Kinnear (front, centre) was one of many at the main TCA Rake session…

The economy being what it is, networks presenting new shows at the TCA press tour have been doubling up in recent years. While the American and Canadian critics and reporters get the main show in the big room, Fox and HBO and others have been sneaking International press into rooms further down the hall (and, in the case of the Langham, outside into the cottages around the Horseshoe Garden).
As a Canadian, I’m OK with that because I can sometimes work both sides of the fence, sitting with the Yanks and also getting in on the international round table sessions because Canada is considered a foreign market. Just the same, it’s all done on the sneaky-sneak so as not to rock the boat. Civil Wars have been fought over less.
One international round table session I got in on this time was for the new Fox series Rake. It premieres tonight after American Idol and stars always likable Greg Kinnear.
Getting a second shot at Kinnear was very helpful this tour because he was just one of many cast members and producer sitting on the Rake panel at the regular, domestic press tour session. On top of that, the main showrunner is potty-mouthed critics’ pal Peter Tolan, who tends to take over these things. He did it again this year, performing a whole bit about doing a network show again after years dodging notes over at FX with Rescue Me.

…but was all alone later with the foreign press

As I’ve discovered, the international press events tend to showcase one star at a time, giving reporters many more quotes to draw from when it comes time to write and sell stories. A couple of CBS junkets I attended in October/November were real eye-openers. You can get a lot more with 40 minutes of Tom Selleck, Alex O’Loughlin, Margo Martindale, Donnie Whalberg or Mark Harmon solo than you ever get in these crowded cast sessions at TCA.
So when I was offered Kinnear, I skipped whatever was happening that moment on the official TCA agenda and hustled down to cottage lane.
The 50-year-old actor has done his own share of working back-and-forth, jumping effortlessly from movies to television. He surprised a lot of people by delivering a pretty credible John Kennedy a year or so ago in that controversial History miniseries.
There were seven reporters at the table, three of us from Canada. I asked typical front room kind of queries, what’s it like doing TV instead of film, etc. Germany and Poland, however, had a much more personal agenda. Kinnear’s character in Rake is a real cad. Was he ever like that in real life? Who helped him get his life out of the gutter? Could he go into some detail about this time his life went all to Hell?
Basically, c’mon, confess. Germany all but demanded it. I kept waiting for somebody to scream, “Ve haf veys to make you TALK!”
Kinnear seemed to be waiting for the translation. It was fun watching the Indiana-native squirm, and while he allowed his life wasn’t always as straight and narrow as it is now, he basically dodged all the sneaky personal questions. As a Canadian, you wanted to say “sorry”–but at the same time we stood on guard for any juicy quotes we could poach.
Would that Kinnear’s show was as intriguing. It is based on an international program, a series from Australia. Kinnear plays an L.A.-based lawyer with a gambling problem and a sex addiction. The guy is basically House with a briefcase, and maybe that’s the problem–it’s just not House good. Maybe it gets better. It debuts Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox and Global.

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