When Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan accepted his Television Critics Award for best drama recently, he told the writers "I can't believe this damn thing is even on the air."
The same can be said for the summer press tour, a unique beast in the world of entertainment. Twice a year, a group of 200 professional members of the Television Critics Association assemble -- this year at the Beverly Hills Hilton -- while networks from HBO to NBC trot out producers, executives and stars to talk about what the networks will be showing in the next six months.
But unlike a junket, this is a place where writers and the people they write about meet in formal paneled sessions, crazy packed scrums and relaxed parties.
ASo here are some of the highlights of the insanity of the last two weeks:
TCA Awards Get No Respect: Tom Hanks won for the HBO miniseries The Pacific. He walked to the stage and, after noting the casual attire of the casts of Glee, Yo Gabba Gabba! and TCA host Dax Shepard, stated he was "never going to f**ing dress up for this again."
Former Hit Shows Get No Respect: In his TCA acceptance speech, Lost producer Damon Lindelof read post-finale Tweets including "Hey, douche. Instead of backpacking in Europe why don't you give me those six years of my life back..." He also pointed out that the entire cast of Glee was present, while his table had no cast members. "I remember when the cast members still cared about us."
Casting news: There's always bits and pieces of casting news. Like Steve Wozniak from Apple computer guesting on The Big Bang Theory as Steve Woz from Apple. Or hunky Brian Austin Green becoming the tasty treat for Bree next year on Desperate Housewives. And Carol Burnett as Sue Sylvester's mom on Glee. Or the new judges for American Idol. Wait, they never did announce that.
PBS Gets Snarky: Even the jolliest of filmmakers, Ken Burns (Baseball), gets a little edgy during press tour. When asked during a session for his new doc The 10th Inning if Pete Rose should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he responded: "Vote him in after he dies. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but he doesn't deserve to know that he's in the Hall of Fame."
The Next Betty White: That goes to Cloris Leachman of the new Fox comedy Raising Hope. The gutsy 84-year-old did the bungee cord jump at the Santa Monica pier amusement park during the Fox party. She told writers wondering why she did it, "We're here to have fun, aren't we?"
Friendly Wake-up Call: Matthew Perry, who produces and stars in the ABC comedy Mr. Sunshine about a miserable human who tries to become a better man, says he's a much nicer guy now than back in the intoxicating Friends days. When asked what made him turn his life around, the incredulous Perry said, "I would say if you want to find out the answer to that, just pick up any newspaper from 1996. Look at any magazine cover."
Speaking of Friends: Last January Courteney Cox told TCAers that her best pal Jennifer Aniston would love to prowl around Cougar Town. Lisa Kudrow has already appeared on the show and now it looks like Aniston might be on board this fall. Creator/producer Bill Lawrence saidduring the ABC party last week that they would love to have her, but they have nothing to announce yet.
Star Trek Meets Twitter: Capt. Kirk William Shatner's playing a guy based on the Twitter feed S**t My Dad Says. Shat says, "I know it's 148 characters, but I don't Twitter. I can't even remember my password name. So I've hired a young man out of college. He Twitters (for me)."
Still Crazy: Yoko Ono was blamed for breaking up The Beatles. She popped up on tour to help tout a new Lennon bio on PBS. But she got feisty when a critic questioned why she still lived at The Dakota in New York City. She said people who think she shouldn't still be living in the same place where her husband was murdered are "sexist and racist." She went on to say "No one's going to comment that you would go to maybe a whorehouse or something right after your wife died." Huh?
Not that he's bitter or anything: Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam says he doesn't subscribe to the Emmys. "I think it's all a crock of s**t. And I think it's corrupting. All of that crap is secondary and unimportant. So (expletive) them."
And still more bitterness: Producer Jeffery Karik, now doing the Showtime series Episodes with Matt LeBlanc, says network TV is "ruled by fear and panic" and said his past experience with CBS doing the comedy The Class was "like being a puppy in a dryer."
If only the fall shows were as funny and as dramatic as press tour.