DAVID BIANCULLI

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GERALD JORDAN

ROGER CATLIN

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JONATHAN STORM

 
 
 
 
 
More From TCA's Winter Press Tour
January 15, 2018  | By Roger Catlin
 

PASADENA, Calif. — The E! Network occasionally stumbles on the zenith of the cultural zeitgeist with a new show. It did with its series on Caitlyn Jenner. And it may well again with a new one about Rose McGowan (top) that places the show on the front lines of the #MeToo movement.

Citizen Rose, a doc series that begins with a two-hour episode Jan. 30, is built on footage McGowan shot herself as she approached the moment when she announced to the world the abuse she had suffered in Hollywood.

One such self-shot clip opened a session at the TV Critics Association winter press tour on the day of NBC Universal offerings — five from the broadcast network and four on cable holdings.

“Thank you for participating in the TCA,” she said in the unusual clip, which also included a bit of interpretive dance. She said she “will happily answer the questions if they’re respectful.” But she also asked that nobody mention “the name we all know.”

So there was no specific mention of denounced producer Harvey Weinstein as she spoke of the series, produced in conjunction with Bunim/Murray Productions, she said, because “I wanted assassins — in the best way.”

Her early footage, shot as long ago as three years, was difficult to do. “I had never been filmed on a camera without a script,” she says. “I had to train myself for the last three years to be able to actually just exist as me.”

She spoke in part in phrases that could be bumper stickers: “I don’t respect those who don’t respect” was one. “I scare because I care” was another. But, she added, that the last one is actually “a famous tagline from a movie called Monsters, Inc. So I’m ripping it. It’s not original.”

McGowan said she’s been a warrior most of her life. “My father said I was born with my fist up.”

But when someone asked why she was working for E!, a network where a female anchor recently quit, claiming pay inequity, McGowan said, “that came about after I had already done my deal. … Let me hang out a while. Maybe things will change.”

(A network executive took the podium later to explain that each anchor had a different job.)

As for Citizen Rose, McGowan says, “I am down with calling this reality, because it actually is. This is reality. It’s mine. And I’m OK with that. I’m not going to shy away from it.”

At the same time, it will have a wider appeal than one gender.

“This is not a show about, or just for, women. This is a show about expanding consciousness. I want to get us 10 percent out of being less men and less women and 10 percent more human. And that’s really simple,” she said.

“It’s about humanity. It’s about freeing your mind. It’s about looking at things differently, using art differently, using sound differently, using everything we can do to change minds. So I wanted to go global with the greatest reach. I wanted really to be like Gertrude Stein and have a conversation with the world instead of just in my living room.”

(Here, she missed a chance for another bumper sticker: “A rose is a rose is a Rose McGowan.”)

******

Woman power is also at the heart of a new series whose panel began NBC’s day at TCA, Good Girls.

It stars Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta as suburbanites with various economic needs who decide to start robbing grocery stores.

As dark as all that seems, creator Jenna Bans says “these women are so funny when they’re together, and a lot of the laughs and a lot of the comedy just comes from the chemistry and the vibe they have with each other.”

“One thing I really loved about the show right away,” said Whitman, “was that it brings up the question of morals and justification systems and what is good and what’s evil and sort of what would you do, how far would you go to protect your family, what are the intentions behind these characters’ motives in doing what they do.”

Good Girls starts March 26 on NBC.

******

A kind of combination of Glee and Friday Night Lights, NBC’s new Rise tracks the creation of a music department and production of Spring Awakening at a rural Pennsylvania high school, full of its attendant social problems.

That it’s like Friday Night Lights is logical, as it comes from the same creator Jason Katims, who admits that the network embrace of the show may be because of its previous success with This is Us. (Along these lines, Rise will follow the season finale of This is Us March 13, and inherit its time slot.) 

