The 10 burning questions to be asked at TCA

While the set visits at Warner Bros. and NBC Universal have started up today, the meat and potatoes aspect of TCA begins tomorrow when CBS offers the good word on all things “Big Bang” to the Shat.

With the tour lasting until Aug. 7, it’s best for journos — and even those hangers on in the back of the room pretending to be journos or friends of the panelists — to drink plenty of water, sleep well and don’t indulge in too many afternoon ice cream sundaes in the foyer.

That being said, here’s a list of the top 10 questions that will sure to be asked as the tour makes its summer stop at the Beverly Hilton:Simon_cowell_large1

1) At Fox panel: Who will replace Simon Cowell on “American Idol”?
Despite reports that it could be Justin Timberlake, Elton John or the guy on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica singing for change, it won’t be any of those. And if Fox has someone it’s going after to fill Simon’s seat, neither Peter Rice nor Kevin Reilly is going to say.

2) At NBC panel: Looking back a year, did you make a mistake with “The Jay Leno Show”? And do you wish you had left Jay at the “Tonight Show” instead of having Conan replace him?
Well, duh. But they’ve owned up to both those moves, or as much as network usually does as far as a mea culpa is concerned. Jeff Gaspin was fairly forthcoming at the NBC winter tour about what went wrong with Leno and Conan, but scribes love to rub salt in the wounds and this will provide a new opportunity for latenight exposition.

3) At CBS panel: Why are we starting at 8:30 in the morning?
Nina Tassler is one of the most straight shooters in the business, but there won’t be much news coming from her session. Maybe CBS is hoping that TCA-ers will be too tired to ask tough questions?

4) At Showtime panel: Does Matt LeBlanc still keep in touch with his “Friends” co-stars?Matt-leblanc
This will have nothing to do with his new comedy “Episodes,” but it’s perfect tabloid fodder for the Us and People magazines that normally pick up tidbits of news at TCA. Those mags fill more of their pages with pictures from the after-parties, but they need some good copy to run with the art.

5) At ABC panel: Why go so heavy on documentary-style shows?
This is the copycat trend of the fall season. Yeah, obviously the reason “Modern Family” was a huge hit was because it was originally shot docu-style. The Alphabet went that route with cop drama “Detroit 1-8-7” (before deciding, smartly, to abandon the format), as well as with “My Generation.”

6) At Fox panel: Does “Lone Star” actress Adrianne Palicki know if the upcoming season of “Friday Night Lights” is its last?
Yes, the actress who played Tyra on the wonderful NBC/DirecTV series will be returning to Austin for a guest spot but she really has no idea if season five will be the end. Oh, and while we’re speaking about “Friday Night Lights,” does James Wolk realize that he’s a splitting image of a young Kyle Chandler? And is he tired of answering that question?

7) At PBS panel: Does PBS really need to be two days? Are taxpayers aware of this?
Nothing against the public broadcaster, as their lineup includes another baseball gem from Ken Burns (“The Tenth Inning”) and a chat with some influential TV pioneers, but one day probably would’ve done the trick.

8) At IFC panel: Does David Cross know if there will be an “Arrested Development” movie upcoming?
Both “Arrested Development” and “Deadwood” could be off the air for decades, but they are the two shows that forever live on at TCA. Even if the actors from both never want to talk about them anymore.Tony-danza-taxi

9) At TV Land panel: Mr. Danza, can you describe your life’s work in one word?
From boxer, to actor, to teacher, Tony Danza is the definition of eclectic. Oh, and combining those three professions, someone might want to ask, “When you were on ‘Taxi’ did you ever felt the need to punch Andy Kaufman in the face but decided to make it a learning moment instead”?

10) At HBO panel: What, no love for “The Life and Times of Tim”? Two seasons and out?
OK, maybe that’ll be me.

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