Entertainment

TV critics tour provides nuggets

The annual television critics press tour ended last week. Here are a few tidbits that emerged in the waning hours:

* TV big shots actually do pay attention to their Twitter feeds. During closing ceremonies, "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof, who is penning the next "Star Trek" feature, lamented the many rants he received from fans upset over the way "Lost" ended. A few examples: "Has anyone accused you of being an emotional terrorist yet?" "How about giving me six years of my life back." "Please don't ruin 'Star Trek' by ending it in Klingon purgatory."

* Awards and honors aren't everything. "Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy takes particular pride in the feedback he gets from instructors connected with high school arts programs, which are typically a target of budget-slashers.

"Our show makes it hard for districts to cut programs," he told critics.

"I hear from teachers who say, 'Thanks to your show, they can't cut my program anymore, because I've gone from seven members to 40.' That's the best award of all."

* The cast of "Friends" is still in demand. This season, Courteney Cox will continue to headline her ABC sitcom, "Cougar Town," which reportedly is wooing Jennifer Aniston for a guest appearance. Meanwhile, Matt LeBlanc will play a fictitious version of himself on "Episodes," a comedy for Showtime, which is also planning a TV version of Lisa Kudrow's online series, "Web Therapy." In addition, Matthew Perry will star as the manager of a sports arena in ABC's "Mr. Sunshine."

* Not all network bosses are too arrogant to admit mistakes. NBC entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin issued a candid mea culpa while reflecting on a disastrous season that included that whole Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien late-night fiasco.

"I think we made too many changes, too quickly, from a position of weakness," he said. "That really jeopardized some of the decisions we made. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy."

* Betty White just might have a fierce rival in fellow senior citizen Cloris Leachman. The latter stopped by the press tour to promote the upcoming Fox sitcom, "Raising Hope," in which she plays a crass and cranky grandma. Asked for her thoughts on all the adulation being showered upon White, Leachman, 84, snarled, "I'm so sick of Betty White. Never liked her."

She was kidding. We think.

* Ken Burns has his bases covered. This fall, the acclaimed PBS filmmaker, who normally spurns sequels, revisits his "Baseball" epic with a two-night, four-hour film called "The Tenth Inning" which will pick up where the original left off in 1994 and take us through 2009.

Burns said he was compelled to return to the subject when the steroids scandal cast a huge shadow over the game. But does he foresee adding another chapter down the road?

"We've discussed the possibility of coming back with a new one when the Cubs win the World Series," he said, "or hell freezes over, or Sundays stop following Saturdays."

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