetus for the show was getting to set up an empirical scoring system for a life well lived in which he effectively gets to play God.
"I mean, 100 percent," Schur joked. "The way that I started to conceive of the system was that it was a system of pure justice. And the way that I thought about that was the way that, like, when you’re driving around L.A. and someone cuts you off or does something annoying, the thought I would have all the time is, like, 'That’s negative 8 points, man. That’s negative 8 points, what you just did.' And my secret hope was that there is an omniscient system that we’re all being judged by, that it’s not it’s impartial and definitive and absolute, and you don’t have to worry about judging bias. It’s just like, 'This is the system. These are the points, plus and minus.' The most fun part of the pilot, I think, of putting it actually together was writing 10,000 jokes for the various crimes when Ted [Danson] is doing the movie where he’s explaining it, the plus and minus crimes and their point values."
*** Harvey Fierstein, returning to his Tony-winning role as Edna Turnblad for NBC's Hairspray Live!, reports that he's seen a lot of other Ednas over the years, but he missed a big one.
"I’ve never seen the movie," he admitted. "I cashed the check, but yes. You know, as one of the writers, I have to go back I had to go back a lot and go and watch. I do that with all of my shows and give notes and help if I can. I had very close relationships with a lot of the Ednas that came after me. That’s what we do in the theater. We take care of each other."
*** The only thing worse than watching a 22-episode season of a show and realizing how little you retained from the show might be discovering that you also missed the point of the episode titles as well.
"Last year, for those of you that don’t know, all of our titles were anagrams," said Blindspot creator Martin Gero. "The show is a very puzzle friendly show, and so the first 10 were just kind of a fun, hidden message like 'Drink more Ovaltine,' but a little cooler. The second half was an actual if you it was a secret message that, if you decode it, there was a hidden phone number hidden into the show that, if you called that number, it would take you to a Twitter account. That Twitter account had these puzzles that we did all summer, that had these really great prizes for fans. So it was very complex and a huge undertaking for us. So, yes, we are going to do something cool with the titles."
Me, I'd prefer if they just find things to do with Ashley Johnson's Patterson, the one character I found myself consistently caring about.
*** You've probably read Archie Panjabi's quotes about her Good Wife departure already — THR wrote them up — and you may even think it was wrong that it came up at a panel for a different show. Well, Panjabi was an Emmy-winning star of one of the best received shows on television and left under circumstances that were never fully explained and this was the first time she'd met with the TCA since, so that makes it amply appropriate and she had an entirely prepared answer ready because she knew the question was coming and it was a non-answer, which is as fair as the question. We can ask. She doesn't have to say. As long as nobody's rude, that's just the game.
"Look. I loved playing the role of Kalinda," she say. "I had such a great time on it. It’s something that’s very special to me. I’m so thrilled to be on another show. In terms of anything that happened on The Good Wife, I think it’s only respectful for it to stay on The Good Wife.” It was time for me, for many reasons, to unzip the boots and step onto another show. What I can tell you for those of who you miss the boots, I do wear a pair of knee high boots on Blindspot."
Fair enough. For now.