This is as close as I got to Adam Levine, Christina
Aguilera, Blake Sheldon and Cee Lo Green at the
NBC Winter 2012 press tour party

PASADENA, CA–It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that NBC needs a lift to get back in the ratings race. Nonetheless, the Peacock network held the first network party of the Winter 2012 TCA press tour at Cal Tech.
Specifically, at the Athenaeum, a swanky exclusive alumni club right on campus. Very Ivy League.
Critics who date back to NBC’s glory days (we were young once, too) recalled being shuttled to the same spot in the ’90s. It may have been an ABC affair; I seem to recall chatting with Charlie Sheen about the Blue Jays back before Two and a Half Men, when he was on Spin City. So two-and-a-half wives ago.
In any case, an outstanding venue, and NBC spared no expense on the food and drink. A good time was had by all.
Among the head turners at the deal were the ladies from Fashion Star, a reality competition to find the next big fashion trend. Elle Macpherson walked the red carpet in her six inch heels. Jessica Simpson, VERY pregnant, made a sparkly party entrance. Her child will be extremely well fed. Nicole Richie in also in on the designer deal.

Fashion Star Simpson: very preggars

The judges from The Voice came and went. Cee Lo Green sat and supped with his entourage. Blake Shelton was nabbed by a few reporters at the end of the red carpet, but when his publicist spotted the digital recorders, she made him go home. Something about him blabbing earlier in the NBC Voice session that he likes to get drunk and tweet. The extremely conspicuous Christina Aguilera was apparently there and I am amazed I did not spot her. Her boss on The Voice, Mark Burnett, worked the room as he always does on these press events.
A few of the contestants from Burnett’s other NBC reality show, Celebrity Apprentice, were also at Cal Tech, including Arsenio Hall, Penn Jillette, George Takei, Tia Carrere, Adam Carolla and former Hulk Lou Ferringo. Hall says Jillette is the smartest dude he’s ever met. Jillette said Hall has to be mistaken.
Several of the stars from NBC terrific new drama Smash were in the house, including Angelica Huston, Debra Messing, Katherine McPhee and Meagan Hilty. Critics are pretty unanimous in singling out Smash as the best pilot of the season.
Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation was there as were folks from Parenthood and Chuck, which signs off for good at the end of the month. Always good-natured Zach Levi closed the place as usual. Said hi to Chris D’Elia from Whitney who says they have but six episodes left to shoot this season. Whitney Cummings herself made the scene.

Wong and Cummings make a Lenny Clarke sandwich

Critic’s pal Lenny Clarke was there looking lean and trim after mastering Weight Watchers. He asked me to snap his photo with Ferringo on his iPhone. I told him not to pester the guy–you won’t like him when he’s mad.
Denis Leary’s Rescue Me bud told me he’s lost a total of 193 lbs, which works out to the combined weight of the cast of Smash. Told him he could use that line.
Clarke plays a fictional version of Chelsea Handler’s dad on Are You There Chelsea?, a NBC mid season replacement comedy. He told me he avoids the comedy club scene now for fear he’ll end his career with one notorious YouTube posting. Clarke feels for dudes like Tracey Morgan or Michael Richards who get nailed for comedy club no-nos. The whole point of a club act is to push things too far, says Clarke, who never censors himself around critics.
Yakked with Clarke’s Chelsea co-star Mark Povinelli, a 3-foot-9 actor who had some funny stories about working at a Gap Kids store in Minneapolis. Povinelli says he used to scare the heck out of customers when he would unexpectedly come walking around a rack of clothes He eventually got a little tired of kids coming up and petting him.

Chelsea’s Povinelli

He was once hired to double for one of the Caulkin kids on a movie when a growth spurt by the youngster caused him to lose the part–an incident later goofed on on a Seinfeld episode.
Also spoke with David Walton, one of the stars of a promising new NBC comedy called Bent. Jeffrey Tambor, Amanda Peet and J.B. Smoove (Larry David’s Black buddy on Curb Your Enthusiasm) also star. Walton says Tambor has given him valuable advice both on acting and on becoming a father (something Tambor is experiencing for a late in life second go-round).
Always happy to catch up with Tom Cavanagh, currently co-starring with Mark Feuerstein on the USA Network drama Royal Pains. Cavanagh aced the Toronto triathlon he entered last summer, coming first in his age division. He was back in Quebec over Christmas to visit the family.
NBC set up a big red judges chair from The Voice and naturally I sat down for a photo op and a little blog gold. The chair features a big red button. Pushed it but no ice cream.
Christina Applegate (Up All Night) was also at the party, as was Josh Lucas and the cast of the shot-in-Toronto drama The Firm, which premieres Sunday. Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott were apparently there, too, but I figured I can always interview them later at the Hollywood Collector’s Show out at the Burbank Airport Hilton.

Angelica Huston from a Smash scrum earlier in NBC’s day

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