“Shows that are very character driven and have a deep sort of emotional core to them and are ultimately just shows about people are those are definitely the shows that not only appeal to me as a viewer, but it’s also the kinds of stories I like to tell. So I think that having shows like This Is Us has helped that."

For Josh Radnor, the former star of How I Met Your Mother, who stars as the teacher, it’s a way to honor drama teachers he’s had in the past, especially one when he was at Kenyon College.

“I had always been the student in terms of that dynamic, and then suddenly to be asked to be the teacher and embody the energy of these beautiful people that had inspired me so much, it felt like a huge gift,” Radnor says.

******

Among the other NBC shows presented during press tour is the comedy Champions which is about a gym rat who is left to start raising his son, now 15, played by J.J. Totah, a former Disney channel star on Jessie and Liv and Maddie.

“I do recognize that it’s a privilege to play a role that is not on TV a lot,” says Totah, 16. That is to say, a gay boy. “I’m definitely very proud of that and scared. Hopefully, no one comes for me for misportraying someone the right way. I’m just going to do it my way.”

Charlie Grandy, Anders Holm, and Fortune Feimster round out the cast of Champions, which starts March 8. Executive producer Mindy Kaling is in the pilot and, according to Grandy, will return for a handful of episodes toward the end of the first season.

******

In A.P. Bio, a new comedy from Mike O’Brien of Saturday Night Live, stars Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as a professor who gets a job teaching high school, but employs his students to get revenge on a rival who got his dream job at Stamford.

Patton Oswalt plays the principal; Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers are executive producer. 

But starring on the show doesn’t mean Howerton is leaving Sunny.

“One of the tough things about doing a show for 12 years is people might have a hard time seeing you as anything else, and I realize that that could be a little bit of a struggle for me as an actor,” he said. “But that’s why it was important for me to get to do something with someone who has a distinctive voice like Mike.”

A.P. Bio starts Feb. 1 on NBC.

******

It’s probably not a good idea to pick a fight at a WWE panel, but when a celebrity-packed promo reel for the 25th anniversary of WWE Monday Night RAW on the USA network omitted the famous shot of Donald Trump brawling at the ring, we had to ask: Did they eliminate it so as not to potentially alienate half its audience?

“There’s been a lot of celebrities. I can name a lot of celebrities that weren’t in that clip,” says Paul Levesque, who wrestled as Triple H and is now WWE’s executive vice president of talent, live events and creative.

“Obama has been a celebrity for us too,” he said. “Schwarzenegger has been a celebrity for us. There have been a lot. A lot weren’t in that clip. To pick one is cherry picking to try to get to a destination you are trying to get to.”

“WWE is nonpartisan,” said Stephanie McMahon, WWE chief brand officer, and Levesque’s wife. “We are all about representing everybody. We are the greatest combination of every different culture, every different ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic background, political affiliation, you name it. We represent everybody.”

But the WWE had a long connection to Trump and Republican politics.

McMahon’s mother (and Levesque’s mother-in-law), Linda McMahon, ran unsuccessfully as Republican candidate for both U.S. Senate seats in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012. She and her husband Vince McMahon have donated $5 million to the Donald Trump Foundation.

Trump nominated her as administrator of the Small Business Administration and she was confirmed in February. 

Trump hosted WrestleMania IV and V at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City but became more well-known for entering the ring for elaborate tricks, sprinkling tens of thousand of dollars from the rafters in 2007, or shaving the head of Vince McMahon to settle a bet at WrestleMania 23. Then he returned to RAW with an oft-seen appearance in 2009.

Trump’s election is, according to the WWE website, “the first time in history a WWE Hall of Famer would ever hold the distinguished title of U.S. Commander in Chief.”

But the two execs were unmoved.

“We made a very strategic decision to not put forth any type of partisan politics at all,” Stephanie McMahon said. “So that was a very specific decision that we made in our programming in general, not just in this sizzle reel.”

WWE Monday Night Raw has its 25th anniversary broadcast Jan 22 on USA.

 
 
 
 
 
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