I saw photographer Barb Binstein snap this photo of Drew Barrymore while I was part of the mob surrounding the actress after her HBO session. I guess that’s why I have that dumb smiley face thing happening. It’s not the most flattering shot of either one of us, although that’s not Barb’s fault. It is hard enough to get a question or two in but to also have to focus, flash and shoot at these things is the seventh multi-task of Hercules.
The Barrymore scrum was a highlight of a long and winding afternoon of HBO presentations as the LPDE (Longest Press Day Ever) continued to unwind:

3:00-6:00 pm HBO
The Trials of Ted Haggard
Premieres January 29, 2009
Press tour pit bull Tom Jicha led with the big question: “Why are you doing this?” The disgraced televangelist is basically submitting himself and his family to the scrutiny of cameras for the purposes of a documentary. This after a two year cone of silence that, as he explained, was imposed on him through a deal with the “overseers.”
Who were these mysterious overseers, we kept asking. Eventually, Haggert let slip that they were other pastors and church group leaders who continued to pay his salary two years past the day he was booted from the pulpit. Haggert joked that he even got to keep his truck.
This kind of undermined the down on his luck, reduced to selling life insurance facade he was selling as his new life in the doc clips. So while he was sitting up there telling us that “the truth shall set you free,” he seemed to still be very involved in shining us all on.
Haggert said he was sorry for dabbling in drugs and man love. “I apologise to Mike Jones for the relationship we developed,” he said.
Haggert was joined on stage by his stand-by-your-man wife Gayle and their two grown kids Christy and Marcus. Gayle seemed just fine with Ted’s on-going struggle with his sexuality. The kids, however, looked like they had been stoned, in the old, Biblical sense of the word.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Premieres March 2009
Seen as one of HBO’s lighter and more promising up ‘n’ comers, the clip looked pretty cool. The series is based on Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling books and stars Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe, the proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana. There is a sweetness to the stories reflecting the gentle nature of the people–a slice of life not usually explored on HBO.
Industry heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, an executive producer on the series, wanted critics to know that “they synagogue overseeers” did not pay him to be before us at press tour.
Writer Richard Curtis, who was via satellite from London, gave a shout out to Obama, congratulating critics for their “wonderful new choice of a president.”

At this point in the session, there were whispers throughout certain corners of the room regarding news of the Globe & Mail cuts back home. Bad news travels e-fast, especially during press tour.
In the old days, reports would have copies of USA Today at their elbow in order to scan headlines for fresh information. Everyone now has a lap top up and running in front of them throughout the sessions. E-mails from home often bring breaking news of a more urgent nature than the event taking place live right in front of us.

Taking Chance
Premieres February 2009
Critics screened an incredibly moving and emotional clip about this HBO film. Kevin Bacon stars as Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC (Ret.), who chronicled his story about being a volunteer military escort assigned to accompany the body of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, USMC, who was killed in action in Iraq, across America to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming, in spring 2004.
Both Bacon and Strobl were on the panel. Strobl said he never knew the dead soldier. “All I knew was that he was a marine who died in combat,” he said.

Grey Gardens
Premieres April 2009
This was the session that drew Drew Barrymore–along with Jessica Lang–to TCA. “Hello, critics!” Barrymore shouted upon taking the stage.
The movie is based on the 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, the brothers who captured The Beatles first U.S. tour. This film looks at “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale, two charming eccentrics who were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy, yet who chose to live in squalor and almost total isolation their East Hampton estate, “Grey Gardens.” Both actresses have to age 40 years over the course of the film, a process that often took four to six hours in a makeup chair. “At the end of the day, when we took off all the makeup, it was a tremendous relief,” said Barrymore, who turns 34 this year.
“I’ve never laid it on the line$ or worked so hard for anything in my life,” said Barrymore, who looked pretty in a yellow, red and black satin dress. “Let’s face it–I’m a 30-something, obviously from The Valley,” she said
She looks pretty mummified as the nearly 60-year-old “Little Edie” in the clip shown critics, sorta like Better Davis circa “Baby Jane.” Barrymore said the the scrum later he real acting inspiration for this was early Katharine Hepburn.
The movie was shot in Toronto and plenty of Canadian actors were glimpsed in the clip, including Kenneth Walsh.


In Treatment
Second Season Premieres 2009
Series star Gabriel Byrne had to ditch this session at the last minute. The producers explained he was sick. Critics, who are notoriously suspicious about everything, were surprised to see a few nights later that he also skipped the Golden Globes. Maybe he really was sick!
New patients for the second season of this therapy drama include Hope David, who plays an attorney and former patient, Aaron Shaw, a tubby 11-year-old who manifests the stress brought on by his warring parents and John Mahoney as a CEO confronted by scandal and personal loss.

Big Love
Third Season Premieres January 18, 2009
As Big Love returns for its third season, we find home improvement store owner/polygamist Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) jonesing for a fourth wife. What the hell is this guy thinking of?

Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush
Premieres Spring 2009
Ferrel brought HBO’s portion of press tour to a close with back-to-back sessions promoting two separate projects: his one man show from Broadway, which begins previews on Inauguration Day, January 20, and will open on February 5. The other project is called Eastbound & Down and it premieres February 15. The series stars Danny McBride (Pineapple Express) as Kenny Powers, a star pitcher whose self-destructive behavior knocks him out of major league baseball and back home to North Carolina, where he ends up teaching Phys Ed at the middle school he once attended. Ferrel is among the executive producers of the series and also appears as a car dealer with crazy long yellow hair. He appeared at press tour via satellite from New York, and seemed about as bored as many critics with the interview process after a long, crazy day.

6:00-8:00 pm
Discovery Networks/Working Dinner

The day closed with sessions covering several Discovery Network shows, including Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment, NASCAR Wives, a new TLC series featuring the babes of racing royalty; Dallas DNA, a new series on Investigation Discovery; Jockeys, a series on Animal Planet that has nothing to do with boxers or briefs and Walk the Lion, a series about big kitties from the African bush. One of them was brought out to meet critics, which got everyone down here ready for this week’s network executive sessions.

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