ABC Entertainment President Bows to Critics Ire, Complains about Isaiah Washington Coverage
Here's a tip for the press relations folks at ABC: When you face a group of reporters expecting to hear some news, don't tell them you're releasing your biggest announcement of the day somewhere else.
That's the unfortunate scenario ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson found himself in minute ago here at the TCA tour, telling a roomful of critics that the producers of Lost had a major announcement to make about the show at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego tomorrow.
"I've cast Don Imus on Lost," he joked in a tone that communicated just the right amount of contempt for the room.
Given that the questions launched here had mostly devolved to polite queries on why the network is shooting another episode to serve as the debut of Cavemen -- couldn't they tell a series based on a car insurance ad was a bad idea before spending millions to make a pilot that will not air until its fifth or sixth episode now? -- TCA members got surly quickly.
In a tribute to the power of the press, an ABC staffer quickly got on the phone to Lost producer Damon Lindelof, seeking his OK to release the news early, even as critics made the point that releasing news to a ballroom filled with 150 journalists probably made more sense than releasing it to a convention hall filled with fans.
So McPherson gave it up: Harold Perrineau, whose character Michael sailed off into the sunset with his son Walt at the end of Lost's season 2, is coming back to the show this season. McPherson gave no specifics, but rumor around here has it that Perrineau left Lost to star in a pilot for a series that didn't get picked up, leaving him free to return to the show, salary negotiations permitting.
In other news, McPherson confirmed that Dana Delany is joining the cast of Desperate Housewives, along with Nathan Fillion (Serenity). The network is developing and American version of Dance X, a reality show in Britain pitting two choreographers against each other, starring dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba from Dancing with the Stars.
In talking with reporters after his press conference, McPherson seemed bitter that critics didn't challenge NBC president Ben Silverman when he faced us, both for Silverman's decision to hire Isaiah Washington for the Bionic Woman remake after he was fired by ABC and for his covert negotiations to take the job leading NBC's entertainment division, ousting a McPherson friend, Kevin Reilly.
"He's either clueless or stupid," McPherson said, referring to Silverman and his statements that he talked with Washington about possible projects before he was fired by ABC, unaware of the swirling controversy over the actor's use of an antigay epithet.
McPherson also implied the NBC president might be guilty of inducing Washington to break his contract with ABC in the middle of the controversy, perhaps by letting him know Bionic Woman and a development deal was an option at NBC: "You guys let him off the hook...it was pretty obvious what went on there...(Silverman) didn't know what went on? Was he living in a cave?"