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Drop That Name!

Cable days at winter TV press tours are the worst for The Reporters Who Cover Television, lacking as they do those sexy stories that keep editors smiling and, in return, keep the reporters coming back to Los Angeles in January where it's always golf season.

This time, however, they had high hopes for FX's session on its new show "Dirt" starring former "Friends" hottie Courteney Cox as a tough-a-nails head of two tabloids who seems hell-bent on destroying the lives of all those innocent movie stars who can't seem to keep their undies on, their noses clean and their SUVs on the road.

Considering the star wattage on stage, there was a surprising amount of name-dropping and preening going on during the Q&A for the new series.

Cox was all "Jen" this and "Jen" that, as in "Jen" loves the show and "she's already going, 'What am I going to do' on the show, and I'm like, 'I don't know if we can put you on, Jen.' And all my friends that are in this business think it's fantastic and love it and are addicted. Literally, like I can name a lot of them, but they love it."

On the other hand, in her capacity as executive producer she said she kills a lot of storylines in order to protect her pals.

"There's many times that I'll call up and say 'guys, I really know that person.' Not that it's the person but it sounds too much like someone that could possibly take that the wrong way .... it really happens like where we have to protect. Because yeah. And so I'm very careful about that."

One critic naturally wondered who all these "Dirt"-loving pals who needed to be saved from themselves were, and asked Cox.

"Wow, you're really getting into it," Cox said and not in a good way, then, turning to exec producer Matthew Carnahan, said, "Who are some of those people, Mathew?"

"I can't recall," he said.

"I'll think about it and I will try to share one with you if I can," Cox told the press, smiling her bright smile.

Yeah, like that's going to happen.

She did, however, recount one time when she was a victim of the tabloids: "There was a period there when I was on 'Friends' when I was really thin -- really thin. And I thought I looked great. In retrospect, not so good. But I did not have anorexia. And that was just -- they kept writing about it. And it wasn't great for -- I mean it's just kind of bad for kids across America to think that people on the show that they look up to have, I don't know -- it was tough. But that's the only kind of preposterous things. I wouldn't. I couldn't."

Yes, it is sometimes hard to follow Cox. On the other hand, she's very pretty. And very thin.

Anyway, Carnahan jumped in at that point to let reporters know that he too had been persecuted by the tabs:
"I will say that my girlfriend -- we read a story that she was having a baby and was going to name it Twister."

It must have gnawed at his vitals that no one asked him who the heck was his girlfriend, for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, about a gazillion questions later, when the reporters had nearly run out of things to ask, one did finally ask him to name the lady.

"Helen Hunt," he replied.

He also let slip that before they started writing the series the creators "spent almost a month in the guest house of my house just talking and starting to look at the characters and really let the stories unfold."

Ooh -- a guest house! Nicely done.

The reporters were also really interested to talk to Danny DeVito, who came to plug his FX series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Except his costars kept talking over him. There has never been such a collection of desperate-for-attention people on stage at once at a press tour and that's saying a mouthful.

When one reporter asked DeVito "Rosie or Donald?" DeVito began to explain he hadn't paid much attention to the mudslinging between O'Donnell and Trump but he guesses it's good publicity only he thinks they should chill. One smug little "Philly" castmate interrupted to say,"I don't care about either of those people, so let's get past it."

Which, in one of those odd coincidences which makes covering the press tour so miraculous, is exactly what were thinking about the cast of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" -- DeVito excepted, of course.

By Nancy Kerr  |  January 11, 2007; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  Winter 2007 TV Press Tour  
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