Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour Takeaways
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
From sexual harassment allegations against one of television's most powerful executives to questions about how authentic the new "Magnum P.I." might be, there's been a wide variety of issues that have popped up at this year's TV Critics summer press tour here in Los Angeles. And NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans sat through two weeks of panels by TV executives and producers and actors to talk about the state of the industry, and he's here with us in our studios at NPR West. Hi, Eric.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I have barely survived, my friend.
GREENE: Well, I'm...
GREENE: Well, it's over. Don't worry. And now you can report what you learned.
DEGGANS: I certainly can.
GREENE: I guess the first question I have is are there any new shows you're actually looking forward to seeing this fall?
DEGGANS: So the new show that I like the most called "The Kominsky Method" is this show by Chuck Lorre who co-created CBS' "The Big Bang Theory." But this show is on Netflix. It's on a streaming service, and it's kind of proof that the streaming services have stepped up while the broadcast networks have kind of played it safe this fall. And we're seeing on the networks recycled shows, like "Last Man Standing," which used to be on ABC, is now going to be on Fox, revivals and reboots like "Murphy Brown" and "Magnum P.I." and even new shows on NBC, a medical drama called "New Amsterdam" that's very conventional. I feel like the broadcast networks have kind of given up on trying to compete with all the high-quality shows on streaming and cable.
GREENE: That's amazing. That's no small thing. I mean, why are the networks playing it so safe right now?
DEGGANS: Well, there's a lot of uncertainty in the TV business right now. I mean, Disney's in the process of buying big pieces of Fox, including its film and TV studios and FX Networks. CBS, along with its sister company, Viacom, is looking kind of attractive as an acquisition for a media company that might be looking to get bigger. And people don't necessarily know who their bosses will be or what their corporate priorities will be six months from now or a year from now.
GREENE: Well, aren't there a lot of other new names in the business, too, like Apple and Facebook and YouTube? They're all talking about their own original shows. I mean, the whole climate feels unpredictable.
DEGGANS: Exactly. I mean, that was a big topic of conversation during the press tour. For instance, the president of FX Networks, John Landgraf, told me that he sees a huge battle coming in the streaming TV space. So Disney is developing a new streaming service for its content. Netflix is spending billions of dollars on original content. Apple is cutting these deals with talented performers and producers like Reese Witherspoon. Landgraf also worries that with all this content coming at you from all these different places that maybe there's too much story. Maybe there's too much narrative out there. And it'll be hard for TV creators to surprise audiences anymore.
GREENE: I mean, speaking of surprises, remind me here, we had news breaking of the sexual misconduct allegations against the CEO of CBS. Did that happen right in the middle of this press tour, and how much did that sort of cast a cloud over everything?
DEGGANS: Days into press tour, we saw these allegations against Les Moonves that - from six women in The New Yorker magazine that he had sexual misconduct allegations against him. It sparked a lot of discussion, and other people at CBS have been accused of tolerating harassment in their spaces as well. But we still got TV producers who are willing to explore these subjects on their shows. I talked to the creator of "Murphy Brown," Diane English, and she said that they're going to talk about the #MeToo movement on their revival of the show.
And even when you think about ethnic diversity, a lot of the TV networks were very proud of the progress that they've made. CBS, in particular, really moved the needle in being more diverse in its new shows this fall. But you always got to ask is that window dressing or is that authentic character building? The "Magnum P.I." reboot, for example, stars a Latino actor, Jay Hernandez, but they don't have any Latino writers on the show, so it makes you wonder how authentic that portrayal is really going to be.
GREENE: All right. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans joining us here in our studios in Culver City, Calif. Eric, thanks a lot.
DEGGANS: Thank you.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Based on information originally provided by the executive producer of Magnum P.I., Peter Lenkov, we say the show does not have a Latino writer on staff. Lenkov has since corrected himself. The show does in fact have a Latinx staff writer.]
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Correction Aug. 8, 2018
Based on information originally provided by the executive producer of Magnum P.I., Peter Lenkov, we say the show does not have a Latino writer on staff. Lenkov has since corrected himself. The show does in fact have a Latinx staff writer.