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TV execs, stars show off fall lineups at event

Dale Roe
Scott Caan, left, Daniel Dae Kim, Alex O'Loughlin and Grace Park populate the new 'Hawaii Five-O.'

Television writer Dale Roe is in Los Angeles for the Television Critics Association's annual meeting and filing updates via his blog and Twitter. At austin360.com/tvblog, you'll find longer versions of these reports from the CBS presentation as well as news from other networks.

Questions for CBS

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler took the stage at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Wednesday morning to kick off the presentation portion of the Television Critics Association's Summer Press Tour.

Tassler fielded questions from reporters about the network's programming, including questions about the violence and darkness in the pilot for the "Hawaii Five-0" reboot and the network's failing grade in GLAAD's ratings for portrayals of gay and lesbian characters on television (both reality and scripted).

She seemed perplexed by the characterization of "Hawaii Five-0" as dark. I'm with Tassler. Though the show does open with a violent Middle-East war scene, the action soon moves to the familiar island where the relationships between the characters and the island take center stage. There's a lot of smirky good humor from that point on, typical of many of the fall's action/drama offerings.

Regarding the GLAAD report, Tassler said that the network had gay and lesbian-friendly pilots in the works that did not pan out and that the network is responding by adding gay and lesbian characters to returning shows, including "The Good Wife."

‘Hawaii Five-0'

A 35-piece orchestra kicked off the "Hawaii Five-0" panel during the CBS network's presentation at TCA on Wednesday. They weren't in the ballroom, but there was a video of them re-recording the iconic theme song of the show for this fall's reboot.

Scott Caan, who plays Danno in the new version, says he avoided going back and re-viewing the original, which ran on CBS for a dozen years, concluding in 1980. "I wanted to start fresh, and I didn't want to have any old ideas."

Alex O'Laughlin, the new Steve McGarrett, says that in the original version, the character was sort of a cipher. But he points out that we learn a lot about his new character in the pilot.

Other highlights:

  • The original was about memorable cases; the new version will focus on characters. The producers felt that they needed someone strong for McGarrett to play off, so Danno became more of a partner to McGarrett than a subordinate.
  • The producers are very conscious about paying tribute to what the spirit of the original "Five-0" was all about. They call it a family show. Producer Peter Lenkov talked about how he used to watch it with his dad and how that informed the father-son dynamic in the pilot.
  • On the famous theme: It had been suggested that a famous rock star be hired to come in and record a new version of the theme. "You cannot change the original theme," producer Alex Kurtzman said. "There are few themes that are as good as the ‘Five-0' theme. This is one of those things that we have to be utterly respectful to, to the point that we found the original musicians who did the original theme and brought them back in to record it. At the end of the day, why mess with something that's perfect?"

‘Mike and Molly'

Cast members of CBS' returning "The Big Bang Theory" and the new "Mike and Molly" took the TCA stage along with creator Chuck Lorre on Wednesday morning to discuss the half-hour comedies.

"The Big Theory," which has become a ratings powerhouse on Monday nights, is moving to Thursdays this fall, where it will go head to head with NBC's "Community."

"Mike and Molly" is an old-school, retro comedy, about a pair of overweight lovers and their efforts to improve their lives, which Lorre created with writer Mark Roberts.

Regarding the "Big Bang" move, Lorre said that the network did not consult him but insisted that was OK. "One assumes they've given it a lot of thought," he said. "Our job is to make a good show, not to program." This will be the comedy's fourth time slot in three years.

Some time was spent discussing the breakout Sheldon character played by Texan Jim Parsons. Regarding Sheldon and Penny's increasingly sweet relationship, Lorre said, "She's domesticating him."

Much of the panel time was spent discussing the fact that the two lead characters on "Mike and Molly" are overweight and that they meet at (and continue to attend) Overeaters Anonymous. Lorre and Roberts insisted that the show was not about the characters being fat.

"I didn't set out to write a show about Overeaters Anonymous," Roberts said. "I wanted to write a show about two people at the beginning of a relationship. It's just a show about people with problems. The reason I wanted to do a show like this was to get real people back on TV." People's problems, he said, were the source of television comedy. Noting that most television characters look nice and dress beautifully, Roberts added, "I don't buy any of their problems."

"Hopefully the humor is self-deprecating and with affection," Lorre replied. "This isn't a show about weight. It's a show about people trying to make their lives better and find someone that they can have a committed relationship with. If we're still talking about this issue come Episode 6, we've got a serious problem, because it would get tired really quickly. That's not enough to hang a series on; not by any stretch of the imagination."

Former "Gilmore Girls" actress Melissa McCarthy, who plays Molly, toed the company line. "For me, the show is not about weight," she said. She said she was attracted by the sitcom's "funny and lovely" qualities and its lack of snarky humor.

I got a chance to ask Lorre and Roberts about the retro feel of the show. "Chuck and I very early on talked about ‘Marty' as a template for this thing," Roberts said (that film, adapted from a Paddy Chayefsky teleplay, starred Ernest Borgnine as an unmarried, 34-year-old butcher who lived with his mother in the Bronx). "And I think ‘The Honeymooners' certainly factors into it. I do think it's incredibly cool that we're followed by ‘Hawaii Five-0'; that's something nice and retro, too," he added.

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