There has to be a winner and a loser of every TV critics tour, and by Day Five everyone here pretty much knows the title is Fox's to lose. Which is significant, since Rupert Murdoch's little hobby network it hasn't even shown up yet.
Fox will be here first thing this morning, for a 9 a.m. pancake breakfast served by the casts of Human Target and The Good Guys, two action-drama hour-killers on their schedule. But the biggest show in town will happen at 11 a.m. L.A. time, when the network will have everyone's attention.
That's when Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly is expected to announce the replacement on American Idol for the abruptly departed Ellen Degeneres. And there's always the chance he'll tell us who's replacing Simon Cowell at the end of the next season, though that's probably too much to ask for.
Go onto the Globe live blog at 2 p.m. E.T. and we'll all find out in real time together. I'll Twitter it, too, so we can make it a race.
Are there more important stories in the world? Yes, but not in Hollywood this morning. For context, it's been reported that more votes were cast for the most recent American Idol finale than in the last U.S. presidential election.
Even before it happens, the Ellen replacement saga has stolen the thunder of the annual hoedown put on by American networks and cable channels to push the new fall season, much the same way NBC stole the show with the whole Jay vs. Conan imbroglio on the winter edition of the TV tour last January. I have two Tonight Show with Jay Leno baseball caps if anyone wants them.
In the past few days, critics have formed Ellen-replacement pools, with Chris Isaak and Harry Connick Jr. at even odds, and radio shock-jock Howard Stern at 100 to 1. The Latina women who work at the pool at my hotel seem positively convinced J-Lo will get the gig.
Roughly two-thirds of the critics in attendance here write for websites or blogs, and most came directly from San Diego's Comic-Con, the ridiculously overblown fan convention. They're quite a group, in their new Stargate T-shirts, most still buzzing about Brangelina this and J.J. Abrams that.
The difference: At Comic-Con, fans pay to fawn over movie stars and Iron Man suits. Here, for all the press sessions and cocktail mixers, the TV tour is a mano-a-mano smackdown to determine which network has the most momentum going into fall. Ergo, which network can charge the highest ad rates.
How it will work today: Fox will make a big to-do of their new Idol judge, and then make certain said personality shows up at tonight's glitzy Fox All Star party - held, for the seventh straight year, at the iconic amusement park on nearby Santa Monica Pier. Caramel corn and bumper cars with the stars of So You Think You Can Dance? Photo ops galore, for those who know how to Twitpic.
Fox has already won this tour and not just because of American Idol. They also have Glee.
Two hours before tonight's party, the cast of Glee will be wheeled to promote their new season and paparazzi outside the Hilton every day will be throwing elbows.
Glee oozes industry heat. It also has fan adulation and 19 Emmy nominations. While scripted drama declines on most networks, Fox can truthfully say they have the hottest show on television.
On Saturday night, the TV critics association held their annual awards dinner, a swanky affair in the same Beverly Hilton ballroom that hosts the Golden Globes, la-de-da.
Web reporters and bloggers got out their dress Watchmen T-shirts for the occasion. A strict no-Twitter rule was imposed until the winners were announced.
Accordingly a gaggle of awards were handed out to famous people, including Tom Hanks for The Pacific, the cast of comedy Modern Family and some old guy from M*A*S*H (Mike Farrell, if you care). Most stuck around for coffee and dessert.
But the night belonged to Glee, no surprise, which took home outstanding new program and the top honour of program of the year. The press fluttered around the cast like moths. The towering actress Jane Lynch, who plays imposing gym coach Sue on the musical-comedy, won for best comedy actress. Better to stay on her good side, I think.
Standing taller at the awards was the Canadian actor Cory Monteith, who plays the singing footballer Finn on Glee. Canuck-polite and terribly pleasant, Monteith admitted that all the Glee-mania has resulted in his spending only one week in his native Vancouver during the past 18 months. The kid misses home.
Some Web press were pressing Monteith, and the other Glee people, for a prediction on who will take over Ellen's post, but they were too smart to take the bait. Come to think of it, the webbers were also asking the serving staff.
But by now it doesn't even matter who succeeds Degeneres; Fox has the spotlight, and has everyone here speculating madly or claiming to know, based on something they read on somebody's blog. The Ellen replacement has trumped the other big story of this current press tour - last week's even more abrupt departure of ABC entertainment boss Steve McPherson amid alleged claims of sexual harassment.
A network executive resigning a few nights before his turn on the press tour has critics talking. The Ellen announcement has critics waiting. Much media ado for such a frivolous decision, but terrific for the Fox business.
John Doyle returns Aug. 5.
ALSO AIRING TONIGHT The Bachelorette (ABC, Citytv, 8 p.m.) wraps tonight, hopefully forever but probably not. Quick recap: After multiple hang-gliding and makeout sessions, single lady Ali has whittled down the original group of 25 bachelors to two finalists, Chris. L and Roberto. In order to make the big decision, Ali whisks her suitors to Bora Bora - seriously, now - to meet her family. Still more orchestrated than pro wrestling, and less dignified.
Intervention (A&E, 9 p.m.) is new, and chilling. The addiction reality series profiles Lorna, a former dancer on the series Soul Train and cast member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Drugs entered the picture, as they do, and now Lorna is a sixty-something crack addict, which is sad to watch. Lorna's three kids, long ago abandoned, factor into the recovery process.Report Typo/Error
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