Amid the small talk and the spin, there are insights to be gained by sitting through 14 straight days of executive Q&As and panels. It’s like binge-watching for journalists. The twice-yearly Television Critics Assn. press tour is a marathon of presentations, hobnobbing and cocktail parties that, all snarking aside, remains a good way to check the industry’s creative pulse. The six key themes:
Diversity Is Good for Business
“Television that looks like America” has been talked about for years, but never realized in primetime on the scale of the 2014-15 season. Eddie Huang of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” observed: “I don’t think you guys have seen a TCA with this many Asian faces onstage in a long time.”
The generational transition was made clear in sessions with James Corden, CBS’ new “Late Late Show” host, and Larry Wilmore, days before he took the helm of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show.” Corden won over the room with his aw-shucks approach to promo-ing his arrival on March 23.
Hacking the Zeitgeist
TV was all over the idea of cyber-security threats even before the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack brought the issue home for Hollywood. CBS’ frosh drama “Scorpion” revolves around hacker fighters, as does the Eye’s upcoming “CSI: Cyber” and MTV’s “Eye Candy,” from producer Jason Blum.
Hard to Say Goodbye
The large number of fan-fave shows signing off in the coming months turned into love-fests for AMC’s “Mad Men,” Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” and FX’s “Justified.” “There’s no version of this (show) ending that is not super painful for me,” said Jon Hamm.
Overnights Are Irrelevant
Every network exec said it — and this time they mean it. NBCUniversal Cable declared it would no longer distribute Nielsen’s overnight ratings except for live and special events. The live-plus-three ratings that encompass DVR and VOD viewing within three days of a program’s premiere truly are becoming the new industry standard.
Milking 1980s-90s Nostalgia
VH1 time-travels back to 1995 with “Hindsight,” a scripted drama that’s a high-priority for the cabler. CBS and Lionsgate are remaking an entire cable channel, Pop, to trade on 1980s and ’90s pop culture. After all, people do pay good money to attend those New Kids on the Block cruises.