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Flight to TV critics' meeting: $400; Memories: Priceless

Posted by Suzanne Ryan  August 3, 2006 08:39 PM

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It's been exactly two weeks since I left Los Angeles, where I was attending a television critics' summer conference. The event is basically a chance for the networks to show off all their new fall shows.

A lot of people have been asking me what was memorable about the conference, so here goes.

My only-in-LA moment:
I was standing outside the hotel on a Monday evening when a giant Lincoln Navigator SUV pulls up. The driver hops out and opens the back door for his only passenger. Turns out, it's little Tyler James Williams, the star of UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris." The kid is 14 years old but you should have seen the swagger on him as he walked up the red carpet by himself. So much for teenage angst.

My why-am-I-here moment:
ABC is launching a new drama starring Anne Heche, a New York relationship coach who finds herself stranded in Alaska. In the pilot episode, she is freaked out when she discovers a raccoon in her hotel's closet.

During a press conference, reporters wanted to know all about the raccoon, whose name is Elvis.

Is that a real raccoon or an animatronic? (Real)

Did you fly him into Vancouver to shoot? (No, a local hire)

Is he a recurring character? (Yes)

In the pilot, Elvis had a STUNT DOUBLE that ran down the stairs for him? (Yes, a DOG NAMED BOOMER DONNED A RACCOON SUIT for a staircase scene since raccoons don't run, they lope).

Since raccoons are noctural, did you wake Elvis up to shoot? (Yes and Anne pet him to make him feel better)

Later, a Touchstone Television publicist told me with all seriousness that he and his co-workers had tried to anticipate every question we reporters might have tossed out but no one even thought about Elvis.

"We should have brought him here," he said sadly.

My my-bad moment:

I sat down with Jon Turtletaub, the creator of a new drama called "Jericho," which follows a group of survivors of a nuclear blast.

We were having a great conversation and then he wanted to make a point about something. "Remember 'While You Were Sleeping?' " he asked.

I said, 'Wasn't that that Tom Hanks movie?'

"Oh, this is awful," he said, covering his face with his hand. "That was my biggest movie."

Oh dear...And I had read Turtletaub's bio too. I was thinking of "Sleepless in Seattle." Anyway, I started backpedaling... Of course I remember it!

"It was with Sandra Bullock and her fiance was in a coma," he said.

"Oh yea," I said.. I really had seen that movie and liked it. But that was years ago! What does that have to do with "Jericho?"

My reality check:

When I finished up at the conference, I flew to Northern California to visit some relatives. My cousin Frank, who's in his 70s now, wanted to know all about my work. Of couse, I had to know what his favorite TV shows are.

His answer? Sanford & Son and The Golden Girls.

"Now that's a good show," he said.


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