Shift will place event closer to fall TV launch

The Television Critics Assn. is moving its 2009 summer tour closer to the fall season launch.

The three-week shift has the confab now beginning July 28 and running through Aug. 11.

A significant reason for the move is that this year, several panels were somewhat unproductive because so many shows had no pilot episode in the can due to the writers strike. Critics had a hard time discussing the shows with casts and crews when they hadn’t seen anything yet.

In one particular exchange, “Kings” star Ian McShane started ripping into a scribe who wasn’t quite sure of where the show’s story takes place.

“The studios and networks are our partners, and one of the complaints is that the immediate blogging and writing isn’t valuable weeks and months before the shows appear,” said TCA veep Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee. “Moving it later adds value for us and to the networks.”

The new date now puts TCA after Comic-Con, where studios and networks interact directly with consumers. At TCA 2007, ABC topper Steve McPherson was put on the hot seat when he wanted to announce casting changes on “Lost” for Comic-Con attendees only.

Kushman said the relevance of Comic-Con and how it affects TCA never played into the discussion.

No hotel has been set for the summer tour, though several are in play. This year’s two-week sesh took place at the Beverly Hilton.

Tentative dates for the upcoming winter tour are Jan. 7-16. Critics and nets will gather at the Universal Hilton.

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