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Q&A at TCA: Sex, Slaughter and Spoilers
July 29, 2013  | By Ed Bark  | 2 comments
BEVERLY HILLS, CA — A horde of writers again is in attendance at the ongoing annual summer Television Critics Association "press tour."
But only a relative handful ever ask a question during a seemingly endless series of interview sessions held in the same International Ballroom that accommodates the Golden Globes every January.
So in the interests of flying the flag, here are some excerpts from answers to direct queries from TV Worth Watching.
In the pilot episode of NBC's new Ironside series, the wheelchair-bound hero is just as cranky as the Raymond Burr original ever was. Otherwise he's way ahead of the game, having sex with his gym instructor girlfriend after she straddles him and asks, "Why don't you go through me first?" Star Blair Underwood is asked whether this was stipulated in his contract.
"Oh God no," he says. "My wife made sure of that."
But more to the point, was there a debate among the producers about making Ironside a functioning sexual being?
"Yeah, yeah, there was," Underwood says. "When I read the script there was that one scene in there and I said, 'Well, how?' I mean, we're all learning. And what you learn is every spinal cord injury is different. If you haven't seen the documentary Murder Ball, please check it out. I mean, these guys are just banging into each other, crashing into each other and have able-bodied girlfriends. And each one of them is able to perform in that way. But it is a question people ask. Is that just TV, or is it possible? In Ironside's case he is able. He's paralyzed at T 12, from the waist down, but it depends on the nerve endings."
Veteran British actor David Bradley is having quite a run. In recent times, he's played Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films, will be the star of BBC America's Dr. Who origins film (An Adventure in Space and Time) and also has a role in that network's murder mystery Broadchurch, which is getting major favorable buzz before its Aug. 7 premiere. But Bradley, 71, is best known at present for slaughtering a trio of major characters on the recent Red  Wedding episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, where he plays diabolical Lord Walder Frey. He's asked about both the reaction and his latter day notoriety.
"Well, I'm not exactly watching my back," Bradley says. "Because most people have got a twinkle when they admonish me. And I get a lot of that. And I've watched a lot of footage on YouTube of people's reactions to watching me. It's just amazing that you're part of something that can generate all those emotions. I love it. And doing the scene, actually I just enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed it rather too much, actually."
Larry David's new movie, Clear History, premieres August 10 on HBO. In it he plays two hard-to-please characters in the mode of his real-life self on the network's Curb Your Enthusiasm. But it's been almost two years since the last new episode aired. David is asked why it takes him so long to make up his mind whether to do another 10-episode season, to which he still hasn't  committed. "You always kind of hem-haw," he's told.
"It's like when I got married, yeah," David says, laughing. "I don't know. I'm just an indecisive fellow. You should see me at a restaurant. It's a big decision, by the way, to decide to do a season of that show. I don't take it lightly."
Told that his show isn't nearly as "massive" as Game of Thrones, David concedes, "I'm lazy. Lazy."
Also on the HBO front is the still-in-limbo new series Criminal Justice, in which the late James Gandolfini starred as a New York lawyer defending a Pakistani man accused of murdering a stripper. He had only completed the pilot episode before his death on June 19. HBO president Michael Lombardo is asked whether the network will air Gandolfini's scenes.
"No, we would never air the pilot with James in it," he says. "That was just the beginning of a journey. There's no reason to air that. The conversation would be about re-shooting the portion that James had already performed in and recasting going forward … So we're talking about it now. He's obviously a large presence, a fantastic actor and it's hard to think about replacing him. But we're having those conversations now."
James Brolin's TV career dates all the way back to ABC's Marcus Welby, M.D., which aired from 1969 to 1976. The 73-year-old actor, and husband of Barbra Streisand, will be co-starring later this year in the Hallmark Channel's super-wholesome Christmas with Tucker. He's told that "wholesome" can be a tough sell these days to TV critics, whose hearts tend to beat much faster to the anti-heroics on Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy among others. So can he make a case for G-rated fare?
"Did you see the other day where — what was it? — everybody paid attention to it, was it Sharktopia (Syfy's Sharknado) or something? And then Teen Beach Party (actually, Disney Channel's Teen Beach Movie) came on and just took all the numbers, right? I have a feeling that people are just a little fed up with gunplay and divorces and all of those subjects. I find this kind of thing (Christmas with Tucker) refreshing, being a real sucker (as a kid and adult) for Lassie. I don't know why. I had a couple of shrink sessions, saying, 'What is it that I'm hurting inside that I'm applying to Lassie? And then there was that picture a couple of years ago where the dog had cancer (Marley & Me)."
Co-producer Joel S. Rice chimes in to note, "Around the holidays, everybody — even potentially you — wants to feel warm and fuzzy."
 Co-producer Dave Johnson then applies the finishing touches: "A Sons of Anarchy Christmas special just doesn't have a ring to it."
Finally, at least for this edition of "As Told to TVWW," a panel of FX network directors was asked about after-the-fact "spoilers" in which key plot details are revealed after an episode already has aired. Jeff Schaffer of The League took the bait and seemed to speak for his seven contemporaries with this serious/funny response.
"There's a statute of limitations," Schaffer (third from right) says. "At a certain point, I think after a month, it's fair game. But there is this whole thing of like, 'Oh, I haven't seen it. Don't tell me anything about what happened on Mad Men, Season 3. It's like, 'Buddy, no. You can walk away. We're going to talk about it. You catch up on your own time.' But it's actually become a social problem.
"The other thing that happens now, which is interesting, is that you can be stuck in traffic. And with those flat screens on the back seats of cars, you can go, 'No, no, no!  Now I know who killed him!' It's because some kid was watching it one car in front of you on the 405. That has happened." 

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com
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Sex, Slaughter and Spoilers are nice topic. You have pointed out good points in your article.
Jan 15, 2014   |  Reply
Spoilers, aagh! Interesting point about seeing a snippet of a show while driving, and funny, too. A month sounds like a long time for a critic to have to wait before talking about an episode. The main thing is don't give the spoiler away in the headline the day after the original aired. That's just being a tool, right?
Aug 1, 2013   |  Reply
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