TCA's show might not go on


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

TCA president Dave Walker advised board members Friday 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 previous decisions to participate.

Further complicating matters are arrangements with the Universal City Hilton, which is slated to host the January tour. Normally, the dates and locations of 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 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 toward canceling their appearances, that scenario now is looking less likely.

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

The TCA 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 news conferences to discuss their upcoming series.