TCA may cancel January press tour



CORRECTED 1:05 p.m. PT Dec. 2, 2007

The Television Critics Assn. appears ready to call off the January press tour if the writers' strike goes beyond Dec. 13.

On Friday, TCA president Dave Walker advised board members that PBS has changed its mind about taking part in the winter tour if the WGA strike is not settled. In addition, he said the MTV cable networks and possibly others are reconsidering earlier decisions to participate.

Complicating matters further are arrangements with the Universal City Hilton, which is slated to host the January tour. Normally, the dates and locations or press tours are set a year or more in advance and schedules for each day are circulated a month beforehand.

Given the time needed for planning and travel accommodations, TCA brass is expected to make a final decision on the fate of the press tour by Dec. 13.

During the past couple of weeks, the TCA had been working on contingency plans in case the strike goes on, including an abbreviated tour, scheduled to begin Jan. 8, that would largely consist of presentations from cable networks and PBS as well as TCA-sponsored panels.

With PBS and MTV networks now pulling out and other cable networks also leaning towards canceling their appearances, that scenario is now looking less and less likely.

Faced with the possibility of a boycott by creators, showrunners and stars, NBC was the first network to pull out of TCA's winter press tour a week into the strike. The other broadcast are yet to make a final decision but are all said to be mulling an exit as the writer's walkout inches closer to the end of the year.

The TCA had faced a similar situation when writers struck in 1988. At that time, though, all of the networks except NBC participated in the press tour despite the strike. The WGA did not object to producer-writers appearing in press conferences to discuss their upcoming series.