Pity the Fool
Critics didn't seem much like partying on the fourth night of Summer TV Press Tour 2006.
Maybe it's because, while they expect to suffer though a certain amount of TV suit blah, blah, blah-ing as the price of the drink and food, this party -- thrown by NBC Universal to celebrate the 10th anniversary and 200th episode of Sci Fi's "Stargate SG-1" series -- seemed unusually Academy- Awards-Acceptance-Speech-from-Hell.
"Celebrating the 200th episode is like celebrating a 200th birthday," show producer Brad Wright said, standing on fake stone stairs with members of the cast and Sci Fi suits in the garden of Pasadena's Ritz Carlton Huntington hotel.
"Except the 200th episode is harder. When people turn 200, they don't get cancelled if not enough people are watching."
And though there are 14 remaining days of press tour, which means 14 more party speech opportunities it's going to be very hard to top that one for sheer badtastic-ness.
But the mood wasn't all Brad's fault. Today had been the semi-annual TV Press Tour Bait and Switch Day, and critics were pretty sore.
Every six months, usually during one of the cable days at the tour, critics are fooled into rushing to the first session of a media conglomerate's two or three-hour block of presentations, having seen on the schedule that things are kicking off with a very hot Q&A session.
This time, MTV Networks had said "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker would kick things off at 9 a.m. today. "South Park" has had a particularly controversial year, what with Comedy Central yanking the rerun of the Scientology episode that savaged Tom Cruise -- an episode that received an Emmy nomination just one week ago -- and censoring an image of Muhammad from another episode.
So critics who'd stayed too long at WE's late night "Dirty Dancing" party the day before to oggle leggy women in very tight, very short dresses, dragged themselves out of bed and raced to the morning's first Q&A so as not to miss one quote-worthy second. Only when they settled in they learned the truth, and they felt like fools. Driving home the joke, MTV had scheduled as the first Q&A of the day "I Pity the Fool" -- Mr. T's new series for TV Land.
Show after show, presentation after dreary presentation, critics waited for the "South Park" guys to show. By the time David Cross and H. Jon Benjamin came on stage to take questions about their new animated series "Freak Show," critics were in a foul mood. Fortunately, Cross and Benjamin were real jerks so there's no need to pity them.
When Cross asked one guy to wake up the critic sitting next to him, misinterpreting a glower for a nap, the glowering critic snapped back that he'd been waiting for a long time to see the "South Park" guys.
"Oh yeah -- that's a shock" Benjamin said.
"There's a distinct split schism in what I am seeing, by people who kind of are humored by us, find us somewhat sort of likable, charming, and then people who really do not like us at all, really don't care for us. We are wasting [their] time," Cross said.
"He hates us more than the people that dislike us," Benjamin added.
It's hard to believe, but things could and did go downhill from there. Until finally, Cross decided to throw in the towel.
"You know, let's do everybody a favor -- Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the creators of 'South Park'," he said.
And out they came.
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