TCA: A fortnight of frothing

HughlauriebumperNothing says TCA like stars in awkward situations. (See pic at left of “House” star Hugh Laurie in a bumper car at Fox’s TCA party on the Santa Monica pier last summer.)

Yep, the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour is upon us, starting Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton hotel. The January TCA gathering was scuttled by the writers strike, so undoubtedly there will be pent-up excitement (agitation? irritation? ultra-obnoxious lines of questioning?) than usual among the scribes, execs and stars who make TCA go ’round.

As we did last year, On the Air will offer team coverage of this fortnight of frothing about shows to come and the strike-interrupted season that just was, and any other issues that crop up between Tuesday and July 22. Variety’s Stuart Levine plans to park himself at the BevHilton for the duration, while our TV leader, Michael Schneider, reporter Daniel Frankel and myself will also be availing ourselves of the hotel’s free Wi-Fi to cover the events…and drink. I’m guessing it’s a safe bet that the tradition of TCA bingo (in which attendees track the over-use of buzz words by panelists) will include the phrase “writers strike” this year.

It all starts Tuesday with a heavy rotation of cable presentations, including Hallmark Channel, HD Net, BBC America and E! nets.

Wednesday’s lineup includes: AMC and WE; MTV Networks; A&E Networks

Thursday: Discovery Networks; ESPN; Sundance Channel; HBO

Friday: Turner Broadcasting; Fox Reality Channel; Starz; Lifetime

Saturday-Sunday: PBS — whose talent roster includes none other than Sir George Martin, plugging his series “On Record: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.”