TCA Weekend Update: Neil Patrick Harris, “The Starter Wife” and more!

(Neil Patrick Harris; Photo credit: Getty Images/David Livingston)

For those of you who have been reading my daily TCA posts (i.e., people of discerning taste), you’ll recall how I grumbled last week about a certain Scrubs star who wouldn’t give us journalists the time of day during the ABC party even though that was what he was there to do. Well, I’m happy to say that at Friday night’s CBS party Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother was the consummate pro. Upon entering the party, he was promptly mobbed by writers and proceeded to spend close to an hour rooted to the same spot answering our questions.

Which isn’t to say he couldn’t be a bit snarky at times. When one journalist asked him a question about Britney Spears, he quipped "Gosh, I haven’t been asked that before." However, he then went on to answer the reporter’s question.

I, however, came equipped with much more hard-hitting, well-researched questions including asking how he came to play The Shoe Fairy on PBS’ Sesame Street. Said Neil:

"Not the shoe fairy – the fairy shoe person. It’s quite a different connotation. I was asked by Sesame Street to be a part of a song and I just leapt at the opportunity. Jim Henson was the only person I ever wrote a fan letter to as a kid and I’m a wild fan of puppets and the Henson Company in general. They wrote a song, wanted me to sing it. There are all these different mythical characters this season. Sandra Oh plays another type of fairy that Abby Cadabra creates and so we got to do this big musical number with puppets and dancing. It was a great, great afternoon. It’s one demographic that I have yet to win over."

So much for the well-researched part.

Just a few days earlier Harris had landed an Emmy nomination and I wondered what he’d been thinking and feeling as he heard his name read out as he looked on. (Harris and Pushing Daisies Kristin Chenoweth were on hand to read out the nominees.)

"When I was there, we were told that we were going to go in and rehearse it and actually rehearse the announcements. I thought they’d do some phony rehearsal with every option, but they closed the room and just us were in there so we went over the teleprompter to get the names right and our categories weren’t even part of it. I suspected that Kristin would read the supporting actor; I would read supporting actress. We knew nothing and so they added this little teleprompter bit at the end … letting us know that we’d won."

Since Harris is such a frequent guest host on Regis & Kelly, not to mention a natural, I asked if he’d be interested in doing his own show.

"Yeah, very much. It’s a great gig. It’s a really fun job. The morning thing is interesting because your demographic is a much more specific group. You’re mainly playing to middle-aged women who are home, getting ready for the day or in the middle of their day. But it’s so fun. Other people, segment producers write questions for the guests. Last time I was on I met Alan Alda. Got to shoot the sh*t with him for 20 minutes. And you get to talk with Kelly Ripa, who is an amazing person. I’m a big fan of hers, so every time they ask me to be a part it, I jump at the opportunity."

I wasn’t the only journalist present and a few had some other interesting questions including what Harris thought of same-sex marriage — and whether he’s planning on getting married himself.

"Oh, I’m all for it. Big fan. Well, if I did, no one would know about it until after I got married, so I don’t know."

We’ve got a full length interview in the works with Neil, so maybe he’ll have some marital news for us then. More scoop, including some on The Starter Wife, after the break!

All week I’ve been hoping one of the networks would surprise us with an announcement about a new show with significant gay content. Well, it happened on Friday, but in this case gay means lesbian. Showtime announced they intend to spin-off an unnamed character from The L Word into a show of her own. Yay, for the lesbians, but boo for us. However, Showtime did announce two new shows — Nurse Jackie and The United States of Tarathat feature significant gay male content.

Other news coming out of the weekend panels included the announcement of the fourth season of The Janice Dickison Modeling Agency hitting Oxygen on August 26th. The catch this time? Janice and the models are moving into a house together. Oh, dear. Hmm, why does contrived, trainwreck and watchable all spring to mind?

Chris Diamantopoulos and Debra Messing
(Neil Patrick Harris; Photo credit: Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown)

Other panels included The Starter Wife featuring Will & Grace alum Debra Messing. Better for us is news that Chris Diamantopoulos will be returning as Rodney and Chris promises me Rodney will have more to do in the series than he did in the mini-series, including a love interest.

On the downside news from this week’s panel was my exchange with the folks bringing us the new SCI FI Channel series Caprica who don’t quite get the whole gay thing.

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