Tag Archives: TCA Press Tour

With ‘Mulaney,’ Elliott Gould Busy 2 Series Star

Elliott GouldA month shy of turning 76, Elliott Gould is quite pleased with himself for having two — count ’em, two — high-profile television series gigs simultaneously. Showtime’s excellent “Ray Donovan” has been using the one-time counterculture icon to great effect as the aging Hollywood power lawyer who is Ray’s (Liev Schreiber) mentor and boss. And, come October, he’ll be seen as Oscar, the flamboyant, advice-giving neighbor of John Mulaney in that “Saturday Night Live” alumnus’ new Fox sitcom, “Mulaney” — along with Nasim Pedrad, Zack Pearlman, Seaton Smith, and Martin Short.

The two shows have been cooperating on Gould’s schedule “so I get to play different characters in two different series,” explained Gould the other day, following the “Mulaney” panel at the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour.

What accounts for his being so busy at this stage of the game? “My answer to that question is, my mother never gave up, and I have to be the way I am,” replies Gould in one of his trademark convoluted answers.

He adds, “And as far as my own ignorance and lack of perspective and judgment through a good deal of my career, it’s taken me forever to attain this character. And therefore, to have this opportunity to have the nature and the strength and the health to work in these productions.”

That makes sense if you recall Gould’s roller coaster career trajectory. He spent 20 years attaining the status of top in-demand film star with “M*A*S*H” and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” only to become a pariah overnight after the shut-down of his big-budget “Glimpse of Tiger” amid rumors of a breakdown or drug problem. “It had been a week rife with reports that…he was behaving strangely…walking around with a pacifier in his mouth, blowing whistles during camera takes, flying into screaming rages at director Tony Harvey,” wrote Marilyn Beck. He did, of course, eventually work again, logging dozens of film and TV roles, but it was never the same. Decades of forgettable roles and near-misses followed before Steven Soderbergh cast him as one-time casino owner Reuben Tishkoff in his 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven,” and its follow-ups.

Now Gould is enjoying playing two series characters that are nothing alike. According to him, his “Ray Donovan” character will be more prominent in the future. “Ezra is a very serious character, a rather pios character. He’s a highly successful, deeply-connected person. We haven’t seen too much of Ezra, but we will see more of him since his brain tumor is corrected,” he says. As far as “Mulaney,” “With Oscar, you see all of Oscar’s inside. Oscar expresses what he’s feeling. This character is a highly original character for me to do.”

Another difference: “Mulaney” is being shot before an audience with multiple cameras. It’s a challenge. However, says Gould, “I enjoy working and a challenge for me to work with these young people. I enjoy the opportunity and I work at it.”

As for how he maintains his vigor, Gould says, “What do I do – I have a family, I have grown children, and I have a very good relationship with nature. To me, it’s all about the family and mostly about chemistry and being honest and true.”

Of course.

How We Watch TV is Changing, Says NBC Exec

Do you watch TV on your tablet, use Video On Demand, download shows? The tectonic shifts in viewing habits among U.S. TV audiences are speeding up precipitously, according to Alan Wurtzel, President, Research & Media Development, NBC Universal. For example, as he pointed out during NBC’s TCA day, smartphone viewing is on the rise. “It hardly existed in 2008. Today half of the population has it. And that’s definitely going to grow by the end of the year…. One out of five people watched a TV show or a movie on a smartphone in the past seven days.”

Wurtzel points out, “It’s very interesting, kind of counterintuitive ‑‑ most mobile consumption doesn’t occur outside; it occurs in the home. 61% of consumption is in the home, 39% out of the home. Where is it basically consumed? Half of it’s consumed in the bedroom. By the way, it’s consumed around a little after 10:30. I won’t make any further comments about that.”

And you probably thought you were the only one looking at your phone in bed.

Seth Watch Has Begun for Academy, ABC; No More DWTS All Stars

Talk about raising interest in your Oscar hosting gig! Seth MacFarlane certainly did just that with his nominations announcement performance last week, didn’t he? In case anyone missed it, MacFarlane issued such gems as a Hitler joke tied in to the Austria-Germany collaboration, “Amour” and a comment that directors sit and watch other people make movies. And he earned a fierce collection of responses. For instance, an Entertainment Weekly headline asked “Seth MacFarlane, Oscar nomination presenter: Smug and condescending?” while Slate observed that he “managed to botch his Oscar-hosting gig in record time.”

Even as that was happening, ABC chieftain Paul Lee was explaining to press as the Television Critics Association conclave in Pasadena why he is “really bullish”about MacFarlane’s upcoming Oscar emcee stint.

“I am a huge Seth fan. I think what Seth brings — first of all, is a sense of joy,” he declared. MacFarlane, who is himself nominated for Best Song honors for“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted,”really “wants to be there,” he went on. One would hope!

“And he also has this fantastic combination of — he’s one of the funniest writers in the world, but if you watch ‘Family Guy,’ I mean, who would have expected, you know, ‘Family Guy’ would be the heart of show and dance and variety? He loves the show, and I think he’s going to bring a lot of that energy to it. He’s coming to the Oscars, you know, with a great sense of respect, but I think he’s going to bring us a really contemporary feel.

“Look, you don’t know. You don’t know until he comes out there, but I’m sensing he’s going to have a lot of fun out there, and I think, with the movies that are there, I think — I’m sensing that we are going to have a good Oscars. I may be proven wrong, but I’m feeling good about it and particularly good about him.”

That remains to be seen, but Oscar winners (“Chicago”) and musical producers extraordinaire Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are certainly a dream team, particularly in a year when “Les Miserables” is in the mix. As Lee acknowledged, “They love show and tell. They love variety. And so I think you are going to see a very entertaining Oscars. I think Seth is going to be right at the heart of that.”

ALSO: Lee talked about the future of “Dancing With the Stars” and the fact that the recent all-stars season was a ratings disappointment. “It turns out people want to see bad dancing as much as good dancing,” he said, adding that the show will be cast in its regular way next time around. He does still expect to air “DWTS” twice a year. It’s still a big, broad crowd pleaser, he noted. “Sixteen million viewers. That’s still a lot of viewers.” He believes that with the right casting, younger viewers can be enticed back to the show. Seth MacFarlane, maybe?

SORRY TO SAY GOODBYE: The death of beloved California TV personality Huell Howser at age 67 last week has truly saddened a lot of folks around these parts, who’ll miss the perpetual unbridled enthusiasm he brought to his California travelogue shows. Among them, no doubt: Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. Brolin admitted to us a few years ago that he and his wife just loved to settle down and watch Huell doing his thing, taking viewers on excursions from Death Valley to Eureka, meeting assorted colorful sorts along the way. And Brolin had developed a spot-on perfect impression of the Tennessee-born Huell, which he demonstrated for us: “You have a tree here, and another tree there! Why, you’ve almost got a forest!!” Howser is being memorialized today (1/15) at L.A.’s Griffith Park Observatory.