Celebs add sizzle and fizzle at TCA

Mary-Kate Olsen, Star Jones hold court

Landing a star has become one surefire way for a cable net to entice media and viewers. But it doesn’t always work as planned.

At TCA last week, theatrical-level stars — Holly Hunter, Glenn Close and Michael Keaton — were so ubiquitous that the Beverly Hilton ballroom took on the feel of an Oscar bash.

But other celebs — especially those not used to the rhythms of the TV press tour — generated some odd moments.

Showtime may have hoped to lure in younger viewers when it signed on Mary-Kate Olsen for a role on “Weeds.” But it couldn’t have been thrilled with the press reaction to the former child star.

Olsen looked somnolent, barely mumbling answers to the many questions she was asked, and distracted from talk about the series. The media got so perturbed (Canadian columnist Bill Brioux: “Acting like an adult was not a priority for Olsen on this day”) that exec producer Jenji Kohan had to interrupt, “Let’s talk about ‘Weeds.’ ”

For tru (nee Court) TV, the presence of daytime name Star Jones may have backfired when a session about her new talk-show turned contentious. “Do you have any idea of the publicity damage you’re doing,” a reporter asked when Jones ducked the issue of outside media she’d be doing for the launch.

Sometimes, though, a distraction can be a good thing.

When Spike brought out Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo on behalf of “The Kill Point,” a scripted series about Iraq veterans plotting a bank heist, the stars faced questions not about the war in the Mideast but on a lighter topic: Wahlberg and his boy band days.

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