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'Drive' Crashes the Tour

Every six months at TV Press Tour, broadcast and cable networks attempt to impress TV critics who have traveled great distances to be there, with some image that causes them to sit up and say "Now you don't see THAT in (fill in name of their home town)."

Except of course CBS which is opposed in principle to dazzling critics, unless you call bringing the "Price is Right" wheel to the hotel dazzling.

Winter TV Press Tour 2007 has been no exception. There was the MTV Networks party, featuring the beautiful and perfectly primped Miss America juxtaposed against the aged Naked Trucker in a jock strap and a mercifully large-ish guitar, reminding us that all flesh is as grass. It was subtle, but very effective.

The fledgling, underfinanced CW network gave critics hot women in CW-green wigs and teensy dresses who took turns lying in an enormous stem cocktail glass, blowing bubbles at the critics. One of them looked like a man in drag, though one small gathering of critics decided charitably that she probably just had an unusually square jaw for a woman.

But Fox topped them all on the very last day of the tour. Groggy critics heading out in the early hours for their morning jog -- yeah, right -- as well as all other guests staying at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel were stunned to see remnants of a grisly three-car crash that appeared to have occurred right at the front door of the hotel.

Smoke billowed from under the hood of the crumpled Volvo station wagon. The grey vintage Mercedes was smashed in the back and appeared to have mysteriously been stripped by thieves right down to the radio and the cute Mercedes hood ornament. But the champagne-colored Ford sedan got the worst of it, having been hit by the Volvo from behind causing it to plow into the back of the Mercedes.

It soon became apparent to the critics, but sadly not to the other hotel guests, that it was an impressive, if hideous, gag promotion for Fox's new drama series "Drive," about a top-secret illegal cross-country car race organized by some dark force who had coerced people -- or, more accurately, hot young good-looking people and one or two of their parents -- into participating.

One guy, for instance, finds his wife has been kidnapped; he's left with a note saying she's being held at the end of the race. A young woman with a newborn baby who fears her husband, joins the race because the multi-million-dollar prize money will enable her to leave him -- apparently a 9-to-5 job is not an option.

"If the race is a secret, how come people from all walks of life know about it?" one critic wondered and asked the creators later in the day during the "Drive" Q&A session.

"Well, it's a little bit like my last three shows on Fox," said Tim Minear, whose credits include the short-lived "Wonderfalls" and "Firefly" and the soon-to-be short-lived "Standoff."

"People hear rumors, and then eventually they either download them or get the DVDs."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 21, 2007; 11:04 AM ET
Categories:  Winter TV Press Tour 2007  
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