TCA crowd issued game mocking networkspeak

Fair warning to any exec who stands in front of TV critics this week and claims he/she is “taking chances,” “pushing the envelope” and is in the midst of his/her “best development season ever”: You’re being mocked.

“Press Tour Bingo,” created last July by a group of bored critics (who refuse to come forward and take credit), is back – and just in time, as the broadcast networks gather in Hollywood this week for their portion of the Television Critics Assn. semi-annual press tour.

The game is played just like bingo — but instead of numbers, blocks on these bingo cards are filled with a mix of the cliches that are inevitably uttered by network suits, antsy producers and mindless stars at the confab. And as they proclaim that “it’s all about the writing” or that they’re “just trying to make the best show we possibly can,” those execs, stars and producers appearing before the bleary-eyed critics will likely have no idea why reporters are frantically scribbling in boxes.

This time out, the game has even gone legit, thanks to CBS and UPN. The sister networks printed up a stack of cards — complete with trite networkspeak like “We decided to go in a different direction” and “We’re raising the bar” — and sent them to TCA member Rob Owen for distribution.

“We gave it to TCA members at the start of the press tour because, of course, our executives, stars and producers would never say such cliches,” said CBS spokesman Chris Ender, tongue lodged deep in cheek.

Ender said CBS and UPN won’t supply a prize for the ultimate Press Tour Bingo winner. “That would be payola,” he said.

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